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‘Unwise’ and ‘unjust’: Gov. DeSantis slams reports of potential Florida travel restrictions

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Responding Thursday to a report claiming that the Biden administration is considering travel restrictions on Florida, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) slammed the idea of restricting travel between states as “unwise” and “unjust” while charging that undocumented immigrants are allowed “to pour across the southern border unmolested.”

The Biden administration, according to a Miami Herald report, is contemplating “potential travel restrictions that do not target a specific state but focus on how to prevent the spread of variants that appear to be surging in a number of states, including Florida and California.”

Florida has the most confirmed cases in the U.S. of the United Kingdom coronavirus strain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“It would be unconstitutional, it would be unwise, and it would be unjust,” DeSantis said, vowing that the Sunshine State would fight back.

Moreover, the governor claimed that any actions to restrict travel would not be based in science and alleged it would be a “political attack against the people of Florida.”

DeSantis also tried to say that it was not fair to restrict travel with the U.S. while accusing the country of “allowing” undocumented immigrants to cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Restricting the right of Americans to travel freely throughout our country while allowing illegal aliens to pour across the southern border unmolested would be a ridiculous but very damaging farce,” DeSantis said.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R), according to The Miami Herald, penned a letter to President Joe Biden saying that travel restrictions on the state would be “reckless and economically harmful.”

“Instituting a travel ban, or any restriction of movement between the states, would be an outrageous, authoritarian move that has no basis in law or science,” Rubio wrote, with the newspaper noting that the White House has not said that it is mulling a travel ban on Florida.

A White House spokesperson Thursday told Orlando-based WESH 2 News that no policy announcements are imminent.

“To be clear, there have been no decisions made around additional public health measures for domestic travel safety. The administration is continuing to discuss recommendations across the travel space, but no specific decisions are under consideration,” the spokesperson said to the NBC News-affiliated station.

Nonetheless, the Biden administration is contemplating a rule that would mandate negative COVID-19 test results for flying domestically, according to Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg.

In a Sunday interview with “Axios on HBO,” the former South Bend, Indiana mayor and dark horse 2020 presidential candidate noted the potential testing mandates for U.S. flyers.

“There’s an active conversation with the CDC right now,” Buttigieg told Axios. “What I can tell you is, it’s going to be guided by data, by science, by medicine, and by the input of the people who are actually going to have to carry this out.”

MORE ON DESANTIS: DeSantis proposes new measures to fight Big Tech deplatforming of political candidates, including a $100G fine

MORE ON DESANTIS: ‘Whoop Dee Doo’: Gov. DeSantis says he’s ‘not the priority’ when asked if he’s gotten the COVID-19 vaccine

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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REPORT: China uses psychiatric institutions to suppress dissent

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China has a vast network of psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent, according to a recent report by Safeguard Defenders, an NGO that focuses on human rights violations in China and other Asian countries. The report compiled data found on 99 victims involved in 144 instances on involuntary hospitalizations in 109 institutions from 2015 through 2021. Of the 99 victims in the report, 80 were petitioners [i.e., those who file complaints against officials] and 14 were activists.

But this is hardly a new phenomenon. “China’s regime has been torturing, maiming, and killing dissidents and others in psychiatric facilities for seven decades,” said Gordon G. Chang, author of The Coming Collapse of China and The Great U.S.-China Tech War. “The only way to end the horrific abuse is to end the rule of the Communist Party.”

The report detailed especially harsh treatments, which include: forced medication (in 77 percent of cases), physical restraints on the bed (60 percent), beatings by staff or other patients (25 percent) and electroshock therapy (14 percent). Otherwise normally healthy people were given anti-psychotic and psychotropic medications, causing severe side effects like memory loss, insomnia and tremors. Electroshock therapy was often administered to the victims as they were fully conscious, rather than under anesthesia in small doses as would be clinically appropriate for certain patients.  According to the report, “[Electroshock therapy] without anesthesia is not only unimaginably painful and frightening for the patient but carries serious side effects, including the risk of bone fractures, joint dislocation, muscle tears, disruption of the heart beat and lung damage.”

Family and friends are often used as weapons against the victims. They were not permitted to call or visit the victims in 76 percent of cases, which essentially makes these cases “enforced disappearances.” 11 percent of cases were committed with the assistance of family (either voluntarily or coerced by authorities). Family and friends who petition for the victim’s release are often faced with persecution, and involuntarily commitment themselves.

The peak of psychiatric detentions occurred from 2015 through 2016, which was around the same time as China’s “709 Crackdown” where the government persecuted hundreds of human rights lawyers.

Some of the detentions are rather draconian. As a petitioner who called for local authorities to investigate a robbery in his house, Zeng Jiping was detained for almost two years. For “live tweeting herself splashing paint over a portrait of Xi Jinping,” Dong Yaoqiong received 1 year, 4 months detention. Twenty-nine out of the 99 victims in the report were hospitalized more than once. In two-thirds of cases where data was known, the authorities did not perform a psychiatric evaluation, in direct violation of China’s Mental Health Law.

The report also gives the example of Andy Li, a member of the “Hong Kong 12” pro-democracy protestors, as falling victim to involuntary detention in Hong Kong’ Siu Lam Psychiatric Center in 2021. The report noted that, as Li’s family didn’t know about his detention, “Li’s cases appears to be a worrying sign that the political abuse of psychiatry practiced on the mainland is now being exported into Hong Kong…”

Those who are finally released from their involuntary committals face lasting physical and phycological pain, and stigma within their communities. People seeking damages for their treatment are often faced with doctors and attorneys who do not want to assist them for fear of retaliation from the government.

Conclusion

According to the report, China is using “peace and health asylums” and other healthcare institutions to “punish and remove activists and petitioners from society without the trouble of going through a trial.” While the report details various Chinese laws that are supposed to protect citizens from such involuntary hospitalizations, in reality Chinese authorities do not abide by these laws and the citizens are not protected. The policy of involuntary hospitalizations show the extent to which the Chinese Communist Party will go to suppress dissent.

You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic

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