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Magma News June 2, 2020
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Jun 03, 2020
02:21 AM

A Time For Change.

At Magma our beliefs lie within the truth. The truth showcased by stories, media and moments.

For far too long the truth is that racism has plagued our communities, groups and justice system.

During times of unrest and chaos, words often carry heavier weight than action. If you have an idea or voice that can incite positive difference, we’re listening.

We encourage the use of Mags as digital tools to organize the stories, media and moments that can and will make a difference.

With help from those within our community and network, we can help deliver those voices directly to those who can push forward a better a future.

Stay Strong.

Stay Safe.

Stay Smart.

-The Magma Team

Protests Sparked by George Floyd Death Continue as Cities Tighten Curfews

Peaceful demonstrations began after overnight violence in several cities.

By Eliza Collins, Joe Barrett, Akane Otani and Douglas Belkin | The Wall Street Journal

Protesters marched on U.S. cities again Tuesday afternoon and evening, after a night of damage and arrests prompted officials to impose tougher curfews and prepare for another night of turmoil.

By Tuesday afternoon, thousands of peaceful demonstrators had gathered in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Milwaukee and the Washington, D.C. region, protesting the killing of George Floyd in police custody, which was captured in a video that circulated widely last week.

In New York, a protest near Union Square ran past the 8 p.m. curfew established for the city but without reports of violence or problems, according to one police officer. The marchers headed south shortly after 8 p.m. A few minutes later, a group of more than a dozen people appearing to be in their teens and 20s attempted to break into a Foot Locker but quickly dispersed when a police van arrived.

In Washington, a late afternoon march wended its way from Lafayette Square for more than a mile through the capital, eventually heading for the Lincoln Memorial. The crowd chanted the names of black people killed in encounters with police. The protesters drifted away without any obvious incidents about 15 minutes before the city’s 7 p.m. curfew arrived.

Even as tensions began to ease in Minneapolis, where Mr. Floyd’s killing sparked nationwide protests, state officials announced a civil rights investigation into the police department. They also began tallying up the economic costs of a week of unrest, saying early estimates showed damage to property is approaching $1 billion. The estimate from the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce doesn’t include job losses or looting.

Local officials noted that daytime marches have mostly been peaceful, with violence and destruction taking place largely after nightfall. New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Washington extended curfews again, though Nashville Mayor John Cooper said on Twitter the city didn’t need a curfew after Monday’s peaceful protests “honored our city’s history of non-violent social change.”

Terrell Stepney said he came out to protest in Philadelphia for the first time Tuesday because he had seen several instances on social media of police officers having productive conversations with protesters in other cities.

Mr. Stepney, 27 years old, held a tearful 10-minute conversation with a white police officer through a metal barricade. During that conversation Mr. Stepney, who is black, expressed his desire for unity between police officers and the communities they serve.

“I just came down here to tell them not to fear all of us,” Mr. Stepney said.

In Minneapolis, officials said the region had turned a corner. John Harrington, the state’s public safety commissioner, said police have been using significantly less tear gas to control crowds in recent days.

“We have really seen the temperature change in terms of the kind of protests that we’ve been seeing,” he said Tuesday.

Hundreds were arrested Monday in New York City and Washington. Dozens more were arrested in Pittsburgh, Providence and Charlotte, N.C. They were charged with crimes including violating curfew, disorderly conduct and breaking and entering.

The National Guard had been activated in 28 states and the District of Columbia as of Tuesday morning, deploying more than 20,400 troops—over 3,000 more than the day before—to focus on containing the unrest. On Monday, President Trump vowed to bring in the military if states didn’t get more aggressive in their response to protests.

A crowd of protesters that appeared to number in the thousands marched Tuesday afternoon through downtown Los Angeles, near City Hall and police headquarters, chanting and holding signs that read “remove your knee” and “care not cops.”

National Guard troops and police stood on the periphery watching but didn’t interfere. Protesters blocked a major intersection in the heart of Hollywood, all down on their knees, chanting “No justice, no peace, no racist police.”

In Washington, a crowd gathered Tuesday afternoon across from the northern edge of Lafayette Square, the site cleared by police with tear gas a day earlier before an appearance by Mr. Trump.

Law-enforcement personnel in military fatigues and helmets, faced them from the far side of the fence along the park’s edge. The mood was tense but peaceful as protesters regularly broke into chants: “Black Lives Matter,” “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,” and the names of George Floyd and other black people killed in interactions with the police.

Rev. Starlette Thomas of the D.C. Baptist Convention said witnessing the police firing gas on protesters the day before had made her even more determined to come back—as had President Trump’s brandishing of a Bible outside St. John’s Episcopal Church on Monday.

“I didn’t feel right at home,” she said. “I had to come put my body on the line.”

In Pittsburgh, about 500 protesters marched Tuesday afternoon through downtown to the Allegheny County Jail, where they sat in silence on a roadway and then began to clap in unison.

One protester, a 48-year-old massage therapist, said it was her third protest since Mr. Floyd’s death and that she would only likely stop marching once all four officers involved in Mr. Floyd’s death were arrested.

“For me personally, I would have to see that the system recognizes that everyone involved needs to be held accountable,” she said. “I’m here because if I wasn’t I would feel complicit.”

Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Tuesday that the state was launching a civil rights investigation into “systemic discriminatory practices” by the Minneapolis Police Department. A police department spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

For nearly a week, protests have emerged in cities nationwide sparked by the death of Mr. Floyd, a black man who was killed May 25 in Minneapolis by a white officer, Derek Chauvin, after being arrested. In video shared widely on social media, Mr. Chauvin can be seen with his knee on the neck of Mr. Floyd while Mr. Floyd cried out that he couldn’t breathe. Mr. Chauvin and three other officers involved in the arrest were immediately fired. Mr. Chauvin was charged on Friday with third-degree murder and manslaughter.

For a third-degree murder charge, prosecutors need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the officer caused the death by acting with a “depraved mind without regard for human life,” according to Minnesota law.

Mr. Chauvin is being held at a maximum-security state prison while waiting to appear in court next week. Officials transferred him to the Minnesota Correctional Facility at Oak Park Heights late Sunday, citing security reasons.

What's Behind the Biggest Wave of Protests in Decades

Mr. Chauvin, who was initially scheduled to appear in court Monday, is now scheduled to make his appearance on June 8.

On Monday, an independent autopsy and the Hennepin County Medical Examiner both determined that Mr. Floyd’s death was a homicide.

The county medical examiner found the cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” Private medical examiners hired by Mr. Floyd’s family said earlier that he was killed as a result of Minneapolis police officers asphyxiating him by compressing his neck and back.

Near the Cup Foods market where Mr. Floyd had been arrested last week, Claudia Valentino, 39, stood over a mural she had just finished painting with the words “Together we will defeat racism” written over it.

“I’m really sad for people who have lost their businesses,” she said. But at the same time, Ms. Valentino stopped shy of condemning people who have taken more aggressive approaches in demonstrations the past week.

“We have to focus on what we believe in. I believe in this,” she said, pointing to the mural. “I believe in our community coming together,” she said, gesturing behind her where hundreds gathered, some dancing, others conversing, by the block containing Cup Foods.

Confusion, missing ballots as eight U.S. states vote during coronavirus pandemic.

By John Whitesides, Jarrett Renshaw | Reuters

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Confusion, missing mail-in ballots and long lines at some polling centers marred primary elections on Tuesday in eight states and the District of Columbia, the biggest test yet of voting during the coronavirus outbreak.

The most extensive balloting since the pandemic sparked lockdowns in mid-March served as a dry run for the Nov. 3 general election. It offered a glimpse of the challenges ahead on a national scale if that vote is conducted under a lingering threat from COVID-19.

All of the states voting on Tuesday encouraged or expanded mail-in balloting as a safe alternative during the outbreak, and most sharply reduced the number of in-person polling places as officials struggled to recruit workers to run them.

That led to record numbers of mail-in ballots requested and cast in many states, along with an explosion of complaints about delayed ballots and questions about where to vote after polling places were consolidated.

“The big story out of Pennsylvania is really voter confusion,” said Suzanne Almeida, interim director of government watchdog Common Cause Pennsylvania.

Polling places in at least four Pennsylvania counties opened late, and voting machines failed in at least three of the state’s counties, including Philadelphia, according to the Pennsylvania Election Protection Coalition voting rights group.

While most in-person voting locations featured extensive safety protocols - including masks, sanitizer and social distancing for lines - there were lapses.

“It is a mess in there. People confused. No social distancing, it is packed with machines, tables and people,” Rich Garella, of the voting rights group Protect Our Vote Philly, said of one south Philadelphia location.

The voting in some areas also was complicated by massive protests after an African-American man died in police custody in Minnesota last week. Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney said a city curfew would not be enforced until 30 minutes after polls close. In Washington, voters and poll workers will be exempt from that city’s curfew, Mayor Muriel Bowser said.

Robert Wood, 54, said he considered not going to the polls given the dual threat of the coronavirus and riots. But the South Philadelphia resident said he thought last week’s events made it even more important.

“As a black man, I know a lot of people lost their lives so that I can vote. I take that seriously,” Wood said.

Counting the flood of mail-in ballots could delay the results, officials said. In Pennsylvania, Governor Tom Wolf extended the deadline for receiving mailed ballots postmarked by June 2 to June 9 in six counties, including Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania and three of the other states voting - Indiana, Maryland and Rhode Island - had delayed their nominating contests from earlier in the year to avoid the worst of the coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 105,000 people in the United States. Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota and the District of Columbia also were voting on Tuesday.

The primaries come amid a partisan brawl over voting by mail, which Democrats support as a safe way to cast a ballot and Republican President Donald Trump condemns as ripe for fraud. Numerous studies have found little evidence of voting fraud tied to mail-in ballots.

Former Vice President Joe Biden has essentially wrapped up the Democratic presidential nomination to face Trump in November, but seven of the states also will have primaries for state and congressional offices.

Among the top races contested on Tuesday is a Republican congressional primary in Iowa. U.S. Representative Steve King, who has a long history of making racially charged remarks, faces a stiff re-election challenge after being largely abandoned by party leadership.

Surgeon General warns of coronavirus outbreaks from Floyd protests.

US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said to expect new outbreaks of the coronavirus resulting from the nationwide protests over the death of George Floyd that have seen thousands of people gather in close proximity.

Veronica Stracqualursi | CNN

While a majority of protesters nationwide have worn masks and face coverings as they demand justice for Floyd, an African-American man who died last week while in police custody, the large crowds have made it difficult to social distance. The coronavirus pandemic has also disproportionately affected communities of color, an issue Adams has highlighted.

"I remain concerned about the public health consequences both of individual and institutional racism [and] people out protesting in a way that is harmful to themselves and to their communities," Adams told Politico in an interview published Monday.

"Based on the way the disease spreads, there is every reason to expect that we will see new clusters and potentially new outbreaks moving forward," he added.

Adams is the latest government leader to express concern over whether the protests could spread coronavirus, as he and other health groups are caught in a balancing act of trying to advise Americans during a pandemic and raise awareness of how racism puts the black community's health at risk.

"You understand the anger, you hope that we can find ways that really can help people channel their anger into meaningful steps forward," Adams, who's African-American, told Politico.

"There is going to be a lot to do after this, even to try and get the communities of color back to where they need to be for people to be able to recover from Covid, and for people to be able to recover from the shutdown and to be able to prosper."

On Saturday, Adams said there's "no easy prescription to heal our Nation, or to take away the pain people are feeling" — a pain that he too is experiencing as a black man.

"We won't fix or remove all the obstacles and stressors that are affecting people's health and wellbeing - especially ones like racism- over night. That doesn't mean we mustn't try at all," he posted on Twitter.

As the protests have continued, several doctors' groups -- the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and American College of Physicians -- emphasized that racism is a public health issue and called for police brutality to stop.

CNN's chief medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta said on CNN Tuesday that the US may not see the impact of the protests on coronavirus infection rates and hospitalizations until three to four weeks later.

He noted that there's a number of different factors to consider such as the environment of the protests, which have taken place outside, a lower risk for transmission of the virus.

Mark Zuckerberg defends decision to allow Trump to threaten violence on Facebook

CEO says decision was ‘tough’ but ‘thorough’ as company faces harsh criticism and public dissent from employees

Julia Carrie Wong | The Guardian

Mark Zuckerberg is standing by his decision to allow Donald Trump to threaten violence against George Floyd protesters on the platform despite harsh criticism from civil rights leaders and public dissent from his own employees, including a public resignation.

In a video conference with staff on Tuesday, Zuckerberg said that his decision to not remove Trump’s warning on social media on Friday that “when the looting starts the shooting start” was “tough” but “pretty thorough”, the New York Times reported. The company usually holds an all-staff meeting on Thursdays, but the session was moved up to address growing discontent among employees, hundreds of whom staged a “walkout” on Monday by requesting time off.

“I knew that I would have to separate out my personal opinion,” he told employees, according to the report. “Knowing that when we made this decision we made, it was going to lead to a lot of people upset inside the company, and the media criticism we were going to get.”

Facebook employees hold virtual walkout over Mark Zuckerberg's refusal to act against Trump

Read more

Anger at Facebook has only grown since Zuckerberg announced on Friday evening that the platform would not to take any action against Trump’s post, which quoted a racist 1960s police chief. Twitter deemed a tweet with the same language dangerous and chose to hide it behind a warning label “in the interest of preventing others from being inspired to commit violent acts”. But though Zuckerberg acknowledged the statement’s racist historical antecedent, he said that the company has a policy of allowing state actors to warn the public about the use of force.

This reasoning has garnered scorn from US civil rights leaders, three of whom spoke with Zuckerberg and his top lieutenant Sheryl Sandberg on Monday evening. “We are disappointed and stunned by Mark’s incomprehensible explanations,” said Vanita Gupta, Sherrilyn Ifill and Rashad Robinson – heads of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund and Color of Change – in a joint statement.

“He did not demonstrate understanding of historic or modern-day voter suppression and he refuses to acknowledge how Facebook is facilitating Trump’s call for violence against protesters,” the added. “Mark is setting a very dangerous precedent for other voices who would say similar harmful things on Facebook.”

Zuckerberg has also faced continued public criticism from employees – a highly unusual occurrence for the company.

“It’s crystal clear today that leadership refuses to stand with us,” the engineer Brandon Dail tweeted Tuesday.

Timothy J Aveni, a Facebook software engineer, announced his resignation on Facebook and LinkedIn.

“Mark always told us that he would draw the line at speech that calls for violence,” Aveni wrote. “He showed us on Friday that this was a lie.”

Aveni connected Facebook’s accommodation of Trump’s violent rhetoric to the company’s track record in Asia, where Facebook has been implicated in ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, mob violence in Sri Lanka and the rise of a demagogue in the Philippines.

“Facebook, complicit in the propagation of weaponized hatred, is on the wrong side of history,” he wrote. “Facebook is providing a platform that enables politicians to radicalize individuals and glorify violence, and we are watching the United States succumb to the same kind of social media-fueled division that has gotten people killed in the Philippines, Myanmar and Sri Lanka. I’m scared for my country and I’m done trying to justify this.”

Facebook has been central to Trump’s political rise. While Trump himself prefers to use Twitter to fire off his thoughts, his brand of divisive, xenophobic and emotive rhetoric has proved extraordinarily successful on Facebook’s algorithmic timelines.

In an internal memo leaked to the New York Times in January, the longtime Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth wrote: “So was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected? I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks. He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica. He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period.”

On Tuesday, among the thousands of Facebook ads being run by Trump’s re-election campaign were dozens that referred to “the chaos going on around the world”. Supporters were encouraged to sign a “thank you” card – a political marketing technique designed to harvest email addresses and mobile phone numbers – “to show him how grateful we are for his efforts to Keep America Safe” . The “cards” were illustrated with images and text reading, “God Bless America”, “God Bless, President Trump”, and “God Bless The Trump Family”.

Minneapolis public school board votes to terminate its contract with police

The district ‘cannot align itself with the Minneapolis police and claim to fight institutional racism’, said a board member.

Lois Beckett | The Guardian

Minneapolis public schools are terminating their contract with the city’s police department following the death of George Floyd.

The city’s public school board unanimously approved a resolution on Tuesday night that will end the district’s contract with the Minneapolis police department to use officers to provide school security. The Minneapolis superintendent said he would begin work on an alternative plan to keep the district’s more than 35,000 students safe in the coming school year.

“We cannot continue to be in partnership with an organization that has the culture of violence and racism that the Minneapolis police department has historically demonstrated,” Nelson Inz, one of the school board members, said. “We have to stand in solidarity with our black students.”

While the vote does not bring justice for Floyd, “it will show that meaningful change is possible,” Nathaniel Genene, the school board’s student representative, said.

Genene said an online survey of Minneapolis students had received more than 1,500 responses, and about 90% of them supported terminating the district’s contract with the police.

Public schools “cannot partner with organizations that do not see the humanity in our students”, Minneapolis school board member Josh Pauly, who helped draft the resolution, wrote on Twitter last week.

Anger as local police union chief calls George Floyd a 'violent criminal'

Read more

The school district “cannot align itself with [the Minneapolis policedepartment] and claim to fight institutional racism”, Pauly added.

The Minneapolis teachers union had endorsed the change, calling for the city’s schools to “cut all financial ties” with the police department, and to invest in additional mental health support for students instead.

“The officers of theMinneapolis police department have become symbols of fear to the children those officers were sworn to serve and protect,” two local union officials said in a statement last week.

During the school board meeting, several members praised the work of individual police officers who had served in Minneapolis public schools as “school resource officers” and said at least a few of the officers did have deep, meaningful community relationships that would be missed.

But Pauly, the school board member, told the Guardian in advance of the vote that he had received hundreds of emails and phone calls from students in Minneapolis who support ending the school district’s relationship with the police department.

Other school board members across the country – including from districts in Arizona, North Carolina, Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, New York, and Illinois – have also reached out privately for support in crafting similar resolutions, he said.

A vote to end Minneapolis schools’ contract with the police department is a major victory for activists across the country who have been working toremove all police from schools.

“It’s a very specific group of people who feel safe with police, but mostblack and brown childrendo not feel safe with police in schools,” said Jackie Byers, the executive director of the Black Organizing Project, which has been working since 2011 to end the use of police officers in Oakland public schools, including asking teachers and administrators to pledge to not call the police on their students.

School districts “need to see someone step forward”, Byers said. “Folks are afraid of being the first district to do something.”

More than 70% of public secondary schools and 30% of primary schools in the United States have sworn law enforcement officers who routinely carry firearms, according to 2015-2016 data from the National Center for Education Statistics.

“In San Francisco, we’ve had 10-year-olds that have had the police called on them. Kindergarteners. Fifth-graders,” said Neva Walker, the executive director of Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth, a non-profit group that focuses on creating more equitable public schools.

“We have to get past the idea that police are the means to protect our children, especially for black and brown students,” she said.

For decades, school shootings, typically carried out by young white men, have prompted the American government to invest hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in putting armed law enforcement officers inside schools.

But studies have shown that morestudents enter the criminal justice systemwhen more police officers are in schools, sparking concern from some advocates that the attempt to protect American children from mass shootings had unintentionally fueled aschool-to-prison pipelinethat disproportionately harms students of color.

Breaking that cycle has not been easy. But one “critically important” step forward, Byers said, had already come from the University of Minnesota, which announced “immediate changes” in its relationship with the Minneapolis police department in the wake of widespreadprotests over Floyd’s death.

The university president, Joan Gabel, said in a letter last week that the university would no longer work with the police department to provide security for football games, concerts and other large events, and that it would limit its cooperation with the police to joint patrols and investigations “that directly enhance the safety of our community”.

The university’s relationship with other police departments in other cities where it has campuses will remain unchanged, a spokesman said.

The Minneapolis police department did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Bitcoin’s Surge Past $10,000 Boosts Stock In Publicly Traded Mining Firm.

Robert Anzalone | Forbes

Canaan Inc, a publicly-traded crypto mining firm, has had a lucky bounce. The stock is trading up today, +16.75%, at the time of this post. Hovering just below $2.50 per share, it seems that bitcoin’s recent surge past $10,000 has helped the company.

Canaan trades on the NASDAQ and has had a rough time since it debuted in late 2019. The Company has had a bumpy ride down from its high of $8.98, back in November 2019. Before today’s bounce, the company had been on a volatile ride and some expected the stock to fall further. 

Canaan Inc. had its initial public offering last year on November 21. Based in China, the company trades as American depository shares in the United States. The company designs and manufactures integrated circuits for bitcoin mining. Canaan surprised the market when they decided to list on an American exchange. Their competitors, Bitmain and Ebang, have not yet listed in the U.S. markets.

While it’s hard to correlate bitcoin’s price movement to global events in quite the same way one might in traditional markets a number of events could be in play. It could just be that the markets are having a good day generally speaking, with the S&P 500 up a similar percentage today. But another variable could be bitcoin’s recent halving, on May 11, 2020, which will make it more difficult to earn money from mining in the short term, but could eventually lead to a spike in price, as was experienced today.

Each halving cuts bitcoin’s reward for mining in half, which means that solving the cryptographic puzzle to find or mine new bitcoins becomes harder. This was initially designed to help manage bitcoin’s inflation rate but by reducing the rate new bitcoins are added to the market could result in a price increase as new investors struggle to find the assets.

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