Tegna looks into investor claim against Standard General

(Reuters) – Tegna Inc (TGNA.N) said on Monday it was investigating an investor’s claim that the U.S. regional TV station operator should recover trading profits from its largest shareholder, hedge fund Standard General LP.

Hunter & Kmiec, a law firm representing a small Tegna shareholder, wrote to Tegna’s board last week asking it to investigate whether Standard General breached U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules in its trading of Tegna’s stock, according to people familiar with the letter.

Standard General, which is engaged in a proxy contest to replace four of Tegna’s board directors, had disclosed earlier last week it converted about a quarter of its 9.7% stake in the company into swaps. These are derivative contracts that allowed Standard General to cash out on these shares while keeping economic exposure to them. The trades occurred between March 25 and March 31, according to a Standard General regulatory filing.

Hunter & Kmiec partner James Hunter argued in his letter to Tegna that if the swaps that Standard General entered into are settled by Tegna stock rather than cash, the hedge fund would have crossed the SEC’s 10% beneficial ownership threshold, that requires shareholders to forfeit profits from trades occurring within six months of each other.

Swaps that Standard General previously entered into for Tegna shares were also to be settled with more shares, as opposed to cash, according to the hedge fund’s regulatory filings.

This is because the SEC defines beneficial ownership as equity ownership or voting control, and regards shareholders who divest shares following Tegna’s record date of March 25 as still being be able to vote them in the company’s upcoming annual meeting of shareholders on April 30.

Hunter & Kmiec wrote in the letter that after Standard General crossed the 10% beneficial ownership threshold on March 25, any subsequent trading gain can be claimed by Tegna, and gave it 60 days for it to do so. It estimated Standard General’s profit from the trades at $4.84 million. Hunter declined to comment when contacted by email.

“We have received a stockholder demand alleging Section 16 short-swing trading liability by Standard General and are investigating the claim,” Tegna said in a statement.

“All our trading has been fully transparent and on-the-record, as well as in full compliance with all applicable laws. This is simply another attempt by Tegna to distract from the fact that we have expanded our ownership,” Standard General said in a statement. The hedge fund on Friday disclosed it had bought more Tegna shares, raising its stake to about 12%.

The SEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

While companies and hedge funds often engage in bitter rows during proxy fights, such a dispute over the trading of shares is rare. Hedge funds are generally mindful not to inadvertently cross the 10% beneficial ownership threshold in a company, because it can severely restrict their ability to trade its stock.

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Japanese students virtually graduate thanks to iPads connected to robots

As the novel coronavirus pandemic continues to spread, Japanese graduates are making sure not to miss an important milestone.

Students in Tokyo weren’t able to have a traditional graduation ceremony due to virus fears, but Business Breakthrough (BBT) University had a novel idea.

Using Newme robots, also known as avatar robots, graduates were able to use iPads to virtually graduate and “walk” across the stage to receive their diplomas, all from the comfort of their own homes.

Each student had their own tablet attached to one of the robots and used Zoom to remotely participate in the ceremony via conference call, which took place at Hotel Grand Palace on March 28, Business Insider reported.

The robots were dressed in the classic cap and gown to make the experience even more authentic.

“When I enrolled, I never thought I would operate my avatar and attend the graduation ceremony,” an anonymous graduate said in the school’s statement.

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“However, receiving a diploma in public is a novel experience.”

They were even able to pose with the university’s president for photos on their big day, all thanks to some technology and innovation.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

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COMMENTARY: How the coronavirus crisis is bad news for Canada’s military budget

After COVID-19, will Canada ever buy new fighter jets, new warships or new submarines? Probably not in your lifetime.

Will Canada ever pay its multi-billion-dollar share for new northern warning radars or continental ballistic missile defence? Highly unlikely for a very long time.

Will Canada ever come close to honouring its longstanding commitment to NATO and Washington to spend two per cent of its GDP on defence? Fat chance.

Such opinions are almost universally held in the Canadian Armed Forces today.

Government spending is about to be turned upside down by the demands placed on the treasury by COVID-19. The first casualty in the looming battle for public money will almost certainly be what is the biggest line item in the current budget: $22 billion in military spending.

With a $113-billion deficit suddenly a prospect, the last thing any government will want to pay for are military purchases that will cost tens of billions of dollars, however badly the new kit has been needed for many years.

Spending more on defence was a tough sell in Canada, even during the boom years that ended a couple of weeks ago. Equipment was allowed to become more and more antiquated over the decades despite an endless stream of shameless promises that the shortcomings would soon be addressed.

This never happened because the politicians always had other priorities to try to entice voters into supporting them. Stephen Harper’s mantra was, balance the budget. Justin Trudeau wanted to spend heavily on programmes that advanced his pet progressive projects.

Both prime ministers and those before them seemed content to hang on to the U.S.’s coattails, even as those tails became shorter and shorter and U.S. foreign policy became more erratic at a moment when Russia and especially China presented very real new security challenges.

The public bought into the archaic idea that Canada was a leading global force for good in peacekeeping and that the force’s top priority no longer had to be defending the country or helping its NATO and NORAD partners. The Trudeau government regarded the armed forces as a glorified constabulary to help out with forest fires, floods, tornados, and, if it ever came to that, earthquakes.

Fighter jets were withdrawn from the air war against Islamic State that the U.S., Britain, France, Australia, Belgium and Poland continued to be part of. Combat troops were sent as trainers to Ukraine and Iraq.

As small a contribution as Canada could get away with was made to the NATO mission that the Trudeau government finally and reluctantly agreed to lead in Latvia.

The only other meaningful initiative was a small blue beret medical mission in Mali in support of the prime minister’s romantic pursuit of a temporary seat on the UN Security Council. After two years of indecision about whether to go, the African operation only lasted 12 months, causing the troops involved to throw up their hands in disbelief and despair.

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Those who advocate for greater defence spending and for Canada to assume a role in the world commensurate with its position as a G7 nation and the world’s 10th largest economy are as aware as every Canadian today that the economy is imploding, that the chief priorities during this emergency must be to restore public health and somehow revive the shattered economy.

But the hazards confronting Canada and the West will not vanish just because of a fiscal crisis that may last for years.

China is still ascendant economically and militarily. Even after dealing with its own huge problems with COVID-19 earlier this year, Beijing still has more than US$3 trillion in the bank.

Beyond China, Russia, North Korea, Iran and ISIS continue to cause mischief when they are not causing mayhem. Moreover, looming like a dark cloud over Canada is whether Washington still has Ottawa’s back or whether it will ever be able to rediscover the internationalist vision and the mojo that has kept the world on a more or less even keel since 1945.

It is a cruel irony that if national defence had been taken more seriously by previous Canadian governments or those now in power, Canada would not be in this jam. The RCAF would have F-35s today and the country would already be well along in the process of building radars and missile defences in the north as well as new surface and sub-surface warships for the Royal Canadian Navy.

As a result of poor planning and expedient political decisions that helped win federal elections, much smaller countries such as Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands and poorer countries such as Italy and the United Kingdom are already flying stealthy F-35s.

But the problems are bigger than that. Barring a rapid full recovery from the economic consequences of the coronavirus, the RCAF and RCN will have to continue making do with nearly 40-year-old F-18s and 30-year-old plus frigates until the middle of the century.

Also ditched from the list of badly-needed acquisitions will be long-awaited replacements for the rickety nearly 40-year-old Airbus aircraft the RCAF uses to fly the prime minister around and equally old maritime surveillance turboprops.

The excuse that will be heard today and for many years to come is that because of the coronavirus rampage, Ottawa has no money to spend on national defence. There will be little talk of emerging threats such as cyber and information warfare or how the Brian Mulroney, Jean Chretien, Paul Martin, Harper and Trudeau governments dithered forever over whether to acquire vital new military platforms before deciding to postpone almost every decision basically leaving Canada’s defence in the lurch.

The dire consequences for the Canadian Forces of the coronavirus invasion will gladden Beijing. It comes as the PLA-Navy put 25 new destroyers in the water last year, is building several aircraft carriers, scores of submarines, fielding a new generation of potent hypersonic missiles and using its staggering financial reserves to buy goodwill from Italy and Greece, Africa, South Asia and Cambodia.

The grey men in Beijing will regard the Canadian government doing nothing new to defend itself or its Pacific interests and its ambivalence regarding the intrusive nature of the state-controlled Huawei 5G cell telephone technology as fresh evidence that the West is becoming even wobblier on defence and security.

Notwithstanding the grave financial hole that the COVID-19 has suddenly dropped Canada in and the stark fiscal choices that must soon be made, Canadians must not make it so easy for China and others to have their way with us.

Matthew Fisher is an international affairs columnist and foreign correspondent who has worked abroad for 35 years. You can follow him on Twitter at @mfisheroverseas

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Coronavirus, Stay-at-Home, Zoom: Your Tuesday Briefing

By Chris Stanford

(Want to get this briefing by email? Here’s the sign-up.)

Good morning.

We’re covering expanding stay-at-home orders in the U.S. and a privacy investigation involving Zoom, the videoconferencing app. The late-night comedy shows returned on Monday, at least for one night, so our roundup has, too.

More Americans are told to stay at home

Roughly three of four people in the U.S. are or soon will be under instructions to stay indoors, as states and localities try to curb the spread of the coronavirus before hospitals are overwhelmed.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C., issued stay-at-home directives on Monday, virtually shutting down the capital region. Here’s a nationwide look at restrictions.

We also have a daily tracker showing the virus’s trajectory by country and U.S. state.

In other developments:

President Trump expressed optimism about the federal government’s ability to provide adequate testing, but state governors painted a different picture.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said the worst of the outbreak was yet to come, as a Navy hospital ship arrived in Manhattan to provide relief to the city’s hospitals.

With a $2 trillion relief package signed into law just last week, Washington is already considering more legislation to fight the outbreak and bolster the economy. Here’s the latest from the stock markets.

A sickout is planned today by Whole Foods Market employees in protest at what they see as inadequate safety measures and insufficient pay for the risks they are confronting. Several workers walked off the job at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island on Monday.

The Trump administration has sped up construction of a wall on the southern border, arguing that it will help limit the spread of the virus from Mexico. Public health experts say such a barrier would not mitigate the outbreaks already occurring in every state.

As the pandemic brings life to a halt, leaders around the world are invoking executive powers and extending authority with scant resistance. Rights groups agree that extraordinary measures are called for, but critics say some governments are using the crisis to seize powers that have little to do with the outbreak.

Zoom, the videoconferencing app whose traffic has surged, is under scrutiny by the New York attorney general’s office for its data privacy and security practices.

“The Daily”: Today’s episode is about the shortage of medical supplies in the U.S.

The Times is providing free access to much of our coronavirus coverage, and our Coronavirus Briefing newsletter — like all of our newsletters — is free. Please consider supporting our journalism with a subscription.

Two numbers that changed the president’s mind

President Trump’s decision to abandon his goal of reopening the U.S. by Easter was driven, his aides said, by the number of possible deaths and polling that showed voters overwhelmingly preferred to keep containment measures in place.

After asserting that shutting down the economy could be more damaging than the virus itself, Mr. Trump said on Monday that restrictions “may be even toughened up a little bit.” He also stressed the starkest projections given to him by public health officials, noting that more than two million Americans could have died in the absence of any measure to contain the virus.

The details: A survey released by the Pew Research Center showed that roughly nine in 10 Americans believed the current restrictions were necessary.

Quotable: “There’s an acknowledgment that there’s no getting ‘back to normal’ if the virus is still a threat,” said Kristen Soltis Anderson, a Republican pollster.

They came to mourn, then became ill

A funeral in Albany, Ga., on Feb. 29 will be recorded as what epidemiologists call a “super-spreading event,” in which a small number of people propagate a huge number of infections.

Illnesses linked to the coronavirus have since torn through Albany. The surrounding Dougherty County, with a population of 90,000, has registered 24 deaths, far more than any other county in Georgia.

Another angle: We spoke with nursing home workers about their fear of catching and spreading the virus. “Who else is going to take care of them?” one asked. Watch our video.

If you have 4 minutes, this is worth it

A story of survival

Naomi Replansky, above right, was born in 1918, the year that flu killed tens of millions of people around the world. She and her wife, Eva Kollisch, 95, both experienced anti-Semitism at a young age, and lived through the horrors of the early 20th century, including the Depression and the Holocaust.

Now sheltered in their Upper West Side apartment, they offer a welcome perspective after a lifetime of resilience.

“Confinement doesn’t bother me,” Naomi said. “My shaky frame can handle more confinement.”

Here’s what else is happening

Rollback of emissions rules: The Trump administration is expected today to announce its final rule to relax Obama-era automobile fuel efficiency standards, virtually undoing the government’s biggest effort to combat climate change.

Digital mismatch: Democrats are trying to regain an edge on the internet as the coronavirus threat pushes the 2020 campaign online.

Signing off as royals: Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan, wound down their popular social media sites and transferred control of their brand to advisers in Los Angeles, their new home.

Snapshot: Above, a vendor in Mexico City who is the only wage earner in his family. Workers in Latin America’s informal economy, which is mostly beyond government oversight and without labor protections, are among the most vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak.

Late-night comedy: The hosts returned to broadcast their shows from home, where most of them dressed down. Stephen Colbert wore his regular suit: “I do not have a physique that lends itself to casual clothing.”

What we’re reading: This Samantha Irby essay about adult friendship in The Cut. “It’s deeply improbable that an essay about making new friends is so delightful right now, but that’s just a testament to how wildly brilliant Sam is,” says Jenna Wortham, a culture writer for The Times Magazine.

Now, a break from the news

Cook: Melissa Clark’s easy mujadara, a streamlined version of the Middle Eastern classic, features lentils and rice topped with golden fried onions. This recipe is from our pantry cooking series.

Listen: Some are using their time at home to debate the best wideouts in N.F.L. history, or to address the relative merits of fast-food fries. Our classical music critics have taken on the task of ranking recordings of Beethoven’s symphonies. (Also with the earphones: there’s something heart-swelling about the Modern Love podcast.)

Watch: Not ready to commit to a multiseason series? It’s a jittery time. Here are the best one-season wonders you can stream in one day if you take the task seriously. And Kyle Turner will introduce you to the dreamy, mystical animation of the filmmaker Jodie Mack. Short film, big smiles.

And now for the Back Story on …

Chasing a dream in Afghanistan

As a U.S.-Taliban peace deal unfolds, bringing an uncertain future for Afghan girls and women, Fatima Faizi, a correspondent based in Kabul, wrote for Times Insider about how her recent visit to a progressive girls’ school triggered a flashback to her childhood.

When Ms. Faizi was 6, she set off with her grandmother for the one-hour walk to her new school.

“There were 70 students in a narrow room,” she wrote. “It was shocking. Some students were 15, or even older. I seemed to be the youngest one there.

“At first, everyone thought I was slow, because I was so shy that I wasn’t taking part in the class activities. But I was actually ahead of others my age: I started in second grade, not first, because I could already read the alphabet.

“When the Taliban were in power, girls were not allowed to go to school. I was lucky enough to study at home with my mother.”

Ms. Faizi’s middle school was in a tent. High school meant a better building, but also new hardships.

She missed a semester after she fell sick, and later stayed home to help her father recover from severe burns from an accident at a gas station. Still, she graduated from high school and went on to pursue her dream of becoming a journalist. She joined The Times’s Kabul bureau in 2017.

“Since 2017, I have covered the Afghanistan war — a war started by Americans that has changed my life,” she said. “When there were Taliban in the country, my life was upside down. I wasn’t Fatima Faizi; I was fated to only be someone’s wife, to clean, cook, raise the children and never have a chance to dream.”

“Now the peace process is unfolding,” she said. “An uncertain future waits for me.”

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Sam Sifton provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the shortage of medical supplies in the U.S.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Plant life (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• The team producing our print edition is working from home for the first time in Times history. Here’s how they do it.

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Your Monday Briefing

By Chris Stanford

Good morning.

We’re covering the extension of distancing guidelines in the U.S., the growing toll of the coronavirus in New York, and technology companies’ efforts to thwart election disinformation campaigns.

President Trump extends distancing guidelines

Everyone in the United States must avoid nonessential travel or gathering in groups of more than 10 for at least another month, and perhaps until June, the president said on Sunday. He had earlier expressed a desire to relax the coronavirus guidelines and get the country back to work by Easter, April 12.

Mr. Trump’s announcement came after two of the top doctors advising him warned that as many as 200,000 people in America could die during the outbreak.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic. The Times, which is tracking all known cases of the virus in the U.S., has made the data public.

We also have a daily tracker showing the virus’s trajectory by country and U.S. state, as well as a look at where Americans have been urged to stay home.

In other developments:

Strict containment measures in the Seattle area, the home of the country’s first known case of the virus, appear to be paying off, although officials warned that the gains could be temporary.

Two of the country’s largest health insurers, Cigna and Humana, agreed to protect their customers from out-of-pocket costs if they need treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

Global markets opened lower today, despite stabilization efforts from governments. Here’s the latest.

The first of 22 scheduled flights carrying medical supplies from China arrived in New York on Sunday. White House officials said the flights would funnel much-needed goods across the U.S.

Amid calls for more transparency in the U.S., public health experts are debating how much information on the spread of the virus should be released.

Hundreds of thousands of migrant laborers in India have begun long journeys on foot to get home, after being left homeless and jobless by a nationwide lockdown.

Nearly a dozen students at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., have developed symptoms of Covid-19. The school’s president, Jerry Falwell Jr., reopened its campus last week after calling the response to the pandemic an “overreaction.”

Catch up: Over the weekend, The Times examined how a delay in widespread testing has set the U.S. back in its response to the pandemic. We also looked at a yearslong effort to address the country’s shortage of ventilators.

The Times is providing free access to much of our coronavirus coverage, and our Coronavirus Briefing newsletter — like all of our newsletters — is free. Please consider supporting our journalism with a subscription.

A city not designed for emptiness

With nonessential businesses shut down and people staying at home, New York is “a city suddenly forced to be everything it is not,” our Metro reporter Corina Knoll writes.

The Times assigned photographers to capture the eerie landscape of a city that no longer bustles.

There are nearly 34,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in New York, more than half of the state’s total. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday that projections suggested that the crisis would worsen.

Closer look: As more medical workers get sick, anxiety is growing on the front lines. “It’s literally, wash your hands a lot, cross your fingers, pray,” an emergency room doctor at Long Island Jewish Medical Center said.

“The Daily”: Today’s episode is about hospitals that are facing their first coronavirus cases.

Related: New York City’s teachers are faced with a challenge unlike anything in their careers, with 1.1 million public school students relying on remote learning.

Another angle: The outbreak has appeared to slow in the suburb of New Rochelle after strict measures, including a containment zone, were instituted. A Westchester County man who was the state’s second confirmed case of the virus has been released from the hospital, Mr. Cuomo said.

Why China stumbled in containing the virus

Wuhan, the city where the pandemic started, began lifting a two-month lockdown over the weekend, and a number of its malls were set to reopen today.

But China’s narrative about its success in taming the virus obscures early failures to report cases — and squandered time that could have been used to prevent a broader outbreak.

Related: Young people in China, who have long relinquished political freedoms in exchange for jobs and upward mobility, are now challenging the government’s efforts to conceal its missteps.

Another angle: Virus-related disinformation campaigns by China and Russia show how the countries are trying to undermine a shared adversary, the U.S.

If you have 10 minutes, this is worth it

France’s forever war

When France sent its forces to confront armed Islamists in Mali, a former colony, their mission was supposed to last a few weeks.

That was seven years ago.

The counterterrorism fight has left more than 10,000 West Africans dead, displaced a million others and left France’s military stuck in the region — just as American forces have been in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Above, French Foreign Legion troops in February.

Here’s what else is happening

Tech’s changing foes: After spending billions since 2016 to avoid more election meddling, Facebook, Google and Twitter are confronting evolving disinformation campaigns.

Snapshot: Above, tornado damage in Jonesboro, Ark., over the weekend. No one was killed, and measures put in place to thwart the coronavirus appear to have saved lives in an unintended way.

Metropolitan Diary: In this week’s column, a familiar face on the subway, a snack on the go and more reader tales of New York City.

What we’re watching: The first episode of “Pluto Living” on YouTube. “I’m hooked on Pluto the dog, a Canadian terrier dispensing wisdom on toilet paper and social distancing to help the two-leggeds during a time of crisis,” says Tara Parker-Pope, the Well editor. “Laughter is still good medicine.”

Now, a break from the news

Cook: These biscuits call for a few pantry staples, a little sour milk or yogurt and very little mixing.

Listen: Our critics discuss nine new songs, including a 17-minute track from Bob Dylan. Also, “Still Processing” is back, with Jenna Wortham and Wesley Morris.

Read: Paul Theroux on how living through curfew and political upheaval in Uganda in 1966 shaped him as a traveler and a writer.

See: Donald Judd’s puzzle of plywood boxes is “an exercise in vision-sharpening comparative looking,” our critic Roberta Smith writes. It’s at Gagosian Gallery in New York, and you can view it online.

And now for the Back Story on …

Home schooling amid the coronavirus

Francesca Donner, our Gender Initiative editor, and Corinne Purtill, a journalist in Los Angeles, chatted about managing home schooling during the pandemic for In Her Words. Here’s an excerpt from their conversation.

FD: You started home school last week. How’s it going?

CP: Last week was a resounding … meh.

This week we are trying a loose schedule of schoolwork in the morning and free play in the afternoon. Will it work? I have no idea. All of life is an experiment right now.

FD: In concept, I like that very much. But does schoolwork in the morning need to be overseen by you, or can you leave them to it?

CP: My 9-year-old daughter and I talk the night before about which activities from the school’s suggested list she’ll want to do in each subject area. She’s old enough to be able to tackle most things on her own, and if she has any questions, I’m around. I’m around a lot these days.

At lunchtime, I look over what she’s done, mainly just to make sure she’s been doing something on the laptop besides watching people make slime on YouTube. The afternoon is free time.

FD: And what does free time actually entail?

CP: My daughter can do her own thing. Her little brother, who can’t read yet, needs more attention.

When I’ve got work, I juggle: playing cars while listening to a conference call, setting him up with a project before opening my laptop and when I need to, turning on the TV or handing him my phone without guilt. Some structure is helpful, but I try not to overplan.

That’s it for this briefing. See you next time.

— Chris

Thank you
Sam Sifton provided the break from the news. You can reach the team at [email protected]

• We’re listening to “The Daily.” Today’s episode is about the challenge that the coronavirus poses to hospitals.
• Here’s today’s Mini Crossword, and a clue: Coral formations (five letters). You can find all our puzzles here.
• NYT Live invites readers to a conference call with our Opinion section’s philosophy forum, The Stone, at 4 p.m. Eastern today. An editor, Peter Catapano, and the philosopher Simon Critchley will discuss how mortality and hypochondria relate in our new pandemic reality. R.S.V.P. here.

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Opinion | A Health Crisis, as Seen From Inside a Prison

An inmate talks about the AIDS experience, and a leader in prison education stresses the value of in-person teaching.

To the Editor:

As a person living inside a New York State prison, I lived through the last major health crisis, the AIDS epidemic. There are similarities and differences between AIDS and the Covid-19 pandemic.

We lost many people, but we found a way to slow the spread of AIDS through inmate-to-inmate communication and education. Then, we created PEPA, the Prisoner Education Project on AIDS, which was eventually replicated across the country and along with advocacy groups saved many lives. Something similar is needed now.

The best way to improve safety is to reduce the prison population.

Maintaining a safe distance from others in prison is impossible. As a result, we will potentially suffer widespread infection, and the impact could quickly spread to communities beyond the bars. Correction officers and employees interact with people in prison and return to their homes daily.

Peer education is vital for explaining the importance of and best means for social distancing and hygiene while still facilitating communication with family and friends.

Most crucially, the policies we are living under will be most effective when we have a say in shaping them. Allowing prisoners an active role in creating a safer environment will protect lives both inside and out.

David Gilbert
Shawangunk, N.Y.

To the Editor:

As a leader in the field of higher education in prison and also as a formerly incarcerated individual, I know something about social distancing.

Our organization, Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison, has spent the last 22 years striving to narrow the distance between imprisoned men and women and the society to which they will someday return, by providing college degree programs.

Like so many other educators, we have had to suspend in-person instruction to protect our teachers and students and prison staff against the deadly pandemic.

Unlike schools on the outside, most prisons, including those in New York State, have no internet access for online learning. While I am grateful that our college partners are allowing our students to complete correspondence assignments in the next few weeks, the most effective higher education in prison is delivered in person. It changes the conversations in the housing units and in the mess halls. Prison administrators will agree that it creates safer prisons.

I was in prison in the early 1990s, when federal funding for such programs was slashed, and I know firsthand that no correspondence course can replace the interpersonal relationships developed in the classroom between faculty and students, or replace the peer learning and mentorship I received from my classmates at Sing Sing. Overnight, it felt as if we lost all connection to the outside world. We lost hope.

While I’m mindful that the current suspension is necessary and temporary, I hope that incarcerated students will not be overlooked when the country begins to recover. The scariest sound in a prison is silence.

Sean Pica
Ossining, N.Y.
The writer is executive director of Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison.

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U.S.-Israeli Pyramid Analytics raises $25 million in funding

TEL AVIV (Reuters) – Pyramid Analytics, a U.S.-Israeli developer of a business intelligence platform, said on Thursday it raised $25 million, led by venture capital fund Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP).

Existing investors Sequoia Capital, Viola Growth and Maor Investments also participated in the funding, which will be used for Pyramid Analytics’ expansion and to deepen strategic alliances.

Pyramid Analytics said its technology can give organizations visibility into their operational data to react quickly to business changes.

The company has over 1,500 customers, including leading banks and pension funds.

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