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Economic Trends

Report: New Risks, Opportunities

Emerging Because of COVID-19

Consumer Behavior Will Shift $3 Trillion in Economic Value


    NEW YORK - (BUSINESS WIRE) - 11/23/2020 - With the pandemic driving people to spend more time at home, avoid air travel, and change their spending habits, businesses can expect to see a shift of more than $3 trillion in economic value, according to Accenture (NYSE: ACN).

Graphic courtesy of Business Wire
   The report, titled The Big ValueShift, quantifies the broad impact of long-term changing consumer behaviors and provides actionable insights for companies to build strategies to thrive in the face of disruption. 

   Through a proprietary macroeconomic model that incorporates data from 38,000 companies across 25 industries, as well as household spending data for 15 countries that account for approximately 80% of global GDP, Accenture conservatively found:

  • More than $2 trillion of annual value may shift away from industries such as restaurants, traditional retail, and commercial real estate as consumers pass more of their leisure time at home.
  • Changes in spending may cause a net decline of up to $687 billion in annual value across consumer-facing industries.
  • If current declines in air travel persist into a longer-term shift, up to $318 billion of annual value will flow to different industries and ecosystems.
  • “Ripple effects of today’s changing consumer behaviors are causing waves that will reshape industries and their ecosystems. Companies must be ready — with responsive business models, technology-enabled operating models that are agile, and a growth mindset rooted in data and advanced analytics — to uncover new value and better meet customer demands as this wave of change approaches their industry,” said Kathleen O’Reilly, global lead of Accenture Strategy.

   According to the latest AccentureConsumer Pulse Survey, nearly three-quarters (73%) of respondents expect to feel most comfortable spending their free time at home over the next six months. This shift is impacting the traditional retail and leisure industries with value transferring to companies that offer ecommerce and digital-entertainment options.

   “The crisis has forced an uncomfortable reckoning for many brands — but, handled wisely, this will result in new ways of doing business that deliver better experiences for consumers and growth for organizations,” said Oliver Wright, global lead of Accenture’s Consumer Goods & Services industry group. “Before Covid-19, in-store shopping was, for most companies, the only ‘game in town’ with ecommerce and digital marketing an afterthought. The companies that fully integrate enjoyable and efficient digital and physical experiences that deliver faster, more convenient services will be the winners in the future.”

   The highly suppressed demand for air travel has had a profound impact on the travel ecosystem from airlines and airports to aircraft manufacturers, and even further downstream to hotel chains, energy, and resources companies. Data suggests that business travel will be one of the last segments to experience a sustained recovery. As consumers will still have vacation time, value is likely to migrate to sectors like domestic tourism, digital entertainment, and outdoor recreation.

   “Fundamental changes in behavior, including heavily reduced air travel and consumer discomfort in public spaces, creates opportunity in other areas. Companies need to innovate to drive new revenue streams and look at their ecosystem partnerships to offer value-added services that cater to new ways of working and the health-conscious consumer. For example, the hospitality sector can leverage existing assets to provide hotel rooms for day rates so people can work away from home, but still in a safe space. Critically, these efforts could also become a permanent and profitable avenue for growth in the post-pandemic era,” Accenture Travel Industry group global lead Emily Weiss said.

   The Big Value Shift is the first in a series of Macroeconomic Insights that looks at major economic and sustainability trends arising from the COVID-19 crisis and offers guidance for business leaders as they strategize and navigate their companies through unchartered business territory.

County Politics

Rebuilding in Madison County

By James Grandone

The Madison Co. Administration Building
  EDWARDSVILLE - 11/20/2020 - “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades” is a song by one-hit-wonder Timbuk 3 in 1986. To hear the heads of the Republican and Democratic parties talk about the future, they both have their Ray-Bans on.
    I spoke with Ray Wesley, chairman of the Madison County Republican Party (@GOPMADISONCOUNTY) and Randy Harris, newly minted chairman of the Madison County Democratic Party (@MadcoDems) after the 2020 general election. Both were optimistic about the future prospects of their party in coming elections and both cited shortcomings and strengths. But they had very different messages.

    Wesley’s Republicans are coming off a heady success at the county level that saw President Donald Trump win handily with more than 75,000 votes against former Vice President Joe Biden who got just below 57,000 votes. Countywide offices saw similar results and the party took most of the open positions at the county board level as well.

    Harris attributes the loss to the media and the national headlines. “People just came out and voted for Trump.” Democrats are looking to the future and plan to “reorganize, reach out and message” to attract the blue-collar workers the party has lost starting in the 2010 election and going forward.

    “We put out a very good, robust message around issues important to local Democrats,” said Harris. “It’s all about how we’re going to help the blue-collar workers who get up and go to work every day.”

   Wesley’s party’s message was simple: fiscally conservative philosophy coupled with lower taxes and less government. “We are the No. 1 taxed state in the country, and we are trying to save every dollar for taxpayers.” I think Californians would take exception to that statement, but there it is.

    Harris is skeptical about the Republicans’ tax-cutting and wants to know what services will be eliminated when the revenue isn’t there to pay for them. To him, it’s a quality of life issue. His point is well made, in that many of the services that Madison County residents enjoy are the same amenities that attract young families to live here.

    The Republican leader emphasizes cutting the budget, lowering the tax levy and maintaining services.

   “We want less government, lower taxes and to protect the integrity of taxpayers’ money, “Wesley said.

   To back that up, he said that when he was first elected to the county board in 2016, the tax bill for the county was “around 10 to 11 percent and today, it’s around seven percent.”

    Both parties’ arguments are compelling. People want the services but don’t want to pay the property taxes that are needed to support them.

    From a political point of view, the Democrats are facing an uphill battle for the hearts and minds of the blue-collar worker whose interests they say they represent but who feel the tax pinch, as well as the headwind of a national media that has had Trump in the news every day since he was elected. While Republicans, as Wesley said, are going to settle into their new offices and not disappoint the voters who put their confidence in them.

    Both say they are optimistic but that there is a lot of work ahead in building their organizations.


Jim Grandone
Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary. 
Reprinted with permission. This article originally ran in the 
Edwardsville Intelligencer

Election Analysis

  Counties That Voted for Biden

Account For 70 Percent of US GDP

By Steve Rensberry
RP News

Graphic courtesy of statista.
 EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - (RP NEWS) - 11/20/2020 - A recent report by the Brookings Institute shines a light on the growing economic divide in the country, made even more apparent from the results of the latest General Election, with president-elect Joe Biden winning just 477 counties to Donald Trump's 2,497.

The big difference: Residents and businesses in the 477 counties that Biden carried accounted for an aggregate share of U.S. GDP of 70 percent, compared to just 29 percent for counties carried by Trump. The difference was somewhat smaller in 2016 when Trump ran against Hillary Clinton, but was still very large, with Clinton carrying 472 counties with a US GDP of 64 percent, to 2,584 counties carried by Trump accounting for 36 percent of US GDP.

GDP figures used for comparison, pertaining to the 2020 election, are from 2018.

As noted in this summary by statista data journalist Niall McCarthy: "The 2020 presidential election was notable for considerable political and geographic divides but it also highlighted a huge economic divide. . . . The political outcome of this year' contest is different and the country's economic voting chasm has widened. Biden won virtually all of the U.S. counties with the biggest economies including Los Angeles (CA), New York (NY), Cook (IL), Harris (TX) and Santa Clara (CA) while Trump was the candidate of choice in small towns and rural communities with correspondingly smaller economies," McCarthy writes. "The most economically powerful counties won by Trump in 2020 were Nassau (NY), Suffolk (NY), Collins (TX) and Oklahoma (OK)."

The Brooking Institute's report notes the often-cited differences between the two demographics of metropolitan vs rural or small-town America.

"Biden’s counties tended to be far more diverse, educated, and white-collar professional, with their aggregate nonwhite and college-educated shares of the economy running to 35 percent and 36 percent, respectively, compared to 16 percent and 25 percent in counties that voted for Trump," the Institute states, "In short, 2020’s map continues to reflect a striking split between the large, dense, metropolitan counties that voted Democratic and the mostly exurban, small-town, or rural counties that voted Republican. Blue and red America reflect two very different economies: one oriented to diverse, often college-educated workers in professional and digital services occupations, and the other whiter, less-educated, and more dependent on 'traditional' industries."

The report forecasts coming gridlock in Congress and between the White House and Senate because of the country's deep economic divide. "The problem . . . is not only that Democrats and Republicans disagree on issues of culture, identity, and power, but that they represent radically different swaths of the economy," it states. "Democrats represent voters who overwhelmingly reside in the nation’s diverse economic centers, and thus tend to prioritize housing affordability, an improved social safety net, transportation infrastructure, and racial justice. Jobs in blue America also disproportionately rely on national R&D investment, technology leadership, and services exports."

The possibility of significant serious economic harm to just about everyone in the country is a concern, especially if the divisive pattern made apparent in the last few election cycles continues, they said.

"Specifically, Trump’s anti-establishment appeal suggests that a sizable portion of the country continues to feel little connection to the nation’s core economic enterprises, and chose to channel that animosity into a candidate who promised not to build up all parts of the country, but rather to vilify groups who didn’t resemble his base," the report states, noting the special needs posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, making it "a particularly unsustainable situation."

See: Brookings Institute Report

Prison Sentence

Former Police Officer, 

Gangster Disciples Member

 Sentenced to Prison

    (DOJ) - 11/18/2020 - A former DeKalb County, Georgia, police officer and member of the Gangster Disciples has been sentenced to 15 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for racketeering conspiracy involving murder,

   The announcement was made by Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak of the Northern District of Georgia.

   Vancito Gumbs, 28, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, claimed to be a “hitman” for the Gangster Disciples while at the same time serving as a police officer. Evidence showed that Gumbs relayed sensitive law enforcement information to the gang and provided a firearm to a fellow gang member.

   According to the charges and other information presented in court, the Gangster Disciples are a national gang with roots in Chicago dating back to the 1970s. The gang is highly structured, with a hierarchy of leadership positions known as “Positions of Authority” or “POAs.” The gang strictly enforces rules for its members, the most important of which is “Silence and Secrecy” – a prohibition on cooperating with law enforcement. Violations of the rule are punishable by death.

   Evidence at trial showed that the Gangster Disciples were responsible for 24 shootings from 2011 through 2015, including 12 murders. Gumbs, who had been photographed flashing a hand sign used by the Gangster Disciples, was a self-professed “hitman” for the gang while serving as a police officer.

   While he was employed as a DeKalb County police officer, federal agents captured Gumbs on recorded phone calls with the “Chief Enforcer” for the Georgia Gangster Disciples. Evidence showed that during these calls, Gumbs relayed law enforcement information to the gang and provided a firearm to a fellow gang member. On later calls, the Chief Enforcer noted that he had Gangster Disciples police officers at his disposal.

   Among other criminal activity, the Gangster Disciples engaged in the commission of murders. The jury found that Gumbs joined or remained in the racketeering conspiracy while knowing and agreeing that the gang engaged in murder.

   This case was investigated by the FBI, Atlanta Police Department, and DeKalb County Police Department.

   Principal Deputy Chief Kim S. Dammers of the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS), Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ryan K. Buchanan, Deputy Chief of the Violent Crime and National Security Section, Erin N. Spritzer of the Northern District of Georgia, and Trial Attorney Conor Mulroe of OCGS prosecuted the case.

   Source: DOJ news release of Nov. 16, 2020

Anti-Globalism Conspiracy


Extremist Ideology Drives


Christian Zionist Crusade

By Steve Rensberry 
Opinion / Analysis

   EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - 11/9/2020 - Zionist, anti-globalist, and gun advocate Baruch Pletner is a man on a mission. Jewish, born in Russia, and fanatically pro-Israel, Pletner spent the first 10 years of his life in the Russian Federation before moving to Israel, according to an online bio, and served in the Israeli Air Force for a while, before making his way to Boston in 1973 as an engineer. In 2010 he immigrated to Canada, taking up residence in the province of Prince Edward Island. 

Dubbed the “High-Tech Traditionalist,” and a “scientist, entrepreneur and thinker,” Pletner speaks with a noticeable accent and the tone of an expert. He writes, blogs, participates in podcasts, tweets, and appears on talk radio and a handful of Youtube videos, most if not all catering to the views of America's far-right nationalists.

   The sad thing is that what Pletner embraces, in apostle-like fashion, is nothing but a regurgitation of old falsehoods, fears and prejudices. Pre-1990, it was the ominous “New World Order,” long a target of anti-government and fundamentalist Christian groups and a carry-over from the Cold War era, in which it was feared that a godless communism and collectivist world government would replace national sovereignty with totalitarian rule and a One World Government. Progressives, liberals, the United Nations, the welfare-state, international institutions and alliances, all can be seen as building blocks of the beastly globalism trend.

   Books such as the 1903 work, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion (described as an antisemitic canard), H.G. Well's 1940 book, The New World Order, and the work of neo-theosophical occultist Alice Bailey -- a founder of the so-called New Age movement – and other literary works and figures have invigorated the anti-globalism conspiratorial mindset.

   In lockstep with our lame-duck president and others on the right, Pletner defines the Democratic Party as fundamentally evil and its supporters as criminals without honor, with a goal of complete destruction. The “Deep State,” always capitalized, figures prominently in his writing. Ironically, he fears that his enemies will completely destroy people like him if they win, yet nearly in the same breath he states that if they win, Trump will deal his enemies “a final crushing blow, a blow from which they will never recover.” He continues, echoing a belief that the existing establishment must be wiped clean or demolished entirely in order to rebuild the kind of nation they really want. “Yes, this will involve the destruction and rebuilding of many if not most of America's most cherished institutions, but it is the only way that America can be saved, the only way in which this first battle can also be the last one.”    

   That's some iron-clad, black-and-white thinking.

    Pletner writes about a coming civil war, about annihilating liberals, and about the collapse of nations -- a good thing in his mind, it seems, necessary to rid the world of bad people and to set things right. He may be educated in engineering and have experience abroad, but his essays lean heavily on exaggeration, misrepresentation, and inflammatory language. It is us vs them, and everything is on the table.

   “The globalist world order is in full collapse. Nobody is buying the wares that it is peddling. Extreme secularism, acceptance and glorification of LGBTx , extreme feminism, and 'wokeness,' are all being rejected in favor of nationalism, traditionalism, and renewed religiosity. There is and yet will be a lot of screaming at the sky, but this reality is undeniable. And so are its consequences,” Pletner writes. See: up for grabs

   In his last column before the election, Pletner called the Bidens a crime family with less honor even than the Cosa Nostra (Sicilian Mafia), and a worse choice for elected office than Al Capone or Meyer Lansky would have been. “These men may have been gangsters, but they loved America,” he says. Loyalty and allegiance are, apparently, Value No. 1. Morals and characer are somewhere further down the list.

   Former Utah Congressional candidate Debbie Aldrich has interviewed Pletner on her YouTube channel and radio show “Freedom Voice Radio.” Aldrich, meanwhile, is listed as an “On Air Talent/Roving Reporter on the CDMedia staff page, as well as author for the Center for Security Policy (CSP) – an organization categorized by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as a hate group, primarily anti-Muslim. 

   As stated in the SPLC report: “Frank Gaffney, Jr. founded the neo-conservative-turned-anti-Muslim think tank CSP in 1988, following his tenure as deputy assistant secretary of defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy in the Ronald Reagan administration. From the late '80s to the mid-2000s, CSP was seen as a mainstream though hawkish organization that favored the so-called 'peace through strength' doctrine popularized by President Reagan. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the CSP never left its Cold War mentality, and instead shifted its focus from battling Communism to fighting Islam.”

   In a 2018 article posted on about former Arizona state Sen. Kelli Ward, Aldrich was described thus: “Ward has done three interviews with Debbie Aldrich, a conservative pundit who made a failed bid to fill the seat of retiring Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) in a special election last year. On her Twitter feed, Aldrich falsely called Obama a Muslim and promoted the Pizzagate conspiracy theory. She blamed Obama and 'all his anti-white hate mongers' for 'inciting race riots,' and said he gave 'these #Black Thugs #BLM Carte Blanche to DESTROY AMERICA.'” 

   You might surmise that both Pletner and Aldrich are supporters of our lame-duck president Donald Trump, along with being big contributors to the broader far-right and conservative media networks that support him, and you would be right. Of note:

  • In addition to YouTube interviews and podcasts, Pletner and Aldrich are both contributors to CDMedia, a site run by far-right writer and conspiracy publicist L. Todd Wood. In addition to his own site, Wood's articles reach the Washington Times, Washington Examiner, New York Post, and a long list of other right-wing sites. 

  • Wood is featured on a podcast hosted by Steve Bannon (Breitbart, Trump admin), Raheem Kassam (former editor-in-chief of Breitbart) and Jack Maxey.

  • Wood hails from the financial industry as a bond trader (Cantor), Bannon as an investment banker (Goldman Sacs), as does another person on Wood's contributor list, Peter Cecchini (Cantor). See also: L. Todd Wood

  • Wood has a connection to some degree with the anti-Iranian M.E.K. group, which was once listed as a terrorist organization before rebranding itself and earning U.S. support, including from Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani, both of whom were in attendance at a 2012 rally in Paris for the M.E.K. Also in attendance: Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, and former Bush U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton. “The M.E.K.'s political arm, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has its headquarters in Paris.” See: Iranian terrorist group

  • Bannon's writing and reputation outpaces Wood's, but both make wide use of many of the same techniques. Bannon was heavily involved with the alt-right news site Breitbart and recently had his account suspended on Twitter after calling for the beheading of Dr. Anthony Fauci. Bannon also faced arrest in August in a case involving the suspected misuse of fundraising dollars. Wood's account was suspended, as well, for spreading fake news and misinformation related to the Bidens.

  • Bannon was VP of the Board of Cambridge Analytics, “a data-analytics firm which allegedly used illegal tactics to target American voters in the 2016 election and is owned largely by the Mercer family, the family that also co-owns Breitbart News.” He was appointed chief executive of Trump's presidential campaign 88 days before the 2016 election, but the two appeared to part ways under public pressure. See Bannon.

  • Bannon has described himself as an economic nationalist and “proud Christian Zionist.” He has also been described as an admirer of paleoconservative commentator Pat Buchanan, with an ideology that “is substantially similar to that of Stephen Miller, Tucker Carlson, Benny Johnson, Raheem Kassam and Matthew Boyle, the latter two having been protégés of Bannon at Breitbart.”  

   While there is widespread ideological agreement among each of these players, Pletner, interestingly, accuses Bannon in one of his articles of conducting a “counter-coup resting on rotten foundations of residual white bigotry, real and imagined white oppression, and white nostalgia for what never was and never will be,” while fully sharing Bannon's Zionist, Democratic-hating, anti-globalist world view. Both men, however, have been apologists, and publicists, for our 45th president. 

   As for the split between Bannon and Trump, read this paragraph from an article by “author and political analyst” Ava Armstrong. The article, titled, Is There a Secret Strategy to the Trump and Bannon Division and Feud?, was posted on the America Out Loud site after Bannon was given the boot from the White House early in Trump's presidency.

   “Consider this, Donald Trump is a very unconventional individual in his thinking and his tactics, a strategist, an asymmetric schemer and out-right pretty clever man,” Armstrong writes. “I believe this was by design, contrived by Trump and Bannon as a tactic of presenting an overt separation between the two – providing an appearance of severing of their political and perhaps ideological ties. But here’s the deception, nothing has really changed as they are clandestinely maintaining a covert dual track strategy designed to destroy the Establishment and the Swamp. This new tiff, albeit artificial and maybe made for politics and the media, perhaps is just part of the perception designed to provide the cover to create the illusion of a severing and separation between Bannon and Trump. The cover story so to speak, to all of this presents the belief that Trump no longer answers to Bannon … and no longer does Bannon have any association or influence with Trump." 

   This may only be one person's opinion, that of Armstrong's, but the attacks on established institutions and norms we've witnessed over the past four years would seem to bear it out, as well as from things Trump himself has said.

   If there's one thing that Pletner, Aldrich, Bannon, Wood, and all the rest seem fixated on it's destruction. They want to destroy their opponents, not merely win or beat them at the polls. They want to destroy the establishment, not merely improve it, build on it, or reform it, or even replace it. Concepts like diplomacy and compromise are rarely mentioned. And they assure themselves, without evidence, that their enemies want to destroy them in return.

   This is not a sign of healthy minds, nor of good intentions with respect to the future of our country and the world.

   On Nov. 7, 2020, Biden accepted the election results as president-elect of the United States, as the world awaits final certification of the results, as well as the results of various court challenges the Trump campaign has filed. Given the depth and history of the anti-globalist conspiracy, and the sheer number of voters who remained loyal to the president in his re-election bid, such fanaticism could very well intensify.

For further reading: 

Information and Politics


How Do You Know 

What You Know?

By James Grandone

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - 11/9/2020 - How do you get your information about politics, COVID-19 and local events? If you get most of it from friends and family, where do they get it?

Jim Grandone

Most likely the answer is from the media, either print or broadcast news or online news sources. I get mine from news aggregators online. They scour all the major news outlets and publish the most important stories every day from primary news sources, such as major daily newspapers, network news and cable news networks.

We cannot keep up with all the news because we can’t be everywhere news happens. That is the function of reporters.

Often news drives policy in Washington, D.C., state capitols and city halls. Politicians and our reactions to the news influence the formulation of public policy.

Most of the time, news outlets just report what is being debated in deliberative bodies like Congress and state legislatures. But what if the news outlets made policy directly by telling politicians what to support and what to oppose?

That is how Fox News Channel operates, according to a new book by CNN Media Correspondent Brian Stelter, “HOAX: Donald Trump, Fox News and the Dangerous Distortion of Truth.”

In a review of the book in The New Republic, Stelter says it was the late Roger Ailes who convinced Trump to do a weekly call in to Fox & Friends program. Rather than ask Trump what his position was on the day’s topics, Ailes told Trump what to say on the program.

These positions became Trump’s positions and contributed to his positions on issues and his fixation on news ratings in determining his actions as president. By the way, Fox does not have many reporters and gets most of its “news” from online news publications, including the right-wing conservative Breitbart and The Drudge Report. Makes sense. This affects the national divide in the United States over policy issues like gun control, Black Lives Matter and other controversial subjects. Fox has a very loyal following, and so does Trump. In most polling, it would seem that Trump has a solid 30 percent support, which comprises his “base.” Where does his base get their news? From Fox News Channel programming. Research has shown that a full 34 percent of voters get their news from Fox News Channel. Where does Trump get his position on issues? Fox News Channel and, in particular, his buddy Sean Hannity. See the circle?

The rest of us get our news from what is commonly called “mainstream news outlets.” They are staffed by journalists and reporters who adhere to standards of objectivity and fairness as best they can. Journalists who write news, rather than commentary, strive to present a story looking at all sides of an issue, rather than supporting an ideological point of view, like Fox News Channel. Local newspapers, such as The Intelligencer, often serve as the sole source of local news. The “I” recognizes that people have many options for national and world news and have chosen to be the best source for local news. It is a niche for other community newspapers to consider filling. So, it’s important to really think about what you know and how you know it. If you don’t watch television news or read newspapers and get most of your information from family and friends, from where do they get their information?

I think we should try to formulate our opinions based on all the information available. Then we can make a rational decision about voting for the best-qualified candidate.


Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.

Reprinted with permission. This article originally ran in the Edwardsville Intelligencer

Government Transparency

DHS, ICE Sued For Withholding

Documents On COVID-19 Precautions

By Steve Rensberry 
RP News

EDWARDSVILLE - (RP News) - 11/9/2020 - Documents withheld by the Department of Homeland Security and Immigrations and Customs Enforcement involving the COVID-19 pandemic are the subject of a lawsuit filed on Nov. 6 by the American Civil Liberties Union.

According to a news release about the filing, ICE has reported 490 active cases of COVID-19 among those currently being detained. Critics suggest the number is much higher, however, given limited testing.

“We know, from discovery in more than 50 suits the ACLU has filed against ICE around the country, that the agency has fundamentally refused the basic precautions to keep people safe from COVID,” ACLU-DC Senior Counsel Arthur Spitzer said. “ICE claims it is spending hundreds of millions of dollars on the medical needs of detained people, and yet they’re still getting sick, and some are dying. The American people deserve to know what horrors people are being subjected to on our soil.”

Requested records include the following:

  • The transfer or deportation of detained people who have tested positive for COVID-19 or exhibited symptoms.

  • Any documentation from the start of the Trump administration and onward related to planning for a possible infectious disease outbreak.

  • Models or predictions related to infection and mortality rates of detained people, ICE employees and contractors, and employees of third-party contractors.

  • Any suspected or confirmed exposures, infections, and deaths of people living or working in immigration detention facilities.

  • The risk of spreading COVID-19 to surrounding communities via staff, third-party contractors, visitors, detained people, and transfers.

  • Access to hygiene products and personal protective equipment, and the possibility of social distancing.

  • The testing of detained people, ICE employees and contractors, and employees of third-party contractors at ICE facilities, and testing, treatment, and care of detained people.

  • Directives, policies, protocols, and trainings related to COVID-19 in immigrant detention.

  • Congressional or state-based inquiries into coronavirus-related issues.

The notice said public health experts had been sounding the alarm for months that such centers could become COVID-19 hotspots, and that FY 2020 (ending Sept. 30) was one of the deadliest for ICE detention in 15 years. “This year has also seen numerous reports about the lack of even basic COVID precautions taken by ICE, as well as evidence that ICE has attempted to silence detainees who tried to speak out for better care,” the release stated.

“In a year with so many disasters in the headlines, the escalating humanitarian crisis at ICE detention centers has not received the kind of alarm it deserves,” said Eunice Cho, senior staff attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project. “The abuse, neglect, and degradation our clients regularly face in ICE custody have only worsened since the pandemic began: This year alone, we've seen allegations of sexual abuse, increased use of force, rampant use of solitary confinement, attempts by ICE to minimize its role in the deaths of detained people, and hunger strikes to protest the horrendous conditions. The decisions and policies that ICE uses to guide it during this pandemic are a matter of life or death for tens of thousands of detained people and the staff who work at these facilities. It is simply unacceptable that this agency thinks it can act with so little transparency and accountability.”

U.S. Elections

Civil Rights Organizations 

Fight Attempt to Block Valid Ballots

HARRISBURG, Penn. (ACLU) - 11/5/2020 - Voting rights organizations are fighting back against an attempt by Republican candidates in Pennsylvania to invalidate valid ballots cast by eligible voters.

   State representative candidate Joseph Hamm and U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly, along with four voters, filed a lawsuit in Commonwealth Court on Election Day, claiming that county election officials who were following guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of State had violated state election law by notifying voters that their mail-in ballots had been rejected. The petitioners asked the court to invalidate all provisional or replacement ballots cast by Pennsylvania voters whose mail-in ballots were canceled, and all mail-in ballot that were “cured” after voters were notified about a problem with their initial ballot.

In an amicus brief filed Nov. 5, leading organizations representing voters came together to oppose the attempt to deprive Pennsylvanians of the opportunity to cast a valid ballot. The brief was filed by the Black Political Empowerment Project, Common Cause Pennsylvania, the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania, and NAACP Pennsylvania State Conference.

These organizations were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Pennsylvania, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Public Interest Law Center, and pro bono counsel from Covington & Burling.

“This attempt to disenfranchise Pennsylvania voters must be rejected,” the brief reads. “Nothing in the Election Code prohibits a county board of elections from providing notice that a voter’s mail-in ballot has been rejected so that the voter can be contacted and afforded an opportunity to cast a valid ballot.”

A mail-in ballot can be canceled when the voter made certain technical mistakes, such as not using a secrecy envelope. By notifying voters that their ballots cannot be accepted, the amici assert, Pennsylvania counties have given voters a chance to make their voice heard. Invalidating provisional ballots would eliminate the only recourse that voters whose mail-in ballots would be rejected have to be able to participate in the election.

“Every vote counts, and this latest effort to discard valid ballots in Pennsylvania should be rejected,” said Sophia Lin Lakin, deputy director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “Every voter must have their voice heard. No more shenanigans by those who oppose this foundational principle of our democracy.”

Source: ACLU news release

Society and Culture


Take-Aways From Trump's 

'Suburban Housewives' Myth

By Cheryl Eichar Jett
A stereotypical 1950s era housewife.
   EDWARDSVILLE - 10/29/2020 - During President Donald J. Trump's recent campaign rally at Jamestown, Pennsylvania, his supporters – and the world – heard a desperate plea from an incumbent president attempting to hang on to the battleground states he is in danger of losing: “Do me a favor, suburban women, would you please like me?” For good measure, he added, “Please, please. I saved your damn neighborhood, okay?”

    Back in August, Trump introduced his talking point of “saving the suburbs” in an attempt to appeal to what he called “suburban housewives.” It was little more than a thinly-veiled dog whistle to his base of keeping “low-income housing,” i.e. black or minority renters, out of what he sees as a 1950s stereotype of racially pristine neighborhoods looked after by attractive white housewives.

   “Suburban housewives” as a segment of the American population is as out-dated in fact as it sounds.

   But it isn't news that Trump lives in the past. From the introduction of his “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan in 2016, we've known that he has a longing for the “good old days,” which appears to mean before the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, or financing of housing. (In 1973, Trump was poised to take over the New York City middle-class rental empire built by his father, Fred C. Trump, when they were both named in a suit by the U.S. Department of Justice alleging discriminatory practices.)

   But besides the racial dog whistle and the implication that Trump is talking about all-white neighborhoods, the whole talking point reflects his basic misunderstanding – or ignorance – of women's history. The 1950s-60s wasn't just a time that many white men (remember Alabama Governor George Wallace and his supporters?) still believed that blacks should know their place. Women were generally expected to know theirs as well, and that place was in the home, maintaining the nuclear family while wearing a pretty housedress, in sharp contrast, of course, to the image of the unattractive Communist Russian woman toiling in a factory every day.

   Trump's 1950s highlight reel may be playing in his head, as he promotes his idea of “suburban housewives” flocking to his “save the suburbs” promise, although polls are showing that the majority of women are having none of what he's selling. But Mr. Trump, we “suburban women” would like to clear up a couple things:

Source: Pew Research Center
   First of all, we aren't Mrs. Cleaver (if we ever were), mother of the Beaver. We aren't the Stepford wives. And we aren't afraid and in need of protection from the people next door. Take another look. We female inhabitants of suburbs may be white, or black, Latina, Asian, Native American, or multi-racial. And sure, some of us are married – to men. But some of us are single, or married to women. American suburbs are growing in both population and diversity. Please don't put yourself out saving us from our neighbors.

   And, to show you who we are and how fed up we are with four years of your misogyny and racism, we're voting in droves against you, standing in lines for six or eight hours and sharing our food and our stories with those standing with us. We've shattered early voting records. We've marched, protested, put signs in our yards, written postcards to undecided voters in battleground states, texted, and phoned.

   With those points hopefully cleared up, here are my four take-aways from Trump's appeal to “suburban women”:

   First, his fundamental misunderstanding, no, ignorance, of history – basic American history, post-WWII history and culture, Mid-Century pop culture, let alone American women's history – have not served him well.

   Secondly, his deep-rooted misogyny and “playboy” persona never allows him to acknowledge that “suburban women” could ever think for themselves. Again, we're not the Stepford wives – we're intelligent, educated, thinking human beings.

   Third, he may yet underestimate the collective anger of women at his racism, misogyny, cruelty, and incompetence (which looks likely to be demonstrated in epic fashion at this year's ballot box) – the last five years has seen women organize in numbers, strength, and fervor reminiscent of the years of women's suffrage.

   And my final take-away from Trump's plea to “suburban women” – his desperation in his struggle to keep his head above water in this election, a desperation highlighted by begging for the votes of a segment of the population – “suburban” women – that he underestimates, doesn't understand, and will never respect.

   Even Mrs. Cleaver would see right through it.

For further reading

 Mrs. America: Women's Roles in the 1950s

Criminal Indictment

 Investigation Into Violent White 

Supremacist Gang Brings Additional 

Charges, Rico Indictment

(DOJ) - 10/28/2020 - The U.S. Justice Department has announced that additional charges have been brought in a superseding indictment against members and associates of a white supremacist gang known as the 1488s. The 1488s have been charged as a criminal organization that was involved in narcotics distribution, arson, obstruction of justice, and acts of violence including murder, assault, and kidnapping.

Two new defendants were added to the recently unsealed superseding indictment. Felicia King, 55, of Wasilla, Alaska, was charged with accessory after the fact for her role in the August 2017 beating, kidnapping, and murder of Michael Staton, aka “Steak Knife.”

Justin Eaton, aka “Skulls” 45, of Anchorage, Alaska, who had been previously charged in a separate indictment as a felon in possession of a firearm, was charged with RICO conspiracy, kidnapping and assault for his role in the April 2, 2017, beating of a former 1488 member.

Original defendants Filthy Fuhrer, (formerly Timothy Lobdell), 42; Roy Naughton, aka “Thumper,” 40; Glen Baldwin, aka “Glen Dog,” 37; Craig King, aka “Oakie,” 53; and Colter O’Dell, 26, were all charged in a RICO Conspiracy. Fuhrer and Naughton also face additional charges for federal kidnapping, as well as kidnapping and assault in aid of racketeering for incidents occurring in April and July of 2017.

In the original indictment, Fuhrer, Naughton, Baldwin, King, O’Dell, and Beau Cook, 32, were charged with murder in aid of racketeering, kidnapping in aid of racketeering, assault in aid of racketeering, kidnapping, and conspiracy to commit assault and kidnapping in aid of racketeering. Two other key members, Nicholas M. Kozorra, aka “Beast,” 29, and Dustin J. Clowers, 34, previously pleaded guilty to murder in aid of racketeering in unsealed court documents. Additionally, Cook has pleaded guilty to kidnapping for his role in the Staton homicide.

According to the superseding indictment, the 1488s are a violent prison-based gang operating inside and outside of state prisons throughout Alaska and elsewhere. The 1488s employed Nazi-derived symbols to identify themselves and their affiliation with the gang. The most coveted tattoo of 1488s members was the 1488s “patch” (an Iron Cross superimposed over a Swastika), which could be worn only by “made” members who generally gained full membership by committing an act of violence on behalf of the gang.

According to the indictment, as part of their operations, 1488s members and associates engaged in illegal activities under the protection of the enterprise, including narcotics trafficking, weapons trafficking, and other illegal activities to promote the influence of the gang The 1488s allegedly had an organizational structure, which is outlined in written “rules” widely distributed to members throughout Alaska and elsewhere.

Members of the 1488s allegedly acted in different roles in order to further the goals of their organization, including “bosses” who had ultimate authority in all gang matters. “Key holders” were allegedly responsible for all gang matters within penal facilities where 1488s had a presence, and in “free world” Alaska (outside of prison). “Enforcers” were allegedly responsible for enforcing the rules and performing tasks as assigned by higher-ranking gang members. “Prospects” for membership were required to familiarize themselves with Nazi-inspired white supremacist ideology. Violence against law enforcement was also a means of gaining standing within the 1488s. Female associates of the gang were referred to as “lady-eights”.

In or about 2016, Fuhrer allegedly became more aggressive in his efforts to impose discipline within the gang. He allegedly believed that members who were defying the 1488 code of conduct were diminishing the power and influence of the gang. As outlined in the superseding indictment, this culminated in the kidnapping and assault of former members on April 2, 2017, and July 20, 2017, and the kidnapping, assault, and murder of Staton on Aug. 3, 2017. These acts were allegedly ordered by leadership of the 1488s acting from within and from outside of the prison system.

The charges in the indictment are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force, and the Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Bureau of Investigation, investigated this case in conjunction with the District of Alaska U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Organized Crime Division and the Criminal Division’s Organized Crime and Gang Section (OCGS). Investigative Assistance was provided by IRS Criminal Investigation; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, the U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations, Anchorage Police Department (APD), and the State of Alaska’s Department of Corrections.

This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Chad McHenry of OCGS and Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Taylor, James Klugman, and Chris Schroeder of the District of Alaska.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Brian C. Rabbitt of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder of the District of Alaska, Special Agent in Charge Robert Britt of the FBI’s Anchorage Field Office, and Alaska State Trooper Captain David Hanson, Commander of the Alaska Bureau of Investigation, made the announcement.

   Charges detailed in the indictments are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

   Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice press release
   See also: indictment download

By the Numbers

COVID-19 Cases Surge; Countries

Struggle To Avoid Second Deadly Wave

Missouri and Illinois a Contrast in Severity, Approach

By Steve Rensberry 
RP News

EDWARDSVILLE - (RP News) - 10/19/2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to threaten the stability of countries around the world, including the United States, with the latest figures showing Europe and many other countries struggling to avoid a potentially devastating second wave amid a new surge in cases.

A graph of COVID-19 cases from statista
    According to statista data journalist Felix Richter, increased testing accounts only for portion of the increase in numbers.

Citing data from the World Health Organization, Richter writes: “According to the World Health Organization, daily new cases hit a new high of 394,501 on October 17, with the seven-day average quickly approaching 350,000. While the high number of new cases is partly due to a steep increase in testing compared to a couple of months ago, the most recent surge in new infections, with Europe at the forefront, cannot be attributed to testing alone.”

The total number of people who have contracted COVID-19 worldwide has now topped 40 million, leading to 1.1 million deaths.

On Oct. 18, Illinois officials reported just over 3,100 new cases of COVID-19 and 22 new deaths in the state. Since the start of the crisis, the state has recorded 347,161 infections, and 9,236 deaths.

Illinois Gov. J.P. Pritzker expressed concern on Monday that the state could be facing a new wave of the virus, citing increasing hospitalizations and positivity rates.

Missouri, meanwhile, has been reporting record numbers and positivity rates. As reported in this AP story, the state logged a record number of COVID-19 cases this past Saturday, with 2,357 infections, and 1,768 cases on Sunday. Total cases statewide are at 156,696, with 2,582 deaths.

Nationwide, the United States has experienced more than 8.4 million infections leading to 224,159 deaths (4 percent). Roughly 5.49 million people (96 percent) have been discharged or have recovered.

Voting Matters

Voting is Your Right and


 Not a Spectator Sport


By James Grandone

Oct. 14, 2020 - Did you vote for president in 2016? Some 63 million voted Republican, while 66 million voted Democratic. Unfortunately, that is out of 200 million registered to vote, which means more people sat at home than voted for either political party.

Jim Grandone

Women, people who didn’t own land, African Americans, Immigrants and even Native Americans had to fight for years to get the right to vote. Because of the desire for universal suffrage, over past the centuries, we have evolved from a representative republic to a democratic republic or some hybrid thereof. It wasn’t easy to expand the right to vote. It took protests, riots and bloodshed. And still, there are those in government who want to make it difficult for us to cast a ballot.

Bear with me for a little history that doesn’t get taught much in schools today.
Although Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves and gave them rights, those rights were eroded after Reconstruction by Jim Crow laws and poll taxes.

Women won the right to vote by the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution 100 years ago, which passed after women marched and were arrested and beaten in the streets. The Fifteenth Amendment, which was passed in 1870, granted all U.S. citizens the right to vote regardless of race, however, it wasn't until the Snyder Act in 1924 that Native Americans could enjoy the rights granted by this amendment.

Many died fighting for the right of African Americans to vote, which was secured in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and, even then, in the South and other parts of the USA, African Americans were prevented from voting by various tactics used by powerful people to stay in power. Eighteen-year-old Americans did not get the right to vote until the Twenty-sixth Amendment, which was ratified in 1971. Even after that, they did not prove themselves a political force until 2008.

After all that effort over many years and generations we finally have what amounts to universal suffrage – almost every citizen can register to vote in America. It baffles me that tens of millions did not vote in the last presidential election.

We can conduct all the voter registration drives we want. We can identify voters and survey them for national polls, we can crow about the large numbers of people registered to vote, but if those registered don’t show up at the polling place or cast their vote by mail, then all the polls are wrong and we get a minority government like we have had twice this century.

More than eight in ten Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. Just because Illinois is not a battleground stated does not mean your vote doesn’t count. The people who write the laws are all on the ballot this November including members of Congress and some local candidates and referenda.

Now is the time to make your voice heard. I strongly urge you to consider all that has taken place up to this moment in time and make a decision right now that you are going to vote on or before Nov. 3, 2020. Mail-in ballots have been sent out and in person voting is taking place now. Don’t hesitate.

You don’t have to worry about being beaten or killed while casting your vote. Your biggest challenge may be finding a parking spot.


Jim Grandone is a long-time resident of Edwardsville, Ill. He was the architect of the 'East County...If You Only Knew' marketing campaign promoting the Metro East to businesses in St. Louis in the 1990s. Grandone holds a BA in political science from the University of Illinois at Springfield and was a Coro Fellow and serves on a variety of boards. He lives in Leclaire with his wife, Mary.

State of Science


Trust in Science Soars Amid 

Global Pandemic


ST. PAUL, Minn.- (BUSINESS WIRE) - 10/10/2020 - If the world’s biggest challenges are to be solved, science will lead the way.

That’s the takeaway from the annual 3M State of Science Index (SOSI). This year’s survey shows that the image of science is on the rise, sustainable solutions remain critical, barriers to STEM and gender/race inequality must be removed, and public/private partnerships are expected to solve issues that people care most about.

A screenshot from the 3M SOSI site.
“As people face the most challenging health crisis in our lifetime, science is more relevant, more trusted, and more important to people all over the world,” said Mike Roman, chairman of the board and chief executive officer, 3M. “Advocating for science is important to 3M, but it’s bigger than just us. We’re leaning in with a focus on the things people care most about: pandemic preparedness, sustainability, social justice, and STEM equity. The State of Science Index shows that people want and expect science to make lives better and these are important issues that are at the heart of 3M’s vision to improve every life.”

Against the backdrop of COVID-19, trust in science and scientists is the highest it has been in three years since SOSI first began. Today, 89%* of those surveyed trust science; 86%* trust scientists; 77% are more likely as a result of the pandemic to agree that science needs more funding; and more than half (54%*) agree science is very important to their everyday lives – a double-digit increase from the pre-pandemic data (44%*). Rounding out the picture, 92% of global respondents believe actions should follow science to contain the global pandemic, revealing another measure of trust in science.

The evolving image of science is a key theme to emerge from findings of SOSI -- a third party, independently researched study commissioned by 3M to track attitudes towards science. The latest SOSI survey was fielded in eleven countries throughout July and August of 2020, about six months into the global pandemic.

COVID-19 has made people more appreciative of what science can do

A world that has been increasingly skeptical of science seems to be waking up to its relevance and importance. In 2020, rising skepticism reversed for the first time in three years. People who stated, “I am skeptical of science,” dropped by 7 points to 28%* during the pandemic this summer, from its high of 35%* last year. Relatedly, respondents who only believe science that aligns with their personal beliefs is down six percentage points from when the question was first asked in 2018.

A renewed trust in science appears to translate into taking action too: more than half of those surveyed (54%) agree COVID-19 has made them more likely to advocate for science, whereas pre-pandemic data showed only 20% would stand up for science when debating its merits with others.

There is good reason to push for science advocacy because the needle hasn’t moved on everything. Nearly two-thirds (63%) rarely think about the impact science has on their everyday lives—and nearly one-third (32%) still believe their lives “wouldn’t be that different” if science didn’t exist.

Solutions remain critical: science, sustainability and social justice

There are negative consequences to a world that does not value science, according to 82% of those surveyed. When those who agree were asked about the top negative consequences of concern — topping the list of concerns is “a higher risk of health issues” (68%) – which is not surprising in a year dominated by COVID-19. But sustainability remains an important priority too, with “negative environmental impact” (67%) cited as the second most concerning consequence.

Similarly, when asked about issues people most want to solve for, finding a cure for emerging viruses (such as COVID-19) ranks at the top (80%), followed by finding a cure for other major diseases (62%). Outside of healthcare, social justice and the environment are among the greatest priorities. Social justice/STEM equity (advocating for racial equality in society and/or ensuring underrepresented minorities have access to STEM education) is the top non-health related issue (55%) - and addressing the effects of climate change is the second (51%).

But, who will the world count on to resolve these problems people care about in the future? The next generation of scientists, which must be more diverse and better engaged to truly address global challenges.

Race and generational barriers to STEM education threaten future advances

As a result of the pandemic, pro-STEM sentiment is even stronger: today, 74% are more likely to believe that the world needs more people pursuing STEM-related careers to benefit society, while 73% are more likely to believe a strong STEM education is crucial for students.

Unfortunately, too many people have been discouraged from pursuing science, especially younger generations; Gen Z respondents are three times more likely than their boomer counterparts to report being discouraged as K-12 students from pursuing science (28% adult Gen Zers, 24% millennials, 15% Gen X and 9% baby boomers).

The reasons for being discouraged reveal barriers that run deep: More than one-third of discouraged respondents (36%) say it was due to a lack of access to science classes in school, 34% were told they weren’t smart enough, and 27% point to inequalities in gender, race and/or ethnicity as the problem; in the U.S., this issue is especially high, at 50%.

“We’ve learned from this year’s study and from previous years that people want and need science to solve global challenges,” said Dr. Jayshree Seth, corporate scientist and chief science advocate at 3M. “It has never been more important to enable bright, motivated students from all walks of life to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams through careers in STEM,” Dr. Seth continued. “Attracting the next generation of scientists starts with access to education and motivating students to pursue STEM. The science community – and therefore the world – will only benefit from a greater diversity of talent across gender, racial and ethnic lines.”

Businesses and governments have to work together 

The pandemic has uncovered perceived gaps in science leadership around the world, but it has also revealed opportunities to make a difference. A vast majority of survey respondents around the world believe governments need to lead the way -- 86% say governments should be more involved in containing the spread of COVID-19. In the same way, they also look to governments to address challenges such as affordable healthcare (86%), food safety (86%), improving air quality (85%), and ocean plastics pollution (84%).

While governments are deemed the single most responsible organization, a combination of non-government entities emerge as viable partners (corporations, non-profits, and individual citizens) to help address challenges like climate change (48% non-government** vs. 52% government). For racial inequality, respondents are split 52% non-government** vs. 48% government; and for equal access to STEM education for underrepresented minority groups, the split is 38% for non-government** vs. 62% for government.

Importantly, 53% of respondents believe that, amid major challenges in 2020, corporations should prioritize collaborating with governments for solutions to global challenges — second only to preparing for future pandemics (61%).

3M will host a live media briefing and panel discussion on Tuesday October 6th at 2.20pm ET, to talk about the State of Science in 2020, insights behind the findings, and their implications to society with scientists from 3M; the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the UNCF; and the University of Texas at Austin. To register and join the live panel event, please click here.

For more information about the 2020 SOSI Pre-Pandemic and Pandemic Pulse survey results, please visit

Survey Methodology

3M’s State of Science Index presents two waves of original, independent and nationally representative (based on census demographics) research in 2020, both conducted by global research firm Ipsos through a combination of online and offline interviews.

Pre-Pandemic Wave: The 2020 Pre-Pandemic Survey was conducted in 14 countries among 1,000 general population adults (18+) in each of the following countries: Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, India, Japan, Mexico, Poland, Singapore, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, UK and the US. At the 95% confidence level, the margin of error is +/- 0.83 percentage points at the global, 14-country level and +/- 3.1 percentage points for each individual country.

Pandemic Pulse Wave: The 2020 Pandemic Pulse was conducted among 1,000 general population adults (18+) in 11 of the 14 countries from the 2020 Pre-Pandemic Survey. Countries excluded from this pulse include India, Mexico, and South Africa. At the 95% confidence level, the margin of error is +/- 0.94 points at the 11-country level and +/- 3.1 percentage points for each individual country.

To compare across all years of SOSI, a 9-country tracking average was used which has a margin of error of +/- 1.04 percentage points. Countries within this average include Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Poland, Singapore, UK and the US.

2020 Pre-Pandemic survey results were fielded in August - October 2019, and 2020 Pandemic Pulse results were fielded in July - August 2020.

Digital Trends


Pandemic and Protests Fuel 

Record Rates of Digital Advocacy


ARLINGTON, Va. - (BUSINESS WIRE) - 10/10/2020 - As the United States grapples with a global pandemic, civic protests and an incredibly polarized political climate, an unprecedented number of citizens are using digital advocacy to engage with government at the local, state and federal level, according to Phone2Action’s annual State of Advocacy report.

Released on Oct. 7, the State of Advocacy 2020 documents the massive growth in digital advocacy during the first half of 2020 and offers a detailed statistical snapshot of citizen activism.

According to anonymized, aggregated insights from Phone2Action’s user data, more than 14 million actions, including email, phone calls, Facebook messages and Tweets, were taken between January and June 2020, eight times more than the same time period in 2016 (the last presidential election year).

The first half of 2020 also generated 3.4 million new advocates for Phone2Action clients, a 121-percent increase over a comparable period in 2018 and a 306-percent increase over 2016, the last two election years.

“Fueled by fears over the pandemic, frustrations over racial injustice and perhaps the most contentious election in a generation, citizens are making their voices heard in new ways and at a new volume,” said Jeb Ory, CEO of Phone2Action. “These New Citizens, who are embracing technology for social good, have completely transformed the advocacy landscape, using every digital tool at their disposal from advocacy software to WhatsApp—even dating apps and gaming systems—to shape policy when it matters most. The world of Washington influence will never be the same.”

Phone2Action’s State of Advocacy report also found:

  • The volume of advocacy email jumped from 7 million in the second half of 2019 to 12.4 million in - the first half of 2020.
  • During the peak of COVID-19, defined as March 13 – May 30: 52,000 people took action every day — roughly 36 people every minute.
  • The percentage of supporters who took action on an advocacy request almost tripled, growing from 6 percent before March 13 to 16 percent after.
  • Advocacy shares on Facebook grew more than 287 percent over the pre-COVID period from Dec. 25 to March 12. Shares on Twitter jumped 113 percent over that same time period.
  • The number of advocates taking action to influence local government more than doubled, growing 148 percent over the same period in 2019.

“While the boom in 2020 is built upon years of steady growth in digital advocacy, the events of 2020 have accelerated citizen activism at a rate we could never have anticipated,” Ory said. “People want to be heard and to have a say in the decisions that impact them, particularly during this challenging year.”

Associations and nonprofits both benefited most from 2020’s surge in digital advocacy. Associations saw new advocates grow 363 percent between January and June over the same period last year. Nonprofits mobilized 2.8 million supporters between January and June 2020.


The State of Advocacy 2020 report is a data-focused analysis of digital advocacy, drawn from millions of actions taken on Phone2Action’s platform each year. The insights are solely based on Phone2Action’s data and no other data source is used.

When needed, data was normalized to facilitate year-over-year, apples-to-apples comparisons. In other cases, cohort analysis, which involves following a sub-sample of organizations over a period of years to analyze advocacy activity, was used. These two approaches helped eliminate the impact of Phone2Action’s business growth on the data.