Thursday, July 9th, 2020


The Plot Quickens

"PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT! ... This is all a political prosecution. I won the Mueller Witch Hunt, and others, and now I have to keep fighting in a politically corrupt New York. Not fair to this Presidency or Administration! ... Courts in the past have given 'broad deference'. BUT NOT ME! ... This is about PROSECUTORIAL MISCONDUCT. We catch the other side SPYING on my campaign, the biggest political crime and scandal in U.S. history, and NOTHING HAPPENS. But despite this, I have done more than any President in history in first 3 1/2 years! ... POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!" Those are a few choice outtakes from the president's reaction to a pair of Supreme Court rulings related to his tax returns and financial information. All that being said (whatever it means), the rulings weren't all that bad for the president, at least not in terms of the November election. AP: Court rulings keep Trump's financial records private for now. "By 7-2 votes, the justices upheld the Manhattan district attorney's demand for Trump's tax returns, but kept a hold on Trump's financial records that Congress has been seeking for more than a year."

+ Former US attorney Joyce Alene: "Today's SCOTUS rulings will have more impact on future presidencies than on Trump. They set rules of the road going forward. Trump can continue the delay game that has gotten him this far. The court takes a strong stand for the unremarkable proposition POTUS is not above the law." Boston Globe: Legal experts say Supreme Court ruling on Trump financial records will have far-reaching effect.

+ The Atlantic: Trump Is Successfully Running Out the Clock. "These decisions affirm the rule of law, asserting that the president is, at the end of the day, like any other American citizen, and does not have the sweeping immunity he claims. But they are blows more against the executive in general than against Trump himself, at least for now."


Lax Returns

Meanwhile, the virus doesn't care about the tax returns or the tweets. And as case numbers continue to rise (months after we saw what the initial surges looked like), there are still Grave Shortages of Protective Gear. Epic failure.

+ NYT: "There is no country in the world where confirmed coronavirus cases are growing as rapidly as they are in Arizona, Florida or South Carolina. The Sun Belt has become the global virus capital."

+ Health official: Trump rally ‘likely' source of virus surge in Tulsa. (We're not even debating whether the administration is helping in the fight against the virus, only assessing how much they're hurting it.)

+ Derek Thompson: COVID-19 Cases Are Rising, So Why Are Deaths Flatlining?

+ Biden says he will rejoin WHO on his first day in office. (So I guess that means WHO's on first...)


Rhode Scholar

"While a national debate rages over school schedules, weighing concerns about education and convenience against concerns about safety, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo has already announced that classrooms will reopen this fall—not because parents have no other child care options, or because President Donald Trump is insisting there's nothing to worry about, but because she's confident Rhode Island can do it safely." How the Smallest State Engineered a Big Covid Comeback.

+ Vox: I'm an epidemiologist and a dad. Here's why I think schools should reopen. A good level-headed explanation of the various factors, including the questions we can't answer; and a good contrast the all caps nonsense I covered (pretty damn impressively) yesterday.

+ A Christian summer camp shut down after 82 kids and staff got the coronavirus.


Covid Could Be All in Your Head

"Neurologists are on Wednesday publishing details of more than 40 UK Covid-19 patients whose complications ranged from brain inflammation and delirium to nerve damage and stroke. In some cases, the neurological problem was the patient's first and main symptom." The Guardian: Warning of serious brain disorders in people with mild coronavirus symptoms. (This a potentially massive story to watch. Consider that there have been more the 3 million cases in the US alone.)

+ NYT: Can Covid Damage the Brain? "I tell the same stories repeatedly; I forget words I know."


No Preservatives

"An overwhelming majority of Confederate memorials weren't erected in the years directly following the Civil War. Instead, most were put up decades later. Nor were they built just to commemorate fallen generals and soldiers; they were installed as symbols of white supremacy during periods of U.S. history when Black Americans' civil rights were aggressively under attack." FiveThirtyEight: Confederate Statues Were Never Really About Preserving History.


Trump Will Always Put Out For Putin

"First, President Trump decided not to confront Putin about supplying arms to the terrorist group. Second, during the very times in which U.S. military officials publicly raised concerns about the program's threat to U.S. forces, Trump undercut them. He embraced Putin, overtly and repeatedly, including at the historic summit in Helsinki. Third, behind the scenes, Trump directed the CIA to share intelligence information on counterterrorism with the Kremlin despite no discernible reward." Trump Pushed CIA to Give Intelligence to Kremlin, While Taking No Action Against Russia Arming Taliban. (Someone convince Trump that saving Americans from Covid19 is good for Putin.)

+ Meanwhile, in other "not normal" news, Geoffrey Berman, the former top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, is testifying behind closed doors. Here's a bit of his opening statement.


First And Ten, Don’t Do It Again

"I don't want to distract from how important the Black Lives Matter movement is, and how we need to stay behind it. I think the Black and Jewish communities have a lot of similarities. One unfortunate similarity is that they are both attacked by the ignorant and the hateful. It's really hard to see the challenges a community can face when you're not part of it. So what we need to do is, we need to listen. We need to learn. We need to act. We need to have these uncomfortable conversations if we're going to have real change." Julian Edelman reacted to Desean Jackson's remarkably ill-informed antisemitic remarks, by inviting him to Holocaust museum. (I reacted my hurling my laptop across the room. Edelman probably handled it better.)



"At least part of Robinhood's success appears to have been built on a Silicon Valley playbook of behavioral nudges and push notifications, which has drawn inexperienced investors into the riskiest trading, according to an analysis of industry data and legal filings, as well as interviews with nine current and former Robinhood employees and more than a dozen customers. And the more that customers engaged in such behavior, the better it was for the company, the data shows." Nathaniel Popper in the NYT: Robinhood Has Lured Young Traders, Sometimes With Devastating Results. (This is part of a broader story of money being poured into the markets by inexperienced investors who, I worry, will be the ones left holding the bag when things go south.)


We’re Far From the Shallow Now

"I was very shallow. Life rotated around girls, partying, drinking, waking up with a hangover and then going out and chasing girls and going out to bars again ... I used to say ‘math is stupid, how can you use that in the real world'? And I thought that was like a smart statement. I really believed it." BBC: The violent attack that turned a man into a math genius. (Being able to succeed without getting a violent beating is one of the main reasons I chose to focus on the Humanities.)


Bottom of the News

"Some customers complained it was impossible to stay quiet on rides, particularly the two-kilometre-long Fujiyama rollercoaster, which reaches speeds of 130km/h and drops 70 metres at one point. Named after nearby Mount Fuji, the rollercoaster was the fastest and tallest in the world when it opened in 1996. In response, the park released a video of two stony-faced senior executives riding Fujiyama without uttering a peep, urging visitors to imitate them and 'Keep your screams inside.'" Rollercoaster fans told to be quiet to help Japan Covid-19 fight. That would be a good 2020 slogan: Keep Your Screams Inside.

+ Wired: Linkin Park T-Shirts Are All the Rage in China. Noelle Mateer set out to figure out why.

+ What do the top chefs keep in their refrigerators? (More interesting: What do the top news curators keep in the back of the cupboard above their fridges.)

+ 23 Hamilton Behind-The-Scenes Facts That You Probably Didn't Know.