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McDonald’s and Uber will assist the White House in Encouraging Vaccine-Skeptical Americans

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McDonald’s and Uber are encouraging ‘vaccine-hesitant’ Americans by printing advertisements on coffee cups and providing free trips to ‘vaccine’ centres.

The fast-food restaurant chain has announced a collaboration with the White House to encourage vaccine notifications on its coffee cups.

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Separately, Joe Biden revealed a new partnership with Lyft and Uber that would include free rides to anyone travelling to a vaccine location to get their shot.

According to The Guardian, beginning in July, US consumers can see revamped McCafé cups and delivery-box seal stickers with the upbeat message “We Can Do This,” a slogan developed by the US health department.

McDonald’s has announced that a vaccination information billboard would be unveiled this month in New York’s Times Square.

The health minister, Xavier Becerra, said in a statement that the public-private relationship “will help more people make better choices about their health and learn about actions they can take to support themselves and their families.”

The ride-sharing giants Uber and Lyft would encourage trips to and from tens of thousands of vaccination sites via their applications as part of Biden’s target of getting 70% of the US adult population vaccinated with at least one shot by July 4, according to the White House.

“People would be able to easily choose a vaccine location near them, obey specific instructions to reclaim their fare, and then receive a free trip to and from a nearby vaccination place.”

The vaccination promotion campaign is set to begin in about two weeks and will run until the Fourth of July holiday.

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MN lawmakers get some hits, lots of misses in session

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MN lawmakers get some hits, lots of misses in session

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — There were a few hits but lots of misses as the divided Minnesota Legislature blew a deadline for passing a package of tax cuts and new spending using the state’s massive budget surplus.

Democratic Gov. Tim Walz met Monday afternoon with Republican Senate Majority Leader Jeremy Miller and Democratic House Speaker Melissa Hortman. The governor acknowledged afterward that they’re still searching for enough common ground to justify a special session to finish at least some of the work, so he has no immediate plans to call one.

“They indicated that they think their members need a little bit of time to decompress,” Walz told reporters, adding that he thought it might do lawmakers good to go home and hear from their constituents. “I think they’re going to hear it’s not acceptable to just go home and not do it.”

Miller and Hortman left without commenting to reporters.

State government will continue functioning through June 2023 even without a special session. The Legislature passed a two-year budget last year — after a special session — so the lights will stay on.

But absent agreement on terms for reconvening, Minnesota residents won’t get tax cuts this year. No major steps will be taken to fight crime. No extra money will be available for schools and social programs such as child care and nursing homes. There will be no public works package known as a bonding bill. And Minnesota will walk away from millions of federal transportation dollars that require state matching funds.

The tax relief bill appeared close to done in the final weekend and might provide the most incentive for lawmakers to keep working. The deal called for eliminating the state income tax on all Social Security income, a top GOP priority. It also included a modest income tax rate cut for all taxpayers that was smaller than what Republicans originally proposed. Democrats got tax relief that they sought for homeowners and renters. However, Hortman followed through on a threat to prevent a vote on the tax bill until everything else got done.

Among the biggest hits of the session, which convened Jan. 31, was a deal that rolled back an increase in unemployment insurance taxes, which Republicans wanted, in return for bonuses to reward front-line workers for their service during the pandemic, a priority for Democrats.

Lawmakers also agreed on a $700 million extension of the state’s reinsurance program, which holds down premiums for residents who buy health insurance on the individual market.

Other bipartisan successes included a $25 million bill to fund research into ALS authored by Sen. David Tomassoni of Chisholm, who’s been battling the neurological disease. Also, the Legislature mandated that state government divest of its investments in Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

Those deals and others left close to $7 billion of the state’s original $9.25 billion budget surplus available to be spent or returned to taxpayers.

A few more successes were recorded over the weekend. Walz signed 21 bills Sunday, including a “free the growler” measure that will let Minnesota’s six largest breweries sell 64-ounce jugs known as growlers directly to customers. Another bill directs more than $159 million from the Outdoor Heritage Fund to protect natural resources. Another makes Minnesota National Guard members with more than 12 years of service eligible for reenlistment bonuses.

The House and Senate also sent the governor an $18.4 million drought relief package that was the product of weeks of negotiations. But sports betting will remain illegal after key lawmakers didn’t agree on whether it should be allowed only at tribal casinos, or at horse tracks, too.

Walz, Miller and Hortman agreed last week on a broad framework that called for $4 billion in tax relief, $4 billion in spending and saving $4 billion. But filling in the details before the 11:59 p.m. Sunday deadline proved to be more than divided lawmakers could manage. The two sides couldn’t even agree on whether they came close to getting everything done.

Hortman, of Brooklyn Park, told reporters early Monday that a few bills were “very close” but that there was only a “relatively brief window of time” for finishing them.

Democrats are facing stiff headwinds in the midterm elections, and doing nothing would allow Republicans to enact bigger tax cuts if they win the governor’s office and both chambers.

Miller, of Winona, said shortly after the Senate adjourned that waiting until next session to allocate the unspent surplus remains an option.

“We’re always happy to listen,” Miller said. “But the reality is, the deadline was midnight. And that deadline has come and gone.”

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Sandy Banks: The Buffalo shooting brings back a lifelong question: Why do they hate us so much?

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Sandy Banks: The Buffalo shooting brings back a lifelong question: Why do they hate us so much?

My reaction to news of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, was more than emotional; my heart raced and my stomach churned. My hands are shaking as I write this nearly a week later.

My first thought, in the moment after I heard about the attack, was the same as it always is after every mass shooting: Dear God, please don’t let the shooter be Black. Because in the eyes of white America — consciously or not — the rest of us would be held to account.

The air cleared as the truth came out — a hate-filled young white supremacist, prosecutors say, had meticulously planned to annihilate as many Black people as he could while they shopped for groceries on a Saturday afternoon. Ten people died — all of them Black — and three were hospitalized.

As irrational as it seems, I felt a brief flash of relief; the shooter allegedly was, once again, a white man beholden to hate and enamored with guns, whose carnage would be his legacy.

But that relief was instantly dispatched by blinding rage, wrenching heartbreak, inchoate fear — and the isolating feeling of being a potential target in a violent and hateful land, carrying a load that few of my colleagues and neighbors can understand.

 

I have lived in that land for more than six decades now.

And I can still remember when I first began to feel the weight of that burden, when it dawned on me that my brown skin could make me a pariah.

Except I didn’t know that word back then, at Miles Elementary School in Cleveland, where almost all of the other students were white. I was in fifth grade and we were learning about the history of “our great country,” as my teacher always called it.

I tried to laugh it off when I was mocked by white classmates, who thought images of crowded slave ships and Black men being whipped were cartoonishly funny. I was grateful then that my brown skin hid the red flush of shame. Some of these were people I’d considered friends.

And the torment didn’t stop when the school day ended. At a New Year’s Eve sleepover at the YWCA, which I’d begged for permission to attend, my younger sister and I were terrorized by a cabal of white girls who pelted us with the N-word, then laughed uproariously as others joined in.

We suffered in silence; there were two of us, dozens of them.

When my mother picked us up the next day, we squirmed as we insisted we had fun — then we never spoke of it again. But the shame didn’t fade. And the question that was stuck in my head eventually found its way out:

Mommy, why do they hate us so much?

I wish I could tell you what her answer was.

I can only remember pain contorting her face and tears welling up in her eyes. Years later I learned that she’d asked her own mother that same question, when she was a child growing up in Alabama under the yoke of Jim Crow laws.

When my own daughter came to me as a teenager — humiliated by the way everyone stared at her when racist tropes were the subject of their history class — I braced myself for what I knew she would ask; the question generations of progress had not nullified:

Mommy, why do they hate us so much?

And now I’m forced to imagine my granddaughter, with her beloved coterie of brown Barbies and baby dolls, asking that same awful question when she’s old enough to recognize that people like us are not universally loved.

Mommy, why do they hate us so much?

 

My mother was born more than a century ago, when the Ku Klux Klan ruled rural Alabama, torturing and murdering any Black person who didn’t toe their line.

One by one, she and her siblings migrated north to Cleveland in the 1940s and built new lives.

I remember how hopeful she felt when we were growing up, at the apex of the civil rights movement, in a city known then for progression activism. We marched and protested and voted, and we clawed our way into the middle class. The future looked limitless and bountiful for our generation then.

Now I am glad she is not here to see this. Our country is moving back toward its nakedly racist past, fueled by shameless politicians, coarse public dialogue and fictional social media conspiracies.

And the danger now is not only from white-hooded goons, but random misfits and losers; ordinary racists and fascists, with massive arsenals and a growing list of enemies they’ve targeted by race, religion, ethnicity, gender and non-conformist identities.

We’ve spent a lot of time this week trying to parse the clues that might explain the evil that allegedly motivated Payton Gendron — as if the malignancy of the “great replacement theory” had somehow mysteriously infected him.

We need to stop feigning shock and innocence about how and why these massacres keep happening. We have shamefully lax gun laws, centuries-old racist and nativist proclivities, an education system stuck in the 20th century, and a growing unwillingness to care about anyone other than me, me, me.

So while we can keep trying to untangle the alleged motives of Gendron — as we did with Dylann Roof, Adam Lanza, Patrick Crusius, Robert Aaron Long, Robert Bowers and now David Chou — we might also consider what the carnage puts the rest of us through.

There’s a price we all pay in the wake of these unconscionable murders. And the burden falls heaviest on the targeted groups, whose emotional turmoil can last for months, long after other folks have moved on.

The funerals in Buffalo began on Friday, and dozens of friends and families began their journey into new lives, irrevocably altered by loss, sorrow and grief.

But those closest to the victims won’t be the only ones suffering.

Research has found that mental health can decline significantly, not only among those who witness or lose loved ones in mass shootings, but also among people who share elements of their identity, even if they live nowhere near the event.

Recent studies have focused on highly public anti-Black violence — like the murder of George Floyd, police shootings of unarmed Black men and planned attacks akin to the Buffalo market shooting.

But all racialized public incidents “likely have measurable spillover effects on the mental and physical health of members of the targeted groups,” according to social science research edited by Harvard professor David R. Williams.

A study Williams led years ago linked a database of every police shooting over three years to a database tracking the mental health of every population in every state.

“We found that every police shooting of an unarmed Black person led to worse mental health for the next three months, for the Black population in the state (the shooting) occurred,” Williams said.

But just as striking was a separate result: There was no mental health decline when the person shot by police was armed.

 

That finding opened a window for Williams and his team.

The fact that only unarmed victims generated mental health effects reflected the emotions underlying the decline: a sense of unfairness and a heightened awareness of vulnerability.

Both of those can lead to stress and physiological symptoms — like the racing heart and shaky hands I experience every time Buffalo comes to mind.

It makes me feel better somehow to know I am not alone; that my emotions are real and reasonable. I feel wary, unprotected, unsafe, and everything I read or see about the tragedy brings on new waves of grief that unsettle me.

It’s a wound to the psyche, Williams explained.

“It suggests that you can be totally innocent, and still you are potentially vulnerable… Your family members and friends, it could happen to them too. That’s what it feels like to you.”

The blow of this particular tragedy may hit Black people harder and hurt longer. But every targeted group is likely to wrestle with the same sense of fear, anger and grief when haters violently intrude on their community.

“It applies to other groups, under the same conditions,” Williams said. “You’re bound to be worried, to feel stress, when something like this happens” in your social network.

When an antisemite, armed with an assault rifle, bursts into a synagogue during Sabbath prayers and shoots 17 people down, how can a Jewish worshiper not be marked by the unholiness of that?

When families strolling through Walmart on a shopping trip are riddled with bullets by a white supremacist targeting Latinos — killing 23 people and wounding dozens more — how does your own Latino family ever feel safe in a crowded store again?

When a close-knit Taiwanese church welcomes a stranger with Christian courtesy, and he padlocks the doors, pulls out a gun, kills one man and wounds five elderly worshipers, how do you not worry that the stranger at your church door might also be up to no good?

And when a neighborhood market turns into a death trap, because a young white man needed someone to blame for his own personal failures, and considered Black people avatars in his virtual game, how do you stifle your own rage over the death of the grandma shopping for dinner and the dad shot down buying his son a birthday cake?

Sandy Banks wrties for the Los Angeles Times.

 

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Column: MLB’s ruling on the Josh Donaldson-Tim Anderson incident could have an effect on what’s acceptable trash talk

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Column: MLB’s ruling on the Josh Donaldson-Tim Anderson incident could have an effect on what’s acceptable trash talk

Modern baseball is boring.

That was Tim Anderson’s feeling in the spring of 2019 when the Chicago White Sox shortstop spoke to Sports Illustrated for a lengthy profile.

Anderson told SI writer Stephanie Apstein he felt like “today’s Jackie Robinson” in crossing what he called the “have-fun barrier,” hoping to make the game interesting to today’s fans.

“That’s huge to say,” he said of the Robinson reference. “But it’s cool, man, because he changed the game and I feel like I’m getting to a point where I need to change the game.”

The quote was a small part of a long-form article on Anderson’s emergence as a star. It came out on May 6, 2019, when the Sox still were rebuilding and the 25-year-old was beginning to make a name for himself in a season he later would win the American League batting title.

Three years later, MLB investigated an incident from Saturday’s game at Yankee Stadium in which New York Yankees third baseman Josh Donaldson called Anderson “Jackie” multiple times, precipitating a clearing of both teams’ benches and a war of words after the game.

On paper, it appeared to be a cut-and-dried case.

Donaldson surely was guilty. But of what, exactly? And what’s the penalty for instigating during a major-league game?

MLB handed out its ruling Monday, issuing Donaldson a one-game suspension and fine.

“There is no dispute over what was said on the field,” Mike Hill, MLB’s senior vice president for on-field operations, said in a statement. “Regardless of Mr. Donaldson’s intent, the comment he directed toward Mr. Anderson was disrespectful and in poor judgment, particularly when viewed in the context of their prior interactions.”

Donaldson — who elected to appeal his punishment — admitted to calling Anderson “Jackie,” explaining it was in reference to the 2019 SI interview. Donaldson’s defense was that he called Anderson “Jackie” during a previous series when he was with the Atlanta Braves, calling it an “inside joke.”

That series took place Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2019 — about four months after the SI article appeared. The Braves swept the Sox, who already were out of contention. There were no reported flare-ups and Donaldson signed with the Minnesota Twins after the season.

Anderson didn’t speak to the media Sunday in New York and hasn’t been asked whether he recalled the “inside joke” Donaldson said they share. Anderson is expected to address the media before Tuesday’s game against the Boston Red Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field.

Donaldson also did not speak to the media Sunday. Yankees manager Aaron Boone gently suggested the remark was inappropriate, saying that mentioning Robinson’s name to Anderson “is just somewhere, in my opinion, he should not be going.” Boone said it was a “sensitive” issue and “you’ve got to read the room.”

After hearing Donaldson’s explanation, Boone said: “I sit here, as a white guy, that did change the context for me. But I also understand how it can be offensive or upsetting.”

Sox closer Liam Hendriks, who admittedly dislikes Donaldson from their days as Toronto Blue Jays teammates, called the inside joke defense “utter bull(bleep),” saying you don’t joke around with someone with whom you “don’t get along at all.”

Was it a “racist” comment, as Sox manager Tony La Russa alleged? Or just a poor choice of words that had no “malicious intent,” as Boone believed?

MLB didn’t go as far as siding with La Russa, but it clearly didn’t buy Donaldson’s story of an inside joke. The decision calling it “poor judgment” skirts the question of whether the remark was racist, and the ruling could have an effect on what is acceptable to say during games. What other trash talk is “poor judgment” that can lead to a suspension?

MLB has dealt with racial and ethnic slurs in the past. Former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott was suspended one year and fined $25,000 in 1993 for “racially and ethnically offensive language” for making anti-Black and anti-Jewish slurs.

Anderson was involved in a similar incident in 2019 over a remark he made during a brawl to a Kansas City Royals pitcher. Anderson received a one-game suspension from MLB for “conduct” stemming from the undisclosed remark to Mitch Keller, who received a five-game suspension for throwing at Anderson in apparent retaliation for an epic bat flip following a home run.

In the 2019 SI article, Anderson admitted he called Keller a “weak-ass (bleeping N-word).” He said he did not regret calling Keller, who is white, the N-word.

“That’s a word in my vocabulary,” Anderson said. “When’s the last time (then-MLB disciplinarian Joe Torre) heard that word?”

Hill, a former Miami Marlins executive, currently holds the job of MLB disciplinarian. Anderson received a one-game suspension and fine from MLB on April 22 for making an obscene gesture toward fans during a game in Cleveland. But he appealed and won, receiving only an undisclosed fine.

Anderson is the face of the Sox organization and the undisputed leader of the clubhouse. He leads the AL again with a .359 average and finally is getting his due from the national media.

What’s more, Anderson seems to thrive on being in the spotlight, as evidenced by his walk-off home run in last season’s Field of Dreams game and his three-run blast Sunday night after being booed all night and called “Jackie” by Yankees fans.

Modern baseball may be boring.

But you can’t say the same about the White Sox.

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