Gianluigi Colalucci, who gave fresh color to Michelangelo’s frescoes, dies at 91 #SootinClaimon.Com

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Gianluigi Colalucci, who gave fresh color to Michelangelo’s frescoes, dies at 91

InternationalApr 10. 2021Gianluigi ColalucciGianluigi Colalucci

By The Washington Post · Emily Langer

“Until you have seen the Sistine Chapel,” the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote in “Italian Journey,” an account of his travels across Italy in the 1780s, “you can have no adequate conception of what man is capable of accomplishing.”

“One hears and reads of so many great and worthy people, but here,” Goethe continued, marveling at the frescoes adorning the ceiling of the chapel at the heart of the Vatican, “above one’s head and before one’s eyes, is living evidence of what one man has done.”

That man was Michelangelo Buonarroti, the Italian artist who in 1508, at age 33, began painting the Sistine ceiling on the commission of Pope Julius II. Along with the depiction of the Last Judgment, which Michelangelo added to the chapel’s altar wall nearly three decades later, the ceiling is a masterpiece of Renaissance art.

But for generations – until the restoration effort undertaken in 1980 by Gianluigi Colalucci, chief conservator of the Vatican Museums – visitors who entered the Sistine Chapel saw not only the living evidence of what Michelangelo had achieved, but also living evidence of the ravages that time had wreaked on his art.

A dusky hue had come to hang over the chapel, darkening Michelangelo’s representations of God giving life to Adam and Christ dispatching the saved and the condemned to their fates. The darkness, scholars determined, was the result of the accretion of dust and dirt, fungi, varnishes and wine used in primitive restorations, and soot from candles lit during papal conclaves and other religious observances.

Even Goethe had noted the mix of smoke and incense released into the chapel and that “with sacred insolence, not only wraps the sun of art in clouds, but also makes it grow dimmer every year and in the end will totally eclipse it.”

To paint the Sistine ceiling, Michelangelo labored atop a towering scaffolding, his neck craned skyward and paint dripping onto his face. In an enterprise that captivated the international art world, Colalucci assumed the same position for the delicate task of cleansing the chapel of the layers of filth that had accumulated during the intervening centuries.

It took Michelangelo four years to paint the Sistine ceiling and 10 for Colalucci and his small team of restorers to clean it, not including the four years they then spent on “The Last Judgment.”

The restoration, although deeply controversial at the time, is regarded today as one of the most consequential undertakings in art history – an artistic resurrection that liberated Michelangelo’s work from a shroud of grime and allowed millions of visitors to experience the full palette of his colors as they had not been seen since the 16th century.

“The cleaning basically gave us a new Michelangelo,” Carmen C. Bambach, a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art who witnessed the restoration process, said in an interview, describing Colalucci’s work as “a gift that is of lasting, monumental contribution.”

Colalucci died March 29 at a clinic in Rome, according to his wife, Daniela Bartoletti Colalucci, who said that he had heart ailments. He was 91.

One of the most experienced art conservators in Italy, Colalucci was hired by the Vatican in 1960. He became chief restorer in 1979, the year before the work on the Sistine Chapel began, and retired from the Vatican Museums in 1995, the year after it was concluded.

A New York Times reporter once noted that by the end of his efforts in the chapel, Colalucci’s brown hair had turned white.

Some artists and art historians feared that any hand laid to Michelangelo’s frescoes could subject the Sistine Chapel to ruinous harm. In 1987, a group of artists including Robert Motherwell, George Segal, Robert Rauschenberg, Christo and Andy Warhol petitioned Pope John Paul II to order a “precautionary” pause in the restoration.

James Beck of Columbia University, the most prominent art historian to oppose the restoration, denounced it as an “artistic Chernobyl,” while another preservationist accused Colalucci of “cleaning Michelangelo like a rug.” But by the end of the process, any fears had been allayed.

Colalucci, who displayed a seemingly constant equanimity under international scrutiny, once commented that “you don’t do this kind of work if you’re the nervous sort.” Acknowledging his critics’ reservations, he observed that dirt had befouled the frescoes for so long, even experts struggled to imagine the chapel, or Michelangelo’s capabilities as a colorist, in a different light.

Generations of art scholars “preferred a brooding Michelangelo, the painter of mysterious figures hidden in the shadows, and concealed from us in their secrets,” Colalucci told the Wall Street Journal. Because of the restoration, he added, “there’s a younger generation of art historians just waiting to interpret him differently.”

Through the painstaking application of a mild solvent, inch by inch across the chapel’s vault, Colalucci and his colleagues revealed the blazing greens and oranges and pinks and blues that lived beneath the accumulated grime.

“The Last Judgment” was even dirtier than the Sistine ceiling. At one point in its history, Colalucci said, the wall had been coated in a glue concocted from horses’ hoofs. The heavens had come to resemble a “polluted lake,” in the description of a Reuters wire-service reporter. With Colalucci’s restoration, the azure shades Michelangelo had rendered from lapis lazuli reappeared.

Throughout the work, Colalucci and his collaborators allowed art historians from around the world to ascend the scaffolding and observe their technique. The effort was filmed by Japan’s Nippon Television, which financed the project with a grant of more than $4 million in exchange for exclusive photographic rights.

The final result, which included the removal of some of the loincloths and other coverings added over the centuries to conceal the nudity in Michelangelo’s original work, was met with “universal admiration,” said William Wallace, an art historian at Washington University in St. Louis who, like Bambach, observed the restoration process.

“The newly revealed ceiling looks overwhelmingly beautiful,” critic Michael Kimmelman wrote in the Times in 1990, when it was unveiled, adding, “If it is too much to say that there was a history of Renaissance art before the project and another history that must now be written, it is true that Michelangelo will no longer be perceived as he has been since the third quarter of the 16th century.”

Colalucci reflected in a commentary published in National Geographic that “there comes a day for each of us when nothing will ever be the same again.” For him, that day was when John Paul II celebrated a Mass in the newly restored Sistine Chapel.

The chapel “became transfigured by the sacredness of the Mass, a sacredness that emanated not only from the pope, but from the very frescoes that the day before I’d considered simply works of art,” Colalucci wrote. “. . . I felt like I had been struck by a bolt of lightning, and suddenly understood two important things: the transcendent spirituality of Michelangelo’s paintings and the true meaning of working inside the Vatican.”

Gianluigi Colalucci was born in Rome on Dec. 24, 1929. His father was a lawyer, and his mother was a homemaker. Accompanied by an aunt, Colalucci visited the Sistine Chapel for the first time at age 14, his wife said, and was immediately struck by its splendor.

After high school, Colalucci attended the Institute for Restoration in Rome, graduating in 1953. He spent the early years of his career working in private and public art collections in Sicily. He restored celebrated frescoes of Raphael, among many other works at the Vatican, and also participated in the restoration of Giotto’s 14th-century frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel of Padua, Italy.

A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.

In a book, “Michelangelo and I,” Colalucci reflected on the emotions that washed over him as he stared up at the Sistine Chapel, “face to face with those eternal giants.” The most daunting figure of all was the image of Christ in “The Last Judgment,” whose eye Michelangelo had painted in several determined strokes.

“The whole Judgment revolves around this gaze of Christ, the Judge,” Colalucci said in an interview last year with the Vatican Museums. “If these two brushstrokes get ruined while you are cleaning, you are lost. The painting is lost. We are all lost. I thought about this and reflected on it a lot before confronting it.”

“Then I faced it,” he continued. “It did not betray me. The result is what you see today.”

Medical examiner says police restraint, neck compression ‘more than Mr. Floyd could take’ #SootinClaimon.Com

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Medical examiner says police restraint, neck compression ‘more than Mr. Floyd could take’

InternationalApr 10. 2021Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew BakerHennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker

By The Washington Post · Holly Bailey, Mark Berman, Lenny Bernstein

MINNEAPOLIS – The medical examiner who performed George Floyd’s autopsy testified Friday that the pressure police applied to the Black man’s neck and back while he was pinned to the ground proved more than his already stressed heart could withstand.

Hennepin County Medical Examiner Andrew Baker testified that Floyd’s coronary arteries were narrowed, indicating “very severe underlying heart disease.” Floyd also had “hypertensive heart disease, meaning his heart weighed more than it should,” Baker said.

“Now, in the context of an altercation with other people, that involves things like physical restraint, that involves things like being held to the ground,” Baker testified. “Those events are going to cause stress hormones to pour out into your body, specifically things like adrenaline. And what that adrenaline is going to do is it’s going to ask your heart to beat faster. It’s going to ask your body for more oxygen so that you can get through that altercation.

“And in my opinion, the law enforcement subdual restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions,” said Baker, who ruled Floyd’s death a homicide.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was charged with murder after video showed him, at the time serving on the Minneapolis force, with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Chauvin’s defense has argued that Floyd died because of his compromised health and drug use, not Chauvin’s knee on his neck, making his cause of death a central question in the case.

Testifying Friday, Baker rebutted a core part of that argument. His autopsy report last year noted that heart disease as well as fentanyl and methamphetamine use were all noted in Floyd at his autopsy. Baker testified Friday that these were “not direct causes” but “contributing causes” to Floyd’s death.

“I would still classify it as a homicide today,” Baker said.

Baker’s remarks capped an arduous second week of testimony in the case, which began with several Minneapolis police officers taking the stand to rebuke their former colleague and ended with medical experts who have conducted thousands of autopsies placing the blame for Floyd’s death on the police.

The week was bookended by two of the most widely anticipated individual testimonies, those of Baker and the police chief who fired Chauvin.

Using those men’s accounts, prosecutors sought to push against what may be Chauvin’s two primary defenses in the case: that he was following his training and that Floyd’s death could be blamed on causes other than the actions of the former officer.

Chauvin’s defense is expected to begin fully making its case next week, calling its own witnesses and seeking to sway jurors before they are sequestered to begin deliberations. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Baker’s testimony also offered a reminder that Chauvin’s legal jeopardy may not end when the jury here renders a verdict. Baker said he has twice testified before a federal grand jury investigating Floyd’s death.

A person close to the case said a federal civil rights investigation into Floyd’s death is looking at Chauvin as well as the other officers at the scene on May 25, 2020. Those officers – Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao – also were fired and are to stand trial this summer on charges of aiding and abetting murder.

Baker testified that he conducted Floyd’s autopsy the day after his death. He said that to avoid influencing his finding, he had specifically chosen not to watch the viral video of Floyd struggling under Chauvin’s knee until after he had completed the autopsy.

Baker declared Floyd’s death a homicide in June, deeming the cause of death to be “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” Baker explained that “complicating” means it occurred in the presence of.

Baker’s report also noted heart disease, fentanyl use, methamphetamine use and Floyd’s recent coronavirus infection as significant conditions.

Chauvin’s defense has argued that the death of Floyd should be blamed on drug his use and his health problems. In a filing last year, they wrote that Floyd “most likely died from an opioid overdose.”

Medical experts disputed that idea, particularly the suggestion that Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose, describing his actions in the widely seen video as incompatible with the opioid’s effects.

Also Friday, Lindsey Thomas, a consulting forensic pathologist testified that in her view, “the activities of the law enforcement officers resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death.”

Thomas, an unpaid expert witness for the prosecution, said that on the basis of the video she reviewed, Floyd’s death was “not a sudden death,” nor was it “the type of death that has been reported in fentanyl overdose” cases.

Fentanyl-related deaths, she said, tend to be “peaceful” and not involve struggles like those seen in the viral video of Floyd’s encounter with police.

“There’s no evidence to suggest he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement,” Thomas said.

During Thomas’s testimony, color photographs from Floyd’s autopsy were distributed to the jurors and others in the courtroom for review, presumably to avoid having the graphic images projected on a large screen visible to people watching the live stream of the proceedings. The photos included close-ups of Floyd’s face, shoulders and hands, showing scrapes and abrasions.

The photos were distributed again when Baker was on the stand. Chauvin placed the images on his lap, looking at them under the table and showing no visible reaction.

Friday’s testimony unfolded with a new visitor to the courtroom. For the first time since the trial began last month, someone sat in a seat reserved for a member of Chauvin’s family.

The courtroom’s occupancy is limited because of the coronavirus, with one seat reserved for Floyd’s family and one for Chauvin’s. An unidentified woman occupied the Chauvin seat Friday.

At various points during the day, the seat reserved for Floyd’s family was filled by his brothers Rodney and Philonise. A Hennepin County deputy sat in a chair between the seats reserved for the two families.

Baker’s appearance was seen as key to countering the defense’s attempts to break what legal experts call the “chain of causation” connecting Chauvin’s use of force and Floyd’s death.

During his testimony, Baker reiterated what court filings say he has expressed before: that if Floyd were found dead at home, with no other factors and that amount of fentanyl in his system, the death could have been deemed an overdose.

But Baker also noted in his testimony that Floyd was not found in those circumstances.

“Mr. Floyd’s use of fentanyl did not cause the subdural or neck restraint. His heart disease did not cause the subdural or the neck restraint,” Baker said.

Baker also listed several other factors he said did not cause Floyd’s death, including the coronavirus, for which Floyd had tested positive several weeks before dying, and a tumor discovered in his stomach during the autopsy.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, asked whether the placement of his client’s knee would have “anatomically cut off” Floyd’s airway. Baker responded, “In my opinion, it would not.”

At one point, Baker discussed a video call he had with law enforcement officials from the Justice Department, recounting that he told them: “It was the stress of that interaction [with police] that tipped him over the edge.”

Legal experts said the defense’s invocation of Floyd’s drug use fits a pattern seen in other prosecutions of police, in which officers’ attorneys will point to drug use or other perceived issues in the backgrounds of the person who died.

The prosecution sought preemptively to rebut the defense’s argument by calling Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, to the stand last week to testify about their struggles with opioid addiction and to make clear his tolerance for the drugs.

White House border czar to step down this month #SootinClaimon.Com

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White House border czar to step down this month

InternationalApr 10. 2021Roberta JacobsonRoberta Jacobson

By The Washington Post · Anne Gearan, Nick Miroff, Karen DeYoung

WASHINGTON – The top White House official leading efforts to address the migrant crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border will leave her post at the end of April, the White House announced Friday, stepping down as the administration continues struggling to cope with an influx of unaccompanied minors.

Roberta Jacobson, a former ambassador to Mexico and career State Department official, had been tasked with coordinating the Biden administration’s efforts, a broad and daunting task that led some to call her President Joe Biden’s “border czar.”

Vice President Kamala Harris was recently assigned to oversee the part of Jacobson’s portfolio involving diplomatic outreach to the Central American nations that are home to most of the migrants.

It’s not clear whether that was a factor in Jacobson’s departure, but both U.S. and Latin American officials said that Jacobson had always planned to stay only briefly.

Jacobson, in an interview, expressed dismay over media reports that she had acted in response to Biden’s giving Harris the lead role on the overall border and regional issue.

“I always was only going to stay 100 days,” she said, and had filled a need during the early days when there were relatively few confirmed officials.

“They knew they were going to have to talk to the Mexican government early,” as first-day executive orders on immigration were implemented, and there “were not other people appointed at other agencies,” including the secretary of state, Jacobson said.

Now, she added, “I think it is in quite good shape in terms of policy outlines.”

Jacobson also was a senior member of the Biden transition team focusing on the State Department, and she was working border issues starting right after the election.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan said in a statement that Jacobson’s tenure was long planned to cover only the administration’s first 100 days. He thanked her for “an invaluable contribution to the Biden-Harris Administration and to the United States.”

Sullivan credited Jacobson with “having shaped our relationship with Mexico as an equal partner, having launched our renewed efforts with the Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, and having underscored this Administration’s commitment to re-energizing the U.S. immigration system.”

Still, her departure is striking, coming as the Biden administration is struggling to address a surge of would-be migrants to the border, drawn in part by President Biden’s more lenient immigration policy, and amid heavy Republican criticism of the administration’s approach. The administration has wrestled in particular with how to handle a large number of unaccompanied children who are showing up at the border.

The number of unaccompanied minors crossing into the United States began rising last fall, as former president Donald Trump’s tenure was coming to a close. They soared after Biden took office and his administration announced that it would not use a Trump-era public health order to return the unaccompanied teens and children to their home countries.

Last month, border authorities took 18,890 minors into custody, up from 5,858 in January.

March was the busiest month along the U.S.-Mexico border in nearly two decades, and U.S. authorities took 172,331 migrants into custody, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection statistics released Thursday that provide a stark measure of the challenges facing the Biden administration.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked earlier Friday whether the rising numbers might cause the administration to again evict and turn back children under Trump’s public health order.

“The reason for accepting these children is that we feel it is not the humane step to send these kids back on their treacherous journey,” Psaki said. “Our focus is on addressing the needs, opening up shelters, ensuring there is access to health and educational resources, expediting processing at the border. And those are the steps we feel that are most effective from a policy standpoint.”

Jacobson spoke to reporters at the White House last month and acknowledged the significant challenge of addressing the flow of families and unaccompanied children.

“President Biden has made clear from day one that he wants to change our immigration system,” she said then. “Doing so means truly building back better, because we can’t just undo four years of the previous administration’s actions overnight.”

She and other Biden officials have sharply blamed the Trump administration for its hostility to migrants, saying they damaged the system in ways that take time to fix.

“Those actions didn’t just neglect our immigration system; they intentionally made it worse,” Jacobson said. “When you add a pandemic to that, it’s clear it will take significant time to overcome.”

She said then “the border is not open” and spoke at length in Spanish to urge would-be migrants not to make a dangerous trip with little likelihood of successful entry.

But Republican and some Democratic critics say Biden’s own policies have created the problem, and GOP lawmakers have held events at the border to make their point.

Jacobson came out of retirement to join the Biden administration as a “border coordinator” who could leverage her experience and extensive contacts in Mexico.

As border crossings jumped in the weeks after Biden’s inauguration, Jacobson took the lead in negotiations with Mexico and in the U.S. efforts to get the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador to tighten immigration enforcement.

Last month Mexican authorities deployed more national guard troops and other security forces along the country’s southern border with Guatemala, the result of a negotiation in which the Biden administration agreed to send millions of surplus coronavirus vaccines made by AstraZeneca. Jacobson played a lead role in the talks, which officials in both countries insisted did not amount to a quid pro quo.

The number of migrants taken into custody by U.S. border agents is the highest level in nearly 20 years, including record numbers of teenagers and children arriving without parents. The Biden administration has responded by adding thousands of emergency shelter beds for the minors, while pledging to redouble efforts to address the “root causes” driving Central Americans to head north.

Jacobson issued one of the strongest statements by any Biden official last month, when asked about the administration’s message to asylum seekers.

“The message isn’t, ‘Don’t come now.’ It’s, ‘Don’t come in this way, ever,’ ” she told Reuters in an interview. “The way to come to the United States is through legal pathways.”

Biden has pledged to try to stem the flow of migrants at the source by helping create stability and economic opportunity in Central America and Mexico. That longer-term effort is now Harris’s remit, and she distinguishes her role from that of Jacobson and other officials dealing with the more immediate humanitarian and logistical crises facing migrants who have made their way to the border.

Earl Anthony Wayne, who served as U.S. ambassador to Mexico until 2017, called Jacobson “one of the United States’ most experienced experts on Mexico.”

“She has a range of contacts there and a deep understanding of Mexican politics,” said Wayne. “Those are valuable assets to have at this time, so it will be important for the administration to find someone who can bring the expertise and skills that she has demonstrated over her years of service.”

The Biden administration appears to be spending at least $60 million per week to care for the more than 16,000 migrant teenagers and children in shelters operated by the Department of Health and Human Services, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Those costs are expected to rise significantly over the coming months, according to an analysis of government data obtained by The Post.

With a record number of unaccompanied minors arriving at the border in the past several weeks, HHS quickly filled the 7,700 available beds in its network of permanent shelters, and the administration has raced to set up some 16,000 temporary beds at military bases and other facilities.

Migrant boy found wandering alone in Texas had been deported and kidnapped #SootinClaimon.Com

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Migrant boy found wandering alone in Texas had been deported and kidnapped

InternationalApr 10. 2021

By The Washington Post · Kevin Sieff, Ismael López Ocampo

The 10-year-old had been lost for hours – crying and shaking as he wandered a vast scrubland- when he saw the Border Patrol officer.

“Can you help me?” the boy asked between sniffles.

The agent recorded the interaction, which was widely shared on the Internet, seen by many as a glimpse into the desperation of unaccompanied children arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border.

But the story behind the video of Wilton Obregon, according to relatives, shows how the Biden administration is putting migrant families in even more peril after they cross the border, in some cases deporting them into the hands of criminal groups.

Wilton and his mother Meylin, 30, crossed the border into Texas last month to seek asylum after fleeing their native Nicaragua. But they were immediately sent back to Mexico under Title 42, a pandemic-era policy that expels migrants who cross the border without allowing to apply for protection.

Hours after being expelled to northern Mexico, they were kidnapped, according to Misael Obregon, Meylin’s brother, who lives in Miami.

Misael received a call from the kidnappers. They wanted $10,000 to release Meylin and Wilton.

“They threaten to hurt them both, or worse,” Misael Obregon said. “These people are capable of anything.”

Misael could only come up with $5,000. He sent the cash through a money transfer company. The kidnappers agreed to release Wilton, but not his mother.

The smugglers then abandoned Wilton after leading him across the border, leaving him to wander through the arid farmland of South Texas looking for assistance, until he found the Border Patrol agent who recorded his encounter with the boy.

“I came looking because I didn’t know where to go, and they can also rob or kidnap me or something,” he told the agent.

Meylin remains in the custody of kidnappers. She called Misael Obregon on Friday morning, crying after seeing the video of her bleary-eyed son.

“Now I’m worried that she’s going to die,” said Obregon, “that she’s not going to make it through this.”

The Nicaraguan government on Friday identified Wilton as being the boy in the video, but it did not mention the kidnapping. It said Nicaraguan police had interviewed the boy’s father, who confirmed that Meylin had told him in their last conversation that she and Wilton were preparing to cross the border together because they were “in danger.”

In a speech, the vice president of Nicaragua, Rosario Murillo, said she had called on Interpol to locate the boy and his mother.

“Our national police, our Ministry of the Interior, have made, and continue to make inquiries to the United States authorities, Mexican authorities to obtain information that lead us to locate Meylin and the child,” she said.

Wilton is currently in U.S. government custody according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

The video of the boy was raised at a White House news conference this week. “I don’t have any response from the president directly. What I can convey is, for any of us who have seen that video, it is heartbreaking,” said press secretary Jen Psaki.

Relatives say the boy and his mother were in part fleeing domestic violence in Nicaragua.

Thirty-three percent of families who crossed the border last month were expelled to Mexico, according to CBP statistics.

Biden had long complained about the humanitarian consequences of the Trump administration’s so-called Remain in Mexico policy, which forced asylum seekers to wait for the their court hearings in Mexico. Many of them were kidnapped and abused during their months waiting.

Under Title 42, though, which began under Trump and continues under Biden, asylum seekers are once again in the same desperate situation. It’s unclear how many of them have been kidnapped.

“The Biden administration is winding down one of the Trump administration’s most notorious policies but at the same time it is expelling other asylum seekers back to the very same dangers, attacks and kidnappings through its continued use of the Trump administration’s Title 42 policy to evade U.S. refugee law,” Eleanor Acer, senior director of refugee protection at Human Rights First, said in a statement.

YouTube pulls video of DeSantis panel discussion urging no masks for children #SootinClaimon.Com

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YouTube pulls video of DeSantis panel discussion urging no masks for children

InternationalApr 10. 2021Florida Gov. Ron DeSantisFlorida Gov. Ron DeSantis

By The Washington Post · Meryl Kornfield

YouTube has pulled a video featuring Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Republican, over allegations it contains misinformation about the coronavirus and mask-wearing.

The video is of a March 18 roundtable discussion in Tallahassee the governor hosted with panelists – radiologist and former White House adviser Scott Atlas, Harvard University biostatistician Martin Kulldorff, Oxford University epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta, and Stanford Medical School economist Jay Bhattacharya – who have publicly spoken against lockdowns and other measures enacted to reduce the spread of the virus. The video shared by news station WSTB Tampa Bay was taken down Wednesday because it violated a policy related to “COVID-19 medical misinformation,” according to platform spokeswoman Elena Hernandez.

“We removed this video because it included content that contradicts the consensus of local and global health authorities regarding the efficacy of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Hernandez wrote in a statement shared with The Washington Post.

At one point during the hour-and-45-minute discussion, DeSantis asks panelists about enforcing mask-wearing for children, which the scientists dispute is effective to prevent the spread of the virus, despite recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization that children wear masks. The CDC advises mask-wearing for children 2 and up, and the WHO recommends masks for children 12 and above.

“Children should not wear face masks,” Kulldorff said in response to DeSantis’s question. “They don’t need it for their own protection, and they don’t need it for protecting other people either.”

“I think it’s developmentally inappropriate and it just doesn’t help on the disease spread,” Bhattacharya added about mask-wearing for children. “I think it’s absolutely not the right thing to do.”

In a statement shared with The Washington Post on Friday, DeSantis’s spokesman Cody McCloud called the video’s removal “another blatant example of Big Tech attempting to silence those who disagree with their woke corporate agenda,” arguing that the panelists’ academic affiliations qualify them to speak about the crisis.

“Good public health policy should include a variety of scientific and technical expertise, and YouTube’s decision to remove this video suppresses productive dialogue of these complex issues,” McCloud wrote.

After social media platforms were blamed for allowing misinformation to fester amid the 2016 election, the tech giants have cracked down on falsehoods about the coronavirus pandemic, fueling calls for stricter regulations of these companies from conservatives, including DeSantis, who view the scrutiny as overreaching. A video of Atlas was removed by the platform before while he was an adviser to former president Donald Trump, prompting him to compare his plight to those who live in “Third World countries.”

Reactions from Florida politicians largely split along party lines. The state’s top elected Democrat, Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried, tweeted “we should find a governor who doesn’t get banned from @YouTube for endangering children with conspiracies.” Sen. Marco Rubio warned of “unelected gatekeepers of the public square.”

The removal of the video was first reported by the American Institute for Economic Research, the libertarian think tank behind the Great Barrington Declaration, a controversial letter co-signed by three of the panelists that endorses herd immunity. Although the online document claimed that thousands of doctors and scientists had signed it, Britain’s Sky News documented some transparently fake signatories, including “Dr. Person Fakename.”

Despite YouTube’s decision to yank the video, the discussion can still be viewed on Florida Channel, a state-funded live-streaming service.

One of the panelists, Bhattacharya, told The Post that he thought YouTube’s decision was “censorship” and “contrary to American democratic norms of free expression.”

In an email, Bhattacharya wrote that he viewed the discussion as a “policy forum” and raised objections to mask-wearing based on evidence that masks could hinder a child’s ability to learn and interact with others.

The other panelists did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday evening, but Kulldorff tweeted a link to a Wall Street Journal editorial, which decried the removal, saying it “should not matter” if the information panelists were presenting was false because the discussion “offers a window into the thinking of the Governor and people who influence him.”

Britain’s Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies aged 99 #SootinClaimon.Com

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Britain’s Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, dies aged 99

InternationalApr 09. 2021Queen Elizabeth II and Prince PhilipQueen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip

By The Nation

Prince Philip, the husband of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II, died aged 99 on Friday morning, according to a statement by the UK monarchy.

“It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh,” said the statement, published on the UK royals official website.

“His Royal Highness passed away peacefully this morning at Windsor Castle,” it added, referring to the castle located 37 kilometres east of London in the county of Berkshire.

“The Royal Family join with people around the world in mourning his loss,” continued the statement, adding that further announcements would be made in due course.

A Greek prince, the Duke of Edinburgh married Elizabeth in 1947 and remained by his wife’s side throughout her 69-year reign. He earned a reputation for speaking his mind, at the cost of occasional high-profile gaffes. He is also credited with helping modernise the British monarchy in the era after World War II.

Five dead in S.C. shooting committed by ex-NFL player Phillip Adams, who then killed himself, authorities say #SootinClaimon.Com

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Five dead in S.C. shooting committed by ex-NFL player Phillip Adams, who then killed himself, authorities say

InternationalApr 09. 2021An intersection in Rock Hill, S.C., on Oct. 20, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Allison Lee IsleyAn intersection in Rock Hill, S.C., on Oct. 20, 2020. MUST CREDIT: Photo for The Washington Post by Allison Lee Isley

By The Washington Post · Timothy Bella

At least five people are dead, including two children, in what police in York County, S.C., called a “case of a mass shooting” that involved a former National Football League player as the suspected gunman.

Four of the victims of the Wednesday shooting came from what authorities described as a “very prominent and very well-known” family in the Rock Hill community: Robert Lesslie, a 70-year-old doctor; his wife, Barbara Lesslie, 69; and two grandchildren, Adah, 9, and Noah, 5. The fifth victim, James Lewis, 38, of Gastonia, N.C., was working at the home at the time of the shooting.

The York County Sheriff’s Office confirmed in a news release to The Washington Post on Thursday that the suspected gunman was Phillip Adams, a former NFL player who killed himself early Thursday after an hours-long search by police. York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said Adams, 32, died of a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.” Adams is from Rock Hill.

The coroner told WCNC, an NBC affiliate in Charlotte, that Adams was found dead inside his father’s home after a standoff with police.

Adams’s father, Alonzo, told WCNC that his son had been “a good kid. I think the football messed him up.”

Alonzo Adams, who was visibly shaken while speaking to reporters, said that Robert Lesslie had been his doctor a long time ago and that “they were good folks down there. We’re going to keep them in our prayers.”

In a statement released by the sheriff’s office, members of the Lesslie family said they were still sorting through the heartbreak, shock and grief of the tragedy.

“We are truly in the midst of the unimaginable,” the family said in a statement. “The losses we are suffering cannot be uttered at this time.”

A sixth person was wounded in the shooting and taken to a hospital for “serious gunshot wounds,” York County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Trent Faris said at a news conference.

“It doesn’t happen here,” Faris – who also had Lesslie as his doctor growing up – said of the shooting. “It’s one of those strange things that a lot of people are going to have a hard time understanding.”

The South Carolina attack comes on the heels of mass shootings in the Atlanta area and Boulder, Colo., and renewed calls from lawmakers and others to ban assault weapons. On Thursday, President Biden announced a half-dozen executive actions focused on curbing gun violence, his first initiatives on guns as president.

Police responded to the scene just before 5 p.m. Wednesday after a report of a multiple-victim shooting on Marshall Road. In a 911 call published by the sheriff’s office, a man who called authorities said he heard about 20 shots fired.

“I think we’ve had some trouble,” the caller said to 911. “I think there’s been a bad shooting.”

In a separate 911 call, another man reported to authorities that one of his workers from his heating and air-conditioning company had called him to tell him he had been shot and that the other was unresponsive.

When police arrived, they said, they found the four family members dead inside the home and Lewis just outside.

Just after 1:30 a.m. Thursday, police announced that they had identified the person they believed to be the gunman.

“There is no active threat to the community,” the sheriff’s office tweeted.

An hours-long search for the gunman stretched into Wednesday night and early Thursday, police said. Authorities described the gunman as a young Black man wearing a hooded sweatshirt and camouflage pants.

Phillip Adams, who was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2010, played for six teams over six seasons, last playing for the Atlanta Falcons in 2015. He had no previous criminal record.

The Lesslie family has been a mainstay in the Rock Hill community for 40 years, and Robert Lesslie founded Riverview House Calls & Riverview Hospice and Palliative Care. According to the medical center’s website, the doctor and his wife have four children and eight grandchildren.

At the news conference, Faris acknowledged that the doctor had cared for him growing up.

“Dr. Lesslie has been one of those people that everybody knows,” he said.

In their statement to police, members of the Lesslie family honored their loved ones by finding forgiveness in the shooting that killed five. They also offered “prayers and compassion” to Adams’s family.

“While we know there are no answers that will satisfy the question ‘why,’ we are sure of one thing,” they said. “We do not grieve as those without hope.”

Joye Hummel, first woman hired to write Wonder Woman comics, dies at 97 #SootinClaimon.Com

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Joye Hummel, first woman hired to write Wonder Woman comics, dies at 97

InternationalApr 09. 2021Wonder Woman writer Joye Hummel donated her archives to the Smithsonian Institution in 2014. In her hands is the psychology take-home exam that had drawn William Moulton Marston's attention. MUST CREDIT: Elizabeth O'Brien/Smithsonian InstitutionWonder Woman writer Joye Hummel donated her archives to the Smithsonian Institution in 2014. In her hands is the psychology take-home exam that had drawn William Moulton Marston’s attention. MUST CREDIT: Elizabeth O’Brien/Smithsonian Institution

By The Washington Post · Harrison Smith

In March 1944, shortly before Joye Hummel graduated from the Katharine Gibbs secretarial school in Manhattan, she was invited to meet with one of her instructors, a charismatic psychologist who had been impressed by her essays on a take-home test.

Over tea at the Harvard Club, professor William Moulton Marston offered her a job – not in the classroom or psych lab, but in the office of his 43rd Street art studio. He wanted Hummel to help him write scripts for Wonder Woman, the Amazonian superhero he had created three years earlier and endowed with a magic lasso, indestructible bracelets, an eye-catching red bustier and a feminist sensibility.

Hummel, then 19, had never read Wonder Woman; she had never even read a comic book. But Marston needed an assistant. His character, brought to life on the page by artist H.G. Peter, was appearing in four comic books and was about to star in a syndicated newspaper strip. He was looking for someone young who could write slang and who, perhaps most importantly, shared his philosophy and vision for the character.

“You understand that I want women to feel they have the right to go out, to study, to find something they love to do and get out in the world and do it,” Hummel recalled his saying. She was “astonished and delighted” by the job offer, according to historian Jill Lepore’s book, “The Secret History of Wonder Woman,” and soon began writing for the comic. “I always did have a big imagination,” she said.

Hummel worked as a Wonder Woman ghostwriter for the next three years, long before any woman was publicly credited as a writer for the series. As invisible to readers as Wonder Woman’s transparent jet plane, she was increasingly recognized after Lepore interviewed her in 2014. Four years later, she received the Bill Finger Award, given to overlooked or underappreciated comic book writers at the Eisner Awards.

Hummel, who was known in recent years by her married name, Joye Murchison Kelly, died April 5 at her home in Winter Haven, Fla., a day after turning 97. Her son Robb Murchison confirmed the death but did not know the precise cause.

“Joye was absolutely a pioneer in bringing her own voice into these stories,” Lepore said in a phone interview. “She was then pretty much entirely forgotten. . . . I sort of think that people hadn’t bothered to find her. I called her up and said, ‘Are you the Joye Hummel who wrote Wonder Woman in the 1940s?’ She nearly dropped the receiver – she was delighted but surprised. It was a story she had told her grandchildren, but they didn’t believe her.”

A Wonder Woman comic and one of Ms. Hummel's original scripts, from her archives before she donated them to the Smithsonian. MUST CREDIT: Robb Murchison

A Wonder Woman comic and one of Ms. Hummel’s original scripts, from her archives before she donated them to the Smithsonian. MUST CREDIT: Robb Murchison

By the time Hummel started writing for Wonder Woman, the comics had an audience of 10 million readers. The character debuted in a 1941 issue of All-Star Comics, three years after Superman first lifted a car on the cover of Action Comics and two years after Batman leaped across the pages of Detective Comics.

Together, the three superheroes became linchpins of DC Comics, with Wonder Woman emerging as arguably the world’s most famous female superhero. She appeared on the cover of Ms. Magazine’s first issue (“Wonder Woman for President”), inspired a hit 1970s TV show starring Lynda Carter and was revitalized for the big screen beginning in 2016, played by Gal Gadot.

The character was “created by a whole series of women” who were never publicly credited, Lepore said. Marston – whose psychological research contributed to the development of the lie-detector test – received help from his wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, as well as their partner, Olive Byrne, the daughter of radical feminist Ethel Byrne and niece of birth-control activist Margaret Sanger. Both women worked behind the scenes, forming a fruitful creative triad and secret domestic arrangement: one husband, two wives.

After Hummel became the first woman hired to write for Wonder Woman, Byrne gave her a copy of Sanger’s book “Woman and the New Race,” which advocated for legalized birth control, and told her it contained everything she needed to know about the character.

Hummel at first typed Marston’s scripts before writing more than 70 scripts of her own, with detailed instructions for the artists. She developed stories that were often more innocent than her boss’s, which showed Wonder Woman fighting fascism while also being bound, tied, lassoed or gagged. Years later, she recalled that when she brought her scripts to editor Sheldon Mayer, “He always OK’d mine faster because I didn’t make mine as sexy.”

All of the early comics were published under a pseudonym, Charles Moulton, invented by Marston. Individual writers were credited in later anthologies by DC, which revealed that Hummel was behind some of the series’ more fantastical stories, involving beautiful mermaids and winged maidens. “They’re like fairy tales,” said cartoonist and historian Trina Robbins, who later worked on Wonder Woman.

Hummel stopped writing the comics in late 1947, shortly after she married, deciding to stay home and raise her stepdaughter. Marston had died earlier that year, and the series passed to writers who did away with much of the comic’s feminist messaging, including a regular centerfold feature chronicling the lives of influential women.

The changes infuriated Hummel, who remained loyal to Marston’s original vision of Wonder Woman as an emblem of free and courageous womanhood. Decades later, she wrote in an email to Lepore: “Even if I had not left because of my new daughter, I would have resigned if I was told I had to make [Wonder Woman] a masculine thinking and acting superwoman.”

Joye Evelyn Hummel was born April 4, 1924, and grew up on Long Island. Her son said that she rarely spoke of her upbringing; at various times, both of her parents apparently managed a grocery store chain.

After graduating from high school in Freeport, N.Y., she enrolled at Middlebury College in Vermont. She left after a year, later telling the comic magazine Alter Ego that her parents had divorced and she didn’t want to leave her mother alone.

Hummel joined the comics industry during a brief period in which female writers were not uncommon, according to Robbins, filling in for men who were fighting in World War II. When Marston was diagnosed with polio some five months after they started working together, she took on an increasingly significant share of the writing.

For the rest of their collaboration together, they met at his sprawling home in Rye, N.Y. His daughter Olive Ann served as a flower girl when Hummel married David Murchison, an Army veteran and home builder, in 1947.

After Murchison’s death in 2000, Hummel married Jack Kelly. In addition to her husband, of Winter Haven, and son, of Naples, Fla., survivors include a stepdaughter from her first marriage, Sally Boyd of Wellington, Fla.; two stepchildren from her second marriage, Kimberly Hallberg of Spring Hill, Fla., and Jeffrey Kelly of Oak Island, N.C.; five grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren. Her son David Murchison Jr. died in 2015.

Hummel donated her Wonder Woman archives to the Smithsonian Libraries in 2014. In interviews, she often downplayed her writing for the comics, describing it as a relatively small part of her life. Years after retiring from DC, for instance, she had gone back to work at age 40, taking a job as a secretary at a brokerage firm in Hollywood, Fla.

She later studied to become a stockbroker herself. “I believe Marston would feel proud of me,” she told the Florida magazine Haven in 2017, recalling the months of study it took to pass her certification exams and become registered on the New York Stock Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade. Doing so “enabled me to help finance the college education for my three children.”

As her son put it, “She was really a wonder woman.”

Biden announces action on gun control #SootinClaimon.Com

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Biden announces action on gun control

InternationalApr 09. 2021

By The Washington Post · Annie Linskey

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden announced an array of executive actions Thursday morning intended curb gun violence, following pressure from activists and fellow Democrats in the aftermath of two recent mass shootings.

In the White House Rose Garden, the president announced new rules on firearms that are assembled at home, which lack serial numbers and are harder to track, among other moves designed to make it harder for unqualified people to obtain dangerous weapons.

Biden also named David Chipman as his pick to run the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, although it is unclear how the nominee will fare in an evenly divided Senate. Chipman is a senior adviser to a gun control group founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was severely injured in a mass shooting in 2011.

Biden was joined Thursday by Attorney General Merrick Garland and first lady Jill Biden.

Biden’s moves come amid growing impatience from gun control activists that the administration has not acted more quickly. Biden promised during his campaign that he would take action to limit gun violence on the first day of his administration, but that fell by the wayside.

In his presidency’s early days, Biden has prioritized other emergency issues, including coronavirus pandemic relief and the struggling economy. He suggested recently that he considers gun control a less urgent priority that can be tackled over the long term.

But the issue of gun violence moved vividly the forefront after the two mass shootings, one in the Atlanta area in which eight people were killed and another in Colorado, where 10 were killed.

Biden’s aides stressed that beyond mass shootings, the president wants to focus on curbing the more frequent and deadlier epidemic of day-to-day gun violence that disproportionately affects Blacks and Latinos.

A former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Biden has a long record of arms control initiatives, including the 10-year assault weapons ban that was part of a 1994 crime bill he sponsored.

But the politics of gun control are turbulent. Rural voters, who skew sharply Republican, strongly support gun rights, while the suburbanites coveted by both parties tend to be more open to gun control.

Among Biden’s highest-profile moves Thursday was directing his administration to take action on “ghost guns,” firearms without serial numbers that are sold in kits and assembled at home.

The president also directed the Justice Department to draft a new rule regulating a device that can be placed on a pistol to turn it into a short-barreled rifle.

And he ordered the department to create a template that states can use to enact “red flag” laws, which allow judges to seize firearms from people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others.

Other initiatives include asking the Justice Department to issue a report on gun trafficking and directing several agencies to allocate more money for violence intervention programs.

We tested the first state ‘vaccine passport’ at Yankee Stadium. It’s not quite a home run. #SootinClaimon.Com

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We tested the first state ‘vaccine passport’ at Yankee Stadium. It’s not quite a home run.

InternationalApr 09. 2021

By The Washington Post · Geoffrey A. Fowler

Want to go to a Yankees game? Watch a Justin Bieber concert? Let’s see your app.

New York just became the first state to offer a digital “vaccine passport” – a free app and website you can use to prove you’ve been vaccinated against the coronavirus or gotten a recent negative coronavirus test result. With the new technology, called the Excelsior Pass, New Yorkers can show a screen or a printout with a special code that businesses scan with an app made by the state. A green check mark means you’re allowed inside.

Regardless of where you live, vaccine passports on the horizon promise to fast-track our safe return to public spaces. But only if people are able to access and trust them. And that’s a big if.

With the help of New Yorkers across a range of ages, I’ve been testing Excelsior Pass to see whether digital vaccine passports create more problems than they solve. Using Excelsior Pass is entirely voluntary, but it requires learning about the state’s system and mastering a few different websites and apps. It took me 20 minutes over Zoom to help an octogenarian set up his pass, though it was certainly simpler than mastering vaccine-appointment websites. Even when we thought we understood the system, Excelsior Pass didn’t always work: My tech-reporter colleague tried to use it to enter Yankee Stadium, but the system didn’t update with his clearance until after the game was over.

The good news: For the digitally savvy people who figure it out, using Excelsior Pass doesn’t appear to pose major privacy risks. The system, designed for the state by IBM, cannot be easily used by the state to track you. And it’s more discreet than the alternative of showing your medical records to a bouncer.

But I question how effective Excelsior Pass will be at keeping everyone safe. For one, it’s pretty easy to set up a fake pass. (Yikes, you might want to take down any vaccine selfies you posted to social media.) To stop potential fraud, you always have to show your ID along with Excelsior Pass – which is another kind of barrier that could make some people not want to use it.

As other states and even private companies work on their own vaccine passports, some of New York’s other choices also deserve scrutiny. The state hasn’t been very clear about where, and for how long, we might be required to show a vaccine passport – digital or physical. We all expect to need a passport at a border crossing, but will we eventually need a vaccine passport at Starbucks? The grocery store? Work? I found you could technically already use Excelsior Pass to scan your own dinner party guests . . . if they’d still call you a friend after.

At Madison Square Garden, which used Excelsior Pass for three games last week, most people still aren’t using the app – but it’s doing the job of being quick. “While the numbers are still small, they’ve nearly doubled at every game, which we expect will continue as more people become familiar with the app,” spokeswoman Kim Kearns says. “From a technology standpoint, everything has been straightforward, and worked well.”

As goes New York, so goes the nation? Here’s what we can all learn from the early days of Excelsior Pass.