June 15th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

A surprise from Scotus, the brutal reality of prisoners in a pandemic, and the town that's printing its own wooden money.

While we’ve spent a lot of time covering America’s racial, cultural, and economic battles during the Trump era, less coverage has been given to the relentless holy war that has been waged against the LGBTQ community. It’s been a long three and half years for a community that has watched the erasing of health care protections for transgender patients, the appointment of anti-LGBTQ judges, a rolling back of Obama era protections, a banning of transgender service members from the military, and many other attacks that were perhaps most accurately expressed by the president’s hilarious joke about Pence’s view on these topics, “Don’t ask that guy—he wants to hang them all!” Well, hang on. “The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay, lesbian and transgender people from discrimination in employment, a resounding victory for LGBT rights from a conservative court.” From the 6-3 (which feels like a landslide these days) majority opinion: “An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex. Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.” It’s an understatement to say it’s notable that those words were written by Justice Neil Gorsuch.

+ The Supreme Court’s landmark LGBTQ rights decision, explained in 5 simple sentences.

+ The ruling comes a day after a rally for Black trans lives drew an enormous crowd in Brooklyn.


Spread Man Walking

“Inmates in the prison’s garment shop were given a new task: manufacturing eighty thousand masks for prisoners and officers throughout the state. A woman named Carrie Coleman told me that her son had sewn masks at Cummins for two days while he had a fever and chills. (It wasn’t until he had a temperature of a hundred and four degrees that he was carried to the infirmary.) Marie said that the masks kept falling off her face; when she talked, she sucked the material into her mouth. Then she noticed that the wardens and deputy wardens were secretly wearing masks they’d brought from home underneath the state-issued ones.” The New Yorker’s Rachel Aviv takes you into a a penitentiary with one of the country’s largest coronavirus outbreaks, where prison terms become death sentences.


Gen Ex

“I call the young people who grew up in the past twenty-five years the Trayvon Generation. They always knew these stories. These stories formed their world view. These stories helped instruct young African-Americans about their embodiment and their vulnerability. The stories were primers in fear and futility. The stories were the ground soil of their rage. These stories instructed them that anti-black hatred and violence were never far. They watched these violations up close and on their cell phones, so many times over. They watched them in near-real time. They watched them crisscrossed and concentrated. They watched them on the school bus. They watched them under the covers at night. They watched them often outside of the presence of adults who loved them and were charged with keeping them safe in body and soul.” In the New Yorker, Elizabeth Alexander on her sons and The Trayvon Generation.


Key and Heal

“Dr. George Rutherford, a UCSF infectious disease specialist, said neutralizing antibodies attack the virus’ crown-like spikes, which are the genesis of the name ‘corona,’ preventing them from poking into and hijacking human cells. This particular antibody prevents ‘the key from going into the lock.'” The SF Chronicle on the progress being made in the relentless pursuit of a vaccine, and a reminder of how far we have to go. Rare, super coronavirus antibodies likely to yield vaccine, say Stanford, UCSF experts.


Hard Currency

“Fournier’s central idea is pulled straight from Tenino’s own history. During the Great Depression, the city printed sets of wooden dollars using that exact same 1890 newspaper printer. Within a year, the wooden currency had helped bring the economy back from the dead.” Why a small town in Washington is printing its own currency during the pandemic.

+ Buzzfeed: This Texas Town Is America’s COVID-19 Future.


Netflix and Chilled Beverage

“If you go to the cinema you would probably quite happily have a liter or maybe more of soda while you watch the film, whereas we just don’t think people would drink a whole liter of soda while watching Netflix.” I don’t think my kids will appreciate being underestimated like this, but the numbers seem to add up. Bloomberg: Stuck at Home, the World Is Eating Less Sugar.


The OK Corral

“We don’t know why he chose Tulsa, but we can’t see any way that his visit will be good for the city.” Tulsa newspaper and top health official call on Trump to cancel rally. The madness of gathering 19,000 cheering and chanting people into an enclosed space in a city where the Covid numbers are on an upswing is jaw dropping.

+ Let’s hope everyone wears a mask. They probably won’t. And that’s not a commentary on Oklahoma (although, it is one on the rally headliner). The lack of masks is happening from California to the New York Island. WaPo: As maskless New Yorkers crowd outside bars, Cuomo threatens to shut the city back down.


Nun of the Above

NYT Mag: Jon Stewart Is Back to Weigh In on the media, the protests, and his role in the discussion. “I don’t think it has ever had a good handle on a political moment. It’s not designed for that. It’s designed for engagement. It’s like YouTube and Facebook: an information-laundering perpetual-radicalization machine. It’s like p-rn. I don’t mean that to be flip. When you were pubescent, the mere hint of a bra strap could send you into ecstasy. I’m 57 now. If it’s not two nuns and a mule, I can’t even watch it. Do you understand my point? The algorithm is not designed for thoughtful engagement and clarity. It’s designed to make you look at it longer.” (I’ve gotta rewatch Two Mules For Sister Sara. I definitely missed something…)


Draw Bridge

“There are a number of Etsy psychics from whom people can commission portraits. Some look like real sketches, while others look like photos grabbed from Google Image search and edited to look like drawings. Still, that didn’t stop me.” I paid an Etsy psychic to draw my soulmate. (I tried this too, and I got back a drawing of one of my beagles wearing a NextDraft shirt.)


Feel Good Monday

“Kamara saw his first race as an invited guest of NASCAR’s on Sunday at the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway after he tweeted his support for the sport and driver Bubba Wallace earlier in the week.” ESPN: New Orleans Saints running back Alvin Kamara became one of NASCAR’s newest fans this week. (Like I said last week: People take small steps towards one another, and before you know it, you have a country.)

+ Paul Danison on when the BLM marches came to the O.C.

+ A Kentucky tattoo shop is offering to cover up hate and gang symbols for free.

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