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There are serious problems with the Durham Police Department

By Monica Chen

I complained about a Sheriff’s Deputy. Then, the Durham Police started harassing me. Then, it got even worse.

First of all, I have had positive experiences with law enforcement in Durham. Friendly and responsive officers who left me feeling safer than before they arrived. Unfortunately in Durham, public safety has been declining since 2013.

And then since 2017, the police have increasingly, actively been disrupting and bullying good residents, peaceful homes and neighborhoods instead of protecting them – protecting us. The police have been on the side of bad people, even coddling them.

I think the actions of the Durham Police are about controlling movement, and breaking the normal rules of engagement, interaction, communication – so that incompetence and corruption would not be exposed. We are not allowed to engage with the Durham Police on our own terms, in normal ways.

So this happened to me in June.

The short version is that I was upset by a Sheriff’s Deputy’s actions with puppies that I had rescued. I called to complain about him, and from there, all hell broke loose.

Within a short while, two Durham PD officers were at my door.

The next day, another loud knock on my door — another police officer. A week later, yet another.

Four police officers within one week – showing up at my house where I live alone to let me know in various ways that they didn’t like what I was doing. That is, raising the alarm about behavior from a member of law enforcement that upset me, daring to speak up for puppies I had rescued, and most important of all to them – stepping out of line.

Those puppies I rescued, I later found out, never made it to the animal shelter.

The shockingly bad behavior from the Durham law enforcement did not stop there.

I also found out Durham residents are not allowed to step inside the police headquarters.

That’s right. Over the course of my emails with the city council and the police chief — who immediately let me know that her officers did nothing wrong – I learned that if you want to file a police report, you are not allowed to go to the newly built headquarters in downtown. You are supposed to wait for an officer to come to your location.

Again, we, Durham residents, are not allowed to directly engage with the Durham Police on our own terms. Our movements are limited to give the police control.  

Separate from the puppies and harassing police officers, I had been meaning to file a police report on something that had been happening to me for some time. I put this off because of the harassment, which added to my stress.

When I went to the police headquarters weeks later, what I saw at there was horrible. It was a dystopian nightmare, just unbelievable.

It was a creepy “1984”-esque police headquarters, devoid of any sign of a working police force.

There were big block letters, painted in rainbow colors like it was elementary school, peering down at visitors and the officers, admonishing them on being good law enforcement.

First, I wasn’t allowed inside. You have to buzz an intercom and say why you were there, and if you say you’re there to file a police report, you are told to wait outside.

So basically anyone who wants to report a crime is made to stand outside the building, feeling very unsafe and insecure, while a police officer is dispatched from wherever they are patrolling.

I had to say several times that I was allowed to come inside the police headquarters. The police chief knew I was coming. After that, I was allowed to come inside. There was one other person waiting, a young woman. The lobby was huge, cavernous. The furniture was modern. It felt like a police station lost in time circa 1965. Always an orange hazy mid-afternoon there.

This police headquarters is a building in which action has no consequences. As if a pen that’s dropped would never reach the ground.

This police headquarters, this police force, is a dystopian nightmare.

Finally, an officer showed up. Sweaty and out of breath, and annoyed that I came to the police headquarters to file a police report. She read my statement that I had prepared and told me to come outside.

Then, standing on the sidewalk outside the police headquarters, I waited for her to log it in her patrol vehicle parked on the other side of the street.

She came back across with the report number. As she handed it to me, we heard gun shots go off in a nearby apartment complex. Tap tap tap tap tap. Rapid pops. I said, “That’s weird….” I couldn’t believe this was happening. She ignored the gun shots. Then she started to minimize my concerns about the police report I had just filed. I had handed her a statement detailing incidents that went back years.

So to recap, this is a police force that harasses you, gaslights you, does not let you inside the headquarters your tax dollars paid for, does not respond to gunshots going off in the vicinity of the police headquarters, minimizes concerns from good residents about their safety and danger and violence, coddles bad people, and has no common sense, normal way of working and in general cares more about controlling and abusing Durham residents than protecting them.

Bullying, harassing, unresponsive, unprofessional. Incompetent and corrupt. That’s the Durham PD.

Movie review: “2000 Mules,” a flawed but legitimate bombshell

By Monica Chen

“2000 Mules” is not as much the hard-hitting expose of the 2020 election that viewers might expect from its marketing. The movie is actually a great overview of election fraud that has been taking place for the past decade. And the research it features leaves a big question wide open.

Still, “2000 Mules” is a major, real bombshell.

The documentary comes from political pundit Dinesh D’Souza and familiar collaborators, including director Bruce Schooley, and D’Souza’s wife, Debbie, who has also produced his other movies, most recently “Trump Card” in 2018. It features research conducted by election integrity watchdog True the Vote.

Much criticism has been leveled at the use of cellphone data in “2000 Mules” to track “mules,” or ballot traffickers, and estimate the number of fraudulent votes in the 2020 election that gave Joe Biden the win over Donald Trump. This writer finds the cellphone data to be credible. The data is what makes “2000 Mules” a bombshell, the kind that comes along once in a century. It is the research methodology that is flawed. (More on this later.)

First, the findings that D’Souza presents to viewers are shocking. He asks incisive questions of True the Vote’s founder Catherine Engelbrecht and top researcher Glenn Phillips, leading the viewer through the complex data. Here is what they tell us:

Atlanta: 242 mules that went to an average of 24 ballot dropboxes and eight organizations in a two-week period.

Phoenix, 200+ mules

Milwaukee, 100 mules

Michigan, 500 mules

Philadelphia, 1,100 mules going to 50 dropboxes each. People driving to New Jersey possibly to pick up ballots. 

The movie estimates that calculating for the ballot trafficking, Trump would have won with 305 electoral votes.

The movement of the mules shows that the fraud was deliberate.

“To get to some of these dropboxes, it had to be intentional. You had to get off the highway, go on some street, you had to turn in somewhere in order to get to those dropboxes,” Phillips said.

And Engelbrecht remarks on the gaslighting by the media in the aftermath.

“Now the narrative needs to be that this is the most secure election, this is the most fabulous election we have ever had. Pay no mind to the millions of Americans that are saying something is not right,” Engelbrecht said.

The movie also takes the audience through other kinds of ballot harvesting and ballot trafficking, including the exploitation of the disabled and the elderly, and the bullying of vulnerable populations, immigrants and the homeless.

It also mentions the well-known case in North Carolina of the Mark Harris campaign in 2018 as a prime example of ballot trafficking.

All of this information makes “2000 Mules” a great overview on election fraud. But the methodology of the research into the 2020 presidential election has one glaring flaw.

True the Vote seems to make assumptions on the nonprofits, or the “stash houses” where the fraudulent ballots are kept, as one of the starting point of its research along with the ballot dropboxes, for pinpointing the movements of the mules. Additionally, D’Souza never explains or even gives a hint of who these nonprofits are. So the viewer is left in the dark. This begs the question: Did True the Vote have a preset list of nonprofits they knew were stash houses from previous research, instead of determining who the stash houses are from the mules? Is the research completely nonpartisan?

D’Souza has answered a similar question from a viewer here, but has not addressed this concern. In journalism, you can provide hints for who the nonprofits are. For example, are they big nonprofits with obvious political leanings or small nonprofits doing unrelated work, like animal rescue? D’Souza and his producers not giving any hints at all leaves a big piece of the puzzle off the table.

The movie has other flaws. True the Vote and Engelbrecht’s background is not explained and should have been for context. The organization is based in Houston and has been doggedly fighting election fraud there for more than a decade. The tone of the movie is uneven. It starts off strong and seems like it would be a hard-hitting piece of investigative journalism, but then down-shifts to homey, chummy scenes between D’Souza and family and colleagues. From its marketing, complete with a companion book and a deluxe DVD, you might expect “2000 Mules” to dive deeper into the fraud in the 2020 election, to Philadelphia instead of Atlanta, focusing on the mules more instead of brushing off their motivation as simply about money.

In any case, the rest of “2000 Mules” is compelling and has enough overwhelming evidence that these flaws should not have a big impact on the results of the data.

And there is no one in America who cares about this country who can watch the security camera footage in the movie, of mules stuffing ballot boxes, some in broad daylight, and not be shocked, feel betrayed, feel disgusted. True the Vote also found that some of the mules were also involved in the Black Lives Matter and Antifa riots in 2020. What these mules have done runs completely counter to the trust that people in this country have in our election system.

The clarity of the data — the prevalence of cellphones in American life in 2020, the availability of the data to marketers and an organization like True the Vote — is the kind of insight that comes along at turning points in history and are never seen again.

So, flaws and all, “2000 Mules” is a once in a generation, once in a century opportunity. The research in the movie is the biggest opportunity this country has of breaking organized election fraud and its connection to corrupt organizations at the local level, and to domestic terrorism. Here is hoping D’Souza will follow up and show us more, show us everything.

What’s wrong with schools

By Monica Chen 

Schools have become so bad in the past decade that some fundamental things need to be said:

The point of schools is to teach, to impart knowledge, to provide a space and the support for kids to learn and to be curious, to imagine. 

Schools and teachers currently are controlling and abusive when they should be nurturing and open. Teachers are there for the kids, not the other way around.

I cannot believe these things have to be said, that these basic parameters for good and bad when it comes to the educational system have to be recognized.

It should be about kids. Teachers have horrifyingly, willfully made it about themselves.

Here are some negative changes that I have noticed with schools in the past decade. Unfortunately, I have not seen anything positive: 

A high school math workbooks in 2019.

1. Politics in every part of the educational system, even in math workbooks. Harder to identify than Critical Race Theory but it is obvious. There is no room for imagination and learning. Students are made to swallow a ton of politics even in the most apolitical subject — math. This is like gaslighting, but the way this abuse works is so sustained and painful that it needs a new term. It is torture. “You must swallow my political view of the world in order to learn algebra.”

There is no room for these kids to let their minds wander and be curious. Having politics be this much part of education is what happened in China at the height of Communism in the ’50s. America is doing the same thing now, but it is more intrinsic to the learning process. It’s also more vicious because there is an entire party that wants to pretend it’s not happening at all. It is actually more abusive. 

More on the curriculum: I remember reading “James and the Giant Peach” in Fifth Grade, “Number the Stars” and “The Giver” in Sixth Grade. Then I remember “All Quiet on the Western Front” in high school, and William Faulkner. I had some great teachers, had time to learn and dream. Do kids still read those books? Are they still taught? Or have they been rejected for not being “equitable” enough?

2. Nauseating self-absorption on the part of teachers, ranging from laziness to overt abuse.

Some of the teachers I see on social media, I can tell that 20-25 years ago, it would have been obvious they were bad teachers that kids would’ve avoided — impatient, incompetent, even cruel. But now, they use technology and a whole suite of learning tools to mask that. The entire administration also supports the fantasy that they are good teachers. How can this go on?

More on social media: Some of the teachers are constantly on Twitter, reacting to political news. Why? Some of the teachers use these big hashtags to amass support across different schools and different districts for things that do not benefit the kids in their own schools. Why? Some teachers are in touch with teachers in England. Seriously?! If my parents had taken advice from their Chinese counterparts in their own fields, they would’ve been slammed for being patriotic so fast. But these white teachers can take advice from some British woman? How about focusing on the needs of your own students in America?

I’ve also seen schools ogle kids on their social media. How creepy is it for an elementary school to admire the physique of an “alum” who is now in middle school or high school?

On the sexualization and grooming of children: I am certain that all of my teachers would have been shocked, and completely rejected allowing books with sexual content in school libraries. And why are teachers talking to kids about sex? For my teachers, sex ed was awkward enough, they definitely did not want to talk about it any further. Why would they? They were adults. We were kids.

3. Actual contempt and hatred for the very students they teach. Some people, I realized, went into the very subjects where they hate the students the most. Completely abusive. 

I realized this last year with the “#Together4ELs” hashtag. 

“Together for English Learners.” OK, are we talking about Language Arts which also teaches English? No, it’s English as a second language students. Immigrant students. ESL students. 

Speaking as a former ESL student, and I had a very good ESL teacher — all that’s needed for ESL students is teaching them English the normal way. Oh, and kindness. She was kind. I was out of ESL within six months. We were never humiliated and used like trained monkeys to show off our “growth” or whatever so our teacher could tweet and get some likes. We were not patronized and managed. That hashtag should be changed to “#Together4Ourselves.”

4. The teachers unions protecting the worst teachers and not supporting good teachers who were speaking up during lockdown and the mask mandates, basically all saying versions of: “This is horrible for kids. Are we sure this needs to be done?” Like other organizations — the ACLU, the NAACP, Ms. Magazine — teachers unions have let their very constituents down. All of these organizations that are supposed to protect the people they purportedly are for did the opposite when it mattered. 

5. Shutting out and turning off retired teachers as well as would-be teachers from working, even as substitute teachers, assistants in classrooms and librarians and library assistants. Who would want to deal with the control, the abuse, and the politics?

6. Other things: The blinding lights on sports fields. The changing school hours to make them more similar to adult work days. “Teacher work days” when the teachers can’t deal with the political wind shifting and suddenly need a break. Again, these changes are for the comfort and self-absorption of the teachers, not for the good of the students.

A look back at the Ghislaine Maxwell verdict

By Monica Chen

When Ghislaine Maxwell was found guilty last December of trafficking girls for sexual abuse, it was on social media that not only did the news break, but also where the most relevant coverage happened, making up for the lack of attention from mainstream media.

The elation of the verdict, the intensity of the trial, as well as discussions of the crimes of Maxwell and her ex-boyfriend, pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, happened only on social media.

It was a collective effort of independent journalists and women working in established media, mostly young women, who made up for the lack of mainstream coverage. The real coverage of the Ghislaine Maxwell verdict was not on TV or newspapers but what was happening in real-time on Twitter.

At the federal district court at the Thurgood Marshall Courthouse in New York, presided over by Judge Allison Nathan, the verdict came suddenly and expectedly on the late afternoon of Wednesday, December 29.

It was the dead of winter and the jury began deliberating before Christmas. Earlier on this fifth day, there were signs that the jury would take longer to deliberate, or even find Maxwell not guilty.

As British journalist Lucia Osborne-Crowley reported, the jury was requesting more transcripts throughout the day:

But then, around 5 p.m., the news broke:

Reporters began live-tweeting, including the courts and United Nations stalwart, independent journalist Matthew Russell Lee:

Complete elation was the mood. Watch the video by independent journalist Addy Adds:

More from Lee when the verdict was read:

A story was quickly put up by Julie K. Brown, The Miami Herald reporter who wrote the investigative series on Epstein and Maxwell in 2018 and blew the scandal wide open. Here’s how Brown described Maxwell’s reaction:

“When U.S. District Court Judge Alison Nathan read the verdict, Maxwell appeared shaken, and struggled to stand. She did not shed a tear. Afterward, she slumped in her chair and sipped a cup of water, barely looking at her family members — sisters Isabel and Christine and brother Kevin, sitting in the front row.”

Amid the lack of coverage by CNN and other major networks, Sky News Australia’s Martha Kelner captured the mood outside the courthouse:

Maxwell’s attorneys quickly left the courthouse with no comment, as captured by Alyssa Paolicelli with Spectrum News NY1:

Photojournalist Sandi Bachom had the best view of the chaos of media throngs after the verdict. Maxwell’s lead attorney Bobbi Sternheim exited the courthouse, made her way down to the assembled media — and their bright lights — and provided a brief statement. After that, Sternheim also quickly left the scene.

A statement from Virginia Giuffre, a victim of Epstein and Maxwell’s, whom she has accused of sex trafficking her to various powerful men, including Prince Andrew when she was 17:

Damian Williams, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, made a statement:

The Clinton Foundation had tweeted about islands earlier in the day:

The significance of the verdict and the elation of that moment unfortunately were not conveyed by newspapers the next day. The Miami Herald’s front page was very dark. The New York Times downplayed the news with a story in the corner near the fold.

The Daily Mail as usual understood what news the British public wants, pivoting immediately to consequences for Andrew. The paper had been following the growing Epstein-Maxwell scandal for a decade. Among the other newspapers, many of the front pages were accompanied by stories on rising COVID cases.

The BBC sank to a new low by interviewing Alan Dershowitz for a legal take. Dershowitz was Epstein’s long-time attorney who was also accused by Giuffre for having sex with her while she was underage.

Blog post: “Abortion is a constitutional right.” Is it?

By Monica Chen

One of the phrases I keep hearing in the turbulence after the SCOTUS leak on Roe v. Wade is that abortion is a constitutional right, which — that does not sound right, does it?

This blog post is my first look at this assertion by politicians and activists on the abortion issue. Is abortion a constitutional right?

If you look at the writings and talks by the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — the answer seems to be, “Not really.” Or she’d rebuke you for asking the wrong question to begin with.

Roe was settled on the right to privacy. But for Ginsburg, reproductive choice, not abortion, was a constitutional right for women and came down to equal protection under the law, under the due process clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Ginsburg was critical of Roe, the 1973 landmark decision. She thought it was shockingly sweeping, halted progress that was already underway in the states, proved to be divisive over time, and Ginsburg seemed to have always supported the abortion debate staying in state legislatures — where women can make their needs heard and be part of the political process. 

Unfortunately and alarmingly, what’s happening right now is that many politicians and activists on the Left are equating abortion with reproductive choice. The question is — Why?

Here is Democratic candidate for the Senate, Cheri Beasley, on MSNBC the day after the SCOTUS leak doing just that. The longer version of that interview is here. Other politicians and organizations have echoed those comments for some time.

“A woman’s right to make choices about her reproductive health is a constitutional right grounded in the Fourteenth Amendment and other amendments of the Constitution. To make sure that she has the opportunity and the choice to make decisions about her family and her body without government interference,” Beasley said.

And she added: “We know that here in North Carolina, the majority of people in this state and this country support the right of a woman to have an abortion. It is a constitutionally protected right.”

Why are politicians and organizations frantically rushing to news networks to talk about abortion and reproductive freedom as if they are the same thing? Why push for national codifying of a Supreme Court decision instead of letting the debate play out in the political process — Are they worried there is actually no political will for keeping Roe? And why have they seem to have completely forgotten that “a woman’s right to choose” — doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll choose abortion?

Struck v. Secretary of Defense

For Ginsburg, thinking about the abortion debate involved considering the flip side of the Roe case and making the connection between the two. She was aware of the dangers of a government that imposes unwanted pregnancies upon women — “Jane Roe” wanting to terminate a pregnancy but could not at the time in Texas — as well as a government that coerces women into getting abortions. The flip side of the Roe debate is that reproductive choice also involves women choosing to keep their babies.

In fact, the case that Ginsburg had hoped would firmly establish reproductive freedom for women in America was not Roe, but Struck v. Secretary of Defense, which involved a U.S. Air Force Captain who wanted to go through with her pregnancy. Capt. Susan Struck was stationed in Vietnam when she became pregnant. Knowing that the military’s rule was that she had to get an abortion or be discharged, Struck filed suit to be allowed to go through with her pregnancy and keep her position.

Ginsburg wrote a brief to the Supreme Court for the case. But before the Court heard it, the Air Force changed the rules to allow Struck to stay in the service. So Struck never became the landmark decision that Ginsburg hoped it would be.

During her confirmation hearing in 1993, this is what Ginsburg said of the Struck case: “… This regulation — if you’re pregnant, you’re out unless you have an abortion — violated the equal protection principle because no man was ordered out of the service because he had been the partner in the conception.”

The argument for the Struck case crafted by Ginsburg and other lawyers had three pillars: The equal protection principle, her right to decide for herself whether she was going to have the child, and her religious freedom. Struck was Roman Catholic.

The Struck brief, as quoted by Duke University Law Professor Neil Siegel in an article in 2010, pointed out that rules that supposedly protect women by not allowing them to work during pregnancy, “have in practice deprived working women of the protection they most need: protection of their right to work to support themselves and, in many cases, their families as well.”

So there are many constitutional rights that involve a woman and her choices with regard to her pregnancy. The right to reproductive choice. The right to religious liberty. The right to work and support ourselves and our families.

“Abortion is a constitutional right”? Maybe one of the reasons why that phrase does not sound right is because it obscures many other rights that women have under the Constitution.

Not abortions, Gov. Cooper — Lockdowns

By Monica Chen

Immediately after news broke that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, Gov. Roy Cooper took to Twitter to support women’s health.

“Now more than ever, governors and state legislatures must stand up for women’s healthcare,” Cooper wrote on the evening of May 2.

The next day, Cooper also joined 16 other governors to call on Congress to “protect access to women’s health care,” he wrote in another tweet.

“Reproductive healthcare decisions are deeply personal and should be made by patients in consultation with their health care providers, not by politicians,” the letter signed by Cooper stated, to push Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act.

But according to N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein, Roe being overturned means North Carolina will revert to abortion being legal for the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy.

Gov. Cooper, there are bigger challenges to women’s health in North Carolina right now.

If Cooper wants to discuss women’s health, then the first thing that must be confronted are the negative impacts of two years of lockdowns on women’s health, including: mask mandates, social distancing, vaccine mandates, vaccines with unknown long-term effects, boosters with unknown long-term effects — both especially on women’s reproductive health — and that’s not to mention dealing with the lockdown’s effects on their children.

The governor declared a State of Emergency on March 10, 2020, and immediately imposed lockdowns and mandates statewide — on a mere seven cases of COVID total in North Carolina. Two years later, that State of Emergency remains in place despite much public outcry and furor from women who want the right to control their own health — the decisions of which should be made with their doctors, not by politicians.

Adding to the insanity of a two-year-long State of Emergency is Cooper’s refusal to answer basic questions.

For example, is North Carolina still actually in an emergency? He will not answer.

During the press conference on March 17 to announce a “new phase” of combatting COVID — during which Cooper also said he will not waive the gas tax temporarily as other states have done to help workers — a reporter asked: The State of Emergency. Is that coming to an end? 

Cooper’s response: “It gives flexibility to health care providers to help with surges that come. And it helps health providers distribute vaccines and treatment to people. We’ve presented to the General Assembly we can pass to end it.” 

The reporter then asked: But where are the surges and with many people having taken the vaccines? Why is the state of emergency needed? Are we really facing an emergency anymore? 

Cooper did not answer that question. Instead he said, “It’s a legal tool that we are using to provide the flexibility that’s needed. And when the legislature passes a law to give that flexibility that’s needed, then we’ll do away with it.” 

So this is particularly concerning. If the governor can’t even say whether or not we are in an emergency, why is the order needed? 

And if the governor cannot say whether there is an emergency, why would the state legislature give him the tools with which to implement it?

If the governor cannot even say whether there is an emergency in North Carolina before taking control of health decisions, why should women listen to him about our health, about our reproductive health?

Other important moments from the March 17 press conference and some questions they raise:


“Over the last two years, we’ve written a history of hardship and resilience, setbacks and successes. But now, we enter the next phase, one of individual responsibility, preparedness, and prosperity. It’s time to chart the new course. This virus will still be with us, but it won’t disrupt us. We must remain prepared for the potential of future surges though, and this will mean some specific changes in the way we move forward from here.” 

Question: If the next phase is one of individual responsibility, why is the Emergency order in place? Why are people in North Carolina not allowed to control our own health?

Kody Kinsley, Secretary of N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, said there are four principles with the new phase moving forward: “Empowering individuals, maintaining health system capacity, collaborating with local partners, and prioritizing equity.”

People want to return to their normal routines, which they can do because of free and effective vaccines, boosters and other tools that help people manage their risk.

We will continue to ensure access for information and resources, especially for historically marginalized populations, people with disabilities, and older North Carolinians. Data will continue to drive our response as it has through the entire pandemic.

Then, Kinsley said positive test counts will no longer be the focus of NCDHHS. Instead, the metrics to determine if the public is healthy will be: Wastewater surveillance; COVID-like illness; Hospital admissions; Case trends; Boosters; Prevalence of variants; CDC Community Level metric;

Question: Why is NCDHHS employing more rigorous metrics now that COVID is subsiding? Why are positive tests of the actual virus not counted, but “COVID-like illness” is? Why are case counts and vaccination rates no longer necessary in a pandemic necessitating a State of Emergency?

Secretary of Commerce Machelle Sanders said North Carolina’s economy has returned to pre-COVID levels:

… The pandemic taught us that conditions can change rapidly and our workforce, businesses and communities must be skilled enough to adapt and grow. 

Kinsley on new variants from Europe:

But the immunity from Omicron and vaccines remains most protective against the most important thing, which is severe disease, ending up in the hospital. We’re ready for those waves. We’ll remain vigilant. We’ll remain communicating about what we’re seeing as that comes.” 

Susan Kansagra, head of the Chronic Disease and Injury Section of DHHS:

We are incredibly concerned about what the lack of funding at a federal level means to us at a state level. We know certainly, vaccine allocations, purchase of antibodies, those things need to happen in advance with manufacturers to make sure there is enough supply.

Another immediate impact is that providers will no longer be able to bill through the HRSA uninsured program. … Hundreds of millions of dollars have gone to providers in North Carolina to provide this care.


Federal investment keeps the production of tests and treatments high, which is what we want. We’ve seen how fast a surge can come. So we have to be ready. And already, they’ve talked about because Congress failed to pass the additional funding in this last legislation, we’ve already seen a 30 percent reduction in monoclonal antibody treatment that we’ve received from the federal government. We can manage that now because things are low, but that’s the kind of thing that we really can’t afford. 

One reporter asked about the availability of vaccines for children in K-12. Cooper said:

“We are encouraging vaccines for everyone who is eligible, including children.”

The worst question at the press conference was on boosters:

So many people across the state got their boosters, roughly six months ago. By that six-month rule, a lot of people would be eligible for another booster kind of in the springtime. Is there any plan to make a fourth vaccine available to this population? 

Question: Why would you need a booster shot for anyone before they are even sick?

What Ruth Bader Ginsburg thought of Roe v. Wade

By Monica Chen 

Although the late Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been held up by the pro-choice movement and feminist organizations as an icon of feminism, widely assumed to support Roe v. Wade, what the movements have been ignoring are Ginsburg’s own words on the decision.

Ginsburg had strong criticisms of Roe over the decades, and was consistent in her points of criticism. Ginsburg even called the landmark 1973 decision, which legalized abortions nationwide, a “regime.” Her words are now echoed by Justice Samuel Alito’s recent leaked draft opinion to overturn the decision.

The Court had “fashion(ed) a regime blanketing the subject, a set of rules that displaced virtually every state law then in force,” Ginsburg wrote forcefully in 1992 in the wake of Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Ginsburg thought Roe took the debate on abortion out of state legislatures — away from the legislative branch of government — and that’s where that debate had been up to that point and should have stayed.

According to Politico, Alito wrote in his majority draft opinion: “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled. … It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Alito’s opinion is on the case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, on Mississippi’s law banning abortions after 15 weeks, except in cases of fetal abnormality or medical emergency. 

Roe v. Wade was settled on the right to privacy, using the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, and established the trimester framework for abortion. “Jane Roe” had become pregnant with her third child and filed suit in Texas, which had the strictest law in the country, allowing no abortion except when it was necessary to save the mother’s life. 

In 1992, Planned Parenthood v. Casey walked back Roe’s trimester framework and replaced it with the “undue burden” standard, with greater emphasis on fetal viability.

Most notable in what Ginsburg has said about Roe — as well as Casey — was her continued insistence in dialogue, in political involvement, and her belief in the legislative process to ultimately establish the equal rights of women. There were states that were more liberal than Texas in allowing abortion in 1973, including her own state, New York. And like the growing acceptance of no-fault divorce, Ginsburg thought the incremental progress that had been happening up until that time in the courts and in legislatures should have been allowed to continue.

Although Ginsburg is not on public record as having commented on nationally codifying Roe through the Women’s Health Protection Act, it is difficult to imagine that she would have supported another “regime” to replace the existing one.

What Ginsburg thought of Roe and abortion, in her own words:

Ginsburg was definitely a feminist and thought the choice of whether or not to have an abortion — to have a child — was an important part of equal rights for women.

At her confirmation hearing in 1993, here is how she put it: 

“This is something central to a woman, to her life, to her dignity. It’s a decision that she must make for herself. And when government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

When it came to Roe, Ginsburg’s thoughts were crystallized by 1992 in an article she wrote in the New York University Law Review. Over the years, she added observations to that but the fundamental criticisms she had of Roe were unchanged: The ruling went too far. The Supreme Court should have given a decision that allowed the legislative branch to get involved. The abortion issue should have been decided by the states. 

In fact, Ginsburg thought Roe unnecessarily fueled controversy in the decades to come, to the detriment of underprivileged women who were the most vulnerable in society. 

In July 2020, she said at a talk with David Rubenstein, chairman of Duke University’s Board of Trustees: 

The court had an easy target because the Texas law was the most extreme in the nation. Abortion could be had only if it was necessary to save the woman’s life. Doesn’t matter if her health would be ruined, if she was the victim of rape or incest.

I thought Roe v. Wade was an easy case and the Supreme Court could have held that most extreme law unconstitutional and put down its pen. Instead, the court wrote an opinion that made every abortion restriction in the country illegal in one fell swoop.

Some women felt I should have been 100 percent in favor of Roe v. Wade, because I wasn’t. 

In May 2013, Ginsburg had an interesting observation about Roe while at the University of Chicago Law School with Professor Geoffrey Stone, pointing out that it was more about the doctor and not the woman. The decision, afterall, was about privacy and not equal rights. 

Ginsburg said bluntly: 

Another feature of Roe is Roe really isn’t about the woman’s choice, is it? It’s about the doctor’s freedom to practice his profession as he thinks best. Read the Roe opinion. You will never see the woman standing alone. It was always the woman in consultation with her physician. So the picture I got from that decision was tall doctor and little woman needing his advice and care. It wasn’t woman-centered, it was physician-centered. Roe was not just restricting the woman’s choice. It was telling the doctor even if it is in your best medical judgment that this person have an abortion, you can’t exercise that best medical judgment. I don’t know if any of the justices on the court appreciated that aspect of it. That it was very much about the doctor’s freedom to practice his profession.

These talks she gave later in life built upon the criticisms she had of Roe by 1992, published in the New York University Law Review:

First, she criticized Roe for being a rushed decision: 

Measured motions seem to me right, in the main, for constitutional as well as common law adjudication. Doctrinal limbs too swiftly shaped, experience teaches, may prove unstable. The most prominent example in recent decades is Roe v. Wade.

And because Roe was rushed and vast, it fueled controversy instead of reducing it, Ginsburg wrote: 

Suppose the Court had stopped there, rightly declaring unconstitutional the most extreme brand of law in the nation, and had not gone on, as the Court did in Roe, to fashion a regime blanketing the subject, a set of rules that displaced virtually every state law then in force. Would there have been the twenty-year controversy we have witnessed, reflected most recently in the Supreme Court’s splintered decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey?

She lamented the fact that Roe kept the abortion issue out of the political process during a time when abortion, like divorce, was becoming more accepted in American society. 

Roe v. Wade, in contrast, invited no dialogue with legislators. Instead, it seemed entirely to remove the ball from the legislators’ court. In 1973, when Roe issued, abortion law was in a state of change across the nation. As the Supreme Court itself noted, there was a marked trend in state legislatures “toward liberalization of abortion statutes.” That movement for legislative change ran parallel to another law revision effort then underway — the change from fault to no-fault divorce regimes, a reform that swept through the state legislatures and captured all of them by the mid-1980s.

In her opinion, this fueled controversy and the rise of the Moral Majority and the right to life movements in the subsequent decades:  

No measured motion, the Roe decision left virtually no state with laws fully conforming to the Court’s delineation of abortion regulation still permissible. Around that extraordinary decision, a well-organized and vocal right-to-life movement rallied and succeeded, for a considerable time, in turning the legislative tide in the opposite direction.

(Ginsburg said the same thing at the University of Chicago talk: “What a great organizing tool it was. The court had given the opponents of access to abortion a target to aim at relentlessly. It seemed to have stopped the momentum on the side of change.”) 

She pointed out that Planned Parenthood v. Casey was a “retreat” from Roe and was concerned about the impact of the Court’s decisions on women who were less privileged in society: 

In most of the post-1970 gender-classification cases, unlike Roe, the Court functioned in just that way. It approved the direction of change through a temperate brand of decision-making, one that was not extravagant or divisive. Roe, on the other hand, halted a political process that was moving in a reform direction and thereby, I believe, prolonged divisiveness and deferred stable settlement of the issue. The most recent Planned Parenthood decision notably retreats from Roe and further excludes from the High Court’s protection women lacking the means or the sophistication to surmount burdensome legislation.

In concluding the article, Ginsburg found hope in the political involvement of the American people, which was where she had faith that equality for women will someday be reached: 

The latest decision (Planned Parenthood) may have had the sanguine effect, however, of contributing to the ongoing revitalization in the 1980s and 1990s of the political movement in progress in the early 1970s, a movement that addressed not simply or dominantly the courts but primarily the people’s representatives and the people themselves.

That renewed force, one may hope, will — within a relatively short span — yield an enduring resolution of this vital matter in a way that affirms the dignity and equality of women.

Roe to be overturned: Reactions in NC

By Monica Chen

Shock and anger were the reactions of many North Carolinians after news broke on Monday night that Roe v. Wade will be overturned.

A draft of the majority opinion by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito had been leaked to Politico. The 1973 landmark decision will be overturned, reverting the issue of abortion back to state legislatures.

Protests broke out across the country on Tuesday, including at Moore Square in Raleigh. President Joe Biden also lashed out at the MAGA crowd on Wednesday, calling them “Ultra MAGA.” Vice President Kamala Harris said of Republican lawmakers, “How dare they tell a woman what she can do and cannot do with her own body?” Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., in particular had a very strong reaction as she joined protesters in front of the Supreme Court.

Pro-life organization N.C. Values Coalition issued a statement on Tuesday. “If Roe and Casey are overturned, as the draft opinion indicates, we must build consensus for the strongest protections possible for unborn children and women in North Carolina, and we are ready for this moment in history,” said Executive Director Tami Fitzgerald.

But most of the reactions in N.C. were from pro-choice groups and Socialist organizations. Democratic Party candidates spoke out. Some local residents also were clamoring on social media for places to protest.

The News & Observer rolled out no less than five stories on the news this week.

Axios’ new Raleigh bureau, with two reporters recruited from the N&O, was all over this as well.

On Monday night, shortly after the news broke, Gov. Roy Cooper stated on Twitter: “Now more than ever, governors and state legislatures must stand up for women’s health care.” Later in the week, he went to Asheville to visit an eatery and a barbershop.

N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein on Thursday clarified what the state will revert to after Roe: Abortions will still be legal for the first 20 weeks of a pregnancy.

Elsewhere around the country, the extremist liberal group Ruth Sent Us doxxed Supreme Court justices and called for protests in churches on Mother’s Day. Google later disabled the map with the justices’ homes from the group’s web site. (Main photo: The group protesting in front of Chief Justice John Roberts’ house in April.)

Mary Trump weighed in on liberal media site MeidasTouch.

Blog post: The media’s sick game with Putin, Russia, and American workers

By Monica Chen 

In Western media’s gaslighting, exploitative coverage of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, the worst coverage so far has been the battles in Mariupol. 

Mariupol is a port city in the Donetsk region, which has fought for independence from Ukraine since 2014. It is a pro-Russian city. Mariupol in reality is a city that is under siege from Ukraine. The destruction in the city is well-documented. In this OSCE report in 2015, shelling from Ukrainian forces resulted in 30 civilians dead and 150 injured. Western media has got it backwards. 

Here is the most recent example of Western media’s semi-delusional coverage of Mariupol and the Russia-Ukraine conflict in general:

The picture that CNN paints is that Russia decided against storming the steel plant because of, well, a loss of guts. 

But in Russian media outlet TASS, the country was celebrating securing Mariupol with the exception of the one steel plant. 

Mariupol had been won. This is what Russian President Vladimir Putin said: 

“In this case, we need to think about – I mean, we always need to think about it, but particularly in this case – we need to think about preserving the life and health of our soldiers and officers. There’s no reason to penetrate through these subterranean pathways and beneath these industrial facilities,” the head of state explained.

He ordered that Azovstal be blocked “so that even a fly can’t get in or out” and everyone be offered to lay down their arms.” 

Putin decided against storming the plant in order to protect Russian soldiers. There was no need for that when the rest of the city was already under Russian control. 

To Western media, what Putin and Russia say and do are never reported at face value, as facts. 

Any news out of Russia is dismissed as “Russian propaganda” or “Russian disinformation.” And Putin himself is painted as an unhinged despot, no matter what he actually says. 

If anyone is still confused by the reaction to Russia, this is exactly what objectification and bigotry stemming from racism looks like: The real person, the real subject never gets to assert their identity and be judged on their actions, by the content of their character — in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. They are perpetually viewed and judged through the racist lens of those who are oppressing and exploiting them. 

This is an impossible situation deliberately set up by the Western media, which is siding with people who are ignorant, bigoted and racist. These are people who desperately want to believe Russia is “corrupt and backward,” and Western countries are superior and infallible. Their incompetence and corruption depend on that delusion.

Of course, this was never true, even during the Cold War, except in the imagination of racist people. 

Even more than that, since the “Russian collusion” scandal in 2017, the media has been engaged in a years-long, international gaslighting with the goal of preventing U.S.-Russia relations from improving. That would bring about changes to the industries of both countries that would make it obvious those same racist people are incompetent, and have been all along.

So the media has been abusing Putin, Russia, and a significant part of the American workforce at the same time. The point is to keep all parties exhausted, objectified, and very importantly, separate.

The media has not simply been selling war propaganda. It has been actively on the side of authoritarians, even valuing Neo-Nazis in the Ukrainian army above Putin and Russia, and attacking other countries and people at home. This has all happened with the full backing of incompetent and corrupt governments headed by Joe Biden in the United States, Boris Johnson in Great Britain, Emmanuel Macron in France, and others in Germany and elsewhere.

“Putin.” “Russia.” “Ukrainians.” 

What the media has done is make a psychological trick so overwhelming that the meaning of “Putin,” “Russia,” and “Ukrainians” have become completely projections and unidentifiable from who they really are.

The real Putin has handled this war and the economic and cultural sanctions of his country with a steady hand. The real Russia is a solid people who have consistently shown more concern for the Ukrainian people and other global affairs than even their own leaders and international organizations. The real Ukrainians is a people who stood by for eight years while their government shelled their own countrymen.

By contrast, these are the shorthands for Putin, Russia and Ukrainians used by Western media:

Putin = unhinged despot

Russia = coldness, authoritarianism

Ukrainians = oppressed working people

This way, Putin and his country have been used to bully and control a significant part of the American workforce for years now.

The game with the media and the Biden administration has been to time an “invasion,” i.e. an event possibly orchestrated by the real life Ukraine, with an “invasion,” when certain authoritarian people, corporate executives, government officials (“Putin,” “Russians”) would bring the hammer down on a vulnerable, hard-working part of their workforce (“Ukraine”).

This way, the chaos of both a fake Russian invasion in real life will coincide with a destruction of a part of the American workforce. And somehow, the politics and industries of Ukraine and corporate management of workers in this country have become such that structural changes in industries would occur, and American workers would never recover.

When the real Russian war in Ukraine began, the media signaled and helped authoritarians in Western countries duplicate the “Russian invasion” exactly upon workers back home. Any Russian military offense in reality was matched by an attack back home. This way, both Russia and American workers would be kept abused.

What has been going on is an attack on basic human dignity, on the simple right to have our actions count where we are.

The most terrifying week 

Early March was the most terrifying time in this conflict, when the media was on the verge of being able to direct the Russia-Ukraine war — the tail wagging the dog, with the most destructive consequences imaginable. 

Real information about the war was not allowed, dismissed as “Russian propaganda” and conspiracy theories. The American public did not even have a transcript of Putin’s speech. We weren’t allowed to listen to him and judge his words for ourselves. Celebrities like Stephen King horrifyingly seized the opportunity to bully American workers, making sure they knew he sided with the Ukrainians over “Ukrainians.” Meanwhile, other celebrities like Kirstie Alley who raised common-sense questions about the media’s coverage were bullied into silence.

During the first weeks of this war, the Russian military offensive in Ukraine had been used successfully for a duplicate “Russian war on Ukraine” in America.  

So when lawmakers in the U.S. in both parties called for weapons to Ukraine, many really meant for workers to empower themselves against Fascists, but ended up sending weapons to the Neo-Nazi military in Ukraine instead, harming the very workers they wanted to help. 

The psychological trick employed by the media, the corrupt governments of Ukraine and Western countries was so thorough, it had cornered political leaders into an intellectual vacuum. 

Most horrifyingly, Ukrainians amid the chaos demanded a “no-fly zone,” duplicating the psyches of workers who were left suddenly exposed to authoritarians. If lawmakers and political pundits had not been more careful, World War III would have been underway because of this psychological trick.

In the end, like a knot that tightens the more you try to break free, there was no way out of this psychological bind but to stop feeding into it and wait. 

The problem with the Donetsk region

Why it has been difficult if not impossible for the public to get out from under this vicious game the media is playing is because of the Donetsk region. 

The Donbass is two regions, Donetsk, and Luhansk which is closer to Russia, geographically and culturally. 

Luhansk and its leader are genuinely interested in independence. The Donetsk’s leader Denis Pushilin, unfortunately, is not. Pushilin is a double-crossing element in this conflict and his actions should be seen as an extension of the Ukrainian military. 

When Pushilin talks about Russia, he means the media shorthand, “Russia” as a projection of coldness and authoritarianism. When Pushilin planted a flag on top of a government building, he was asserting a win in the media game and his loyalty to global authoritarianism. He was able to time it so that that message was clear.  

Why is Pushilin silent about Mariupol, which is the second biggest city in Donetsk? 

Why is Pushilin going out of his way to award a fighter with Neo-Nazi symbols on his uniform? So that Putin and the Russian military would snap him back into place — in which case, Pushilin can again raise a flag for “Russia,” for authoritarianism?

The media game is never-ending.

Pushilin’s behavior raises other questions about what has been going on in the Donbass. Putin and Russian officials have said what’s going on is a genocide of Russian-speaking people. Is there more?

Is what’s been going on a kind of forced homogenization by Zelenskyy’s government?

The leader of Luhansk has emphasized their connection to their land. Is the Ukrainian government’s shelling of the region specifically meant to disrupt that connection?

The independent journalists who have been in the region and having to report on Donetsk and Luhansk together would have experienced this firsthand. Maybe someday soon, they can tell us what they really saw. 

Blog post: Reactions to the Russia-Ukraine conflict so far. The good, the bad, the completely unhinged

By Monica Chen 

World leaders, celebrities and even social media figures have revealed where they truly stand on some fundamental attitudes during the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

One of the best moments has been from Benjamin Netanyahu, former Israeli Prime Minister. On March 13, a day after Iran launched missiles toward the American consulate in Iraq, it was not our President Joe Biden who provided assurances and clarity on what was going on, but Netanyahu. 

Here was Netanyahu warning the American public about a new nuclear deal with Iran and the possibility of Iran developing intercontinental missiles that could strike this country.

Netanyahu in that moment showed what responsible leadership when it comes to military power could look like on the world stage. It was also normal leadership, the kind that used to take place more predictably during the Aughts.

When another country attacks our country abroad, it shouldn’t be the Israeli Prime Minister to tell us what happened. The media used to at least ask the basic questions. But it’s 2022, and the media helped the Biden administration sweep the missile attack under the rug.

Other leaders have not been as responsible as Netanyahu. This is a blog post looking at the warmongers of the political elite in America, to narcissistic virtue-signalling in Hollywood, and also the MAGA crowd’s opportunistic use of the conflict to shame women — and China at the same time, amazingly.