A Rising Pride Lifts All Ships
June 30, 2022
Some Good News
- A month after getting shot in the face, the grandmother of the Uvalde school shooter is released from a hospital (CNN)
- Funds for climate justice flow to groups around the US (AP)
“In matters of truth and justice, there is no difference between large and small problems, for issues concerning the treatment of people are all the same.” – Albert Einstein
A Good Deed
L.A. County has voted to return Bruce’s Beach to descendants of the Black family from whom it was seized almost 100 years ago. And it wouldn’t have happened but for the mission of an activist from Harlem. Kavon Ward grew up poor in the 1980s and earned a degree from SUNY at Oneonta. At the time, only 3% of the school’s students were Black, and Ward said it was a “culture shock.” She “started to see the tools and policies created and used to keep people of color – specifically Black people – marginalized and … the playing field unleveled.” She got a master’s degree, moved to Washington D.C., and became a Congressional Black Caucus fellow.
Ward was in her twenties when she learned about the 1921 Greenwood Race Massacre that happened in an affluent Black district in Tulsa, Oklahoma. White rioters stormed the neighborhood over two days, destroying homes and businesses and killing 300 people. She also learned that New York’s Central Park was a Black neighborhood called Seneca Village before the city used eminent domain in 1857 to condemn properties and drive out residents. Ward was upset “because I’d learned what happened to [Black entrepreneurs] who did so much to build within their communities when … [deprived] of other opportunities.”
In 2020 Ward was living in Manhattan Beach, California, when she learned about Willa and Charles Bruce’s struggle to hold onto the Manhattan Beach shoreland they owned and Bruce’s Beach Lodge, the resort they’d built so other Black families could visit without facing racist harassment. In a patently racist move, the city took the Bruces’ property in 1924 through eminent domain and turned it into a park. The Bruces’ spent five years suing to defend their rights, but the city of Manhattan Beach paid $14,500 to settle the lawsuit. L.A. County has owned the land since 1955.
Ward organized a Juneteenth picnic at Bruce’s Beach park and founded a group called Justice for Bruce’s Beach to support the family’s calls for restitution. In July 2021, she launched a national organization called Where Is My Land that helps uncover the hidden histories of stolen Black land around the country and works to get restitution. Ward’s movement brought forth state legislation to remove restrictions on the Bruce’s Beach deed, allowing L.A. County to give back the property. In an emotional meeting Tuesday, county supervisors did just that. (NYT ($), Orange County Register)
- Scotland wants its independence and thinks it should have it, even without the British government’s approval. The last Scottish independence referendum was held in 2014, when 55% of Scots voted to stay in the U.K. But Brexit was a real game-changer, as 62% of the country voted against leaving the E.U.
- In 2021, the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) and pro-independence allies won a majority in Scotland’s Parliament. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said: “The people of Scotland elected a Scottish Parliament with a decisive majority in favor of both independence and the right to choose.”
- On June 14, Sturgeon outlined proposals for a “refreshed case for independence,” launching the first of several policy papers making the argument for the country’s devolved Parliament to hold a vote. London says the consent of the British government is required, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is opposed to another vote. Nevertheless, Sturgeon proposed Tuesday to hold a fresh referendum on Scottish independence in October 2023 through a maneuver that she hopes can bypass Johnson’s rebuke. (WaPo, $)
A Rising Pride Lifts All Ships
- In 2019, numerous local authorities in Poland passed resolutions declaring themselves free of “LGBT ideology,” part of a conflict in the predominantly Catholic country between liberals and religious conservatives who see the struggle for gay rights as a threat to traditional values. The “LGBT-free zones” sought to ban what local authorities see as the promotion of homosexuality and other minority sexual identities, especially in schools.
- That set Poland on a collision course with the European Commission, which said the zones may violate E.U. law regarding non-discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation. After a legal challenge from Poland’s Human Rights Ombudsman, lower courts ruled that nine such resolutions must be scrapped.
- The public prosecutor’s office, the ultra-conservative think-tank Ordo Iuris, and the municipalities involved appealed. On Tuesday, a top Polish appeals court threw out the first four appeals, ruling the “LGBT-free zones” in four municipalities must be abolished. The verdict was welcomed by activists as a victory for human rights and democracy. (Reuters)
Additional World News
- Doubts reign on Russian oil price cap (Politico)
- Fire kills 51 after apparent riot attempt at Colombia prison (ABC)
- Rice fields dry up as Italy’s drought lingers on (AP)
- Tracking The Tropics: Tropical Storm Bonnie could form soon, two other systems monitored (CBS)
- After Hindu killed, police in northwest India ban public gatherings, suspend internet (Reuters)
- N Korea accuses US, regional allies of moves towards ‘Asian NATO’ (Al Jazeera)
- A journalist says the Philippines is shutting down her critical news site (NPR)
- Ecuador’s Lasso survives impeachment vote, halts protest talks (Al Jazeera)
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Water They Thinking?
- A ruinous decision in 2014 made by Michigan’s Republican officials to “save money” led the water supply for the majority-Black city of Flint to be poisoned with lead. In 2016 the state’s attorney general promised to investigate and lock up state regulators for fudging data and misleading the public.
- Three years later, no one was behind bars, and Flint was angry that key players were getting off with misdemeanor pleas. In 2019 the new attorney general Dana Nessel (D) ousted a special prosecutor and put together another investigative team appointing Solicitor General Fadwa Hammou to lead. Hammoud and another prosecutor employed a seldom-used state law wherein one judge hears evidence in secret.
- In January 2021, nine former state and city officials, including former governor Rick Snyder, were charged with 41 criminal counts. On Tuesday, Michigan’s Supreme Court called the prosecution a “Star Chamber comeback,” and threw the charges out, saying a judge sitting as a one-person grand jury had no power to issue indictments under rarely used state laws. (PBS)
R. Kelly Sentenced
- Disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly, 55, was sentenced Wednesday to 30 years in prison. Kelly was convicted last year on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges stemming from his years-long efforts to use his fame to ensnare victims he then sexually abused.
- District Court Judge Ann Donnelly said in deciding the sentence she considered Kelly’s own traumatic childhood, during which he was repeatedly sexually abused by a family member and a landlord. “It may explain, at least in part, what led to your behavior,” Donnelly said. “It most surely is not an excuse.” She added, “You left in your wake a trail of broken lives.”
- Jovante Cunningham, a former backup singer for Kelly, praised the sentence. “I started this journey 30 years ago,” Cunningham said outside the Brooklyn courtroom. “There wasn’t a day in my life up until this moment that I actually believed that the judicial system would come through for Black and brown girls. I stand here very proud of my judicial system, very proud of my fellow survivors, and very pleased with the outcome.” (CNN)
Additional USA News
- A Boy Scout tried to help truck driver hit in Amtrak train derailment (WaPo, $)
- Jan. 6 hearings deliver new template for digital-era dramatics (Axios)
- Pelosi receives Communion in Vatican despite abortion stance (AP)
- Lawsuit challenges Florida ‘Stop WOKE Act’ (The Hill)
- Abortions in Texas can temporarily resume, judge rules (WaPo, $)
- Biden announces new US military deployments in Europe (Axios)
- US accuses five firms in China of supporting Russia’s military (Reuters)
Flipping The Crypto
- Hours after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade on Friday, Fox News celebrity host Tucker Carlson took to the airwaves to rail against companies that would pay for employees’ abortion-travel costs. “They’re against families,” he said on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Little did he know that as he was offering his commentary, an image from his show was being used to raise money for Planned Parenthood et al.
- Jenny Holzer, a veteran artist known for combining texts and images to make political points, created an NFT from a screen image of Carlson. (An NFT, or a non-fungible token, is a digital image uniquely stamped to its creator. Eth is the name for a popular cryptocurrency linked to the ethereum blockchain, on which many NFTs live.) The piece centered on a show last year in which Carlson argued for body autonomy on coronavirus vaccines. On his May 11, 2021, program, Carlson agreed with Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson’s decision not to receive a coronavirus vaccine. Carlson said: “Well of course; it’s your body, your choice, as we’ve heard for almost 50 years.” Holzer put a chyron (an electronically generated caption superimposed on a television or movie screen) at the bottom of the screen that read: “Making an informed choice regarding your own body shouldn’t be controversial.”
- Holzer put the NFT up for auction about 12:30 p.m. Friday, just after the decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization came down. She listed it at half an eth, or about $600. Within six hours, a quartet of bidders had raised the price to nearly $13,000, before the winning bid of 12 eth, or $14,500, was made Saturday around noon. The sale on the Foundation NFT site listed an anonymous cryptocurrency address as the buyer. Holzer said she will donate the money she makes from the sale to groups including Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the D.C.-based advocacy organization PAI. (WaPo, $)
- A bull bison gored a man near Old Faithful at Yellowstone National Park, officials say (CNN)
- Climate change role clear in many extreme events but social factors also key, study finds (Guardian)
- Gold miner in Canada finds mummified 35,000-year-old baby woolly mammoth (Guardian)
- Cat chases bear away from owner’s driveway in British Columbia (UPI)
- Thieves Hit TEFAF Art Fair in Daylight Heist (NYT, $)
- The photographer documenting Australia’s abandoned places (CNN)
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