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Saturday, May 30, 2020

Biden on Disabilities

Earlier in the race, Biden received criticism for lacking a disability plan.  Now,Biden has released his full disability plan:
Read Joe Biden’s plan to support people with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic at

Joe Biden believes that everyone should be treated with dignity and have a fair shot at getting ahead. This year, on July 26, we will mark the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Thanks to the leadership of people with disabilities, disability advocates, and their allies, we have made progress towards the goals of this law—“equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency” for people with disabilities. But, there is much more work to do in order to ensure that all people with disabilities are able to participate fully in our communities and enjoy the same kinds of choices and opportunities that many Americans take for granted.
To accomplish these goals, as President, Biden will:
  • Ensure full inclusion of people with disabilities in policy development and aggressively enforce the civil rights of people with disabilities.
  • Guarantee access to high-quality, affordable health care, including mental health care, and expand access to home and community-based services and long-term services and supports in the most integrated setting appropriate to each person’s needs and based on self-determination.
  • Expand competitive, integrated employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
  • Protect and strengthen economic security for people with disabilities.
  • Ensure that students with disabilities have access to educational programs and support they need to succeed, from early interventions to post-secondary education.
  • Expand access to accessible, integrated, and affordable housing, transportation, and assistive technologies and protect people with disabilities in emergencies.
  • Advance global disability rights.
Some specifics:
Work with Congress to pass legislation ensuring adherence to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Olmstead decision. The Olmstead decision requires government programs to provide people with disabilities the choice to “live, work, and receive services in integrated settings” appropriate to their needs. The Obama-Biden Administration made enforcement of Olmstead a top priority. As President, Biden will ensure every agency aggressively enforces Olmstead’s integration mandate, including in housing, education, health care, employment, and transportation. As President, Biden will work with Congress to ensure that people with disabilities no longer have to wait for decades to access community-based services.
Safeguard against efforts to weaken the ADA and push for strong ADA compliance. Although much progress has been made in achieving accommodations for people with disabilities through the ADA, Biden will continue to advocate for stronger ADA enforcement. He will support the Disabled Access Credit Expansion Act, which will increase tax credits for small businesses to improve accessibility and comply with the ADA.
Nominate judges who support disability rights and reflect the diversity of our country. Biden will nominate individuals to the judiciary who are committed to the rule of law, understand the importance of individual civil rights and civil liberties in a democratic society, and respect foundational precedents including Olmstead v. LC. Biden will also make it a priority to appoint judges who reflect the diversity of our country, including people with disabilities.
Direct the U.S. Department of Justice to review guardianship laws, with an eye toward ensuring that citizens with disabilities are able to exercise self-determination consistent with the ADA. And, the Biden Administration will promote efforts to provide people with disabilities viable alternatives to guardianship if they need decision-making assistance, including supported decision-making.
Protect the parental rights of people with disabilities. Many states have laws that allow a parent’s disability to be considered in making a determination regarding their fitness to be a parent. Biden will ensure that child welfare agencies and family courts do not violate the rights of parents with disabilities and that they have appropriate training to fairly assess parental capacity in a non-discriminatory manner.

Expand access to high-quality early childhood supports and education. Biden will fully fund the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), including Part C, which provides resources and support for infants and toddlers with disabilities, and Section 619, which provides resources for preschool children with disabilities. Biden will direct his HHS to ensure that all eligible children receive Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) services and address the challenges outlined in GAO’s 2019 report. IDEA Part C, Part B Section 619, and EPSDT services are critical in identifying potential vision, hearing, developmental, and other issues and providing needed supports and services for children. For example, language deprivation for children who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing in the early years of life can have lasting impact on a child’s language and cognitive skills. Biden will provide parents, health care providers, and early childhood professionals the resources needed to support these children, including access to Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) and language-rich environments, and work with the community to develop development milestones. He will ensure that early intervention professionals provide equitable resources to support language learning to parents of children aged 0-5.

Support students with disabilities in elementary and secondary school. Biden will ensure that no child’s future is determined by their zip code, parents’ income, race, or disability.
He will:
  • Fulfill IDEA’s promise of free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment for students with disabilities. Biden will fully fund and enforce IDEA and triple Title I funding to increase resources available to educators to meet the needs of students with disabilities. Biden will ensure that schools provide students with disabilities appropriate support, including sign language interpreters, readers, door-to-door transportation, computer-assisted devices, augmentative and alternative communication, as well as braille materials. He will also increase funding for Parent Training Centers.

Working to ratify the Disabilities Treaty. The United States in 2009 signed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, a treaty which reflects the principles of the American with Disabilities Act. Biden will work with the Senate to ratify the Disabilities Treaty and regain our global standing as a leader on disability rights.
Celebrating the United Nations International Day of Persons with Disabilities, every December 3, to recognize the accomplishments and challenges of persons with disabilities in the U.S. and around the world and amplify the mantra of the disability rights movement: “Nothing About Us, Without Us.”

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Danger of the Antivaxxers

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Adam Gabbatt at The Guardian:
In early May, a survey by two academics found that 23% of Americans would not be willing to get vaccinated against Covid-19. In a separate poll by Morning Consult, 14% said they wouldn’t get vaccinated, and another 22% were unsure. And according to a new Associated Press-NORC poll, only about half of Americans say they would get a Covid-19 vaccine if available. With more than 1.6m coronavirus cases in the US, and a more than 100,000 deaths, a mass refusal could have dangerous consequences.
Experts say social media has been a huge driving force too. Ideas that vaccines cause autism – a debunked theory still popular among anti-vaxxers – abound on Facebook, along with notions of governments and pharmaceutical companies collaborating to make money from duping regular people.

With a potential coronavirus vaccine hopefully looming, two anti-vaccine activists held a “Freedom Health Summit” in April, inviting speakers to share information they were privy to.
The speakers list read like a who’s who of discredited scientists and conspiracy theorists, including disgraced Briton Andrew Wakefield, who was stripped of his medical license after he published a fraudulent study linking the measles, mumps and rubella vaccine to autism.

Despite Wakefield’s claims being disproven numerous times, he is seen as a reliable voice in the anti-vax movement, as is Judy Mikovits, a former scientific researcher popular among anti-vaccine supporters.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Education Officials Seek IDEA Waivers

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters.  And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of all. Providing education is proving to be very difficult.

Evie Blad at Education Week:
A coalition of education organizations wants Congress to waive a provision in federal law that requires school districts to maintain consistent funding levels for special education from year to year.
That local "maintenance of effort" provision, part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, will present particular challenges amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as schools confront unprecedented challenges and ballooning budget shortfalls, the groups said in a letter to congressional leaders Wednesday.
As schools rushed to close in response to the virus, many were forced to reorganize staff and resources to educate students remotely, the organizations wrote, and they will continue to do so as they re-open buildings under new protocols designed to limit transmission. As schools rush to reorient their budgets, they fear penalties, the groups said.
They asked Congress to include a waiver from the requirement in its next coronavirus relief package.
"Unfortunately, the maintenance of effort requirements in IDEA do not have a pandemic exception," says the letter. "Specifically, the IDEA local maintenance of effort requirements do not allow districts to adjust their special education funding that they had previously, and in good-faith, dedicated to special education efforts."
The letter was signed by AASA, The School Superintendents Association, the Association of School Business Officials International, Council of Administrators of Special Education, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National School Boards Association.

Many Won't Take a Coronavirus Vaccine

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Matt Ford at The New Republic:
To make matters worse, developing a coronavirus vaccine will only be half the battle. The other half will be getting people to actually take it. A survey released Wednesday by the Associated Press and the NORC Center for Public Affairs Research suggests that it may be an uphill fight. Only 49 percent of Americans said they planned on getting a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available, according to the poll, while 31 percent said they were unsure. Perhaps the most troubling finding was that 20 percent of Americans said they would not get the vaccine at all.
Even before the coronavirus, however, states wrestled with a newer challenge to public health: the resurgence of the anti-vaccine movement. Fueled by a discredited study claiming a link to autism, as well as a deluge of misinformation on the internet, anti-vaxxers in the U.S. and Europe have contributed to a decline in overall vaccination rates. As a result, some childhood diseases that had previously been kept in check by herd immunity have begun to make a resurgence. In 2018 and 2019, New York experienced its worst measles outbreak in almost three decades, which infected hundreds of children and spread to other states.
To complicate matters further, Trump and conservative media outlets have already sought to turn public health measures like mask-wearing and social distancing into another front in the culture wars. In recent days, Trump derided former Vice President Joe Biden for wearing a mask in public over the Memorial Day weekend and claimed a White House reporter who wore one was being “politically correct.” The president also has a long history of publicly disputing the scientific consensus on vaccines and even reiterated concerns about the disproven link to autism. If he and his allies find political value in stoking fears and doubts about a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available, then a safe way out of this crisis might be even further out of reach.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Online IEPs

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters.  And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of all. 

Carolyn Jones at EdSource:
In the wake of a federal order for schools to keep providing special education during school closures, one of the trickiest parts of those services — mandatory parent meetings — has proven to be an unexpected boon in some districts but almost impossible in others.
For parents who have computers and are comfortable with videoconferencing, the virtual meetings with teachers, therapists and other school staff have been relatively smooth and efficient. In fact, some districts say they’ll keep them even after schools reopen, because they’re more convenient for teachers and parents who work.
But the online meetings have been a challenge for parents who lack technological skills, don’t speak English or are preoccupied with more pressing matters, such as unemployment or homelessness related to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Autistic Burnout

Why was this study done?
Autistic burnout is talked about a lot by autistic people but has not been formally addressed by researchers. It is an important issue for the autistic community because it is described as leading to distress; loss of work, school, health, and quality of life; and even suicidal behavior.
What was the purpose of this study?
This study aimed to characterize autistic burnout, understand what it is like, what people think causes it, and what helps people recover from or prevent it. It is a first step in starting to understand autistic burnout well enough to address it.
What did the researchers do?
Our research group—the Academic Autism Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education—used a community-based participatory research approach with the autistic community in all stages of the study. We analyzed 9 interviews from our study on employment, 10 interviews about autistic burnout, and 19 public Internet sources (five in-depth). We recruited in the United States by publicizing on social media, by word of mouth, and through community connections. When analyzing interviews, we took what people said at face value and in deeper social context, and looked for strong themes across data.
What were the results of the study?
The primary characteristics of autistic burnout were chronic exhaustion, loss of skills, and reduced tolerance to stimulus. Participants described burnout as happening because of life stressors that added to the cumulative load they experienced, and barriers to support that created an inability to obtain relief from the load. These pressures caused expectations to outweigh abilities resulting in autistic burnout. From this we created a definition:
Autistic burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic life stress and a mismatch of expectations and abilities without adequate supports. It is characterized by pervasive, long-term (typically 3+ months) exhaustion, loss of function, and reduced tolerance to stimulus.

Participants described negative impacts on their lives, including health, capacity for independent living, and quality of life, including suicidal behavior. They also discussed a lack of empathy from neurotypical people. People had ideas for recovering from autistic burnout including acceptance and social support, time off/reduced expectations, and doing things in an autistic way/unmasking.
How do these findings add to what was already known?
We now have data that autistic burnout refers to a clear set of characteristics, and is different from workplace burnout and clinical depression. We have the start of a model for why autistic burnout might happen. We know that people have been able to recover from autistic burnout and have some insights into how.
What are the potential weaknesses in the study?
\This was a small exploratory study with a convenience sample. Although we were able to bring in some diversity by using three data sources, future work would benefit from interviewing a wider range of participants, especially those who are not white, have higher support needs, and have either very high or very low educational attainment. More research is needed to understand how to measure, prevent, and treat autistic burnout.
How will these findings help autistic adults now or in the future?
These findings validate the experience of autistic adults. Understanding autistic burnout could lead to ways to help relieve it or prevent it. The findings may help therapists and other practitioners recognize autistic burnout, and the potential dangers of teaching autistic people to mask autistic traits. Suicide prevention programs should consider the potential role of burnout. These findings highlight the need to reduce discrimination and stigma around autism and disability.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Another Correlate: Aunts and Uncles on the Father's Side

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss various ideas about what causes the conditionHere is just a partial list of correlatesrisk factors, and possible causes that have been the subject of serious studies:

A release from NIH:
Roughly 3 to 5% of children with an aunt or uncle with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can also be expected to have ASD, compared to about 1.5% of children in the general population, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Researchers also found that a child whose mother has a sibling with ASD is not significantly more likely to be affected by ASD, compared to a child whose father has a sibling with ASD.
The findings call into question the female protective effect, a theory that females have a lower rate of ASD than males because they have greater tolerance of ASD risk factors.
The results, derived from records of nearly 850,000 Swedish children and their families, appear in Biological Psychiatry. The study was conducted by John N. Constantino, M.D., at Washington University in St. Louis, and colleagues in the United States and Sweden.
“The results offer important new information for counseling people who have a sibling with ASD,” said Alice Kau, Ph.D., of the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Branch of NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), which funded the study. “The findings also suggest that the greater prevalence of ASD in males is likely not due to a female protective effect.”
Additional NIH funding was provided by the National Institute of Mental Health.
ASD is a complex neurological and developmental disorder that begins early in life and affects how a person interacts with others, communicates, and learns. Previous studies have found that roughly 3 times more males than females have ASD. Reasons for the difference are unknown.
One possible explanation is that females have a built-in resistance to the genetic factors leading to autism. With such a female protective effect, the theory holds that many women could carry such risk factors and be unaffected, but could transmit them to their sons, who lack the protective effect and may develop ASD.
In the current study, researchers analyzed data from Swedish national registers of births and family relationships. The children were born from 2003 to 2012. Roughly 13,000 children were diagnosed with ASD, about 1.5% of the total. Offspring of mothers with one or more siblings with ASD were about three times more likely than children in the general population to have ASD. Children of fathers with one or more siblings with ASD were twice as likely as children in the general population to have ASD, a rate that did not differ significantly than that of children whose mothers have a sibling with ASD.
According to the study authors, the results provide the first population-wide estimate of ASD risk to children of parents who have a sibling with ASD.
This finding challenges the existence of a female protective effect, Dr. Constantino explained, because if such an effect existed, the children of mothers with a sibling with ASD could be expected to have up to a 30% higher risk of ASD. Similarly, the researchers found no statistically significant increase in ASD risk for children whose uncles have ASD, compared to children whose aunts have the condition.
Bai, D et al. Inherited risk for autism through maternal and paternal lineage. Biological Psychiatry. 2020.

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Autistic People Need Additional Support During COVID-19

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters.  And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of all. 

Adrien A Eshraghi and colleagues have an article at Lancet Psychiatry titled "COVID-19: Overcoming the Challenges Faced by Individuals with Autism and their Families."
While the infection rate of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) rises exponentially around the globe, individuals with autism spectrum disorder are being identified as part of a group at higher risk for complications from COVID-19.1
Furthermore, autism spectrum disorder is often accompanied by anxiety, dyspraxia, learning disabilities, epilepsy, fragile X syndrome, Down syndrome, and immune system alterations. Individuals with autism can also have different types of behavioral challenges including deficits in social communication, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, irritability, and aggression. Such common comorbidities can present additional challenges for individuals to cope with during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it more difficult to receive needed therapies, practice physical distancing, and adjust to disrupted daily routines. We assert that individuals with autism are an important group who might require additional support during the COVID-19 outbreak and future public health emergencies.
1. Chow N Fleming-Dutra K Gierke R et al. Preliminary estimates of the prevalence of selected underlying health conditions among patients with Coronavirus disease 2019—United States, February 12–March 28, 2020.MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2020; 69: 382-386 View in Article  PubMedCrossrefGoogle Scholar
The authors might also have noted problems such as depression.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Law and Neurodiversity

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the neurodiversity movement.    I also note that we ought to have more comparative studies of autism politics and policy.

I read this book in manuscript.  It is a terrific and much-needed contribution to the field.

From the University of British Columbia Press:
Law and Neurodiversity: Youth with Autism and the Juvenile Justice Systems in Canada and the United States
By Dana Lee Baker, Laurie A. Drapela, and Whitney Littlefield

As social perceptions of diversity become more nuanced, awareness of the prevalence of autism has grown. But how do we accommodate natural human neurodiversity within the juvenile justice system? And what are the consequences for young people?
Law and Neurodiversity offers invaluable guidance on how autism research can inform and improve juvenile justice policies in Canada and the United States. Both countries rely on decentralized systems of governance to craft and implement law and policy, but their treatment of detained youth with autism differs substantively. This perceptive book examines the history of institutionalization, the evolution of disability rights, and advances in juvenile justice that explicitly incorporate considerations of neurological difference into court practice. In Canada, the diversion of delinquent autistic youth away from formal processing has fostered community-based strategies for them under state authority in its place. US policies rely more heavily on formal responses, often employing detention in juvenile custody facilities. These differing approaches profoundly affect how crucial services such as education are delivered to youth on the autism spectrum.
Building on a rigorous exploration of how assessment tools, rehabilitation programs, and community re-entry plans differ between the two countries, Law and Neurodiversity offers a much-needed comparative analysis of autism and juvenile justice policies on both sides of the forty-ninth parallel.

Scholars and students of socio-legal studies, criminology, and disability studies will find this book essential reading, as will policy analysts and policymakers in juvenile justice and frontline workers working with autistic youth in the justice system.

Friday, May 22, 2020

Infections in Illinois Developmental Centers

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the day-to-day challenges facing autistic people and their families. Those challenges get far more intense during disasters.  And coronavirus is proving to be the biggest disaster of all. 

 Jennifer Smith Richards and Jodi S. Cohen at Pro Publica Illinois:
While much of the attention related to COVID-19’s impact on vulnerable populations has focused on deaths at nursing homes, infection rates are remarkably high in another kind of residential setting: state-operated centers for adults with cognitive or behavioral disabilities.
As of Thursday, more than 1 in 5 people living in these developmental centers had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, state data shows. That’s more than double the infection rate seen in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, where confirmed cases account for about 7% of residents, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health.
Of about 1,650 people who live in the seven developmental centers, which are scattered throughout the state, at least 355 have tested positive, or 21.5%. Eight residents have died, as have four workers.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Antivaxxer Wins GOP Senate Nomination in Oregon

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Unfortunately, Republican politicians are increasingly joining up with the anti-vaxxers.

Mike Baker at NYT:
Republicans in Oregon have selected a Senate candidate who promotes the QAnon conspiracy theory, the latest sign that conservatives are increasingly willing to embrace a movement built on a baseless series of plotlines about President Trump battling a shadowy globalist cabal.

Jo Rae Perkins was carrying about 50 percent of the vote in Oregon’s primary as of Wednesday afternoon, vanquishing three other Republican candidates to become the party’s nominee for the seat currently held by Senator Jeff Merkley, a Democrat. While the incumbent is considered a strong favorite, and Ms. Perkins’s embrace of fringe ideas could alienate mainstream voters, she has the backing of party leaders for a seat Republicans held as recently as 2009.

Ms. Perkins said in an interview that the vote in Tuesday’s election was “monumental” as she saw QAnon supporters around the state and the country back her campaign.
Ms. Perkins expressed wariness about the medical leaders advising the president and said she would not get any vaccine that would be developed in response to the coronavirus.
“I don’t know what they are pumping me full of,” Ms. Perkins said. “I don’t want that crap.”
From her webpage:


Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Trump Campaign Cites Antivax Group

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.  There is an unfortunate connection between the antivax movement and group opposing public health measures and promoting quack cures for COVID-19.
As Judd Legum points out at Popular Information, the AAPS is a fringe group:
The AAPS has also repeatedly pushed discredited theories about the dangers of vaccines. Asked earlier this year if vaccines cause autism, Orient said "the definitive research has not been done." But the "overwhelming scientific consensus is that vaccines do not cause autism."
After a 2015 measles outbreak at Disneyland in Florida, the AAPS "issued a news release opposing mandatory vaccination and raising questions about vaccine safety." The release "makes a link between autism and the measles vaccine." The group's work was condemned by public health officials.

The Trump campaign is now citing the AAPS as an authoritative source during a deadly pandemic. Life may only return to normal with the widespread adoption of a vaccine.
Readers of this blog may remember that Tom Price, Trump's HHS secretary who later resigned in disgrace,  also belonged to this fringe group.  So did Senator Rand Paul.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Fighting to Save a Program for Autistic Students

In The Politics of Autism, I discuss the growing number of college students on the spectrum.

Danielle Leigh at WABC-TV:
A community college on Long Island planning to cut two programs designed to help students with Autism Spectrum Disorder is facing new pressure to reverse course following a report by 7 On Your Side Investigates.
On Friday, students, parents, and program coordinators described the ASPIRES and ACHILLES Programs at Nassau Community College in Garden City as life-changing for the individuals they serve.

"It's helped me branch out more socially. I used to be very reserved and I used to avoid talking with people and I feel like I've improved in that a whole lot," said Lucas Librie, a liberal arts student. "I went to a different college before Nassau and I did terribly."
New York State Senator Monica Martinez, D-Brentwood, a school administrator and member of the state Education Committee, responded to the news by writing Nassau Community College imploring them to change course.
"I strongly urge the reconsideration of the cancellation of the ASPIRES program," read the letter to NCC Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs Valerie Collins. "I have been reached out by dozens of individuals whose lives have improved through participation in the ASPIRES program."

Monday, May 18, 2020

More on the Antivax/Antilockdown Connection

 In The Politics of Autism, I analyze the discredited notion that vaccines cause autism. This bogus idea can hurt people by allowing diseases to spread  And among those diseases could be COVID-19.

Jonathan Oosting, Ted Roelofs at Bridge:
Anti-vaccination activists — already warring against government mandates — have emerged as key players in the battle against Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order designed to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
Several organizers with Michigan United for Liberty, the group that hosted an April 30 protest at the Michigan Capitol and is planning another Thursday, have deep ties to the “anti-vaxx” and “medical freedom” movement, according to a review of online activity and public records by Bridge Magazine.

Some have used social media to promote conspiracy theories about the pandemic and to discourage the kind of widespread testing, contact tracing and vaccine development that medical experts say is critical to defeating the virus and reopening the economy.
Robert Mackey at The Intercept:
THE PRESIDENT OF the United States voiced his support on Saturday for a protest against New York state’s public health orders that was backed by an anti-government militia and anti-vaccine activists who called for the execution of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s senior immunologist.
The “Re-Open NY” rally on Thursday in Commack, New York was organized by a group of Trump supporters who call themselves the Setauket Patriots, but also endorsed by anti-vaccination activists and the Long Island branch of the Oath Keepers, a national organization of current and former law enforcement officers and military veterans who think they are defending the nation from a range of imaginary threats posed by the federal government.
Amid a sea of American flags and Trump banners, several of the signs waved by the protesters referenced conspiracy theories promoted by radical anti-vaccine activists that demonize Fauci and the philanthropist Bill Gates.