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The white-Left Part 1: The two meanings of white

Monday, June 22, 2020

Even calling it the "Theodore Roosevelt Statue" is racist

If you've heard of the recent controversy around the removal of the Theodore Roosevelt Statue from Central Park in New York City, or even if you heard about the Theodore Roosevelt Statue at some time in the past, but had not seen it, you might think it was a statue of Theodore Roosevelt, and no one else, because that is the usual meaning of the word statue:

Upon seeing it, you might be surprised to find that actually three people are represented in this sculpture, and that is the proper term for it, the named Teddy Roosevelt, on his horse, has an unnamed Native American and an unnamed African trailing behind him. That makes this sculpture a homage to white supremacy, calling it the "Theodore Roosevelt Statue" is to fail to acknowledge, or to refuse to acknowledge, the other two people depicted in this sculpture. That makes referring to it as the "Theodore Roosevelt Statue" racist. It's really that simple.

Clay Claiborne

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Was George Floyd lynched for having a white girlfriend?

This is actually a two part question, so let's tackle part one first: Was George Floyd lynched?

Consider how Sumaiya Shaikh describes lynching in The Cognitive Neuroscience of a Lynching, Wired, 18/Jul/2017:
A mob lynching isn’t the same as any physical harm or a killing. It needs several components to come together: attackers, spectators and outnumbered victim(s). It needs the public humiliation of the victim and, unlike a lawful process of punishment, a lynching is a demonstration that the sentiments of the attackers are beyond the law or the government.
The murder of George Floyd had all those elements. The attackers were Derek Chauvin and the other cops, fortunately for all, one of the spectators made a video, and Floyd obviously was the victim. He was humiliated. His killing was unlawful, and they demonstrated to the onlookers that they made their own "law." Thanks to Darnella Frazier, the 17-year old that made the 10 minute cell phone video that blew the lid, this may be the most widely viewed lynching in history. Shaikh continues:
Whether the victims die or survive the lynching, they are almost always bent on their knees or close to the ground, palms joined together, begging for mercy and often soaked in blood. Their gesture and facial expressions suggest that they will do and say anything to save themselves from more harm.
The victim’s brain, paralysed by fear, inhibits all movement and prevents him from running away from the attack.
This last part could explain why Floyd said he couldn't get up with three cops on top of him. He showed all the classic symptoms, including his stomach aching as the bowels leave the body for the last time. Shaikh continues:
The perpetrators are the people that are hired or spontaneously perpetrate a lynching by others in leadership positions. This category of ‘participants’ isn’t an individual but a group that unites to act as a single entity.
This mob was hired by the city. Lynch mobs also post guards to stop anyone who might try to interfere from doing so. This had that too, in the person of Officer Thao.

It is important to understand that a lynching is not a hanging. The hangman's knot, and the drop, often weighted by sandbags, is designed to break the neck of the person being executed and insure that death comes quickly. That's why it is considered one of the five humane ways of carrying out the death penalty, and still legal in some states.

A lynching is death by strangulation. The victim is "strung up" for public display, and then is allowed to twist and strangle as the life is driven out of him slowly over a matter of minutes, even hours. It is a form of torture, as George Floyd was tortured. Do not be confused because no rope was used. The murder of George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin had all the important elements of a lynching. For all intents and purposes, George Floyd was lynched.

George Floyd and girlfriend Courteney Ross
This brings us to the second half of the title, and the sticky question as to the motive of Chauvin, and perhaps the other cops.

This question gets more interesting now that we know that both George Floyd and Derek Chauvin worked security at the same club, and Chauvin had a prior beef with Floyd. Both had worked part-time as security for El Nuevo Rodeo, a popular Latin club for about a year. Buzzfeed reports:
“It’s very shocking,” said Alexander Vasquez Hagen, who worked security at the club several years ago and interacted with Chauvin in that capacity. He said he knew and liked Floyd from the city’s club scene.

added AJ Jaurequi, a club promoter in the area. He said he wondered if the two men “had some beef with each other, because it’s odd that you’d treat someone you knew like that.”

Maya Santamaria, the club’s former owner, said Floyd, the father of a six-year-old girl, was “a sweetheart” and that “everyone loved him.” Santamaria said she’d hire Floyd for busy nights, to join the 25 other security guards inside the club.
Santamaria recalled that Chauvin, a 19-year-veteran of the department, “was nice but he would overreact and lash out quickly.”

This was particularly true, she said, on nights when the club hosted special events like Twerk Tuesdays and other dance festivals geared toward the black community.

“His face, attitude, posture would change when we did urban nights,” she said, adding that he had a “propensity to pull out pepper spray” and use it on her patrons, something she said she had spoken to him about.
Now David Pinney, a man who worked security with both Floyd and Chauvin, told CBS that Chauvin knew Floyd "I would say pretty well." He said they had a history:
"They bumped heads," Pinney said.

"How?" CBS News asked.

"It has a lot to do with Derek being extremely aggressive within the club with some of the patrons, which was an issue," Pinney explained.
Courteney Ross at George Floyd Memorial Monday
Pinney says that Chauvin had a problem with black people, and thinks he should be charged with first degree murder because "He knew him."

I think we can say that it has been established that Chauvin had exhibited racist behavior towards African Americans, and that he knew Floyd when he was killing him. Therefore it is probable that his motives were racist as well as personal. As to the last part of my question, beyond the fact that George Floyd's girl friend, Courteney Ross, 44, is white, I can offer only speculation.

She met Floyd three years ago when he was working security at a Salvation Army store, and they had been dating since. She manages The Coffee Shop Northeast, about 6 miles from the club where both Floyd and Chauvin worked. Nothing I've seen so far indicates that Chauvin knew she was Floyd's girlfriend, or even of her existence, but what we are learning about both Floyd and Chauvin and their prior relationship serves to highlight the small town nature of Minneapolis. If Chauvin was observant, as most cops are, he just may have had occasion to notice that Floyd had a girlfriend, and that she was white. This may be worthy of further investigation, given the similarities between the murder of George Floyd and a lynching, and the history of real or imagined interracial relationships as a prime historical motive for lynchings.

Clay Claiborne.

Will Trump send the elder the cops knocked down to Gitmo?

This is a serious question.

Ten days ago Trump tweeted:
Never mind that antifa is short for anti-fascists, like these guys:
And never mind that it's not an organization, just a label. The important point is that Trump considers anyone he labels as antifa to be a terrorist, and you know what they do to terrorists. They send them off to Gitmo or another black site for waterboarding and worst. From what I've seen, this important connection is being missed.

Martin Gugino photo by Justin Norman
Martin Gugino is the man Trump is threatening with terrorist status. He is a Buffalo native and long time peace activist. He has protested police brutality before, also military drones, climate change, and nuclear weapons. He is also a member of Witness Against Torture and has protested in the orange jumpsuit of a Guantanamo prisoner. Now it seems fair to conclude, Trump would like to see him wearing one for real.

On Thursday, 4 June 2020, he was knocked down by police in front of the Buffalo City Hall, and left bleeding on the ground. You've probably seen this video already. The really brutal part of how they all keep on marching off to war (against US citizens), and nobody even checks on Martin:

On Tuesday morning early, Trump sent out this tweet:
81 minutes later the Russian disinformation outlet Sputnik News is already out with a story on Trump's tweet:
Trump Says Elderly Buffalo Protester Shoved by Police 'Could Be Antifa Provocateur'

13:55 GMT 09.06.2020G
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - US President Donald Trump on Tuesday suggested that an elderly man who was violently shoved by law enforcement during a protest in Buffalo, New York could be a "provocateur" member of the left-wing group Antifa. More...
Probably the reason they responded so quickly to Trump's tweet is that they gave him the idea in the first place. Trump references this report from the right-wing outlet OAN in his tweet:

Turns out the reporter on this story also works for Spunik.

So, it would appear that Trump has taken a conspiracy theory propagated by a Russian agent through a right-wing outlet, and given it the strength of a presidential finding. Does he know he's a Russian asset? Anyway, it's easy to see why Sputnik was so quick to report its success, but this still leaves the question of why Democracy Now left out the Russian connection.

But the big question raised by these tweets is: Can the President of the United States so cavalierly equate a label to terrorism, and then apply that label to anybody with no due process and not even a shred of evidence? Given the awesome powers given to the president, and what he is allowed to do to terrorists, this is a most serious question that needs to be addressed.

Clay Claiborne

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Costs of racism in Trump's coronavirus response

The daylight torture, strangulation, and murder of George Floyd under the color of authority has brought home to millions what some of the costs of white supremacy have been for African Americans. He was one of the many killed by the cops this year. Beyond the growing wave of violence by organs of state security is the “American carnage,” to use Trump's happy phrase, brought on by his incompetent handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Over a hundred thousand Americans have been killed in just a few months, and as usual, people of color have paid the highest price. But COVAD-19 has killed people of all colors at a higher rate because of white supremacy.

Unlike the cops, the novel coronavirus itself doesn't discriminate. It has infected all the nations of the planet. Yet one country, less than one-twentieth of the whole by population, has suffered more than one-quarter of the deaths. What's more, this is not the poorest country on Earth, but the richest; not a country with few doctors and hospitals, but one possessing the most advanced medical technology; not one relying on dirt roads, pack animals, and old trucks for transport, but one with the most developed infrastructure on Earth. What epidemic failure explains this?

I think the white supremacist outlook of our national leadership has been largely responsible for this massive, and unnecessary loss of life. By understanding this we can recognize the huge cost of white supremacy, not only within the current pandemic, but in our long history of tragic mistakes along these lines.

Here are some of its main contributing factors:

1) Trump doesn't believe in science.

This has had a profound and multifaceted effect on the failure of his coronavirus response. To understand why Donald Trump and his ilk so loath science we must take look at how white supremacy has always had a corrupting influence on science under capitalism.

Capitalism & Science

Even though they grew up in the same neighborhood, capitalism has always had something of a love-hate relationship with science. Most definitely, the capitalists loved the profits to be made from the inventions of science. So they invested heavily in it, propelled its development, and expanded its domain into every sphere. But they never liked all of its conclusions, and the more capitalism has decayed, the more apprehensive they have become about what science has to say about their system, and what “best practices” should be for the social organization of humanity. That is how the matter stands with regards to capitalism in general.

White supremacy & Science

However, even from the very beginning, those capitalists that made their profits most directly through the exploitation of people of color had a special bone to pick with science. From a philosophical point of view, they based their system on the decidedly unscientific view that the self-proclaimed “white” people were superior to all people with darker skin, and this gave them the right to “own” these people, as well as their land and resources. They were able to do this because of the uneven development of geographically separated groups of humanity at the dawn of the capitalist era. By 1619 enough uneven development had accumulated in the 3.3 million years since we started making tools in Kenya, that some groups of humanity were hundreds and even thousands of years behind others. Since those that got to capitalism first lived in parts of the globe that received less sunlight, their skin was lighter. In the eight decades following 1619, they fraudulently misappropriated the name given to the composite colors of sunlight as their own, and on that basis proclaimed that they were superior to all others. White supremacy was born, and from the beginning they had a problem with science because, beyond the fact that they really aren't the color white, is the fact that sunlight is made up of all the colors of the rainbow, none of which is white.

White supremacy needed science as sure as the slave plantation needed the cotton gin, but it also richly funded a corruption of science known as “scientific racism.” This is important because while the human mind is capable of concocting many fantastic notions, ones with money behind them have staying power. Thomas Jefferson was one of its practitioners and benefactors. He founded the University of Virginia, as “an institution with slavery at its core,” so that the southern plantation owners wouldn't have to send their sons to the anti-slavery north to get a quality education, saying “we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead.” But he spent many years searching for a biologic basis for white superiority, doing “scientific investigation” and promoting such drivel as Africans “secrete less by the kidnies, & more by glands of the skin...Perhaps too a difference of structure in the pulmonary apparatus.” Jefferson's version of “science” came with certain baked-in conclusions, he owned 607 slaves during his lifetime. Truth had a predetermined destination. And so it went at UVA after he died, and so it went for science as a whole. It corrupted science to its core. A little while ago “scientific racism” was accepted science, and the rot spread far beyond the narrow fields associated with biology.

Effect on Trump's coronavirus approach

Two of Trump's most infamous racist outrages also show us his great disdain for science. They are his enduring opinion that the “Central Park Five”  are guilty, and the birther conspiracy theory that Barack Obama wasn't born in the US. Deep prejudice supports both, and both have been conclusively proven false by solid evidence, and scientific investigation, including DNA in the case of the “Five.” Yet, Trump clings to his prejudice, and refuses to believe the science, putting who-knows-what pseudoscience in its place. Trump's refusal to believe what science has to say about his racist conspiracy theories is harmful, his refusal to believe what science has to say about COVID-19 is deadly.

The more strongly Trump leans on this bastardized “science,” the more likely he is to see all science as a con job in the service of some partisan interest, and to disregard it beyond its ability to deliver his desired results. That's Trump's problem with science, and it undergirds everything else that has been a catastrophe in his novel coronavirus response.

At every step of the way his lack of respect for the science has result policies that cost lives:
  • He was slow to respond to the threat.
  • He has refused to endorse or promote scientific solutions.
  • He failed to ramp up testing.
  • He refused to allow a “Manhattan” style project to create a vaccine.
  • He promoted dangerous “snake-oil” solutions from his bully pulpit.
  • He has disregarded any national health scientists he can't corrupt.
This bring us to Director Robert R. Redfield and the corruption of the CDCAccording to CNN:
In the early 1990s, Redfield, then one of the Army's top AIDS researchers, was at the center of a scandal over a purported HIV vaccine. Allegations that Redfield oversold data and cherry-picked results sparked an internal Army investigation into his work.
Redfield was also found to be in violation of Army code over his relationship with a conservative AIDS nonprofit run by a prominent evangelical activist who has promoted abstinence-only solutions to the disease.
As you can see, Redfield was the model of scientific integrity. In 2018, Trump put him in charge of the CDC. Now the once renowned Center for Disease Control is a caricature of its former self. Before Trump all but sidelined it, its COVID-19 response was a tale of one failure followed by another, followed by mealy-mouthed advice to meat packers about voluntary steps they might take to keep their employees safe, if it isn't too much trouble, since Trump is forcing them back to work.

This is just one example of how the Trump administration's corrupt of the science has played a big role in its failure to prevent a catastrophic loss of life.

2) Trump didn't believe COVID-19 could hit here.

In his heart of hearts, he thought of it as a disease of “those people.” When he was first warned about it, he was sure it was just some Asian flu that would stay over there. When it became clear that would not be the case:

3) Trump thought banning foreigners coming from China was sufficient.

Don't you just get sick and tired of hearing him brag about that? Before the ban at least 430,000 people had already flown in from China since 31 December, and another 40,000, mostly Americans, came back in the two months after the ban started, with very shaky screening and self-quarantine. It was like he really thought “our” people can't carry it. Then, as the pandemic developed, it became clear that the virus was taking the most lives in the New York-New Jersey hub where it had been imported from Europe. Probably because it took Trump 40 days after the China travel ban to institute the European travel ban, like “those” people can't bring it here.

4) The Trump administration refused the W.H.O. COVID-19 test.

As early as 11 January 2020, Chinese scientists posted the genome of the new unknown virus, and with a week virologists in Berlin had produced the first diagnostic test for the new disease. By the end of February the World Health Organization had distributed the test to 60 countries. The US refused the "foreign" WHO test, and then screwed up attempts to produce an American made test. Trump was depending on his travel ban as the sole means of stopping the virus.

Even after the FDA came out with their own viable test, they were slow in rolling it out, and then with restrictive guidelines that barred people who weren't already sick from getting it.  More recently, Trump has stated publicly that he wants to slow testing down because he lives in a fantasy world in which a tree falling in the forest makes no noise if no one is there to hear it, and COVID-19 cases exist only if you test for them. The US was still trying to roll out a viable test as late as March, and even today most experts say COVID-19 testing in the US is far below what is needed to contain the virus.

5) Trump sees it as a disease of disposable people.

The very concept of “disposable people” developed even more harshly under conditions of slavery than wage labor. Racism made them less than human, and slavery made them property, and property is disposable. Everything we know about Trump from his practice as both an owner and employer tells us that he is of that mind. Since COVID-19 appeared to mainly kill people over 65, especially those in nursing homes, Trump saw those as disposable people not worth a serious effort. When it was revealed to be taking down a growing number of younger people, he downplayed the significance because a disproportionate number have been people of color.

5) Trump scapegoats people of color for COVID-19.

This begins with his blaming China for the pandemic and his annoying attempts to label it the “Chinese Virus”, then on to blaming immigrants, defunding the WHO, and now blaming the home life of meat packing workers for the COVID-19 hotshots in meat packing plants.

6) Trump uses the pandemic to promote his white supremacist agenda.

He has intentionally politicized certain coronavirus counter-measures such as staying home and wearing masks when out, to promote a macho white supremacist image. He has used opposition to state shutdown measures to support the re-emergence of some of his “very fine people” from Charlottesville as the white supremacist wing of the boogaloo movement complete with battle fatigues, Hawaiian shirts, and AR-15s on state house steps demanding “liberty.” He has been utterly consumed with the optics of the fight against the virus, and its effect on his flagging re-election possibilities, and shown a depraved indifference to his duty to limit the human carnage. All that was before his down-right fascist response to the people's just outrage about the murder of George Floyd.

Trump's approach to the pandemic has been greatly influenced by his white supremacist outlook, and the epidemic failure of that policy has cost tens of thousands of American lives of all colors. This shows how racism hurts everybody, and in this present case, Trump's racism has been deadly for all.

Protesters are essential workers in the fight against both racism and COVID-19

One of the objections raised to the massive shows of unity in the US and around the world is that they violate social distancing guidelines, and might lead to more COVID-19 cases. Ironically, some of those objecting were encouraging every state to “open up” two weeks ago. Fortunately, these protests have been outdoors where virus transmission is very rare, and smartly, the vast majority of the protesters have been wearing masks. They are aware of the risk, but know that it is worth it because white supremacy is also sabotaging the fight against COVID-19, and it could easily take another hundred thousand American lives unless this white supremacist regime is removed from the White House.

Clay Claiborne

Wednesday, May 13, 2020


When I first heard that Trump was privately questioning the broadly agreed upon count of US coronavirus deaths, now quickly approaching a hundred thousand, saying that number was exaggerated, and they were really much lower. I wondered "How does that work in his mind?"

Surely, he wasn't doubting that thousands of Americans, roughly 85,000 (roughly indeed!) as I write this, that rang in the New Year with the rest of us, are now in body-bags, or coffins, after having tested positive for coronavirus, or having shown every sign of having succumb to COVID-19. Even I will agree that there is plenty of Fake News to be found, but surely, he doesn't think these people are faking their deaths? He must have another angle.

Then I remembered some commentary I heard on Fox News that argued that it was unfair to blame coronavirus for all these deaths because often there were contributing factors, or comorbidities involved, and knowing where Trump gets his Fake News, I thought: That must be where his mind is going!

When we hit that hundred thousand mark, is it really fair to say coronavirus has killed a hundred-thousand Americans? After all, most of those people were old and used up. You wouldn't get much for them in a wrongful death lawsuit. “Loss of Future Income? Give me a break! They're costing you money. You should pay me,” says the COVID's advocate.

It's like if you were apportioning blame or damages in a wrongful death lawsuit, in which Coronavirus, Diabetes, and Hypertension were all involved. You wouldn't say all damages should be paid only by Coronavirus, while letting the other parties get off Scot-free. That wouldn't be fair! That's how Trump, the businessman, would look at it. So, probably he is thinking that of that hundred thousand, coronavirus bears only a part of the blame, but is given all of it. Is that how he is arriving at a lower number?

Trump is threatening to sue China for coronavirus damages, whereas they are just another party damaged by the virus. That's stupid. That led me to thinking about how I would attempt to defend coronavirus is such a lawsuit, if I was the COVID's advocate.

It would be the height of folly to attempt to avoid paying any damages, given the mounting empirical evidence and death toll, but I think I could limit the damage to my client by arguing along these lines:

It's true that my client has amassed a small fortune through genome patents, name usage rights, and other deals with Big Pharma, and it would like to do the right thing. In settlement, COVID is willing to pay damages to every country equally, in so far as possible, for the deaths it is responsible for in each country. However, when the United States, despite certain obvious advantages with regards to economy, infrastructure, and health technology, summits a claim for 84,119 deaths, while South Korea summits one for 260 deaths, Norway for 229, South Africa for 219, Panama for 256, Israel for 264, and so on, I must protest, as the COVID's advocate, that this carnage in the US can not entirely, or even mainly, laid at my client's feet.

We recognize the requirement that a party seeking damages has to be able to show that they took such steps as considered reasonable and ordinary to limited the damages. For example, if someone scratched you, causing an open wound on a limb, and you sought no medical treatment, you didn't even apply first-aid, but instead let it fester unattended, until the limb had to be amputated, you can hardly lay that limb at the feet of the person who scratched you.

So, I would argue that if my client, coronavirus, a virus that is novel to all who have not battled it, and so really does treat all people as equals, has been found responsible for say 300,000 deaths worldwide, even with my client taking on board all the claims against other comorbidities that have contributed to COVID deaths worldwide, and the United States is but 5% of the world's population, then, even without taking into account the advanced state of economy, infrastructure, and medical technology in the United States, factors that should have limited the damages there, my client's responsiblity should be limited to that same death rate in the US. So 5% of 300,000, or roughly 15,000. The rest are due to the criminally negligent way “damage mitigation” was handled by the national leadership of the United States. Those deaths were cause because they didn't take my client seriously soon enough. They didn't take the steps to mitigate the damage that were taken in so many other countries. They looked on while the fire was kindling, and didn't call the fire department until half the house had burned down.

My client, COVID will accept responsibility for roughly 15,000 of those 100,000 American lives. For the remainder, perhaps you should sue the Trump Administration.

That's how I would argue the case if I was the COVID's advocate.

Clay Claiborne

Saturday, May 9, 2020

The murder of Ahmaud Arbery: UPDATE: Three racists indicted by grand jury

Was titled:
Arrest William 'Roddie' Bryan for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery now!

Then Titled:
William 'Roddie' Bryan arrested for the murder of Ahmaud Arbery

Racial slur used over Arbery's body. See UPDATES below.

On Thursday, two white men, Greg and Travis McMichael, father and son, were arrested and charged with the murder of the unarmed African American jogger Ahmaud Arbery in Brunswick, Georgia on 23 February 2020. This small modicum of justice was denied for 74 days. It came just two days after a video of the shooting, that Georgia authorities had in their hands since day one, was leaked and went viral on YouTube.

This video was shot by William 'Roddie' Bryan, a white neighbor of Travis McMichael, who also participated in the chase that ended Arbery's life. He should also be charged with murder, or conspiracy to commit murder.

Yesterday, William 'Roddie' Bryan had the audacity to hold a press conference, with his attorney. He is claiming that he was just a witness to the incident, and is calling upon the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to “Clear His Good Name.”

This is outrageous! William 'Roddie' Bryan is not an innocent man who came upon this scene and video recorded it as a good citizen. He was a willing participant, and active member of this conspiracy to commit murder, and should be arrested and prosecuted for this murder along with the two McMichaels. In the furtherance of this demand, I offer two proofs, both from the official Brunswick, GA files on the case.

The first comes from the Glynn County Police Department Incident Report.

At 0.19 in the video, Greg McMichael can be seen raising his .357 Magnum
to line up a shot just as the 'Roddie' moves to take him out of the frame.
I've never heard of a gangland killing where only the gangster that fired the fatal shot is charged with the crime, while his cohorts are listed as witnesses, but amazingly, that is exactly what the GCPD Incident Report on this crime does. It lists both the father, Gregory McMichael, who was armed with a .357 Magnum, and can be seen in the bed of the pickup truck, which bears the Gadsden flag and its “Don’t tread on me” motto, trying to line up a shot in the video, and William 'Roddie' Bryan, the armed neighbor who shot the video, and attempted to use his car to box Arbery in, as witnesses. This initial police report lists only the shooter, Travis McMichael, as a suspect. But even this very report shows that 'Roddie' wasn't just a citizen that happened on a scene and started shooting video. The police report states [bold added]:
McMichael stated he and Travis got in the truck and drove down Satilla Drive toward Burford Drive. McMichael stated when they arrived at the intersection of Satilla Drive and Holmes Drive, they saw the unidentified male running down Burford drive. McMichael then stated Travis drive [sic] down Burford and attempted to cut off the male. McMichael stated the unidentified male turned around and began running back the direction from which he came and 'Roddie' attempted to block him which was unsuccessful. Michael stated he then jumped into the bed of the truck and he and Travis continued to Holmes in an attempt to intercept him. McMichael stated they saw the unidentified male and shouted “stop stop, we want to talk to you”. Michael stated they pulled up beside the male and shouted stop again at which time Travis exited the truck with the shotgun. McMichael stated the unidentified male began to violently attack Travis and the two men then started fighting over the shot gun at which point Travis fired a shot and then a second later there was a second shot. Michael stated the male fell face down on the pavement with his hand under his body. McMichael stated he rolled the man over to see if the male had a weapon.
Actually, three shot gun blasts can be heard in the video.

Arbery was jogging while wearing a T-shirt and shorts, making it hard to carry a concealed weapon, and since he approached and struggled with a man with a shot gun without revealing a weapon of this own, it's hard to believe McMichael really rolled Arbery over to check for a weapon. Furthermore, the responding lead officer reported:
While in route I was advised there were shots fired and a male on the ground “bleeding out”. A short time later I was advised the male on the ground was deceased.
This implies that Arbery didn't die immediately, but “bleed out,” yet there is no indication that emergency medical services were called either by the “witnesses,” or the police. Greg McMichael was a retired cop, so he knew the drill. Probably, he turned over the body to confirm that Arbery was dead or dying. A living Arbery might tell a different story, and be a problem for them.
Screenshot from Incident Report for G20-11303

My second proof comes from the recusal letter of District Attorney George E. Barnhill. Greg McMichael has endorsed this account as an accurate description of the killing. After asserting “We do not see grounds for an arrest of any of the three parties,” the DA continued:
It appears Travis McMichael, Greg McMichael, and Bryan William were following, in pursuit [of] burglary suspect, with solid firsthand probable cause, in their neighborhood, and asking/ telling him to stop. It appears their intent was to stop and hold this criminal suspect until law enforcement arrived. Under Georgia Law this is perfectly legal,
So, it was three men in two vehicles involved in a common pursuit. Then he cites the Georgia law allowing citizen's arrest:
OCGA 17 -4 -60 “A private person may arrest an offender if the offense is committed in his presence or within his immediate knowledge. If the offense is a felony and the offender is escaping or attempting to escape, a private person may arrest him upon reasonable and probable grounds of suspicion.”
But these conditions weren't met.

In contradiction to Greg McMichael's claim that “there have been several Break-ins in the neighborhood and further the suspect was caught on surveillance video.” No break-ins or burglaries had been reported the preceding seven weeks.

Arbery was caught on video surveillance trespassing in an open construction site during his run. Just a foundation, really. This was reported to 911, but when the dispatcher asked “And you said someone’s breaking into it right now?” the man replied “No, it’s all open. It’s under construction … “ Then the caller said the man was leaving the site, “And there he goes right now.” To which the dispatcher replied, “Ok, what is he doing?” The caller said “He’s running down the street.” Then the dispatcher interrupted the caller's narrative, saying, “I just need to know what he was doing wrong, Was he just on the premises and not supposed to be?” That question was never clearly answered.

The Brunswick News has reported:
Arbery was an enthusiastic runner, according to friends and family. The former all-star linebacker at Brunswick High was often seen jogging in the community, according posts on the Facebook page, “I Run With Maud #JusticeForAhmaud).”
Is trespassing a felony in Georgia? Even if it is for a black man, I don't see the exigencies that called for these three armed men to attempt a citizen's arrest. This was not a lawful killing.
Screenshot excerpt from Barnhill's letter
There were three known members of this 2nd Amendment style lynch mob, and “2nd Amendment” is right! While these killers are trying to hide behind Georgia's “right to carry law,” students of history know that the original intend of the 2nd Amendment was not to assure all citizens, regardless of color, had a right to self-defense. It was demanded as an amendment to the US Constitution by Virginia to guarantee that the armed slave patrols that were so essential to the institution of racial slavery would continue under the new union. That is what the cryptic reference to “a well regulated Militia” was all about. I go into this history in some depth in Murders of Alton Sterling & Philando Castile: No 2nd Amendment rights for blacks.

According to a Change.org petition "Demand Murder Charges For Videotaper In Ahmaud Aubrey Death," William Bryan “also told police he helped chase Ahmaud and can be heard cocking his pistol on the video." This cocking sound can be heard ~ 0.13 into the video as the chase is coming to its fatal conclusion, indicating this innocent “witness” had also come armed to this shooting party. PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION.

Clay Claiborne

UPDATED 22 May 2020:

William "Roddie" Bryan was arrested yesterday for his part in the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery. He was charged with felony murder and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment. That last charge is because "Roddie" attempted to box Arbrey in, as I reported abaove. The Brunswick News reported:
GBI investigators say Bryan, 50, took an active role in the pursuit of Arbery...Bryan followed Arbery in a vehicle during the final moments of the young man's life, videoing the scene as Arbery was fatally shot three times with buckshot at close range while struggling with Travis McMichael for possession of McMichael's shotgun.

However, GBI agents now say Bryan actively took part in the pursuit of Arbery. Between 1 p.m. and 1:20 p.m., Bryan allegedly made numerous attempts to cut off Arbery's escape, according to a GBI arrest affidavit.

“The accused did attempt to confine and detain Ahmaud Arbery without legal authority, by utilizing his vehicle on multiple occasions during the above time frame, with the intention of confining and detaining Arbery,” the affidavit reads.

UPDATED 5 June 2020:

After a seven hour hearing in Glynn County on Thursday, Magistrate Court Judge Wallace Harrell ruled that their was sufficient evidence to hold all three defendants over for trial. Among that evidence was testimony from GBI SAC Richard Dial that Bryan told police Travis McMichael said “fucking ni@@er” over Ahmaud Arbey's dead or dying body, representing an attitude completely unrelated, I'm sure, to the Confederate flag sticker on his tool box. He was also reported to have used this slur regularly on social media, as for example, when he said he loved his job because there “weren't any ni@@ers anywhere,” or said about another shooting it would be better if someone had “blown that ni@@er's head off.” Dial also said there was evidence of Bryan's racist attitudes in his communications. It was also reported that they hit him with the truck before they shot him.

Ahmaud and his Mom. He was born on Mother's Day, 1994

UPDATED 24 June 2020:
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting:
BREAKING: All 3 suspects indicted in Ahmaud Arbery shooting death

By Alexis Stevens
A grand jury has indicted the three suspects accused in the death of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, the Cobb County District Attorney said Wednesday.

Travis and Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan were previously charged with felony murder in the death of Arbery, who was shot in February in a Brunswick neighborhood. All three are being held without bond in the Glynn County jail.

The indictment returned Wednesday formally charges each of the three defendants — Travis and Greg McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan — with nine counts: malice murder; felony murder (four counts); aggravated assault (two counts); false imprisonment; and criminal attempt to commit false imprisonment, the DA said.

Thursday, April 30, 2020

a correction, with apologies to Vietnam, 10 times COVID-19 deaths were lost in the Vietnam War

April 30, 1975, the Vietnamese people celebrated the liberation of Saigon
This day is celebrated every year in Vietnam because it was forty-five years ago, on 30 April 1975 that what Americans call the Vietnam War ended for the Vietnamese. It was on that day that Saigon fell to the People's Army of Vietnam and the National Liberation Front. It marked the successful conclusion of a thirty year struggle for Vietnamese national unity and independence that was formally initiated by Ho Chi Minh's Declaration of Independence on 2 September 1945.

That struggle began against Japaneses occupiers, continued against French colonists trying to make a comeback, and ended by defeating their American replacements. The price of freedom was more than three million Vietnamese lives, most of them lost in what they refer to as the American War. The United States also lost more than 58,000 of its own young citizens in its war in Vietnam.

That number was come up a lot this week, as the number of American lives lost to coronavirus has surpassed the number of American lives lost in the Vietnam war. US talking heads as diverse as Joe Scarborough and Tucker Carlson have noted it, but all too often, the way they have put it is like this:
"The number of U.S. coronavirus fatalities has now surpassed the death toll from the Vietnam War."
I beg your pardon, Vietnamese lives matter too! If you insist on putting it that way, please correct your language to make it clear you are acknowledging only American deaths. The current worldwide death toll from the coronavirus is less than a quarter-million, not one-tenth the death toll from the Vietnam War. Let's all work to keep it from getting anywhere close.
These statements are focused on the truly deadly reality of the pandemic in the US, but they overlook the tragic reality that more than American lives were lost in the Vietnam War, and for that I apologize for this self-centered perspective of my fellow Americans. More than ever, we Americans need to be taking a world view because all of humanity is on the same side in this war, but more than ever, we seem to be looking inward. More than three million human lives were lost in what we call The Vietnam War. Fortunately, for all, Vietnam won that war.

Now Vietnam is an independent socialist country of 96 million people that has gone from being one of the poorest countries is the world with per capita income below US$100 per year, to a middle income country with per capita income of US$1,910 by the end of 2013, according to the World Bank.

When I visited there ten years ago, the people seemed very  pleased with what they have accomplished, and in spite of the hardships they endured at our hands during the war, they have truly shown what it means not to hold a grudge, welcoming American tourists, veterans, and even US warships, which recently got them into the US coronavirus news.

When Capt. Brett Crozier of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, wrote about his concerns about the coronavirus outbreak on his ship, and then was fired for it, US President Donald Trump blamed him for stopping in Vietnam, and made the racist insinuation:
"Now I guess the captain stopped in Vietnam and people got off in Vietnam. Perhaps you don't do that in the middle of a pandemic..."
Trump would do well to learn from Vietnam's handling of this common crisis facing all of humanity, instead of trying to scapegoat them for it. Vietnam has been exemplary in its handling of the coronavirus. It may be the only country on Earth in which the coronavirus outbreak has resulted in a drop in demands on funeral homes!

The government of Vietnam acted quickly after the first 2 cases of COVID-19 were discovered in the country in late January. It restricted travel into Vietnam, and quarantined tens of thousands of people. Most importantly, they quickly rammed  up testing, and tested widely. Reuters reported yesterday:
Vietnam increased the number of laboratories that can test for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, from three at the beginning of the outbreak in January, to 112 by April.

As of Wednesday, 213,743 tests had been conducted in Vietnam, of which 270 were positive, according to health ministry data.

That ratio of 791 tests to every confirmed case is by far the highest in the world, according to data from health ministries compiled by Reuters. The next highest, Taiwan, has conducted 140 tests for every case. 
That ratio for Trump's America is a mere 5.8!
This week Vietnam officially announced that it had contained the virus, and was lifting the lock down. It reported a total of only 270 cases of COVID-19 and zero deaths! That claim of no deaths from coronavirus seemed to be born out by a survey of Hanoi funeral homes conducted by Reuters. Not only did none report an uptick in deaths during the shutdown, one claimed a drop in demand due to a shortage of traffic accidents, one of the main killers in Vietnam.

Vietnam had only 16 people who had tested positive for coronavirus when the USS Theodore Roosevelt came calling, and they were far to the north. Eventually, more than 950 crew members, including the captain, tested positive for COVID-19, so probably it was the Vietnamese that were running the greater risk by allowing the USS Roosevelt to call on their port. Imagine the graciousness and hospitality of Vietnam to welcome a warship, from the same country, and of the same type, that was used to indiscriminately slaughter hundreds of thousands of its citizens a half century ago. This is something else we can learn from Vietnam.

For more on the Vietnam War, see my documentary, narated by Martin SheenVietnam: American Holocaust, now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Clay Claiborne

Trump's New Wall? If we put the names of all the Americans killed my coronavirus to this date on a wall, we already know how long it will be.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Inter-Office Memo Number Nine

I wrote this over fifty years ago for the first Earth Day on 22 April 1970. I was an Earth Day organizer for the American Friends Service Committee [AFSC] at the time. I wrote this from the St. Louis County Jail where I was then serving a one year sentence for my part in an anti-Vietnam War protest of the Washington University Reserve Officer Training Course (R.O.T.C.) at the end of March 1970. This was first published in the first edition of the St. Louis Outlaw, 24 April 1970.

The St. Louis Outlaw was an independent, radical newspaper published every three weeks by the Outlaw collective - David, Dev, Fred, Lori and Terry...They were members of Liberation News Service (LNS)  and UPS. They subscribed to Pacific News Service (PNS) and the news service of the North American Congress on Latin America. They were also briefly affiliated with KDNA radio where I also worked as a radio engineer.


Slowly, very slowly, science and mankind are coming to understand whole systems, First through the development and use of computers and the development of spacecrafts as life support environments, then in application to the whole Earth. But few have been able to grasp the full meaning of this new "systems oriented" thinking

Biology, a specialized framework for the examination and study of life, has already, in recent years found that framework inadequate and so to compensate had broadened the field by adding the further specializations of bio-chemistry, bio-physics. Ecology is possibly the latest of these emerging specializations. It attempts to explain how life forces work as a system, this requires not specialized knowledge but comprehensive ability.

Ecology is the study of the operations of whole life systems, or more correctly, the whole life system, since all life we have thus far discovered is interrelated. To subdivide is to leave out, to bring error into any calculation. From a scientific point of view, all biology must be seen as a subdivision of ecology. Chemistry and physics, in so far as our interest in them is environmental, are related to ecology. To deal with ecology as a subdivision of some field, or to fail to cain an overview of life systems is in itself anti-ecological.

Ecology is the comprehension of the whole Earth as an environment and all life on the planet as forming an interrelated system in that environment. Man is a part of that network. He is the Host intelligent, and he is the only one with tool capabilities. Tool capabilities are slave capabilities. In terms of power produced and used in this country, we each have the equivalent of:

500 slaves working for us. Man is the only animal with the ability to make any conscious change in his environment. He is the only one with any comprehensive ability, he alone can understand the system in which he lives, He is Adam, the keeper of the Garden, with the ability to destroy or maintain, to change for the better, to act as the computer's cybernetic control, to comprehend all that is happening at once and make changes and repairs while the system is operating. Don't be too quick to assume that nature would be perfect without man, that it would operate from day to day, year to year without fault. Man is a god and he'd better start acting like one.

The understanding of relationships in nature and man's relationship to his environment should lead to the most radical of viewpoints.

The Death of Western Science

The rulers, manipulators, the power people have always had to further man's distrust in nature, man's isolation from himself and nature, and man's distrust in himself to stay in power. When a man distrusts the wilderness in himself he sees nature as the adversary. This is in part the reason for the current ecological crisis.

Likewise, these rulers have always subdivided men into groups, subdivided knowledge, isolated men as much as possible on all levels. This has been done to destroy man's inherent comprehensive ability, because with a total comprehension of the world would come full understanding of one's own oppression, and the ability to rise against that oppression. They created specialization so that a man might know a great deal about any one thing without ever under- standing the whole.

These things are the basis for all western technology and science, which has permeated every culture on the globe. They have failed to provide an ecologically sound environment and a happy life for men because they were designed to serve the few people in power. Present science and engineering practices see nature as the enemy and act in ways hostile to nature. This is true at all levels and it is he way we are trained. We are all lonely and isolated, not knowing how to love or communicate. We are trained that way because it makes us easy to control. The present uproar in ecology is only to find that exactly the forces that make us losers as lovers make us polluters as scientists, and are therefor self- terminating. By the end of the century it will become clear that all science and technology that is specialized and not comprehensive in its design is anti-ecological and must be done away with, or it will lead to the destruction of life on this planet.

The Seven Cities of Gold

Wealth, money, property concepts came out of a misunderstanding of what the world was about.

Humanity has always lived on less than 10% of the Earth's surface, and the average man only saw 1/100,000th of that area. It is not surprising that men first thought the Earth flat, equally unsurprisingly he thought it extended infinitely in area and resources. He saw a need to define local systems in which he could operate. Nations arose out of the need to define a finite body of known people as a center point, as an independent system within the infinity of the world's people. Outside of this center point there was the limitless rest of the world. Explorers could go out into the world and bring the resources home, just as early nomads moved on when the grass was eaten or the hunted animal depleted. As explorers met other people they became exploiters, but since all these people had been defined as outside their nation-system, the exploitation was not seen as real. Black slaves, the American Indians, the Chinese, where see as the limitless "outside" people to those in the "known" world of Europe. Those people and there re- sources have been continuously exploited.

In just the same way, western man has always seen the airs and oceans as limitless. "ho could measure the volume of all the world's air, the depth of the ocean? Early industry must have honestly thought that anything dumped into the ocean was cone for- ever. But it has become increasingly clear that the world is of finite measures. The world is round end of definite dimensions, the Indians could not go west forever, going deeper into Africa you soon met another ocean. Science discovered that the ocean and air had a measurable volume, and that likewise the Earth's oil, coal, and iron were of certain unchangeable amounts, All of these things are well know today, but they have made little change in our conceptualization of the world. The exploiters maintain their power at the expense of the world's people.

The Spaceship Earth

The world is one system, using the same air and water, the same reserve of raw materials, and it can only be operated effectively as one system. The concepts of nations, of individual peoples, which lead to racism, are obsolete. The United States, as 6% of the world's population uses 55% of the world's resources. The concepts of private property are based on a limitless world,:and are likewise obsolete. In a world of 3 billion, why should one man own more than 1/3 billionth of the world wealth, and why should one man own less. The concept of "spending" originated with the Second Law of Thermodynamics with its well know "entropy" which stated that all local systems were losing energy. Thus it was thought that the Earth was running down and that things once “spent were lost. Einstein set us straight on that with his famous E = me", which not only gave a continuous correlation between energy and matter, but also showed the overwhelming effects of the metaphysical upon the physical.

Ecology Action

Almost everything written in ecology is simply telling people what is happening to our environment. We hear about the population bomb, the DDT-ocean crisis, the air pollution - inversion dangers, the green house effect. This is all very interesting information and it fits well with everything we already know about racism, the war, the atomic bomb, etc. Ecology has just been the uncovering of some more shit in a shitty, stinking world, and its effect on most people is to say, "Gee, there's some more shit."

But telling horror stories is not where its at. Teach~ins, speakers, literature and demonstrations. The come-rally-round mentality and all it tactics belong to the earlier civil rights - anti war stages of development. They are not suitable for building and structuring a movement with the broad base and comprehensive totality that is needed at the present time. To the unenlightened eye the ecology movement must start out much as other movements have, however, close scrutiny reveals that ecology is just a part of the further development of the same movement, and that all our environmental problems, including war and racism, will be solved at the same time, in the same way. Even with its educational functions, Ecology Action attempts to use the old technology (i.e. ecology is another Movement specialization) to teach entirely new environmental problems, in an entirely new stage of Movement development.

I have asked many people in St. Louis and in other cities in Ecology Action the same question: What do you have planned after April 22? And have yet to receive a satisfactory answer. The over- whelming majority of the people asked really hadn't thought about it or didn't know, many others suggested demonstration type actions against various polluters. Very little radical politics has been injected into the ecology movement, even by the radicals involved. The AFSC in St. Louis has rushed into ecology without any assessment, and hooked up with plans already in progress by setting up a speaker's bureau and a literature service for the teach-in,

An examination of the effects of the up coming ecology teach- in show that it will make a large number of people aware that there is a lot more shit around, without giving them anyway of relating to it, or doing something about it, thus making those people feel more lost and insecure. All the things talked about to change the situation, from writing congressmen to sitting in buildings, are worthless and have shown their worthlessness. The problem isn't, as ecology people say, that the people don't know. In this ace of electronic media, where everyone can smell and taste the pollution, they know. They don't act because they have been shown no- where to go.

If ecology was simply a problem of getting the pollution out of our air and water, as the teach-in implies. The problem could be better solved by a fascist government than by revolution. The problem will be presented that way and use for fascist repression. (A Nixon speech of 1975 might read; For the safety and preservation of all humanity, I have been forced to take the following steps...) The teach-in is only doing the ground work for that repression.

The environmental problem id a total one and it has more to do with the garbage floating around inside our minds than anything else. The realization must come that total change is necessary and that chance is revolutionary, not a patchwork of the present system.

The Neighborhood as a Village

As the movement comes out of infancy it must seek ways to survive and grow. Individuals committed to revolution must eventually come out of schools and find ways of living which give them freedom to think and build a movement, and they must find ways of relating to other people.

In St. Louis a neighborhood struggle over the future of the Delmar-Skinner area is going on. It is similar to struggles going on in most other cities, It has to do with the ecology of the automobile. The middle class has moved out of the cities and now commutes to downtown jobs via car. Cities build superhighways and other commuter-oriented structures with little regard for the communities they go thru (usually poor white and black). This is happening on the corner of two heavily trafficked streets in St. Louis, Skinner and Delmar where two gas stations and a drive-in restaurant are to be built. They will serve people passing thru, with no interest in the area, and. they will pollute the neighborhood with paper, exhaust, and will destroy neighborhood services. The neighborhood is a village to those who live in it, and the people who live there can be organized to fight this kind of change.

A neighborhood can be organized as a center for radical action. Attack people's values and Institutions by creating alternative values and institutions.

Knock on every door in the neighborhood. Say, "We're taking a survey." A clip board with a piece of paper headed:


another piece headed:


"We are evaluating our resources to see just what we have in our neighborhood, how we can help each other. We feel that none of us know each other well enough. We're going to make up a directory for the neighborhood, it might tell you who can help you with your lawn, who can lend you a power saw." Go prepared to rap with people. If they let you in the door, maybe you can turn their heads around without breaking them off. People will talk to you and under- stand you because we all have the same problems, we are all lonely and insecure.

For the Movement to grow it must realize that we are kept in isolation all our lives and told about each other thru the established media. The Movement's problems of relating to Blacks, poor whites, police, etc., are essentially problems of overcoming false ideas on both sides designed to keep us apart. Those problems can and will be overcome by people talking to people, not by sitting around and listening to media descriptions. The same media that describes us as dirty commies, gives us our impressions of middle America.

Free is the second most important four letter word in the English language. The Diggers were hip to that. Set up a free store as an exchange of goods within the neighborhood. ‘here will the stuff come from? People. Objects are only transitory subjects of human value. An object released from one person's value may be destroyed, abandoned or made available to other people. The Diggers assumed free stores to liberate human nature. First free the space, goods and services. Let the theories of economics follow social facts. Once a free store is assumed, human wanting and giving, needing and taking, become wide open to improvisation.

Build a free laundromat. Find a garage, some old machines, washers and driers that are cheap or free, make them work and leave the door unlocked. Paint the place nicely and make it a neighborhood project. People will talk. Why can't all work done by machines be done for free? Why should we be ripped off by the gyp merchants ~: run the laundromats? The People"s Laundromat?

Free the services that people usually have to pay for. A cooperative garage, bring your cars, we have tools and a place and someone who can teach you to fix your car. Understand your technology. Can people become their own electricians and plumbers? can they pool their tools and make them available to all? A man in the wilderness quickly learns that he can do many things for himself. Stop relying om the specialist and start becoming a comprehensive person. Build confidence by becoming master of your technology. Anyone willing to teach a class on How Things Work in this neighborhood?

All this time you are talking to people and changing their heads, and yours too, You stop working through the media because it is designed to screw you.

The Student Cooperative Craft Shop already exists in this area. Its purpose is to sell leather goods, jewelry, candles, etc cheap, and stop exploitation by the mod clothing stores and head shops in St. Louis. It gives people a way to make some money and a place to learn a craft. It has spoken,mainly by design, to the student population in the area. It ia interesting, however, to note how the community responded. It made students a part of the community. Black kids came in and wanted to learn how to maké things, and started talking to us. Old ladies who had nothing to do offered to mind the store. People got turned on to politics,music and culture on both sides. There was a place to go where none ever existed before.

A food store could have interesting possibilities in this area. The food industry is one of the industries most neglected by the left, however,it rips people off as much as the auto industry or the military-industrial complex. The food is poor quality, unhealthy, and excessively packaged, but everybody has to eat. A food store could succeed if it could sell healthy organic (DDT free) food as cheaply or cheaper than the retail markets. To do this it would have to form its own food chain-system, if you go to the present food industry at any stage you will be ripped off. The food should come from farm land in Missouri or Illinois, although some can come from much farther. Student farms, kids living in the country, and farmers who will sell to you (most large farms are under contract) are,the sources, The trucking is done by people who ow trucks. Flour mills can be had for a couple hundred dollars, bread ovens, juice presses, and much other equipment can be had cheaply be- cause it isn't used .

The key to the project is that while it may not be the most radical thing to do with your time, we all have to eat and support ourselves, If we can spend that time doing these things and free people, we are performing a radicalizing function. The tools exist, not among the students but among the people we have been talking about organizing, i.e., everybody else, and if we want to radicalize them we must start providing ways for them to live. There is a good deal of money in a successful food system, money to pay people.

Build a park on the corner of Delmar and Skinner, which is empty now and awaiting a gas station. The people's nark strategy is a good one. Do something everyone can understand, build a park, make an ugly place beautiful. then it gets torn down, people will understand about private property and corporate power. Begin with the survey, and talk about the ecology of the automobile. Talk a- bout: how gas stations are holding companies for real estate, and @ against tearing down the Chinese restaurant and book store to build a Jack in the Box. Then make the place a park and liberation block party.

Start by talking to people, turn them on and get them thinking. Let human wanting and needing discover what it can about its condition. The political analysis and rhetoric will come later, slowly.


much thanks to

Gary Snyder Bucky Fuller the Communication Company

Clay Claiborne

American Friend Service Corm. 447 De Balivere St. Louis, Mo. (314) 862-8070

Monday, April 13, 2020

Is Kaiser Permanente putting black lives at risk by refusing to consider hypertension a COVID-19 risk factor?

I am a 71 year-old African American man with hypertension (high blood pressure), so naturally it caught my attention when it was said that older men with hypertension were at special risk of dying from coronavirus disease (COVID-19). I am also aware of the recent findings that African Americans are dying from COVID-19 at a rate two, or even three times, that of the population as a whole. Both my medicare coverage, and full-time employee medical coverage are handled by Kaiser Permanente of Southern California. It is therefore of great concern to me to learn that Kaiser Permanente does not think hypertension a risk factor to be considered when their members are in need of coronavirus testing. That is the reason I am asking: Is Kaiser Permanente putting black lives at risk by not considering hypertension a COVID-19 risk factor?

While I have no formal medical training, my opinion that it should be considered a coronavirus risk factor is well founded, and shared by many, if not most, health experts. For example, WebMD says:
Data from China and Italy -- countries hit early by the virus -- show higher risk of COVID-19 infections and complications in people with high blood pressure.
The City of Los Angeles, which is where I live, and where Kaiser Permanente is a major healthcare provider, considers hypertension a risk factor for COVID-19.

It is also well established in the medical literature that African Americans suffer from hypertension at a higher rated that most people. For example, the National Institute of Health has on its website a paper by Daniel T. Lackland, DrPH titled Racial Differences in Hypertension: Implications for High Blood Pressure Management. The abstract begins:
The racial disparity in hypertension and hypertension-related outcomes has been recognized for decades with African Americans with greater risks than Caucasians. Blood pressure levels have consistently been higher for African Americans with an earlier onset of hypertension.
While this racial disparity with regards to high blood pressure has been known for decades, the racial disparity with regards to negative outcomes from COVID-19 has only come into view in the past few weeks. Just Sunday, Dr. Tony Fauci, from the National Institute of Health, was on MSNBC's Politics Nation. After Al Sharpton pointed out that while blacks are 22% of the population in New York City, they accounted for 28% of the COVID-19 deaths, blacks are 29% of the population in Chicago but account for 70% of the deaths, and in my town, Los Angeles, blacks are 9% of the population, but we account for 17% of the deaths, he asked, "How do you explain the race gap?"

Dr. Fauci began his answer as follows:
The issues is, as I think you hinted at it in your introduction, that is the situation with minority communities, particularly the African American community, in which the underlying conditions that lead to a poor outcome with coronavirus disease, if you look at the need for hospitalization, intensive care, and death, it's very strongly weighted to individuals who are either elderly, but importantly, who have underlying conditions like high blood pressure, asthma, diabetes, obesity, and other underlying conditions.
Dr. Fauci, didn't just mention high blood pressure as a risk factor in relation to COVID-19, he listed it first! He did this for good reasons. While many risk factors, such as obesity, are risk factors because they are likely to complicate recover from any illness, the relationship between coronavirus and hypertension is very specific. As explained by Benjamin Neuman, Professor of Biology, Texas A&M University, in The Conversation:
The cells that SARS-CoV-2 prefers to infect have a protein called ACE2 on the outside that is important for regulating blood pressure.
SARS-CoV-2 has a sliding scale of severity. Patients under age 10 seem to clear the virus easily, most people under 40 seem to bounce back quickly, but older people suffer from increasingly severe COVID-19. The ACE2 protein that SARS-CoV-2 uses as a door to enter cells is also important for regulating blood pressure, and it does not do its job when the virus gets there first. This is one reason COVID-19 is more severe in people with high blood pressure.
Lark, which specializes in chronic disease management, also makes it clear they consider hypertension a coronavirus risk factor:
Current data make it clear that people with underlying health conditions are at higher risk for developing more serious cases of COVID-19, including hospitalizations, the need for ventilation, or death. Overall, an estimate based on a study of 1,590 COVID-19 patients in China found that serious cases were 1.79 more likely for patients with one underlying health condition, such as hypertension, and 2.59 times more likely with 2 underlying health conditions. [4].

The World Health Organization (WHO) says people with hypertension are among the highest-risk groups for more serious cases of, and death from, COVID-19 [5]. The death rate 8.4% among confirmed cases and 6.0% among all cases. In comparison, the death rate among those with no-preexisting conditions was 0.9%. In addition, ICU patients in one study were more than twice as likely to have hypertension (58.3% versus 21.6%). [6].
I found out that Kaiser Permanente doesn't think hypertension a factor to be considered in their allocation of coronavirus tests to their members quite by accident. I found out because they either failed to read, or misread, a message I sent to my doctor, to inquire about coronavirus antibody testing, which a very different test entirely, one designed to determine if you had the disease already, and recovered.  Near the end of March, I wrote to my doctor:
From: Clay J Claiborne
Sent: 3/28/2020 12:39 PM PDT
Subject: Re: coronavirus antibody test

I am writings you today because back in early January I had an upper respiratory infection that I didn't think quite the flu. I've had the seasonal flu vaccine. It came on quite suddenly and put me in bed for 5 days, with fever (~101) aches and a bad cough. At times I thought I might be losing the battle to keep my lungs clear, and might be in serious medical jeopardy, but I weathered the storms without ever calling Kaiser. Mostly, because I felt too sick to come in. Also, the onset of this illness came 5 days after I was visited by a friend that may have just returned from China, although he has been a little coy on that point since then.

Of course, at the time coronavirus wasn't on my radar (otherwise I definitely would have called). I just took it to be another nameless upper respiratory infection that would blow over, and it did. Now I wonder if it wasn't COVID-19, and would like to take the antibody test for my own peace-of-mind if it becomes available for that purpose.
This was the non-responsive reply I received a few days later:

Received: 03/30/2020
To Clay J Claiborne
Message body: Dear Mr. Claiborne,

Thank you for your email. Please read below for coronavirus testing criteria:

As of today our TESTING guidelines are restricted and may change:
If you have no symptoms = NO testing
If you have symptoms (fever and cough/shortness of breath) AND international travel or close contact of confirmed COVID-19 in the last 14 days = testing
If you have symptoms but no exposure (above) and no *risk factors = NO testing
If you have symptoms AND *risk factors = testing
*risks = adult >65, immunocompromised, cancer, transplant, hemodialysis , advanced HIV, chronic lung disease, pregnancy, SNF residents and homeless patients

You can read more by logging into KP.org then reviewing the Health & Wellness tab.

Replies are not allowed for this message.
Obviously, neither Vanessa Lily Ramirez RN, R.N. nor anyone else actually bothered to read my letter, and they don't allow me to rely, and point out their error. 

If you take their website survey to see if you qualify for COVID-19 testing, you will find the same story:
Do any of these apply to you?
  • 65 years old or older
  • Cardiac disease (e.g., coronary artery disease, valvular disease, congestive heart failure)
  • Pulmonary disease (e.g., asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Pregnancy
  • Immunosuppression (e.g., chemotherapy, transplant, or diabetes)
For whatever reason, they  seems to be interested in limiting how many of their members will qualify for testing. You pretty much have to have fever and cough or shortness of breath, meaning you are very sick and need medical treatment in any case, AND international travel or close contact of confirmed COVID-19 in the last 14 days. That last condition contains its own kind of Catch 22, because the more they can limit the testing, the harder it will be to determine if you have had contact with the disease.  By limiting testing in this way, they also limit the need to do the kind of contact tracing that could stop the spread of coronavirus in communities before they are devastated by it. 

All of this brings me back to the question I started with: Shouldn't Kaiser Permantente stop putting black lives at risk by pretending that hypertension, a condition particularly prevalent among African Americans, isn't a risk factor for fatal outcomes from coronoavirus disease?  

Clay Claiborne, Linux Systems Administrator