Good morning, everyone!

Before getting to some of the punditry on the Derek Chauvin trial, we have to look at the frightening explosion of COVID-19 cases in India.


Erin Cunningham/Washington Post

India on Thursday recorded the world’s highest number of new infections in a 24-hour period since the beginning of the pandemic, reporting a staggering 314,835 cases as a vicious surge tears through communities and inundates the nation’s hospital infrastructure.

The single-day case count surpasses a previous record set by the United States earlier this year, when more than 313,000 infections were reported on Jan. 8, according to data compiled by The Washington Post.

The massive outbreak has been blamed on more contagious variants of the virus, as well as an early relaxation of restrictions and a slow-moving vaccination campaign.

Chaitanya Deshpande has a report posted at the Times of India indicating that the B.1.617 variant, first discovered in India in October 2020, is believed to be responsible for the rapid surge of COVID-19 cases in India. The BBC’s Vikas Pandey and Shadab Nazmi report on the dire situation all over the country.

Many Indian cities are reporting a chronic shortage of hospital beds. It’s also evident in the desperate cries for help on social media platforms. Disturbing reports of people dying without getting timely treatment are coming from all over the country.

Several state governments say they are creating new facilities but experts say it’s going to be hard to keep up with the pace of the rising number of infections.

India has been consistently reporting more than 150,000 cases for days now. It reported 273,810 cases on Monday – the biggest daily spike since the pandemic began.

Badly-affected cities like Delhi, Mumbai and Ahmedabad have almost run out of hospital beds.

The situation is not very different in other cities, such as Lucknow, Bhopal, Kolkata, Allahabad and Surat. Public health expert Anant Bhan says officials did not use the lean period to boost facilities.

“We didn’t learn any lesson from the first wave. We had reports of some cities running out of beds even in the first wave and that should have been a good enough reason to be prepared for the second wave,” he said.

 Astha Saxena reports for Indian Express that Delhi is running out of oxygen supplies.

The oxygen crisis in Delhi deepened on Wednesday as several private hospitals pleaded with the state and the central governments to immediately replenish their supplies to avert a tragedy. Top private hospitals in Delhi like Max, Fortis, Apollo, and Sir Ganga Ram reached out to the Delhi government regarding depleting oxygen supplies.

The crisis began to unfold after many hospitals complained that Linde India Limited, which supplies oxygen to Delhi from its plant in Faridabad, has been stopped by the Haryana government from supplying outside the state.

With over 300 Covid patients admitted, St. Stephen’s Hospital was the first to ring the alarm on Wednesday. Around 4 pm, the hospital said that it was left with oxygen supply to last until 8 pm.

Martin Ferrer of the Guardian takes a look at some of the headline in major Indian newspapers (many of them that I cannot see online).

Kimberly Atkins of the Boston Globe writes about the fears that, perhaps, every Black American knows all too well.

The chain of violence that led to Floyd’s death began not with reports that he threatened violence or harmed anyone, but rather an allegation that he tried to pass a fake $20 bill. Even if Floyd did, he was never afforded the opportunity to be charged, mount a defense, be tried before a jury, or sentenced by a judge as Chauvin was.
The videos of Floyd’s final living moments, which were played ad nauseam during Chauvin’s trial, made clear that Floyd knew his fate would come at the hands of police. “You’re going to kill me, man,” he said.
That fear was also clear, in yet another police video, in the voice of Daunte Wright, who died last week just a few miles away after being shot by Kimberly Potter, who claims she mistook her Taser for a gun after a traffic stop spurred by Wright’s use of car air fresheners.
It’s a fear I felt when a police officer approached me last year near my then-home, just outside of Washington, D.C., as I walked my 15-year-old dog before bedtime. In an instant, a flurry of thoughts raced through my head: Would he see in the darkness that the object in my hand was a retractable dog leash and not a weapon? Did someone report a crime committed by a Black person, and am I the first one this officer encountered in my mostly white neighborhood? Would the firearm on his hip  stay in its holster?
Elie Mystal of The Nation reminds us that the battle over the attainment of justice is just beginning.
The process of getting justice for Floyd is ongoing. The process of getting justice for the rest of us hasn’t even started.

Bringing the cops to heel cannot happen through individual prosecutions. We need to address systemic racism in law enforcement and the permissive culture of violence against people of color.

It’s not an intractable problem. It can be addressed constitutionally—by overturning cases that allow the cops to ignore the Fourth Amendment. It can be addressed legislatively—by passing laws that change the police use-of-force guidelines and setting up independent third parties to investigate and prosecute problem officers, perhaps before brutal police graduate to homicidal police. It can be addressed politically—by voting for mayors who aren’t in the pocket of police unions and by showing up to vote for local district attorneys who promise to treat police brutality like any other crime. It can be addressed with funding—by defunding and demilitarizing the police and funding non-police personnel to handle mental health crises and traffic duty. It can be addressed through the media—by demanding coverage that doesn’t simply parrot police reports and narratives that distort and harm real lives. It can be addressed in people’s hearts—by the simple act of believing Black people when we tell you what’s happening to us.

Charles Pierce of Esquire writes about the human virtue, really, of bearing witness.

As citizens—hell, as human beings—we are obligated to bear witness to each other’s suffering, especially when that suffering is brought upon someone under the law. Ordinarily, any talk of this being a Christian nation makes my skin crawl and my teeth itch. But this civic obligation is at least Christian-adjacent. If there is a law or a practice that causes our fellow citizens to suffer, then we have an affirmative obligation, by virtue of our freedom to do so, to change that law and, if that isn’t enough, to change the people who make the laws. Darnella Frazier made that first step, bravely, and with no thought of reward, but simply because a sworn member of law enforcement was killing her fellow citizen right in front of her. She would bear witness to that with every tool modern technology afforded her.

Abdul Ally-Muhammad writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer about the disturbing case of the charred remains of someone from the 1985 MOVE bombing and the highly controversial uses those remains were put to by the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University.

In 1985, under the custody of professor Alan Mann, Penn received the remains for examination through the MOVE Commission, a group of independent members appointed by the mayor to investigate the event. Following a dispute over whether specific remains belonged to Tree Africa, who was 14 when killed in the MOVE bombing, Penn kept those remains until 2001 when Mann transferred to Princeton University, taking them with him. In 2016, Penn brought back the remains for a temporary investigation that lasted until 2019, and they were later returned to Princeton, per the museum’s account.

In a 2019 Coursera video, presented on Princeton University’s online learning platform, curator-in-charge of the physical anthropology section at Penn Museum, Janet Monge, who, in 1985, worked under Mann as a doctoral student, explores “restoring personhood” in forensic anthropology while handling and examining the remains of a Philadelphian who died in the MOVE bombing — a femur and pelvic bone that were badly burned. This is included in a series entitled “REAL BONES: Adventures in Forensic Anthropology” that addresses MOVE as a case study.

That’s simply the tip of the iceberg.

And quite frankly, the handling of the Black body in the cases of the remains of Tree Africa and the remains of Black people stored in American museums is of a piece with Derek Chauvin’s handling of the body of George Floyd, IMHO.

Marianne Lavelle of Inside Climate News reports on the high stakes of the virtual international climate summit being led by President Biden that begins today.

President Joe Biden called the Earth Day conclave to mark the United States’ return to the Paris accord, and more broadly, to reestablish global leadership on climate action. Not only is the U.S. unveiling a new, more ambitious goal for curbing carbon emissions—a 50 to 52 percent cut by 2050—it is urging other nations to do the same.

By scheduling the international meeting ahead of any roll-out of his anticipated domestic regulations on climate, Biden is sending a signal that what happens internationally is more important for the future of the planet than what happens in the United States. As Biden administration officials have said repeatedly, the United States currently accounts for only 15 percent of global emissions.

“The world is way behind where we need to be,” said John Kerry, White House special envoy for climate change said Wednesday at a Washington Post Live event. “And this is going to take very dramatic efforts for all of us to make up the difference.”

Andrew E Kramer of the New York Times reports on the latest bombast from Russian President Vladimir Putin, delivered in a “state of the nation” speech yesterday.

Faulted for a lagging response to the coronavirus and with his popularity ratings declining, though still high, the Russian leader used the address to outline a vision for Russia as it emerges from the pandemic, one that promised numerous new economic subsidies but was silent about political rights.

And in recent weeks, he has seemingly fallen back on a tried and true tactic to bolster his fortunes: fanning nationalist flames.

He has ordered an enormous troop buildup on Russia’s border with Ukraine and has gone toe to toe with President Biden, who issued a new round of sanctions last week, undeterred by Mr. Putin’s saber rattling in Ukraine.

Mr. Putin portrayed Russia as harried by Western nations for years with hypocritical criticism and sanctions. Punishing Russia, he said, has become a “new sport” in the West, and he was running thin on patience.

While he pledged on Wednesday that he still wanted “good relations with all participants of international society,” he said that if Russia is forced to defend its interests from any security threats its response would be “fast and tough.” 

This story of the guilty verdict of yet another Hong Kong journalist by Austin Ramzy and Tiffany May of the New York Times just grabbed my attention.

HONG KONG — Hong Kong’s police chief warned journalists they could be investigated for reporting “fake news.” A newspaper controlled by the Chinese government called for a ban on the city’s biggest pro-democracy news outlet. Masked men ransacked the offices of a publication critical of China’s Communist Party and smashed its presses.

Hong Kong’s reputation as a bastion of press freedom in Asia, home to journalism that is far more aggressive and independent than that found next door in mainland China, has been under sustained pressure for years. Now, as Beijing moves to stamp out dissent in the city, the news media is under direct assault. Traditional pressure tactics, such as advertising boycotts, have been eclipsed by the sort of bare-knuckles campaign that could leave prominent journalists silenced and their outlets transformed or closed.

Recent targets include the freewheeling pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily, whose founder was sentenced to 14 months in prison last week, and RTHK, a public broadcaster known for its deep investigations. On Thursday, one of the network’s prizewinning producers, Choy Yuk-ling,was found guilty of making false statements to obtain public records for a report that was critical of the police. She was ordered to pay a fine of 6,000 Hong Kong dollars, about $775.

Finally today, Daniel N. Gullotta of The Bulwark writes specifically about the relationship between presidential historian Jon Meacham and President Joe Biden and, generally, about the relationships that all U.S. Presidents have with historians.

It is chiefly through the work of historians that we remember our presidents—their strengths and successes, their flaws and failures. This is obviously true of long-gone presidents, whom no one alive remembers. But even for recent presidents, the writers of history and biography play an important role in assessing and reassessing their lives and careers.

This occurs in more or less predictable stages. When a president is in office, journalists write the “first rough draft of history” and admirers and opponents offer slanted accounts. Once a president is out of office, insiders—and sometimes ex-presidents themselves—who want to influence the historical record (and make some money) come out with memoirs. Soon thereafter, biographers and historians, both academic and popular, start to put out their own books, often drawing on interviews with former administration staffers. As the decades go by, each former administration has fewer living alumni whose memories can be plumbed—but there are still discoveries to be made, especially in diaries, letters, memos, declassified documents, and other sources dug up in presidential libraries and other archives. And later historians continue to reexamine the record, with perspective that earlier historians didn’t have: with the knowledge of how things turned out, and with changing moral sensibilities.

Everyone have a good morning!

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