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.
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Trump Organization and Top Executive Are Indicted in Tax Investigation
"The former president’s family business and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, are expected to appear in court on Thursday.
A grand jury in Manhattan has indicted Donald J. Trump’s family business, the Trump Organization, and one of its top executives in connection with a tax investigation into fringe benefits handed out at the company, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
The specific charges against the company and its chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, were not immediately clear. The indictment was expected to be unsealed Thursday afternoon after Mr. Weisselberg and lawyers for the Trump Organization appear in court.
But prosecutors in the Manhattan district attorney’s office have been examining bonuses and luxury perks that Mr. Weisselberg received — including an apartment in Manhattan, leased Mercedes-Benz cars and private school tuition for at least one of his grandchildren — and whether taxes should have been paid on those benefits.
The indictment is a major development in the investigation led by the district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., who has been conducting a sweeping inquiry into Mr. Trump and his business dealings along with the New York State attorney general, Letitia James.
The charges will deal a blow to Mr. Trump, who has denounced the investigation as political persecution. Although he could rally supporters around the idea that he is the victim of what he has called a “witch hunt,” defending his company on criminal charges could be an expensive distraction as he considers another presidential run.
The indictment will also amplify the pressure that prosecutors have placed on Mr. Weisselberg for months to turn on Mr. Trump and cooperate with their ongoing investigation. In nearly a half-century of service to Mr. Trump’s family businesses, Mr. Weisselberg, 73, has survived — and thrived — by anticipating and carrying out his boss’s dictates in a zealous mission to protect the bottom line.
Interviews with 18 current and former associates of Mr. Weisselberg, as well as a review of legal filings, financial records and other documents, paint a portrait of a man whose unflinching devotion to Mr. Trump will now be put to the test.
“Allen is a soldier,” said John Burke, a former Trump executive who worked with Mr. Weisselberg in the early 1990s. “Allen was good at doing what Donald wanted him to do.”
A bookkeeper by training who grew up in Brooklyn, Mr. Weisselberg rose steadily within the Trump Organization to become perhaps the former president’s most trusted business adviser. Over decades, Mr. Weisselberg’s personal and family life became increasingly fused with the company and with Mr. Trump, who is just 14 months older.
After raising their sons on Long Island, Mr. Weisselberg and his wife moved into a Trump-branded building on Manhattan’s West Side, where they lived rent-free for years. He bought a home in South Florida, not far from Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, and traveled there and back on weekends on Mr. Trump’s jet. His older son, Barry, went to work for the company managing Wollman Rink in Central Park and acted as the D.J. for Mr. Trump’s Christmas parties, where Allen Weisselberg let loose on the dance floor, according to people who attended. In 2004, Mr. Weisselberg appeared in an episode of “The Apprentice,” Mr. Trump’s reality television show.
“They are like Batman and Robin,” said Barry Weisselberg’s ex-wife, Jennifer, who has aided Mr. Vance’s investigation after a contentious divorce. “They’re a team. They’re not best friends. They don’t spend all their time together, but the world became so insular for Allen that he did not know anything else.”
Mr. Weisselberg had become so woven into the fabric of the Trump Organization that when Mr. Trump moved into the White House in 2017, he entrusted Mr. Weisselberg, along with the former president’s adult sons, with running his company. His earnings reflected his importance: Between 2007 and 2017, his total pay averaged nearly $800,000 a year; in 2018, he earned more than $977,000 in salary and deferred compensation, according to tax return data obtained by The New York Times as part of an investigation published last year.
A lawyer for Mr. Weisselberg, Mary E. Mulligan, declined to comment. A lawyer for the Trump Organization could not immediately be reached for comment.
Even before the indictment, Mr. Weisselberg had in recent years been drawn publicly into Mr. Trump’s controversies and scandals, including investigations over the misuse of charitable funds by the Donald J. Trump Foundation and payments to women on Mr. Trump’s behalf to buy their silence about affairs they said they had with Mr. Trump.
Mr. Trump’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, testified in Congress that Mr. Weisselberg had helped orchestrate a cover-up to reimburse him for a $130,000 payment to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels, and that together they had concocted phony valuations of the company’s real estate holdings to suit Mr. Trump’s needs at any given moment.
Mr. Weisselberg has maintained that keeping a close eye on the organization’s finances and accounting had not given him insight into potential malfeasance at the company. In a 2015 deposition, he made it clear that it was not his job to ensure that the company complied with the law; it was the job of the Trump Organization lawyers.
“I’m the last guy you want to go to for legal advice,” Mr. Weisselberg said in the testimony, for a class-action lawsuit accusing Trump University of fraudulent marketing. Mr. Trump eventually settled litigation over the defunct for-profit venture for $25 million.
For most of his professional career, Mr. Weisselberg operated behind the scenes, looking the part of the prototypical accountant: a man of middling height in a pinstriped or dark suit, with glasses, a mustache and a raspy voice. He seemed to be always at work, from early in the morning to late at night, and almost never took vacations, by his own account and those of others. Employees entering Mr. Trump’s office often found Mr. Weisselberg already inside, seated in the chair to the right facing the boss’s desk.
Mr. Weisselberg studied finance and accounting at Pace College and, after a brief stint as a teacher and at small financial firms, began working in 1973 for Mr. Trump’s father, Fred, then a prominent developer in Brooklyn and Queens. A few years later, he took on projects at night and on weekends for Donald Trump, who was establishing his own presence as a developer in Manhattan. Mr. Weisselberg joined Donald Trump full-time in 1986, he testified in the 2015 deposition.
In the early years, he held the title of controller, and eventually, Mr. Trump elevated him to the loftier post of chief financial officer. Mr. Weisselberg had a wide portfolio: He established an accounting department at the Trump Organization, worked on the financing and management of properties and helped with the company’s and Mr. Trump’s personal tax returns, he has said.
Among the tasks Mr. Weisselberg attacked with fervor, former employees recalled, was ensuring that, per Mr. Trump’s direction, no dime left the company’s coffers unless absolutely necessary.
“He and Trump were like Frick and Frack when it came to stiffing vendors,” Mr. Cohen — who at times took on that same role for Mr. Trump — wrote in a book published last year. Mr. Burke, who served as chief financial officer for Mr. Trump’s casino business, said any Trump employee who dealt with vendorsknew to “squeeze every penny” out of people, and that Mr. Weisselberg excelled at minimizing and delaying payment.
In the office, different sides of Mr. Weisselberg’s personality emerged. With Mr. Trump and his children, or anyone on his level or higher, he appeared mild-mannered, even solicitous. When he received good news about some financial matter, he would hurry down the hall to inform Mr. Trump, said Angel Lopez, who worked in the Trump Organization’s accounting department between 2007 and 2014.
“He always wanted to impress Donald Trump,” Mr. Lopez said.
With those who worked for him, Mr. Weisselberg could be collegial in one moment and volatile in the next. He would often accompany a few of the men in the accounting department to buy lunch at the same deli on West 56th Street. But if he perceived that someone made a mistake, he would yell so loudly he could be heard from behind his closed door, Mr. Lopez said.
Mr. Weisselberg acknowledged he could be a “micromanaging” boss.
“People do know it’s important to involve me when it comes to financial matters,” he said in the 2015 deposition. “Because later on, if things don’t prove out to be where they should be, they’ll have to deal with me on answering the question as to why.”
Mr. Weisselberg did not flinch when it came to denying raises or cutting bonuses to achieve Mr. Trump’s ends.
Rana Williams, who managed Mr. Trump’s sales and leasing division, accused his company in a 2013 lawsuit of illegally withholding $735,000 from her after the company reduced agents’ commissions to 25 percent from 35 percent as the financial crisis unfolded in late 2007.
After her plea to keep the commissions higher was rejected, she sent a letter explaining why she would continue to bill Mr. Trump at the 35 percent rate. Mr. Weisselberg scrawled a note to an assistant at the bottom: “Change Rana’s payment to 25 percent,” he wrote. “Ignore her letter.”
Mr. Weisselberg said in a deposition for that lawsuit that the company had every right to cut the commissions and that Ms. Williams had been free to leave. She testified that she held Mr. Trump responsible. “Allen was delivering a message,” she said.
The lawsuit settled on undisclosed terms. Reached by phone this week, Ms. Williams declined to comment except to say that she is “a fan” of Mr. Weisselberg. She continues to market multimillion-dollar apartments at Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to the listing page at her current brokerage.
But more recently, Mr. Weisselberg’s actions on behalf of Mr. Trump have made him vulnerable. When federal prosecutors charged Mr. Cohen in 2018 with various crimes, including campaign finance violations for the payment to Ms. Daniels, they described Mr. Weisselberg as “Executive-1,” according to people familiar with the matter who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case. Mr. Weisselberg instructed a subordinate to classify the reimbursement to Mr. Cohen as legal fees, even though no legal services were performed, prosecutors wrote.
In his congressional testimony, Mr. Cohen pinned blame for masking the repayment scheme on Mr. Weisselberg.
Ultimately, the federal prosecutors scrutinized whether Mr. Weisselberg had committed perjury when he told a grand jury that he was unaware that the payment to Mr. Cohen involved reimbursement for the hush money, according to people with knowledge of the matter. (A person familiar with Mr. Weisselberg’s account has said he disputed Mr. Cohen’s assertions that Mr. Trump was involved in the payment to Ms. Daniels or the reimbursement.)
By July 2019, the investigation appeared to be over, and the federal prosecutors never accused Mr. Weisselberg of any wrongdoing.
Since then, Mr. Vance’s investigation has picked up speed, and Mr. Weisselberg has remained in the public eye.
The ordeal of living in the cross hairs of a criminal investigation, and seeing his name in a drumbeat of recent media coverage, has not discouraged Mr. Weisselberg from working. Over the last few months, he has continued to show up at Trump Tower, at times coming face-to-face with Mr. Trump.
But now, the Trump Organization’s lawyers have taken steps to avoid the appearance of any impropriety. In the past, many of Mr. Trump and Mr. Weisselberg’s conversations were private and behind closed doors. Now, they are under instructions to meet in the presence of a witness.
Reporting was contributed by Russ Buettner, Kate Christobek, Susanne Craig and William K. Rashbaum. Susan Beachy contributed research."
How a Conservative Activist Invented the Conflict Over Critical Race Theory To Christopher Rufo, a term for a school of legal scholarship looked like the perfect weapon.
To Christopher Rufo, a term for a school of legal scholarship looked like the perfect weapon.
“Remote work turned out to be advantageous for people looking to leak information to reporters. Instructions that once might have been given in conversation now often had to be written down and beamed from one home office to another. Holding a large meeting on Zoom often required e-mailing supporting notes and materials—more documents to leak. Before the pandemic, if you thought that an anti-racism seminar at your workplace had gone awry, you had to be both brave and sneaky to record it. At home, it was so much easier. Zoom allowed you to record and take screenshots, and if you were worried that such actions could be traced you could use your cell phone, or your spouse’s cell phone, or your friend’s. Institutions that had previously seemed impenetrable have been pried open: Amazon, the I.R.S., the U.S. Treasury. But some less obviously tectonic leaks have had a more direct political effect, as was the case in July, 2020, when an employee of the city of Seattle documented an anti-bias training session and sent the evidence to a journalist named Christopher F. Rufo, who read it and recognized a political opportunity.
Rufo, thirty-six, was at once an unconventional and a savvy choice for the leaker to select. Raised by Italian immigrants in Sacramento and educated at Georgetown, Rufo had spent his twenties and early thirties working as a documentary filmmaker, largely overseas, making touristic projects such as “Roughing It: Mongolia,” and “Diamond in the Dunes,” about a joint Uyghur-Han baseball team in the Chinese province of Xinjiang. In 2015, Rufo began work on a film for PBS that traced the experience of poverty in three American cities, and in the course of filming Rufo became convinced that poverty was not something that could be alleviated with a policy lever but was deeply embedded in “social, familial, even psychological” dynamics, and his politics became more explicitly conservative. Returning home to Seattle, where his wife worked for Microsoft, Rufo got a small grant from a regional, conservative think tank to report on homelessness, and then ran an unsuccessful campaign for city council, in 2018. His work so outraged Seattle’s homelessness activists that, during his election campaign, someone plastered his photo and home address on utility poles around his neighborhood. When Rufo received the anti-bias documents from the city of Seattle, he knew how to spot political kindling. These days, “I’m a brawler,” Rufo told me cheerfully.
Through FOIA requests, Rufo turned up slideshows and curricula for the Seattle anti-racism seminars. Under the auspices of the city’s Office for Civil Rights, employees across many departments were being divided up by race for implicit-bias training. (“Welcome: Internalized Racial Superiority for White People,” read one introductory slide, over an image of the Seattle skyline.) “What do we do in white people space?” read a second slide. One bullet point suggested that the attendees would be “working through emotions that often come up for white people like sadness, shame, paralysis, confusion, denial.” Another bullet point emphasized “retraining,” learning new “ways of seeing that are hidden from us in white supremacy.” A different slide listed supposed expressions of internalized white supremacy, including perfectionism, objectivity, and individualism. Rufo summarized his findings in an article for the Web site of City Journal, the magazine of the center-right Manhattan Institute: “Under the banner of ‘antiracism,’ Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights is now explicitly endorsing principles of segregationism, group-based guilt, and race essentialism—ugly concepts that should have been left behind a century ago.”
The story was a phenomenon and helped to generate more leaks from across the country. Marooned at home, civil servants recorded and photographed their own anti-racism training sessions and sent the evidence to Rufo. Reading through these documents, and others, Rufo noticed that they tended to cite a small set of popular anti-racism books, by authors such as Ibram X. Kendi and Robin DiAngelo. Rufo read the footnotes in those books, and found that they pointed to academic scholarship from the nineteen-nineties, by a group of legal scholars who referred to their work as critical race theory, in particular Kimberlé Crenshaw and Derrick Bell. These scholars argued that the white supremacy of the past lived on in the laws and societal rules of the present. As Crenshaw recently explained, critical race theory found that “the so-called American dilemma was not simply a matter of prejudice but a matter of structured disadvantages that stretched across American society.”
This inquiry, into the footnotes and citations in the documents he’d been sent, formed the basis for an idea that has organized cultural politics this spring: that the anti-racism seminars did not just represent a progressive view on race but that they were expressions of a distinct ideology—critical race theory—with radical roots. If people were upset about the seminars, Rufo wanted them also to notice “critical race theory” operating behind the curtain. Following the trail back through the citations in the legal scholars’ texts, Rufo thought that he could detect the seed of their ideas in radical, often explicitly Marxist, critical-theory texts from the generation of 1968. (Crenshaw said that this was a selective, “red-baiting” account of critical race theory’s origins, which overlooked less divisive influences such as Martin Luther King, Jr.) But Rufo believed that he could detect a single lineage, and that the same concepts and terms that organized discussions among white employees of the city of Seattle, or the anti-racism seminars at Sandia National Laboratories, were present a half century ago. “Look at Angela Davis—you see all of the key terms,” Rufo said. Davis had been Herbert Marcuse’s doctoral student, and Rufo had been reading her writing from the late sixties to the mid-seventies. He felt as if he had begun with a branch and discovered the root. If financial regulators in Washington were attending seminars in which they read Kendi’s writing that anti-racism was not possible without anti-capitalism, then maybe that was more than casual talk.
As Rufo eventually came to see it, conservatives engaged in the culture war had been fighting against the same progressive racial ideology since late in the Obama years, without ever being able to describe it effectively. “We’ve needed new language for these issues,” Rufo told me, when I first wrote to him, late in May. “ ‘Political correctness’ is a dated term and, more importantly, doesn’t apply anymore. It’s not that elites are enforcing a set of manners and cultural limits, they’re seeking to reengineer the foundation of human psychology and social institutions through the new politics of race, It’s much more invasive than mere ‘correctness,’ which is a mechanism of social control, but not the heart of what’s happening. The other frames are wrong, too: ‘cancel culture’ is a vacuous term and doesn’t translate into a political program; ‘woke’ is a good epithet, but it’s too broad, too terminal, too easily brushed aside. ‘Critical race theory’ is the perfect villain,” Rufo wrote.
He thought that the phrase was a better description of what conservatives were opposing, but it also seemed like a promising political weapon. “Its connotations are all negative to most middle-class Americans, including racial minorities, who see the world as ‘creative’ rather than ‘critical,’ ‘individual’ rather than ‘racial,’ ‘practical’ rather than ‘theoretical.’ Strung together, the phrase ‘critical race theory’ connotes hostile, academic, divisive, race-obsessed, poisonous, elitist, anti-American.” Most perfect of all, Rufo continued, critical race theory is not “an externally applied pejorative.” Instead, “it’s the label the critical race theorists chose themselves.”
Last summer, Rufo published several more pieces for City Journal, and, on September 2nd, he appeared on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.” Rufo had prepared a three-minute monologue, to be uploaded to a teleprompter at a Seattle studio, and he had practiced carefully enough that when a teleprompter wasn’t available he still remembered what to say. On air, set against the deep-blue background of Fox News, he told Carlson, “It’s absolutely astonishing how critical race theory”—he said those three words slowly, for emphasis—“has pervaded every aspect of the federal government.” Carlson’s face retracted into a familiar pinched squint while Rufo recounted several of his articles. Then he said what he’d come to say: “Conservatives need to wake up. This is an existential threat to the United States. And the bureaucracy, even under Trump, is being weaponized against core American values. And I’d like to make it explicit: The President and the White House—it’s within their authority to immediately issue an executive order to abolish critical-race-theory training from the federal government. And I call on the President to immediately issue this executive order—to stamp out this destructive, divisive, pseudoscientific ideology.”
The next morning, Rufo was home with his wife and two sons when he got a phone call from a 202 area code. The man on the other end, Rufo recalled, said, “ ‘Chris, this is Mark Meadows, chief of staff, reaching out on behalf of the President. He saw your segment on ‘Tucker’ last night, and he’s instructed me to take action.” Soon after, Rufo flew to Washington, D.C., to assist in drafting an executive order, issued by the White House in late September, that limited how contractors providing federal diversity seminars could talk about race. “This entire movement came from nothing,” Rufo wrote to me recently, as the conservative campaign against critical race theory consumed Twitter each morning and Fox News each night. But the truth is more specific than that. Really, it came from him.
Last Thursday, I travelled to visit Rufo at home in Gig Harbor, Washington, a small city on the Puget Sound with the faint but ineradicable atmosphere of early retirement—of pier-side low-exertion midmorning yoga classes. Rufo has a thin, brown beard and an inquisitive, outdoorsy manner, and when we met for lunch on a local café’s veranda he spoke about his political commitments (to conservatism against critical race theory) loudly enough for those around us to hear. Rufo and his wife, Suphatra, a computer programmer at Amazon Web Services who emigrated from Thailand in elementary school, moved to Gig Harbor last year, in part to get away from the intense political climate that had coalesced around him in Seattle. The move had coincided with his increasing prominence, and so Gig Harbor had not been as professionally isolating as he had at first feared. Wearing a gray flannel shirt and dark jeans, Rufo showed me the soundproofed home studio he’d recently built, with a hookup to send a broadcast-quality signal to Fox News.
Since his appearance on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” last fall, Rufo’s rise had matched that of the movement against critical race theory. He’d become a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, for which he had written more than two dozen document-based articles—mostly about anti-bias training in the government, schools, and corporations—which, he told me, had together accrued more than two hundred and fifty million impressions online. (“That’s a lot,” he said.) Carlson has been an especially effective ally; he relied on Rufo’s reporting for an hour-long episode this spring on “woke education,” and invited Rufo to join as a segment guest. Conservatives in state legislatures across the country have proposed (and, in some cases, passed) legislation banning or restricting critical-race-theory instruction or seminars; Rufo has advised on the language for more than ten bills. When Ron DeSantis and Tom Cotton have tweeted about critical race theory, they have borrowed Rufo’s phrases. He has travelled to Washington, D.C., to speak to an audience of two dozen members of Congress, and mentioned in passing that earlier in May he’d had drinks with Ted Cruz. In the 2016 Presidential election, Rufo had cast a dissenter’s vote for Gary Johnson. In 2020, he voted to reëlect Trump. Rufo said, “I mean, how can you not? It would have seemed rude and ungrateful.”
Rufo’s new position did not give him just a view up, into the world of Republican power, but down, into the mounting outrage at anti-racism programs across the country. Rufo set up a tip line last October, and has so far received thousands of tips, many of which he thought were substantive. (An assistant does the culling.) From among this pile, he’d discovered that third graders in Cupertino, California, were being asked to rank themselves and their classmates according to their privilege; he also learned about a three-day whiteness retreat for white male executives at Lockheed Martin and an initiative at Disney urging executives to “decolonize their bookshelves.” Some of the outrage appeared to have been ginned up by local political actors—a particularly combative and high-profile anti-C.R.T. parents’ group in Loudoun County was organized by a former Trump Justice Department official—but it was nonetheless deeply felt. In Loudoun, one parent had said, “If you spend millions to call people in our community racist, you better be able to prove it.”
In Rufo’s living room in Gig Harbor, I asked what he thought constituted the emotional core of the protests against critical race theory—was it simply that white people thought they were being unfairly called racist? “I think that’s a part of it, for sure, ” Rufo said, but he also listed other complaints. He’d spoken to parents in Cupertino, who, he said, “were incredibly pissed off because they were doing, like, race and gender theory during math class.” He’d also spoken to wealthy private-school parents who considered themselves liberals and who were worried, Rufo said, that too much race talk might bring about a form of “mental bulimia” among their children. A member of another group, of conservatives, reported suddenly feeling that “these institutions that I believe in”—the school, the workplace—“are being devoured by an ideology I don’t understand.”
Rufo opened his laptop and, after a couple of clicks, showed me a screenshot from the anti-racism training session that white male executives at Lockheed Martin had been required to attend. “Look at these dudes!” Rufo said. A Zoom array of middle-aged white male heads greeted me—a dozen men looking, on the whole, a little apprehensive. The Lockheed training had evidently included an exercise in which the executives had explained in writing what they hoped to get out of the session. Rufo had the responses and read them. One executive had written, “I won’t get replaced by someone who is a better full-diversity partner.” Another had said, “Evolving the white male culture so future generations won’t be stereotyped.” A third: “I’ll have less nagging sense of guilt that I’m the problem.” I thought these sounded less like expressions of outrage than annoyance, of a bunch of powerful people who would have preferred to return to selling bombers to the Air Force.
Rufo, who saw these statements as evidence of “humiliation,” said that what he often heard from conservatives in situations like this was that “there’s very heavy psychological stuff happening here at work.” That “heavy psychological stuff” reflected what Rufo thought of as a Marxist strain running through critical race theory: “a really profound pairing of the destructive instinct, a desire to smash society as it’s been known, paired with this very utopian instinct, that once we smash society something will happen that we can’t explain, outline, or predict, and it will elevate humanity—human nature will be different.” He added, “It’s the same stuff. I mean—in Lockheed Martin, it’s kind of bastardized and dumbed down. But that’s the impulse that I feel. It’s the pairing of destruction and utopia.”
The next day, I spoke by phone with Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor with appointments at Columbia and U.C.L.A., and perhaps the most prominent figure associated with critical race theory—a term she had, long ago, coined. Crenshaw sounded slightly exasperated by how much coverage focussed on the semantic question of what critical race theory meant rather than the political one about the nature of the campaign against it. “It should go without saying that what they are calling critical race theory is a whole range of things, most of which no one would sign on to, and many of the things in it are simply about racism,” she said. When I asked what was new to her about the conservative movement against critical race theory, she said that the main thing was that it had been championed last fall not by conservative academics but by Donald Trump, then the President of the United States, and by many leading conservative political and media figures. But the broader pattern was not new, or surprising. “Reform itself creates its own backlash, which reconstitutes the problem in the first place,” Crenshaw said, noting that she’d made this argument in her first law-review article, in 1988. George Floyd’s murder had led to “so many corporations and opinion-shaping institutions making statements about structural racism”—creating a new, broader anti-racist alignment, or at least the potential for one. “This is a post-George Floyd backlash,” Crenshaw said. “The reason why we’re having this conversation is that the line of scrimmage has moved.”
As she saw it, the campaign against critical race theory represented a familiar effort to shift the point of the argument, so that, rather than being about structural racism, post-George Floyd politics were about the seminars that had proliferated to address structural racism. I asked Crenshaw whether she thought that the anti-racism seminars were doing good. “Sure, I’ve been witness to trainings that I thought, Ennnnnh, not quite sure that’s the way I would approach it,” she said. “To be honest, sometimes people want a shortcut. They want the one- to two-hour training that will solve the problem. And it will not solve the problem. And sometimes it creates a backlash.” Many liberals had responded to the conservative campaign against critical race theory by arguing first that those loudly denouncing it often had no idea what they were talking about, and second by suggesting that the supposed grassroots outrage was really the work of Republican operatives. Both responses made sense, but Crenshaw was suggesting a deeper historical pattern, in which the campaign against critical race theory was not an aberration but long-lasting retrenchment. “The fact is there aren’t any easily digestible red pills,” Crenshaw said. “If we’re really going to dig our way out of the hole this country was born into, it’s gonna be a process.”
On this, at least, Rufo might not have disagreed too much. His adaptation of the term “critical race theory” was itself an effort to emphasize a deep historical and intellectual pattern to anti-racism, and he, too, found it predictable that people encountering it for the first time would be outraged by it. The rebranding was, in some ways, an excuse for politicians to stage the same old fights over race within different institutions and on new terrain. At my lunch with Rufo, I’d asked what he hoped this movement might achieve. He mentioned two objectives, the first of which was “to politicize the bureaucracy.” Rufo said that the bureaucracy had been dominated by liberals, and he thought that the debates over critical race theory offered a way for conservatives to “take some of these essentially corrupted state agencies and then contest them, and then create rival power centers within them.” I thought of the bills that Rufo had helped draft, which restricted how social-studies teachers could describe current events to millions of public-school children, and the open letter a Kansas Republican legislator had sent to the leaders of public universities in the state, demanding to know which faculty members were teaching critical race theory. Mission accomplished.”
“The Supreme Court voted 5 to 4 on Tuesday night to leave in place the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s ban on evictions, imposed to combat the coronavirus pandemic and prevent homelessness.
A group of landlords, real estate companies and real estate trade associations in Alabama and Georgia convinced U.S. District Judge Dabney Friedrich in the spring that the CDC lacked authority to impose the moratorium.
But Friedrich stayed her order to allow appeals to continue. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit kept it in place, saying it believed the government was likely to prevail.
At the Supreme Court, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. joined fellow conservative Brett M. Kavanaugh and liberal Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan to keep the stay in place.
Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel A. Alito Jr. Neil M. Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett said they would have lifted the stay, which would have struck down the moratorium.
Neither side explained its reasoning in the short emergency order. But Kavanaugh wrote separately to say that while he agreed the CDC had exceeded its authority, this was not the time to scuttle the ban on evictions.
“Because the CDC plans to end the moratorium in only a few weeks, on July 31, and because those few weeks will allow for additional and more orderly distribution of the congressionally appropriated rental assistance funds,” the stay should remain in place, Kavanaugh said.
He added that in his view, any further extension of the moratorium would require “clear and specific congressional authorization” via new legislation.
On June 24, CDC Director Rochelle Walensky extended the evictions moratoriumfrom June 30 until July 31. The CDC said “this is intended to be the final extension of the moratorium.”
The White House is ramping up efforts aimed at preventing evictions, in particular by accelerating the disbursal of federal aid to millions of renters across the country. These efforts are being led in part by Gene Sperling, who was brought into the administration to oversee implementation of the administration’s $1.9 trillion relief package, which included tens of billions in rental aid.
After a congressional moratorium on evictions expired last summer, President Donald Trump ordered the CDC to step in. It issued an order in September, citing its power to take emergency actions to stop the infection’s spread. It said it applied to tenants who, if evicted, would likely become homeless or be forced to live in close quarters in a congregate or shared-living setting.
The moratorium deadline has been extended several times.
The realtors told the Supreme Court that the CDC had gone too far and that the moratorium was no longer needed.
“If Americans can safely gather together indoors without adhering to the most basic COVID-19 precautions, then there is no longer any public-health rationale for the moratorium,” they said in their brief to the Supreme Court.
“The CDC’s continued insistence that public-health concerns necessitate that landlords continue to provide free housing for tenants who have received vaccines (or passed up the chance to get them) is sheer doublespeak.”
But the government’s lawyer, Acting Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar, told the court the CDC had the authority and its judgment should be trusted during the pandemic, especially as children go unvaccinated and new variants of the virus emerge.
She also said the pain felt by landlords is only temporary and that Congress has appropriated nearly $50 billion for rental assistance.
Local governments may use the funds “to pay up to 12 months of back rent and an additional three months of future rent for eligible tenants,” Prelogar wrote. “The funds are payable directly to landlords.”
Masks Again? Delta Variant’s Spread Prompts Reconsideration of Precautions. Los Angeles County and the W.H.O. warned that even immunized people should wear masks indoors. Some scientists agreed, but urged a localized approach.
“Los Angeles County and the W.H.O. warned that even immunized people should wear masks indoors. Some scientists agreed, but urged a localized approach.
Throughout the pandemic, masks have ranked among the most contentious public health measures in the United States, symbolizing a bitter partisan divide over the role of government and individual liberties.
Now, with a new variant of the coronavirus rapidly spreading across the globe, masks are again the focus of conflicting views, and fears, about the course of pandemic and the restrictions required to manage it.
The renewed concerns follow the wildfire growth of the Delta variant, a highly infectious form of the virus first detected in India and later identified in at least 85 countries. It now accounts for one in five infections in the United States.
In May, federal health officials said that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to mask up, even indoors. The advice signified a sea change in American life, setting the stage for a national reopening that continues to gain momentum.
But that was before the spread of the Delta variant. Worried by a global surge in cases, the World Health Organization last week reiterated its longstanding recommendation that everyone — including the inoculated — wear masks to stem the spread of the virus.
On Monday, health officials in Los Angeles County followed suit, recommending that “everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors in public places as a precautionary measure.”
Barbara Ferrer, the county’s public health director, said the new recommendation was needed because of upticks in infections, a rise in cases due to the worrisome Delta variant, and persistently high numbers of unvaccinated residents, particularly children, Black and Latino residents and essential workers.
Roughly half of Los Angeles County residents are fully vaccinated, and about 60 percent have had at least one dose. While the number of positive tests is still below 1 percent in the county, the rate has been inching up, Dr. Ferrer added, and there has been a rise in the number of reinfections among residents who were infected before and did not get vaccinated.
To the extent that Los Angeles County has managed to control the pandemic, it has been because of a multilayered strategy that combined vaccinations with health restrictions aimed at curbing new infections, Dr. Ferrer said. Natural immunity among those already infected has also kept transmission low, she noted, but it is not clear how long natural immunity will last.
“We don’t want to return to lockdown or more disruptive mandates here,” Dr. Ferrer said. “We want to stay on the path we’re on right now, which is keeping community transmission really low.”
Health officials in Chicago and New York City said on Tuesday that they had no plans to revisit mask requirements. Officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention declined to comment, but have not signaled any intention to revise or re-examine masking recommendations for those who are fully vaccinated.
“When the C.D.C. made the recommendation to quit masking, it didn’t anticipate being in a situation where we might need to recommend masking again,” said Angela Rasmussen, a research scientist at the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.
“Nobody’s going to want to do it. People are understandably accusing them of moving the goalposts.”
But the Delta variant's trajectory outside the United States suggests that concerns are likely to intensify.
Countries in the Asia-Pacific region are now reimposing restrictions and stay-at-home orders as the variant drives new surges. Four Australian cites have reimposed lockdowns, and on Monday, the Malaysian government said nationwide stay-at-home orders would be extended indefinitely.
Even Israel — which has one of the highest vaccination rates in the world and is aggressively immunizing younger adolescents and teenagers who qualify — has reinstated masking requirements in public indoor spaces and at large public gatherings outdoors, after hundreds of new Covid-19 cases were detected in recent days, including among people who had received both doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
This is not the first time the world has been consumed by a more contagious variant of the coronavirus. The Alpha variant walloped Britain and brought the rest of Europe to a standstill earlier this year. In the United States, Alpha quickly became the dominant variant by late March, but the rapid pace of vaccination blunted its spread, sparing the nation a big surge in infections.
But Delta is thought to be even more fearsome. Much of what is known about the variant is based on its spread in India and Britain, but early evidence indicates that it is perhaps twice as contagious as the original virus and at least 20 percent more contagious than Alpha.
In many Indian states and European nations, Delta quickly outpaced Alpha to become the dominant version of the virus. It is on track to do the same in the United States.
Among the variant’s many mutations are some that may help the virus partly dodge the immune system. Several studies have shown that while the current vaccines are effective against Delta, they are slightly less so than against most other variants. For individuals who have received only one dose of a two-dose regimen, protection against the variant is significantly reduced, compared with efficacy against other forms of the virus.
The W.H.O.’s rationale for maintaining masking is that while immunization is highly effective at preventing severe illness and death, the degree to which vaccines prevent mild or asymptomatic infections is unknown. (Officials at the C.D.C. disagree, saying the risk is minimal.)
The W.H.O. maintains that vaccinated people should wear masks in crowded, close and poorly ventilated areas, and should continue with other preventive measures, like social distancing.
“What we’re saying is: ‘Once you’ve been fully vaccinated, continue to play it safe, because you could end up as part of a transmission chain. You may not actually be fully protected,’” Dr. Bruce Aylward, a senior adviser to the W.H.O., said at a news briefing last week.
Even countries with relatively high vaccination rates have seen an increase in infections driven by the Delta variant. Britain, where some two-thirds of the population have received at least one dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or AstraZeneca vaccine and just under half have received two doses, is nonetheless grappling with a sharp rise in infections from the variant.
It is not certain what course the Delta variant will take in the United States. Coronavirus infections have been plunging for months, as have hospitalizations and deaths. But Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease doctor, has called the variant “the greatest threat” to eliminating the virus in the United States.
In May, when C.D.C. officials lifted masking recommendations, they cited research showing that fully vaccinated people were unlikely to become infected with the virus, even with asymptomatic infections.
But the variant’s talent for even partial immune evasion makes researchers nervous, as it suggests that fully vaccinated people may sometimes pick up asymptomatic infections and unknowingly spread the virus to others even if they never become ill.
The Delta variant can infect vaccinated people, although its ability to do so is very limited, said Bill Hanage, an epidemiologist at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “If you are in a place where cases are climbing, wearing a mask indoors in crowded public spaces is a way to keep yourself from contributing to the spread of Delta,” he said.
Other scientists stop short of recommending that fully vaccinated people always wear masks indoors, but some now suggest that this may be appropriate depending on local circumstances — for example, wherever the virus is circulating in high numbers, or vaccination rates are very low.
“Masking in public enclosed spaces needs to continue even after vaccination, until we can get everyone vaccinated or a new vaccine that is more effective against Delta transmission,” said Dr. Ravindra Gupta, a virologist at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
Even now, roughly half of Americans are not vaccinated, and a wide swath of the country remains vulnerable to outbreaks of the virus and its variants. Vaccines for children under age 12 are not likely to be authorized until the fall, at the earliest.
In Saskatchewan, Canada, reopening has proceeded in stages that are tied to population vaccination rates and the percentage of people in certain age brackets who have been vaccinated.
The province is moving to Step 3 of re-entry on July 11, but may maintain indoor masking requirements and restrictions on the size of gatherings, said Dr. Rasmussen, of the University of Saskatchewan. The strategy “makes a lot more sense than just saying, ‘If you’re fully vaccinated, go ahead and take off your mask,’” she said.
Yet some scientists fear it will be nearly impossible to reimpose mask mandates and other precautions, even in places where it may be a good idea to do so.
“It’s difficult to walk that back,” said David Michaels, an epidemiologist and professor at the George Washington School of Public Health, referring to the C.D.C. advice. Yet with the rise of the Delta variant, it also is “extremely dangerous to continue the cultural norm of no one wearing a mask.”
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, vice president for global initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, said the arrival of the variant should prompt a rethinking of mask mandates.
He still wears a mask indoors in public places like grocery stores, and even on crowded city sidewalks. “We don’t know the long-term consequences of even a mild infection,” he said, referring to so-called long Covid. “Is a little more insurance from wearing a mask worth it? Yes.”
Sipping coffee outside the Whole Foods Market in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday morning, Monroe Harmon, 60, said he thought a step back toward masking requirements for everyone might be a good idea.
“There’s so many people suggesting that they just want their lives back,” said Mr. Harmon, who works for a security company. “I think you kind of roll the dice when you decide, ‘I want my life back, I’m not going to wear the mask, I’m not going to distance.’”
Jill Cowan and Ana Facio-Krajcer contributed reporting from Los Angeles.“