Cole Sprouse Alleges Arrest Over Black Lives Matter March On Instagram

On Sunday, “Riverdale” star Cole Sprouse supposedly took part in a Black Lives Matter march in Santa Monica and got arrested for his efforts. While the world took to hating him for his and Lili Reinhart‘s alleged breakup, Cole Sprouse, who plays Jughead Jones in “Riverdale” is hardly sitting still and licking breakup wounds, he’s out there, trying to make a difference. And he shared his story on Instagram, making sure to point out to fans and followers alike that this narrative was not about him, but about the Black Lives Matter movement.

Ever since the arrest and the death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movement has come alive again. While some states are seeing violent clashes between protesters and the authorities, others are seeing peaceful protests with the men in blue also showing their solidarity with the crowd. Cole Sprouse was part of a Black Lives Matter march in Santa Monica on Sunday, and he stated on Instagram that they were arrested by the authorities, despite being a peaceful crowd

In his Instagram statement that carried a picture saying “Black Lives Matter”, Sprouse said, “A group of peaceful protesters, myself included, were arrested yesterday in Santa Monica.” He continued by saying that the crowd was asked to disperse and given the option to leave. But when many turned back to leave, another line of police officers was lying in wait for them, blocking their way, and Sprouse said, “at which point, they started zip tying us”

Cole stated that he was sharing this story to make sure the media did not make the arrest about him, for he or any other celebrity was not bigger than the movement. What matters is that Black Lives Matter, and not that he was arrested. Said Sprouse, “It needs to be stated that as a straight white man, and a public figure, the institutional consequences of my detainment are nothing in comparison to others within the movement. This is ABSOLUTELY not a narrative about me, and I hope the media doesn’t make it such.”

Plenty of fans appreciated his post, with Cameron Monaghan writing, “Solidarity, Cole. Respect for the well-written message.” And Cole’s message was well-written indeed as he made sure to tell his fans that while he stood as an ally for the Black Lives Matter movement, his knowledge about the subject matter was far too little for him to say much about it. But he stands with the movement and plans to use his celebrity status in every way he can to help fund the movement. Read his full Instagram post below.

70% of homeowners in forbearance didn’t need the help

Mortgage payment forbearance is a lifeline for homeowners who can’t pay their mortgage right now, but a surprisingly high percentage of borrowers who applied for and got forbearance say they didn’t need it.

Nationwide, 80% of homeowners who applied for forbearance under the CARES act were approved for it, buying at least three months of deferred mortgage payments.

A LendingTree survey of a small sample of 1,000 mortgage holders who are in forbearance found that only 5% of those approved for forbearance said they wouldn’t have been able to pay their mortgage without it. Another 26% said they could have paid the mortgage, but would have had to skip other bills.

If its survey results are representative, that means nearly 70% of those in forbearance didn’t need the help. So why take it?

“The main reason that those almost 70% who said they applied for forbearance anyway said they just wanted a break from their monthly payment,” Brianna Wright at LendingTree told WTOP.

How do they feel about that?

“There was definitely a level of guilt. We found about a third felt really, really guilty about it and another 38% felt a little bad about it. I think that’s because asking for help definitely isn’t easy and there can be a level of shame or embarrassment associated with it, even when you need the help. So that is going to be amplified when deep down you know you didn’t really need that forbearance,” Wright said.

The highest percentage of mortgage holders in the survey who took forbearance were in the highest sampled household income level of $100,000 or more at 34.5%.

Under the CARES Act, many borrowers were not required to provide any proof that they were suffering a financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The CARES Act also prohibits from mortgage servicers from reporting missed payments, but LendingTree says any borrower in a forbearance program would be wise to watch their credit report closely.

“Lenders aren’t supposed to report loans in forbearance as a missed payment. But there is definitely a chance that they may accidentally report a payment as missed or late while the loan is in forbearance,”

LendingTree has a coronavirus resource hub online with information and FAQs on different coronavirus relief programs.


Celebrities Attending Protests Over George Floyd’s Death

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The Best SSD and PC Storage 2020: Solid State, HDD, External & NAS


Solid state drives are not only mainstream, but they’ve become a commodity. Fast storage will hopefully only get faster but today’s best choices are differentiated by how extreme you want to go and how willing you are to pay for the very best. For new builds, NVMe drives have become the norm as prices continue to fall.

Enthusiast and pro-level SSDs are reserved to non-volatile storage which carry a premium, but are certainly worth the money if you run applications that fully take advantage of the 2x performance bump. For everybody else, mainstream SSDs are affordable and speedy, offering good capacity and endurance. Our best storage picks are divided into six categories based on form factor and need as shown below.

Sabrent’s Rocket NVMe PCIe 4.0 remains the fastest consumer drive on the market. When paired with a motherboard that supports PCIe 4.0, you can expect to see read speeds of nearly 5000MB/s.

The Rocket was our favorite SSD in our PCIe 4.0 vs PCIe 3.0 SSD benchmark comparison, and for good reason. With many drives on the market sharing similar internals, Sabrent’s firmware and optimizations allow it to stand out. While many prospective buyers won’t necessarily have a PCIe 4.0 motherboard right now (only AMD’s latest platform offers it for now), the Rocket works perfectly fine on older boards at Gen 3.0 speeds.

Generally speaking, when discussing high-performance enthusiast hardware we wouldn’t consider value a key feature but in the case of the Rocket we must, the value offered by this drive is stunning. It’s cheaper than most other drives in the high-performance category, so even if you don’t have a Gen 4.0 motherboard now, this would still be a great investment if you plan to upgrade in the future.

If you look at Samsung’s top drives like the 970 Pro and 970 Evo Plus, both cost more than Sabrent’s and the Gen 4.0 drive will outperform them in almost every workload. Also worthy of mention is the Corsair Force Series MP600 SSD which is also PCIe 4.0 and uses similar hardware to Sabrent’s.

Endurance is also insane for the Rocket and MP600 rated at 3,600 TBW (terabytes written), compared to 1,200 TBW for the Samsung 970 Pro and 600 TBW for the 970 Evo Plus.

The Rocket NVMe PCIe 4.0 is currently available at $199 for 1TB and $399 for a 2TB drive.

The WD Black SN750 is as good as it gets for a top performing drive that won’t break the bank. While it’s been Samsung commanding our top SSD lists in recent years, competition from the likes of WD, HP, Corsair and a few others has been felt for some time, bringing not just better value (much better value as of late) but comparable performance and excellent reliability.

The Black SN750 is available in 250GB, 500GB, 1TB, and 2TB variants. Pricing ranges from $55 for the 250GB version up to $370 for the 2TB variant. The most popular 1TB version is available for $150 which is considerably less than Samsung’s competing drive at that same capacity ($225).

The SN750 SSD uses the same controller, NAND, and hardware design from previous WD Black solid drives, this is a positive because those drives have a solid track record, but with newer firmware WD has pushed performance further showing fast sequential transfers and good latency. New in this latest iteration is the option of a heatsink, showing this drive is intended for enthusiasts who are worried about cooling and throttling, even if the drive behaves just fine without it.

When we said SSDs are now a commodity, we were not only referring to affordable mainstream models, but even top tier NVMe are hard to differentiate. Along with the WD Black SN750, you can find good deals on the Corsair Force MP510 and the PCIe 3.0 Sabrent Rocket is also fantastic for the price. Even previous-gen models, like the 970 Evo (non-plus), WD Black NVMe and HP EX920 are good buys if you get them at a discount since performance difference is marginal.

SATA option for upgrading older PCs and laptops

The always wallet-friendly Crucial MX500 is a proven affordable option if you want to upgrade an older PC that only supports the SATA interface. This group of consumer-grade SSDs are great option for all kinds of uses, laptop upgrades, builders, and at this point even storage capacity upgrades.

The best performing SATA drives have already squeezed most they could from the interface a few years ago, so the speed differences here are negligible between the best models, if perhaps more consistent than they were before. Currently you can buy a 1TB MX500 drive for as little as $115, or half a terabyte for $70.

If you’re in the market for a mechanical hard drive, you’re either looking to put together a budget system or you just want a ton of storage. Especially for the latter, our top hard disk recommendation goes to the Seagate IronWolf line.

The IronWolf drives are state of the art as far as consumer hard drives go, leveraging PMR (perpendicular magnetic recording) platters running at 7200 RPM to cram up to 16 terabytes of data in a regular 3.5-inch form factor drive. The IronWolf are NAS drives so these are not the cheapest around, but they are more reliable, come in higher capacities and perform well (for a hard drive).

You can find IronWolf HDDs in several different capacities: from 1 to 4TB drives are 5900 RPM, while larger 6/8/10/12/14/16 TB models are all 7200 RPM. Recently there’s been a lot of discussion about hard drive manufacturers using SMR or “shingled magnetic recording” for making denser and cheaper drives. SMR disks are meant to store more data on a disk platter than conventional magnetic recording “CMR” disks by partially overlapping write tracks, resulting in much slower write performance than a non-SMR drive.

IronWolf drives are all CMR and get our top recommendation for buying a new HDD if you’re willing to pay a ~20% premium over budget drives. For example, an 8TB IronWolf drive will set you back around $200, while a BarraCuda goes for $160.

Budget option

If you want to save money and are simply looking for an inexpensive HDD, starting at $50 for 2TB the Seagate Barracuda line is one of the cheapest on the market, but also one of the best values. The BarraCuda is available in 3TB, 4TB, 6TB, and 8TB variants, with the 4TB model costing $85 and the 8TB model going for $160.

The 1TB and 2TB models of the BarraCuda are 7200 RPM which are fast enough for a boot drive and moderate applications on top. The 3TB and above models slow down to 5400 RPM but we think that’s reasonable for the price. Another thing we like about this series is the 256MB cache; other value drives only have 64MB. A larger cache is useful for storing frequently used files without needing to keep them on the slower disk.

Samsung has been setting the bar on portable solid-state storage for a few years now. The Samsung T5 was great and it’s now being replaced by the T7 series. The new Samsung T7 improves in every possible way, with a slimmer chassis, faster USB 3.2 (Gen2, 10Gbps) connectivity, and much faster performance by moving from a SATA drive to NVMe.

The Samsung T7 is anywhere from 30 to 80% faster, offering read and write speeds of up to 1,000 MB/s, a three year warranty, and AES 256-bit hardware encryption with software that is a snap to set up. The device has also added a hardware fingerprint sensor for authentication instead of using a password.

The device is encased in metal and is compact enough that it can fit in the palm of your hand or thrown in your pocket, measuring 85 x 57 x 8 mm. Compatible with Windows, macOS and Android, the T7 should allow you to expand the storage of any device with a USB port.

The T7 is available in 500GB, 1TB and 2TB capacities. The 1TB model, for example, will set you back $199, which is $20 more than the equivalent T5. We would certainly go for the newer drive every time.

Need for speed

Honestly, the T7 is plenty fast for a portable drive. But for mission-critical work, you don’t want fast, you want the fastest. The Samsung X5 Portable SSD is NVMe-based and leverages Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, enabling read speeds of up to 2,800 MB/s and write speeds of up to 2,300 MB/s. According to Samsung, you can transfer a 20GB 4K UHD video in just 12 seconds. It’s more expensive, too, but blazing fast.

Best External Hard Drive

For those after something big to backup or transfer data, and don’t need the performance of an SSD — or don’t want to pay the premium — Seagate’s Backup Plus Hub delivers ample storage at a great value ($150 for 8 terabytes). The drive comes in 4 TB, 6 TB, 8 TB and 10 TB capacities, and unlike our portable pick it requires its own power, and must be plugged into a wall outlet.

The design is compact for a full fledged external HDD, while the front-facing USB 3.0 hub is useful for charging mobile devices or plugging in flash drives on your desktop.

By default, the Backup Plus Hub comes formatted for Windows PCs but with a driver install you can add macOS support and use it interchangeably between the two operating systems without reformatting. Furthermore, Seagate also offers a ‘Hub for Mac’ white version that is Time Machine compatible right out of the box. To add Windows support, again you simply have to install some extra software.

The bundled Seagate Dashboard interface lets you backup your PC, mobile devices, and photos and video from social media, or to restore an existing backup. Seagate drives have proven reliable over the years, but you can also set up an automatic backup that sends your files to an offsite cloud storage provider so your data is safe even in the event of a failure or unpredictable events like a natural disaster.

Best Home NAS


Simpler/cheaper alternative:

Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices have become affordable enough for home users to consider purchasing if they are looking for a home file server/media center. Synology makes it easy to migrate data to and from other locations and the company’s software provides a ton of apps for anything you might require from this sort of setup (media streaming, file sharing, home surveillance, etc.).

Generally, the processing power of a NAS scales with the number of drive bays. For the home user that wants a place to backup all their files from all devices, a 2-bay unit like the DS218+ should be great. Depending on how much storage capacity you want, you can easily build a complete system for a few hundred dollars. For a more advanced home user that would want to run additional services on top of their NAS, stream HD/4K movies, and use more than 15TB of storage, a 4-bay unit would be the way to go. These units will have a more powerful processor and can support higher quality media streaming.

Pricing for the 4-bay DS418play without any drives begins at $389. Synology offers a list of drives that are compatible with its products. Regardless of the configuration you end up with, specs include a dual-core Intel J3355 processor with support for dual-channel transcoding, 2GB of DDR3-1866 memory (expandable to 6GB), and encrypted sequential throughput of up to 226MB/s on reads and 185MB/s on writes.

Joe Burrow shows rest of NFL that white athletes have to protest inequality, too


Joe Burrow can teach the NFL a thing or two.

The rest of America, too.

Unlike most prominent white male athletes, who have stayed largely silent about the racism and systemic oppression of people of color in this country, the No. 1 pick in last month’s NFL draft addressed it head on. At his own initiative.

“The black community needs our help. They have been unheard for far too long,” Burrow said in a Twitter post Friday. “Open your ears, listen, and speak. This isn’t politics. This is human rights.”

The outrage over the death of George Floyd, who died Monday after a white police officer held his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, seems like a sea change. Perhaps it’s the sheer brutality of the video of Floyd’s death, with Derek Chauvin appearing calm and impassive to Floyd’s cries that he can’t breathe until his body goes limp. Or maybe it’s exhaustion from the unending bigotry of President Donald Trump, who has emboldened racists and white nationalists to say the quiet things out loud.

Whatever it is, the rage and protests roiling the country feel different. Burrow’s heartfelt post, as well as similar statements by Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence and the Eagles’ Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz, capture that shift.

“It’s very rare to see a white athlete say something to this magnitude,” said Louis Moore, an associate professor of history at Grand Valley State and author of “We Will Win the Day: The Civil Rights Movement, the Black Athlete and the Quest for Equality.”

“It’s important because it’s so different,” he added. “But it’s also a call to action. And if they pull through, if they actually do something about it, it can change the tide.”

When Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee almost four years ago in protest of police brutality against people of color and the racism at the root of it, he was joined by dozens of other players. But with few exceptions – very few exceptions – those players were also people of color.

Sure, there were white players who expressed support for their teammates. Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers went so far as to say Kaepernick was being blackballed from the league. But very few white NFL players – and none with the profile and sway to change public opinion – were willing to initiate the conversation or take a visible stand.

The message was that this was a problem for black and brown players. It was their communities that were affected. They were the ones who knew the pain and humiliation of being judged by the color of their skin.

“That’s just how the movement has always been,” Moore said.

Whether that’s out of privilege, ignorance or fear of saying the wrong thing, I don’t know. What I do know is that people of color did not create this structure that is rooted in racism, and they cannot be expected to fix it. Not on their own, at least.

White people have to speak up and call for change, too. Particularly those who have a platform.

Like, say, an NFL quarterback.

Sad as it is to say, the letter from the Players Coalition asking for a federal investigation into the death of Ahmaud Arbery, who was chased down and killed by two white men while he was jogging, probably would have gone largely unnoticed had it not been for one name on it.

Tom Brady.

Brady avoids anything that could be considered even slightly controversial like he does strawberries. So for the six-time Super Bowl champion to add his name to the call for justice was significant. If you’re a fan of the New England Patriots or Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or just Brady in general, and you’ve never much thought about inequality, or you disapproved of Kaepernick, maybe you reconsider the way you think now.

If you’re a Clemson fan, maybe you pause and think about your own implicit biases after reading Lawrence’s posts.

“There has to be a shift in the way of thinking,” Lawrence said Friday on Twitter. “I’m siding with my brothers that deal, and continuously deal, with things I will never experience. The injustice is clear.. and so is the hate. It can no longer be explained away. If you’re still ‘explaining’ it – check your heart and ask why.”

And if you’re a black or brown player who has stayed quiet, knowing what happened to Kaepernick, maybe you feel emboldened to speak up, knowing your quarterback has your back.

“Being from North Dakota, I’ve spent a large part of my life surrounded by people of similar color, so I’m never gonna act like I know what the black community goes through or even has gone through already,” Wentz said Thursday night. “I’ll never know the feeling of having to worry about my kids going outside because of their skin color.

“However, I do know that we are all equal at the foot of the cross and Jesus taught us to value others’ lives like they were our own – regardless of skin tone.”

Systemic racism is not a black or brown problem. It’s a problem, period, one we all need to work to fix. It’s nice to see high-profile, white male athletes finally joining in the fight.


Coronavirus Live Updates: Trump and Biden Visit Veterans Memorials as Virus Curtails Gatherings

Americans took a varied approach to the holiday, with pool parties in some places and shuttered beaches in others. Social distancing measures could spur a last-minute venue change for the R.N.C.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has campaigned from home for two months, visits a veterans memorial in Delaware.

Americans observe a holiday like no other.

President Trump and the first lady visited Arlington National Cemetery on Monday morning for a wreath-laying ceremony, then traveled to Fort McHenry in Baltimore “to honor the American heroes who have sacrificed their lives serving in the U.S. Armed Forces,” a White House statement read.

The president’s visit to Baltimore, a city he once called “disgusting, rat and rodent infested,” had drawn protest, and the city’s mayor asked him to rethink the visit. On Sunday, President Trump came under fire for playing a round of golf at his club in Virginia as the death toll from the coronavirus climbed. A small group of protesters met his motorcade as it pulled up to the entrance of the cemetery, with one person holding a sign that read: “Liar.”

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who has been campaigning from his home amid the pandemic, on Monday made his first public appearance since mid-March.

He and his wife, Jill Biden, wearing black masks, laid down a wreath at a veterans memorial in Delaware, in what was an unannounced visit. During their trips in Arlington and Baltimore, Mr. Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, did not wear masks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has urged all Americans to wear a mask when leaving their homes, but Mr. Trump has said in the past that he would not wear one himself.

Those looking to celebrate Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer in the United States, were confronted by the difficulties of how to gather during a pandemic as the country inched closer to the terrible milestone of 100,000 deaths.

Local authorities took varied approaches to regulations, and some communities found creative ways to adjust their celebrations, as beaches — including those in New York City — remained closed and restrictions on public gatherings held.

Along the East Coast, clouds, rain and choppy waters dampened sunbathing plans.

Under gray skies, a dozen or so surfers rode the waves on a beach in Boca Raton, Fla. — one of the few open in South Florida — just before another thunderstorm was expected to pass through.

Don Thomas, a 55-year-old lawyer, said the beach was so packed on Sunday that he drew a circle in the sand, reinforced with a few rocks, to keep people six feet away. But that did not deter him from returning to the beach, where masks are encouraged but not required, at 6 a.m. Monday to catch some waves.

“People have been inside so long that they are not thinking, they just want to enjoy the outside,” he said.

Trump threatens to move the Republican Convention from North Carolina.

President Trump on Monday threatened to yank the Republican National Convention from Charlotte, N.C., where it is scheduled to be held in August, accusing the state’s Democratic governor of being in a “shutdown mood” that could prevent a fully attended event.

The president tweeted that he had “LOVE” for North Carolina, a swing state that he won in 2016, but he added that without a “guarantee” from the Gov. Roy Cooper, “we would be spending millions of dollars building the Arena to a very high standard without even knowing if the Democrat Governor would allow the Republican Party to fully occupy the space.”

Mr. Trump wrote that if Mr. Cooper did not provide an answer “immediately,” he would “be reluctantly forced to find, with all of the jobs and economic development it brings, another Republican National Convention site. This is not something I want to do.”

Separately, in an interview on “Fox & Friends,” Vice President Mike Pence said that without guarantees from North Carolina, Republicans might need to move the convention to a state further along in the reopening process.

The New York Times reported last week that Republicans were quietly discussing the possibility of a pared-down convention. Mr. Trump has wondered aloud to several aides why the convention can’t be held in a hotel ballroom in Florida, a state with a Republican governor that is further along in relaxing restrictions related to the coronavirus.

Republicans are contractually bound by a 2018 agreement to hold the convention in Charlotte. But Mr. Cooper and Vi Lyles, the mayor of Charlotte, have said they would let health experts determine whether the convention can be safely held from Aug. 24 to 27.

Even before Monday, Mr. Trump made clear that he would blame Mr. Cooper and Ms. Lyles, who is also a Democrat, if the convention is altered or modified.

The Trump administration’s new testing strategy, released Sunday to Congress, holds individual states responsible for planning and carrying out all coronavirus testing, while planning to provide some supplies needed for the tests.

The proposal also says existing testing capacity, if properly targeted, is sufficient to contain the outbreak. But epidemiologists say that amount of testing is orders of magnitude lower than many of them believe the country needs.

The report cements a stance that has frustrated governors in both parties, following the administration’s announcement last month that the federal government should be considered “the supplier of last resort” and that states should develop their own testing plans.

“For months, it was a tennis game, it was going back and forth between the feds and the states, and it’s now landed with the states,” said Scott Becker, executive director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories.

Mr. Becker and others said it’s reasonable to expect states to implement some aspects of the testing, such as designating test sites. But acquiring tests involves reliance on national and international supply chains — which are challenging for many states to navigate.

“That’s our biggest question, that’s out biggest concern, is the robustness of the supply chain, which is critical,” Mr. Becker said. “You can’t leave it up to the states to do it for themselves. This is not the Hunger Games.”

US stock futures higher ahead of jobs report

During the last two weeks of every month, about 350 contractors sit in cubicles in government call centers in Atlanta, Dallas, Kansas City and Fort Walton Beach, Florida, phoning companies with a list of questions about their latest payroll numbers. It’s not a glamorous job, but it’s an important one.

The data they collect, which they feed into a computer software program, is part of what later becomes the official jobs report released by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics every month. One of the most important economic indicators, especially in a crisis, it’s guarded securely and when released, its findings can move the stock market.

Its data informs the White House, Congress and the Federal Reserve as they make policy. And it will be written into the history books for years to come.

But in March and April, the data collectors couldn’t go into work. Read more here.

Over 19,000 artifacts seized in global anti-trafficking operation

Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

A worldwide anti-trafficking operation has recovered more than 19,000 stolen artifacts, including rare coins, fossils, artworks and antiques.

The coordinated crackdown involved 300 separate investigations and resulted in 101 arrests, according to a press release published by Interpol, Europol and the World Customs Organization, who jointly led the operation.

Targeting artifacts looted from war-afflicted countries, or taken from museums and archaeological sites, the push to dismantle international trafficking rings spanned more than 100 countries.

Some of more than 900 items recovered by customs officials at Kabul's international airport.

Some of more than 900 items recovered by customs officials at Kabul’s international airport. Credit: Interpol

Seizures were conducted by police and customs authorities around the world, including officials in Afghanistan who recovered 971 cultural artifacts about to depart Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport.

Similar discoveries were made at Madrid’s Barajas Airport, where gold figurines, ancient jewels and a “very rare” gold mask (pictured top) were found. Police forces in Argentina and Latvia were meanwhile responsible for seizing 2,500 and 1,375 historic coins respectively.

Ceramics, antique weapons and paintings were among the other items recovered, with the operation also discovering apparatus used to aid traffickers, including more than 100 metal detectors.

Items recovered by Romanian officials included an 18th-century religious text and gold coins.

Items recovered by Romanian officials included an 18th-century religious text and gold coins. Credit: Interpol

The seizures were carried out as part of Operation Athena II, a global crackdown carried out alongside a European investigation dubbed Operation Pandora IV. Both concluded in fall 2019, though details have only this week been released “due to operational reasons.”

“Organized crime has many faces,” said Europol’s executive director, Catherine de Bolle, in a press statement. “The trafficking of cultural goods is one of them: It is not a glamorous business run by flamboyant gentlemen forgers, but by international criminal networks.

“You cannot look at it separately from combating trafficking in drugs and weapons: We know that the same groups are engaged, because it generates big money. Given that this is a global phenomenon affecting every country on the planet — either as a source, transit or destination — it is crucial that law enforcement all work together to combat it.”

Colombian authorities made their largest ever seizure of illicit artifacts, according to Interpol.

Colombian authorities made their largest ever seizure of illicit artifacts, according to Interpol. Credit: Interpol

Almost a third of the recovered items were discovered online, with law enforcement officers monitoring internet sale sites for illicit items. These online marketplaces are now “major vehicles” for trafficking, according to the World Customs Organization’s secretary general, Kunio Mikuriya.

“However, online transactions always leave a trace,” he added in a press release, “and customs, police and other partners have established effective mechanisms to work together to prevent cross-border illicit trade.”

Covid-19 could kill 75,000 Americans through ‘deaths of despair’

As many as 75,000 Americans could die because of drug or alcohol misuse and suicide as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to an analysis conducted by the national public health group Well Being Trust.

The growing unemployment crisis, economic downturns and stress caused by isolation and lack of a definitive end date for the pandemic could significantly increase so-called “deaths of despair” unless local, state and federal authorities take action, the group says in a new report released Friday.

“Unless we get comprehensive federal, state, and local resources behind improving access to high-quality mental health treatments and community supports, I worry we’re likely to see things get far worse when it comes to substance misuse and suicide,” Well Being Trust’s chief strategy officer Dr. Benjamin F. Miller said.

The Well Being trust released maps showing state and county level projections of these types of deaths, based on data from past years, due to Covid-19’s impact on unemployment, isolation and uncertainty.

The group is calling for a robust approach from local, state and federal officials and agencies to help those who lose their jobs because of the pandemic to find work.

What happened in 2008: Deaths from both suicide and drug overdoses rose along with unemployment during the 2008 recession. Unemployment went from 4.6% in 2007 to a peak of 10% in October 2009 and declined steadily, reaching 3.5% in early 2010, according to the group.

And 2020 could be much worse. White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said on Tuesday he expects the US unemployment rate was above 16% in April, “My guess right now is it’s going to be north of 16%, maybe as high as 20%,” he said.

“We’re looking at probably the worst unemployment rate since the Great Depression,” Hassett told CNN’s Poppy Harlow Tuesday.

Rashid Johnson: ‘Anxiety is part of my life. It’s something that people of color don’t really discuss as often as we should’

Written by Rashid Johnson

Anxiety is part of my life. It’s something that people of color don’t really discuss as often as we should. It’s part of my being and how I relate to the world, and being honest with that struggle has been rewarding for me. It has led to the kind of self-exploration that produces fertile ground for my output as an artist.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve continued my exploration of anxiety from the basement of a house in Long Island, where I’ve been temporarily staying with my family during the pandemic. This new body of work, “Untitled Anxious Red Drawings,” is a continuation of my “Anxious Men” series, which I started several years ago as a loose series of self-portraits that became representative of many personal and collective anxieties: becoming a father, inequality and racism, and an collective sense of uncertainty in the world.
Johnson has been working in a basement while away from his Brooklyn studio. "I have a space that's dedicated to getting messy," he said.

Johnson has been working in a basement while away from his Brooklyn studio. “I have a space that’s dedicated to getting messy,” he said. Credit: Rashid Johnson

These new works are pared down, and I like the spartan quality of them. All I needed was paper and oil sticks — in vivid red, which I associate with urgency, blood and alarm. I spent time quickly conjuring images that had a relationship to earlier works but are fresh and new because of the circumstances in which they were made. I needed a cathartic release, a way to describe my emotional state. I don’t often make work by responding immediately to a set of circumstances — I tend to kind of take in information and then translate it over time — but this was something that I felt needed to happen quickly.

My makeshift basement studio in Long Island isn’t like my space in Brooklyn, but it’s an open area with decently high ceilings and a little bit of light. I can tack up paper to the walls; I have a space that’s dedicated to getting messy. I spend my mornings down there after I exercise and meditate, and in the afternoons I’ve taken on a new role as an elementary school teacher for my son. I teach him science, math and spelling, while my wife handles writing and history. My mother was a professor, so I’ve always had a tremendous amount of respect for educators. They’re really talented people — I don’t share whatever skill it is they have.

Rashid Johnson is spending lockdown on Long Island with his family. Here, he shares a moment with his son.

It’s not easy to explain the pandemic to an eight-year-old boy. I want to be honest, but I don’t want to overwhelm him with information. I tell him that he’s safe and that we love him. But he also has to be aware that the world is a complicated place. When I began making “Anxious Men,” I grappled with that aspect of fatherhood. How would I translate the world to him? There was so much happening at the time: the migrant crisis, unending police brutality, the election of Donald Trump. There was the sense that the world was finding itself in a place that seemed frustrating, scary and dark.

Johnson's routine has shifted during the pandemic: In the mornings, he spends time on his art practice; in the afternoons, he plays the role of elementary school teacher for his son.

Johnson’s routine has shifted during the pandemic: In the mornings, he spends time on his art practice; in the afternoons, he plays the role of elementary school teacher for his son. Credit: Rashid Johnson

Though the reasons for anxiety have changed, that work spoke to some of the kind of psychological conditions that are present in us today. I couldn’t have imagined when I made “Anxious Men” that we’d be facing such isolation right now. I’m blessed that I can hug my child and kiss my wife. But I live in New York City, and I miss being in proximity to other human beings, and experiencing the touch of humanity. I always associated touch with intimacy, but lately I’ve thought about the small, random encounters during the day, like being accidentally bumped into on the train or the street. It’s humbling, to be moved without your permission by another human being — not because they intended to intimidate you, but because we all share this world.

Johnson's new series "Untiled Anxious Red Drawings," is bold red to express urgency and alarm.

Johnson’s new series “Untiled Anxious Red Drawings,” is bold red to express urgency and alarm. Credit: Rashid Johnson

One of the things that is quite obvious as a result of this pandemic is how it laid bare the inequalities in America. The virus is not “the great equalizer,” as it’s been called; though it can be humbling for some, it is devastating for others. Around the country, the virus has disproportionately affected people of color and those with less economic opportunity. We are seeing a qualifiable type of proof of how despicable inequality is and how it functions. There’s a spotlight illuminating the disparity right now, and we should all have a heightened investment in correcting the wrongs.

The role of art right now is to not avert its eyes from the crisis and its effects. It’s not a time to be didactic; it’s a time to be present, to be part of the world. That doesn’t mean I think every artist needs to be making new work right now. Artists often wait and observe and gather information, and find a way to interpret the moment. I have no expectations for artists other than for them to keep doing what it is that we do best: to be honest about who we are.

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