Canada Swiftly Banned Assault Weapons, Spurring U.S. Calls

Two weeks after a series of shootings in Canada killed 13 people, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Friday a ban on “assault-style” semi-automatic weapons in the country.

The sale, transport, and use of about 1,500 makes and models of such guns will now be illegal in Canada. Owners have until April 2022 to dispose of the guns and may be compensated in upcoming legislation.

“These weapons were designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to kill the largest number of people in the shortest amount of time,” Trudeau said. “There is no use and no place for such weapons in Canada.”

Common Dreams covers the U.S. gun control advocacy groups condemning the U.S. government, and the Republican party in particular, for preventing a similar ban.

When to Trust Your COVID-19 Antibody Test

Antibody tests for COVID-19 work far better in populations with high infection rates, as a three-minute ProPublica video details.

Say a test 100% accurately detects the presence of antibodies. But it has a 5% chance to report antibodies when none are there, giving a false positive reading. In a group of 1,000 people of whom about 4% have been infected—a representative percentage for non-hotspot U.S. populations—this test will produce more false positive readings than true positive readings.

For a group of 1,000 healthcare workers of whom 30% have had COVID-19, a positive test result is far more likely to be a true positive. But, as the World Health Organization points out, no evidence exists to confirm that individuals are safe from re-infection.

Women’s Groups Demand Better from Biden’s Denial

After growing pressure and increased media coverage, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden issued a written statement and appeared on MSNBC denying that he sexually assaulted former Senate aide Tara Reade in 1993.

Biden “unequivocally” denied the assault and called on the Secretary of the Senate to “make available to the press” any complaints in the National Archive Reade filed, as she says she had. Common Dreams notes that Business Insider corroborated Reade’s story with her former neighbor this week.

Women’s sexual assault survivor advocacy group Time’s Up Now said Biden’s official address of the allegations shows a step in the right direction. While he treated the allegations more seriously than our current president has ever attempted, as a presidential candidate, he should have taken the opportunity to discuss more broadly how U.S. society treats sexual assault survivors.

Stopping the Next Pandemic

Grist speaks with disease ecologists to understand the spread of COVID-19 and other animal-borne diseases.

Of the 800,000 estimated zoonic viruses in nature that could infect humans, 60% of new infectious diseases originate in domesticated animals and wildlife—often bats, rodents, or non-human primates.

With population growth and environmental destruction, humans have greater risk of contact and infection from zoonic diseases, a phenomenon called “spillover.”

A small group of ecologists, epidemiologists, and veterinarians have spent the last decade working towards pandemic prevention by catching and releasing wildlife to catalogue a huge number of animal-borne diseases.

Grassroots Activists Give Aid During Crisis

Grassroots movements have sprung up across the country to deliver aid to those with the most need amid the coronavirus pandemic: elders, those with immunocompromised systems, the homeless, and those without healthcare or employment.

Colorlines lists community-based, self-organized groups offering mutual aid in cities from coast to coast. Groups that individuals can join or seek help from offer economic relief, food assistance, medical assistance, and housing assistance.

Stay-Home Events Calendar

Self-isolation for many spurs hunger for arts and entertainment. To feed that hunger in a time of sparse engagement, the Indypendent compiles a weekly stay-home events calendar.

Concerts, film screenings, performances, conferences, talks, and galleries continue through virtual access. Some highlights include an exhibit of Georgia O’Keeffe’s artwork and another of Frida Kahlo’s wardrobe.

Free live talks and Q&As about the pandemic and life beyond offer options for human intellectual engagement.

David Sirota with the tweet of the week:
‘Rights of Nature’ Laws Fill in for EPA

As the Environmental Protection Agency fails to enforce federal environmental laws during the pandemic, Rights of Nature laws offer a future for protecting the Earth.

In These Times discusses steps in 2019, the movement’s most successful year so far, towards localized environmental protection, including actions by Native groups, the National Lawyers Guild, and state communities.

So far, 2020 looks promising too, with seven years of activism prompting the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to revoke a frack waste injection well permit. Rights of Nature laws aim to empower communities to govern the purpose and behavior of corporations.

The Headlines

1. New Yorkers cannot be evicted for not paying rent through June, says Cuomo (The Independent)

2. The End of the Imperial Presidency (The Atlantic)

3. Republican Group’s Ad Campaign Demands Life-Saving Mail-In Ballots For Voters (HuffPost)

4. Trumplomacy: What’s behind new US strategy on China? (BBC)

5. Russia now has second-highest rate of Covid-19 spread as other countries ease restrictions (The Guardian)