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You Mean To Tell Me It’s Only Tuesday?

And Put Up a Parking Lot

“Robert Meacham, who became a Florida state senator after being freed from slavery, is one of more than 1,200 people buried at a site that is now believed to be a parking lot for the Italian Club Cemetery in Tampa, Fla. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Meacham’s unmarked grave was located in the College Hill Cemetery for Blacks and Cubans–which has long been erased. In an effort to rectify this, the local NAACP branch in Tampa has challenged the city to commemorate Juneteenth by funding an archaeological survey of the Italian Club Cemetery lot to find out if Meacham’s body and others are there. The Times reports that Tampa wrongfully taxed College Hill Cemetery in 1926, and ultimately took possession of the land after the owners refused to pay. The Italian Club–which was founded as a place for Tampa’s Italian community to socialize and “overcome many of the social and economic challenges that confronted those “turn-of-the-century” immigrants from Italy”–bought the land that once was home to College Hill in 1950.The newspaper says that there is no record of bodies being moved from the site. So, what happens now? City of Tampa officials told the Times that at this point, no one from the NAACP or The Italian Club has reached out to the city about the missing graves, but they are “looking forward to being part of any future conversations. The Times reached out to the Italian Club executive director, Mark Stanish, to ask if the organization would fund the archeological survey. They did not hear back from him.” The Roots: Senator May Be Buried Under What’s Now A Tampa Parking Lot Well this is about to be like a game of who’s on first. Everyone is already passing the buck and getting amnesia. I hope they locate these graves and if the remains are under a parking lot, I hope those people get the memorial and resting place they deserve. 

Voting Rights in Name Only

“Attorney General Merrick Garland laid out the DOJ plan to protect voting rights and announced that the department’s Civil Rights Division would begin staffing up to aid enforcement efforts. According to Garland, the voting section of the Civil Rights Division will double its staff of lawyers “within the next thirty days,” and the DOJ will renew its efforts to use existing laws, such as the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the National Voter Registration Act, and the Help America Vote Act, to “ensure that we protect every qualified American seeking to participate in our democracy.” That sounds good and all but the issue is that “at least 14 states, including swing states like Arizona, Florida, and Georgia, have imposed new voting restrictions, and Texas Democrats narrowly (and possibly only temporarily) blocked similar measures.” So what laws are you upholding? 

“Garland was also forthright about the DOJ’s limitations in the wake of the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which struck down a key portion of the Voting Rights Act. According to the Court’s ruling in Shelby, the preclearance formula which defined which states and localities were subject to preclearance, or approval by the federal DOJ before changing their voting laws was out-of-date and unconstitutional. Prior to Shelby, nine states — Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia — were governed by the federal preclearance requirement, as were some areas in California, Florida, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, and South Dakota.” Vox: The DOJ has a plan to protect voting rights. It might not be enough. So while this sounds great as a speech, in reality, there is not much the DOJ can do to ensure I can vote in elections here in Georgia. They can’t stop the states from making the restrictive laws so without Congress moving on H.R. 1, the states are kind of on their own. The voting rights act has been so eroded to be almost effectively useless. The only thing the DOJ can do is fight states after the fact and that’s just not good enough. 

Shady Approvals

“Three experts have now resigned from a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee after the agency approved an Alzheimer’s drug called Aduhelm against the wishes of nearly every member on the panel. The drug — its generic name is aducanumab — was approved last Monday, setting off a variety of responses, from celebrations among some patients, caregivers and doctors to pointed questions about the drug’s benefits and costs. At the time of approval, two large studies offered conflicting evidence about whether the treatment slows declines in memory and thinking. A panel of expert advisers to the FDA recommended in November that the agency not approve the drug. As a condition of approval, the FDA is requiring Biogen, the drug’s maker, to conduct another clinical study to confirm that the reduction of amyloid plaques results in clinical improvement for patients. If the subsequent study doesn’t show a clinical improvement, the agency could move to withdraw the approval. NPR: 3 Experts Have Resigned From An FDA  I have always had a problem with the makers of the drugs doing their own clinical studies. There is too much money in pharmaceuticals to not recognize that conflict of interest. And the experts from the panel saying we don’t want any parts of this is scary. So, buyer beware. 

Hide Your Puppies

“The pandemic has been good for dog thieves. With the demand for pets surging – as loads of us spent all day, every day at home – prices for dogs soared, and criminals looked to capitalise. In a new VICE documentary, they meet a gang that grabs dogs from parks and people’s homes, and discover why illegal puppy farms have become one of the fastest growing illicit markets in Europe. The number of stolen dogs in the UK rose by 19 percent over 2020 compared to the previous year, in the most immediately apparent form of dog-related crime. But illegal importation has also risen considerably, with desirable breeds bred in puppy farms shipped over to the UK to supply everyone desperate for a French bulldog, Pomeranian or Dachshund pup.” Vice: The Gangs That Steal Your Puppies This is just….sad. Humans never cease to amaze me. 

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