Aerosols After

After Aerosols Misstep, Former CDC Official Criticizes Agency Over Unclear Messaging – NPR

A former CDC official criticizes the agency over its latest reversal, this time in guidance on how the coronavirus is transmitted.

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A former CDC official criticizes the agency over its latest reversal, this time in guidance on how the coronavirus is transmitted.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As of now, both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization say the primary way the coronavirus spreads is by hitching a ride on respiratory droplets when people are in close contact.

Respiratory droplets form when someone sneezes, coughs, talks or sings, for example. They don’t travel far and fall to the ground quickly.

But on Friday, the CDC website was modified to include smaller, aerosolized particles as a way the coronavirus is commonly spread. These are the tiniest particles expelled in breath that can linger in the air and travel distances farther than 6 feet.

CDC Publishes — Then Withdraws — Guidance On Aerosol Spread Of Coronavirus

On Monday, the agency took that update down, saying it was a draft that had been posted in error.

Dr. Ali Khan, who used to direct the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response at the CDC, says there was “nothing new” in the now-deleted update, which he characterized as saying “there’s a minor role for airborne transmission.”

The disease is “predominantly” spread by large particles from people near each other, he says. There’s consensus in the scientific community that this seems to be the main mode of transmission.

Beyond that, Khan notes, there are a few other ways that people could, conceivably, contract the virus, researchers and health officials agree.

“Occasionally we get this disease from contaminated surfaces,” Khan tells Steve Inskeep on NPR’s Morning Edition. “And then there’s a minor role, again, for these small particle aerosols. … These are transmitted farther than 6 feet away, potentially around a corner, especially in poorly ventilated indoor spaces. And then, finally, there’s a yet even more minor role, probably, for transmission via feces. So nothing new here.”

Still, a number of environmental engineers and other infectious disease researchers have been critical in the past of both the CDC and WHO for, they say, being too slow to acknowledge the role this sort of fine aerosol might play in spreading the virus, especially indoors.

Khan is now the dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. Here are excerpts from the interview:

What do you make of this unremarkable guidance being published and then withdrawn?

Confusing. So CDC’s not perfect and certainly has made some mistakes this past year. But with due respect to the agency, it’s hard to imagine that this is one of them, given the scrutiny that they’ve had in all of their messaging.

And for example, so just last week, we saw a flip-flop from CDC on testing of asymptomatic persons. We saw documented proof of manipulation of CDC’s official publication. So, you know, it’s not hard to understand people questioning that these changes may be deliberate interference by the [Trump administration]. …

We’ve seen the deliberate undermining of public health over the course of this outbreak for political purpose. And we have seen numerous examples now of deliberate change of guidance that’s not evidence-based.

Can we still trust what the CDC tells us then?

Unfortunately, it’s becoming harder to trust what CDC tells us.

And this is extremely unfortunate because trust is the most important thing we need during a pandemic. As we tell people that, regardless of this minor role of aerosol transmission, we have the tools available to us today to stop this outbreak in its tracks with “test, trace, isolate.” And please do our part [by] wearing a mask, washing our hands and socially distancing. And this trust is going to be even more important as we tell people to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated — hopefully sometime at the end of this year and into next year.

I want to know if the practical advice after all of this confusion is still basically the same, so far as you see it: See people outdoors, rather than indoors; 6 feet apart; wear a mask. That sort of thing.

Correct. The guidance doesn’t change. So there’s lots of nice, sophisticated aerobiology studies now that look at what happens when you sneeze and cough and how far these particles go and whether there’s virus riding along in them.

But we know that if we wear our masks and we couple that with the public health strategy of testing, isolating and tracing people, that we can get this disease under control.

Taylor Haney produced the audio interview.

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After Navalny

After Navalny Poisoning, Putin’s Loyalists Win Big in Russian Elections – The Wall Street Journal

MOSCOW—Candidates loyal to Russian President Vladimir Putin swept regional and local elections over the weekend, demonstrating the Kremlin’s grip on the levers of power despite pockets of support for Alexei Navalny’s opposition movement after an attempt on his life sidelined him last month.

Preliminary results published by state news agencies Monday showed broad support for the pro-Putin United Russia party. Political analysts said the Covid-19 pandemic and an economic shock prompted by accompanying lockdowns and a slump in…

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After death

After Death of Javier Ordoñez, Violence Erupts in Bogota – The New York Times

Americas|Violent Protests Erupt in Colombia After a Man Dies in Police Custody

A video showed officers pinning down Javier Ordoñez and shocking him with a stun gun as he begged them to stop.

Credit…Ivan Valencia/Associated Press

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Violent protests broke out in Bogotá, the capital of Colombia, on Wednesday night following the death of a man who was shocked with a stun gun by the police.

Seven people died in the demonstrations, according to authorities, while buses and police stations were set on fire.

The protests follow months of pandemic-related lockdown in the city of about eight million people, and years of concern about police abuse. The outpouring also came in the wake of protests over police violence in the United States, which have been widely publicized in Colombia.

A video of the encounter between the man, Javier Ordoñez, and two officers shows Mr. Ordoñez face down on the ground. An officer shocks him repeatedly with the stun gun, and Mr. Ordoñez can be heard saying, “Please, no more.” In the video, which lasts several minutes, people looking on can be heard asking the police to stop hurting him.

The video circulated widely on social media on Wednesday, drawing many to the streets.

At least 148 people were injured overnight, according to a police spokesman, Gen. Gustavo Moreno, most in Bogotá. Police took about 70 people into custody.

Bogotá’s mayor, Claudia López, said on Thursday morning that 46 of the city’s streets had been “totally destroyed.”

“I am absolutely aware that we need structural police reform,” Ms. López said. “But destroying Bogotá is not going to fix the police.”

Police Col. Alexander Amaya told BluRadio soon after the incident that the officers were responding to a dispute involving multiple people who had been drinking.

“They became aggressive,” said Colonel Amaya. “The police had to subdue them.”

A spokesperson for the police declined to provide more information, saying the matter was now under investigation.

A man who said he was a witness to the stun-gun incident, Juan David Uribe, said in an interview with CityTV that the police account was not true, and that there had been no argument.

“This is a total lie,” said Mr. Uribe.

On the same television program, Elvia Bermúdez, an aunt of Mr. Ordoñez, said that he was a lawyer with two children who made his living driving a taxi.

Sofía Villamil contributed reporting from Bogotá.

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Abduction After

After Abduction, Belarus Opposition Leader Fights Forced Expulsion By Ripping Up Passport At Border – Forbes


Maria Kolesnikova, a leader in the protests against Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko who was abducted by masked men on Monday, has been detained, according to reports, which detail the country’s latest attempt to silence and expel opposition. 

Registration of candidates in 2src2src Belarusian presidential election

Maria Kolesnikova was abducted Monday by masked men in Minsk.

Natalia Fedosenko/TASS


Kolesnikova has been leading protests against Lukashenko, Belarus’s 26-year president whose re-election last month has been marred by accusations of fraud, sparking widespread national unrest and a subsequently harsh crackdown from the government. 

Russian news agency Interfax reported that Kolesnikova purposefully ripped up her passport so she couldn’t be transported into Ukraine, preventing an attempted “forcible expulsion from her native country,” as described by Deputy Ukranian Interior Minister Anton Gerashchenko on Facebook.

Prior to this report, the protest leader had been missing for 24 hours after a witness recounted seeing masked men in plain clothes confront Kolesnikova in front of Minsk’s National Art Museum, bundling her into a dark minivan and driving away quickly.

Two other leaders involved in the opposition-led Coordination Council, Anton Ronenkov and Ivan Krastov, also disappeared, but both arrived in Ukraine in the early hours of Tuesday, according to Ukraine’s border service.

Since refusing entry into Ukraine, Kolesnikova has been detained, Anton Bychkovsky of the Belarusian border service told Reuters, saying: “I can’t say concretely where she is, but she has been detained.”

Lukashenko told Russian reporters Tuesday that he will consider holding new elections following weeks of protests in Belarus.

Crucial Quote 

“Maria Kolesnikova was not able to be removed from Belarus because this brave woman took action to prevent her movement across the border,” wrote Gerashchenko. “All responsibility for her life and health is personally carried by Alexander Lukashenko.”

Key Background 

Lukashenko, labeled “Europe’s last dictator” claimed victory over opponent Svetlana Tikhanovskaya with almost 80% of the vote in early August, resulting in inflamed protests that Belarus has responded to through violence and widespread arrests. Opposition leaders have been pressured to leave to Poland or Lithuania. Kolesnikova was the last standing in Belarus of a trio of women leading the opposition against Lukashenko. The other two, Tikhanovskaya and Veronika Tsepkalo, both already fled the country to avoid arrest after Lukashenko claimed victory.

Chief Critic 

Lithuania’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius accused the Belarusian government of trying to eliminate the country’s opposition “one by one,” drawing connections with the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs (N.K.V.D.), the precursor of the KGB. “The kidnapping of [Maria Kolesnikova] in downtown Minsk is a disgrace,” Linkevičius wrote. “Stalinist NKVD methods are being applied in 21st century’s Europe.” 

Further Reading

“Belarus Protest Leader Reportedly Abducted As Opposition Drops Off ‘One By One’” (Forbes) 

“Belarus’s Unlikely Opposition Leader” (The Wall Street Journal)

“Hundreds of Belarus protesters say they were beaten by police, demand justice” (Reuters)

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After Record

After record low flu season in Australia, US hopes for the same – CNN

(CNN)Australia and other countries in the Southern Hemisphere just finished their easiest flu seasons on record, and the United States and other nations in the Northern Hemisphere could have an easy time, too — if people get flu shots, practice social distancing and wear masks.

“This could be one of the best flu seasons [we’ve had],” Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told the Journal of the American Medical Association in August. “Particularly if [people] do one more thing, and that is to embrace the flu vaccine with confidence.”
It’s never been more important to keep flu at bay, since this fall and winter there will be Covid-19 outbreaks in addition to the flu.
Along with getting a flu shot, Redfield urged people to wear masks, social distance, wash their hands and be smart about crowds.
If Americans choose not to follow the advice, he told WebMD, the nation could experience the “worst fall” in US public health history.

An easy flu season in the Southern Hemisphere

The Southern Hemisphere, which generally has its flu season generally from April to September, just experienced a record low flu season, according to the World Health Organization.
Take Australia, for example.
In August 2019, there were 61,000 laboratory confirmed cases of influenza in Australia.
In August 2020, there were 107.
“This is virtually a non-season,” said Ian Barr, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Melbourne. ”We’ve never seen numbers like this before.”
South Africa and the southern cone of South America have had similar experiences.
“Where you would expect to have seasons — like in Chile, like in Argentina — we didn’t really see a season this year,” said Dr. Andrea Vicari, an adviser on epidemic-prone disease for the Pan American Health Organization.
Covid-19 is much of the reason.
Flu season in the Southern Hemisphere started just as Covid-19 hit. All the precautions people took to control the new virus — staying home, practicing social distancing, wearing masks — also helped keep flu numbers low.
“Many of the physical distancing and public health measures that have been put in place, which keeps people apart, may have actually played a role in reducing circulation of the [coronavirus],” said Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization’s Covid-19 technical lead. 
Vicari said Covid might have also influenced people to get flu shots.
“If we compare to previous season, I think there was quite a bit more urgency in terms of influenza vaccination,” he said.
He said it’s also possible that a significant number of people already had immunity to the flu viruses in circulation this year in the Southern Hemisphere.

Implications for the Northern Hemisphere

Infectious disease experts warn that an easy flu season down under does not mean the US will necessarily be as fortunate.
“It’s very hazardous to make predictions about influenza,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
He said even with low amounts of flu in the Southern Hemisphere, he’s still concerned about a “twin-demic” of flu and Covid-19, which could cost lives and put a strain on the health care system.
A look at hospitalization numbers show the burden of two viruses at once.
It’s estimated that for the 2019-2020 US flu season, between 410,000 and 740,000 people were hospitalized for flu.
Since March, at least 372,217 people have been hospitalized in the US for Covid-19, according to figures from the Covid Tracking Project. And a model from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington projects a 170% increase in hospital bed use for Covid-19 patients from now until January 1.
“From a resource standpoint, it’s the worst possibility,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “It’s really a perfect storm.”
That’s why a flu shot this year is especially important.
“By getting that flu vaccine, you may be able to negate the necessity to take up a hospital bed, and then that hospital bed can be more available for those who potentially get hospitalized for Covid,” Redfield told WedMD. 
Just getting the right diagnosis could be tough, since symptoms for flu and coronavirus are very similar.
“We won’t be able to distinguish immediately between whether somebody has flu or whether somebody has Covid,” WHO’s Van Kerkhove said.
Doctors will need to do more testing than usual, but tests for both flu and Covid-19 are imperfect.
Plus, outbreaks of both viruses could mean shortages of personal protective equipment for health care workers.
“That is really going to drain our PPE stocks very quickly,” Osterholm said.

Plans for flu shots this year

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone age 6 months and older get a flu shot.
Flu shots work: In the 2018-19 US flu season, the vaccine averted more than 4 million illnesses, 2 million doctors’ visits and about 58,000 hospitalizations and 3,500 deaths, according to the CDC.
Redfield said the CDC has purchased 10 million doses of the flu vaccine for uninsured adults this year, compared to the usual 500,000 doses.
“Please don’t to leave this important accomplishment of American medicine on the shelf for yourself, your family, your church, your workforce,” he said in an interview with WebMD.
But the increased supply doesn’t mean Americans will be rushing out to get a flu shot.
Historically, only about 45% of US adults and 63% of children get vaccinated against the flu, according to the CDC.
This year, there are unique obstacles.
About a third of US adults and 80% of children get their flu shot at a doctor’s office, according to a 2018 CDC study.
This year, many people are hesitant to go to the doctor for fear of catching Covid.
Nearly 15% of adults got their flu shot at work, according to the study. This year, many people are working from home.
“It’s going to be a challenge,” Osterholm said, “How are we going to get our flu shots out?”
To help more children get vaccinated against the flu, in August, the Trump administration authorized any state-licensed pharmacist to administer the flu shot to children starting at age 3.
Schaffner said he’s particularly worried about communities of color, where coronavirus has already caused a disproportionate amount of sickness and death.
“We would like to really extend influenza immunization into communities of color and lower socio-economic areas, and those communities very traditionally have been vaccine wary. They’re not anti-vaccine — that’s a different group — they’re just not as convinced about the merits of vaccination. It’s harder to reach them,” Schaffner said. 
The National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and other organizations are starting to get the word out to encourage people to get people to accept flu vaccination, he says.
“We wish to reach those communities of color and underrepresented minorities with even more intensity, but we’re not a whole lot smarter about how to do that, unfortunately,” Schaffner said. 

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After shouldering

After shouldering blame for 2-0 hole, Chris Paul comes through in clutch for Thunder – ESPN

11:11 PM ET

  • Royce YoungESPN Staff Writer


    • Covers the Oklahoma City Thunder for

Oklahoma City Thunder guard Chris Paul wasn’t shy about shouldering the blame for his team’s 2-0 hole entering a critical Game 3. He said he had to show up.

And that’s what he did on Saturday, putting the Thunder back in the first-round NBA playoff series with a 119-107 overtime victory over the Houston Rockets in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

“I think we just wanted to fight,” Paul said. “We know how tough it is coming back from down 3-0, so we wanted to fight tonight and that’s what we did.”

Paul finished with 26 points on 11-of-20 shooting, plus 6 rebounds and 5 assists in 41 minutes.

He made a basket to put the Thunder within three late in the fourth, and Houston guard Danuel House then stepped out of bounds to give OKC the ball back. A layup by Steven Adams cut it to 102-101 with less than 30 seconds to go in the fourth. Paul and the Rockets’ James Harden got tangled up before the ball was thrown in bounds. Harden made a free throw, but Houston turned it over.

Paul then set teammate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander up with a pinpoint pass for the go-ahead 3 with 14.3 seconds left, and once the game went to overtime following split free throws by House, Paul went to work. With Harden fouled out, Paul hit two 3s in a 75-second window, including a ridiculous fadeaway from the wing as the shot clock expired, to seal Game 3.

“I think I needed to play with better pace,” Paul said. “Be more aggressive. Take shots when they’re there. And be better defensively.”

Paul’s first two games weren’t that bad — at least statistically speaking — with him averaging 17.0 points on 44.8% shooting. In Game 2, though, he was a jarring minus-36, pointing to the defensive end as a focus and putting it on himself to fix those issues. In Game 3, he was a game-high plus-15.

“I gave up a lot of corner 3s, a lot of defensive assignments,” Paul said of what he wanted to correct from Game 2. “Aside from the shots, I think I was a lot better defensively.”

When Paul has dominated this season, restoring himself as an All-Star and likely All-NBA selection, has been in clutch time, when he led the league in scoring by a fairly wide margin. He has been one of the biggest shot-makers in close games, working possessions to get to his spots in the midrange and manipulating defenses at will.

“Chris is the master at manipulating pick-and-rolls,” Thunder coach Billy Donovan said. “When we get the floor in a fashion against them that is not spaced correctly, it’s hard to play in pick-and-rolls because they’re switching everything. Tonight I thought we had better spacing and were able to move a little freer.”

The Thunder built their record largely on winning close games, leaning on Paul’s brilliance and the support of Gilgeous-Alexander and Dennis Schroder, who also were some of the league’s top clutch-time scorers. In Games 1 and 2, the Thunder weren’t close enough in the final five minutes for those chops to show. They struggled sorting out Houston’s switch-everything defensive scheme, but in Game 3 corrected some of the issues, kept it close, and that’s where Paul took over.

“What he’s been doing for the last probably 15 years,” Rockets coach Mike D’Antoni said of Paul’s closing shots. “He’s just a great player, a great clutch player and really thinks the game.”

D’Antoni was heated in the final minutes about a play involving Paul, though. After Paul had put the Rockets away, with 1:20 left in overtime he was called for an offensive foul on which he appeared to catch Houston guard Ben McLemore below the belt with an elbow as Paul put the ball on the floor to attack the basket. The play wasn’t reviewed, and D’Antoni spent the final minute of the game yelling at the referees about it, receiving a technical foul in the process.

“Who knows?” D’Antoni said when asked why it wasn’t reviewed. “I asked the referee to just go over and review it. He might have been right. I didn’t have it clear, but I know my guy got hit in a bad place with an elbow, so go look at it. If you’re right, you’re right. So be it. But it’s not like in the bubble, we have — must be entertainment going on somewhere, because what else do we have to do but just go over and look at it, come back and play basketball?”

Said Harden: “I saw what happened. Any time that happens, it should be reviewed, especially when it’s not like around a lot of people. I know I’ve done that, and it got reviewed before. That’s all we was asking for, is a review. … I don’t know [if it was intentional], but it should have been reviewed. Especially if someone gets hit in their private area. I mean, we didn’t have nowhere to go, so it should have been reviewed. I felt like it wasn’t, and I don’t know why not.”

In Game 1, Harden caught Schroder with a knee under the belt, a play that wasn’t noticed by the Thunder in real time and that also went without review.

Paul, who has long tried to shake a reputation of low blows after an incident in college in which he hit NC State guard Julius Hodge, said the play with McLemore was unintentional.

“I tried to get by him. It was incidental,” Paul said. “I know when I did it on purpose, that was in college. That was a long time ago. I checked on Ben, he said he was fine. I know Mike. He’s gonna get mad, he’s gonna yell and scream. He got a tech. We move on.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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After pulling

After pulling it three years ago, Google reintroduces Maps for Apple Watch – Ars Technica

navigation —

Also, the company is adding CarPlay Dashboard support to the Google Maps iOS app.

  • The Google Maps app for Apple Watch.

  • Google Maps in CarPlay’s Dashboard view.

Today, Google made two announcements about Google Maps for Apple platforms. First, Google’s app now works with the dashboard view on CarPlay screens, allowing drivers to see maps and media controls side-by-side. Second, Google is relaunching the Maps app on the Apple Watch, with turn-by-turn directions.

CarPlay’s dashboard mode was introduced in iOS 13 late last year, but it only supported Apple Maps. Apple began offering other developers the ability to take advantage of it in March with the release of iOS 13.4, and today marks the finalization of Google’s support for the feature. Google’s blog post announcing the update says it should go into effect for all users of CarPlay-supported vehicles today.

The new Google Maps app for Apple Watch won’t arrive today, though. Instead, Google promises the app is launching worldwide “in the coming weeks.” The app will offer “step-by-step” directions for driving, walking, cycling, or taking public transit.

Google’s announcement specifies that you can get directions to places you’ve previously saved, like the places you’ve set as your home or your workplace. To go somewhere you haven’t previously saved, you’ll have to start the process on your phone, Google’s blog post says.

Google Maps previously offered a Watch app that was an extension of the Google Maps iPhone app, but it was pulled in 2017 with no explanation provided for the move. That was part of a general exodus of major apps from the Watch at the time that also included Amazon and others. Since then, Apple has launched a standalone App Store for the Watch. Previously, users had to initiate Watch app downloads from the iPhone.

Listing image by Google

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After Morning

The Morning After: NASA’s Curiosity rover plots a ‘road trip’ on Mars – Engadget

Surprise, surprise — the $2.65 billion Uber–Postmates deal we mentioned yesterday is happening. While those two try to figure out how to turn a profit from food delivery, NASA has set a course for the Curiosity rover’s “summer road trip.”

Curiosity's Path to the 'Sulfate-Bearing Unit'


The Martian robot’s destination is Mount Sharp’s “sulfate-bearing unit,” using its automated driving capabilities to find the best path. Consider it something to keep an eye on if your vacation plans have been canceled.

— Richard

Engadget’s 2020 Back to School Guide: The best laptops for students

XPS 13, Flex 5 Chromebook, MacBook Air and more.

XPS 13 (2src2src)


A good notebook will not only make it easier for you to finish homework and tune into live-streamed classes, but it will also help you stay in touch with your friends, teachers and study groups. And while long battery life might not seem as important right now, it’s still a huge priority because you’ll want your laptop to keep running all day when we return to a semblance of normal life.

With all that in mind, we picked our new favorite laptops for students. All of them are easy to carry around, have great keyboards, good performance and last all day.

Continue reading.

Microsoft’s first-party Xbox Games Showcase streams July 23rd

It’s Microsoft’s turn to bring out the big games.

Halo Infinite Screenshot Hologram Explosion


Ready to hear about some major Xbox Series X games, after last May’s middling showcase? Microsoft will hold an Xbox Games Showcase as part of Summer Game Fest on July 23rd at 12PM ET. You can watch it on the Xbox website, Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. And, after Microsoft killed off its own streaming platform, Mixer, you can catch the showcase on its old nemesis, Twitch, too. Hopefully, there might be a closer look at first-party games this time around, including at what’s perhaps the console’s biggest launch title, Halo Infinite.

Continue reading.

8BitDo is updating one of its Bluetooth gamepads for Project xCloud

The controller goes on sale on September 21st for $45.



8BitDo is releasing a new Bluetooth gamepad designed for use with Microsoft’s Project xCloud game streaming service. The $45 SN30 Pro for Xbox adapts the same underlying design as the company’s SN30 Pro+, symmetrical analog sticks and all, but won’t be out of place in your Xbox controller collection. The major upgrade could well be the companion clip that comes with the controller, with two articulating hinges. It looks hardier than the usual phone holder, with some metallic touches, and can stretch as wide as 86mm, enough for even the biggest contemporary phones. There’s also another $15 clip that works with existing Xbox controllers, too.

Continue reading.

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After protests

After protests, a Unilever skin cream popular in India will no longer promote a ‘Fair & Lovely’ look – The Washington Post

“Fair & Lovely” skin-care creams have been a mainstay of beauty aisles in stores across India and elsewhere in Asia for years. Not anymore.

On Thursday, the company Unilever said it would stop promoting skin “whitening” or “lightening,” and rebrand the skin-care line in response to critics who say the products promote harmful stereotypes around beauty and skin tone. But it won’t go as far as some have demanded: ridding stores of the creams and their connotations, no matter what they are called.

Along with similar brands, Unilever’s line has faced renewed scrutiny in recent weeks, amid a global reckoning with racial injustice, for promoting an image that white or lighter skin is more desirable than darker shades.

“We recognize that the use of the words ‘fair’, ‘white’ and ‘light’ suggest a singular ideal of beauty that we don’t think is right, and we want to address this,” Sunny Jain, the president of Unilever’s beauty and personal care division, said in a statement.

Some activists say changing the name and branding is only a start.

Poorna Bell, a writer who has been outspoken on the issue, told the BBC she found Unilever’s announcement “hugely disappointing” and called for the line to be discontinued all together.

“It doesn’t do enough to make reparations for the untold mental and emotional damage done by colorism,” she said, referring to discrimination against people with dark skin tones. “Renaming the products doesn’t mean anything — that’s still just colorism by another word.”

Unilever isn’t new to the controversy around skin lightening. Last year, the company removed “shade guides” and before-and-after images from product labels after campaigns by consumers.

The matter saw a resurgence earlier this month, when, like many businesses around the world, Unilever issued a statement in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. “We have a responsibility for racial justice,” the company said in an Instagram post.

Critics responded with objections to the company’s messaging on whitening products.

“But what are you doing about helping to end racism?” one user wrote in response to the Instagram post. “Fair and Lovely needs to STOP creating a culture of shame! You aren’t committed to justice and equity until you stop manufacturing Fair and Lovely!”

Unilever is not alone. Having pledged to fight racism in response to global anti-racism protests following the police killing of George Floyd in May, consumers are questioning company’s track records.

Across much of Asia and Africa, skin-whitening products bring in millions of dollars in business for companies. In India, Bollywood stars have promoted them. In Africa, 40 percent of women bleached their skin, according to a 2011 study by the World Health Organization. The market research firm Global Industry Analysts estimated that the international market for skin-lightening cosmetics could reach $12.3 billion dollars by 2027.

But backlash is mounting, and companies have begun to respond.

Last week, Johnson & Johnson said it would stop selling skin-whitening products in India, Asia and the Middle East. Other major personal-care companies, such as L’Oréal and Nivea, still offer items claiming to lighten or prevent the darkening of skin. Calls for boycotts of these brands, and the companies who produce them, are simmering online.

Modern brands have tapped into stereotypes about skin tone with deep roots in Asia and Africa, entwined with hierarchies wrought by centuries of colonialism, according to historians. Conversation about this history have become increasingly mainstream.

“Colorism is a persistent social force in India, and many South Asian countries,” the model and “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi wrote on Instagram. “I know it made me feel insecure growing up. We need to dismantle this harmful relic of colonialism through representation for all skin-tones.”

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After George

After George Floyd, Fresh Scrutiny of Old Cases – The New York Times

In the wake of outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death, several deadly episodes involving the police are receiving renewed attention.

Credit…Andy Cross/The Denver Post, via Getty Images

ATLANTA — The story of Elijah McClain’s death, which came after he was confronted and detained by police officers last year in the Denver suburb of Aurora, Colo., did not go unnoticed by residents and the local news media in the weeks that followed.

Articles were published, and a few modest rallies were held. But it was nothing like the avalanche of fresh attention his killing received after the death last month of George Floyd sent thousands of protesters onto the nation’s streets, including in Colorado.

Now the story of Mr. McClain — a 23-year-old black man who had committed no crime but was reported as “suspicious” by a 911 caller — has come to occupy a central place in the state’s emotional and fast-moving debate over police reform.

Mr. McClain’s mother was a high-profile presence in the Statehouse this spring as legislators debated a sweeping police reform law. The city of Aurora recently banned a type of controversial hold that had been used to detain Mr. McClain, and jettisoned an outside investigator — who had been hired to look into the killing — because he was a former police officer.

“If George Floyd didn’t die, I don’t think people would have paid attention to Elijah McClain,” said Tay Anderson, an activist and director of the Denver Public Schools board, in an interview. “I think people would have continued to ignore it.”

Instead, celebrities like the singers Michelle Branch and Kacey Musgraves have been sharing Mr. McClain’s story on social media. And nearly 1.4 million people have signed a petition asking for the officers to be taken off duty and for a more rigorous investigation into Mr. McClain’s death.

Mr. McClain’s killing is among many deadly episodes involving the police that are now receiving renewed scrutiny in the wake of outrage over the death of Mr. Floyd, who gasped for breath beneath the weight of a police officer’s knee, a fatal encounter that was captured on video.

The death of Mr. Floyd, who was black, also unleashed a tsunami of demonstrations against police brutality and entrenched systemic racism, in turn elevating several cases that had been little known to the world but had burned like scars in the minds of neighbors.

Across the nation, from San Francisco to Houston to Duluth, Minn., the names of other men and women killed in confrontations with the police are now on the lips of protesters or back on the pages of the local newspapers.


Credit…Courtesy of the family

Some police killings that have followed Mr. Floyd’s have become flash points, such as the fatal shooting this month of Rayshard Brooks in Atlanta. Within days, the police chief resigned, the police officer who pulled the trigger was fired and then charged with murder, a second officer was put on administrative duty and charged with assault, and the mayor announced a series of measures aimed at overhauling the Police Department.

In the New Orleans area, demonstrators have protested the fatal shooting of Modesto Reyes, a black man who was shot by sheriff’s deputies in suburban Jefferson Parish two days after Mr. Floyd’s death on Memorial Day. (The Sheriff’s Department said Mr. Reyes pointed a gun at deputies as they were chasing him.)

The reverberations of the moment have also reached back decades: In Minnesota last week, Mr. Floyd was invoked as part of a successful effort to secure the posthumous pardon of Max Mason, a black man wrongly convicted of raping a white woman 100 years ago.

“As I told the pardon board, the case of Max Mason is like the case of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Philando Castile,” said Jerry Blackwell, the Minneapolis lawyer who drafted the pardon application, mentioning the names of other black men whose violent deaths have become high-profile human rights causes. “What they all have in common is a stereotypical and racist view of black men in this country.”

It remains to be seen whether the renewed focus on many of these less prominent cases will have a tangible effect on their outcomes.

Sam Walker, an expert on police accountability at the University of Nebraska Omaha, said it was not clear whether old, closed cases would be reopened for investigation. But at the very least, he said, the new attention underscores the fact that problem cases are not anomalies.

“What I think is important is the extent to which the public discussion in the African-American community on these old cases really represents the collective memory that exists, that doesn’t exist for whites,” Mr. Walker said. “It dredges up all these old issues and passions: This happens all the time; justice is never done.”

District attorneys tend to deny that public opinion factors into their decisions to prosecute or not. But four days after Mr. Floyd’s death, the district attorney in Austin, Texas, took the unusual step of announcing that she would send a local case, the death of Michael Ramos, who was fatally shot by the police in April, to a grand jury.

Grand jury proceedings are secret, and normally prosecutors do not signal when one is being convened. But the district attorney, Margaret Moore, said times were different now.

“I thought it was important for the people of Travis County to know we are indeed prosecuting the case. I was hopeful that it would help this community,” she said. “Because of the heightened attention to these cases, the anger, the fear, the frustration — all of which I came into office three years ago intending to address in this community — I’m modifying now to answer the new demands of the moment.”

Outrage over Mr. Floyd’s death ushered renewed attention to several recent deaths. Breonna Taylor was fatally shot in March when the Louisville police broke down the door of her apartment in a raid that found no drugs. Her case garnered scant attention until after Mr. Floyd’s death, when the number of Google searches for her name immediately began to rise.


Credit…Emily Kask for The New York Times

In Oklahoma City, the police released video of the death of Derrick Scott, who died a year ago in police custody after a confrontation with officers. In Kansas City, Mo., this week, prosecutors announced the indictment of a white police detective for the 2019 fatal shooting of a black man, Cameron Lamb, whose name was among many that local demonstrators have been raising in street protests.

And in Houston, activists have been ratcheting up pressure on the Police Department to release body camera footage of the killing in April of a mentally ill 27-year-old Latino man, Nicolas Chavez. A harrowing video shot by a resident appears to show officers shooting Mr. Chavez multiple times while he is on his knees.

In some cases, news outlets have played a key role in bringing new details to light. In Austin, protesters have memorialized Javier Ambler, another Texas man, who died in March 2019. Williamson County sheriff’s deputies tried to stop Mr. Ambler for failing to dim his headlights, according to news reports, and then pursued him when he did not stop. They held him down and Tased him while he pleaded that he had congestive heart failure and could not breathe.

A film crew for “Live PD” was with the pursuing officer and filmed the encounter, but later claimed to have destroyed the footage because, the host said, the show had a policy of not showing fatalities. The show has since been canceled.

The Austin American-Statesman and KVUE-TV, the local ABC affiliate, had been requesting more information on the case for months, but had only recently obtained police documents and video, The American-Statesman reported. The newspaper published an article on June 8 that said Mr. Ambler had cried, “Save me,” before deputies shocked him a final time.

“His death never made headlines,” the article stated.

Street protests, too, have given the family members of those killed by the police a receptive audience for their stories.

On June 6 in Washington, Kenithia Alston, the mother of a young man killed by police officers two years earlier, took a microphone and told a street packed with hundreds of Black Lives Matter protesters about her fruitless struggle to convince the capital’s Metropolitan Police Department to release the full, unedited body camera video of the incident.

“So what I’m asking all of you here today is to tweet, Facebook, Instagram — tell this mayor to release the body cam!” Ms. Alston said.

Four days later, the Georgetown Law Civil Rights Clinic filed a $100 million wrongful death lawsuit against the city government on Ms. Alston’s behalf. The suit claims that her 22-year-old son Marqueese Alston was confronted and chased by the police “without good cause or valid basis” and shot 12 to 18 times.

The Police Department did not respond to questions about the case, but in news reports at the time, they said that Mr. Alston had fired at officers with a handgun. Ms. Alston said she was able to view a short, edited version of the body camera footage, but that it did not convince her that her son was armed. She also said it shows that her son was “running away from police when he was shot.”

Ms. Alston felt like some headway was being made. “It seems like people are starting to pay attention now,” she said.

But Ms. Alston’s lawyer, Zina Makar, a supervising attorney at Georgetown Law, said the case’s higher profile may only do so much for a matter that will ultimately be settled in court. “The interest is helpful,” Ms. Makar said, “but it doesn’t necessarily change the hurdles we have to jump.”


Credit…Luke Sharrett for The New York Times

Despite the growing clamor to look at new cases, some families know that theirs will not be among them — and they instead take solace in the ways in which the protests are pushing for broad criminal justice reforms.

In 1986, Jimmie Lee Bruce Jr., 20, was home from college for winter break and went to the movies in Walkill, N.Y., with friends. He was killed by a white police officer, moonlighting as a security guard, who put him in a chokehold in the parking lot. His mother, Maude Bruce, 75, was the president of the Ellenville, N.Y., chapter of the N.A.A.C.P.

She said that at the time there were rallies for her son outside the police station, and in Albany, where the governor acceded to demands to appoint a special prosecutor. Two grand juries declined to indict the officer, she said.

Ms. Bruce said there was no chance the case would be reopened. But recently, she listened as the assemblyman who represented her at the time testified in Albany in favor of a bill to ban chokeholds, which passed and was signed into law.

“He said Jimmie Lee Bruce Jr. didn’t die in vain,” she said, “because 36 years later, we are here.”

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