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Archive for May, 2021

Joe Biden Is ‘Giving Serious Consideration’ to Nominating Caroline Kennedy for Ambassadorship

Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Caroline Kennedy

Caroline Kennedy is being considered for a top ambassador role within President brooks shoes Joe Biden’s administration, according to the Associated Press.

The White House declined to comment but, citing a source, the AP reported Thursday that Biden, 78, is “giving serious consideration to nominating” Kennedy, the daughter of late President John F. Kennedy, to an ambassadorship somewhere in Asia.

She previously served as the U.S. ambassador to Japan under President Barack Obama from 2013 until he left office in 2017.

Kennedy, 63, is one of the most prominent members of her famed political family.

She endorsed Biden early on in his 2020 presidential run and spoke at last year’s Democratic National Convention on his behalf.

During her DNC speech, she noted that she has known Biden since the 1970s, when she was a Senate intern and Biden, skechers shoes now 78, was a senator from Delaware.

In her initial endorsement last year, Kennedy wrote in The Boston Globe that she believed Biden would be “a president who can bring people together” and said he’s someone “who knows how to get things done at home and abroad.”

Jemal Countess/Getty Caroline Kennedy

Kennedy recalled a picturesque moment when Biden, “wearing his aviator glasses and a big smile,” stepped off Air Force Two while he was visiting Japan as the then-vice president.

“He radiated American optimism and generosity of spirit,” she wrote. “He made clear that America would always stand by our allies, and that we were committed to keeping the region peaceful and prosperous. He delivered tough messages as well, but he did it in private, with skill and respect.”

RELATED: Chelsea Clinton Remembers White House Childhood (and a Secret Service Mishap!) and Talks New Health Podcast

A spokesperson for Kennedy could not immediately be reached Friday for comment on the AP report.

The Biden administration has received mounting questions when the president will announce several ambassadorial nominations.

Paul Marotta/Getty Caroline Kennedy

Koji Sasahara/AP/Shutterstock From left: Joe Biden and Caroline Kennedy

RELATED: Bob Dole Says He’s Doing ‘Very Well’ amid Stage 4 Cancer Treatment and Doesn’t ‘Intend to Go Quietly’

Biden has yet to nominate an ambassador for several Asian countries, such as China, India, Japan, South Korea, Thailand and the Philippines, according to a Washington Post tracker.

Around the globe, he hasn’t nominated ambassadors to dozens of other high-profile countries, such as the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Germany, Mexico, Israel, Ireland, Saudi Arabia and Australia.

In all, there are 71 countries left for Biden to nominate an ambassador.

RELATED: An Army Vet’s Unexpected Meeting with Biden After Sending Thank-You Letter for Ending Trans Ban

A reporter at Tuesday’s press briefing asked White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki when more nominations would be coming, noting that “very few ambassador positions have been announced.”

Psaki, 42, told reporters that announcements will be “coming soon.”

“Soon,” she reiterated.

Jennifer Aniston responds to Mariah Carey’s ‘sad’ attempt at the ‘Rachel’ haircut

Mariah Carey revealed she once rocked
Mariah Carey revealed she once rocked “The Rachel” haircut inspired by the television series “Friends.”
Mariah Carey’s “Rachel” haircut, inspired by the television show Friends, has gold-star approval from hey dude shoes Jennifer Aniston herself.

“A sad attempt at the Rachel hairdo,” the 51-year-old Grammy winner wrote on Instagram Friday, following the Friends reunion special which aired on HBO Max. Carey’s photo, which caught Aniston’s eye, depicted her at the microphone, her hair styled with a headband. “LOVE IT,” wrote the 52-year-old actress who played Rachel Green on the sitcom.

In the early season of Friends, which aired from 1994 to 2004, Aniston’s character rocked a layered look created by hair guru skechers outlet Chris McMillan that inspired salon copycat cuts.

However, in 2015, Aniston revealed that she actually disliked the iconic trim, even by her favorite stylist. “I was not a fan of the ‘Rachel,'” she told Glamour. “That was kind of cringe-y for me. Looking back—honestly, even during that time—I couldn’t do it on my own. I needed Chris attached to my hip. Left to my own devices, I am not skilled with a hairbrush and blow-dryer.”

Jennifer Aniston's
Jennifer Aniston’s “Friends” character Rachel Green popularized the “Rachel” haircut.

Aniston’s hair wasn’t the only memory triggered by the reunion special, which was hosted by comedian James Corden. The rest of the cast — David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and Lisa Kudrow — reflected on the show’s best-kept secrets including the real-life flirtation between Aniston and Schwimmer, who played Ross, Rachel’s on-again, off-again boyfriend.

“The first season, I had a major crush on Jen,” Schwimmer said during the special, with no objection from Aniston who added, “We channeled all of that passion and love for each other into Ross and Rachel.”

Schwimmer continued, “We were both crushing hard on each other. It was two ships passing, because one of us was always in a relationship. We never crossed that boundary — we respected it.”

The cast revealed other behind-the-scenes secrets such as LeBlanc showing up for his final Friends audition with a bloody nose (the result of a drunken incident the night prior) and a blooper reel that had the gang in stitches.

A Glut of Chinese Masks Are Driving U.S. Companies Out of Business

A worker fabricates N95 masks at Demetech, a medical supply manufacturer in Miami Lakes, Fla., Feb. 5, 2021. (Scott McIntyre/The New York Times)....
A worker fabricates N95 masks at Demetech, a medical supply manufacturer in Miami Lakes, Fla., Feb. 5, 2021.

Mask mandates have eased, a welcome milestone in the battle against COVID-19. brooks shoes But for the two dozen domestic companies that jumped into the mask-making business last year, the good news comes with a downside: a calamitous drop in sales.

Some of the slackening demand is tied to the loosening of masking guidelines by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but industry experts say a bigger factor has been the return of inexpensive protective gear from China that began flooding the U.S. market earlier this year.

Industry executives and some members of Congress have accused China of dumping, noting that many imports are priced so low — sometimes one-tenth of what U.S. factories charge for comparable products — that there is little chance for domestic companies to survive.

In recent weeks, at least three companies have stopped producing masks and medical gowns, and several others have markedly scaled back production — among them Premium-PPE, a year-old surgical mask-maker in Virginia that recently laid off most of its 280 workers.

“Our industry is in break-glass mode,” said Brent Dillie, co-owner of the company.

Like other startups, the company got into the mask business after China, the world’s largest producer of protective medical gear, skechers shoeshalted exports at the start of the pandemic.

“Six months from now, many of us won’t be around,” said Dillie, “and that won’t be good for America the next time there’s a national health emergency.”

The crisis faced by domestic producers is an urgent test for the Biden administration and embodies two of its most important priorities: shore up U.S. manufacturing and ensure that health care workers will never again scramble to find adequate protective gear. Those shortages, health experts say, most likely contributed to the high rates of infection among front-line workers, more than 3,600 of whom died of COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic, according to a tally by The Guardian and Kaiser Health News.

The White House has announced a few measures aimed at buoying domestic producers of personal protective equipment, but industry executives say they are still awaiting more substantial trade policies and supply-chain reforms that would bolster their companies’ chances of survival.

Tim Manning, the White House COVID-19 supply coordinator, said the administration has tried to address some of the industry’s challenges: They have pushed federal agencies to procure domestic supplies, and they have introduced startups to the distribution giants that supply the nation’s hospital chains. The administration, he said, was also poised in the coming months to allocate billions of dollars in federal relief spending that would replenish the Strategic National Stockpile with U.S.-made medical goods.

“The scale and scope of these efforts is something we’re still working through,” Manning said in an interview.

In Congress, a bill with bipartisan support would allocate $500 million in annual spending over the next three years to support domestic manufacturers of vital medical equipment.

While industry executives commend these moves, they say that time is running out. The American Mask Manufacturer’s Association, a recently created trade group, said its 27 members had already laid off 50% of their workforce. Without concerted action from Washington, most of those companies will go belly up within the next two months.

An immediate boost, they say, would be to rescind the CDC guidelines, born during the pandemic, that force health workers to repeatedly reuse N95 masks, even though they are designed to be thrown away after contact with each patient. Many hospitals are still following the guidelines, despite the 260 million masks gathering dust in warehouses across the country.

“We’re not looking for infinite support from the government,” said Lloyd Armbrust, the association’s president and the founder and chief executive of Armbrust American, a mask-making company in Texas. “We need the government’s support right now because unfair pressure from China is going to kill this new industry before the legislators even get a chance to fix the problem.”

The association is planning to file an unfair trade complaint with the World Trade Organization, claiming that much of the protective gear imported from China is selling for less than the cost of production. The price for some Chinese-made surgical masks has recently dropped to as low as 1 cent, compared with about 10 to 15 cents for U.S. masks that use domestically produced raw material.

“This is full-on economic warfare,” said Luis Arguello Jr., vice president of DemeTech, a medical suture company in Florida that earlier this month laid off 1,500 workers who made surgical masks.

He said that in the coming weeks, 500 other workers who make N95 masks would also likely be let go.

“China is on the mission to make sure no one in the industry survives, and so far they’re winning,” Arguello said.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington did not respond to requests for comment.

The International Trade Administration, a division of the Commerce Department, declined to say whether it would support an anti-competitive complaint against China. The agency, a spokesperson said in a statement, “continues to monitor market trends closely and assess options to ensure American manufacturers are competing on a level playing field.”

The Office of U.S. Trade Representative, which makes trade policy recommendations to the president, did not respond to interview requests.

The flood of inexpensive imports also affects producers of other medical gear. Merrow Manufacturing, a 183-year-old textile company in Fall River, Massachusetts, produces an unlikely array of goods — from lingerie and bulletproof vests to tank covers. It entered the surgical gown business last year, prompted in part by the desperation of hospitals across New England that suddenly could not obtain medical supplies from China.

“Our phones were ringing off the hook with people asking if we could help,” said Charlie Merrow, who runs the company with his brother.

Hundreds of workers were quickly retrained; dozens more were hired; and after a retooling that cost $10 million, Merrow’s sewing machines were churning out 700,000 gowns a week by last summer. The governor of Massachusetts stopped by the factory to lionize their efforts. The governor of Rhode Island described the Merrows as heroes.

These days, not many hospitals are calling, and Merrow recently stopped production after the number of unsold gowns hit 1 million. The company’s $18 reusable gowns, he said, do not stand a chance against similar products from China that sell for $6.

“It’s really a lost opportunity for the country when you consider that our national security is at stake,” he said.

The Merrows are determined to stay in the protective gear business. They are pivoting to making scrubs and other medical garments from recycled material, but other companies have decided to call it quits.

National Filters, a surgical mask company in Harbor Beach, Michigan, ceased production earlier this month, and Protective Health Gear, a year-old mask startup in Paterson, New Jersey, is weeks away from laying off its remaining 40 workers.

“We’re hanging on by a thread,” said Brian Wolin, the chief executive.

The industry shakeout comes as no surprise to Mike Bowen, co-owner of Prestige Ameritech, a Texas company that is one of the largest mask manufacturers in the country. Bowen, who has been in the business since 1986, has long warned political leaders in Washington about the nation’s dependence on foreign suppliers.

“I have 14 years of letters to presidents, members of Congress and hospital executives telling them a whole bunch of people are going to die without serious changes, and that’s exactly what happened,” he said.

Can Removing Highways Fix America’s Cities?

Shawn Dunwoody, an artist and community organizer, on Union Street, where the Inner Loop has been filled in and walkable new urban development is under way, in Rochester, N.Y., May 17, 2021. (Mustafa Hussain/The New York Times)
Shawn Dunwoody, an artist and community organizer, on Union Street, where the Inner Loop has been filled in and walkable new urban development is under way, in Rochester, N.Y., May 17, 2021

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Built in the 1950s to speed suburban commuters to and from downtown, Rochester’s hey dude shoesInner Loop destroyed hundreds of homes and businesses, replacing them with a broad, concrete trench that separated downtown from the rest of the city.

Now, the city is looking to repair the damage. It started by filling in a nearly-mile-long section of the sunken road, slowly stitching a neighborhood back together. Today, visitors of the Inner Loop’s eastern segment would hardly know a highway once ran beneath their feet.

As midcentury highways reach the end of their life spans, cities across the country are having to choose whether to rebuild or reconsider them. And a growing number, like Rochester, are choosing to take them down.

The massive roads radically reshaped cities, plowing through dense downtown neighborhoods, dividing many Black communities and increasing car dependence. In order to accommodate cars and commuters, many cities “basically destroyed themselves,” said Norman Garrick, a professor at the University of Connecticut who studies how transportation projects have reshaped American cities.

“Rochester has shown what can be done in terms of reconnecting the city and restoring a sense of place,” he said. “That’s really the underlying goal of highway removal.”

The project’s successes and stumbling blocks provide lessons for other cities looking to retire some of their own aging highways. Nearly 30 cities nationwide are currently discussing some form of removal.

Some, like Syracuse and Detroit, have committed to replacing stretches of interstate with more connected, skechers outlet walkable neighborhoods. Others, like New Orleans and Dallas, are facing pressure from local residents and activists to address the pollution, noise and safety hazards brought by the mega-roads.

The growing movement has been energized by support from the Biden administration, which has made addressing racial justice and climate change, major themes in the debate over highway removal, central to its agenda.

In a wide-reaching infrastructure plan released at the end of March, President Joe Biden proposed spending $20 billion to help reconnect neighborhoods divided by highways. Congressional Democrats have translated the proposal into legislation that would provide funding over the next five years. And the Department of Transportation opened up separate grants that could help some cities get started.

Pete Buttigieg, who heads the department, has expressed support for removing barriers that divided Black and minority communities, saying that “there is racism physically built into some of our highways.” Midcentury highway projects often targeted Black neighborhoods, destroying cultural and economic centers and bringing decades of environmental harm.

Congress is still haggling over Biden’s infrastructure plan, but experts say the proposed funding for highway removal represents a shift in the way the government approaches transportation projects.

“As recently as a decade ago,” said Peter D. Norton, a transportation historian at the University of Virginia, “every transportation problem was a problem to be solved with new roads.” Now, the impacts of those roads are beginning to enter the equation.

Back to a Neighborhood

Federal and state funds have historically gone to building highways, not removing them. But in 2013, the city of Rochester, in upstate New York, won a nearly $18 million grant from the Obama administration that allowed it to take out an eastern segment of its sunken Inner Loop freeway, known locally as “the moat.”

The project turned a six-lane highway, with access roads running alongside, into a narrower boulevard, and the rest of the land was opened up for development.

People have already moved into town house-style apartments where the highway once stood. Scooters and bicycles share space with cars along the new Union Street corridor, a once unlikely sight. Several cross-streets cut off by the highway have been reconnected, encouraging more walking in the area.

And the big fear of removing a highway — terrible traffic — hasn’t materialized.

Lovely Warren, who has served as Rochester’s mayor since 2014, said the project is proof the city can undo some of its mistakes.

In the past, “we created a way for people to get on a highway and go directly out of our community,” she said, adding that highways also created “barriers that were really detrimental to the communities left behind.”

Now, Rochester is trying a different approach: Instead of moving people in and out of downtown as quickly as possible, the city is trying to make downtown a more livable place.

The highway removal and other deconstruction projects are part of a long-term plan for a city still struggling to come back from years of economic and population decline. The big bet: Rebuilding more walkable, bikeable and connected neighborhoods will attract new investment and new residents. And city officials hope it might even reduce car-dependence in the long run.

But rebuilding a neighborhood from scratch isn’t easy, or quick.

Four years after the sunken freeway was filled, many buildings along the corridor are still under construction and new businesses have not yet moved into the space, including a planned pharmacy and grocery store.

Local residents and business owners said they were glad to see the highway go, but many of them had mixed feelings about what followed.

“The success was: It got filled. You now have people living somewhere that was just road before,” said Shawn Dunwoody, an artist and community organizer who lives in Marketview Heights, a neighborhood near the removal site.

“We don’t have the moat that was there,” he said, walking along the new corridor. “But now, when you look down, there’s just a whole series of walls,” he added, pointing to the large, new apartment buildings that repeat down Union Street.

Others echoed the concern that the redevelopment project brought in too many higher-end apartments (though a portion are reserved for lower-income tenants and other vulnerable groups) without opening up any space for the public: No parks, no plazas.

Erik Frisch, a transportation specialist for the city who worked on the Inner Loop East removal, said the project has so far fulfilled its main goals: bringing in new investment and enlivening the city’s East End. But the new neighborhood is still a work in progress.

Rebuilding a neighborhood “is not just an ‘Add water, mix and stir’ type situation,” said Emily Morry, who works at the Rochester Public Library and has written about the neighborhoods razed by the Inner Loop’s construction. “You can set up all the infrastructure you like, but there’s the human factor, which takes all these different buildings and turns them into actual, viable communities.”

Rochester is now looking to take down more of the Inner Loop highway, starting with a northern arm. Officials hope the experience from the first removal will help expedite the process.

It took more than two decades of planning to break ground on the Inner Loop East removal, even though the project faced fewer obstacles than most.

The eastern highway segment never carried the traffic it was built to serve, so its removal faced scant opposition from daily commuters and business groups. The aging road was due for major upgrades, which would have cost much more than the entire removal process. And there weren’t a lot of people already living along the corridor.

Funding and expertise were the biggest barriers to removal.

A few highways had been taken down in the past, but there was no real template. San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway was irreparably damaged by an earthquake in 1989 and removed two years later. Other, more recent removals targeted waterfront highways and short “spurs” rather than segments of a working highway.

“We are a bit of a proof of concept,” said Frisch, the city’s transportation specialist.

Removing the northern arm of the Inner Loop presents a new challenge. That section of highway carries much more traffic and its removal would reconnect two long-divided neighborhoods: Marketview Heights, a majority Black and Hispanic lower-income community north of the Inner Loop, and Grove Place, a whiter, wealthier enclave to the south.

For current residents of Marketview Heights, the crucial question is: What will reconnection bring? More opportunity and less pollution? Or another round of displacement?

Dozens of Projects

In recent years, more cities have started to seriously rethink some of their highways. The Congress for the New Urbanism, a group that tracks highway removals, counted 33 proposed projects in 28 American cities. And the idea is being discussed in many others.

If rebuilding cities is done right, highway removal projects could make life better for local residents as well as the planet, said Garrick of the University of Connecticut, because denserless car-centric neighborhoods are crucially important to reducing greenhouse gases that are causing climate change.

The proposed replacements, and their benefits, vary. Some follow Rochester’s model, turning former highways into smaller, walkable boulevards. Others are covering highways with parks, or merely replacing them with highway-like streets. Nationwide, many cities also continue to expand highways.

A growing number of removal projects are grappling with the questions of environmental justice central to Biden’s proposal. Historically, vulnerable communities have had little say in infrastructure decisions.

When the National Interstate Highway System was built in the 1950s and ’60s, it connected the country like never before. But it plowed through cities with little concern for local effects. State highways and connector roads compounded the damage.

“Highways, freeways, expressways were always hostile to cities,” said Norton of the University of Virginia. But they were particularly hostile to Black communities.

In cities like Detroit, New Orleans, Richmond, Virginia, and many more, federal interstates and other highways were often built through thriving Black neighborhoods in the name of “slum clearance.”

Most highway projects fit into a broader program of urban renewal that reshaped American cities in the mid-20th century, displacing more than a million people across the country, most of them Black. Cities replaced dense, mixed-use neighborhoods with megaprojects like convention centers, malls, and highways. When public housing was built, it usually replaced many fewer units than were destroyed.

Clearing “blighted” neighborhoods, which was usually a reference to low-income and Black areas, was the intentional goal of many urban highway projects, said Lynn Richards, president of the Congress for the New Urbanism, which advocates for more sustainable cities. “But, you know, where one person sees urban blight, another person sees a relatively stable neighborhood.”

Highways didn’t just destroy communities, they also often reinforced racial divides within cities.

White Americans increasingly fled cities altogether, following newly built roads to the growing suburbs. But Black residents were largely barred from doing the same. Government policies denied them access to federally backed mortgages and private discrimination narrowed the options further.

In effect, that left many Black residents living along the highways’ paths.

In March, Biden named New Orleans’ Claiborne Expressway as a vivid example of how highway construction divided communities and led to environmental injustice.

The highway looms over Claiborne Avenue, once an oak-lined boulevard that served as “the economic heart and soul of the Black community of New Orleans,” said Amy Stelly, a local resident and urban planner, who has been pushing for the expressway’s removal for most of the last decade. A part of the Treme neighborhood, the Claiborne Avenue corridor was a meeting space for local residents and the site of Black Mardi Gras celebrations at a time when the festival was still segregated.

In the mid-1960s, the oak trees were ripped out to make way for the highway, cleaving the neighborhood in two. Over the following decades, the once middle-class area fell into decline. Today, the expressway corridor is polluted: Local residents suffer higher than average rates of asthma and the soil is contaminated with lead, the result of years of leaded gasoline use in cars traveling into and out of downtown.

The idea of removing the highway, however, is raising some of the same concerns heard in Rochester.

Not Repeating Mistakes

Older residents of Rochester’s Marketview Heights neighborhood still remember the displacement caused by the construction of the Inner Loop. Many people now fear a second wave if it is removed.

A common argument, said Dunwoody, the artist and community organizer, is that if the highway is removed “folks are now going to be looking at our neighborhood, and bringing in yoga studios and coffee shops to move us out.”

“People don’t want to get gentrified, get pushed out, get priced out,” he said.

To make sure that city officials listen to these concerns, Dunwoody started a local advocacy group three years ago with Suzanne Mayer, who lives on the other side of the highway, in the Grove Place neighborhood. The group, called Hinge Neighbors, aims to bring local residents into the planning process.

At a community meeting in Marketview Heights in early May, the biggest question on people’s minds wasn’t whether the highway should come down, but what will replace it.

Miquel Powell, a local resident and business owner working on a prison re-entry program, worried that more large-scale apartments, like those built in the East End, would come to the neighborhood. “That would totally change the whole dynamic,” he said. Marketview Heights is mostly free-standing single-family homes; some are subdivided and most are rented.

Nancy Maciuska, who is in her 60s, said she wants to see more family-centric development in the area if the highway is removed, and some parks to replace those torn down by the construction of the freeway. “So people can raise their families and enjoy Mother Nature,” she said.

Hinge Neighbors helped Maciuska, Powell and other residents put some of their concerns about the Inner Loop North project into a presentation for city consultants and the mayor.

The project is still in early stages and Marketview Heights is only one corner of the area under study for removal. But Warren said her administration is exploring options that would help keep longtime residents in the neighborhood, including potential rent-to-own housing arrangements.

City officials are scheduled to present a series of options for the project to the community this summer.

The big challenge, according to Garrick, is that new investments in American cities today tend to lead to gentrification. “We need to figure out how to change without displacing people,” he said.

Some of the positive effects of highway removals, like decreasing pollution and increasing property values, can lead to the displacement. A recent study looked at the effects of replacing the Cypress Freeway in Oakland, California, with a street-level boulevard and found that the project decreased pollution but increased resident turnover.

Such “environmental gentrification” can also happen when parks and other greenery are introduced to historically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

The proposed Democratic legislation hopes to avoid that paradox. The bill would fund community outreach and engagement by local groups. And it prioritizes capital construction grants for projects that include measures like land trusts that would ensure the availability of affordable housing for local residents.

“It’s no longer good enough for us to remove a highway and make a replacement road beautiful,” said Richards of the Congress for the New Urbanism. “We have to reconnect the neighborhoods and invest in the legacy residents.”

‘I was kicked out’: Ousted California principal escorted off campus after graduation speech

STOCKTON, Calif. – An ousted California principal used the 2021 graduation stage as his platform to deliver a brooks shoescontroversial speech that ended with him being escorted off campus.

During a Thursday morning commencement, Ben Nakamura, former principal at Stagg High School in Stockton, California, focused more on his personal grievances with the school district rather than the students he was meant to send off into the world, district officials said.

When Nakamura finished his speech, he walked off stage and was greeted by two men. The men had a conversation and then walked Nakamura off the field.

Melinda Meza, Stockton Unified School District communications and media relations representative, said the district received complaints from parents because Nakamura gave a lengthy speech and started talking about his own personal grievances.
Stagg High School Principal Ben Nakamura
Stagg High School Principal Ben Nakamura

Meza said Nakamura was walked off campus for his and the general public’s safety.

In his speech, Nakamura said he would not return to Stagg because Stockton Unified School District trustees voted to skechers shoes remove him as the school’s principal.

Nakamura told students he was ousted in a 4-3 vote by the board, despite pleas from the community, staff and students to keep the principal.

No reason has been given for his dismissal.

“I was kicked out for one reason that I truly love you and this community,” Nakamura said. “I came here to serve you, to love you, to be in the mix and the grind with you.”

He also encouraged students to study and do their best. He shared experiences from his personal upbringing, including his mother’s death to a heroin overdose, and mentioned how much he loved his job at Stagg.

He touched on race, violence in neighborhoods, fighting for higher education, and working to set the bar for future graduating classes.

Brian Biedermann, director of educational services, confirmed Nakamura’s keys were confiscated and he was not allowed back at graduation ceremonies.

Nakamura was set to speak again at noon and 3 p.m. Thursday during commencement ceremonies.

To ensure social distancing, Stagg High School divided its graduating class into three groups, each to have its own ceremony.

Stagg High P.E teacher and tennis coach Shannon Markley holds up a sign in support of principal Ben Nakamura during a protest at SUSD headquarters in downtown Stockton. Markley was with a group from Stagg High School protesting the possible dismissal of Nakamura who was on a list of 104 staff cuts that the school board was considering. CLIFFORD OTO/THE STOCKTON RECORD

Earlier this school year, SUSD announced a series of layoffs happening across the district. Though the list did not name employees, the community learned that Nakamura was among them.

In past SUSD meetings, Stagg community members met outside the district’s offices to protest Nakamura’s dismissal, showing their support for their principal.

Stagg High teachers and sisters Ana Orzonio, left and Sandra Orzornio hold up signs in support of Stagg High School Principal Ben Nakamura during a protest at Stockton Unified headquarters in downtown Stockton on March 9. They were with a group from Stagg protesting the possible dismissal of Nakamura, who was on a list of 104 staff cuts that the school board was considering.
Stagg High teachers and sisters Ana Orzonio, left and Sandra Orzornio hold up signs in support of Stagg High School Principal Ben Nakamura during a protest at Stockton Unified headquarters in downtown Stockton on March 9. They were with a group from Stagg protesting the possible dismissal of Nakamura,

“There were strict COVID-19 guidelines, so no principals were allowed to give a speech,” Meza said. Other schools did do principal introductions during ceremonies, but Nakamura’s remarks “didn’t follow COVID-19 guidelines,” as established by Biedermann for SUSD according to state health protocols, said Meza.

According to the California Department of Health graduation guidelines, speakers at graduations may remove their masks as long as they are at least 6 feet away from other attendees and should keep their comments brief while unmasked.

Additionally, recommendations to virtually share speeches are listed for “commencement ceremonies and celebrations that involve more people than are permitted by the mandatory capacity caps,” when physically meeting.

Nakamura said he was not fully aware of what he was authorized to do because so many policies and procedures were changing “pretty much on a daily basis.”

“I did not do that knowing that I was violating any policy,” he said.

Nakamura said that if he hadn’t spoken, he would not have had an opportunity to say goodbye to the students.

“I wanted to tell the kids why I left, so they would know I did not leave them, I did not turn my back on them,” he said.

Resistance to vaccine mandates is building. A powerful network is helping.

Rally goers hold signs protesting vaccines at the “World Wide Rally for Freedom”, an anti-mask and brooks shoesanti-vaccine rally, at the State House in Concord, New Hampshire, May 15, 2021.

The Americans lodging complaints against coronavirus vaccine mandates are a diverse lot – a sheriff’s deputy in North Carolina, nursing home employees in Wisconsin and students at the largest university in New Jersey.

But their resistance is woven together by a common thread: the involvement of a law firm closely tied to the anti-vaccine movement.

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Attorneys from Siri & Glimstad – a New York firm that has done millions of dollars of legal work for one of the nation’s foremost anti-vaccination groups – are co-counsel in a case against the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. They’ve sent warning letters to officials in Rock County, Wis., as well as to the president of Rutgers University and other schools.

The legal salvos show that a groundswell against compulsory immunization is being coordinated, at least in part, from a law office on Park Avenue in midtown Manhattan. And they offer a window into a wide-ranging and well-resourced effort to contest vaccine requirements in workplaces and other settings critical to the country’s reopening – a dispute with sweeping implications for public health, state authority and individual rights.

“The message is, ‘Maybe you should reconsider because you don’t want to end up in court,’ ” said Dorit Rubinstein Reiss, a skechers shoesprofessor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law. “I think that works.”

The Informed Consent Action Network, a Texas-based nonprofit group founded by former daytime television producer Del Bigtree that campaigns against requiring vaccines based on unsubstantiated or debunked claims about their dangers, has advertised Siri & Glimstad’s services and sought plaintiffs for challenges to mandates.

“If you or anyone you know is being required by an employer or school to receive a covid-19 vaccine, ICAN is offering to support legal action on your behalf to challenge the requirement,” reads an advertisement on a blog run by Children’s Health Defense, a group founded by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that spreads what Kennedy’s family members say is anti-vaccine misinformation.

Even before the pandemic, legal services were core to these advocacy efforts. The nearly $1.3 million paid by ICAN to Siri & Glimstad in 2019 – the most recent year for which a tax filing is publicly available – was the nonprofit’s single largest reported expenditure.

At stake in this latest contest is whether hospitals, law enforcement agencies and others can require employees to take a vaccine that was made available in an expedited process permitted during a public health emergency – and, likewise, whether schools may require the shots for students, faculty and staff members in the same way many require familiar vaccines for measles and chickenpox. There is little case law on the matter, with only one vaccine, for anthrax exposure, previously cleared in a similar way.

Employers are expected to cite the expansive evidence supporting the safety and efficacy of the coronavirus vaccines, as well as the extraordinary health risks created by the current emergency, said Kerry Scanlon, a former Department of Justice official who oversees labor and employment litigation at Chicago-based law firm McDermott Will & Emery.

Scanlon believes employers are in a strong position to defend compulsory vaccination, but he said many might shy away from it simply to avoid costly litigation.

ICAN is already claiming victory, thanks to the work of a legal team led by Siri & Glimstad’s managing partner, Aaron Siri. “Employers and schools that previously required the covid-19 vaccine have dropped those requirements,” the group declares in its ad on the Children’s Health Defense blog. “This includes an employer that did so on the heels of ICAN’s legal team challenging its mandate in court.”

Neither Siri nor his co-counsel in the North Carolina case, Elizabeth Brehm, responded to emailed questions. Bigtree did not respond to telephone messages. Kennedy said his organization is “working with firms all over the country” to challenge vaccine mandates and estimated that he receives “many hundreds” of inquiries each week about potential litigation.

In legal filings and letters to employers and universities, attorneys from Siri & Glimstad focus on the expedited process known as an emergency use authorization used to clear the shots during a public health emergency. Mandating a vaccine cleared that way, they argue in a complaint filed against the Durham County Sheriff’s Department, is “illegal and unenforceable.”

Their arguments go further. Pointing to the principle of informed consent, a tenet of medical ethics addressing human experimentation enshrined in the Nuremberg Code after World War II, their letter to the president of Rutgers University contends a mandate under these circumstances violates not just federal law, but also “international laws, civil and individual rights, and public policy.” Failure to rescind a requirement in Rock County, Wis., the firm informed officials there, “will result in legal action being filed against you.”

“Govern yourself accordingly,” the Feb. 2 letter advised.

– – –

No reference to these communications with Rock County appears in a Feb. 23 opinion column written by Siri for Stat, the health-focused news website.

The headline asserted, “Federal law prohibits employers and others from requiring vaccination with a Covid-19 vaccine distributed under an EUA.” The piece picked up significant traffic, according to the social media-analysis tool CrowdTangle, gaining more than 100,000 interactions on Facebook, meaning likes, comments and shares. It drew attention across a wide range of anti-vaccine groups, as well in forums devoted to conspiracy theories, including ones about 5G and the death toll from covid-19, CrowdTangle showed.

Framed as a legal overview offered for the benefit of employers, schools and other organizations “grappling with whether to require Covid-19 vaccination,” the piece warned of “costly and time-consuming litigation.”

Left unsaid was the fact that Siri and a law partner were representing a Wisconsin nursing home employee objecting to one such requirement. The piece also did not note significant disagreement over what the law allows.

The fact sheet issued by the Food and Drug Administration for coronavirus vaccine recipients and caregivers says it is “your choice to receive or not receive” the shots. The language echoes a provision of federal law governing the emergency authorization of medicines that stipulates people must be informed “of the option to accept or refuse” the product, but also “of the consequences, if any, of refusing.”

Michelle Mello, a professor of law and medicine at Stanford University, said it’s not clear whether the statute was meant to address making the shots compulsory for work or school.

An employer can’t hold you down to get the shots against your will, said experts in health and employment law, but some believe a permissible consequence of refusal to vaccinate could, in some circumstances, be losing your job. In December, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said employers requiring the vaccine would comply with federal disability law and anti-discrimination statutes so long as they make exceptions for an individual’s disability or religious beliefs.

Still, most employers have avoided mandates. There are notable exceptions, including many universities, several hospitals and Delta Air Lines, which said this month that new employees must be vaccinated.

Employers will have more confidence about requiring vaccination, some experts said, once the products gain the FDA’s full approval, which U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, are seeking for their coronavirus vaccine. A decision from regulators could come as soon as the fall, and other coronavirus vaccine makers are expected to apply for full approval soon.

Likewise, Kennedy said full approval will make the legal opposition to mandates more difficult. “You’d need to go to the Supreme Court and get a reversal of ‘Jacobson,’ ” he said, referring to the 1905 Supreme Court decision that found states could force residents to be inoculated against smallpox or pay a fine.

Others said the hurdle created by the emergency use authorization, or EUA, is more rhetorical than legal. “The FDA required as much for this EUA as it requires for full approval,” said Dan Troy, a former chief counsel to the agency.

But the issue has never been tested, Mello said. “Even legal scholars disagree about how to read these regulations,” she said. “There’s a great deal of uncertainty.”

– – –

One of Siri & Glimstad’s earliest challenges was brought against a county-owned skilled-nursing facility that has served the southern Wisconsin community for more than 160 years.

The 128-bed Rock Haven nursing home had 15 cases of the coronavirus and two deaths, said Rock County Administrator Josh Smith, prompting leaders to require staff vaccinations. A memorandum issued shortly before Christmas noted that failure to comply would “result in the employee being laid off,” not eligible to return until vaccinated.

Of nearly 200 workers, 16 are on layoff status, Smith said.

Representing a Rock Haven employee, Brehm, one of the firm’s New York attorneys, wrote to county officials that they were “deliberately taking away each employee’s statutorily guaranteed right to decide for him or herself whether to accept or refuse administration of the covid-19 vaccines.”

The Feb. 2 letter arrived on the same day as another from a Wisconsin law firm. “It is our firm belief that . . . Rock County’s perhaps well-intentioned but heavy-handed policy concerning mandatory vaccination of county employees violates . . . constitutional rights,” wrote Michael Anderson of MJA Law, located near Madison.

The following week, Brehm wrote again on behalf of the same client, while noting 15 additional employees represented separately by Anderson. “We hereby demand that Rock Haven withdraw its covid-19 vaccine mandate forthwith since requiring an unlicensed and unapproved product violates federal law and, likely, numerous state laws,” she wrote, this time with Siri also signing the letter.

Anderson, the local attorney, said he spoke four to six weeks ago with representatives from Siri & Glimstad about the possibility of working together. A collaboration, he said, would allow the New York attorneys to practice law in Wisconsin on a temporary basis without being formally admitted to the state bar.

“This New York firm – I believe they were interested in cases like this around the country,” he said in an interview. “Going forward, if there is litigation, they may or may not be involved. I don’t know.”

In the meantime, however, Anderson went ahead with a claim against the county earlier this month, demanding $50,000 in lost wages and other benefits for 11 employees of the nursing home.

About a week later, the county showed signs of backing down. Its health services committee voted 4-1 on May 12 to recommend that officials revoke the requirement at the nursing home and reinstate employees who refused the shots. The full county board will consider the recommendation on Thursday.

A formal collaboration is underway in North Carolina, where Siri & Glimstad attorneys are co-counsel in a case brought last month in federal court against the Durham County Sheriff’s Department. The local attorney participating in the case, Jeff Dobson, declined to comment. The plaintiff in the case, Christopher Neve, directed questions to Siri & Glimstad.

After Neve refused to disclose his vaccination status in March, the sheriff confiscated his badge, gun and bulletproof vest and placed him on administrative leave, according to the complaint. He was fired later that month, the complaint alleges.

Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead declined to be interviewed but said in a statement, “Requiring the vaccine not only protects employees from covid-19, but also provides for the protection of anyone who lives in, works in, or visits Durham County.”

The arguments set forth in the North Carolina complaint mirror those outlined in letters from Siri, both sent on April 22, to the presidents of Rutgers and Princeton University.

“ICAN has received numerous inquiries from its members regarding this mandate, including students attending your university, and has asked that we send you the following notice,” reads the letter to Rutgers University President Jonathan Holloway. It urged him to reconsider the requirement that students be vaccinated before arriving on campus this fall.

A university spokeswoman, Dory Devlin, said the policy stands. “Like the hundreds of public and private universities who have followed our lead, we are entirely confident in our legal and ethical position with respect to mandating vaccines in the fight against the global pandemic,” she said in an email to The Washington Post.

Princeton, too, was unmoved by the letter. “We conducted a careful review and are confident in our legal position,” said Ayana Gibbs, a university spokeswoman.

– – –

This month, ICAN updated its notice seeking plaintiffs for possible litigation, saying it is “no longer accepting cases for legal action.”

Some legal experts suggested the group may be pulling back because it has accomplished what it set out to do. Its attorneys have made their mark on the early legal contest over vaccine mandates, through commentary as well as legal communications and filings, said Reiss, the University of California professor. She noted that other lawsuits filed against coronavirus vaccine mandates “follow very closely Siri’s piece in Stat.”

Attorney-client privilege makes the extent of the role played by ICAN’s legal team difficult to determine, said James Hodge, director of the Center for Public Health Law and Policy at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

“They’re peddling specific legal arguments designed to attract anti-vaxxers and others who might be willing to listen,” Hodge said.

ICAN’s legal team remains active on other vaccine-related fronts. Earlier this month, Siri & Glimstad filed a complaint on ICAN’s behalf asking a federal court to order Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to remove the finding that “vaccines do not cause autism” from all communication with the public.

A suit last year against Facebook and YouTube said these platforms had terminated or greatly restricted ICAN’s activities – and offered a window into the group’s communications strategy. At stake was the group’s “ability to reach billions of potential viewers,” said the complaint, filed by Siri and Brehm, along with a California attorney, in federal court in California.

Asking the court to dismiss the complaint, Facebook and YouTube said they had acted against ICAN because it was “spreading harmful misinformation about covid-19 that could exacerbate the ongoing public health crisis.”

Stripped of other platforms to press its case against vaccines, experts said, the group is turning increasingly to the courts.

“It’s a chance to put your imprint on an early area of law that hasn’t been litigated before,” Reiss said. “And to do it in a context that fits your beliefs.”

The new American status symbol: A backyard that’s basically a fancy living room

Stimulus checks: IRS sends 1.8 million more payments in latest round

More than 1.8 million stimulus checks were disbursed in the last two weeks in the latest batch of payments, according brooks shoes to the Internal Revenue Service, bringing the total number of payments in the third round to 167 million, including add-on payments for underestimated checks that were already sent out.

Approximately $391 billion in stimulus payments have been sent so far, about 87% of the $450 billion earmarked for direct relief, the IRS said in a press release on Wednesday.

More than 900,000 payments were sent to people who previously didn’t have information on file at the IRS but recently filed a tax return.

This batch also included more than 900,000 “plus-up” payments for people who had their third stimulus check calculated based on their 2019 tax return, but are now eligible for a bigger payment. This could be the case for people whose 2020 income was lower than their 2019 income or who had a baby or a dependent added to their 2020 tax return that qualified them for a larger payment.

United States Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Check and Corner of Envelope.

About 900,000 of the payments were directly deposited into Americans’ bank accounts, while the remaining payments were mailed as paper checks or prepaid debit cards.

The IRS will continue distributing the payments on a weekly basis. Future payments will go to individuals who previously didn’t have their information on file with the IRS but have filed a return along with people who qualify for the plus-up payments.

This round is $1,400 per eligible individual plus a $1,400 bonus per dependent. Around 158.5 million households are skechers shoesexpected to receive the third payment under the new stimulus deal, a tally that doesn’t include plus-up payments, according to the White House.

Here’s what else you need to know about the third round of stimulus checks.

Who gets a stimulus check?

The third round of direct payments includes $1,400 per eligible individual plus a $1,400 bonus per dependent. Around 158.5 million households are expected to receive a payment.

A single filer making up to $75,000 will receive the full payment, while those earning up to $80,000 will get a reduced amount. Joint filers making up to $150,000 will get the full $2,800, while those earning up to $160,000 will receive a smaller amount. Previously, the phase-out thresholds were $100,000 for single filers and $200,000 for joint filers in the House version.

Eligibility will be based on your most recent tax return and your adjusted gross income. For the third round of checks, the IRS will use your 2019 or 2020 tax return to determine if you qualify for the direct payment.

Social Security beneficiaries, Disability Insurance beneficiaries, Supplemental Security Income recipients, Railroad Retirement Board beneficiaries, and Veterans Administration beneficiaries all are eligible for the payment even if they didn’t file a 2019 or 2020 tax return.

Eligible taxpayers who used the IRS Non-Filer tool for the first round of checks will be treated as providing returns and will also receive payments.

Additionally, Americans who qualify for the stimulus payment and have dependents will get an additional $1,400 per dependent. The bonus can be claimed for college students, disabled adults, and other adults who are dependents. Previously, parents or guardians could only claim the bonus for child dependents under 17.

Deceased people may also receive a payment. Checks will go to all eligible taxpayers who were alive as of Jan. 1, 2021.

Who doesn’t get a check?

Those without a Social Security number and nonresident aliens — those who aren’t U.S. citizens or U.S. nationals and don’t have a green card or have not passed the substantial presence test — are not eligible for the direct payment.

Married taxpayers who file jointly where one spouse has a Social Security number and the other doesn’t will get one $1,400 payment, in addition to $1,400 for any child with a Social Security number.

Taxpayers with Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers (ITIN) aren’t eligible for the payments.

U.S. President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan, a package of economic relief measures to respond to the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, inside the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 11, 2021. REUTERS/Tom Brenner TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Joe Biden signs the American Rescue Plan, a package of economic relief measures to respond to the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, inside the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, U.S., March 11, 2021. 

How will the government send you the stimulus check?

The IRS will use the direct deposit information you provided from the taxes you’ve filed for 2019 or 2020.

You may be able to use the IRS’ Non-Filers tool to provide your information like the first round. But so far, the IRS has not announced whether that tool will be available if this stimulus bill is passed.

The tool was for eligible U.S. citizens or permanent residents who had gross income below $12,200 ($24,400 for married couples) for 2019 and weren’t required to file a 2019 federal tax return.

If you have no direct deposit information on file or if the account provided is now closed, the IRS will mail you a check or pre-paid debit card instead.

If you received no payment and you think you’re eligible or you got the wrong amount, you’ll be able to claim it on your 2021 tax return.

How can I track my payment?

Americans can now check the status of their third stimulus check using the IRS’s online tracking tool ‘Get My Payment.’

The tool allows Americans to follow the scheduled payment date for either a direct deposit or mailed payment. It’s an online app that works on desktops, phones, and tablets and doesn’t need to be downloaded from an app store. To use the tool, you need to provide basic information:

  • Social Security number or Individual Tax ID Number (ITIN)
  • Date of birth
  • Mailing address

The tracking tool will no longer show the status of the first or second round of stimulus checks — the $1,200 payment under the CARES Act and the $600 payments under the December $900 billion stimulus deal. To find the status of those previous rounds, you must create an account.

Rep. Matt Gaetz eyes presidential run in 2024

Rep. Matt Gaetz, the Florida Republican who is currently the subject of a Justice Department investigation into hey dude shoeswhether he had sex with a 17-year-old girl and transported her across state lines in violation of sex trafficking laws, is considering a run for president in 2024.

Gaetz made that disclosure Wednesday in a text message to the New York Post.

“I support Donald Trump for president. I’ve directly encouraged him to run and he gives me every indication he will,” Gaetz told the paper. “If Trump doesn’t run, I’m sure I could defeat whatever remains of Joe Biden by 2024.”

One of Trump’s most vocal supporters in Congress, Gaetz has embarked on an “America First” speaking tour alongside Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., that has all the hallmarks of a budding presidential campaign, albeit one that also helps lay the groundwork for Trump’s possible run in 2024.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, (R-FL), speaks during a hearing of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law on
Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

In Mesa, Ariz., last week, Gaetz, 39, sounded very much like a candidate ready to inherit Trump’s mantle, should the skechers outlet 74-year-old former president decide to spend his retirement playing golf.

“Thousands of miles away in the swamp of Washington, they kind of hope that this was all over, that our populist little revolt would run away and no longer be a part of our national identity,” Gaetz told his audience. “Oh, we are just starting.”

While Gaetz often presented his worldview as indistinguishable from that of Trump, his stump speech also carves out some room for him to sound like a more traditional Republican.

“It’s been too many years since an inspirational President Ronald Reagan told us that it was ‘morning in America again.’ Too often now it seems like it’s twilight for Joe Biden. If it was morning in America under Reagan, it sort of seems like nap time in America when Joe Biden is the president. I think it’s about time to wake up our fellow countrymen,” Gaetz said while imploring a “new generation of patriots” to get involved in politics.

Clouding Gaetz’s presidential aspirations, federal prosecutors have recently secured a cooperation agreement from his friend Joel Greenberg, who has already pleaded guilty to some of the same crimes for which Gaetz finds himself under investigation. To date, the congressman has not been charged or indicted, and he has denied all the allegations made against him, including that he regularly paid for sex.

“I’m falsely accused of exchanging money for naughty favors,” Gaetz said at an Ohio meeting of Republicans in May. “Yet Congress has reinstituted a process that legalizes the corrupt act of exchanging money for favors, through earmarks, and everybody knows that’s the corruption.”

Whether Attorney General Merrick Garland decides to proceed with an indictment against Gaetz remains to be seen. But with the belief among Republicans that all investigations targeting pro-Trump politicians amount to a “witch hunt,” a term Gaetz has echoed in reference to the allegations against him, even formal charges of sex trafficking may not preclude him from seeking the highest office in the land.

U.S. Faces Outbreak of Anti-Semitic Threats and Violence

White Nationalists march with torches across the grounds of the University of Virginia, at times chanting
White Nationalists march with torches across the grounds of the University of Virginia, at times chanting

A brick shattering a window of a kosher pizzeria on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Jewish diners outside a sushi restaurant brooks shoes in Los Angeles attacked by men shouting anti-Semitic threats. Vandalism at synagogues in Arizona, Illinois and New York.

In Salt Lake City, a man scratched a swastika into the front door of an Orthodox synagogue in the early morning hours of May 16. “This was the kind of thing that would never happen in Salt Lake City,” said Rabbi Avremi Zippel, whose parents founded Chabad Lubavitch of Utah almost 30 years ago. “But it’s on the rise around the country.”

The synagogue has fortified its already substantial security measures in response. “It’s ridiculous, it’s insane that this is how we have to view houses of worship in the United States in 2021,” Zippel said, describing fortified access points, visible guards and lighting and security camera systems. “But we will do it.”

The past several weeks have seen an outbreak of anti-Semitic threats and violence across the United States, stoking fear among Jews in small towns and major cities. During the two weeks of clashes in Israel and Gaza this month, the Anti-Defamation League collected 222 reports of anti-Semitic harassment, vandalism and violence in the United States, compared with 127 over the previous two weeks.

Incidents are “literally happening from coast to coast, and spreading like wildfire,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, the ADL’s chief executive.  skechers shoes“The sheer audacity of these attacks feels very different.”

Until the latest surge, anti-Semitic violence in recent years was largely considered a right-wing phenomenon, driven by a white supremacist movement emboldened by rhetoric from former President Donald Trump, who often trafficked in stereotypes.

Many of the most recent incidents, by contrast, have come from perpetrators expressing support for the Palestinian cause and criticism of Israel’s right-wing government.

“This is why Jews feel so terrified in this moment,” Greenblatt said, observing that there are currents of anti-Semitism flowing from both the left and the right. “For four years it seemed to be stimulated from the political right, with devastating consequences.” But at the scenes of the most recent attacks, he noted, “no one is wearing MAGA hats.”

President Joe Biden has denounced the recent assaults as “despicable” and said “they must stop.” “It’s up to all of us to give hate no safe harbor,” he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter.

The outbreak has been especially striking in the New York region, home to the world’s largest Jewish population outside Israel.

On Friday a brawl broke out in Times Square between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters, and it soon spread to the Diamond District, a part of Midtown that is home to many Jewish-owned businesses.

At least one roving group of men waving Palestinian flags shouted abuse at and shoved Jewish pedestrians and bystanders. Video of the scenes spread widely online and drew outrage from elected officials and a deep sense of foreboding among many Jewish New Yorkers.

The New York Police Department arrested 27 people, and two people were hospitalized, including a woman who was burned when fireworks were launched from a car at a group of people on the sidewalk.

The Police Department opened a hate crimes investigation into the beating of a Jewish man, and a Brooklyn man, Waseem Awawdeh, 23, was charged in connection with the attack.

The next day, federal prosecutors charged another man, Ali Alaheri, 29, with setting fire to a building that housed a synagogue and yeshiva in Borough Park, a Brooklyn neighborhood in the city’s Hasidic Jewish heartland. Alaheri also assaulted a Hasidic man in the same neighborhood, prosecutors said.

The Police Department’s hate crimes task force was also investigating anti-Semitic incidents that took place last Thursday and Saturday, including an assault in Manhattan and aggravated harassment in Brooklyn.

Avital Chizhik-Goldschmidt, an Orthodox Jewish writer on the Upper East Side, said she had encountered a palpable anxiety among congregants at Park East Synagogue, where her husband serves as a rabbi.

“Quite a few” synagogue members had in recent months asked for help planning a move to Israel, she said, and she secured Swiss passports for her own children after watching a presidential debate in October.

“I know this sounds crazy because on the Upper East Side there was always this feeling that you can’t get safer than here,” she said.

But her fears are not unfounded. Last year, while out in the neighborhood with their young son, her husband was accosted by a man “shouting obscenities, and ‘You Jews! You Jews!” she said.

Her son still “talks about it all the time,” she said. Recently, he built a synagogue out of Lego blocks and added a Lego security patrol outside, she said. He is 5 years old.

“Nobody cares about things like this because it is just words,” she added. “But what if this person was armed? And what if the next person is armed?”

The recent spike is occurring on top of a longer-term trend of high-profile incidents of anti-Semitism in the United States.

In Charlottesville, Virginia, activists at the Unite the Right rally in 2017 chanted “Jews will not replace us!” as they protested the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. The next year, a gunman killed 11 people and wounded six who had gathered for Shabbat morning services at the Tree of Life — Or L’Simcha synagogue in Pittsburgh. At a synagogue in a suburb of San Diego in 2019, a gunman opened fire at a service on the last day of Passover.

The ADL has been tracking anti-Semitic incidents in the country since 1979, and its past three annual reports have included two of its highest tallies. The organization recorded more than 1,200 incidents of anti-Semitic harassment last year, a 10% increase from the previous year.

The number of confirmed anti-Semitic incidents in New York City jumped noticeably in March to 15, from nine the month before and three in January, according to the Police Department.

Sgt. Jessica McRorie, a department spokeswoman, said that as of Sunday there had been 80 anti-Semitic hate crime complaints this year, compared with 62 during the same period last year.

The attack in 2018 at Tree of Life, in the distinctly Jewish neighborhood of Squirrel Hill, was galvanizing for many Jewish leaders. “Every synagogue across the country has increased security since the attack in Pittsburgh,” said Rabbi Adam Starr, who heads Congregation Ohr HaTorah, one of several synagogues along a stretch of road in the Jewish neighborhood of Toco Hills in the Atlanta area.

“You look across the street from our synagogue and there’s a big church,” he said. “And the big difference between the church and the synagogue is the church doesn’t have a gate around it.”

Starr has stepped up security again within the last two weeks, increasing the number of off-duty police officers on site during Shabbat morning services.

For some Jews, the last few weeks have accelerated a sense of unease that has been percolating for years.

“We’ve all read about what Jewish life was like in Europe before the Holocaust,” said Danny Groner, a member of an Orthodox synagogue in the Bronx. “There’s always this question: Why didn’t they leave? The conversation in my circles is, are we at that point right now?”

Groner does not think so, he was quick to say. But he wonders, “What would have to happen tomorrow or next week or next month to say ‘enough is enough’?”

Jews and others were particularly stung by comments by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia, who has spent the past week repeatedly comparing mask and vaccine mandates to the treatment of Jews by Nazi Germany, and by the Republican leadership’s slow response to her remarks.

In Salt Lake City, Chabad Lubavitch hosted an event for the Jewish holiday of Shavuot less than 12 hours after the discovery of the swastika on its front door. Zippel told his congregation, “I hope it annoys the heck out of whoever did this.”

He was proud, he reflected later, of the way his congregation responded to the defacing of its house of worship. “We do not cower to these sorts of acts,” he said, recalling emails and conversations in which congregants vowed to continue wearing the kipa in public, for example. “The outward desire to be publicly and proudly Jewish has been extremely inspiring.”