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YouTuber Vocal Synthesis says rappers label Roc Nation filed copyright notices against their AI impersonations

Jay-Zs company Roc Nation have filed takedown notices against deepfake videos that use artificial intelligence to make him rap Billy Joels We Didnt Start the Fire and Hamlets To be or not to be soliloquy.

The anonymous creator of the YouTube-hosted videos, known as Vocal Synthesis, has said that copyright notices were filed by Roc Nation, stating: This content unlawfully uses an AI to impersonate our clients voice. The two aforementioned videos have been removed, though others remain, including one of the rapper taking on the Book of Genesis.

Vocal Synthesis said via a deepfake video using the ersatz voices of Barack Obama and Donald Trump that they had no malicious purpose and were disappointed that Jay-Z and Roc Nation have decided to bully a small YouTuber in this way.

The Guardian has contacted Roc Nation for comment.

Deepfake videos have already caused great controversy in political and celebrity circles, with California outlawing them in 2018, and Facebook banning them in January. The technology has most notoriously been used to create fake pornographic videos featuring famous actors the PornHub website banned deepfakes in 2018.

Deepfakes differ from so-called cheapfakes, which dont involve AI and instead feature re-edited footage with the aim of distorting the truth. Famous examples include a video of Nancy Pelosi doctored to make her look drunk, and one of Keir Starmer created by the Tory party for social media where he appeared unable to answer a question. Posting on Twitter this week, Donald Trump shared a fake gif of Joe Biden sticking his tongue out.

There are debates over the copyright implications of AI-created videos such as the Jay-Z performances, with digital access advocates Creative Commons arguing: It is ill-advised to force the application of the copyright system an antiquated system that has yet to adapt to the digital environment on to AI.

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Covid-19 has struck New York and the worlds most dynamic city has become something strange and unsettling

It is a miracle that New York works at all, EB White once wrote. The whole thing is implausible.

Every New Yorker instinctively understands the truth of that observation. The citys infrastructure is a disaster; its apartments are famously tiny; everything is overpriced; there are too many people in too small a space; and the whole city will one day have to reckon with the ravages of an encroaching sea.


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  • Top: A construction worker in the financial district of New York City. Bottom left: New York stock exchange. Bottom right: A commuter talks on the phone while walking through the Fulton Street metro station.

Yet New York has grown from a tiny New World trading post to a muscular global metropolis whose very name evokes dynamism and fierce, unruly vitality. It has survived booms, busts, world wars, the threat of cold war nuclear annihilation, 9/11, gentrification and more, and thrived. The city swallows people of every nation and language and spits out New Yorkers; it generates vast fortunes; and it is responsible for a dazzling expression of art, literature, music and intellectual life. By comparison many other world capitals feel like sleepy museum exhibitions.



  • Top: Grand Central Station at 3pm in Manhattan, New York. Bottom: A doorman in New York City.

Now, however, this city of eight million people has met its match: a deadly virus, invisible to the human eye and ruthlessly efficient. Covid-19 has stretched New Yorks health infrastructure to breaking point. Every day cases, and deaths, mount. A military hospital ship is docked, imposingly, in New York harbor. There are field hospitals in Central Park. Millions of New Yorkers have shut themselves into their homes.

This is a city under quarantine. No longer were there individual destinies, Albert Camus writes in The Plague: Only a collective destiny, made of plague and emotions shared by all.

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  • Top left: An EMT at Bellevue hospital center in Manhattan. Top right: A member of the press takes video of the temporary morgue at Bellevue hospital. Bottom left: Creative face masks in midtown. Bottom right: Used vinyl gloves and a dead pigeon on the streets of Manhattan.

The photographer Jordan Gale ventured out to capture this strange new world.

In Woody Allens film Manhattan, the narrator found it impossible to look at the city without feeling that it pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin the jazzy, life-affirming exuberance of Rhapsody in Blue. Yet New York, now, is eerily quiet.

Any noise you hear is startling, Gale said. He was walking down a street in SoHo when he realized that the only sound was a clip on his camera bag, clacking as he walked.



  • Top left: Empty streets outside Central Park. Top right: Empty park seats at Bryant Park in Manhattan. Bottom: The Brooklyn Bridge deserted at 4pm.

The city is a vacant lot, he said. Roads are empty. Sidewalks are empty. Stores are boarded up. The owners clearly believe looting could start any minute.

In residential areas occasional people can still be seen in the street; they are making expeditions to the grocery store or bodega or taking the daily walks which increasingly feel like a minimum mental health requirement. The commercial areas of New York, on the other hand, are ghost towns.




  • Top: A lone person along the streets in the Bronx. Middle: Gloves and surgical masks line the curb outside a Covid-19 testing facility at the Brooklyn medical center. Bottom: An empty subway car.

Times Square, a crowded intersection most New Yorkers gladly cede to tourists, has been abandoned by both. You can take a photo down 42nd Street and theres not a single person, a single car, Gale said. The only people you see are other photographers.

The more iconic the landmark, the more empty and unsettling. Grand Central Station looks like a tomb, he said.

Its eerie. To take a photo of Grand Central like that, normally, youd need some kind of special clearance youd need to shut down the whole place.

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  • Top left: A bench outside an apartment complex in Queens. Top right: A flower arrangement in a window at the same complex in Queens. Bottom: Flushing Meadows Park in Queens.

Many parts of the city, he noted, look cleaner than they have been in years, thanks to diligent scrubbing and disinfecting. The ground, however, is littered with blue vinyl gloves and broken surgical masks.

When New Yorkers come out to scout for provisions their faces are concealed with whatever they can find surgical masks; scarves; painters masks; bandannas draped across their faces like outlaws in the old west. As they pass in the street, they keep a wary distance; if they acknowledge each other it is with terse, silent nods.

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  • Left: A customer leaves Family Dollar in the Bronx. Right: Empty shelves at the Family Dollar.

When people do talk, all conversations in some way concern the coronavirus. The rest of America tends to regard New Yorkers as liberal, unflappable, even heedless; but these days New Yorkers sound like rightwing survivalists. They speak of stockpiles, shortages, contingencies, plans.

Everyone knows someone who has lost their income to coronavirus, or been hospitalized. Everyone wonders when the present predicament will end but, of course, no one knows, and for New Yorkers, like people the world over, that may be the hardest part of all.


  • Cherry blossoms at an empty park in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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The singer joined with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to provide shelter, meals and counselling for families at risk in coronavirus pandemic

Rihanna has donated $2.1m (1.67m) to the Mayors Fund for Los Angeles to assist victims of domestic violence affected by the coronavirus lockdown. The singers Clara Lionel Foundation joined with Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey to donate matching sums to the drive. Their donations will cover 10 weeks of support, including shelter, meals and counselling for families experiencing domestic violence during the pandemic in greater Los Angeles.

Alyson Messenger, a managing staff lawyer with the Jenesse Center, a domestic violence organisation in South Los Angeles, told the Los Angeles Times last month that the lockdown was a worst-case scenario for anyone in an abusive relationship: Compound that with the fact that access to services is more difficult than ever.

UN secretary general Antnio Guterres tweeted on 6 April: Many women under lockdown for #COVID19 face violence where they should be safest: in their own homes. I urge all governments to put womens safety first as they respond to the pandemic.

In Chinas Hubei province, the centre of the initial outbreak, domestic violence reports to police more than tripled in a single county, from 47 cases in February 2019 to 162 this year. A quarter of British domestic violence charities said that they could not effectively support abuse victims during lockdown owing to technical issues, inability to meet victims and staff sickness.

A statement announcing the donations by Rihanna a domestic abuse survivor and Dorsey said: Victims of domestic violence exist all over the world, so this is just the beginning.

Last month, Rihannas Clara Lionel Foundation previously joined with Jay-Zs Shawn Carter Foundation to donate $2m (1.59m) to support undocumented workers, prisoners, homeless people, the elderly and children of frontline health workers in Los Angeles and New York during the Covid-19 outbreak. She also donated personal protective equipment to healthcare providers in New York State, and gave $5m ($4m) to global organisations to protect healthcare workers and marginalised communities.

Her father, Ronald Fenty, has been recovering from coronavirus after spending 14 days inside the Paragon Isolation Center in Barbados. He told the Sun: I thought I was going to die. He said his daughter sent a ventilator to his home, which ultimately he did not need.

The 32-year old singer is the latest musician to mobilise in the effort to assist healthcare providers and people affected by coronavirus. Lady Gaga has curated the benefit concert One World: Together at Home featuring performances from such artists as Gaga, Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Paul McCartney and Coldplays Chris Martin to be livestreamed globally and televised in the US on 18 April. The BBC will broadcast an adapted version the following day.

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One World: Together at Home, streamed live on 18 April, will support UN response fund

Lady Gaga is to curate One World: Together at Home, a live-streamed and televised benefit concert in support of the World Health Organizations Covid-19 solidarity response fund and in celebration of health workers around the world.

The lineup includes Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas, Lizzo, J Balvin, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day, Alanis Morissette, Burna Boy, Andrea Bocelli, Chris Martin of Coldplay, Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam, Elton John, John Legend, Kacey Musgraves, Keith Urban and Lang Lang.

The US talk show hosts Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel and Stephen Colbert will host the event, which broadcasts live across the US television networks ABC, CBS and NBC, as well as being streamed online, at 8pm EST on 18 April.

BBC One will show an adapted version of the concert on 19 April, including exclusive performances from UK artists and interviews with frontline health workers. The details of the broadcast are yet to be announced.

Other celebrities expected to appear include David Beckham, Idris and Sabrina Elba, Kerry Washington, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Shah Rukh Khan and Sesame Street cast members.

The WHO and the social action platform Global Citizen have partnered to produce the event. The latters Together at Home series, launched last month, has featured performances from artists in isolation including Shawn Mendes, Camila Cabello and Rufus Wainwright.

In a WHO press conference, Lady Gaga said she had helped to raise $35m (28m) for Global Citizen in the past week. She clarified that One World was not a fundraising telethon and would focus on entertainment and messages of solidarity, with philanthropists and businesses urged to donate to the Covid-19 solidarity response fund ahead of the event.

The WHOs general director, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said:We may have to be apart physically for a little while, but we can still come together virtually to enjoy great music. The One World: Together at Home concert represents a powerful show of solidarity against a common threat.

This article was amended on 6 April 2020. Lady Gaga stated that philanthropists and businesses were being urged to donate to the organisation, rather than fans as an earlier version said. This has been corrected.

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David and Denise Morse were sent to Travis air force base after 21 people on their Grand Princess cruise were diagnosed with coronavirus

Retirees David and Denise Morse were celebrating their 45th wedding anniversary with a 15-day trip aboard the Grand Princess cruise liner when 19 crew members and two passengers aboard the ship were diagnosed with the coronavirus.

The original itinerary had the Morses arriving in Ensenada, Mexico, from Hawaii on 5 March, and returning home to San Francisco two days later. Instead, the cruise liner was held off the San Francisco coast for several days, until it docked in the Port of Oakland on 9 March.

The 2,000 passengers on board disembarked over the course of three days. More than 800 California residents were sent to Travis air force base in Fairfield, about 47 miles north-east of San Francisco , to serve out a 14-day quarantine.

David and Denise are keeping a diary documenting their stay there.

11 March

David, 10.35am I dont know what this is going to be a journal, story or what. I just wanted to write down some of the many thoughts I have had as we go through this surreal ordeal.We are on the fourth floor of the Westwind Inn hotel, on the property of Travis air force base. Got in our room at 9.30pm last night, after a long day that started at 6am on the ship.

We had been dressed and ready to depart our stateroom C314 on the 10th floor, at 7am. The ship had arrived in Oakland the previous day, and passengers had begun disembarking the sick and elderly first. We couldnt see much from what was going on. All the action was on the starboard side, and we were on port.

We waited more than six hours for our turn today. My impression is that Princess Cruises is very experienced in handling large groups, feeding, giving instructions and disembarking procedures. They have it together. On the land, its more politically and medically challenging, as officials have to coordinate between cities, states and the federal government.

This morning, we thought we had to get up for our coronavirus test at 7.15am. On 6 March, Vice-President Pence had announced that everyone disembarking from the boat would be tested for coronavirus.

We scrambled to the elevator area, only to find that the staff were handing out breakfast boxes. So, no testing. At 9.30am, they gave us a temperature check and symptom questions. We were told we would be tested only if we show symptoms. Is that because there is a shortage of testing supplies?

We went downstairs and found a large group of masked passengers in line for coffee and using their bare hands to get juice cartons and breakfast boxes.

12 March

David, 8.55am There are 846 Californians in our four-story hotel at Travis air force base. The majority are elderly folks, many using canes, walkers, wheelchairs and scooters. Medical staff takes our temperatures twice a day. We asked again to be tested for Covid-19 and learned this morning from a medical staff person that they do not have test kits.

The Morses room at the Westwind Inn hotel on Travis air force base in Fairfield, California. Photograph: David and Denise Morse/The Guardian

It is likely that there are folks among us with the virus. We are advised to wash hands, wear our masks, stay six feet from others, and not gather in large groups. However, we have large groups standing close to each other in line to pick up their food boxes. Weve seen people pick up a box, look at it, then choose another box.

We skipped coffee this morning because to get coffee you have to stand in a line, then use your bare hands to separate a cup from a stack of cups and dispense coffee from a community container. I asked a medical staff person why not have staff dispense the coffee, noting they all have gloves. She said there is not enough staff.

I feel that each day we stay here we increase our chances of contracting the virus. Denise and I are doing our best to protect ourselves and stay positive. We are healthy and know that we will do well if we get the virus. We dont take the elevators; we try to stay away from groups of people. We exercise. I do tai chi every day and Denise meditates every day.

Denise, 2pm I spent much of yesterday and today talking to political folks about the conditions here, calling the offices of California senators Diane Feinstein and Kamala Harris and congressman John Garamendi.

We were feeling rather discouraged about the health and safety situation. But things are improving. At noon they started delivering our meals to our rooms.

David, 3.40pm What a day. Another passenger and I were outside playing Five Foot Two on the ukuleles we got on the cruise ship. A military guy politely approached us and said: Im sorry to interrupt, but I have orders to ask you to return to your room. I dont know why. Off to our room.

There is no alcohol allowed here. But we have a few small bottles from the ship. Just had Jack and coke, made Denise a gin and tonic without ice or limes.

13 March

David, 9.02am We are getting acquainted with how things work here. Yesterday at the reception area in the lobby I asked a friendly service woman if we could have some shampoo. She said, You know, soap is fine. I said OK, could we have some soap? She said, Sorry, we are out of soap. Later I asked another staff member for some soap. She gave me a small bottle of shampoo.

The view from the Morses fourth-floor room at the Westwind Inn. Photograph: David and Denise Morse/The Guardian

This morning, after complimenting the staff on how they are now dispensing the box meals to our rooms, I complained that coffee is still grab and go, as are juice, water, cream and sugar.

A few minutes later a staff member knocked at our door and said the commander of the quarantine operation would like to talk to me. Denise and I thought, Oh no, now we are in trouble. We met Nate Contreras, who informed us that he is in charge of 60 staff, who serve food, deliver medications, take our temperatures and respond to any passengers medical issue. He was friendly and wanted to hear our concerns. He explained that he didnt have enough staff to dispense coffee, but he has asked for more.

We asked for more hand-washing stations, signs and hand sanitizer. The only place we can wash our hands is in our rooms. We suggested they give us packets for the coffee makers we have in our rooms, he said he would look into it. Surprise: we were not in trouble.

Denise, 9am We got our first official Travis air force base newsletter today. Heres what they said about testing: Everyone here will have the opportunity to be tested for Covid-19. You are not required to be tested. It will be your choice. If you choose to be tested, it is important that you understand that if the results of your test are pending, then it is possible it may delay your departure.

David, 10.30am 23 March is the first day of spring and supposedly the end of our 14-day quarantine. We have nine days to go; this testing statement sounds like it is a feeble attempt to be able to claim that passengers were offered the opportunity to be tested. What would you do?

Here is our list of needs: a blanket (we have a one-sheet cover on our bed and its cold in here), coffee, replacement light bulb for the light on our bed stand, hand soap and laundry detergent.

Denise Morse out for a walk on the grounds of Westwind Inn. Photograph: David and Denise Morse/The Guardian

14 March

David, 8.03am Denise and I are healthy and in good spirits. We got another newsletter today. It repeats the same testing instructions we saw yesterday, which seem like a threat rather than an option to be tested.

We walked in the rain this morning. We have to walk on the lawn, as most of the sidewalks are outside the perimeter fence that surrounds the complex with security guards in SUVs watching 24/7.

16 March

Denise, 9.30am Woke up at 6am. While David was doing the laundry down the hall, I made the bed and cleaned the bathroom with the hand sanitizer cloths that we had brought with us on the cruise ship. They are gold, and we only use them to clean surfaces in our room and bathroom. There are no cleaning supplies. We were told we could have a room cleaning, but we prefer to not have anyone in our room.

We have decided not to be tested. Our rationale is we are in good health and show no symptoms. As required, we wear our masks when out of our room, stay six feet from individuals, dont touch handles. We take stairs and wash our hands for 20 seconds when we return to our room.

15 March

Denise, 9.31am Up at 7am. Our floor medical person took our temp at 8.30 normal. We have acquired some coffee, so David made coffee in our room. Breakfast was lighter this morning: bagel, cream cheese, banana, option for yogurt and a ketchup pack (what for?).

The daily2pm conference call with federal officials from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) left us confused and worried. They announced there have been two confirmed cases among passengers assigned to this facility. They said those with close contact with those individuals have been informed; no need to be concerned. They have begun testing those who asked to be tested only 30% of those at Travis ended up wanting a test. Those who got tested are still waiting for results.

Dinner served at 6.40pm included a hamburger bun with a piece of yellow cheese, sliced tomato and a piece of lettuce. I asked if there was anything else and the man who delivered it said no. So we used the microwave in our room to heat up the bun and cheese. Wasnt that bad, but it was not many calories. Twenty minutes later, there was a knock on the door and we were given two more boxes with a bare hamburger patty and fries. Too bad we had already eaten the cheese and bun.

A meal served at Travis air force base. Photograph: David and Denise Morse/The Guardian

17 March

Denise, 9.30am We dont have a table for eating. We tried using the luggage rack with a towel on it but that proved to be too unstable. Now David eats at the desk and I sit on a leather chair and balance the container on my lap.

We get many emails and texts. We find we need to take breaks from our telephones and from hearing about this pandemic.

At the daily conference call, the doctor gave us more details about the two confirmed cases.One person was identified as having the virus while disembarking from the ship and was not brought to Travis. The other case was a couple that had mobility issues and one tested positive. They were not on the base long and were in their room, so exposure was minimal to others, the staff told us. A total of 37 confirmed cases as of today from the Grand Princess.

When they brought our dinner, David put on some soothing classical music. We wish we had some wine.

I want to say this staff has taken a lot of flak from many of us, me included. They have listened, and in most cases, followed up. I have seen changes and an almost daily effort and improvement, specifically around food and drink.

At 8pm, we got a call from the front desk and we have two packages! Its like Christmas! David went down and just came up with two Amazon boxes. One box is from our son Jonathan: a large bag of M&Ms. The other box is from my sister: dental floss and body lotion. Were happy with these new items to add to our simple supply of extras.

20 March

Denise, 5 pm Bad news today. More people at Travis have tested positive. If they didnt get it on the ship, they probably may have gotten it here. The conditions the first few days were appalling.

On 20 March, HHS confirmed that, with new test results still coming in, eight people at Travis had tested positive. Four of them were hospitalized with complications of Covid-19. One person was hospitalized for other reasons.

Everyone that requested to be tested was tested, an HHS spokesperson said. The government cannot force an asymptomatic person to be tested.

In a statement, the department also emphasized that it is working to improve conditions for the Grand Princess passengers under quarantine.

This unprecedented response has presented significant logistical challenges that have affected passengers. During the first two days of this massive undertaking, HHS focused on screening passengers for symptoms, addressing any underlying health conditions, providing access to prescription medication, and getting passengers settled into their rooms. At each step of the way, plans and policies were adapted as necessary to accommodate specific problems at hand.

This is the first federal quarantine in nearly 60 years. HHSs number one priority is the health of the passengers, the people caring for them, and those in the surrounding communities. We continue to focus on hospitality issues, such as food service and housekeeping, to improve the comfort of our guests.

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In an extract from Set the Night on Fire: LA in the Sixties, Mike Davis and Jon Wiener look past the sun and surf to a radical fight for equality and justice

In August 1965, thousands of young Black people in Watts set fire to the illusion that Los Angeles was a youth paradise.

Since the debut of the TV show 77 Sunset Stripin 1958, followed by the first of the Gidgetromance films in 1959 and then the Beach Boys Surfin USA in 1963, teenagers in the rest of the country had become intoxicated with images of the endless summer that supposedly defined adolescence in southern California.

Edited out of utopia was the existence of a rapidly growing population of more than 1 million people of African, Asian, and Mexican ancestry. Their kids were restricted to a handful of beaches; everywhere else, they risked arrest by local cops or beatings by white gangs. As a result, Black surfers were almost as rare in LA as unicorns. Economic opportunity was also rationed.

Surfers in Malibu, 1965. Photograph: Jonathan Blair/Corbis via Getty Images

During the first half of the 60s, hundreds of brand-new college classrooms beckoned to white kids with an offer of free higher education, while factories and construction sites begged for more workers. But failing inner-city high schools with extreme dropout rates reduced the college admissions of Black and brown youth to a small trickle. Despite virtually full employment for whites, Black youth joblessness dramatically increased, as did the index of residential segregation. If these were truly golden years of opportunity for white teenagers, their counterparts in South Central and East LA faced bleak, ultimately unendurable futures.

But LAs streets and campuses in the 60s also provided stages for many other groups to assert demands for free speech, equality, peace and justice. Initially these protests tended to be one-issue campaigns, but the grinding forces of repression above all the Vietnam draft and the LAPD drew them together in formal and informal alliances.

Thus LGBT activists coordinated actions with youth activists in protest of police and sheriffs dragnets on Sunset Strip, in turn making Free Huey one of their demands. When Black and Chicano high school kids blew out their campuses in 196869, several thousand white students walked out in solidarity. A brutal LAPD attack on thousands of middle-class antiwar protesters at the Century Plaza Hotel in 1967 hastened the development of a biracial coalition supporting Tom Bradley, a liberal Black council member, in his crusade to wrest City Hall from rightwing populist Sam Yorty.

A air of Black Panther party buttons, one reading Free Huey in reference to Huey P Newton, co-founder of the party. Photograph: The Frent Collection/Corbis via Getty Images

In the same period, the antiwar movement joined hands with the Black Panthers to form Californias unique Peace and Freedom Party. There are many other examples. By 1968, as a result, the movement resembled the music of LA free jazz pianist Horace Tapscotts Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra: simultaneous solos together with unified crescendos. Historians of 60s protests have rarely studied the reciprocal influences and interactions across such broad spectrum of constituencies, and these linkages are too often neglected in memoirs, but they provide a principal terrain of our analysis.

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The 60s in LA have obvious bookends. The year 1960 saw the appearance of social forces that would coalesce into the movements of the era, along with the emergence of a new agenda for social change, especially around what might be called the issue of issues: racial segregation. In LA, those developments overlapped with the beginning of the regime of Sam Yorty, elected mayor in 1961. 1973, on the other hand, marked not only the end of protest in the streets but also the defeat of Yorty and the advent of the efficient, pro-business administration of Tom Bradley.

There were also three important turning points that subdivide the long decade. 1963 was a rollercoaster year that witnessed the first: the rise and fall of the United Civil Rights Committee, the most important attempt to integrate housing, schools and jobs in LA through non-violent protest and negotiation. (Only Detroit produced a larger and more ambitious civil rights united front during what contemporaries called Birmingham Summer.) In California it brought passage of the states first Fair Housing Act repealed by referendum the following year in an outburst of white backlash.

1965, of course, saw the second turning point, the so-called Watts Riots. The third, 1969, began as a year of hope with a strong coalition of white liberals, Blacks and newly minted Chicanos supporting Bradley for mayor. He led the polls until election eve, when Yorty counterattacked with a vicious barrage of racist and red-baiting appeals to white voters. Bradleys defeat foreclosed, at least for the foreseeable future, any concessions to the citys minorities or liberal voters. Moreover, it was immediately followed by sinister campaigns, involving the FBI, the district attorneys office, and both the LAPD and LA county sheriffs, to destroy the Panthers, Brown Berets and other radical groups.

Joan Didion evoked a sense of dread in her essay collection The White Album. Photograph: Julian Wasser/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

This is the true context underlying the creeping sense of dread and imminent chaos famously evoked by Joan Didion in her 1979 essay collection, The White Album. If helter skelter was unleashed after 1970, the Manson gang were bit players compared to the institutions of law and order. For the past half century, a number of stereotypes have framed our recollections of this age of revolt, but the Los Angeles experience confounds most cliches. In the standard narrative, for instance, college students, organized as Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), and the Free Speech Movement (FSM) in Berkeley, were the principal social actors, and the great engine rooms of protest were found at huge public university campuses in places like Berkeley, Madison, Ann Arbor, and Kent. (The exceptions, according to this narrative, were some historical Black colleges and Ivy League Columbia.)

In Los Angeles, however, it was junior and senior high schools that were the principal battlefields, and the majority of protesters were Black and brown. Indeed, as many as 20,000 inner-city teenagers and their white Westside allies participated in walkouts and demonstrations between 1967 and 1970. Members of college radical groups as well as the Black Panther party played significant roles as advisers to these protests, but the indigenous teenage leadership was most important. These struggles recruited hundreds of kids to groups like the Panthers and Brown Berets and gave birth to a unique high school New Left formation, the Red Tide.

The terrain of college protest in Los Angeles also differed from that of the mainstream. Of the two flagship local universities, the University of Southern California was a citadel of campus Republicanism, birthplace of Nixons so-called USC Mafia (and, as it turned out, the alma mater of several Watergate conspirators). UCLA, for its part, saw only episodic mass protests, most notably during Nixons invasion of Cambodia in spring 1970. The real homes of sustained student activism were the three inner-city community colleges (LA City College, Southwest College and East LA College), along with Cal State LA and Valley State (later Cal State, Northridge).

The latter was the site of a 196970 uprising by the Black Student Union and SDS that was quelled by police batons, mass arrests, and a staggering 1,730 felony charges against Black students: repression on a scale that rivaled or exceeded the more famous battles at San Francisco State.

The Black Panther minister of information, Eldridge Cleaver, addresses an estimated 7,500 students at UCLA in 1968. Photograph: Bettmann/Bettmann Archive

Historians and political scientists have generally conceded that the one hundred or so ghetto insurrections of the 1960s should be regarded as genuine protests, but they have usually described them as leading to mere chaos and demoralization. Conventionally, rioters have been portrayed as the opposites of organizers and builders. This does not describe events in Los Angeles.

The 1965 explosion unified and energized a generation of young Black people, ended gang conflict for a number of years, and catalyzed the extraordinary Watts Renaissance, the citys most important arts and literary movement of the decade. Black Power became an aspiration shared by thousands, and in 1967 this grassroots unity found expression in the emergence of LAs Black Congress the more radical successor to the United Civil Rights Committee. It included SNCC, the Black Student Alliance, the Che-Lumumba Club of the Communist Party, the Black Panthers, and the powerful Us organization (or Organization Us) led by Ron Karenga. (The congress would later be destroyed by a violent conflict between Us and the Panthers, instigated and fueled by the FBIs secret Cointelpro program.)

Contests over public space were also extraordinarily important in Los Angeles. In part this was the legacy of earlier decades when the LAPDs notorious Red Squad had been the enforcer of the anti-union open shop doctrine, and when city hall supplied draconian anti-picketing and antifree speech ordinances. The 60s saw a renewal of this unsavory tradition.

Police search African American youths in 1966. Photograph: Everett/Rex Shutterstock

The LAPD, aided by the LA county sheriffs, conducted an unending siege of bohemian Venice, tried to drive teenyboppers and hippies off Sunset Strip, regularly broke up peaceful love-ins and rallies in Griffith and Elysian Parks, suppressed lowriders on Whittier Boulevard, harassed kids selling the underground LA Free Press, raided coffeehouses and folk clubs, and invoked obscenity as an excuse to crack down on artists, poets and theater groups. No other major city outside of the deep south was subjected to such a fanatic and all-encompassing campaign to police space and control the night. Along with minorities, many young whites were also routinely victimized, leading hatred of the LAPD to grow into a common culture of resistance.

The cops, however, had a formidable opponent in the ACLU of Southern California, the national organizations most hard-charging and activist affiliate. When national ACLU director Roger Baldwin and a majority of the national leadership publicly embraced anti-communism in the late 1940s, AL Wirin, ACLU SoCals legendary chief counsel, pointedly challenged the ban on representing Communist party members in trial proceedings, taking on several cases in private practice.

Moreover, in 1952, the local branch chose as its new director Eason Monroe, a state college professor from San Francisco who had been fired for refusing to sign a loyalty oath. A decade later, Monroe charted a novel course for the affiliate by not only defending the local civil rights coalition in court but also joining in its leadership. Significantly, it was an ACLU team, led by UCLA professor John Caughey and his wife LaRee, that launched the legendary 1963 lawsuit to force integration of LAs de facto Jim Crow school system an effort that would reverberate for three decades. No other ACLU branch claimed such a large role in the decades protest movements.

Understanding Los Angeles in the 60s also requires rewriting the histories of gay liberation and the womens movement. Indeed, New York City was not the origin and center of everything. Los Angeles had the first gay street protest in America over police raids on the Black Cat Bar in Silver Lake, two years before the Stonewall uprising; it had the first gay church the Metropolitan community church, now the largest gay institution in the world; and it had the first officially recognized gay pride parade on Hollywood Boulevard in 1970. LA also witnessed the nations first police raid on a womens health clinic, following which the organizers were tried for practicing medicine without a license.

Finally, the course of events in Los Angeles challenged the myth that the Old Left was irrelevant in the 60s and that the New Left had invented itself ex nihilo. The Communist party, for its part, never appears in the standard narrative except as an unattractive corpse. But in Los Angeles its most unruly and dissident branch remained very much alive under the charismatic and eventually heretical leadership of Dorothy Healey.

Two young Chicano men during a protest in Los Angeles, 1970. Photograph: BBC/David Fenton/Getty Images

Despite the partys devastating losses following Soviet secretary Nikita Khrushchevs 1956 Crimes of Stalin speech, Healey was determined to resurrect what she could of the 1940s Popular Front and to reach out to the new radicals on campus, in the ghettos and in the barrios. Still under the threat of a prison sentence, she found a niche at KPFK, the new 75,000-watt Pacifica Radio FM station, in 1959, where her Communist Commentaryimpressed even hostile listeners with its intelligence and wit although it almost cost the station its license. In 1966 she ran in the primary for county tax assessor and received a staggering 85,000 votes. By then the local Communist party had confidentially rebuilt many of its links with progressives in the Democratic party and had assumed an important role in the Peace Action Council. Its youth members, relatively unconstrained by a party line or adult control, played innovative roles in the early 60s, including participation in Southern Freedom Rides, and later, more influentially, as the Che-Lumumba Club which would become the political base of Angela Davis. For two generations Healey defined radicalism in the public eye.

This is a movement history of Los Angeles that looks at the city from the vantage points of its flatland neighborhoods and bohemian beaches where the young heroes of this story lived. We have tried to give human faces to social forces, to understand rebellion as a constant debate about goals and tactics, and to recall the passions of struggle, especially the power of love. It was also important to describe in some detail the machinery of racial oppression that kept good schools, well-paid jobs and suburban homes out of the reach of people living inside the citys ghettos and barrios.

At epic moments in the long decade the United Civil Rights campaign in 1963, the Watts uprising in 1965, and the wave of high school revolts from 1966 to 1969 the movement tried mightily to break through to the other side, only to face the batons and drawn guns of the LAPD. By 1973, repression had dug nearly 100 graves and put more than 10,000 protesters in jail or prison. An enormous effort has been made to trivialize the 60s and to bury its dreams in a paupers grave. But its unruly ghost, like that of the 1930s, still shakes its chains in the nightmares of elites.

  • Set the Night on Fire: LA in the Sixties, by Mike Davis and Jon Wiener (Verso), is out now

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Spat over Bernie Sanders rally announced as catastrophe to wake people up, as new track is launched featuring both rappers

Chuck D has said that Flavor Flav is still a member of Public Enemy, and his recent firing from the group was a satirical hoax.

On 1 March, Chuck D said the group would be moving forward without Flavor Flav, his colourful sideman since the inception of the political hip-hop group in the mid-1980s, adding: We thank him for his years of service and wish him well. He subsequently claimed he had been sued by Flav which Flav denied on Twitter and that Flav had been suspended from the group since 2016, complaining that he always chose to party over work. He also added that Flav better find rehab, and accused him of being motivated solely by money.

The spat seemed to have been triggered by Flav not performing at a Bernie Sanders rally, with Flav stating via lawyers that he had not endorsed any political candidate in this election cycle, and that Chuck D was not allowed to use Public Enemys image to endorse a candidate: While Chuck is certainly free to express his political view as he sees fit his voice alone does not speak for Public Enemy.

Flav himself tweeted: You wanna destroy something weve built over 35 years over politics? Ive been clean for 10 years & there is no PE w/o Flavor Flav. Im worried about you Chuck, you can divide people or bring people together, yall know what side Im on.

But Chuck D has now described the entire episode as a hoax: Does it take doing crazy sht [sic] or catastrophe to wake people up? Obviously so, even when paying attention is the cheapest price to pay, he wrote on his website.

He continued: I had watched Orson Welles War of the Worlds from 1938 when he pulled the wool over the publics eyes as they put 100% belief in the technology of radio. Most people followed like a Pavlovic dog just like they do now Hearing the confused mush of political talk while under the bowels of Trumpotus made me use a presidential stage as my platform. Out of this storm came a plan between Flav and me to remind people that whats important should have as much, if not more, value than just whats popular. Thus came the HOAX, our War of the Worlds.

Chuck D (@MrChuckD)

Important > popular…. Fcuk all else

April 1, 2020

He added: Flav doesnt do benefits and stays away from political events we been cool and always agreed about that. He detailed the difference between Public Enemy a group featuring him and Flav with Enemy Radio, an auxiliary unit that features all the members except Flav, and which performed at the Bernie Sanders rally, in Los Angeles on 1 March.

The announcement came alongside a new single, billed as Enemy Radio featuring Public Enemy, that reunites Chuck D and Flavor Flav on a track. Food Is a Machine Gun castigates the US food industry, inspired by Kristin Lawlesss book Formerly Known As Food. The lyrics attack the US Food and Drug Administration, sugar intake, and the use of pesticides and chemicals in food production. An Enemy Radio album, Loud Is Not Enough, was also announced.

In a 70-minute interview with Tim Einenkel, Chuck D elaborated further about the situation. He said he wanted to help bring [Flavs] stock up, as negative stories were dominating over positive ones: I didnt like that he was getting hammered in the media.

He admitted there had been a cease and desist letter from Flavs lawyers, after the Sanders concert was billed as Public Enemy Radio rather than Enemy Radio. I know that hit a sore spot [with Flav] … and then came the cease and desist letter, and I counteracted … The bottom line was a plan to turn this into a teachable moment.

He argued that only negative news stories get traction The news you read about hip-hop is about another dead rapper and that this was proved by the news of him firing Flav, that actually proves the fact the gadgets are ruling the game.

Flavor Flav has not commented on the announcement or the interview.

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Grammy-winning trumpeter who played with Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman dies in New Jersey hospital after being admitted last week

Wallace Roney, a Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter celebrated for his interpretations of Miles Davis, has died aged 59 after contracting Covid-19.

He died in hospital in Paterson, New Jersey, where he had been admitted last week, according to his fiancee, Dawn Felice Jones.

Roney, born in 1960, trained at Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Howard University and Berklee College of Music. After playing clubs in New York, he was invited into the storied hard bop band led by Art Blakey, the Jazz Messengers. He was then hired by Tony Williams, the drummer who had played alongside Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter in Miles Daviss second great quintet, and recorded a number of albums with him during the 1980s. Roney also recorded 22 albums as leader in a post-bop or fusion style, beginning with 1987s Verses.

Aged 23, he met his hero Miles Davis, after playing in an ensemble for a retrospective concert as Davis collected an honorary degree. Davis became his mentor, and Roneys style would be frequently compared to Daviss. I never get tired of the comparisons to Miles I get tired of the critics trying to make it into a negative, he said last year. Because to me, its no comparison. Miles Davis is the greatest ever. What Im trying to do is continue and push forward from the lessons I learned from him and try to play this music.

In 1991, he was hired to play in rehearsals for orchestral reworkings of Daviss albums Sketches of Spain and Porgy and Bess, to be performed at that years Montreux jazz festival. He ended up being invited by Davis to perform alongside him in the concerts themselves. Davis died later that year Roney would win a Grammy in 1994 for the album A Tribute to Miles, playing Daviss parts alongside the remaining members of the quintet.

Over the years, he played alongside Ornette Coleman, Chick Corea, Elvin Jones, Pharoah Sanders and other jazz luminaries. In 2014, he premiered music composed by saxophonist Shorter during his time with Miles Daviss quintet.

He is survived by two children from his marriage to late pianist Geri Allen, Barbara and Wallace Jr.

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Lawyer argued 6ix9ine, who had been called a model prisoner, faced higher risks because of his severe asthma

The rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine was released from federal prison early Thursday afternoon to serve the final months of his sentence in home confinement, over fears the rappers health would be severely impacted if he were to contract coronavirus while incarcerated.

6ix9ine, whose real name is Daniel Hernandez, is serving a two-year sentence for his entanglement with a violent street gang, and was set for an early release from prison in August. In March, a judge had called the 23-year-old a model prisoner.

The decision to release 6ix9ine to home confinement comes as New York City is battling the spread of the coronavirus, including in prisons and jails. Figures published by the Legal Aid Society on Tuesday indicated there were at least 180 cases of coronavirus in New York City jails. High profile Rikers Island inmate Harvey Weinstein reportedly tested positive for the virus last week.

Bill de Blasio, the New York City mayor, announced last week that at least 900 inmates in the city had already been released because of the spread of Covid-19.

Lance Lazzaro, 6ix9ines lawyer, argued the rapper faced higher risks from the coronavirus because of his severe asthma. Other convicted celebrities in confinement, including R Kelly and Bill Cosby, are making similar arguments to also push for early releases.

6ix9ine was convicted in November 2018 for his involvement in the Nine Trey Bloods gang and charges of racketeering, drug trafficking and firearm offenses. The Brooklyn rapper, who found success through the Soundcloud rap explosion and became well known for his outlandish persona, worked with federal officials in their investigation of his gang in exchange for reduced prison time.

Lazzaro has said 6ix9ine does not plan to enter a witness protection program, as many have speculated the rapper would due to expected retaliations from gang members. He hopes to resume his career, Lazzaro said on Thursday.

States across the nation from Texas to California have begun releasing inmates, hoping to avoid repeats of the massive spread of coronavirus in the New York system. The top doctor at the Rikers Island complex said this week that the jail is a public health disaster unfolding before our eyes. The number of confirmed cases at Rikers spiked from one to nearly 200 n just 12 days, Ross MacDonald, the jails chief physician, said.

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Donation to Tennessee institute comes as country star launches bedtime story initiative to offer a welcome distraction for children

Dolly Parton has donated $1m (800,000) to research into a coronavirus vaccine, as she begins a new storytelling series for children in lockdown.

The country music star wrote on Instagram:

My longtime friend Dr Naji Abumrad, whos been involved in research at Vanderbilt for many years, informed me that they were making some exciting advancements towards that research of the coronavirus for a cure. I am making a donation of $1 million to Vanderbilt towards that research and to encourage people that can afford it to make donations.

Abumrad works at the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation at Vanderbilt University hospital in Nashville, Tennessee. He and Parton became friends in 2014 after the singer was involved in a car accident and was treated at Vanderbilt. His son, Jad, subsequently interviewed Parton for the podcast Dolly Partons America.

Numerous teams are working on research into a coronavirus vaccine. US biotech firm Moderna began trials for a vaccine on 16 March, with Chinese firm CanSino Biologics launching its own trials the same day. The World Health Organization lists 52 other firms developing potential vaccines.

Parton is fighting another front of the coronavirus crisis: bored children. On Thursday she is launching Goodnight With Dolly, a bedtime story series on YouTube, beginning with a reading of The Little Engine That Could. She said she hoped the series would be a welcome distraction during a time of unrest, and inspire a love of reading and books.

Parton has long championed reading, with her charity, Imagination Library, having given more than 130m books to children.

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