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MEDIA WATCH--We have seen a lot of people waiting in lines lately, most abundantly to acquire a vaccine to quash a global pandemic. Despite the intentions of a democratic process, low-income areas have faced profound disparities and some downright selfish inequity. Evident are the challenges to meet this need and to achieve mass efficiency in service of saving lives and hastening a return to normalcy in society. As I inched forward in my car at Dodger Stadium for my first and second shots, I thought of the other lines, much less just and over-represented with the poor and destitute. 

Every time I see or hear of people forced by hunger to line up for giveaway meals, clothing, medical care, shelter beds and other basics of life, the thought recurs that charity is an awfully dubious salve for poverty. Few events drive home this truth quicker than last December’s dithering in the White House and Senate over what size of a bone to toss those millions struggling through the Great Pandemic amid the long-awaited death spiral of a White House rightfully deserving of the pronouns I, Me, and Mine.

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MEDIA WATCH-We're just gonna leave this photo here of two smart, tough, accomplished women - one of color, and the first and second in line of succession to the U.S. presidency - on the House dais before Joe Biden's first prime-time speech to a joint session of Congress, which opened for the only time since the reign of George Washington with the mellifluous if woefully belated phrase, "Madam Speaker, Madam Vice-President." (Photo above: Kamala Harris, Nancy Pelosi. AP)

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MEDIA WATCH-Derek Chauvin's been convicted - guilty, guilty, guilty, deeply - but the carnage persists. Since his trial began, police have killed at least 64 more people, totaling over three killings a day; more than half of the dead are black and Latino, among them 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant and 13-year-old Adam Toledo. (Photo above: Phoenix Robles and Dorcas Monari hug after Robles stopped to protect Monari. Photo: Nick Pfosi/Reuters)

Little wonder, then, that during the past few weeks, as people of color have had to painstakingly confront and re-live their "collective, ancestral trauma," the rates of those suffering mental health distress have soared, while the rates of white people haven't changed. So it was that with Chauvin's trial still underway last week, a lone pained black woman in crisis abruptly sat down in the street in Brooklyn Center, Minn., near where Daunte Wright was shot and killed.

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MEDIA WATCH-Bills targeting the transgender community have stalled all over the country this week as legislators debate the effects these laws will have on trans youth.

2021 has marked an onslaught of hate in state legislative sessions across the country as Republicans sponsored bills that seek to limit trans youth’s access to gender affirming health care as well as prohibit their ability to participate in school sports. While several have passed, multiple bills in at least six states have been set aside or gotten veto threats from governors this week. 

In Missouri, after a contentious debate between Republicans and Democrats, the state house agreed to put a proposal on hold that would require athletes to participate on sports teams based on the sex written on their birth certificate. Republican lawmakers argued the bill would protect the safety of cisgender female athletes, while Democrats argued that the bill would put transgender kids at greater risk of suicide and bullying and would also block them from the benefits of team sports.

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MEDIA WATCH--Stupid Is As Stupid Does Dept: A year after the deadly fact, the U.S. continues to see almost 75,000 new COVID cases a day, with a total of over 31 million cases, over 565,000 deaths, and estimated new cases as high as 850,000 by May - the world's most disastrous pandemic response.

Only Brazil's current "humanitarian catastrophe" comes close (but second), for the same reasons: The far-right Jair Bolsonaro's refusal to follow science-based guidelines in the face of what he's doggedly dismissed as "a little flu" in a country that now boasts over a quarter of all global COVID deaths. In America, that top-down fatal stupidity has been aided and abetted by moronic former guy acolytes like Rand 'Throw your mask away' Paul, Cancun 'No more mask and I don't care what the CDC says' Cruz, and Ohio's Gym 'I'm gonna keep yelling at people until they stop asking me about the 177 cases of sexual abuse I pointedly overlooked' Jordan, who all continue to deflect, distort and dispute established science on COVID under the GOP's unholy mantra of, "I'm fine so fuck the rest of you."

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MEDIA WATCH--In a small, scant step toward justice, former Minnesota cop Kim Potter has been arrested and charged with second-degree manslaughter for killing Daunte Wright, 20, during a "traffic stop" - for black people in the U.S., the sinister set-up for what AOC calls "the repeated outcome of an indefensible system that grants immunity for state violence." Police in Brooklyn Center, outside of Minneapolis, ostensibly pulled Wright over Sunday afternoon for an expired tag, or for the air freshener dangling from his mirror, or hey for just driving while black; once they stopped him and found there was a warrant out for him, a clusterfuck of an inept scramble ensued during which Potter, 48, yelled "Taser!" but fatally shot Wright in the chest, because even though she'd been a police officer for 26 years she still somehow mistook her gun for her much-lighter, bright-colored taser on her other side. (Photo above: Potter shooting Wright)

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MEDIA WATCH--Aisha Mills, the powerhouse Black lesbian who previously led the LGBTQ Victory Fund, is not to be trifled with. Former Fox News host Eric Bolling found that out the hard way.

During a BBC debate, Mills’ sharp retort to Bolling’s handwringing left him so upset he stormed out when Mills refused to apologize to him for being offended by what he had said.

During a discussion about Major League Baseball’s (MLB) decision to yank the All-Star Game from Atlanta in response to the state’s draconian new voter suppression laws that are aimed at disenfranchising the votes of people of color, Bolling was very concerned about Black folk.

Not that their civil rights were being violated, but that moving the game to Denver will hurt minority-owned businesses in Atlanta who would have benefited from the game.

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MEDIA WATCH--In the wake of major league baseball abandoning Georgia to protest their new voter-suppression laws, a GOP that incessantly rants about "cancel culture" has continued its death spiral with increasingly crackpot attacks on things they used to love they now want to cancel - baseball, corporations, free speech, OMG the Easter Bunny - with sinister portents pickleball, apple pie, water polo or  barbecues could be next. (Photo above:  Fidel at (communist) bat.)

MLB's conscientious decision to re-locate their All-Star Game and draft, made after always-dangerous "thoughtful conversations" with players and management, has shifted the focus of right-wing hysteria against all things "woke" from football - always suspect given all those black guys, never mind that SOB Kaepernick - to, shockingly, "America's game," even though it's still pretty white so you'd think it would be okay.

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MEDIA WATCH--Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is quietly signaling that he may vote against the Equality Act as sources say that he’s telling colleagues that a massive rightwing call-in campaign has him scared. 

During his campaign, President Joe Biden said that he would sign the Equality Act in his first 100 days in office. But 71 days in and it doesn’t have a clear path in the Senate. Several moderate Republicans have come out against it, and now there’s doubt that even all Democrats support it.

The Equality Act would add sexual orientation and gender identity to existing federal civil rights legislation, extending discrimination protections to LGBTQ people. The bill is popular – 70% of voters support it and even most Republicans support banning discrimination against LGBTQ people – but Christian conservatives fiercely oppose it, arguing that not being allowed to discriminate would violate their religious freedom.

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MEDIA WATCH--Women know that our progress is often characterized by two steps forward, one step back.

For women of color, the obstacles are even greater. And so, as the Biden-Harris administration makes a groundbreaking effort to nominate more women of color to high-level positions, the backlash has been swift and vicious. (Photos above: Deb Haaland (left) and Marcia Fudge (right) / Shutterstock)

Anyone watching cable news will know this already, having seen the strident ad campaigns against an early Justice Department nominee, Vanita Gupta. Gupta is in the vanguard of what we hope will be an historic wave of women of color nominated by the new administration to positions in the executive branch and — importantly — on the federal bench, too.

Gupta is an extraordinarily qualified individual who’s come under fire. So have other extremely qualified nominees — like Deb Haaland (confirmed as Interior Secretary), Marcia Fudge (confirmed as Housing and Urban Development Secretary), and Kristen Clarke (nominated to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division).

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MEDIA WATCH-Last week, the NAACP wrote a letter to the NFL making a request for the good of humanity: stop giving money to fucking Fox News.

Okay, that wasn’t their exact phrasing, but it captures the spirit close enough. And who could fault them? No matter how much you want to pretend Fox News doesn’t exist, the propagandist network is indeed growing more dangerous by the day, and more organizations need to confront that reality. No matter the issue — race relations, the 2020 presidential election, or the ongoing pandemic — day and night they bombard their viewers with racism, sexism, and xenophobia while ignoring mass shootings that don’t fit their narrative. (Fox News couldn’t even be bothered to carry the Boulder Police’s press conference after Monday’s mass shooting.) And their newest tactic is promoting anti-vaccination conspiracy theories that will contribute to the massive (and still rising) coronavirus death toll.

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MEDIA WATCH-To Your Unborn Royal Majesty,

Please forgive me for the protocol breach of writing you in utero.

But after watching your parents—Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex—tell their Santa Barbara County neighbor Oprah Winfrey that you are expected this summer and will be biologically female, I’ve been thinking about what your arrival might mean for California.

We Californians, whether we realize it or not, need you. Because the next great start-up here must be our very own monarchy. And you would be the perfect person to serve as our very first queen.

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MEDIA WATCH--The most dramatic change in American capitalism over the last half century has been the emergence of corporate behemoths like Amazon and the simultaneous shrinkage of organized labor. The resulting imbalance has spawned near-record inequalities of income and wealth, corruption of democracy by big money, and the abandonment of the working class. (Photo above: Jeff Bezos, chairman and founder of Amazon.com and owner of the Washington Post, addresses the Economic Club of New York, at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, October 27, 2016 in New York City. (Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

All this is coming to a head in several ways.

Next week, Amazon faces a union vote at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. If successful, it would be Amazon's first U.S.-based union in its nearly 27-year history.

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MEDIA WATCH--A Japanese court has ruled that the country’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. While the ruling is being celebrated, it doesn’t mean that marriages can start being performed immediately. 

Four other court cases are working their way through the system and the decision by the Sapporo District Court is expected to influence the outcomes.

The court ruled that sexual orientation, like race, is not a matter of individual preference and therefore denying same-sex couples the same benefits as straight couples is unconstitutional.

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MEDIA WATCH--Talk about turning the bleak page: On his first day as Attorney General, the honorable, long maltreated Merrick Garland was movingly welcomed by an applauding crowd of jubilant DOJ employees and survivors of the last regime visibly relieved to witness the return of competence and normalcy. 

Garland, 68, began his career at the DOJ in the 1970s under Jimmy Carter; he described his first interview there at 26 as "awe-inspiring." He already stood out among peers for his integrity: As valedictorian at his high school graduation, he departed from his prepared remarks to give an eloquent oration on the 1st Amendment after an earlier speaker enraged the audience by condemning the Vietnam War. 

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MEDIA WATCH--In hopes of spurring wary Americans to get the COVID vaccine, two national ad campaigns launched Thursday starring all four former presidents - Obama, Bush, Clinton, Carter - who along with their wives urge people, "The science is clear...This is our shot...Now it's up to you."

A joint project of the Covid Collaborative and the Ad Council, a nonprofit that produces PSAs, the ads feature a one-minute spot showing them all being vaccinated, and a 30-second one of Clinton, Bush and Obama at Biden's inauguration, where Obama calls the vaccine "the first step to ending the pandemic and moving our country forward."

Noticeably missing from this pageant of good will and commonality is the former guy, who secretly got vaccinated this winter. He issued a "statement" proving that once a sick, racist, subhuman ghoul, always a sick, racist, subhuman ghoul: "I hope everyone remembers when they're getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China virus) vaccine, that if I wasn't president you wouldnt be getting that beautiful "shot" for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn't be getting it at all.

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MEDIA WATCH-The White House warned states that are considering anti-transgender bills this year that those bills are illegal under federal law.

“The president believes that trans rights are human rights and that no one should be discriminated on the basis of sex. Not only is this the law of the land, it’s his own deeply held view,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki during a press briefing.

Psaki was asked about President Joe Biden’s views on the dozens of states that are considering anti-transgender laws. According to HRC’s latest count, 37 bills have been proposed in state legislatures that would ban transgender girls and women from playing school sports.

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MEDIA WATCH--White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki is a master at shutting down “gotcha” questions from right-wing reporters. Owen Jensen of the EWTN Global Catholic Network found out the hard way.

Jensen asked Psaki about the Equality Act, landmark civil rights legislation that would protect LGBTQ people, women, and the disabled from discrimination. The bill is opposed by the religious right who have been making wild claims about “religious freedom” and transgender teenagers.

“There’s pro-life groups, right now, who are very concerned about the phrase ‘pregnancy discrimination’ in the Equality Act — you’re familiar with that, I’m sure — that it would force doctors to perform abortions even if it violates their conscience,” Jensen said. “There are also concerns the bill would force doctors to perform gender transition surgeries and sterilizations, again, even if the violates their conscience.”

“What does the president — President Biden — say about those concerns?”

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MEDIA WATCH--CPAC 2021! Wingnut City on Steroids! The first day of this year's exercise in flamboyant delusion featured a parade of alternate-reality speakers laboring hard and loud to out-bonkers-and-hoodwink each other, with impressive results. 

There was Ted 'Braveheart' Cruz, devotee of violent insurrection, who ended his incoherent speech by shrieking "FREEDOM!" - from masks, Democrats, people making fun of Cancun? - in an attempt to channel William Wallace without the face-paint, we think, though many noted Wallace got drawn and quartered and Cruz is just like Wallace "except for all the courage, honor, patriotism, bravery, strength, integrity, morality, virtue, toughness, wisdom, fearlessness, goodness, scruples and righteousness" which makes him "less like Braveheart and more like Naivefart." 

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MEDIA WATCH-I missed the first round of talk about the New York Times’ publication of a moving and forthright letter by Woody Allen’s adopted daughter, Dylan, regarding his alleged sexual molestation of her over two decades ago. 

Woody Allen is an American icon as well as a human being capable of all things human, perhaps including the capacity for exercising the inhumanity of humans.

I admire those on this website who have taken on the subject and expressed a philosophical and/or moral stance about Allen’s reported alleged behavior. 

It is a troubling scenario with only speculation not evidentiary confirmation achievable from our distance as citizens and consumers.  His alleged crime is certainly inflammatory in nature and thus all the more fodder to be sensationally skewed by a mainstream corporate media so often less than reliable in framing scenarios within mature, moral, restrained and empathetic boundaries. 

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MEDIA WATCH--Donald Trump reported making more than $1.6 billion in outside revenue and income during his four years as President of the United States, according to a review of his financial disclosures by CREW. While Trump publicly took credit for donating his taxpayer-funded salary, that ended up being less than 0.1% of the revenue and income he disclosed during his presidency. Far from being a sacrifice, the donation was merely a fig leaf to cover up four years of brazen corruption.

Despite seeing a major dropoff in hospitality related revenue in 2020 due to the pandemic, in total Trump disclosed at least $1,613,583,013 in revenue from the Trump Organization and other outside income. Trump disclosed a high end of $1,790,614,202, but it is impossible to know exactly how much he pocketed as president, as some of his assets list a vague “Over $5,000,000” in yearly income and because of the structure of Trump Organization businesses, reported revenue does not necessarily reflect his personal income from them. One of the reports also included 19 days of revenue and income before Trump assumed the presidency.

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