Tag Archive for: Asian-Americans

Police: Atlanta shooter fueled by sex shame. Dems tempt GOP with $billions to back infrastructure. Putin on Biden’s “killer” comment: “Takes one to know one”. US, Russia in Afghan peace push.


Police: Atlanta shooter fueled by sex shame

The motivations behind the spree of massage parlor shootings in Atlanta that left 8 dead, including 6 Asian woman, are proving to be more complex than many first imagined. Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds says suspect Robert Aaron Long, 21, denies his crimes were racially motivated. “We asked him that specifically and the answer was no,” Reynolds said.

Instead, what is emerging is that the deeply religious Long was ashamed of his sex addiction for which he frequently sought relief in massage parlors. Long’s former roommate in a halfway house for recovering addicts has attested to this.

Nevertheless, given a recent uptick in hate crimes against Asian-Americans across the country, some say the two motivations cannot necessarily be divorced from one another. Asian women have reported more than twice the number of hate incidents, ranging from name-calling to violence, compared to men. Activists say Long’s decision to scapegoat these women for his own shame is linked to a widespread perception that Asian women working in massage parlors are de-facto sex workers, whether or not they provide sexual services.

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Dems tempt GOP with earmarks to back infrastructure

Following last week’s announcement of an upcoming $multi-trillion infrastructure bill, Democrats in Congress are banking on $billions in earmarks to lure Republicans to the negotiating table. Senate Appropriations Committee Patrick Leahy (D-VT) says, “I’m perfectly willing to divide it equally between Republicans and Democrats, and so it will be up to them if they want it. If they don’t, we’ll just have it on the Democratic side. But I think enough of them would like to have it on both sides”.

Deficit hawks on the Republican side, including Sen. Mitt Romney, argue that earmarks are not necessarily in the national interest. It largely comes down to seniority when it comes to Senators winning lucrative and job-creating earmarks for their districts. Nevertheless, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) estimates that 60% of his Congressional colleagues overall support bringing back earmarks.

The Democrats are billing the infrastructure bill as a further stimulus, in addition to the predicted $2 trillion in COVID stimulus that will likely come with it. Last week, Nancy Pelosi said she hoped the bill would bring “jobs to every zip code”.

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Putin responds to Biden’s “killer” comment: “Takes one to know one”

President Biden ruffled some feathers in Moscow yesterday when he characterized Russian President Vladimir Putin as “a killer”. Moscow-Washington tensions have escalated further in recent days over allegations of that Russian meddling in the 2020 US elections and the attempted murder and subsequent imprisonment of Putin critic Alexei Navalny.

Responding to Biden’s comments, Putin retorted, “I remember, in my childhood, when we argued in the courtyard, we used to say: ‘It takes one to know one’.”

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Strange bedfellows Russia, US push for peace in Afghanistan

Three decades after their proxy-war in the country, Russian and US envoys are pushing Afghanistan’s warring factions to get their acts together for peace. At two upcoming summits in Moscow and Turkey, representatives from Afghanistan and its neighbors will meet to discuss the next step in bringing a now-decades old conflict to an end.

Russian and US envoys are pushing for the Afghan government and representatives of the Taliban to form an interim government. The US has already increased pressure on the Afghan government by refusing to confirm whether or not the US will move ahead on its planned May 1 troop withdrawal. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has warned that the Taliban may make territorial gains in spring fighting if the Afghan government does not take the opportunity for a political solution.

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Trump urges fans to get COVID vaccine. 6 Asian women among 8 dead in Atlanta spa shootings. China requires Chinese vaccines for foreign travelers. Guinea Ebola survivor triggered new outbreak.


Trump urges supporters to get COVID vaccine

In a TV interview yesterday, former President Trump broke his silence to encourage Americans to get COVID jabs. Trump said, “It’s a great vaccine, it’s a safe vaccine and it’s something that works”. Trump directly addressed his own loyal fanbase, saying “I would recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly”.

Although, Trump and his wife quietly received vaccines in January, his core supporters have been among the most reluctant to get the jab. A recent poll showed that about a third of Republicans had no interest in getting the vaccine, compared to 10% among Democrats.

Trump’s statement came a day after Biden’s Press Secretary Jen Psaki told reporters, “If former President Trump woke up tomorrow and wanted to be more vocal about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, certainly we’d support that”. Psaki pointed out that Trump was the only living ex-president that had not yet done so publicly.

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6 Asian women among 8 dead in Atlanta spa shootings

Police have arrested a 21-year-old suspect in a deadly shooting spree at 3 Atlanta-area massage parlors. Eight people were killed, including 6 women of Asian descent. Police have not offered an official conclusion as to the motive. However, many fear that the shootings mark an escalation in months of anti-Asian hate crimes across the US.

The organization Stop AAPI (Asian-American/Pacific Islander) Hate has been compiling reports from all 50 states of anti-Asian hate crimes. The attacks range from verbal assaults to lethal physical violence in muggings or other unprovoked attacks. Asians have also reported workplace discrimination and being denied access to transportation and other public services.

The attacks have disproportionately targeted Asian women. Women have reported 2.3 times the number of hate incidents as men.

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China requires Chinese-made vaccine for foreign travelers

Beijing has announced that it will resume visa processing for visitors from dozens of countries. As usual, negative COVID tests will be required. However, the foreign ministry is also requiring that travelers have received a Chinese-made COVID vaccine at least 14 days prior to travel. This poses some difficulties, since many of the countries to whom China is opening its borders have not approved any Chinese vaccines.

Many foreign health agencies have been wary of China’s secrecy surrounding the development of its vaccines and lack of credible trial data. Even in countries that have approved Chinese vaccines, data as to their efficacy varies widely.

Despite the backlash, Beijing denies that the requirement is an effort to coerce foreign governments into approving vaccines

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Guinea Ebola outbreak traced to survivor of previous outbreak

Health authorities in Guinea believe that a man who survived Ebola 5 years ago may have triggered a new outbreak of the disease. If true, the alarming implication is that the disease can remain dormant for years in an outwardly healthy body.

Previously, the longest recorded time that an ebolavirus remained dormant before causing another infection was 500 days. Experts say that immunity from the virus could last many years after infection. 

Furthermore, it appears the new outbreak may have resulted from sexual transmission. After the 2013-2016 outbreak, researchers found that the virus can quietly linger in “immune privileged” areas of the body, including the testes.

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Hospitals still ration N95 masks despite stockpiles. Hate crimes against Asians on the rise. UN warns Myanmar military over protest suppression. Palestine: Israel blocks COVID vaccines to Gaza.


Hospitals still rationing N95 masks despite stockpiles

Across the country, many frontline health workers, including those working with COVID patients, still have to make do with limited personal protection equipment. Last year, health officials feared a shortage of N95 medical-grade masks, which filter 95% of airborne particles. Manufacturers got to work, increasing their production and stockpiles of the masks. A year later, one company, Prestige Ameritech of Texas, is producing 1 million masks every four days. However, their domestic orders remain low, and Prestige has now obtained permission to export the masks to other countries.

Despite this glut of supply, many medical workers still have to use one N95 for their entire shift. Before the pandemic, they would change the mask after dealing with each patient to reduce the risk of contamination. Going from patient to patient with the same mask increases risks both to patients and healthcare workers.

An AP investigation has found that federal failures over the past year to coordinate supply chains are to blame. Federal agencies failed to provide hospitals with clear rules about how to manage their medical equipment, and even deliberately withheld information on production and supply availability of the masks.

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Hate crimes against Asians on the rise

Since mid-January, West Coast cities have seen a disturbing spike of violence apparently targeting Asians and Asian-owned businesses. In Portland, vandals have smashed windows of 9 Asian-owned businesses in the area, most of them eateries. In the Bay Area of California, several older Chinese people in Oakland’s Chinatown and elsewhere have been robbed and assaulted. On Chinese New Year, four attackers pistol-whipped a young Asian woman in Oakland and stole her car. In several of the California cases, the assailants were described as young black men. To address this, black and Asian community leaders have come together to support solidarity between the two minority communities.

On the East Coast, Asian people have been victims of vicious attacks. An assailant slashed the face of 61-year-old Asian man in the New York subway. In Baltimore, also on the eve of Chinese New Year, four Asian-owned businesses were burglarized.

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UN warns Myanmar coup leaders over protester suppression

Since the February 1 coup, Myanmar’s streets have seen 10s of 1000s marching against the leaders of the military junta. The junta’s leaders have imposed sporadic internet blackouts throughout the country to stifle demonstrations. This had little effect, and the military is now increasing its presence on the streets. The military has also announced stiff legal penalties for protesters. Those “disrupting military operations” could face up to 20 years in prison, while anyone “inciting hatred” against coup leaders could get 5-7 years.

Earlier this month, democratically-elected leader Aung San Suu Kyi and members of her government were detained. The military leaders allege election fraud, but have so far produced no evidence. Instead, they first charged Suu Kyi with an import violation for owning walkie-talkies. She was due to be released yesterday, but has now been charged with some vague violation of the country’s environmental disaster management law.

The UN has warned the coup leaders of “severe consequences” if they use brutality to suppress protesters. Many countries, including the US, have threatened sanctions. Myanmar’s closest ally and trading partner China and their military ally Russia have adopted a “wait-and-see” stance.

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Palestinians: Israel blocks COVID vaccines entering Gaza

Israel currently leads the world in its vaccination efforts. About 80% of those at highest risk have already received their second dose, and the country has seen a huge drop in infections as a result. Vaccinated Israelis are already making post-pandemic travel plans, with the country having struck deals with Greece and Cyprus.

In spite of this success, Israel’s Palestinian population has fallen well behind most other countries. Israel has been accused of thwarting efforts to import and distribute vaccines in the Gaza strip. So far, only Gazans who cross into Israel to work have received vaccines. Now, Palestinian Health Minister Mai Alkaila says that Israel’s long-standing blockade of Gaza is preventing access to vaccines. Specifically, Alkaila says that Israel has blocked 1000 Russian made Sputnik-V vaccines destined for Gaza’s frontline health workers.

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