May 19th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The big get bigger, pandemic air quality, and it's Saudi Duty Time.

David Deno, CEO of Outback Steakhouse’s parent company: “I don’t mean to wish ill on anybody, but there’s going to be real estate opportunities … better visibility, better access and better parking.” David Gibbs, Yum CEO: “Brands that are doing well in this environment should have an opportunity to expand their footprint … There’s no reason to think that this brand… is not going to be a growth business long term. And unit development is a big part of that.” What are these CEOs talking about? The advantage of being big during the pandemic. Many smaller players won’t survive, and that will leave a lot of prime real estate available to the megacorpss. Reuters: As coronavirus crushes small restaurants, big chains see room to move in. “It was a trend going 30 miles an hour, now accelerated to 100 miles an hour. It’s corporate Darwinism on steroids.” (It will also likely lead to your gastrointestinal issues going 100 miles per hour.)

+ This trend will not be limited to food. It will be across the board. NPR: Walmart Hires Almost A Quarter-Million Workers As Sales Soar.


Air Apparent

There have been many times during recent walks when I’ve marveled to my beagles (Pumpernickel and Rye) about the incredibly clear views in the Bay Area. And they’ve concurred. But is the story how much pollution has dropped during the working from home era, or how little it’s changed, considering the scope of the situation? NPR: “Our analysis revealed that, in the vast majority of places, ozone pollution decreased by 15% or less, a clear indication that improving air quality will take much more than cleaning up tailpipes of passenger cars.” (This analysis passed my beagles’ smell test.)


It’s Saudi Duty Time

“The revelation adds another layer to Trump’s decision to sack Steve Linick, who was also looking into claims that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his wife improperly directed political appointees to run personal errands for him, including walking his dog and picking up his dry cleaning.” Politico: Fired watchdog was investigating arms sales to Saudi Arabia. (I don’t have any insider info on this story, but trust me, it’s not about the dog walking.)

+ Here’s the backstory from WaPo’s Greg Sargent: Trump’s purge just got much more corrupt. Here’s what’s coming next.


House Calls

From Stat: 9 ways Covid-19 may forever upend the U.S. health care industry, including the acceleration of telemedicine. “Health care providers in the U.S. have been inching toward making more services available via telehealth for years. But health care leaders across the ideological spectrum agree: Covid-19 has pushed the inevitable telemedicine revolution forward by a decade, if not more.” (Personal Bias Admission: Telemedicine is my preferred way to receive a prostate exam.)


Alchemistaken Identity

“I started taking it, because I think it’s good. I’ve heard a lot of good stories.” And with that, President Trump announced he’s taking his favorite drug, hydroxychloroquine, as a preventative measure. My first guess was that he has a stake in the drug. (Trump would drink poison if he had shares in an arsenic company). The only other two options are that: He’s lying. Or he’s taking something he shouldn’t be taking because he doesn’t understand any of this. Those, as it turns out, are the only two options that can explain much of what he’s done during the pandemic. Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic: Maybe Trump Isn’t Lying. The president does not seem to grasp the most basic aspects of the public-health crisis. Lying or clueless. Both are bad. Like the president, you can pick your poison.


Fork in Road as Yanked Chain Derails Plans

“Some bicycle shops in Brooklyn are selling twice as many bikes as usual and drawing blocklong lines of customers. A chain of shops in Phoenix is selling three times the number of bikes it typically does. A retailer in Washington, D.C., sold all its entry-level bikes by the end of April and has fielded more preorders than ever in its 50-year history.” NYT: Thinking of Buying a Bike? Get Ready for a Very Long Wait. (Don’t worry about the wait. You never forget how to ride a bike.)

+ Bloomberg: Londoners Jump on Bikes in Record Numbers as Restrictions Ease.


Holding Pattern

Marc Fisher in WaPo: “The idea of a return to life in public is unnerving enough for many people. But it turns out that one of the biggest obstacles to dining in a restaurant, renewing a doctor’s appointment or going back to the office is the prospect of having to use a public restroom — a tight, intimate and potentially germ-infested space.” (Thanks WaPo, now every one of us is going to have to go the second we leave the house!)


Master of His Domain

“Presented with a recorder, Peter talks and talks. He talks about how he healed an ex-girlfriend who was abused as a child by Satanists, using only his hands. About how a cabal of shadowy elites, including Rockefellers and Orthodox Jews, spread Covid-19 to boost drug profits and compel Germans to accept implanted biosensor chips. How a sniper once shot his car on the autobahn, but divine intervention caused the bullet to only nick the windshield. (He knows what you’re thinking, but a policeman friend told him there’s no way it was a rock.)” David Gauvey Herbert with a well-written and, given the state of the world, oddly terrifying tale: The King of Germany Will Accept Your Bank Deposits Now.


Feel Good Tuesday

“Mao Yin was snatched aged two, while his father stopped to get him some water on the way home from nursery. His parents searched the country for him and his mother distributed more than 100,000 flyers.” It took 32 years, but they’ve been reunited.

+ “While some people may simply be enjoying the freedom to stay naked all day in the privacy of their homes, many new nudists are making it official, with a British nudist organization reporting a 100 percent increase in new members amid the pandemic.” More People Are Going Nude During Lockdown. (Don’t look at me. I shower in jeans.)

+ After coronavirus cancels their prom, their community brings the prom to them.

+ New Hampshire high school plans ski lift graduation. (If properly dismounting from a chairlift was a requirement for graduation, both me and NextDraft’s trusted proofer RD would still be in high school…)

+ A Very Short (very cool) Guide to Union Glacier Camp in Antarctica.

+ 25-Year Veteran Police Officer Lauded For 2 Saves In 1 Day.


Painting Spells

“The traditional White House portrait unveiling may be skipped for the first time in decades amid bad blood between Trump and Obama.” There will be no presidential portrait unveiling ceremony at the White House. And it’s not because of stay at home orders. NBC: White House portrait ceremony may be the latest casualty of the political divide. (I’m mostly linking to this because of the nonsensical false equivalence in the headline. There’s not going to be a ceremony for the same reason everything else has been completely crazy for the past three years.)

+ Reminder: The NextDraft Store is open and awesome.

+ Damon Lindelof’s Something Something Something Murder story’s final chapters will be here at the end of the month. In the meantime, the first 15 chapters are here.

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