March 5th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Lies won't stop a virus, Warren drops out, and the college president who won't raise tuition.

Wash your hands. Avoid large gatherings. Try not to touch your face. And, hmm, there was one more thing … Oh yeah, stop the damn lies. While the Trump administration is properly warning people to avoid touching their faces, the president’s running commentary makes it almost impossible not to face palm several times a day. (I love the smell of facepalm in the morning…) There’s been questioning of WHO numbers based on a hunch, attacks on current political opponents and those from presidencies past, and the truly damaging suggestion that, “We have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work, some of them go to work, but they get better.” There are negatives (more cases, more deaths, a lack of tests, the threat to the elderly, the economy, and what used to be the glory of your stock portfolio), and there are some positives (numbers that seem to be going down in China and South Korea). Here’s the latest from ABC. When it comes to fighting coronavirus, we need to remember, we’re all in this together. (But stay the hell away from me.)

+ “There will be a notable omission when Vice President Mike Pence visits Seattle Thursday as part of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response: health secretary Alex Azar.”

+ “At least one California passenger has died since disembarking from the Grand Princess last month in San Francisco. The ship was scheduled to return to San Francisco again Wednesday, but it’s been held offshore, where authorities plan to check on a reported 10 crew members and 11 passengers with symptoms of the virus. ‘I found out from CNN,’ said a person currently on the ship.'” (Even without illness, being stuck on a cruise ship watching cable news is a fate I wouldn’t wish on anyone…) LA Times: On Grand Princess, confusion, missteps reigned as coronavirus spread, passengers say.

+ Seattle is gradually locking things down. Is this a preview of what we’ll be seeing across the country? Northshore School District closes all schools for coronavirus concerns.

+ The Northshore School District is hardly alone. NYT: Nearly 300 Million Children Are Missing Class. “The speed and scale of the educational tumult … has little parallel in modern history.”

+ I’m hearing of a lot more Bay Area companies that are planning to tell their employees to stay home as cases continue to pop up. On the plus side, as Ian Bogost explains, being holed up at home has never been more pleasant. “Netflix has already fused us to our couches. For years, contemporary society has been bracing, and even longing, for quarantine.”

+ “Hong Kong authorities on Wednesday updated their reports on the lone dog that appears to have a low-grade infection from coronavirus, saying it’s likely a case of a human transmitting it to the dog.” NYT: Coronavirus and Your Dog: No Need to Panic Yet. (Now my support animal needs a support animal…)


The Best Laid Plans…

“We didn’t reach our goal, but what we have done together, what you have done, has made a lasting difference. It’s not the scale of the difference we wanted to make, but it matters — and the changes will have ripples for years to come.” Elizabeth Warren Is Ending Her Presidential Campaign. (So far, no endorsement…)


Wane’s World

“Democracy and pluralism are under assault. The unchecked brutality of autocratic regimes and the ethical decay of democratic powers are combining to make the world increasingly hostile to fresh demands for better governance.” NPR: Report Finds Freedom On The Wane Worldwide.


Meet the Fockers

“Within seconds, Mr. Catsimatidis was viewing a collection of photos of the mystery man, along with the web addresses where they appeared: His daughter’s date was a venture capitalist from San Francisco. ‘I wanted to make sure he wasn’t a charlatan,’ said Mr. Catsimatidis, who then texted the man’s bio to his daughter.” NYT: Before Clearview Became a Police Tool, It Was a Secret Plaything of the Rich. “Investors and clients of the facial recognition start-up freely used the app on dates and at parties — and to spy on the public.”


Up Chuck

“I’m from Brooklyn. We speak in strong language. I shouldn’t have used the words I did, but in no way was I making a threat. I never, never would do such a thing.” Chuck Schumer said something pretty stupid. Chief Justice Roberts selectively overreacted. And America’s institutions took one more small step in the wrong direction. (Meanwhile, in modern Brooklyn, harsh language is usually reserved for the times when someone gives you an almond milk latte when you ordered an oat milk latte.)

+ “But Roberts—whose entire daily life has been reduced to a Shakespearian tragedy in which he must pretend to float above the sordid reality of trashed institutions and shattered judicial norms while at all times secretly rooting for the team that wears the MAGA jerseys—has drawn a truly terrible card in this whole constitutional poker game called the Trump presidency.” Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick: Roberts Denounces Schumer for Talking About Kavanaugh the Way Kavanaugh Talked About the Senate. (etc, etc.)

+ Oh right, then there’s the actual case. The New Yorker: Possible Responses to the Major Abortion Case Before the Supreme Court.


Witness Stand

“She lived under a false name in a secret location in mainland Italy. When the Five Star Movement invited her to run under her real name in 2018, she accepted — and won, on the condition that she remain faceless. Only after the vote did she reveal herself in public.” NYT: She Hid From the Mafia for Decades. Now She Helps People Fight Back. “Piera Aiello was elected to the Italian Parliament after spending almost three decades in a witness protection program.”


This Doesn’t Suck (Which Sucks)

“A study of hundreds of thousands of trees in Africa and the Amazon concludes that they aren’t drawing down greenhouse gases like they used to.” Bloomberg: Tropical Forests Are Reaching Their Carbon Dioxide Limit.


Purdue Diligence

“So the cost of a year of undergraduate college at Purdue University, tuition and fees, is $9,992. I’m proud of that number. One day I’m looking at one of those college guides, and it said, ‘Tuition and fees: $10,002.’ I called up our people and said, ‘Lookit here, there’s a mistake. You got the wrong number.’ They said, ‘That’s not a mistake.’ I said, ‘Yes, it is. Believe me. I know.'” Purdue’s Mitch Daniels: The College President Who Simply Won’t Raise Tuition.


Iditarod Ball

“The Iditarod is just Daugherty’s warm-up. Three weeks after the race, he’s planning on climbing Mount Everest. He’s no newbie climber, having summited peaks all over the world, including Denali, Elbrus, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Alpamayo, and Lobuche. But this marks the second time he’s tried for what he’s dubbed the ‘Iditarest,’ which means what you think it means.” GQ: Larry Daugherty is about to embark on his fourth Iditarod—and is following it up by attempting to climb Mount Everest a few weeks later. (If my kids’ school closes for an extended period of time, I may join him…)


Bottom of the News

“Business picked up, Dicker says now, because he and his friends livened dry competitions with fun questions that had a different point of view. He did not exactly intend to go into running pub quizzes as a living, but, 15 years later, he heads up a pub quiz empire.” Geek Bowl: behind the scenes of America’s 15-year-old pub quiz empire.

+ A Woman Took Care of Succulent for Two Years, Then Realized It Was Fake.

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