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What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

What To Do When You're Stopped By Police - The ACLU & Elon James White

Know Anyone Who Thinks Racial Profiling Is Exaggerated? Watch This, And Tell Me When Your Jaw Drops.


This video clearly demonstrates how racist America is as a country and how far we have to go to become a country that is civilized and actually values equal justice. We must not rest until this goal is achieved. I do not want my great grandchildren to live in a country like we have today. I wish for them to live in a country where differences of race and culture are not ignored but valued as a part of what makes America great.

Monday, June 21, 2021

The Supreme Court Sides With NCAA Athletes In A Narrow Ruling : NPR

The Supreme Court Sides With NCAA Athletes In A Narrow Ruling

The March Madness logo is shown on the court during the first half of a men's college basketball game in the first round of the NCAA tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The Supreme Court eroded the difference between elite college athletes and professional sports stars.

Paul Sancya/AP

Faced with the prospect of reshaping college athletics, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a narrow, but potentially transformative ruling Monday in a case that pitted college athletes against the NCAA. 

At issue in the case were the NCAA rules that limit educational benefits for college players as part of their scholarships. 

The athletes maintained that the NCAA has, in effect, been operating a system that is a classic restraint of competition--in short, a system that violates the nation's antitrust laws. The NCAA countered that its rules are largely exempt from the antitrust laws because they are aimed at preserving amateurism in college sports and because the rules "widen choices for consumers by distinguishing college sports from professional sports."

On Monday, however, a unanimous court ruled that the NCAA rules are not reasonably necessary to distinguish between college and professional sports. 

The NCAA "seeks immunity from the normal operation of the antitrust laws," Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court. But added that the court declines this request because "this suit involves admitted horizontal price fixing in a market where the defendants exercise monopoly control." 

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Gorsuch acknowledged that that "some will see this as a poor substitute for fuller relief."

But in a concurrent opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh accused the NCAA of "price fixing."

"The NCAA's business model would be flatly illegal in almost any other industry in America," he wrote. "All of the restaurants in a region cannot come together to cut cooks' wages on the theory that 'customers prefer' to eat food from low-paid cooks. Law firms cannot conspire to cabin lawyers' salaries in the name of providing legal services out of a 'love of the law.' Hospitals cannot agree to cap nurses' income in order to create a 'purer' form of helping the sick. News organizations cannot join forces to curtail pay to reporters to preserve a 'tradition' of public-minded journalism. Movie studios cannot collude to slash benefits to camera crews to kindle a 'spirit of amateurism' in Hollywood. Price-fixing labor is price-fixing labor. And price-fixing labor is ordinarily a textbook antitrust problem because it extinguishes the free market in which individuals can otherwise obtain fair compensation for their work."

Amy Perko, CEO of the independent Knight Commission on Athletic Education, notes that having the conferences each establish their own limits on educational compensation would mean that there would be competition among the conferences, and an athlete who doesn't like the benefits that are offered in one conference might sign up with a school in a different conference. 

Though Monday's decision is narrow, she says, it could be "transformative" in collegiate athletics. And the kinds of educational benefits that might be allowed could also be transformative. They include not just academic scholarships, but scholarships for graduate school, too, paid internships, and the elimination of caps on disability insurance so that injured athletes are guaranteed income in the future if they suffer a career-ending injury before ever being able to play professionally. 

College football and basketball are in a world of trouble these days, with athletes viewed as exploited at the same time schools pay millions of dollars to coaches and spend hundreds of millions on palatial training centers, arenas, and stadiums. 

Although many NCAA rules were not an issue in this case, they are increasingly an issue for the public. Take, for instance, the NCAA rules that bar athletes to earn money from their "name, image, and likeness." The NIL, as it is known, has become so unpopular that in the majority of states, legislatures either are considering or have already passed laws that ban these NIL restrictions. Indeed, in five states, those laws will go into effect July 1. 

Behind the scenes in Congress, the NCAA has been scrambling to come up with a consensus on legislation that would allow athletes to control, or at least make money off. their own name, image, and likeness, 

Perko says she believes that change alone will "transform" college athletics, and not just for players who are big stars. "In the modern world we live in, and that these young people live in," she observes, lesser athletes will be able to "monetize" their names via social media."


The Supreme Court Sides With NCAA Athletes In A Narrow Ruling : NPR

Taiwan recalls trade officials from Hong Kong over ‘one-China’ clash Hong Kong demanded Taiwanese staff sign commitment to Beijing’s one-China principle in visa renewals

Taiwan recalls trade officials from Hong Kong over ‘one-China’ clash

Hong Kong demanded Taiwanese staff sign commitment to Beijing’s one-China principle in visa renewals

Guards hold a Taiwanese flag
Taiwan’s government maintains it is an independent state which has never been ruled by the Chinese Communist party. Photograph: David Chang/EPA

“Taiwan says it has pulled back all but one staff member from its Hong Kong trade office after they refused to sign a commitment to the one-China principle required for visa renewals.

The officials returned from Hong Kong on Sunday, leaving just one colleague at the office, which acts as Taiwan’s diplomatic presence.

In a statement, Taiwan’s mainland affairs council said the Hong Kong government had “repeatedly imposed unreasonable political conditions on the visa applications”. This has included a requirement since 2018 that staff sign a commitment to Beijing’s one-China principle, which includes the claim that Taiwan is a part of China.

“As a result, our staff cannot continue to stay and continue their posts,” the council said.

The council accused the Hong Kong government and Chinese Communist party of setting up “obstacles with the ‘one-China letter of commitment’, which affected the rotation and normal operation of the staff of our Hong Kong office”.

“We firmly refuse to force our staff to sign the ‘one-China commitment’ under unjustifiable political pressure,” it said. “We also issue a stern warning and condemnation to the Chinese communist authorities and the Hong Kong government.”

The council confirmed seven officials had returned to Taiwan on Sunday. Further information was expected from the council on Monday.

The Chinese Communist party (CCP) government considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province of China that must be retaken, by force if necessary. Taiwan’s government maintains it is an independent state that has never been ruled by the CCP. 

Most world governments have diplomatic ties with Beijing and not Taiwan, but maintain unofficial ties with Taiwan including through hosting economic and cultural offices as unofficial diplomatic postings.

Hong Kong’s status as a semi-autonomous region – supposed to be guaranteed under the ‘one country, two systems’ policy until 2047 – has grown markedly closer to the CCP government since authorities cracked down on the pro-democracy movement. The crackdown and the CCP’s tighter control over Hong Kong has bolstered Taiwan’s resolve against unification.

Last month Hong Kong closed its representative office in Taiwan, blaming Taipei’s support for pro-democracy activists, whom senior figures including the foreign minister, Joseph Wu, have called “freedom fighters”. The Hong Kong government said Taiwan had “grossly interfered” in Hong Kong’s affairs and “created irretrievable damage”.

Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang party said the request to have Taiwanese officials sign a political pledge was “unnecessary”.

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Sunday, June 20, 2021

Growing list of Arizona Republicans have had enough amid 'audit'

Opinion | What Walmart Doesn’t Get About Juneteenth - The New York Times

What Walmart Doesn’t Get About Juneteenth

By
 
Kaitlyn Greenidge 
The New York Times

    "Ms. Greenidge, a contributing Opinion writer, is the author of the novel “Libertie” and the features director at Harper’s Bazaar.

    It was with dismay that I realized, a few weekends ago, that Walmart is now selling Juneteenth T-shirts. I live in an extremely white Massachusetts county, one where it feels like a lifeline whenever I see another Black person I am not related to. I greeted the news of the T-shirts with an eye roll and a sour chuckle.

    Though Juneteenth has recently gained nationwide attention, and just became a federal holiday, it originated as a Texas-specific celebration of the end of slavery. Other states and regions have their own traditions for marking Emancipation: Crucially, these celebrations have different dates from place to place, because freedom was gained through wildly different ways for Black people across this country. These are outlined in Mitch Kachun’s excellent book “Festivals of Freedom.”

    In New York State, where gradual Emancipation was put into place to ease white fears at the expense of Black comfort, Emancipation Day was celebrated on the 5th of July. Celebrating on the 5th became a way to avoid the white mobs that often attacked Black people they saw daring to celebrate the Fourth of July. Indeed, in 1876, the year of the country’s centennial, many white newspapers ran articles deploring free Black people celebrating the country’s 100th anniversary of freedom — they dressed too finely and partied too elegantly, the newspapers said. It was above their station to do so.

    Some Black communities in the North and South have also celebrated Emancipation Day on the 1st of January, because that was when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation into law (with the caveat that it applied only to enslaved people in rebelling territories — those in border states and territories in the Union, including Maryland, Missouri and West Virginia, among others, remained legally enslaved). Black churches usually hosted those dates, with watch nights on New Year’s Eve melding together with communitywide celebrations on Jan. 1.

    To me, these myriad celebrations reflect what is so revolutionary about Black history. One of the powerful things about Blackness is that it undermines the idea of borders and complicates the dream of nationhood. These complications are part of why studying Black history is considered by many to be so dangerous. They are why we are in a nationwide moral panic about the possibility of children learning Critical Race Theory. The varied regional histories of Emancipation Day celebrations are a reminder that freedom in this country has never meant the same thing to everyone, has definitely never been experienced the same, and has always been conditional.

    The first time I celebrated Emancipation Day was a July 5 in the late 2000s, maybe a year or so after Barack Obama was elected president. I stood on a makeshift stage in a community garden in central Brooklyn and, along with a crowd of other Black Brooklynites, raised a small glass of cold water (many Emancipation Day celebrations shun alcohol because of the close ties between the abolition and temperance movements, and because Black communities were afraid historically to celebrate too boisterously in predominantly white areas like Brooklyn). We shouted, “to freedom!” The event was free. The only cost to show your appreciation of the idea of Black liberation was a suggested donation.

    So, I look a little askance at Juneteenth T-shirts for sale in Walmart and the recent declaration of Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Juneteenth is not a part of any state’s history except Texas. But it is perhaps easier for some white Northerners to tut at the duplicity of white Texas slaveholders than to look at how Black people became free in their own states — as in Massachusetts, through having to sue for their freedom.

    Among the most famous cases was that of Mum Bett, an enslaved woman whose owners would not let her rest, who said, “Any time while I was a slave, if one minute freedom had been offered to me, and I had been told I must die at the end of that minute, I would have taken it — just to stand one minute on God’s airth [earth] a free woman — I would.” She took the name Elizabeth Freeman after the court ruling.

    Hilton Als wrote, “People are quick to make monuments of anything they live long enough to control.” I can’t help but think this is the impetus behind the rush to canonize Juneteenth as a national holiday. I worry the lessons of Juneteenth will become lost because we have seen the promising visions of Black freedom-dreaming co-opted before.

    Think of Martin Luther King Jr., a man who spoke with such directness and nuance of America’s failings that he was hated by a majority of white people when he was alive, but who, in 2021, is treated as a saintly relic used by those in power to tell those who are suffering to stop naming the sources of their pain and say soft things, as Dr. King did. Even as uncompromising a presence as Malcolm X has gotten this treatment, to the extent that, in the early ’90s, Dan Quayle, George H.W. Bush’s vice president, claimed him as an inspiration.

    In my most cynical moments, I think that the rush to embrace Juneteenth is about undermining Black people who are alive now of the right to protest. “Why are they still going on about voting rights and police violence and clean air and health care and schools,” a white politician can say to his non-Black constituents next year, “when we gave them a day off?”

    And in the long run, I see something even more sinister. The myth of the American Empire, as a city upon a hill or a site of moral clarity or justice, is dying, and those in power know it. They know that the old stories America told itself about itself no longer ring true to most of us, if they ever rang true at all. So they mine those communities they’ve excluded, in search of that very rare mineral, authenticity.

    But mostly, I am sad because when a holiday becomes co-opted like this, those who can gain a sense of self and solidarity from celebrating it often lose it. The agency that comes from deciding your own traditions — a cold water toast, a watch night — becomes lost to a corporate calendar and a megastore selling you a Juneteenth cookout checklist. You can lose sight of the possibility that exists in marginalized histories, which is the space to imagine another, better world.

    Kaitlyn Greenidge, a contributing Opinion writer, is the author of the novel “Libertie” and the features director at Harper’s Bazaar."

    Opinion | What Walmart Doesn’t Get About Juneteenth - The New York Times

    AOC Tells Morning Joe About Manchin's Leaked Call With Billionaire Donors

    Saturday, June 19, 2021

    Juneteenth Holiday & Critical Race Theory

    How Republican States Are Expanding Their Power Over Elections - The New York Times

    High Hopes for Johnson & Johnson’s Covid Vaccine Have Fizzled in the U.S.

    "Production problems and a brief pause on its use kept the one-dose vaccine from becoming the game changer that health officials across the country believed it would be.

    Cesar Gonzalez receiving his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in LaPlace, La., on Thursday. The state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the United States.
    Emily Kask for The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — When Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine was authorized for emergency use in late February, ​it was seen as a breakthrough for reaching vulnerable and isolated Americans, a crucial alternative to vaccines that require two shots weeks apart and fussier storage. It was soon popular on college campuses, in door-to-door campaigns and with harder-to-reach communities that often struggle with to access health care.

    But with only 11.8 million doses administered in the United States so far — less than 4 percent of the total — the “one and done” vaccine has fallen flat. States have warned for weeks that they may not find recipients for millions of doses that will soon expire, partly because the vaccine’s appeal dropped after it was linked to a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder and injections were paused for 10 days in April.

    The vaccine took another hit last week, when regulators told Johnson & Johnson that it should throw out tens of millions of additional doses produced at a plant in Baltimore because they might be contaminated. The diminished supply and enthusiasm for the shot mean that its role in the United States is fading fast, even though millions of Americans have yet to be vaccinated.

    “It’s just not what I think anybody would have hoped it would be when it came out,” said Dave Baden, the chief financial officer of the Oregon Health Authority.

    Health officials in a number of other states presented a similarly discouraging picture. The pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, they said, effectively kicked it aside for good; only about 3.5 million doses have been used since the pause was lifted on April 23. Kim Deti, a spokeswoman for the Wyoming Health Department, said the graph of uptake in her state told the vaccine’s story: a significant climb in the early weeks of its rollout, followed by a plateau that began around the pause.

    State officials had initially hoped the Johnson & Johnson shot would be a workhorse: a versatile, easy-to-store tool they could stockpile at mass vaccination sites, quickly reaching thousands of people they would not need to track down for a second dose. But after demand dropped, their goals grew more modest.

    It is being used in a smaller-bore fashion this week at the Fiesta festival in San Antonio, the College World Series in Omaha, a Juneteenth celebration in Johnstown, Pa., and an aquarium in Long Beach, Calif. At a food bank in Reno, Nev., 12 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were administered on Thursday, said Jocelyn Lantrip, the director of marketing and communications for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.

    Administering a Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Leominster, Mass., in April. Injections of the company’s shot were paused that month after it was linked to a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder.
    CJ Gunther/EPA, via Shutterstock

    Between the small number of doses distributed and the lack of interest in them, public health experts say, the United States missed a critical opportunity to address health disparities with a vaccine that should have been ideal for reaching vulnerable populations. Dr. Chip Riggins, a regional medical director who oversees vaccine events in south central Louisiana, said that few organizers requested the shot anymore, even in a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

    “In the early days of J&J, working with the African American community and the churches, the faith community here, it was a very, very popular option,” Dr. Riggins said. “It pains me that it isn’t being accepted like it was before the pause.”

    Dr. José R. Romero, the Arkansas health secretary, called the shot’s fast decline a “lost opportunity” for reaching the vulnerable in his state.

    “This is a vaccine that was very well-suited for populations where we have problems getting into,” he said. “We’re now at the point where it’s five people or three people; it doesn’t matter, we’ll open a vial.”

    Dr. Riggins said he had limited success in recent months sending the vaccine to churches, casinos and even gas stations, including one in LaPlace, La., where organizers offered the shot on Thursday. An international crew on a ship was elated to receive their shots last weekend, Dr. Riggins said. But not being able to fully protect more people with just a single dose, he added, was hindering the state’s progress.

    Sign Up for On Politics With Lisa Lerer: A spotlight on the people reshaping our politics. A conversation with voters across the country. And a guiding hand through the endless news cycle, telling you what you really need to know.

    Johnson & Johnson’s decline in the United States has dovetailed with decreasing demand for Covid vaccines overall. Nearly 30 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are sitting unused, as are about 25 million of Moderna’s. But a total of 135 million people have been fully immunized with those vaccines, 11 times more than with Johnson & Johnson’s. The two-dose vaccines have a higher efficacy rate overall — roughly 95 percent versus 72 percent for Johnson & Johnson’s — but studies showed that all three were highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death.

    Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson’s chief executive, said last week that he was still hopeful that the vaccine, which has been used in 26 countries so far, would help contain the pandemic overseas. The company has promised up to 400 million doses to the African Union. Separately, Covax, the global vaccine-sharing program, is supposed to receive hundreds of millions of doses.

    Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

    “We still believe that this is going to be a very important tool in the overall armamentarium,” Mr. Gorsky said at an event hosted by The Wall Street Journal.

    But manufacturing problems at a factory in Baltimore run by Emergent BioSolutions, Johnson & Johnson’s subcontractor, have had serious consequences for the vaccine. Because of a major production mishap that resulted in a two-month shutdown in operations, Johnson & Johnson has essentially been forced to sit out the brunt of the pandemic in the United States while Pfizer and Moderna, the other federally authorized vaccine makers, provided almost all the nation’s vaccine stock.

    Johnson & Johnson has had to throw out the equivalent of 75 million doses, and the regulatory authorities in Canada, South Africa and the European Union also decided to pull back millions more doses made at the Baltimore plant. The company has been able to deliver only one-fourth of the 100 million doses it promised the federal government by the end of this month.

    Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said that in her state, Johnson & Johnson’s shot had become a victim of its own timing. By late February, when it was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, Alaska had figured out how to get two-dose vaccines to remote areas, leaving the one-shot regimen less crucial than she had initially imagined.

    Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s Covid-19 czar, said that the pause and Johnson & Johnson’s later authorization — more than two months after Pfizer’s and Moderna’s — deprived it of a “halo effect.” By the time West Virginia had an ample supply of all three vaccines, he said, “people started to get this concept that maybe there’s something better about being immunized with Pfizer and Moderna.”

    The Johnson & Johnson shot had also suffered from a “social network effect,” said Andrew C. Anderson, a professor of public health at Tulane University who researches vaccine hesitancy. Most Americans who were inoculated in the early months of the vaccine campaign received Moderna and Pfizer shots, and so their friends and family were less likely to deviate and accept a different brand.

    In Louisiana, hospitals in the New Orleans area have started offering the Johnson & Johnson shot to people on their way out of the emergency room; the thinking is that people will be more likely to accept the vaccine when a doctor who has treated them asks them to take it. And in Arkansas, where only a third of the population is fully vaccinated, state officials are offering Johnson & Johnson doses to agriculture, manufacturing, wastewater and poultry workers, with gift certificates for hunting and fishing licenses as a reward.

    Emily Kask for The New York Times

    “I don’t think that the book on J&J is closed,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s top health official. “It’s just not going to be a game changer.”

    In West Virginia, officials are now hoping to use up some 20,000 doses of the shot at summer fairs and festivals and in parks, Dr. Marsh said. And in Oregon, Mr. Baden, the state health authority official, said that providers were working to exhaust about 150,000 doses in correctional facilities and higher-throughput sites in Portland. The sharp drop in interest, he said, was “tragic.”

    Onisis Stefas, the chief pharmacy officer at Northwell Health, New York State’s largest health care provider, said he was still working through the system’s original allocation of Johnson & Johnson from March — a sign that demand had shriveled long ago. Doctors’ offices have asked for as few as 10 doses at a time instead of the pack of 50 the vaccine typically comes in.

    In Michigan, where more than 200,000 Johnson & Johnson doses sit unused, officials are racing to redistribute the vaccine to high-volume sites in hopes of administering them before they expire.

    “It’s just kind of one after another negative news about the vaccine,” said Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, the chief medical executive in the state.

    Sharon LaFraniere contributed reporting."


    How Republican States Are Expanding Their Power Over Elections - The New York Times

    Trump Tried To Fire Her For Telling The Truth; Biden Wants To Give Her A...

    Friday, June 18, 2021

    Book Says Trump Raged After George Floyd Murder, ‘I’ve Done All This Stuff for the Blacks’

    LOL



    "Former President Donald Trump complained bitterly about lack of support from the Black community even after his administration mounted a callous response to Black Lives Matter protests after George Floyd’s murder last year, according to a new book. On Father’s Day 2020—after a fractious month during which Trump had tweeted “When the looting starts, the shooting starts” and ordered the forceful removal of peaceful protesters in D.C. to clear the way for a photo op—he groused to a confidante, “I’ve done all this stuff for the Blacks—it’s always Jared telling me to do this... And they all fucking hate me, and none of them are going to vote for me.”

    The account, by Wall Street Journal White House correspondent Michael C. Bender, also lays blame for the president’s disastrous response on Trump’s staff. That includes then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, who allegedly told fellow officials that “nobody is going to care” about Floyd’s death, and on campaign manager Brad Parscale, who reportedly pushed to hold Trump’s first campaign rally in Tulsa on Juneteenth, which caused a national outcry that eventually forced the president to reschedule. Later, the book says, Trump would insist he singlehandedly “made Juneteenth very famous.”

    Book Says Trump Raged After George Floyd Murder, ‘I’ve Done All This Stuff for the Blacks’

    Republican tries to embarrass Stacey Abrams. She shuts him down brilliantly

    A US oil company cut nearly 2,000 jobs – and reaped $2.1bn in pandemic benefits | Louisiana | The Guardian

    A US oil company cut nearly 2,000 jobs – and reaped $2.1bn in pandemic benefits

    Marathon Petroleum received more tax benefits than any other US oil company while also cutting about 9% of its workforce

    A Marathon Petroleum banner in El Paso, Texas. The refinery in Garyville, Louisiana, is the third largest in the country.
    A Marathon Petroleum banner in El Paso, Texas. The refinery in Garyville, Louisiana, is the third largest in the country. Photograph: Julio Cesar Chavez/Reuters

    Christopher Staudinger for the Louisiana Illuminator and Floodlight

    Fri 18 Jun 2021 06.00 EDT

    One morning in September, word of layoffs began to spread quickly through Marathon Petroleum’s refinery in small industrial community of Garyville, Louisiana.

    Seven months into the pandemic, workers at the oil refining plant thought they would be spared the fate of their colleagues at other facilities, who had already been jettisoned into a daunting job market.

    “Through the morning, we were seeing people get the phone call and not come back,” said one maintenance engineer, who lost his job after nearly a decade at the facility. “Everybody was on pins and needles waiting for the call.”

    Last year, Marathon laid off 1,920 workers across the US despite taking $2.1bn in federal tax benefits meant to cushion the pandemic’s blow to the economy, according to a report from BailoutWatch. The worker interviewed for this story, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of difficulty finding a job, is still unemployed. He and his wife had plans to start a family, which are now on hold. And he is competing with more than 18,000 oil, gas and manufacturing workers in Louisiana who lost jobs last year.

    “I’m a born and raised Louisianan. So I’m very much trying to stay in the area,” he said.

    Over a year after Congress approved the Cares Act to provide emergency economic relief in response to Covid-19, the oil and gas industry has emerged as a major recipient of stimulus funds, despite heavy job cuts. Marathon Petroleum received more tax benefits under the legislation than any other US oil company, according to BailoutWatch, while also cutting about 9% of its workforce, including 45 Garyville workers.

    The company spent millions lobbying in Washington, including on specific Cares Act provisions. Marathon is also defending local government tax breaks it receives as part of a controversial Louisiana subsidy program and meant to create jobs. According to SEC filings examined by BailoutWatch, Marathon came to receive roughly $1.1m in federal dollars for every job the company eliminated.

    The Garyville refinery – located along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge – is the third largest in the country. It can process 578,000 barrels of oil a day into gasoline, asphalt, propane and other substances. It has long received local tax subsidies, some of which have stirred recent controversy in a parish known for heavy industry and a high risk of air pollution.

    By the time Marathon made its fall layoffs, it had already quietly announced that it would claim a $1.1bn tax refund, thanks to Cares Act provisions which gave companies tax benefits based on net operating losses.

    “Understanding the benefits that Marathon received to presumably stimulate them into maintaining full employment, it’s frustrating to have still been chopped,” the laid-off worker said.

    He expressed regret that the company had invested much of its cash flow in recent years in an “aggressive stock buyback program” rather than protecting workers during economic downturns.

    During the pandemic, oil corporations have received billions of dollars in taxpayer money from multiple programs, “with no strings attached”, said Jesse Coleman, a senior researcher at Documented Investigations.

    “Executives receiving this bailout did nothing to address the industry’s fundamental unsustainability. Instead, these companies decimated their workforce with layoffs while maximizing profits for executives and shareholders,” Coleman said.

    Marathon in an email defended its federal pandemic tax breaks. Spokesman Jamal Kheiry said the Cares provision “helps companies hard-hit by the pandemic’s significant effects on the economy”.

    Kheiry noted that the company lost $9.8bn after taxes last year and faced uncertainty over demand for gasoline and other refined products, which were needed less during the pandemic. Marathon idled its refineries in Gallup, New Mexico, and in Martinez, California, he added.

    “We also made the very difficult decision to reduce our workforce, including reductions associated with the idlings,” he said. “To help affected employees transition, we provided severance, bonus payments, extended healthcare benefits at employee rates, job placement assistance, counseling and other provisions.”

    The public dollars Marathon took were made possible by Congress’ changes to federal tax law, which allowed companies to deduct previous years’ financial losses from taxes that the company already paid. That means that the more Marathon lost in 2020 – as well as in losses unrelated to the pandemic in 2019 and 2018 – the more they were refunded from previous years’ tax payments.

    BailoutWatch found that the fossil fuel industry was more likely than other sectors to benefit from the tax changes in the Cares Act because of their financial losses in 2019 and 2018, when refining margins were already in decline during those less profitable years. The watchdog group also found that fossil fuel companies lobbied heavily for these changes during the drafting of the legislation. Marathon spent $2.6m on lobbying in Washington in 2020, including to increase Cares Act tax deductions.

    In all, the report found that 77 oil and gas companies received $8.24bn from the Cares Act tax refunds while laying off nearly 60,000 employees. Marathon’s federal tax breaks are in addition to state and local tax incentives that the company receives in Louisiana.

    Jan Moller, director of the tax policy-focused Louisiana Budget Project, said Louisiana law provides major benefits for the industry. “The thing that makes Louisiana unique is we have the most generous tax exemption scheme in the country for industrial or manufacturing corporations,” he said.

    The Industrial Tax Exemption Program (ITEP) exempts businesses from paying certain parish property taxes in exchange for investments that create or maintain jobs.

    “That’s where Louisiana communities end up losing an awful lot of revenue,” Moller said. “A global corporation comes in and spends, you know, $2bn to build an oil refinery or chemical plant … and they don’t have to pay 80 to 100% of property taxes on that investment for 10 years. And by the time 10 years is up, a lot of that investment has depreciated.”

    Until recent changes, these exemptions were easily renewed. As late as 2017, 40 years after the Garyville refinery was built, Marathon was exempt from paying taxes on 88% of its property as a result of ITEP.

    Because of 2016 rule changes to the tax exemption program signed by the Democratic governor, John Bel Edwards, in an executive order, Marathon Petroleum’s tax bill to St John the Baptist Parish increased dramatically this year.

    Marathon paid $57m in 2020 property taxes, up from $16m in 2019. Their taxes represent about 59% of the parish’s property tax base. However, Marathon still has an estimated $711m worth of property exempted in St John, which saves the company about $12m in local taxes each year, according to data from Louisiana Economic Development, which oversees the tax exemption program.

    These taxes would otherwise be split between St John schools, law enforcement, and parish government. The exemptions have incentivized three thousand temporary construction jobs and one permanent job, according to the data.

    Together Louisiana, a statewide network of congregations and civic organizations that has fought to overhaul the exemptions, found that the state allocated $23bn in subsidies to companies which in turn cut net employment by 26,082 jobs over about two decades.

    In 2020, Marathon was also accused of fraudulently applying for $43m in ITEP exemptions. After an internal investigation by the state, the company dropped its application.

    Broderick Bagert, an organizer with Together Louisiana, said the governor’s 2016 changes to ITEP require companies to either maintain current levels of employment or create new jobs in order to qualify for the exemptions, but enforcement of those rules has been lax.

    “The practice of awarding gigantic, you know, hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to companies that are not only not creating jobs, but that are actively cutting jobs, is continuing,” Bagert said."

    A US oil company cut nearly 2,000 jobs – and reaped $2.1bn in pandemic benefits | Louisiana | The Guardian

    High Hopes for Johnson & Johnson’s Covid Vaccine Have Fizzled in the U.S. - The New York Times

    High Hopes for Johnson & Johnson’s Covid Vaccine Have Fizzled in the U.S.

    Production problems and a brief pause on its use kept the one-dose vaccine from becoming the game changer that health officials across the country believed it would be.

    Cesar Gonzalez receiving his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine in LaPlace, La., on Thursday. The state has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the United States.
    Emily Kask for The New York Times

    WASHINGTON — When Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose coronavirus vaccine was authorized for emergency use in late February, ​it was seen as a breakthrough for reaching vulnerable and isolated Americans, a crucial alternative to vaccines that require two shots weeks apart and fussier storage. It was soon popular on college campuses, in door-to-door campaigns and with harder-to-reach communities that often struggle with to access health care.

    But with only 11.8 million doses administered in the United States so far — less than 4 percent of the total — the “one and done” vaccine has fallen flat. States have warned for weeks that they may not find recipients for millions of doses that will soon expire, partly because the vaccine’s appeal dropped after it was linked to a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder and injections were paused for 10 days in April.

    The vaccine took another hit last week, when regulators told Johnson & Johnson that it should throw out tens of millions of additional doses produced at a plant in Baltimore because they might be contaminated. The diminished supply and enthusiasm for the shot mean that its role in the United States is fading fast, even though millions of Americans have yet to be vaccinated.

    “It’s just not what I think anybody would have hoped it would be when it came out,” said Dave Baden, the chief financial officer of the Oregon Health Authority.

    Health officials in a number of other states presented a similarly discouraging picture. The pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, they said, effectively kicked it aside for good; only about 3.5 million doses have been used since the pause was lifted on April 23. Kim Deti, a spokeswoman for the Wyoming Health Department, said the graph of uptake in her state told the vaccine’s story: a significant climb in the early weeks of its rollout, followed by a plateau that began around the pause.

    State officials had initially hoped the Johnson & Johnson shot would be a workhorse: a versatile, easy-to-store tool they could stockpile at mass vaccination sites, quickly reaching thousands of people they would not need to track down for a second dose. But after demand dropped, their goals grew more modest.

    It is being used in a smaller-bore fashion this week at the Fiesta festival in San Antonio, the College World Series in Omaha, a Juneteenth celebration in Johnstown, Pa., and an aquarium in Long Beach, Calif. At a food bank in Reno, Nev., 12 doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine were administered on Thursday, said Jocelyn Lantrip, the director of marketing and communications for the Food Bank of Northern Nevada.

    Administering a Johnson & Johnson vaccine in Leominster, Mass., in April. Injections of the company’s shot were paused that month after it was linked to a rare but serious blood-clotting disorder.
    CJ Gunther/EPA, via Shutterstock

    Between the small number of doses distributed and the lack of interest in them, public health experts say, the United States missed a critical opportunity to address health disparities with a vaccine that should have been ideal for reaching vulnerable populations. Dr. Chip Riggins, a regional medical director who oversees vaccine events in south central Louisiana, said that few organizers requested the shot anymore, even in a state with one of the lowest vaccination rates in the country.

    “In the early days of J&J, working with the African American community and the churches, the faith community here, it was a very, very popular option,” Dr. Riggins said. “It pains me that it isn’t being accepted like it was before the pause.”

    Dr. José R. Romero, the Arkansas health secretary, called the shot’s fast decline a “lost opportunity” for reaching the vulnerable in his state.

    “This is a vaccine that was very well-suited for populations where we have problems getting into,” he said. “We’re now at the point where it’s five people or three people; it doesn’t matter, we’ll open a vial.”

    Dr. Riggins said he had limited success in recent months sending the vaccine to churches, casinos and even gas stations, including one in LaPlace, La., where organizers offered the shot on Thursday. An international crew on a ship was elated to receive their shots last weekend, Dr. Riggins said. But not being able to fully protect more people with just a single dose, he added, was hindering the state’s progress.

    Johnson & Johnson’s decline in the United States has dovetailed with decreasing demand for Covid vaccines overall. Nearly 30 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are sitting unused, as are about 25 million of Moderna’s. But a total of 135 million people have been fully immunized with those vaccines, 11 times more than with Johnson & Johnson’s. The two-dose vaccines have a higher efficacy rate overall — roughly 95 percent versus 72 percent for Johnson & Johnson’s — but studies showed that all three were highly effective at preventing hospitalization and death.

    Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson’s chief executive, said last week that he was still hopeful that the vaccine, which has been used in 26 countries so far, would help contain the pandemic overseas. The company has promised up to 400 million doses to the African Union. Separately, Covax, the global vaccine-sharing program, is supposed to receive hundreds of millions of doses.

    Alkis Konstantinidis/Reuters

    “We still believe that this is going to be a very important tool in the overall armamentarium,” Mr. Gorsky said at an event hosted by The Wall Street Journal.

    But manufacturing problems at a factory in Baltimore run by Emergent BioSolutions, Johnson & Johnson’s subcontractor, have had serious consequences for the vaccine. Because of a major production mishap that resulted in a two-month shutdown in operations, Johnson & Johnson has essentially been forced to sit out the brunt of the pandemic in the United States while Pfizer and Moderna, the other federally authorized vaccine makers, provided almost all the nation’s vaccine stock.

    Johnson & Johnson has had to throw out the equivalent of 75 million doses, and the regulatory authorities in Canada, South Africa and the European Union also decided to pull back millions more doses made at the Baltimore plant. The company has been able to deliver only one-fourth of the 100 million doses it promised the federal government by the end of this month.

    Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska’s chief medical officer, said that in her state, Johnson & Johnson’s shot had become a victim of its own timing. By late February, when it was authorized by the Food and Drug Administration, Alaska had figured out how to get two-dose vaccines to remote areas, leaving the one-shot regimen less crucial than she had initially imagined.

    Dr. Clay Marsh, West Virginia’s Covid-19 czar, said that the pause and Johnson & Johnson’s later authorization — more than two months after Pfizer’s and Moderna’s — deprived it of a “halo effect.” By the time West Virginia had an ample supply of all three vaccines, he said, “people started to get this concept that maybe there’s something better about being immunized with Pfizer and Moderna.”

    The Johnson & Johnson shot had also suffered from a “social network effect,” said Andrew C. Anderson, a professor of public health at Tulane University who researches vaccine hesitancy. Most Americans who were inoculated in the early months of the vaccine campaign received Moderna and Pfizer shots, and so their friends and family were less likely to deviate and accept a different brand.

    In Louisiana, hospitals in the New Orleans area have started offering the Johnson & Johnson shot to people on their way out of the emergency room; the thinking is that people will be more likely to accept the vaccine when a doctor who has treated them asks them to take it. And in Arkansas, where only a third of the population is fully vaccinated, state officials are offering Johnson & Johnson doses to agriculture, manufacturing, wastewater and poultry workers, with gift certificates for hunting and fishing licenses as a reward.

    Emily Kask for The New York Times

    “I don’t think that the book on J&J is closed,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, Louisiana’s top health official. “It’s just not going to be a game changer.”

    In West Virginia, officials are now hoping to use up some 20,000 doses of the shot at summer fairs and festivals and in parks, Dr. Marsh said. And in Oregon, Mr. Baden, the state health authority official, said that providers were working to exhaust about 150,000 doses in correctional facilities and higher-throughput sites in Portland. The sharp drop in interest, he said, was “tragic.”

    Onisis Stefas, the chief pharmacy officer at Northwell Health, New York State’s largest health care provider, said he was still working through the system’s original allocation of Johnson & Johnson from March — a sign that demand had shriveled long ago. Doctors’ offices have asked for as few as 10 doses at a time instead of the pack of 50 the vaccine typically comes in.

    In Michigan, where more than 200,000 Johnson & Johnson doses sit unused, officials are racing to redistribute the vaccine to high-volume sites in hopes of administering them before they expire.

    “It’s just kind of one after another negative news about the vaccine,” said Dr. Joneigh S. Khaldun, the chief medical executive in the state.

    Sharon LaFraniere contributed reporting."


    High Hopes for Johnson & Johnson’s Covid Vaccine Have Fizzled in the U.S. - The New York Times