As pandemic rages on, analysis finds 1 in 5 people in US prisons infected with COVID-19

Amid swelling calls to reduce the nation's incarceration rates in light of the ongoing pandemic, The Marshall Project and The Associated Press released a new analysis Friday finding that one in five state and federal prisoners has tested positive for Covid-19.

That rate is "more than four times as high as the general population," the analysis noted. More than 1,700 prisoners have died from the virus, the data also showed.

The figures are based on data collected weekly in prisons since March, and account for cases and deaths as of Tuesday. The Marshall Project and AP have been tracking Covid-19 data in prisons since March.

So far, they found, at least 275,000 prisoners have been infected with the virus—though the tally is likely an undercount.

The analysis cites Homer Venters, former chief medical officer at New York's Rikers Island jail Homer Venters, who said, "I still encounter prisons and jails where, when people get sick, not only are they not tested but they don't receive care."

This is unacceptable.
— Clint Smith (@ClintSmithIII) December 18, 2020

Included in the analysis are 24 state prison systems that had even higher rates than one in five. In South Dakota, for example, three out of five prisoners have been infected with Covid-19—the highest rate. Arkansas had the second highest prisoner infection rate, with four of every seven having tested positive.

The analysis further noted:

Racial disparities in the nation's criminal justice system compound the disproportionate toll the pandemic has taken on communities of color. Black Americans are incarcerated at five times the rate of whites. They are also disproportionately likely to be infected and hospitalized with Covid-19 and are more likely than other races to have a family member or close friend who has died of the virus.

Human rights groups and public health experts have been urging states to roll out plans for the early release of prisoners. Calls began as early as March for compassionate releases. The months since have seen soaring infection rates and prison officials being accused of mishandling the response to the virus and denying basic necessities to stop its spread.

Over 200 health experts this month said that prison population reductions "would save lives and help limit the spread of the virus to communities nationwide."

"Physical distancing is unattainable in overcrowded and unsanitary carceral facilities, making viral outbreaks especially likely among a population with disproportionately high numbers of people who are medically vulnerable," the group wrote.

The pleas for early releases, however, have largely fallen on deaf ears.

"In the first three months of the pandemic, more than 10,000 federal prisoners applied for compassionate release," The Marshall Project and AP found. "Wardens denied or did not respond to almost all those requests, approving only 156—less than 2 percent."

The new figures on Covid 19-infected prisoners align with those of the ACLU, which warned back in April that the nation's "unique obsession with incarceration has become our Achilles heel when it comes to combating the spread of Covid-19."

The ACLU has accused local and state officials of failing to take adequate measures to reduce the spread of the virus in jails. And in October, the right groups sued the Trump administration to demand "the immediate release of improperly withheld agency records related to federal government's failed response to the spread of Covid-19 in prisons in jails."

As of this week, there are at least 266,993 incarcerated people sick with COVID-19. At least 1,778 have died.

We will not forget about incarcerated people during this pandemic. We won't stop fighting for their right to health and safety.
— ACLU (@ACLU) December 18, 2020

The ACLU, along with the UCLA School of Law's Prison Law and Policy Program, has been maintaining a "death by incarceration" database.

According to that tool, which covers state, federal, and local jails, as well as ICE detention facilities, there have been 266,993 Covid-19 cases and 1,778 virus-related deaths.

In the U.S. more broadly, the virus also continues its grip, even as vaccines are being given to healthcare workers this week. According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. has had over 17.2 million cases and over 311,000 deaths. "The country's average number of daily cases across a week was 215,729 on Wednesday," CNN reported, a figure that's "more than three times what the daily case average was during a summer peak in July."

​New Alabama GOP senator signals he may contest electoral college vote

After President Donald Trump lost so overwhelmingly at the ballot box, some members of Congress are ready to wage an internal government war to fight for him.

One such Republican is newly elected Alabama Republican Tommy Tuberville. Speaking at a campaign rally in Georgia, Tuberville told supporters that because Trump lost it was time to act.

"Folks, we got to grab a hold and hold on. We have no choice. Listen to me now. We have no choice but to win this election. They're going to try to steal it. They're going to try to buy it. They're going to tdo everything they can to lie, cheat, and steal to win this election. Like they did in the presidential election. It's impossible. It is impossible what happened. But we're going to get that all corrected. I'm gonna tell you: don't give up on [President Trump]. Don't give up on him."

Outside the rally, Lauren Windsor asked Tuberville what he was going to do to "fix" what he said was wrong.

"We're going to fight hard," he said.

A staffer quickly tried to rush him away and keep him from answering any questions.

"Just wait," he told the staffer. "Just -- well, you see what's coming. You've been reading about it in the House [of Representitives]. We're gonna have to, we're gonna have to do it in the Senate."

As Tuberville mentioned, the Senate hasn't taken up the idea the way the House has and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned his caucus not to go anywhere near the debate. Tuberville didn't seem to get the memo.

"I find it unfathomable that anyone would acquiesce to election theft and voter fraud because they lack the courage to take a difficult vote on the House or Senate floor," said Tuberville's colleague Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) in a Politico interview. "Last time I checked, that's why we were elected to Congress."

See the video of Tuberville in the video below:

Hitler started planning to attack U.S. as early as 1928

It had been an assumption of Hitler's since the 1920s that Germany would at some point fight the United States. As early as the summer of 1928 he asserted in his second book (not published until I did it for him in 1961) that strengthening and preparing Germany for war with the United States was one of the tasks of the National Socialist movement. Both because his aims for Germany's future entailed an unlimited expansionism of global proportions and because he thought of the United States as a country which with its population and size might at some time constitute a challenge to German domination of the globe, a war with the United States had long been part of the future he envisioned for Germany either during his own rule of it or thereafter.

During the years of his chancellorship before 1939, German policies designed to implement the project of a war with the United States had been conditioned by two factors: belief in the truth in the stab-in-the-back legend on the one hand and the practical problems of engaging American military power on the other. The belief in the concept that Germany had lost the First World War because of the collapse at home -- the stab in the back of the German army -- rather than defeat at the front automatically carried with it a converse of enormous significance which has generally been ignored. It made the military role of the United States in that conflict into a legend. Believing that the German army had not been beaten in the fighting, Hitler and many others in the country disbelieved that it had been American participation which had enabled the Western Powers to hold on in 1918 and then move toward victory over Germany. They perceived that to be a foolish fable, not a reasonable explication of the events of that year. A solid German home front, which National Socialism would ensure, could preclude defeat next time; the problem of fighting the United States was not that the inherently weak and divided Americans could create, field, and support effective fighting forces, but rather that they were so far away and that the intervening ocean could be blocked by a large American fleet. Here were the practical problems of fighting America: distance and the size of the American navy.

To overcome these practical obstacles Hitler built up the German navy and began work on a long-range bomber -- the notorious Amerika Bomber -- which would be capable of flying to New York and back without refueling. Although the bomber proved difficult to construct, Hitler embarked on a crash building program of superbattleships promptly after the defeat of France. In addition, he began accumulating air and sea bases on the Atlantic coast to facilitate attacks on the United States. In April 1941 Hitler secretly pledged that he would join Japan in a war on the United States. This was critical. Only if Japan declared war would Germany follow.

As long as Germany had to face the United States essentially by herself, she needed time to build her own blue-water navy; it therefore made sense to postpone hostilities with the Americans until Germany had been able to remedy this deficiency. If, on the other hand, Japan would come into the war on Germany's side, then that problem was automatically solved.

Hitler was caught out of town at the time of Pearl Harbor and had to get back to Berlin and summon the Reichstag to acclaim war. His great worry, and that of his foreign minister, was that the Americans might get their declaration of war in ahead of his own. As Joachim von Ribbentrop explained it, "A great power does not allow itself to be declared war upon; it declares war on others." He did not need to lose much sleep; the Roosevelt administration was quite willing to let the Germans take the lead. Just to make sure, however, that hostilities started immediately, Hitler had already issued orders to his navy, straining at the leash since October 1939, to begin sinking American ships forthwith, even before the formalities of declaring war. Now that Germany had a big navy on its side (Japan's), there was no need to wait even an hour.

This article is excerpted from Gerhard Weinberg's "Germany, Hitler, and World War II" (Cambridge University Press: 1995).

Gerhard L. Weinberg is emeritus professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II (Cambridge University Press, 1994).

This article was originally published at History News Network

Trump may punish McConnell by damaging Georgia Senate races

CNN correspondent John Harwood on Tuesday said that President Donald Trump could try to fire Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) by undermining the two Senate runoff races in Georgia.

Weeks after the 2020 presidential race had been called for Joe Biden, McConnell finally recognized his win on Tuesday.

"Today, I want to congratulate President-Elect Joe Biden. The president-elect is no stranger to the Senate. He's devoted himself to public service for many years," McConnell said in a statement on the Senate floor. "I also want to congratulate the vice president-elect, our colleague from California, Senator Harris."

While Trump has campaigned in Georgia for GOP candidates David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, he has also suggested that Republicans should not trust the voting systems in the state.

Harwood noted that Attorney General Bill Barr recently found himself out of a job after acknowledging that Trump lost the election.

"McConnell had no choice but to recognize Biden's win," Harwood noted on Twitter. "[H]e'll soon find out how selfish and destructive Trump wants to be."

"By sinking Loeffler/Perdue, Trump could put McConnell out of his job too," he pointed out.

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