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“Stop Treating Us Like Animals and Thugs and Start Treating Us With Some Respect,” NY Police Union Head Says

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  • Mike O’Meara, the president of the New York Police Benevolent Association, slammed legislators and reporters Tuesday for “vilifying” police officers. 
  • He pleaded with the public to stop treating officers like animals and thugs, demanding respect instead, among other remarks. 
  • Many noted that this is exactly how Black people have been treated for centuries and pointed to videos of police using excessive force against peaceful protesters. 
  • Others criticized the fact that white male officers were on display at the press conference when departments like the NYPD are actually much more diverse.

Comments Made at Press Conference 

New York Police Benevolence Association President Mike O’Meara sparked outrage Tuesday after demanding that the public treat officers with more respect.

For more than two weeks now, people all around the world have been calling for justice over the killing of George Floyd. However, his death has also sparked larger conversations about systemic racism, police brutality, and the policies that protect officers. Because of this, public outrage against authorities has drastically increased, with many calling to defund or abolish the police, and people using phrases like “All Cops Are Bastards.” 

Well, it seems like some officers in New York have had enough. On Tuesday, officials from 21 law enforcement unions held a press conference condemning what they called an “anti-police environment.” 

But some of the most viral comments from that conference came from O’Meara, who started off by saying there are over 375 million interactions between officers and the public every year, which are usually met with “overwhelming positive responses.”

Despite that, he added, “I read in the papers all week, we all read in the papers, that in the black community, mothers are worried about their children getting home from school without being killed by a cop. What world are we living in? That doesn’t happen! It does not happen.”

“I am not Derek Chauvin. They are not him. He killed someone. We didn’t,” he added, referring to the officer charged with murdering Floyd after pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

“Everybody’s trying to shame us. The legislators. The press. Everybody’s trying to shame us into being embarrassed about our profession,” he continued.

“Well, You know what?” O’Meara said while holding up his badge. “This isn’t stained by someone in Minneapolis. It’s still got a shine on it, and so do theirs.” 

“Stop treating us like animals and thugs and start treating us with some respect. That’s what we’re here today to say. We’ve been left out of the conversation. We’ve been vilified. It’s disgusting.”

O’Meara went on to say that he doesn’t condone the actions of police officers in Minneapolis and added, “It’s not what we do. It’s not what police officers do.”

He closed by saying that he’s proud to be a cop and will continue to be until the day he retires.

Reactions 

As you can imagine, those comments were met with a ton of scrutiny from people who noted that this is how Black people have been treated for centuries. Some even pointed out that O’Meara essentially used the same exact language people of color used when talking about how they are treated. 

Others found his remarks frustrating given the amount of violence police used against peaceful protesters, especially within the state.

One of the most memorable incidents involved Buffalo police pushing an elderly man to the ground, which law enforcement initially described as him tripping and falling.

However, there is actually even more video evidence of police using excessive force in recent weeks. In fact, people online have been sharing a video with the audio from O’Meara’s speech placed over a supercut of those violent incidents.

It shows officers aggressively shoving protesters to the ground and one pulling someone’s face mask off to pepper spray them. It also includes several clips of officers beating people with their batons, repeatedly punching someone during an arrest, and other graphic videos. 

On top of that, there was also criticism over the number of white officers on display at the press conference. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-N.Y.) even pointed that out in a tweet saying, “Any New Yorker can tell you that this group does not look representative of the NYPD at all. Most NYPD patrol officers are Black, Latino, or Asian American – and the overall force is about 1/5 women. So what’s going on here?

Those claims check out based on data charts from the city’s website, which show that 53% of NYPD officers are nonwhite and 18% identify as female. 

So that led some to wonder if these comments were actually representative of the entire police force. Some even called it a display of white fragility, a term used to describe the discomfort and defensiveness of a white person when confronted with information about racial inequality and injustice.

O’Meara Doubles Down 

Even after all the backlash, O’Meara appeared on Fox News to double down on his comments. In an interview with Martha MacCallum, he against stressed that officers like Derek Chauvin are not the majority. 

“We interact with the community at a very high level,” he added. “We’re social workers, we’re marriage counselors. We do everything that everybody else fails at. So we get involved in people’s lives at a very high level. And sometimes that gets emotional and sometimes it gets dangerous and sometimes it’s a bad situation. But the overwhelming majority of police officers and their interactions with the public are positive.

“And we can’t keep saying that the police [are] systemic racist thugs that are out there. We are not. We are not.”

Ultimately, O’Meara said that Chauvin should go to jail for the rest of his life, but he added that police need to be a part of the conversation about race relations and reforms in law enforcement. 

“You want to talk about how we can do our job better? We’d love to hear it…because we want to do our job better,” he said.

“We don’t want these situations where we have these tense atmosphere. All the members of the public and the members of the police. And we want to help fix it. But nobody’s talking to us. The only thing they’re doing is throwing stones at us. And you know what?… It’s hard for us.”

Those comments have also continued to generate a lot of backlash from people who feel like police really aren’t listening and are now trying to make themselves the victims of this larger social issue. 

See what others are saying: (The Hill) (Fox News) (RealClearPolitics

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College Board Changes AP African American Studies After Backlash From DeSantis Amid Education Culture War

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As requested by DeSantis, the College Board removed lessons on contemporary topics including Black Lives Matter, queer studies, and reparations.


College Board Rolls Out Curriculum

The College Board, which oversees Advanced Placement high school courses, announced an official curriculum framework for its new, landmark Advanced Placement African American studies on Wednesday.

The announcement, made on the first day of Black History Month, has faced scrutiny for seeming to scale back a number of relevant subjects that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and other state education officials had criticized.

In January, DeSantis said that the new course would be banned in Florida unless changes were made, arguing that a draft version of the course was “woke.” 

Education officials claimed that the class, which had been in the making for nearly a decade, violated a recent state law dubbed the Stop WOKE Act. The legislation regulates public school instruction on race by banning critical race theory and any education that describes some groups as oppressed and others as privileged based on race or sex.

Democrats denounced DeSantis’ action as a political stunt and urged the College Board to maintain its principles.

According to reports, many historical topics like slavery largely remain intact from the previous draft. However, important contemporary issues like Black Lives Matter, affirmative action, queer studies, reparations, and intersectionality — all of which Florida leaders objected to — were removed from curriculum requirements and are no longer part of the AP exam.

Instead, those areas of study have been downgraded to be part of a list of options students can pursue for a mandatory research project. The College Board also added a new research project idea to that list that will certainly please the right: “Black conservatism.”

It has additionally been reported that the organization pulled names of multiple Black authors the state education officials had flagged as problematic, including many famous and pioneering Black scholars who wrote about critical race theory, the queer experience, and Black feminism. 

The College Board defended itself against criticism in a press release announcing the changes, claiming that the process of developing the framework “has operated independently from political pressure.”

DeSantis’ Ongoing Culture War

DeSantis’ attempts to influence the national curriculum of an AP course are just his latest in a much broader effort to control what is and is not taught in public schools.

Just one day before the College Board announced the revised course, the governor outlined what The New York Times described as “his most aggressive swing yet at the education establishment.”

Specifically, he proposed a massive overhaul to higher education in the state that would defund and eliminate diversity and equity programs, mandate courses on Western civilization, and reduce tenure protections that are essential to ensure professors have freedom of expression.

Furthermore, the effects of another law DeSantis signed last year are now just beginning to materialize. The policy, which went into effect this July, requires every school book to be age-appropriate, “free of pornography,” and “suited to student needs.” 

To follow those guidelines, school books have to be approved by a certified media specialist who has undergone specific training.

Notably, the law also states that teachers can be charged with third-degree felonies if they “knowingly or unknowingly” give students access to a book that the specialists say is harmful — meaning that they could face up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

Last month, the state education department clarified that the rule does not just apply to school libraries, but also to any books a teacher keeps in their classroom too. 

Multiple outlets reported this week that records they obtained show at least two school districts have now directed teachers to either remove their books or hide them until review to avoid the possibility of going to jail.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (The Associated Press)

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Biden Announces Plan to End COVID Emergency in May

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The decision would drastically change the government’s long-standing pandemic response and shift Americans’ access to COVID-related services.


Emergency Declarations at an End

In a statement Monday, The White House announced that it would be ending the COVID national emergency and public health emergency declarations on May 11.

The move will entirely restructure the federal government’s response to the pandemic to treat it as endemic and upend policies that have been in place for the last three years. Although more than 500 people in the U.S. are still dying from COVID on average each day — which is around two times the number of daily deaths during a bad flu season — life has largely returned to normal.

Most Americans are vaccinated, and even President Joe Biden himself said the pandemic was “over” back in September. The new announcement comes in part as a response to resolutions Republicans brought to the House floor last week that would end the declarations immediately.

“An abrupt end to the emergency declarations would create wide-ranging chaos and uncertainty throughout the health care system — for states, for hospitals and doctors’ offices, and, most importantly, for tens of millions of Americans,” the White House argued.

Lapses in Coverage and Care

Federal officials decided that a phase-out would make more sense because the U.S. has come to rely on several systems and benefits under the emergencies.

One of the most significant changes that will have the biggest impact on Americans in their day-to-day lives is access to COVID tests, treatments, and vaccines that have been free throughout the pandemic.

Once the emergencies end, a very complex wave of changes will take place that differs from person to person depending on their insurance — or lack thereof — and even possibly what state they live in.

Currently, people with private health insurance or Medicare coverage have been allowed eight free COVID tests a month and insurers had to cover those tests, even if they were administered out of network.

Once the emergency ends, some Americans will have to pay out of pocket, as well as for antiviral COVID treatments like Paxlovid. 

Notably, it has been reported that vaccines will still be included for all those people covered by both private and public insurance. That, however, may not be the case for those without insurance — a group that is also more likely to be the most affected by rising costs for tests and treatments.

Jen Kates, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation, told The Washington Post that when the emergency declarations end, states that opted to provide Medicaid coverage for tests, treatments, and shots will lose the federal funds that matched costs at 100%.

“To me, that’s the biggest issue for the general public to think about,” she said. “The uninsured and underinsured have no guaranteed access to covid vaccines, tests or treatments.”

When it comes to vaccines, those costs could be significant. Moderna and Pfizer have both said they might charge as much as $130 per dose of vaccine once the federal government stops paying and the shots are transitioned to the private market. That figure is nearly quadruple what federal offices have paid for the doses.

The shift to the private market could happen fairly soon, especially because Republicans have refused Biden’s request that they put billions of dollars towards additional free COVID testing and shots to extend those efforts.

There could also be a spike in the number of uninsured or underinsured Americans because the $1.7 trillion spending bill passed last year ends a rule that banned states from kicking people off Medicaid, leaving millions at risk of losing coverage.

Other Possible Outcomes

Ending the declarations could also set up a battle around immigration because the Biden administration has said the move will bring an end to Title 42 — the Trump-era public health measure that placed restrictions on border crossings and other migrant policies.

Biden has previously tried to cut the program, but the Supreme Court kept it in place. House Republicans rejected the White House’s claim that the program would be terminated, arguing it is not tied to the public health emergency.

Beyond that, the termination of the declarations would require health providers to make numerous adjustments because many of the flexibilities they were allowed in a number of areas would be cut. 

As a result, the administration says a phase-out of those policies over the next few months is necessary, arguing that hospitals and nursing homes “will be plunged into chaos” if they are cut immediately. House Republicans, however, are insistent on moving forward their legislation that would do just that, though the Democratic-controlled Senate could block their proposals.

See what others are saying: (The New York Times) (The Washington Post) (The Associated Press)

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Conservatives are Mad at “Woke” Xbox for Minor Climate-Related Updates

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The fury comes after Xbox announced it was slightly altering existing consoles to better utilize and save energy.


Same War, New Battlefield

Mere days after M&M canceled their “spokescandies” due to backlash from the right, led largely by Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, conservatives have found a new front for their ongoing culture war: Xbox.

Carlson spent months complaining that small character redesigns were “woke” because they made the animated anthropomorphized M&M’s — in his own words — “less sexy.” His campaign finally proved successful on Monday when the company announced it would be doing away with the spokescandies and replacing them with actress Maya Rudolph.

Conservatives, now facing a sudden dearth of non-issues to complain about, quickly found a new issue to rage against. Xbox announced in a blog post earlier this month that it is making minor updates to lower its environmental impact as part of an effort to reach Microsoft’s goal of being carbon-negative by 2030.

Now, instead of having an Xbox wake up to update games, apps, and software during random times of the night, it will do that at a time of night when a user’s local energy grid is generating the most power it can from renewable sources. 

Xbox also said it would automatically update some older consoles to a power-saving mode that aims to reduce electricity consumption when it is turned off — a feature that is already the default on newer consoles.

According to The Verge, the only difference for users is that an Xbox in power-saving mode takes around 15 seconds to boot up instead of doing so immediately as the console does in “sleep” mode. The change is a small price to pay for what the outlet described as “significant” energy savings.

Xbox Under Fire

To many leading conservative voices, the minimal shifts were just another example of “woke” culture. 

While discussing M&M’s spokescandies Tuesday morning, “Fox and Friends” co-host Ainsley Earhardt brought up Xbox’s new changes with Fox radio host Jimmy Failla.

“So Xbox has also announced that they’re going woke too, you know, because of climate change,” Earhardt said.

“I mean, it’s crazy what they’re doing, but we understand what this is. It’s not that it’s actually going to offset emissions, okay — the level of reduction is infinitesimal,”  Failla claimed, without evidence. “But they’re trying to recruit your kids into climate politics at an earlier age; make them climate conscious now.”

“Yeah, I didn’t think of that — you’re right, they’re going after the children,” Earhardt agreed, despite the fact that internal data from Microsoft shows just around 10% of Xbox owners are under the age of 18.

Other prominent conservatives also did their part to bait Americans into anger on social media, including America’s Foundation, which posted a tweet stating that “the woke brigade is after video games.”

The post linked an article from the right-wing website TheBlaze, which asserted that “Xbox will force gamers to power down to fight climate change.”  That, however, is false — Xbox has said users can switch back and change the settings any time they want

Still, top lawmakers continued to share the article and spread its false claims, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx.).

“First gas stoves, then your coffee, now they’re gunning for your Xbox,” he wrote in the post, which was flagged by Twitter and given an “added context” warning.

The same warning, however, was not placed in a very similar post by Rep. Troy Nehls (R-Tx.), who also shared the article.

“They want to take your guns. They want to take your gas stoves. And now they want to take your Xbox. What’s next?” he wrote.

See what others are saying: (The Washington Post) (The Daily Beast) (VICE)

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