Tag Archive for: lockdown



Buffalo supermarket shooter pleads guilty to terrorism, murder charges. White House working to avert railroad strike. China: Rare antigovernment protests over lockdown policies





Buffalo supermarket shooter pleads guilty to terrorism, murder charges

Payton Gendron, the 19-year-old gunmen who carried out a mass shooting in May at a Topps supermarket in Buffalo, NY, has pleaded guilty to all state charges against him. There 15 total charges, including murder, attempted murder, and domestic terrorism motivated by hate. The last charge comes with a mandatory sentence of life without parole. Gendron still faces dozens of federal charges, some of which carry the possibility of a death sentence.

Gendron killed 10 Black people at the supermarket and has admitted that he was motivated by racism. In fact, several days before the incident, Gendron drove 200 miles from his home in Conklin, NY, to a majority-Black neighborhood in Buffalo to identify a location where he would be likely to kill as many Black people as possible. During the pandemic, Gendron became indoctrinated online into a white supremacist ideology known as “white replacement”.

In light of many deadly mass shootings this year, including several just in the past two weeks, President Biden is once again calling on Congress to pass an assault weapons ban during the December lame-duck session. However, to pass such a measure, Senate Democrats would need to find 10 Republicans to vote with them, which is unlikely. 

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White House working to avert railroad strike ahead of holidays

President Biden said last week that his administration is working with railroad companies and unions to avoid a possible railroad strike. Federal officials helped to broker an agreement in September which at least delayed strike talks until after the midterms. Since then, three of the 12 major railroad workers unions have voted to reject terms of that deal.

The unions could call a strike as soon as Dec. 9. If they do, the US freight rail system will grind to a halt, stopping deliveries of food, gas and other vital goods. Congress has the power to force an end to the strike by imposing the terms of the contract proposed in September. Biden is hoping to broker a more favorable deal that the unions will accept to avoid a strike.

Although the proposal came with a hefty wage hike over the next 5 years, workers have pointed out the raises barely keep up with inflation. Also, the deal included no paid sick days and did not address workers’ grievances over unpredictable work schedules. Click here for a 3-minute video where railroad workers explain their reasons for rejecting the deal.

Record profits despite supply chain problems

Workers are especially angry with the stinginess of the proposed contracts since the industry has reported record profits during the pandemic. The companies have increased their profits in part by laying off workers, increasing the burden on those that remain. Instead of reinvesting in the company or hiring more workers, the companies have used those profits for stock buybacks to increase pay packages of their executives.

In February, billionaire Warren Buffett, owner of Berkshire Hathaway (parent company of major railroad company BNSF), told shareholders that BNSF had earned record profits in 2021. Buffett, noted for his philanthropy, also recently donated $750 million dollars to charities run by his family. 

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China: Rare antigovernment protests over lockdown policies

Cities all over China erupted in massive antigovernment protests over the weekend due to China’s Zero COVID policy. Premier Xi Jinping’s pandemic policy has caused huge cities of millions of people to go into strict lockdowns when even a few COVID cases are detected. People are forbidden from leaving their homes for days or even weeks. The lockdowns can come with no warning, leaving residents no time to gather adequate food and medicine. Lockdowns in major cities have also had a major economic impact.

Despite the draconian lockdowns, COVID numbers are still rising. Today, China broke its record for daily cases with 40,347 new cases. Rather than rethinking the policy, the government has responded with lockdowns in more cities with even more restrictive measures.

The protests were sparked by an incident in the western province of Xinjiang last week. Ten people died in an apartment fire because the entrances were locked to keep residents from going outside. The demonstrations have been growing and spreading across the country. Police have been out in force engaging in violent clashes with peaceful protesters. Demonstrators are now openly calling for Xi to resign. 

Chinese media has not acknowledged the protests and censors have been eliminating any mention of them on Chinese social media sites like WeChat and Weibo. Nevertheless, the ranks of the protesters are growing with each passing day.

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School security is ever changing and is driven by a degree of fear. Thousands of people trying to tell you what to do to make your school safer and most have something that they say your school needs to make it safer.

School safety and security have always been important within the New Albany School District (NASD) as noted by one of its core values being a “Safe & Orderly Environment”.

“Our district made safety and security a high priority in 2018 when we highlighted that a large portion of the bond money would go to improve safety and security systems at all school campuses,” explained Dr. Lance Evans, Superintendent. The bond passed in September 2018 with a 92% success rate.

The NASD was assigned a full time Director of Safety that same year. Michael Erby, a 22-year veteran of the New Albany Police Department was assigned to this job and immediately began doing safety assessments. The data received from the assessments was reviewed by the School Board, Superintendent, Administrators, the Director of Safety and the school resource officers.

Constant improvements have been made from the safety assessments. When assessments are completed it gives you a score and action items to complete to improve your score. Some of the action items that the NASD has completed since 2018 are as follows:

  • STOP IT APP-Used to anonymously report bulling or any suspect behavior
  • Adjustments to safety plans for bomb threats, active shooter, visitors on campus and group gatherings
  • Camera System-All campuses are monitored inside and outside 24 hours a day. The system allows for complete LOCKOUT or LOCKDOWN of the whole district from on or off campus.
  • Access Controlled Points-All main entrances have been equipped with points to allow for monitored access to facilities thus increasing safety and security.
  • Implemented LOCKOUT-This is to be used when there is an unsafe condition outside the building. This makes it clear that the threat was not inside the building.
  • LOCKDOWN-LOCKS-LIGHTS-OUT OF SIGHT-this is used when the threat is inside the building (what to do is practiced and rehearsed throughout the school year)
  • Communication is a big factor in safety and the NASD has upgraded their radio system. Administration, transportation and security now have radio contact across the school district and contact with 911.
  • WHISTLE-All staff members were issued a whistle that can be heard up to a mile away. This is used to notify that some form of a possible threat has been seen.
  • Drills and CRASE Training-Training staff how to respond to an active shooter event and conducting safety drills regularly.

The NASD continues to work to make our campuses as safe as possible. Listed below are some items and events that are upcoming:

  • Threat Assessment Teams-This a targeted violence prevention plan to establish a multidisciplinary threat assessment team of individuals who will direct, manage, and document the threat assessment process. This team will determine if the threat has merit or if it was a child just speaking out of frustration.
  • Training of Staff-Gaining compliance (verbal judo). People don’t do what you want just because you think you are in control and what you say goes. Don’t call a student out in front of his friends, call him to the side and communicate with them.

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility,” said Erby. “We want to equip everyone with the tools and knowledge they need to be able to do everything they can to keep our students, staff and campuses safe.”

March and April have presented the Tax Assessor and Collector’s Office with many challenges.

The staff provides a variety of services in a relatively small space and at this time of year usually experience a high volume for vehicle tag renewals. This affords many opportunities to spread a virus, which is partly why the office doors are kept locked.

“We want to thank all of the taxpayers that have followed new procedures that helped keep Union County residents safe and healthy from the Coronavirus,” Tax Assessor-Collector Tameri Dunnam said. “Mailing in tag renewals and property taxes or conducting those type transactions over the phone has greatly reduced the number of people in this small office area.”

She said for the past seven weeks the collection side of this office registered, renewed, or replaced more than 3,100 vehicle tag decals. More than 750 of those had to enter the office regarding paperwork. That still averages to more than 20 person-to-person contacts a day.

“We can’t imagine the number of opportunities COVID19 or any other germs could have spread if the office used the same procedures as in the past,” she said.

Several called worried their receipt or tag decal would be lost in the mail and were adamant they did not want to take that risk, according to Dunnam. “During this seven-week period only five have called with problems,” she said. “Three of those had not updated their address and two were going to give it a few more days.”

The Union County Board of Supervisors have not made any changes to the Courthouse concerning accessibility. The doors remain locked with people only admitted for transactions that require in-person contact.

“We will continue to serve the residents of Union County by offering to unlock the doors for those with new vehicle or mobile home registrations,” Dunnam said. “Please call 534-1972 to make payments or ask any questions regarding your tag renewal or property taxes.”