Explained: low Black participation in vaccine trials

Halle Berry’s $20m Netflix offer, Trump judges disenfranchise 774,000 Florida voters, Afghan-Taliban talks

52 days until Election Day. 

A lot happened this week. But just as important is what didn’t happen: Congress failed yet again to pass a pandemic economic relief bill for a country shedding nearly a million jobs per week.

In response to the failed vote on Republican’s anemic half measure, Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) seemed to sum up the GOP’s listless attitude to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic crisis: “It is what it is.”

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🦠 Black and Latino Americans underrepresented in COVID-19 vaccine trials, despite being hit the hardest

It’s not about lack of trust or historical trauma. It’s about a lack of deliberate recruitment:

“While Latinos and African Americans represent more than 18% and 13% of the population respectively, they are only 11% and 8% of drugmaker Pfizer's U.S. trial. Moderna's trial numbers are slightly better, at 16% and 10%, and they are now actively recruiting minority volunteers. By contrast, Black Americans are 4.7 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 than White Americans. Latino Americans are 4.6 times as likely.”

“Dr. [Hala] Borno said making the issue one of mistrust rather than lack of recruitment is an ‘unacceptable cop-out.’ In her study, she found that when Black Americans are engaged, they tend to have high participation rates.”

🗳 Court Ruling Deals Blow to Ex-Felons’ Voting Rights in Florida

FACT: Donald Trump appointed five of the six-judge majority in this decision.

“At issue was a Florida law passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature and signed by Mr. DeSantis last year that required those convicted of felonies to settle their financial obligations to court before having their voting eligibility restored.”

“With Florida elections frequently decided by tiny margins, the restoration of felons’ voting rights was seen as a way to expand the electorate in the nation’s biggest presidential battleground state. An expert for the American Civil Liberties Union and the other civil rights groups testified at trial that more than 774,000 felons in the state owe legal financial obligations. Most criminal defendants are indigent when they are arrested.”

(New York Times)

🌍 Talks between Afghan government and Taliban open in Qatar

“After nearly two decades of war that has killed tens of thousands, peace talks between the Afghanistan government and the Taliban have opened in Qatar's capital.”

“[A]nalysts said the challenging part is to get both sides to reach an agreement…”

“The Afghan government backs the current democratic political system, while the Taliban wants to reimpose its version of Islamic law as the country's system of governance.”

“The Afghan government's agenda for the talks is to secure a permanent ceasefire, but analysts said that will be difficult to achieve as the Taliban's only bargaining chip has been their military strength on the ground.”

(Al Jazeera)

🎬 How Halle Berry Fought Her Way to the Director’s Chair

Variety has the backstory on Halle Berry’s road from post-Oscar disappointment to her directorial debut that landed a nearly $20m offer from Netflix.

It’s not just being a dancing bear. I can project what I want to say. As an actor, I always show up and do my part, and I can only do what I can do. Being the director, I have a part in the totality of every department. I get to have a voice. That was different, and I really loved that.

- Halle Berry