Daily Archives: June 24, 2021

An apartheid conference at the Knesset? – opinion – The Jerusalem Post

Posted: June 24, 2021 at 11:47 pm

The farce on Tuesday at the Knesset made the June 13 swearing-in of the new Israeli government pale in comparison.Youre a piece of sh*t fascist, screamed Joint Arab List MK Ofer Cassif at Religious Zionism MK Itamar Ben-Gvir, who spent an hour shouting terrorist and enemy at Cassif and others attending the extra-parliamentary event that he crashed with a vengeance.

The happening in question was a conference titled After 54 years: From Occupation to Apartheid.

The hurling of mutual insults characterized the atmosphere of the radical NGO-laden convention, organized by MKs Mossi Raz (Meretz) and Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint Arab List) for the purpose of demonizing the Jewish state.

As is the case with all gatherings to which representatives of far-left groups like Adalah, Yesh Din and Breaking the Silence not to mention Human Rights Watch BDS supporter Omar Shakir are invited to delegitimize Israel, the one in question pulled no punches where spreading lies was concerned. In this respect, its message was predictable.

What made these particular proceedings stand out, therefore, was not their content. Nor was it Ben-Gvirs arrival on the scene to disrupt them.

On the contrary, such hate fests always include charges that Israel is an evil occupier of Palestinians victimized by apartheid policies. And the far-Right lawyer/activist who just joined the ranks of the Knesset is famous for his frenzied, yet calculated, outbursts.

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Yes, everything about the vile meeting was to be expected, except for its venue within the walls of Israels parliament and for the fact that one of its initiators belongs to a party integral to the countrys nascent governing coalition.

THIS IS significant for reasons that ought to be obvious, but warrant reiteration. At the top of the list is the abuse of the word apartheid to describe Israel, which in no way, shape or form resembles the former South African regimes policy of forced racial segregation and discrimination.

Even Richard Goldstone, author of the now-infamous eponymous report from the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict established in 2009 to investigate Operation Cast Lead came to acknowledge that if [he] had known then what [he] know[s] now, [it] would have been a different document.

Better two years late than never. But the havoc that the South African judges conclusions about Israels three-week war against Hamas (from the end of December 2008 to the middle of January 2009) had already been wrought. Indeed, the esteemed jurists subsequent retraction to his earlier assertion that Israel intentionally killed Palestinian civilians didnt put a dent in the damage that continues to reverberate to this day.

Precisely because of this, his recanting is worth reviewing and repeating.

In Israel, there is no apartheid, he wrote on October 31, 2011, in The New York Times. Nothing there comes close to the definition of apartheid under the 1998 Rome Statute: Inhumane acts... committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.

He went on, Israeli Arabs 20 percent of Israels population vote, have political parties and representatives in the Knesset and occupy positions of acclaim, including on its Supreme Court. Arab patients lie alongside Jewish patients in Israeli hospitals, receiving identical treatment.

Apartheid, he added, consciously enshrines separation as an ideal. In Israel, equal rights are the law, the aspiration and the ideal; inequities are often successfully challenged in court. And though the situation in the West Bank is more complex here too there is no intent to maintain an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group. This is a critical distinction, even if Israel acts oppressively toward Palestinians there. South Africas enforced racial separation was intended to permanently benefit the white minority, to the detriment of other races. By contrast, Israel has agreed in concept to the existence of a Palestinian state in Gaza and almost all of the West Bank, and is calling for the Palestinians to negotiate the parameters.

Finally, he said, [U]ntil there is a two-state peace, or at least as long as Israels citizens remain under threat of attacks from the West Bank and Gaza, Israel will see roadblocks and similar measures as necessary for self-defense, even as Palestinians feel oppressed And the deep disputes, claims and counterclaims are only hardened when the offensive analogy of apartheid is invoked.

SO MUCH for the A-word. As for the O-word, well, its misused intentionally by those who single out Israel for condemnation at every opportunity.

As international-law expert Alan Baker a former Israeli ambassador to Canada currently with the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank has pointed out: Israel is not occupying any foreign sovereigns land; [it] entered the area known as the West Bank in 1967 and took over the authority to administer the land from Jordan, which was never considered to be a sovereign in the area.

Baker, who participated in the negotiations and drafting of the Oslo Accords, as well as peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, has also explained that the Jordanians, who occupied the territory after the 1948 war, annexed it, but this was never really recognized or acknowledged by the international community. At a later stage, the king of Jordan voluntarily gave up any Jordanian sovereignty or claim to the territories to the Palestinian people. So, the Jordanians came and went, and the issue remains [one] between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

And this is before one takes into account the Jews proven ancient connection to the land, which Palestinians reject and their BDS apologists deny or ignore. But none of the above escapes the majority of the Israeli public who voted overwhelmingly against the Left in the last four rounds of elections.

The bitter irony surrounding this weeks conference is twofold.

On the one hand, it illustrated the exact opposite of what participants wished to portray. Its ridiculous, after all, to accuse the state of apartheid from the halls of a diverse Knesset that includes openly hostile Arab politicians and post-Zionist Jews, all of whom use their platforms to bash the country that embraces their freedom to do so.

On the other hand, it highlighted the fragility of the new government, made up of a motley assortment of parties that have no business sitting together, certainly not under the premiership of Yamina leader Naftali Bennett, self-described as to the right of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and Alternate Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, head of Yesh Atid.

The only glue that enabled them to glom together the change coalition was a shared desire to oust Netanyahu from his perch as the longest-serving leader in Israels history. Its still their sole adhesive, as the apartheid event demonstrated.

Efforts on the part of some coalition MKs to block it in the form of a letter to Knesset Speaker Miki Levy asking him to end Knesset involvement in events that act against the state of Israel, tarnish its good name and work with antisemitic organizations like BDS were in vain. The travesty not only went ahead as planned, but was held under the auspices of Raz, whose party, Meretz, could topple the government simply by exiting from it.

IN AN interview with Kan Newss Mark Weiss after the conference, Raz said smugly that the word apartheid makes people very nervous.

But he proudly took credit for normaliz[ing] the word occupation, because until a few days ago, very few people in the Knesset talked about [it].

Some accomplishment.

[It] is my duty to talk about the occupation, to talk about peace and to do my work to represent my voters, he stressed.

Asked about how this attitude might annoy and upset many coalition partners, he replied with the equivalent of a shrug.

You know, he said, Im annoyed and upset every day from things happening [in the country].

No kidding; he and his fellow leftists make that abundantly clear at every juncture, and at each protest on behalf of the Palestinians. That the despots who rule over the latter are the ones responsible for their lack of human rights is as irrelevant to Raz and his ilk as Israels numerous territorial and other concessions to the PLO and Hamas.

Its no wonder, then, that he referred to the mish-mash coalition as a challenging one. Still, not anxious to forfeit the resuscitation provided to his dying camp by Bennett, New Hope chairman Gideon Saar and Israel Beytenu head Avigdor Liberman, he made sure to declare that he considers the new government very powerful, with young and active party leaders for whom truth is important.

One doesnt know whether to laugh or cry at the blatant inversion of the concept.

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An apartheid conference at the Knesset? - opinion - The Jerusalem Post

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Are people worried about the Australian Christian Lobby’s influence? – Crikey

Posted: at 11:47 pm

With the Coalition proving a willing audience as the Australian Christian Lobby once again starts flexing its political muscles, we asked readers if they were worried about its influence on our politicians. The answers came thick and fast.

Stephen Kimber writes: One can hardly be anything other than worried about the increasing influence of politically conservative and divisive religious lobbyist groups on our federal government, particularly one with an avowedly Pentecostal PM. Church and state should be separate, as I recall, not seeking to reinforce known narrow discriminations on a multicultural and multifaceted populace. You do not protect your people by protecting religious bigotry.

Gloria Delahunty writes: I agree with everything ACL and Martyn Illes is doing. We need more religious freedom and less indoctrination of our children into LGBTIQ agenda. The confusion and sexualisation of our preschool children is a disgrace to our society. I pray for our nation and our politicians to have their eyes opened to the damage they are causing to our innocent young children, which should not even be thinking about the things they are being fed.

Bill Buke writes: Yes I am very worried about the extremist group ACL. It wants to turn back time not only against women but educated thinking. It is just as bad as the QAnon group.

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Greg Crome writes: The best values of Western civilisation flow from the Christian gospel, the Judeo/Christian ethic. Why would that ever be a threat? Why do people want to expunge our society of Christian influence? Christians arent going away, and will not be silenced

Tim Reynolds writes: Everybody is entitled to their beliefs but it should be private and never used as a tool to coerce others or be introduced into politics We have diverse religious beliefs in Australia, including those who have no religious leanings. So what right does the ACL have to preach to and attempt to enforce its very biased beliefs on those of other or no religious beliefs?

Lindy Pienaar writes: [Am I] worried about the influence the ACL has on our politicians? Absolutely not. It is time that all voices get a fair opportunity to voice values, norms, science, history and place it in the pool of knowledge for discussion. This generation has radically changed due to big tech and censorship and the propaganda we are spoon-fed The culture we live in is empty and utterly self-centred, it is a void So bring it on, ACL!

Dr Meredith Doig (president of the Rationalist Society of Australia) writes: All Australians ought to be worried about the aggressive push for religious privilege being conducted by the ACL which is a lobby (so how come it gets charity status?) but is certainly not Christian. At least not according to the vast majority of Christians in this country. The Rationalist Society has just published a major report called Religiosity in Australia, which shows that the level of support for religion in Australia has been grossly misrepresented and the views of religious leaders are largely out of touch with those of the Australians they claim to represent Legislators and governments would be wise to keep clearly in mind these revealed facts about Australians real attitudes rather than listening only to the countrys most outspoken religious conservatives. Failure to do so would not only be an affront to democratic principles but will increasingly lead to electoral backlash.

Graeme and Val Wicks write: We are far more concerned about the influence approximately 2% of the population (LGBTIQ) has over politicians!

Lesley Knapp writes: I am deeply concerned about the influence of the ACL on our politicians. I am watching the last season of Margaret Atwoods The Handmaids Tale and understand that the horrific subjugation of women and the religious ideology that enables it that she writes about is not fantasy, but has happened somewhere in the world at some point. The story resonates too loudly and we need to be alert and afraid.

Robert Henderson writes: The ACL certainly does not speak for me, an 80-year-old lifetime follower of Jesus teachings. For me, Jesus was a revolutionary thinker who sided with and reached out to the most marginalised people and was predominantly focused on breaking down barriers between all people and proclaiming a gospel of universal love and justice and equity. His outspoken opposition to the powerful religious authorities of the time led to his own death. Any similarity that the ACL has to Jesus actual teachings is exceedingly difficult to detect.

Jo Lewis writes: Perhaps there should be an all-religions and nonbelievers lobby developed, aimed at excluding nobody and calling for equality, and ensuring fairness in all situations and legislation. I think we are heading in the right direction and would hate to see any development that excludes people for religious reasons and causes racial and ethnic and sectarian separation that can develop into hatred and violence.

Steph Mitchell writes: I for one am glad that the ACL is helping to spread the message to our politicians that there are people who still hold to traditional values, even some who wouldnt even consider themselves Christian but are influenced by many of Christianitys basic beliefs At the last federal election, it was the quiet Australians who dont like the way much of society is heading who voted for Scott Morrison and helped pull off the miracle result. Much prayer was offered for such a result and will be again for the election next year.

Liz Thornton writes: I am appalled at the prospect of further push into government from so-called Christians. People are welcome to worship any god they like but when the beliefs held by people like our prime minister enter into law making it becomes a danger matching other countries that we would declare autocratic. The fact that some Christians already in government have no morals or ethical standards is clear warning that voters need to be conscious and not sleepwalk into electing more slack decisions guided by the ACL.

John Amadio writes: The ACL represents only a small segment of the whole Christian community let alone the wider one and holds a very narrow, quite intolerant focus. Christianity and other religious beliefs are far from discriminated against within society The ACL agenda is clearly to gain influence and power within Parliament and the government to prosecute a narrow agenda that provides disproportionate power to a group that would seek to undo many of the human rights we enjoy.

Ben OBrien writes: No I am not concerned at all. Australia was built on Christian influence and belief in the sanctity of human life Christian values are actually helpful for society to function. Why? Because God knows what hes talking about.

Richard Staples writes: Australian politicians should think hard about the consequences of Australia having anything other than a secular constitution and government. Indonesia has a population of some 270 million, of which about 90% embrace Islam. Nevertheless the Indonesian constitution and government is secular In general, diversity of faith is not just tolerated but respected. Even Christmas Day is celebrated as a national holiday. Any moves away from secularism in Australia would not go unnoticed in Indonesia, Malaysia and elsewhere. It would give ammunition to religious zealots everywhere.

Sue Holdsworth writes: The ACL appears to have a disproportionate influence not only on our government but also among conservative Australian Christians. The ACL is not a church leader, although some Christians are all too willing to look to it for leadership on social issues. Many Christians (myself included) are uncomfortable with its very name, which implies it represents all Christians. Many of us are disappointed with its obsession over Israel Folau and its stance on moral issues, including same-sex marriage and transgenders. I want Aussies to know the ACL does not represent all Christians.

Stanley Burgess writes: I feel that I must register my disappointment at the cynical tone of your story on the ACL. What is wrong with more Australians taking an active part in our democracy? We are generally an apathetic lot so a little passion is very welcome, surely. That ungodly mob GetUp is an organised activist lobby at the other end of the political spectrum. It belongs to the church of woke within whose doctrine there is no redemption. So onward Christian soldiers indeed, and God bless them and you.

Jeff Canning writes: Arse clown loopies. Thats what ACL stands for.

Fiona Colin writes: We have seen in the disUnited States how effectively the religious right mobilised the forces not only of mainstream religion but of all its tributaries. Im thinking anti-sciencers in general, but the list includes climate change deniers, anti-vaxxers, conspiracy theorists, Holocaust deniers, and even Pentecostalists. What worries me is that not only are we not progressing to a more enlightened civil society but we are going back to a time of great division, superstition, irrationality and suspicion to Salem.

Simon Barnett writes: All the information supplied regarding the lobbying of the government by ACL staff seems routine, and exactly as one would expect. Big business, small business, farming groups, trade unions, aid agencies, and lobbyists from the LGBTIQ groups you mention are all surely lobbying politicians in exactly the same way? This appears to be an example of our democratic process working as it should Regarding Folau being supported by ACL again, there was an implication that there was something wrong in this. In the opinion of many, including myself, it is disgraceful that any man in Australia should lose his job for simply expressing a different opinion from that of his employer. The argument that someones feelings could be hurt by him doing so is ridiculous on every level, and should be called out by Crikey and other news groups for the baseless, whining, and manipulative bullying tactic that it is It should not be necessary to compel everyone to express the same opinion, and it will be a much poorer society should we do so.

Colin Bright writes: The ACL continues its oppression of LGBTIQ people, just as religious groups and leaders have for many centuries Theism is the No. 1 conspiracy theory, and people with such delusions should not be eligible to be elected to government in my humble opinion.

Our media landscape is amongst the most concentrated in the democratic world. Big media businesses are marred by big media interests. If you want the full, untainted picture on important issues our environment, corruption, political competence, our culture, our economy Crikey is required reading.

I am a private person that takes online privacy very seriously but I wanted to contribute my words to this campaign as I genuinely believe that we will improve as a country if more people read publications such as Crikey.


Sydney, NSW

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Erdoan Will Never Defeat the Fight for Democracy in Turkey – Jacobin magazine

Posted: at 11:47 pm

Does the law really do justice? Who makes the law? Is everything legal really fair?

We can go on asking questions like this. Who does the law protect? The laws of the male-dominated capitalist system exclude women from social and public life and impose the system of slavery. The law was created to protect capital, patriarchy, and the state. It denies freedom to the working poor, women, believers, and those in need of rights and liberties.

Of course, throughout history, poor working people, women, and faith-based groups have fought these laws. This fight has helped to guarantee individual and collective rights and international conventions. Nevertheless, a free, equal, and democratic legal system has not yet been put in place. Nation-states frequently contradict their own laws in pursuit of their interests. This is clearly apparent in the policies of oppression, persecution, and violence against the Kurdish people in Turkey.

Kurds living in Turkey played a significant role in the creation of the Turkish Republic. The 1921 Constitution was created in this context. However, the pluralistic, multicultural, multi-identity, and democratic nature of this constitution was ignored and, instead, policies of denial, destruction, and assimilation were established. The Kurdish people have always rebelled against these policies.

The Kurds, one of the most ancient peoples of the Middle East, had their territory divided into two parts by the Kasr-i Shirin Treaty between the Ottomans and the Persians in 1639, and into four parts by the Treaty of Lausanne after the First World War. The Kurds, the largest non-status people in the world, have been the target of repressive and cruel policies by Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Turkey. The fate of the Kurds, who have spent the last two hundred years subjected to violence, also has a profound impact on the future of other peoples living in the Middle East.

As a result, the gains made by Kurds in the struggle for equality, freedom, and peace will have a positive effect on other peoples in the struggle for freedom. As the Rojava revolution reveals, every gain made by the Kurds has galvanized the search for freedom felt by other oppressed peoples. Once again, the Kurds relentless struggle against the antihuman terrorist organization ISIS has been an inspiration to all.

My purpose in writing this, of course, is not to tell these stories in full. What I want to say here is that the Kurdish struggle for freedom has an international and national dimension.

It is no coincidence that the world, especially the United States and the EU, is indifferent to this persecution of the Kurdish people this is a long-term policy. However, we can counter these policies through organizing such as the huge movement of international solidarity that emerged when Koban was attacked in 2014. You may remember that this resistance was the beginning of ISISs defeat.

However, the defeat of ISIS was not something that Turkey, which supports the jihadists, wished for. Although Turkey has tried to appear to be against ISIS, it has always supported ISIS: the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi right next to Turkeys borders, and the salary given to a paramilitary force of jihadists, should be considered in this context. Ultimately, Turkeys support of organizations like ISIS and its derivatives continues as before.

It would be wrong not to consider the repression of Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) politicians for calling for solidarity against ISISs attacks on Koban in 2014. The Turkish state targeted these politicians as terrorists another case of Turkeys support for ISIS.

In Turkish territory, home to more than twenty million Kurds, it was a necessity for political leaders to call for solidarity with their brothers and sisters on the other side of the border against a barbaric organization like ISIS. It was also a humanitarian responsibility that the HDP did not remain indifferent to this situation. All parties should oppose ISIS attacks; attempting to prosecute those that do shows how brutal the Turkish state is in response to the Kurdish struggle for rights and recognition.

The dialogue process between Abdullah calan, imprisoned leader of the Kurdish freedom movement, and Turkish state representatives was ended by Recep Tayyip Erdoan in 2015. With this, calan was subjected to absolute isolation.

During this period, a regime of repression was established that exceeded those previously carried out in the history of the Turkish Republic: the will of the Kurdish people was hijacked when mayors, lawmakers, and tens of thousands of Kurdish politicians were detained and arrested, and Kurdish institutions were closed and trustees were appointed to govern municipalities. The repressive regime and colonial law in Kurdistan have led to the elimination, detention, and arrest of those opposed to power in the western part of Turkey.

Using the coup attempt of July 15, 2016, as an excuse, Erdoans government turned this process into a coup against society and led it toward the construction of a monotheistic, bourgeois, sexist, religious regime under the name of the presidential system.

It would be no mistake to describe this situation as the Second Republic which is, in fact, often said without hesitation or irony by the governments supporters. Erdoan himself has said, We will make a new constitution meaning that the Second Republic will complete the construction of the Turkish Republic, under an oppressive roof.

To the Turkish state, the only obstacle to the establishment of this repressive regime is the Kurdish political movement and the HDP the unified forces of freedom and democracy in Turkey. In this context, since 2015, pressure on the Kurds and the HDP has been continuous, as they have hampered the planned tyrannical regime. Therefore, the judicial machine has fallen under the yoke of power and international conventions and law have been trampled upon.

As far as the Kurds and their friends are concerned, Turkish law is interpreted in arbitrary ways. After all, the European Court of Human Rights decided in favor of jailed former HDP coleader Selahattin Demirtas; his imprisonment was ruled to be in suppression of political pluralism. Yet he remains in prison and the Turkish state has only escalated its persecution of opposition politicians.

President Erdoans statements We do not recognize the decision of the ECHR were accepted by the Turkish courts as an order. Ankaras 22nd criminal court declared that they would not comply with the ECHR decision before the proceedings began. This shows the governments influence on the judiciary.

The trial regarding HDP politicians support for Koban, which began in Ankara on April 26, was carried out in the shadow of earlier instructions given by the government to the justice system. Our lawyers werent allowed in: they said the door was locked. The president of the court appears to have been involved in this case in order to pursue a political career in the future.

It has been revealed that the Koban case was a revenge case, an attempt to throw the HDP out of democratic politics; it had nothing to do with uncovering the truth and serving justice. It was clear that the judicial system has been tampered with by the Turkish state, with political instructions given by the government and partisan court officials and judges appointed by politicians.

Well, what are we going to do?

We will resist the way we have resisted for a hundred years. We will continue to defend the struggle for democracy, ecology, womens freedom, human rights, democratic justice, equality, and peace.

At the same time, we will continue to resist and struggle to establish the foundational principle of HDP: free life. While we are fighting, we invite our friends, all those who are in favor of equality, freedom, democracy, and peace, to show solidarity.

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Progress Software stock slips as quarterly outlook weighs on earnings beat – MarketWatch

Posted: at 11:45 pm

Progress Software Corp. shares were hobbled in the extended session Thursday after the business software company provided a disappointing quarterly outlook while otherwise topping expectations.

Progress PRGS, +1.16% shares slipped 1% after hours, following a 1.2% rise in the regular session to close at $46.06.

For the third fiscal quarter, the company expects earnings of 81 cents to 83 cents a share on revenue of $129 million to $132 million. Analysts surveyed by FactSet expect revenue of 85 cents a share on revenue of $132 million.

The company reported fiscal second-quarter net income of $13.6 million, or 30 cents a share, compared with $17 million, or 37 cents a share, in the year-ago period. Adjusted earnings, which exclude stock-based compensation expenses and other items, were 82 cents a share, compared with 63 cents a share in the year-ago period. Analysts surveyed by FactSet had forecast 75 cents a share.

Revenue rose to $122.5 million from $100.4 million in the year-ago quarter, but analysts estimates include deferred revenue from its acquisition of Chef Software, which cannot be included in unadjusted results. That revenue came in at $129.2 million, while analysts had forecast $122 million.

Additionally, Progress raised its sales outlook for the year to a range of $529 million to $535 million, up from a previous estimate of $519 million to $527 million, with analysts estimating $525 million.

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Progress Software stock slips as quarterly outlook weighs on earnings beat - MarketWatch

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Second Flag May Soon Fly in SF’s Castro to Mark Progress in LGBTQ Inclusion – NBC Bay Area

Posted: at 11:45 pm

As Pride month continues, a Castro-based organization is looking to make a massive addition to an already iconic Castro landmark in San Francisco: A second flag to ensure there is inclusion and representation in the LGBTQ community.

The Castro Merchants in a letter to the city released Wednesday revealed that the Board of the Castro Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer Cultural District, or CQCD, held a vote opting to replace the iconic Gilbert Baker-designed Rainbow Pride Flag with the Progress Flag.

The Progress Flag has grown in popularity recently and features a different shape and additional colors, with baby blue, pink and white representing the transgender community and black and brown representing people of color.

The Castro Merchants, who say they maintain the pole and the replacement of the flag, are now asking for community support for a second flagpole at a separate location so both flags can be seen.

In the letter from the Board of Directors of Castro Merchants the organization explained their reasoning saying in part, "We propose to leave the internationally recognized, beloved, and historic symbol where it is and explore locations in the Castro to install a new flagpole. We believe the creation of an alternative space would best reflect our two sincere beliefs: symbols can change over time yet queer history matters."

There does not appear to be a timeline on the project

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Work in Progress – The Nation

Posted: at 11:45 pm

(Yera Dahora, iPhone timer)

Sunset Park, BrooklynWho hasnt come to terms with their own mortality over the past year and a half? So many people had life-changing realizations. Like others, I made a decision based purely on impulse. I went back to school. I hated the idea, in a way. Dont get me wrong; I left undergrad with a deep appreciation for learning but understood that education cant be bounded within an academic institution. The pandemic shifted my perspective. I needed a safe space to learn. My job with the New York Fire Department allowed me to stay home with my family for longer stints as I attended school virtually. Most important, I had something to do besides worry. I entered the screenwriting track at CUNYs Feirstein Graduate School of Cinema. I was processing what was happening in the world, and what was happening with me, and my family. And though communications about our works in progress were remote, I wasnt alone.1

February 22, 2021, 6:13 pm2

Yera Dahora is a talented director from So Paulo. For one of my classes, I wrote a short script that got thrown into a metaphorical hat from which first-year directors had to choose a story. Luckily, Yera chose mine.3

Yera was based in Brazil and couldnt travel to the United States. The film would be shot in Brazil, with Brazilian actors and crew. Almost all of our discussion took place via WhatsApp.4

March 18, 2:41 pm5


I gave Yera the nickname Captain. She had control of the ship and was leading us to shore on the stormiest of nights. But before I received that message from her, I was a little shook. I had listened to harrowing reports on NPR. Doctors from Brazil spoke of the shortage of oxygen supplies. People with Covid were dying of asphyxiation. The new strain in Brazil was more contagious. I asked myself questions like, Is this right? Is it really possible to execute this safely? Am I the mayor from Jaws right now? We werent the only students experiencing setbacks. Scores of Feirstein students were not able to finish their thesis films. CUNY protocols enforced far more restrictions than film industry standards. All of the students experienced a collective anguish. From the outside looking in, these preoccupations seem kind of childish in the context of a pandemic. But creating art is more than just producing an object. I had a cathartic experience writing the script. The story was inspired by a conversation with my daughterwhen I was trying to put her to sleep, and accidentally gave her an existential crisis while answering her questions about the universe. I called it Goodnight Sun.7

FATHER: The star light we see comes from distant suns in galaxies far, far away.8Current Issue

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OCTAVIA: Cool.<span data-mce-type=bookmark style=display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0; class=mce_SELRES_start></span>8<span data-mce-type=bookmark style=display: inline-block; width: 0px; overflow: hidden; line-height: 0; class=mce_SELRES_end></span>

FATHER: Another cool thing is some of those suns no longer exist.9

OCTAVIA: How do we see the light?10

Back when I was starting to transform the story, I contracted Covid-19. During my recovery and isolation, I lost my aunt Hope Johnson. She had health issues from serving as a chaplain during 9/11; those health issues were exacerbated by quarantining. I had to wait several weeks to mourn with my family. I didnt need more time to worry. I remembered that Hope and her twin sister, Janice, had borne witness to my transformation into fatherhood. Hope had always shared with me stories of her late father. My favorite was about how he made sure to let his daughters know there was no Santa Claus. He wanted us to know that a Black man bought these gifts, Hope said, with a cackle. All of these things had been in my head and heart as I wrote.11

March 28, 12:31 am12

Yera shared casting videos and pics. We talked through each tension in a scene. The script was translated into Portuguese. I worked with my friend Michi Osato, who helped me read through the translated version so that I could continue to share notes with Yera.13

May 15, 11:09 pm14

The film was finally shot. It is currently in post-production. Yera will be traveling to the US soon. My first year of grad school is over, and even as I rummage through WhatsApp messages, all of it feels unreal. What we managed to do together15


I told Yera that I felt like crying after seeing this.17

Scenes From a Pandemic is a collaboration between The Nation and Kopkind, a living memorial to radical journalist Andrew Kopkind, who from 198294 was the magazines chief political writer and analyst. This series of dispatches from Kopkinds far-flung network of participants, advisers, guests, and friends is edited by Nation contributor and Kopkind program director JoAnn Wypijewski, and appears weekly on thenation.com and kopkind.org.18

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Singapores new insolvency law: a status report on the progress of the new regime – JD Supra

Posted: at 11:45 pm

Insolvency laws used to be a strictly territorial matter. However, given the increasing interconnectedness of the world, Courts have adopted a more universalist approach and have begun to recognise the insolvency laws of other jurisdictions. As a reflection of its cosmopolitan and global outlook, the laws and the Courts of Singapore have adopted a more international approach towards the application of insolvency laws. Foreign companies considering restructuring their debts in Singapore are likely to find themselves in Singapore an environment with a robust framework for debt restructuring and skilled professional advisors.

On 1 October 2018, the Singapore Parliament passed the Insolvency, Restructuring and Dissolution Act 2018 (IRDA) which came into force on 30 July 2020, in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Where previously Singapores personal insolvency and corporate insolvency statutes were found in separate codes, the IRDA had the effect of consolidating Singapores corporate insolvency and restructuring laws into one omnibus act. The IRDA is the culmination of recommendations proposed by various committees which were set up to enhance Singapores debt restructuring provisions and to refine the existing laws. Several of the key changes were pivoting towards a friendlier regime for corporate rescue and debt restructuring, adapting from Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code certain rescue provisions, and implementing the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross Border Insolvency. These reforms have garnered international attention and Singapore was recognised as the Most Improved Jurisdiction at the inaugural Global Restructuring Review Awards in June 2017. These reforms seek to position Singapore as a forum of choice for foreign debtors to restructure, create new opportunities for Singapores professional services, and support Singapores position as an international legal, financial, and business centre.

In this article, we discuss two main options a company may have at its disposal: the moratorium and rescue financing. We also explore how multinational corporations (MNCs) can potentially avail themselves of Singapores robust cross-border insolvency regime.

Section 64 of the IRDA gives the Court the power to make one or more orders restraining certain actions and proceedings against the company (a moratorium), on an application by a company that has proposed a compromise or an arrangement with its creditors, or intends to do so. Prior to 2017, the Court had no power to grant a moratorium until a company had filed an application in Court to propose a scheme of arrangement with its creditors. With the recent amendments, companies can make an application to Court for a moratorium as long as it can show evidence that it is intending to propose one and if the statutory requirements are met.

Upon the filing of the application, an automatic 30-day moratorium will take effect and the Court will schedule a first hearing within these 30 days to hear the views of the creditors (if any) and to decide whether to grant a further extension. These extensions can go on for years. In the case of Hyflux Limited, the Court granted a moratorium for more than 2 years before creditors applied to place the company into judicial management.

Hyflux Limited (Hyflux) is a Singaporean water treatment company listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange. Hyflux filed for bankruptcy protection in May 2018 and obtained an automatic 30-day moratorium. While it sought to restructure its debts and negotiate financial aid from third-party investors, Hyflux continued to seek moratorium extensions from the Court which ranged from 4 6 months.

Although Hyflux managed to obtain some in-principle rescue deals from various investors like the Indonesian consortium, SM Investments, and the Middle Eastern utility firm, Utico, those rescue deals ultimately fell through. Hyflux was ultimately placed into judicial management by a group of creditors. On 27 July 2020, a group of banks obtained the approval from the Singapore High Court to file an application against Hyflux to put Hyflux into judicial management. On 16 November 2020, the Singapore High Court placed Hyflux into judicial management thereby ousting the board of directors of Hyflux and installing judicial managers nominated by the banks.

Under Singapores insolvency regime, the judicial management procedure occupies an intermediate step between debt restructuring and liquidation. The Court may grant a creditors application to place a company into judicial management and to install a judicial manager. When this happens, the board of directors become functus officio and the judicial manager becomes empowered to deal with the assets of the company. The judicial managers mandate is to try and ensure the survival of the company as a going concern or to obtain a more advantageous realisation of the companys assets than on a winding-up.

The purpose behind a moratorium is to allow companies breathing room to restructure their debts and to negotiate a compromise with their key lenders and creditors. Companies may also seek an opportunistic investor to rescue the company from insolvency.

The moratorium also has some extraterritorial effect and allows the Singapore Courts to restrain the commencement of proceedings in foreign jurisdictions as long as the Singapore Court has in personam jurisdiction over the party seeking to be enjoined. For example, the Singapore Court may restrain a Singaporean bank from commencing proceedings in the UK to enforce a claim over the debtors assets in the UK as part of the scope of the moratorium. In an unreported decision, the UKs High Court of Justice Business and Property Courts of England and Wales recognised the moratorium granted by the Singaporean court to H&C S Holdings Pte Ltd as a foreign main proceedings under the UNCITRAL Model Law. As such, it is likely that in other jurisdictions where the UNCITRAL Model Law has been implemented, moratorium orders granted by the Singapore Courts may similarly be recognised as foreign main proceedings.

Finally, another key feature of the moratorium is its ability to facilitate group restructurings. Where an order for a moratorium has been made in relation to a company, its subsidiaries or holding company may also apply for similar moratoria to be made in order to facilitate group restructuring efforts. Although Singapore has not adopted the UNCITRALs Model Law on Enterprise Group Insolvency promulgated in 2019, the provisions under the IRDA provide a similar purpose and recognise the need for insolvency proceedings relating to multiple debtors who are also members of the same corporate group.

Indeed, the Singapore High Court recognised the importance of making available moratorium relief to related companies of the applicant subsidiaries, holding company or ultimate holding company - if those companies play a necessary and integral role in the compromise of the applicant. (Re IM Skaugen SE and other matters [2019] 3 SLR 979; [2018] SGHC 259 at [63]) It may therefore be possible for foreign entities of a group to seek moratorium orders in Singapore as part of the group restructuring efforts and then seek to enforce them in their own jurisdiction, with Singapore recognised as the foreign main proceeding.

In the United States, the concept of super-priority rescue financing (also known as DIP financing) is not new and have been part and parcel of the Chapter 11 process for a long time. However, the concept of rescue financing has only recently gained traction in Singapore and was only introduced in the 2017 amendments to the Companies Act.

In Singapore, companies planning to propose a scheme of arrangement or undergoing judicial management may obtain rescue financing (also known as DIP financing) from other creditors. The statutory scheme allows that rescue financing to be repaid before all other administrative expense claims in a debtor companys winding-up. Thus, should the scheme of arrangement or judicial management fail to rescue the company in distress, the rescue financing will be paid out in priority to all other claims (hence super-priority).

Super-priority status provides an important framework for rescue financing in the US, and is a vital plank in the US rescue finance industry. The granting of such super priority status is important because it provides assurance that the rescue financing will be paid out of the unsecured assets of the borrower first, ahead of all unsecured claims and other administrative expenses claims, should the restructuring fail.

There are four (4) levels of priority that the Court can grant:

i. To treat the debt as if it were a cost or expense of the winding-up;

ii. To elevate the debt in priority over all preferential debts and other unsecured debts if the company would not have been able to obtain such financing without it being granted such priority;

iii. For the debt to be secured by a security interest not otherwise subject to any existing security or to confer a subordinate security interest on the debtor companys property already subject to an existing interest; and,

iv. For the debt to be secured by a security interest of the same or higher priority than an existing security interest.

In general, the higher the level of priority being sought after, the more the company has to do to justify the level of priority and persuade the Court. This is because the higher levels of priority may prejudice existing security holders.

The question of whether to grant super-priority to rescue financing is largely based on the Courts discretion. The Court will consider factors such as:

i. The creditors interests: whether the other creditors would be unfairly prejudiced from the arrangement or beneficial to them.

ii. The viability of the restructuring: how the rescue financing will be used, whether it would create new value for the company.

iii. Alternative financing: whether better financing proposals are available, in particular, whether there were proposals that did not require super-priority.

iv. Terms of the proposed financing: whether the terms were reasonable and in the exercise of sound business judgment.

(Re Design Studio Group Ltd and other matters [2020] 5 SLR 850; [2020] SGHC 148 (Re Design Studio) at [23] [33])

In the case of Re Design Studio, the Singapore High Court also considered whether roll-ups were allowed under Singapores rescue financing regime. A rollup refers to the practice of using newly injected post-petition financing to pay off existing pre-petition debt, such that the pre-petition debt is effectively paid off and rolled up into the super-priority post-petition debt (Re Design Studio at [7]). The Singapore High Court held that there was no legislative prohibition against roll-ups but highlighted that one factor a future Court should especially consider is the extent to which other unsecured creditors are likely to benefit or be prejudiced if super-priority were to be permitted in such an arrangement (Re Design Studio at [53]).

Given the vast jurisprudence in the United States on DIP financing and super-priority, the Singapore Courts have found US case law to be persuasive and they have applied the factors and considerations articulated by US cases. For example, in Re Design Studio, the Singapore High Court cited the case of In re Lyondell Chemical Company, et al 402 BR 596 (Bankr, SDNY, 2009) and observed that roll-ups have been allowed in the US.

The scope of these restructuring provisions are not limited to locally-incorporated companies but also apply to foreign-incorporated companies.

Section 246(1)(d) of the IRDA allows for unregistered foreign companies to be wound up if they have a substantial connection with Singapore. In the same vein, a foreign company may seek to rely on Section 64 of the IRDA if it can demonstrate a substantial connection with Singapore. As mentioned earlier, foreign entities of a group may also potentially seek bankruptcy protection from the Singapore Courts if they form part of the groups restructuring plan. Section 246(3) of the IRDA provides a list of non-exhaustive factors that the Court may rely on in determining whether an unregistered company has a substantial connection with Singapore. They include:

a. Singapore is the centre of main interests (COMI) of the company;

b. the company is carrying on business in Singapore or has a place of business in Singapore;

c. the company is a foreign company that is registered under the Singapore Companies Act;

d. the company has substantial assets in Singapore;

e. the company has chosen Singapore law as the law governing a loan or other transaction, or the law governing the resolution of one or more disputes arising out of or in connection with a loan or other transaction; and

f. the company has submitted to the jurisdiction of the Court for the resolution of one or more disputes relating to a loan or other transaction.

The list of factors are not exhaustive and are potentially broad enough to allow a wide variety of foreign companies to rely on these provisions as long as they have some commercial nexus to Singapore.

In the case of Re PT MNC Investama TBK [2020] SGHC 149 (Re PT MNC Investama), the Singapore High Court held that an Indonesian company listed on the Indonesian stock exchange had the requisite standing to apply for an extension of a moratorium. The High Court found that the fact that the companys debts were traded on the Singapore Stock Exchange indicated a substantial connection with Singapore. It indicated that the company had substantial business activity in Singapore that was not merely transient. The fact that it was subject to Singapores regulations or laws in the listing of its securities was also a strong indicator of a companys substantial connection to Singapore.

The Court noted that the list of factors was not exhaustive and definitive and the indications of substantial connection were not closed. The Court went on to observe that a substantial connection encompasses the presence of business activities, control, and assets in Singapore. These activities involve some permanence or permanent effect, and exclude activities of a merely transient nature.

In contrast to the case of Re PT MNC Investama, the case of Re Pacific Andes Resources Development Ltd and other matters [2018] 5 SLR 125 (Pacific Andes) was decided before amendments were made to the Companies Act in 2017 and took a much more limited approach to the extension of the automatic stay. These amendments made in 2017 allowed the Court to extend the moratorium to cover the subsidiaries of a group and to actions taken extra-territoriality under then sections 211B and 211C of the Companies Act. Since the enactment of the IRDA, these provisions have been ported over as Section 64 and 65 of the IRDA.

In Pacific Andes, Pacific Andes Resources Development Ltd (PARD) and 3 of its subsidiaries applied to the Singapore High Court to extend moratoria against proceedings to be brought against them by their creditors in Singapore and elsewhere. The applicants were part of a cluster of companies of the Pacific Andes Group and the companies in the group were incorporated in various jurisdictions, none of which were incorporated in Singapore. The main business of the group was in the production of fishmeal and fish oil and the supply of frozen fish and related products. The production of fishmeal took place in Peru through various operating entities there and these entities were in turned controlled by China Fishery Group Limited (China Fishery). PARD held an indirect equity interest in China Fishery.

As part of the Pacific Andes Groups efforts to restructure, bankruptcy protection applications were filed by various group companies in Peru, the United States, and Singapore. China Fishery filed for Chapter 11 proceedings in the United States Bankruptcy Court, South District of New York while PARD and 3 of its subsidiaries filed for extensions of moratoria in the Singapore High Court.

The Singapore High Court, however, only granted PARD an extension of the moratorium but refused to do so for the 3 subsidiaries. The Court reasoned that it did not have the jurisdiction to grant moratoria covering the subsidiaries because the subsidiaries were not incorporated in Singapore, did not have any assets in Singapore nor had any nexus to Singapore. The subsidiaries therefore did not have any standing to seek relief from the Singapore High Court. However, the Court had jurisdiction over PARD because, although incorporated in Bermuda, it was listed in Singapore and conducted economic activity in Singapore. The Court found that PARDs COMI was in Singapore. The Court went on to say that the fact that the subsidiaries, all of which were separate legal entities, were wholly owned by PARD and were part of a group restructuring plan that was interdependent and interconnected did not justify lifting the corporate veil such that the subsidiaries could be regarded as one composite entity.

The Court noted that the formulation of a group restructuring plan involved many moving parts and required the involvement of multiple jurisdictions. The Court suggested that, given the territoriality of the moratorium, the proposition of a parallel scheme in the COMI of the subsidiaries may have been the appropriate solution in this case (at [52]). The Court also observed that this case illustrated the need for communication and cooperation between courts and the insolvency administrators of the respective insolvency proceedings in the formulation of what is effectively a group restructuring plan (at [75]).

With the statutory amendments to the Companies Act in 2017 and the IRDA, the case of Pacific Andes would likely be decided much more differently today.

Besides the availability of debt restructuring provisions to foreign companies with a substantial connection to Singapore, the Singapore Courts have also recognised and given effect to foreign liquidation proceedings and officeholders. With the adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency (Model Law), the Singapore Courts even an even more robust framework to support the restructuring efforts of foreign companies.

In Re Taisoo Suk (as foreign representative of Hanjin Shipping Co Ltd) [2016] 5 SLR 787, the Singapore High Court granted Hanjin Shipping Co Ltds (Hanjin) application in Singapore for a stay of all proceedings in Singapore. Hanjin was a company incorporated in Korea with two wholly-owned subsidiaries in Singapore. Hanjin had filed an application for rehabilitation proceedings in the Korean Bankruptcy Court and the foreign representative brought an application for a stay of all proceedings in Singapore under the Courts inherent jurisdiction to do so.

Although the Model Law was not adopted at that time, the High Court recognised the Korean rehabilitation proceedings under common law and granted orders to restrain and suspend any enforcement and execution proceedings in Singapore. This allowed some of Hanjins vessels to dock at the Singapore ports after days of being marooned at sea, for fear of being seized by creditors.

After the Model Law was adopted in Singapore, the Singapore High Court had the opportunity to consider the application of a US Chapter 7 Trustee for recognition in Singapore, in the decision of Re Zetta Jet Pte Ltd and others (Asia Aviation Holdings Pte Ltd, intervener) [2019] 4 SLR 1343 (Re Zetta Jet No 2). Under Article 17(2) of the Model Law, the foreign proceeding must be recognised as a foreign main proceeding if it is taking place in the state where the debtor has its COMI. Under the Model Law, it is presumed that the place of the debtors registered office is its COMI. However, the presumption is rebuttable and the Singapore Courts may go on to consider other factors such as:

The Singapore High Court eventually granted the US Chapter 7 proceedings recognition in Re Zetta Jet No 2.

Conversely, other jurisdictions have also recognised orders of the Singapore Courts. In Re Contel Corporation Ltd [2011] SC (Bda) 14 Com, the Supreme Court of Bermuda recognised a scheme of arrangement sanctioned by the Singapore Courts. These decisions reflect a trend towards universalism and international comity in the area of cross-border insolvency.

Singapore is a regional hub and headquarters for many MNCs in Asia. Besides the recognition of foreign insolvency proceedings, MNCs may also consider commencing restructuring or insolvency proceedings in Singapore as a springboard into other jurisdictions where they may have assets or a commercial presence. Singapores debt restructuring orders have been recognised in foreign jurisdictions (for example, the UK and Bermuda) and with the Model Law, Singapore can also be recognised as the foreign main proceedings in those jurisdictions.

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Aravive Higher on Progress in Phase 1b Trial of Kidney-Cancer Drug – TheStreet

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Aravive (ARAV) - Get Reportshares jumped on Thursday after the oncology-pharmaceutical specialist reported progress in a trial of a treatment for kidney cancer.

The Houston company cited positive initial results from the Phase 1b study in patients dosed with 15mg/kg of AVB-500 in combination with cabozantinib who have advanced-stage kidney cancer.

The data in three evaluable patients showed that AVB-500 was well tolerated with no unexpected findings," the company said.

Aravive shares recently traded at $6.66, up 25%. It had been down 14% in the six months through the close of Wednesday trading.

Now the company plans to expand the dosing of 15mg/kg of AVB-500 to an additional three patients to determine the potential of initiating the Phase 2 portion with this dose, it said.

The company also expects to continue to investigate higher doses of AVB-500 in the Phase 1b to obtain additional safety" and other data.

The clinical data indicate that AVB-500 in combination with anticancer therapies "may have the potential to be used in a range of different cancers.Chief Executive Gail McIntyre said in a statement.

In other drug news Thursday, Eli Lilly (LLY) - Get Reportreceived breakthrough status for its donanemab treatment for Alzheimers disease from the FDA.

That speeds the Food and Drug Administrations consideration of the drug for marketing clearance.

Earlier this month the FDA approved Biogens (BIIB) - Get ReportAduhelm to treat Alzheimers. That drug, too, had breakthrough status.

Analysts upgraded Biogen after the move, with Bernsteins Ronny Gal lifting his rating to outperform from market perform.

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Rams’ Matthew Stafford taking it slow, but making progress with new team – Los Angeles Rams Blog- ESPN – ESPN

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Jun 22, 2021

Lindsey ThiryESPN

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Matthew Stafford took snap after snap, dropping back each time to scan the field.

And that was the extent of the 11-on-11 action for the new Los Angeles Rams quarterback, who did not throw the ball during full-team periods at mandatory minicamp.

Entering his 13th NFL season, but his first with a team outside of the Detroit Lions, the plan for the offseason program was to familiarize Stafford and other newcomers with teammates and Rams coach Sean McVay's scheme.

"We're not moving extremely fast, not really trying to get open or make great throws in that period," Stafford explained. "It's more, let's get the protections adjusted, let's get the runs going off in the right direction and get all the above-the-neck stuff going."

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How the Rams' offense will appear with Stafford when the season opens Sept. 12 against the Chicago Bears remains mostly a mystery after an offseason program dominated by one-on-one work and some 7-on-7 action.

It could also remain something of a mystery through training camp after McVay acknowledged that he is likely to keep in step with his past approaches to preseason games and not play starters.

But if McVay's good mood this offseason is any indication, his once-prolific offense that struggled to find consistency the past two seasons with quarterback Jared Goff is trending positive with Stafford.

"He's done outstanding," McVay said about Stafford, whom the Rams acquired from Detroit in exchange for Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round pick in January. "He's only going to continue to grow and we're going to continue to get better."

McVay raved about Stafford's leadership, ability as a natural thrower and his football savvy -- including his knack to recognize and manipulate a defense.

Stafford underwent surgery on his right thumb in March. He described it as "a quick little fix" and said that he felt "way better." The procedure did not affect his participation in voluntary workouts or mandatory minicamp.

The goal of the offseason program for the 33-year-old Stafford was to stress himself mentally as he integrates into McVay's system.

"I'm just trying to learn as much as I possibly can about not only our playbook and the way we want to operate as an offense," said Stafford, who departed Detroit as the all-time leader in every passing category but never won a playoff game in three attempts. "But also [learn] my teammates as well."

The Rams return eight offensive starters from last season's 10-6 team, including four linemen, receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, tight end Tyler Higbee and running back Cam Akers.

Woods and Kupp spent the past four seasons with Goff, but have quickly began to adapt to their new signal caller after numerous one-on-one drills and time spent between action communicating nuances.

"He's a vet quarterback [who's] really honing in on picking up this offense very fast because we all got plans, we need him to learn it and be ready to go right away," said Woods, who fell 64 yards shy in 2020 of a third-consecutive 1,000-receiving yard season. "I would say his attention to listen to receivers, wanting to still get better at his level and at his year is super big."

Rams general manager Les Snead also added firepower for Stafford over the offseason, signing veteran receiver DeSean Jackson in free agency and selecting Louisville receiver Tutu Atwell in the second round of the NFL draft. Both are considered speedy receivers who can provide deep targets and stretch the field.

"It's been awesome with Matt, having a veteran quarterback that's played a lot of ball in this league," said Jackson, who has been slowed because of injuries the past two seasons but has recorded the most 60-plus-yard touchdowns (24) in NFL history. "It's definitely going to be a scary group for defenses and defenders 'cause Sean McVay, one thing about it, he's going to figure out how to get you open, so we just look forward to having a lot of fun doing it."

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Stafford said each receiver brings a unique skillset. He described Woods as smooth in and out of his breaks, Kupp as one of the smartest he's played with, Jackson and Atwell for their long speed, and second-year pro Van Jefferson as good separator.

"It's a really talented group, top to bottom," Stafford said.

Stafford also is expected to have support in the backfield from Akers, who emerged late in his rookie season as a feature back after playing in a committee most of the year.

"It's been fun getting to know Matt," said Akers, who rushed for 625 yards in five starts and 13 games last season. "Gaining chemistry, catching balls, getting handoffs from him. Feeling the way he likes to lead, just learning each other. That's what this time that we've been spending together has been, we've been learning each other and just getting comfortable."

There's no exact science, Stafford and teammates said, as to when they will jell and establish an exact chemistry. But Stafford expressed confidence about his progress before the Rams broke for the offseason.

"I definitely have learned quite a bit," Stafford said. "I feel like my knowledge is a lot broader now than it was when we started that's for sure. I've been exposed to a lot both from Sean and our offense and our defense as well, so it's been a good learning experience for me."

Quarterbacks report to training camp on July 25th.

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Is Performative Progress the Best Democrats Can Do on Voting Rights? – The Nation

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From left, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Senator Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) meet with reporters before a key test vote on the For the People Act, a voting rights bill, at the Capitol, June 22, 2021. (J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo)

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What the hell happened during yesterdays daylong Senate voting rights drama, in which the outcome was almost entirely predictable? Anything we didnt know going in?

Let me start with the most optimistic spin on it. Its progress that Senate Democrats finally pressed a vote on the For the People voting rights and campaign reform act, knowing Republicans would filibuster. Majority leader Chuck Schumer clearly hoped that display of GOP obstruction might convince West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, and maybe even Arizona faux-maverick Kyrsten Sinema, that the filibuster they inexplicably still support is incompatible with voting rights.

Yes, we already knew Republicans would filibuster, blocking even a debate on the bill, which effectively kills it. (They only needed 41 votes to do so, but they got all 50.) Yet Democratic leaders, including President Biden, apparently believe Manchin needs to see this show of obstruction up close and personal, and repeatedly, in order to believe it exists. (Or maybe, more accurately, Manchin believes his West Virginia constituents need to see it.)

The day featured another small victory for the bill: Manchin, who opposes the sweeping legislation and supports a modified version, nonetheless agreed to at least vote to debate it, after Democrats offered amendments to the House bill and promised to take up Manchins larger revision. These reasonable changes have moved the bill forward and to a place worthy of debate on the Senate floor. This process would allow both Republicans and Democrats to offer amendments to further change the bill, Manchin said. It was important to show Democratic unity around the issuea Manchin defection would have allowed the GOP to crow about bipartisan opposition.

Weirdly, though, in a statement issued before the Senate voted against proceeding to debate, he added, Unfortunately, my Republican colleagues refused to allow debate of this legislation despite the reasonable changes made to focus the bill on the core issues facing our democracy. That proved what many of us had already said: It was obvious the Senate GOP would stay united behind minority leader Mitch McConnell, who has denounced not just the For the People Act but Manchins proposed compromise too as rottendismissing the latter with four other words, endorsed by Stacey Abrams, which branded Manchins proposal as Black. And yes, Manchin knew it, too.

So then what did Tuesdays developments prove? Was all of that merely performativeby Manchin, as well as Senate Democratic leaders?

Yes. And for now, it seems to be the only strategy Democrats have.Current Issue

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By bringing the bill to a vote, Democrats surfaced the partys unity, and the GOPs determined obstruction. Despite the fact that Republicans voted to block formal debate, there was nonetheless a sort of debate before proceeding to that vote, and it showed the deceit at the heart of many GOP arguments against it. First of all, many Republican senators invoked the record-high turnout in the 2020 presidential race to argue that, in the words of Maine Senator Susan Collins, its very difficult to make the case that this bill is necessary, as some have said, to save our democracy.

No Republican deigned to acknowledge that the record turnout, especially by young voters and voters of color, provoked a tsunami of legislation from GOP states designed to put barriers in front of those very voters. (It should be noted that one of the many reasons the For the People Act needs revision is that it was written before those laws were enacted and doesnt deal with some of their abusesespecially moves by state legislatures to grab power from localities in terms of governing elections and certifying their results.) Instead, Republicans cherry-picked aspects of the voter suppression bills that mark some improvement in access and ignored the ways they thwart it.

But all of that was predictable, and so was the votea 50-50 tie on the question of whether to proceed to debate, when Senate rules required 60. An angry Schumer promised that wasnt the end of the bill. We are going to explore every last one of our options. We have to. Voting rights are too important. Vice President Kamala Harris, who presided as Senate president over the dispiriting day, declared, The fight is not over.

Also predictable: As he left the Senate, Manchin renewed his vow to protect the 60-vote threshold: I think yall know where I stand on the filibuster. The filibuster is needed to protect democracy. It felt like a slap to all his Senate colleagues who said voting rights reform is whats needed to protect democracy. When the 50 Democratic senators who voted to at least debate the bill represent 43 million more Americans than the 50 Republican senators who opposed it, as Ari Berman noted in Mother Jones, democracy is in real trouble.

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Is that the end of the road for voting rights reform this session? Its hard not to think so, despite the promises of Schumer, Harris, and Biden to keep fighting. Whats the best case for eventual success? Its flimsy, but it goes like this: Manchin has been here before, sort of. He opposed the American Rescue Plan, and voiced skepticism about using reconciliationwhich requires only Democratic votesto pass it. And then, after some amendments, he voted for it via reconciliation. He came out, strongly, against the For the People Act, but then offered an alternative proposal many voting rights advocates, including, now notoriously, Stacey Abrams, said they could support. And then he voted to proceed with For the People.

I think its a lot harder to imagine a similar evolution on the filibusterfor Manchin to, say, back creating a carve-out to allow voting rights bills, like budget matters and Supreme Court judges, to pass with a simple majority, given his many absolutist statements against any kind of reform. But its not impossible, I guess. Progressives, most notably Indivisible cofounder Ezra Levin, have blasted Biden for not doing more to pass the billhe gave exactly one speech on voting rights, back in April, and has only been working behind the scenes in the last week.

Bidens allies say its more productive to work that way. No. 2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin admitted Im not sure when asked by reporters what happens next on voting rights, but promised that Biden is doing a lot of things that havent been announced publicly.

For his part, Schumer has promised to bring up the bill, or perhaps pieces of it, again. A version of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, a narrower voting-rights bill that Manchin mostly supports, is proceeding, but isnt on track to hit the Senate until the fall at the earliest, since Democrats are trying to write new federal requirements for preclearance of voting legislation that will stand up to the John Roberts Supreme Court (which struck down preclearance in 2013). Maybe it could be fast-tracked, but there is no version that can imaginably get 10 GOP votes (so far only Lisa Murkowski seems interested).

That brings us back to the filibuster. Democrats can get rid of it, or reform it, with just 50 votes (plus a tie-breaker from Harris). But they cant do it with 48. Like it or not, they seem stuck with finding a way to bring along Manchin and Sinema, whose specious Monday Washington Post piece defending the filibuster was too dumb to even debunk (though Greg Sargent did ably expose its inanity.)

After a meeting on Manchins proposals last week, Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, a staunch voting rights advocate, said Democratic unity was crucial. But when The Atlantics Russell Berman asked him how theyd get such unity on filibuster reform, he replied, Well cross that bridge when we come to it. It made me think of Selmas Edmund Pettus Bridge, where John Lewis almost lost his life for voting rights, and wonder how Democrats get Manchin and Sinema to show half that passion and courage.

Im not sure that party leaders performative strategywe can show Joe and Kyrsten theyre wrong!will work. But, sadly, I havent heard a better one so far.

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