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Why police violence against Black people persists—and what can be done about it

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We hear the call in demonstrations taking place in big cities and small towns across the country: “Say their names!” “George Floyd!”

And then, “Breonna Taylor” in Louisville. And “Rayshard Brooks” in Atlanta.

And Tamir Rice, and Philando Castile, and Eric Garner, and Stephon Clark, and Laquan McDonald. And so many more.

Beyond the individual deaths, the sheer length of the list of Black people killed by police really stuns. It shows that the central questions should be not just what happened to any individual victim, but why did it happen? And why does it keep happening, across the country, year after year? 

The two main drivers of this situation are the twin toxins of race and fear.

Race runs through the American psyche in deep ways, all rooted to slavery, white supremacy, and Jim Crow. Decades ago, research established that the dominant American stereotypes of Black people cast them as criminal, dangerous, and violent. But the last twenty years of work by social psychologists has yielded insights that might help explain why police are quicker to use deadly force in an encounter with a Black person.

It’s now been documented that when people see Black faces, their visual systems process things differently. They become quicker to see (or think they see) weapons, and become more likely to think about crime. Similarly, when scientists prime experimental subjects with suggestions of crime and violence and then show them pictures of groups of people, the subjects’ eyes move automatically to the Black faces. Blackness, the researchers said, operates as a “visual tuning device.”

Similarly, other research shows that when people see Black children, they tend to see them as older, larger, more muscular, and more threatening than white children, uniformly overestimating their age and bulk. For example, the Cleveland officer who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice to death fewer than three seconds after driving up next to him described him as approximately 18 years old and 185 pounds.

Add to this the poison of fear—on both sides of any police encounter. 

Anyone who speaks with African Americans about police learns that, for most of them, they have either personally experienced or heard repeatedly from family and friends stories of demeaning treatment, physical abuse, guns pulled, or “less than lethal” weapons used on them, often for small matters or nothing at all. Black parents, knowing that a traffic stop can morph into a deadly encounter in a heartbeat, teach their children how to survive these incidents in “the talk” given to every child of color before parents allow them to drive. For some Black Americans, the threat and danger posed by police in even the most routine matters means they hesitate to call the police when most white people would without hesitation.

But why would there be fear on the part of the police? After all, they display bravery and physical courage all the time; as former President Barack Obama said, they are the ones who “run toward the danger.” Most of the rest of us run away.

This is all true. But the presence of bravery does not mean fear disappears. In fact, present day police training and police culture do much to amp up fear among our officers.

From the academy onward, officers learn from trainers, speakers, and veterans that every encounter with a civilian carries the potential for lethal violence. Not just an extremely small percentage of such encounters, as I documented in my book A City Divided, but every one of them. Academy, in-service, and private training heighten the sense of lethal danger by showing recruits and officers countless videos from squad car dashcam recorders of police officers murdered and assaulted. These videos capture events that are (thankfully) exceedingly rare, and could serve as useful training tools concerning tactical mistakes. But the sheer volume of what trainers show them sends a different message: Everywhere, all the time, civilians will try to kill, maim, and assault you. 

The response to this has been to cultivate the idea of the warrior officer. The warrior is ready, at all times, to respond to the constant lethal threats, present everywhere, with righteous violence. It’s a war; we are the soldiers. 

It is no wonder that when the police perceive a threat, they often respond with violence; it is also not surprising that sometimes, even if the officer’s fear was real, the threat was not. This helps to explain why, in my years of research on police conduct and use of force, the phrase “I was in fear for my life” comes up so often in cases in which police shoot people who turn out to possess no weapons.

There are ways we can move forward from this dangerous, tragic state of affairs and create an environment of real public safety that actually serves and protects everyone.

First, don’t abolish the police. Instead, unbundle what tasks police now do, and ask which of those tasks actually need a police response. A report of a gunfight? Yes. A person in mental health crisis, or an issue with a homeless person or a drug overdose? Mobile units of other professionals, like social workers or mental health counselors, should come to the scene. Not just the funding, but the responsibility, for these issues should be taken from police and given to others more suited.

Second, we must have greater accountability for police misconduct, and transparency about misconduct’s consequences. Police departments are like many other organizations: A small percentage of workers cause a large percentage of the problems. The problem is not, or not only, those “bad apples”; it’s the apple barrel—the department as a whole—that tolerates them and allows them to remain, tainting the entire organization and rotting its culture.

Third, if union contracts make it too difficult to get rid of those who don’t belong in uniform, that is the fault of not just the unions but the cities and political leaders that negotiated those agreements. Those agreements must change. 

Fourth, use of force law must change. The U.S. Supreme Court and some state laws set the bar far too low, allowing more use of force, even deadly force, than is necessary. This can be done through changes in state law, and even by policy in individual departments. 

Unless we are willing to look beyond individual cases, to ask why we keep hearing about unnecessary deaths at police hands, all we’ll get are more names to add to our already horrifying long list. And no one wants that.

David A. Harris is Semenko chair at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, author of A City Divided: Race, Fear, and the Law in Police Confrontations, and host of the Criminal Injustice podcast.

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Walgreens Reports $1.7B Quarterly Loss, Cuts 4,000 Jobs Due To Covid-19 Impact

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Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc. (WBA) reported a $1.71 billion quarterly loss and announced 4,000 jobs cuts due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic sending shares down 8%.The stock dropped to $39.01 at the close on Thursday after the drugstore chain operator announced that it will also suspend its share repurchase program and will need to take a non-cash impairment charge of $2 billion mainly as result of the COVID-19 impact on its Boots UK business. As part of a restructuring plan to cut costs, Walgreens said it will close 48 of its Boots opticians stores and lay off 4,000 employees, or 7% of its workforce.Net loss was $1.71 billion, or $1.95 per share, in the three months ended May 31, versus a profit of $1.03 billion, or $1.13 per share, in the year-earlier period. Analysts on average had expected adjusted earnings of $1.19 per share. Revenue rose 0.1% to $34.6 billion.“Prior to the pandemic our financial performance for fiscal 2020 was on track with our expectations. However, this unprecedented global crisis led to a loss in the quarter as stay-at-home orders affected all of our markets,” Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina said. “Shopping patterns are evolving more rapidly than ever as consumers further embrace digital options, spurring us to accelerate our ongoing investments in digital transformation and neighborhood health destinations.”Walgreens total digitally initiated sales rose 22.7% in the third quarter, compared with the same period last year. The drugstore chain recently formed a strategic partnership with Microsoft (MSFT) and Adobe to launch a marketing technology and customer data platform for personalized healthcare and shopping experiences.Earlier this week, Walgreens announced that it will be expanding the size of its care clinics by nearly 700 retail stores over the next few years as part of an overhaul of its business model from being primarily a drug pharmacy to a primary care clinic.With Walgreens’ stock down now 34% year-to-date, analysts are sidelined on the stock. The Hold analyst consensus shows an unanimous 4 Hold ratings. Looking ahead, the $47.75 average price target implies 22% upside potential from current levels. (See Walgreens stock analysis on TipRanks).Morgan Stanley analyst Ricky Goldwasser earlier this month cut the stock’s price target to $45 from $49 and reiterated a Hold rating, saying that investors are weighing whether, or not the challenges the company is exposed to are valued into the shares.Goldwasser remains cautious for now and lowered her full-year per share earnings forecast by 8 cents to $5.48. The analyst expects Walgreens to report EPS of $1.16 in the fourth quarter, which is slightly below consensus estimates.Related News: Costco June Sales Beat Estimates As Shoppers Go Online; Top Analyst Raises PT Lookout Walmart, Amazon Is Coming for Your Grocery Customers, Says Analyst Walmart To Launch Online Subscription Service For $98 Per Year- Report More recent articles from Smarter Analyst: * Moderna Inks Deal With Rovi To Supply Potential Covid-19 Vaccine Outside U.S. * Sony Invests $250M For Minority Stake In Fortnite Maker Epic Games * Amazon: Top Analyst Raises Estimates… Again * GenMark Diagnostics (GNMK) Stock Is a Winner, But How Much Higher Can It Go?



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Why Beijing is trying to tame China’s runaway stock markets

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China’s stock markets marked their first decline in eight days on Friday, ending a more than weeklong run that saw some stocks reach multiyear highs and featured record-breaking initial public offerings.

Bullish encouragement from Chinese state media kicked off the mainland’s stock market rally. State media outlets then tempered their tone late this week in an attempt to rein in speculation, telling investors to think about the long term, days after predicting a “healthy” bull market.

China’s securities regulator also issued a note of caution on Wednesday when it warned investors of risks in margin financing, a practice where brokers lend money to investors to buy stocks.

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The regulator listed 258 margin lending groups that it said were illegal and told investors not to use such financing. Margin financing is rising at the fastest rate since 2015, according to Bloomberg data, and illegal margin lending is seen as a primary reason for China’s 2015 stock market crash.

Some analysts said the initial bullishness from state news outlets was to help boost consumer spending and China’s economic recovery from the coronavirus slowdown, the Financial Times reported.

But the frenzy of trading this week raised fears of a repeat of the stock market bubble that formed in late 2014 and burst in June 2015.

State media had also encouraged bullish investors in the run that preceded the 2015 crash, when the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges fell more than 40% in the following months. Altogether, the collapse wiped $5 trillion in market cap off China’s exchanges. Beijing ousted the head of the securities regulatory commission, on whose watch the crash occurred, in February 2016.

Stock markets in China are dominated by millions of individual investors. They account for 70% of stock transactions across China’s exchanges and are known for sometimes contributing to market volatility by trading on rumor and a “get rich quick” mentality. Since June 30, China’s stock market has added more than $1 trillion in value.

The Shanghai Composite rose 16.5% for eight days straight on Thursday. Even with Friday’s dip, it’s still up 17.8% since its June low. (The Nasdaq is up 8.4% for the same time period). Friday’s trading was likely also dampened by the U.S. government’s decision to sanction Chinese officials over alleged human rights abuses against the Uyghur ethnic minority group, a move that will ratchet up U.S.-China tensions. China has already said it would retaliate.

The week’s market frenzy led to some remarkable listings. One Chinese tech firm, QuantumCTek, surged 924% on its trading debut in Shanghai on Thursday, setting a record for the largest first-day jump of any Chinese IPO. The Star board, which QuantumCTek debuted on, has no trading limits on the first five days of a company’s IPO.

Hopeful economic recovery data coming out of China also buoyed investor confidence this week. China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose for a fourth straight month in June, according to official data from China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

Manufacturing PMI, which represents factory activity, is taken as an important indicator of economic performance. The figure plunged 14.3 percentage points in February during nationwide coronavirus shutdowns.

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Pag-IBIG Fund offers promo rates on home loans to boost economy 

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Top officials of Pag-IBIG Fund announced on Thursday (July 09) that they are offering promo rates on their home loans of as low as 4.985 percent per annum until the end of the year, in a move to help members acquire homes and help boost the national economy amid the pandemic.

The agency is offering special low rates of 4.985 percent per annum under a 1-year repricing period and 5.375 percent per annum under a 3-year repricing period. These are its lowest-ever rates under its Regular Housing Loan program, and are available to members getting new home loans until the end of 2020 only.

These further reduced the agency’s previous rates, already pegged at a low 5.375 percent per annum for the 1-year repricing and 6.375 percent per annum for the 3-year repricing period. Meanwhile, interest rates for its Affordable Housing Program, available for low and minimum-wage earners, remain at its lowest with a subsidized home loan interest rate of 3 percent per annum.

“By offering these special rates to our members, we are spurring economic activity in the housing industry, which has a ripple effect on the national economy. This is a win-win situation because our members get to take advantage of these home loan rates, while their purchase of their homes will help generate more jobs to help get our economy back on track.  This then, is our contribution to our nation’s journey to recovery, as led by President Duterte,” said Secretary Eduardo D. del Rosario of the Department of Human Settlements and Urban Development (DHSUD) and Chairman of the 11-member Pag-IBIG Fund Board of Trustees.

With the Pag-IBIG Board’s approval of the promo rates on July 9, Pag-IBIG Fund Chief Executive Officer Acmad Rizaldy P. Moti said that the special rates shall take effect immediately and shall be enjoyed by incoming home loan borrowers until December 29, 2020

“We review our rates regularly and have never repriced it upward under the Duterte administration. Our ever-improving quality of portfolio has allowed us to keep the rates low under our Risk-Based Pricing Model. But this time, we are offering something special. In consideration of the impact of the pandemic on the livelihood of our members, we reduced our home loan rates by as much 100 basis points for the next six months because we want to help members who are thinking of buying a home to take advantage of our lower-than-lowest rates.  Even amid the pandemic, now is the best time to buy a home with a Pag-IBIG Housing Loan” Moti said.



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