Author: lafocus

Research Reveals Lack of ‘Cuddle Hormone’ Makes Some Animals Eat Their Young

SIVAS, Turkey—Groundbreaking research in Turkey has shed some light on one of the mysteries of the animal kingdom: Why mothers sometimes kill and eat their own young.
Known as maternal cannibalism, the phenomenon been blamed on everything from the fact that it provides a mother with much-needed nutrients and energy, to the fact it might make her more attractive to a potential new mate, or that the offspring being disposed of are either unwell or taking too long to develop.
But thanks to research carried out at Cumhuriyet University in Sivas, Turkey, involving a local breed of dog, it appears that maternal cannibalism may be caused by the absence of key hormone produced by female animals that’s vital in helping mothers bond with their offspring.

Here’s how that discovery came about: Sivas, located in a central Turkey province of the same name, has a largely agricultural economy which includes sheep that need to be protected from bears, wolves and jackals. That role is carried out by shepherds often using the locally bred Kangal shepherd dog, a large livestock guardian breed that’s also been exported to such places as Africa.
The Kangal, a type of mastiff, is large enough to protect its flock even from lions and cheetahs, and it has a strong protective nature that applies not just to the flock that it guards but also to people.
But dog breeders contacted the Turkish university five years ago with a problem: the breed had demonstrated a frequent tendency for mothers to eat their own puppies within the first two weeks of their birth. They asked the university for help, and Mustafa Kockaya, 38, an assistant professor there, agreed to take on the challenge.
“As this is a local breed, there was a strong connection with our institution, and a desire to do something to help” Kockaya said in an exclusive interview with Zenger News. “We agreed to take it on as a study project, and it has lasted six years so far.”
When it came to understanding why such animals were eating their puppies, researchers launched two studies: The first was to try to find the reason for maternal cannibalism and the second was to find a treatment to stop it from happening again.
As Kockaya tried to identify the factors that distinguished mother dogs that ate their puppies from those that did not, he noticed that those in the latter category seemed to exhibit significantly more affection for their puppies than those that did. That led him to closely monitor a female Kangal that reportedly devoured 15 of her puppies.
Kockaya’s investigation included testing the dog’s hormonal levels, including oxytocin, the so-called “cuddle hormone.” Oxytocin is a key part of childbirth in many placental mammals including humans, strengthening the contractions of the uterus, stopping any bleeding after the birth and encouraging lactation. But it is also said  to strengthen the mother’s positive feelings towards the newborn.
And it was at dangerously low levels in the dogs that were eating their own puppies, researchers found.
After identifying the hormone deficiency, Kockaya then teamed with Associate Professor Yasemin Salgırlı Demirbas from Ankara University’s veterinary medicine faculty, and together they found that injecting the missing oxytocin hormone in Kangal mothers immediately after giving birth stopped them from consuming their puppies.
“This study is first of its kind and was very important for me. Dog owners view mothers eating their puppies as monsters and either abandon them or put them to death.” Kockaya said. “Our study and treatment could save future generations of Kangal dogs.”
The discovery could also be significant for other types of animals that practice maternal cannibalism. Kockaya says he has received e-mails from around the world asking about that possibility.
But he’s unsure that will be the case. “Separate studies are needed for it, as we don’t know if other cases of cannibalism stem from the same cause.” Given that, Kockaya is planning to begin researching if other dog breeds can be deterred from killing their young with “cuddle hormone” injections.
He also said that therapy might have some applicability to humans.
“Maybe similar studies can be done on [human] mothers who do not accept their babies. The oxytocin hormone has many receptor regions in the body, and if medical doctors wanted to do studies on the subject, we would be happy to share our research.”
(Edited by Matthew Hall and Allison Elyse Gualtieri.)



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El bono de 40 billones de los migrantes mexicanos enviado a casa desde Estados Unidos

Los trabajadores migrantes en los Estados Unidos están enviando dinero de regreso a México a un ritmo que totaliza 40 billones este año, estableciendo un nuevo récord.

Las familias mexicanas están dependiendo cada vez más de parientes que han ingresado a Estados Unidos, en violación de la ley federal, para trabajar. El Covid-19 ha recortado empleos, ha subido los precios de los alimentos y ha dificultado el acceso a la atención médica en ambos lados de la frontera. Los dólares enviados a través de Western Union y otros sistemas similares de transferencia de efectivo, conocidos como remesas, pueden ser salvavidas para los parientes. Ahora son la principal fuente de divisas para México.

El total para el mes de junio alcanzó 3.5 billones de dólares, incremento de 11.1 % en relación al cierre de junio de 2019, de acuerdo con el Banco de México.

 

En el primer semestre de 2020, el envío de reservas mantuvo una tendencia ascendente a una tasa anual en términos reales de 23.8 %, que representaron ingresos por 19 billones de dólares. Eso fue 10.6 % más que en el mismo periodo de 2019, con 17.2 billones de dólares.
Para el Centro de Estudios de las Finanzas Públicas de la Cámara de Diputados –Congreso Federal- el número de envíos fue de 10.3, cifra 9.4 % superior a la de hace un año. La remesa promedio por operación al mes de junio fue de 340 dólares, 1.5 % superior a lo reportado en el primer semestre del año pasado, que fue de 335 dólares.

Para dimensionar el impacto en la economía mexicana por la crisis sanitaria de Covid-19, el banco español en México, BBVA Research, reportó que en el primer semestre del año, 19 estados presentaron crecimientos en el flujo de remesas y 3 las vieron disminuir.
Para  Baja California, se contabilizó en 36.9 % mayor la recepción de remesas, y en esa misma dinámica destacaron, Sonora con  17.3 %; Sinaloa, 16.7 %; Chihuahua, 15.5 % y Jalisco, 14.6%.

Mientras que la caída en los flujos en el envío de dólares se observaron en las entidades del sureste de México, como Tabasco, con menos 29.6 %; Yucatán, 19.9 % y Tlaxcala, un negativo de 19.4 %.

A pesar del declive económico por la crisis del Covid, está inyección de recursos de los indocumentados contribuyen significativamente a la economía de millones de familias mexicanas. En la Unión Americana  residen y laboran alrededor de 26 millones de connacionales.

Su contribución es reconocida por la Presidencia de México al asegurar que las remesas son la principal fuente de divisas.

Para, Wendy Carrera, Cleofás Hernández, Adriana González, Graciela Medel, Ethelvina Cortés, entre los millones de mexicanos que reciben dinero procedente de los Estados Unidos, las remesas representan “una bocanada de oxígeno”, toda vez que en tiempos de pandemia se vio mermada su economía ante el confinamiento.

Coinciden que el “dinerito” que reciben les ha permitido en algunos casos mantener la educación de sus hijos, construir su vivienda, reactivar la siembra de sus tierras, adquisición de medicamento  en el caso de las enfermedades crónicas, el pago de servicios, deudas y consumo diario que representa una casa.

Ellos reconocen que sus familiares se vieron obligados a incrementar la cantidad de dinero que enviaban habitualmente ante situaciones provocadas por el Covid-19.

No sólo México se vio beneficiado con el envío de remesas de Estados Unidos. BBVA Reserch, sostiene que en Latinoamérica y el Caribe este fenómeno caracterizó al mes de junio, en donde los países más representativos fueron República Dominicana con un incremento de  25.7% más de envíos; Guatemala, 9.2% y El Salvador 9.8%.

(Editado por Rafael Prieto y Fern Siegel.)



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Violent Video of Killing Amps Up Cameroon’s Anglophone Conflict

Margaret Lum Timasam, 62, was working on her farm in Muyuka, in Southwest Cameroon, when her daughter died. Comfort Timasam, a 33-year-old mother of two, was killed by suspected separatists demanding independence from Cameroon.

“I was working on my farm when, suddenly, other farmers approached,” said Timasam. “They told me my daughter was killed by amba [separatist fighters] because she was a blackleg [a traitor]. How…she did nothing wrong?’’

Violence has torn through the Anglophone regions of Cameroon since lawyers and teachers went on strike in 2016 in peaceful protest against a government they charge is attempting to wipe out cultural values of the community, namely, Common Law and Anglo-Saxon Sub-System of education.

 

The Yaounde regime, led by President Paul Biya, 87, in power for 38 years, took the demonstrations as an act of rebellion to be crushed by the military. Timasam’s death is a painful reminder of the many gruesome killings in the escalating Anglophone conflict. 

In April, Cameroon acknowledged the army’s role in the killing of at least 13 civilians after initially denying responsibility. In a video that went viral on social media, Timasam’s hands are tied as she is brutalized and beheaded by suspected armed separatists who accused her of conniving with the Cameroon military.

Minister of Communication Rene Emmanuel Sadi said the Cameroon government “strongly condemns these heinous acts committed by secessionist terrorist gangs who, for absurd, illegitimate and unacceptable motives, continue to kill honest and innocent citizens all around.”

The Cameroon military launched a manhunt for the separatists, resulting in the arrest of dozens of suspects. Territorial Administration Minister Paul Atanga Nji restricted weapons, including machetes and iron rods, in English-speaking regions.

Timasam’s gruesome Aug. 11 murder sent shock waves throughout the country. Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, in a statement, said the UN “unequivocally condemns this atrocious act of violence,” calling on the authorities to “swiftly launch an investigation into these allegations and ensure that those responsible are brought to justice.”

The secessionist forces who took up arms against the state to defend their people number between 2,000 and 4,000 armed fighters.  They are splintered into two rival so-called Ambazonia interim governments.

One is led by Sisiku Julius Ayuk Tabe, the self-proclaimed president of Ambazonia, the state the revolution sought to create. He is currently serving a life sentence for terrorism and secession charges at a maximum-security prison in Yaounde.

The other group is headed by Samuel Ikome Sako, a U.S.-based former pastor, and the interim president of the unrecognized Federal Republic of Ambazonia. The split in the movement followed the arrest of Ayuk Tabe in Nigeria, along with nine other senior officials on their extradition to Cameroon.

Cameroon was once a single entity before and during German colonial rule from 1884-1916. The English-speaking people of Cameroon, who currently live in the northwest and southwest regions of the country, became distinct after British rule. Following a  1961 UN-organized plebiscite, these Cameroonians formed a federation with the Francophones, also a separate people after French rule. (In 1919, Britain and France divided the country; each administered their own territory. The territories achieved independence in 1961 and 1960, respectively.)

The Federal State structure later changed to a unitary state in 1972 after an organized referendum. Since then, Anglophone Cameroonians have been in a constant war to assert themselves and protect their cultural identity in a Francophone-dominated, centralized Cameroon.

Experts attribute the escalation of the war to other factors, as well.

“The conflict is the consequence of the lack of political will on the part of the government and her international partners to carry out a genuine and deep analysis of the conflict in order to understand its intricacies and be able to adapt interventions that respond to its deep-seated historical and structural causes,” said Dr. William Hermann Arrey, senior lecturer and chair of the Department of Peace and Development Studies at the Protestant University of Central Africa.

Cameroon has undertaken a number of initiatives to end the war, including the organization of a national forum to solve the conflict internally code-named the  Major National Dialogue.

“The President of the Republic had said there is some pertinence in the demands made by the lawyers and teachers, and the government did a lot through dialogue to come to terms with more than what they asked for,” said Professor Elvis Ngolle Ngolle, political scientist and member of the Central Committee of the Cameroon People’s Democratic Movement.

Such measures may not be enough.

“The government should establish a national action plan for genuine talks with leaders of the population. The Anglophone non-state armed groups should participate with goodwill in genuine dialogue should the government launch it,” Arrey said.

(Edited by Blake French and Fern Siegel)



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First Lady Heather Bourne

First Lady Heather Bourne can do it all. She’s the author of the recently released, 31-day devotional book, “Look On The Bright Side,” producer and host of the show, “Eat, Move, Live,” a Second Baptist Church representative for their City of Hope partnership, a mother of two and works in real estate management full time. But despite all of the things on her plate, she says that her main priority as first lady is to be a support system for her husband and pastor Chris Bourne. 

“My first ministry is my husband because as long as he’s prayed up and doing well with everything at home, that helps him be free to do ministry for the church,” Bourne said.

Bourne grew up in Detroit, Michigan and spent her teen and college years in Georgia. She met Chris through a very unlikely person – her ex-boyfriend.

“My ex and I were friends and he knew I was a church girl,” she jokingly recalled. “He met my husband at a barbershop while they were waiting to get their hair cut.”

Even though she’s been a first lady for 16 years, the couple took over Second Baptist Church right before the pandemic hit and now she’s looking forward to getting back in church and truly getting to know the congregation.

“We want to continue to love on the people. Especially for me, the women. I’m very transparent, very real and very relatable,” she expressed. “I just want to encourage the women to follow God but at the same time, through their testimony, know their journey is going to bless someone else.”

First Lady Khalilah Tulloss

When First Lady Khalilah Tulloss met Reverend K.W. Tulloss of the Historical Weller Street Baptist Church as a child, she never thought they’d end up married. But after reconnecting after a few years, the rest was history.

            Khalilah was born in Arkansas but moved to Gardena, California at a young age. Growing up in a first family, she’s very familiar with the ins and outs of being a first lady after watching her mother.

“(The role) is important because you have the ability to impact other women and young people so I definitely take the role seriously,” she expressed. “But at the same time, I think I can just be me. I know I’m representing God and I know that I have to carry myself in a way that is respectful and can be an example for other people.”

            Khalilah became first lady just as the coronavirus pandemic hit, and although she hasn’t been able to have much face-to-face interaction with the congregation, she’s excited to be more involved when things return to normal.

            “I do plan to be very involved in the women’s ministry. I think women play a very important role in the church and can really help to shape and mentor the younger women in the church,” she expressed. “I also really want to be involved with the youth. Education is very important to me.”

            Khaliliah is looking forward to getting back in the building with everyone, saying, “For me it would be a ‘thank God’ type of celebration, being thankful and grateful that we made it, we survived the pandemic and now we’re able to come back into the house of worship.”

T.D. Jakes’ Woman Thou Art Loosed Goes Virtual

Staff

T.D. Jakes’ has announced that his popular “Woman, Thou Art Loosed” conference will be virtual after this year’s in-person event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. A platform is expected to be announced soon for the event that has become the largest black women’s inspirational conference in the U.S., attracting upwards of 80,000 attendees and becoming the inspiration for a 2004 film. 

This will be the conference’s first digital offering in its 20-plus year history. The 2020 in-person event was originally set to be the last conference, but the final event will now take place in-person next year in Atlanta.

“We came to this conclusion with the highest concern for everyone’s health and security,” Jakes said in a press release about the rescheduling. “Even though COVID-19 has brought unique challenges for being together this year, I am already looking forward to seeing women in person from around the world in 2021 as we convene in Atlanta.”

The conference that offers workshops, keynote speakers and special guests to tackle various subjects and issues that women face daily began as a Sunday School class taught by Jakes that he said “really struck into a reservoir of human need, dealing with women being trapped by emotional, mental, physical pain, trauma, abuse, childhood scars. And it was just a message to say that you can get over it; that you can get beyond it; that you can still be somebody; that you don’t have to be ensnared by where you came from. It was very simplistic, but it was very needed.”

The conference has played host to some of the biggest names in the national faith community including Paula White, Juanita Bynum and Joyce Meyers.

“It’s been amazing. It’s been an incredible career,” Jakes reflected. “Over 30 years I’ve been doing ‘Woman Thou Art Loosed.’ 43 years I’ve been preaching the gospel. I’m not retiring from the ministry, but I do think it’s important to know when to bow out, to go after other things, not to do things just out of tradition, but to move on to other messages.”

Tickets already purchased for the 2020 in-person event have been automatically transferred to the rescheduled 2021 Atlanta event and will also allow eventgoers to access the virtual experience this October.

Session speakers for the virtual experience include Bishop T.D. Jakes, Serita Jakes, Sarah Jakes Roberts and Cora Jakes Coleman. The conference plans to touch on current topics, including social justice in entertainment, mental health and how to turn anger into action.

More than 1,600 Californians have been evicted during pandemic

By Matt Levin, Nigel Duara and Erica Yee, Cal Matters

Like any parent, Jamie Burson didn’t want her 11-year-old son to discover how frightened she really was about the novel coronavirus. But it’s hard to mask anxiety when you’re living and sleeping together in the same car.

After Burson was evicted from her two bedroom apartment in Vacaville the second week of April, she heeded Gov. Gavin Newsom’s order to shelter in place by cooping up in a two-door sedan near her Walmart job. With school campuses shuttered, her son propped his school-issued laptop on top of the glovebox and attended class in the same passenger seat he slept in. It helped that he could occasionally spend a night at a relative’s or friend’s house, although Burson hesitated to ask to sleep there herself, partly out of fear of spreading the virus to friends and family.

“I was scared because of how many people were dying on a daily basis,” said Burson, who was evicted for a late February rent payment. “Made me feel like mankind was going to go extinct. I’ve never lived to see any type of disease take people out the way this one has.” 

More than 1,600 California households like Burson’s have been evicted since Newsom declared a statewide state of emergency March 4, according to data CalMatters obtained via public record requests from more than 40 California sheriffs’ departments. Nearly a third of those evictions took place after Newsom’s March 19 shelter-in-place order, and more than 400 since Newsom issued a self-described March 27 “eviction moratorium.” 

The 1,600 evictions are likely a significant undercount of how many renters have been forced to leave their homes since the pandemic struck, as both court-sanctioned and informal evictions often do not show up on the sheriffs’ lockout lists obtained by CalMatters. Additionally, sheriffs’ departments in 14 counties did not respond to data requests; more than 14 million Californians live in those counties, including Los Angeles County with 10 million residents.

Newsom’s moratorium — which tenant groups criticized as belated and inadequate — focused on delaying eviction cases related to financial hardship from the pandemic until May 31. An April 6 emergency rule passed by the Judicial Council, the governing body for the state court system, went further, halting nearly all eviction court proceedings in California. 

But neither Newsom’s executive orders nor the Judicial Council rule addressed a major subset of eviction cases: tenants like Burson who already lost in court, often for missed rent payments in February or March, and were simply waiting on sheriffs’ deputies to lock them out. Federal eviction moratoria also did not stop these evictions. 

As state lawmakers scramble to find a solution for a looming “eviction wave” when courts reopen as early as this month, tenant groups and public health experts warn that the loophole in state protections continues to endanger renters who may become homeless or move into unsafe and overcrowded housing. 

Just last week, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department resumed serving its backlog of nearly 1,000 scheduled eviction lockouts, even as the county remains on a state watchlist for surging coronavirus cases. When performing eviction lockouts in the past few months, San Bernardino County sheriff’s deputies encountered two separate households where tenants claimed they were quarantining because of COVID-19, according to a sheriff’s spokesperson. Those households were allowed to complete their quarantine before being evicted. 

“(These evictions) could have been prevented, and it really is distressing to hear that this many people have been evicted when we have these shelter-in-place orders,” said Madeline Howard, senior staff attorney at the Western Center on Law and Poverty, which has lobbied for tighter eviction protections during the pandemic.

Unclear authority

Burson now stays in a one-bedroom motel room in Fairfield, paid for by a temporary Solano County homelessness program. She’s unsure where she’ll live once the program ends this week.

She was evicted because of a late February rent payment, lost the eviction lawsuit by default when she says she misunderstood how to respond within the legally required five-day window, and was given until early April to vacate the property. She left before she thought law enforcement was scheduled to lock her out.

While she understands that it was technically within her landlord’s right to kick her out, she wonders why the eviction wasn’t postponed. 

“Why wasn’t everything set aside, period?” said Burson, who had been living in the Vacaville apartment more than a year.

ROEM Development Corporation, owner of the apartment complex from which Burson was evicted, and FPI Management, the building’s property management company, did not respond to requests for comment. 

Upon being informed by CalMatters that Burson was no longer occupying the apartment, Todd Rothbard, the landlord attorney who represented ROEM in the eviction lawsuit, said his firm would consider no longer contesting a legal motion Burson had filed to remove the eviction from her record. Evictions stay on tenant records for seven years, and can make it very difficult for renters to find another place to live. 

But although Rothbard sympathizes with some tenants, he pushed back on the notion that Burson should not have been evicted in the first place. 

“Life can be hard,” Rothbard said. “To the extent people need help, it’s nice to see when society is able to provide help. But it is somewhat unfair to say to a landlord who is in business ‘Hey, it’s now your obligation to support this person.’  Because it’s not.” 

Rothbard also said Newsom and the Judicial Council have already overstepped their constitutional powers by the eviction protections they’ve mandated. Instructing sheriffs to not perform eviction lockouts would likely be challenged in court. 

Some constitutional law experts say it’s at best unclear what is and isn’t within Newsom’s power when it comes to “enforcing writs” in eviction cases — legalese for court orders to sheriffs’ departments to perform lockouts. Separation of powers between the court system and the executive branch complicate his authority. 

“While a governor possesses broad authority under the Emergency Services Act to respond to the pandemic, directing county sheriffs to disobey or slow-walk lawful court orders is beyond a governor’s emergency powers,” said Stephen Duvernay, a senior research fellow at UC Berkeley’s California Constitution Center.

But pro-tenant attorneys disagree, arguing Newsom has remarkable powers during public emergencies — powers they urged the governor to deploy in early March as the first reports of hospitalizations and deaths mounted.

Navneet Grewal, litigation counsel for Disability Rights California, said that there was nothing legally restraining Newsom from ordering sheriffs to stop performing evictions for cases that pre-dated the pandemic. Newsom had included such a provision in one of his executive orders, although it only applied to cases where tenants could demonstrate financial hardship because of the virus.  

“I think part of the unique thing here really is that there is no precedent of the situation that we’re in,” Grewal said. “There’s clearly a lot of broad powers to deal with emergencies; we just haven’t had an emergency like this in our lifetime.”

The Newsom administration declined multiple requests for comment. 

Tenant groups also approached Attorney General Xavier Becerra to intervene.

“The reports of ongoing evictions in communities across the state and in the midst of the public health crisis are profoundly troubling,” Becerra’s press office said in an emailed statement. “Our office does not have the authority to direct Sheriffs to refuse to comply with lawful orders issued by Courts hearing eviction cases.” 

But pro-tenant lawyers say Becerra is constitutionally empowered to oversee how local law enforcement executes court orders. 

“I think the attorney general seems to have some priorities that are focused on dealing with the Trump administration, which are obviously very important,” Howard said. “But some of these very important issues are not getting addressed.”

Sheriff choices

On the morning of March 19, Sgt. Lydia Montoya anxiously awaited an announcement from the governor. She had heard news reports that a shelter-in-place order was coming. 

The civil unit she oversees at the Kings County Sheriff’s Department had performed three evictions already that day, which they believed they were legally obligated to carry out. But Montoya and other officers in the department harbored concerns about the potential health risks — to the community and the deputies themselves — of pushing renters onto the street. 

When Newsom issued the shelter-in-place order that afternoon, Montoya believed she had the legal justification she needed to stop evicting people. Conferring with a county attorney and the publicly elected sheriff, the department decided to stop performing eviction lockouts except in emergency cases that threatened public health and safety. Six evictions on their calendar have been indefinitely postponed. If the shelter-in-place order had come a day earlier, so would the three performed the morning of the 19th.  

“The (shelter-in-place) order implies that it is a public safety issue to have people out and about,” said Montoya, who also supplied her deputies with handmade masks before her department acquired personal protective equipment. “And certainly evicting people, them out and about looking for rentals or whatnot, or making them homeless, is not in line with his shelter-in-place order.” 

But not every California sheriff’s department shared Kings County’s interpretation of the governor’s executive order. Without clear guidance from the state, individual sheriffs’ departments were left to choose whether to continue with evictions already on their lockout calendars. 

Many did just that. According to data obtained by CalMatters, three counties in the Inland Empire and Central Valley led the pack: San Bernardino, with 135 evictions since shelter-in-place; Riverside, with 93; and Kern County, with 68. 

“It was a combination of considerations looking at both sides, obviously with the stay-at-home orders as well as the other side of the actual landlords and the people that own the property and their ability to make rent, pay bills and things like that,” said Adam Plugge, a commander at the Kern County Sheriff’s Office that oversees its eviction unit.

After Kern County sheriff’s deputies paused lockouts in late March, Plugge said his department fielded phone calls and emails from frustrated landlords and attorneys, including those referred his way from local elected officials. The lockouts resumed in April. 

Plugge said that an explicit directive from the state would have avoided considerable confusion.

“It would have made decisions a lot easier to decide whether or not something could be done, and I think it would have been clearer for the public as well going forward in any shape, fashion or form,” Plugge said.

Evicting without masks

On July 1, deputies from the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Department showed up at 7886 Myrtle Avenue in Eureka to tell Ernie Bull and Mary Wildman the two had to leave.

Bull, 59, had lost a dispute with his step-brother about who should inherit the property he had been living at with his late father and step-mother. Bull said he missed a key court date because he accidentally dialed into the wrong Zoom number for a remote court hearing. Humboldt County Superior Court stopped in-person hearings because of coronavirus.

A group of Wildman’s friends were there to help them with the move. While some of their friends wore masks, Bull and Wildman didn’t — and neither did the sheriff’s deputies who came to evict them. 

“If we can socially distance six feet away, then we’re not going to wear a mask,” said Lt. Mike Fridley, who oversees the department’s eviction unit. 

While he couldn’t speak to the specifics of Bull and Wildman’s eviction, Fridley said that his deputies carry masks with them, and can put them on at their own discretion. Wearing masks makes it difficult for the deputies to use their radios, he said.

Like most sheriffs’ departments, Humboldt County deputies typically perform multiple lockouts on the same day at different addresses. On the day they evicted Bull and Wildman, three other addresses were scheduled for lockouts, according to sheriff’s department documents. 

Asked if he believed there was a health risk in performing multiple evictions on the same day, Fridley said “I wouldn’t see any more risk than five people going to the cashier’s line in Costco.” 

Dr. Margot Kushel, director at the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations, said she knows of no documented case of sheriffs’ deputies spreading coronavirus through eviction lockouts. But she does fear a “nightmare scenario.” 

“If you had a situation where there was a group of deputies going into different people’s households in a highly charged atmosphere, where people might be upset and might be yelling, I think you could potentially have risks for both the deputies going in and for the households being evicted,” Kushel said. 

Other sheriffs’ departments interviewed for this story say they require deputies to wear protective gear while performing lockouts. 

Neither Bull nor Wildman — who has kidney problems — have shown symptoms of the coronavirus since the eviction. Wildman has been staying at a friend’s place, while Bull has slept outside. 

“I want to stay away from people. I’m scared,” said Bull. “I gotta admit, I’m scared.”

Landlord costs

Of course, keeping tenants in a unit for multiple months while they can’t pay rent has a cost. For Karen Clark, that cost is $10,000 — and the fear of falling behind on her mortgage. 

Clark, who owns and lives in a triplex in walking distance from the University of Southern California, rents one of her units to a single father and his twin teenage daughters. She was charging $2,400 for the unit — a deal she said was well below market value for the three-bed, three-bath home near downtown Los Angeles. 

“I just really liked them and I wanted to help them,” said Clark, who preferred the stability of renting to families instead of students. 

Her tenant began to fall behind in his rent payments last fall when his catering business began to decline, according to Clark. Then COVID-19 hit this spring — evaporating most of what remained of her tenant’s income and, along with it, the rent.

Clark said she had seriously considered evicting the tenant in March, but never filed the necessary paperwork with a court. Now those courts are closed to new eviction cases, and Clark said she has been digging into her savings to pay for utilities and other costs. She has explored forbearance options on her mortgage, but was scared of the prospect of a lump-sum payment due at the end of the forbearance period. 

“I don’t know what to do,” said Clark, who has kept her job working at City National Bank during the pandemic. “I’ve got to get my cash back. I went through some of my savings, now I’m robbing other bills. It’s just not gonna give forever.” 

Clark helps financially support her son and grandchild in Oregon, and rents her other unit to her daughter and son-in-law. When courts resume eviction proceedings, she plans on filing.

Stopgap measures

While sheriffs’ departments across the state continue evictions for cases that pre-date the pandemic, Newsom and state lawmakers are scrambling to head off what experts say is a looming “eviction wave” of tenants who have lost their income because of COVID-19. A UC Berkeley analysis found that as of June, nearly 1 million renter heads of households in California lost their job because of COVID-19. 

Two proposals to compensate landlords and prevent more evictions are making their way through the Legislature, but both face daunting questions about how they’ll actually work. 

California State Supreme Court Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who chairs the state Judicial Council, said the state court system could resume eviction proceedings as early as Aug. 14th. If tenants contest them, proceedings can take weeks. Because supplemental federal unemployment benefits of $600 per week expired last month, tenants groups fear swelling ranks of renters unable to afford a roof over their heads. 

Unless the state intervenes or a new round of federal support is extended, 24-year old Gabriella Aldana is one of those at-risk renters, and could be evicted for the second time since the virus hit California.

Just before 10 a.m. on March 26, three Riverside County Sheriff’s deputies banged on Aldana’s front door. None of the deputies wore a mask, she said, and they told her she had to leave the premises with her two children, ages 6 and 3. The family was permitted to take only what they could carry. 

Aldana, then two months pregnant, and her two children piled what they could into her 2013 Honda Accord and drove off into a pandemic at a time when public health officials didn’t know much about the virus. 

She left her job at Walmart, she said, over fears of infecting her daughters or complicating her own pregnancy. The night of her eviction, she stayed in a hotel, then moved in for a few days with her parents. She eventually found a studio apartment for the April for $1170. After that, they moved into a two-bedroom duplex in downtown Riverside. The new place is beyond their current means, but also the only place that would accept Aldana, who said she has bad credit. 

She has survived on unemployment benefits and, especially, the $600 weekly federal unemployment boost. 

If the federal unemployment boost isn’t renewed by late August, Aldana and her children will likely once more be evicted. Even if she gets one of the jobs she’s interviewed for recently, her monthly take-home pay after taxes would be about $1,600. Her rent is $1,595.

“I have some savings to cover some of (rent) next month, I might look for a roommate if the job doesn’t come through and the (federal unemployment benefits) goes away,” Aldana said. “I have to start looking for all of that because now it’s just me.”

Leading Pastor Says Black Lives Matter Should Dialogue with the Black Church

Staff

      Bishop Clarence McClendon of the Inglewood-based Place of Grace says that while he is grateful that the Black Lives Matter movement has thrust the mantra of black lives into the national conversation, he believes there needs to be dialogue between the black church and Black Lives Matter and he is hoping to help facilitate it.

       “I believe that the prophetic community will welcome the Black Lives Matter movement,” McClendon said. “I’m not sure the Black Lives Matter movement will welcome the prophetic community, but I believe we are a voice among a multiplicity of voices that have to be heard, and I do not believe that there will be any substantial, long-lasting change without the prophetic community making the contribution to it.”

       To that end, McClendon says he is in the process of attempting to arrange such dialogues, though the pandemic has made it more challenging.

      “But,” he says, “I believe that those conversations need to happen and they need to happen now.

      “I have said it publicly, and will say again,” McClendon continued, “whether black lives matter to white people is immaterial to me. I understand and I’m grateful for the pushing of the mantra and the insertion of the mindset into the corporate consciousness of America, but whether black lives matter, doesn’t matter to me relative to people of European descent, because whales lives matter to them… The question is, is my black life equal to yours… because only if my life is equal to yours, will you take your foot off my neck when I say I can’t breathe. Only when my life is equal to yours, will what I say make any real difference in how you leave my presence and live your life.”

       He says the problems with movements is that they can become commercialized.

       “I see young Caucasian brothers and sisters saying black lives matter and holding BLM signs and do not understand the issues nor have a real concept of the substance.

       “I am not seeking reparations and have nothing against the people who are seeking reparations. If the U.S government starts handing out checks, I want them to know where my address is. But with the disenfranchisement that has been systemically perpetrated on people of color in this nation, this government cannot afford to pay me what they owe me.”

L.A. To Double Down on Businesses Defying COVID Safety Orders

      With California surpassing New York in Coronavirus cases, L.A. County health officials have said that they are stepping up enforcement on businesses that fail to comply with health orders imposed with the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 17,000 businesses has been investigated since the state first issued lockdown orders in mid-March.

      While most of the businesses—including restaurants, grocery stores and pools—have either come into compliance or are working to come into compliance, 100 businesses have been shut down.

      The department is set to begin issuing fines at the end of August. Fines range from $100 to $500 for the first offense. Repeated offenses may result in a 30-day business suspension.

      “This is an unprecedented public health emergency and we’re still learning and adapting as we navigate this crisis,” said L.A. County Health Officer Dr. Muntu Davis, said. “COVID-19 is not going to disappear overnight. We all want our local businesses to be open and more people to get back to making a living and to thrive, but we all must operate responsibly. Business owners and operators are critical partners in slowing the spread of COVID-19. It protects their employees, it protects their customers and it helps the entire community.”

      To curtail unsafe business operations in the city of Los Angeles, Mayor Eric Garcetti, is deploying “business ambassadors” to advise or cite businesses that are not following COVID safety guidelines. The city received over 500 reports over the past two weeks of businesses not operating in compliance with health protocols.

California Churches Suing Governor Newsom Say They Have a Right to Sing

Three northern California churches are suing Governor Gavin Newsom in an attempt to overturn his ban on singing and chanting inside places of worship. On behalf of Calvary Chapel of Ukiah, Calvary Chapel of Fort Bragg and River of Life Church in Oroville, the lawsuit seeks an injunction against the state health department’s July 1 order that looks to slow the spread of COVID-19.

            The churches argue that Newsom unfairly targeted places of worship and didn’t enact the same guidelines for businesses and the ongoing protests that have swept the nation.

            “On or about July 2, 2020, following implementation of the Worship Ban, when asked to explain whether people should heed Newsom’s mandate and avoid large crowds and gatherings, Newsom refused to place the same restrictions on protesters and explained ‘we have a Constitution, we have a right to free speech,’ and further stated that ‘we are all dealing with a moment in our nation‘s history that is profound and pronounced … Do what you think is best,’” the lawsuit states.

            Public health officials and medical professionals have reiterated that there’s evidence that suggests talking and increased ventilation increase germ particles in the air, two occurrences that happen while singing. The officials suggest that these particles, should they contain COVID-19, can cause infection after lingering in the air for a time and then being ingested.

            Jordan Sekulow, executive director of the ACLJ (American Center for Law and Justice) says that the governor’s order is unconstitutional. 

            “Banning singing in California churches is an unconstitutional abuse of power,” said Sekulowin in an announcement about the suit. “And to do it in the name of a pandemic is despicable.”

            Along with Tyler & Bursch, The National Center for Law and Policy and Advocates for Faith & Freedom, ACLJ acted as the churches’ legal team for the lawsuit and many of the attorneys have challenged Newsom’s past orders regarding places of worship during the pandemic. 

“Since the initiation of the lockdown, restrictive mandates in the state’s health orders have been applied to houses of worship unfairly and much more aggressively than other businesses arbitrarily deemed essential, including restaurants and other gatherings,” a press release from ACLJ reads.  

Pasadena-based Harvest Rock Church and Harvest International Ministry Inc. filed an emergency request with a federal judge seeking a temporary restraining order that would halt the enforcement of Newsom’s ban on singing. The civil complaint states that the ban violates religious freedom and the “cherished liberties for which so many have fought and died.” The lawsuit also states that in times of distress ”congregants are to sing to the Lord even more and to sing aloud to him.”

As it stands, congregations are still being held to the guidelines of the order which state that no chanting or singing is allowed and all houses of worship are required to limit attendance to 25 percent of building capacity or a maximum of 100 attendees.


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