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Attacking retail workers enforcing mask rules is now a felony in Illinois

Under the new law, which went into effect immediately, those who assault or batter retail workers will face an aggravated battery charge.

Elias Marat

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(TMU) – People who lash out at employees trying to enforce company policies requiring masks and physical distancing could face felony charges under a new law passed by the state of Illinois.

Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker passed SB 471 that enhances penalties against anyone who assaults a worker who is “conveying public health guidance,” or urging customers to wear protective face coverings or follow social distancing rules.

Under the new law, which went into effect immediately, those who assault or batter retail workers will face aggravated battery – which is usually a felony.

In a press release from the governor’s office, the new aggravated battery rule was presented as building on the state’s efforts to protect communities and frontline workers from the still-raging pandemic.

“This provision sends the message that it’s vitally important for workers to be both respected and protected while serving on the front lines,” the governor’s office said in a statement on the new law.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued official health guidance urging U.S. residents to always wear a cloth face mask in public in lieu of or in addition to physical distancing measures meant to mitigate the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Despite the advice – and numerous studies showing how face coverings are a simple way to help prevent person-to-person transmission of COVID-19 – a spate of violent disturbances have broken out across the country, with angry customers throwing tantrums, violently resisting mask rules and assaulting retail workers or fellow shoppers.

A recent nationwide survey of 4,187 McDonald’s workers by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) found that 44 percent of respondents said they have been verbally or physically assaulted after confronting customers who weren’t wearing masks, reports Business Insider.

Earlier this month, a woman in New Jersey attacked another customer who urged her to cover her nose and mouth with her mask.

Last month in Washington, a man pulled his gun on another customer who asked him to wear a face mask.

In another July incident, a woman in Oklahoma hurled boxes of shoes at employees in a Skechers store after she was informed several times that she must wear a mask.

So this happened at work today…🙄 stupid Karens. All we wanted was for her to wear a mask lol I hope this lady is embarrassed of herself and her actions.

Posted by Myah Joycelynn on Wednesday, July 8, 2020

In May, a man shopping at a Target store in Los Angeles broke an employee’s arm during an argument over mask rules.

While in June, video spread showing an angry Florida man fighting his way into a Walmart in Orlando after workers informed him that he couldn’t enter the store without a mask. The man allegedly bit one of the workers.

Dozens of other videos have also emerged online of customers angrily accosting, threatening or assaulting customers and workers over the issue of masks, including in Illinois.

“Our essential workers put their lives at risk for us to stay safe, and it is clear that we have to continue to do better to protect working-class people with a renewed commitment to providing basic rights for everyone,” said Democratic State Senator and Senate Majority Leader Kimberly A. Lightford.

Illinois has required residents who leave their homes to wear masks since May, and businesses that refuse to comply with mask requirements also face fines of anywhere between $75 and $2,500. The state also passed a new rule imposing fines on businesses, schools, and child care establishments that ignore mandates on face coverings and limits on the size of gatherings.

On Sunday, Pritzker held a press conference where he was accompanied by Illinois Department of Public Health Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike, who urged lawmakers to back the governor’s push for mask compliance measures.

“We’re dealing with a deadly virus,” Ezike said. “7,636 individuals have lost their fight with COVID. That’s a cold hard fact. If there’s any debate about that, ask the doctors and the nurses that fought to try to save them. Ask their grieving loved ones.”

“We’ve learned that wearing a face covering will help reduce the spread of the virus,” Ezike added. “Is it 100 percent effective at stopping the spread? No. But will it help? It absolutely will.”

Health

Biden to Ban Menthol Cigarettes, Citing Health Impact on Youth and Black People

Elias Marat

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The Biden administration is reportedly planning to propose an immediate ban on menthol cigarettes, a product that has long been targeted by anti-smoking advocates and critics who claim that the tobacco industry has aggressively marketed to Black people in the U.S.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that the administration could announce a ban on menthol and other flavored cigarettes as soon as this week.

Roughly 85 percent of Black smokers use such menthol brands as Newport and Kool, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Research has also found that menthol cigarettes are easier to become addicted to and harder to quit than unflavored tobacco products, along with other small cigars popular with young people and African Americans.

Civil rights advocates claim that the decision should be greeted by Black communities and people of color who have been marketed to by what they describe as the predatory tobacco industry.

Black smokers generally smoke far less than white smokers, but suffer a disproportionate amount of deaths due to tobacco-linked diseases like heart attack, stroke, and other causes.

Anti-smoking advocates like Matthew L. Myers, president of Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, also greeted the move to cut out products that appeal to children and young adults.

“Menthol cigarettes are the No. 1 cause of youth smoking in the United States,” he said. “Eliminating menthol cigarettes and flavored cigars used by so many kids will do more in the long run to reduce tobacco-related disease than any action the federal government has ever taken.”

However, groups including the American Civil Liberties Group (ACLU) has opposed the move, citing the likelihood that such an action could lead to criminal penalties arising from the enforcement of a ban hitting communities of color hardest.

In a letter to administration officials, the ACLU and other groups including the Drug Policy Alliance said that while the ban is “no doubt well-intentioned” it would also have “serious racial justice implications.”

“Such a ban will trigger criminal penalties, which will disproportionately impact people of color, as well as prioritize criminalization over public health and harm reduction,” the letter explained. “A ban will also lead to unconstitutional policing and other negative interactions with local law enforcement.”

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Environment

Pollution Is Making Human Penises Shrink and Causing a Collapse of Fertility, Scientists Say

Elias Marat

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With many still scoffing at the idea of rampant pollution posing a threat to humanity, a new study could drastically change the conversation: the chemicals across our environment could be the cause of shrinking human penises.

According to a new book by Dr. Shanna H. Swan, conditions in the modern world are quickly altering the reproductive development of humans and posing a threat to our future as a species.

The argument is laid out in her new book Count Down: How Our Modern World Is Threatening Sperm Counts, Altering Male and Female Reproductive Development, and Imperiling the Future of the Human Race.

The book discusses how pollution is not only leading to skyrocketing erectile dysfunction rates and fertility decline, but also an expansion in the number of babies born with small penises.

While it may seem like good fodder for jokes, the research could portend a grim future for humanity’s ability to survive.

Swan co-authored a study in 2017 that found sperm counts had precipitously fallen in Western countries by 59 percent between 1973 and 2011. In her latest book, Swan blames chemicals for this crisis in the making.

“Chemicals in our environment and unhealthy lifestyle practices in our modern world are disrupting our hormonal balance, causing various degrees of reproductive havoc,” she wrote in the new book.

“In some parts of the world, the average twentysomething woman today is less fertile than her grandmother was at 35,” she also wrote, noting that men could have only half the sperm count of their grandfathers.

Swan blames the disruption on phthalates, the chemicals used in plastic manufacturing that also have an impact on how the crucial hormone endocrine is produced

However, experts note that the proper implementation of pollution reduction measures could help humanity prevent the collapse of human fertility.

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Health

Visualizing The World’s Deadliest Pandemics By Population Impact

Elijah Cohen

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Humanity has been battling against disease for centuries.

And while most contagious outbreaks have never reached full-blown pandemic status, Visual Capitalist’s Carmen Ang notes that there have been several times throughout history when a disease has caused mass devastation.

Here’s a look at the world’s deadliest pandemics to date, viewed from the lens of the impact they had on the global population at the time.

Editor’s note: The above graphic was created in response to a popular request from users after viewing our popular history of pandemics infographic initially released a year ago.

Death Toll, by Percent of Population

In the mid-1300s, a plague known as the Black Death claimed the lives of roughly 200 million people – more than 50% of the global population at that time.

Here’s how the death toll by population stacks up for other significant pandemics, including COVID-19 so far.

The specific cause of the Black Death is still up for debate. Many experts claim the 14th-century pandemic was caused by a bubonic plague, meaning there was no human-to-human transmission, while others argue it was possibly pneumonic.

Interestingly, the plague still exists today – however, it’s significantly less deadly, thanks to modern antibiotics.

History Repeats, But at Least We Keep Learning

While we clearly haven’t eradicated infection diseases from our lives entirely, we’ve at least come a long way in our understanding of what causes illness in the first place.

In ancient times, people believed gods and spirits caused diseases and widespread destruction. But by the 19th century, a scientist named Louis Pasteur (based on findings by Robert Koch) discovered germ theory – the idea that small organisms caused disease.

What will we discover next, and how will it impact our response to disease in the future?

Like this? Check out the full-length article The History of Pandemics

Republished from ZH with permission.

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