Sunday, August 16th, 2020


The Path to Salivation

I'm just spitballing here, but I bet you'd do a spit take if I told you our Covid-19 testing just needs a little spit and polish to become the spitting image of an actually effective program. Does America still have enough spit and vinegar to get that done? When I finally spit it out, the answer may have you drooling. Or more accurately, dribbling. ESPN: Saliva-based coronavirus test funded by NBA, NBPA gets emergency authorization from FDA. OMG. In full words, here's what that means. "The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an emergency authorization on Saturday allowing public use of a saliva-based test for the coronavirus developed at Yale University and funded by the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association. The test, known as SalivaDirect, is designed for widespread public screening." It's not a slam dunk, but it's something.


Split Take

"The total wealth of US billionaires has soared $685bn since the middle of March to a combined $3.65tn. Rock-bottom interest rates have triggered a home sales boom for some as those with the money reconsider their priorities in the work-from-home era. With nowhere to go, those Americans who can are saving at record rates. But only one in four Americans can work from home. Meanwhile roughly 30 million people are unemployed in the US, about 20% of the workforce. Almost 30 million Americans recently reported that they have not had enough to eat." The Guardian: Making billions v making ends meet: how the pandemic has split the US economy in two.


Lukashenko Dependent

"Tens of thousands of opponents of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko have gathered in Minsk to protest against disputed elections. The 'March for Freedom' in the centre of the capital comes amid growing anger over alleged poll-rigging and police violence at subsequent protests. Meanwhile, in an address to a smaller crowd of several thousand, Mr Lukashenko blasted opponents as 'rats.'" BBC: Mass protest eclipses defiant Belarus leader's rally.

+ And protesting carries plenty of risk: I Spent Two Terrifying Days Imprisoned In Belarus. And: Belarus Is Detaining Thousands Of Peaceful Protesters. Many Are Telling Gruesome Stories Of Physical And Psychological Abuse By Police.


Ambushing the Envelope

"The Democratic-run House on Sunday demanded that leaders of the U.S. Postal Service testify at an emergency oversight hearing Aug. 24 on mail delays as concerns grow that the Trump White House is trying to undermine the agency during the coronavirus pandemic while states expand mail-in voting options for the November presidential election."

+ WaPo: Tracing Trump's Postal Service obsession — from ‘loser' to ‘scam' to ‘rigged election.' "Allies coddled Trump by telling him the reason he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton in 2016 was widespread mail-in balloting fraud — a conspiracy theory for which there is no evidence — and the president's postal outrage coarsened further."

+ WaPo's Margaret Sullivan: Trump's attacks on the Postal Service deserve sustained, red-alert coverage from the media. That coverage will help make sure the postal services gets ballots delivered. On the other hand, that coverage will also fuel the conspiracy machine and make a lot of people believe everything is rigged. That's the tricky part of covering the nonstop madness from this administration.


Robert Trump Dies

"People who knew him said he was devastated by the fight with Donald Trump, and the rift between them took years to heal. During the years Robert Trump worked in Brooklyn, he would take his father, Fred Trump Sr., who at the time had Alzheimer's disease, out for lunch every day at Gargiulo's, an Italian restaurant, a friend recalled. He reconciled with his brother when Donald Trump decided to run for president, according to a person close to the family. Robert Trump had in recent years been a loyal family spokesman and consigliere since his older brother entered politics." Robert S. Trump, the President's Younger Brother, Dies at 71.


QAnon Believers

"There have been plenty of potential wake-up calls. Among them: a 2018 standoff at the Hoover Dam with a QAnon believer, the 2019 murder of a Gambino crime family boss by a QAnon supporter who believed the boss was part of a deep-state cabal, an August 2019 F.B.I. report that warned that QAnon could spur domestic terrorism, a West Point report calling the movement "a security threat in the making," and the April arrest of a QAnon follower who was found with a dozen knives while driving to 'take out' Joe Biden, the former vice president and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. But it seems the true tipping point came this week." NYT's Charlie Warzel: The Week QAnon Went Mainstream.


Homeless Than Predicted

"While shelters saw some large COVID-19 outbreaks, the virus so far doesn't appear to have brought devastation to the homeless population as many feared. However, researchers and advocates say much is unknown about how the pandemic is affecting the estimated half-million people without housing in the U.S." AP: Coronavirus hasn't devastated the homeless as many feared. (Add this to the long list of things we don't understand when it comes to the virus.)


Meet Your Maker

"They said Trump sees a summit as an opportunity to be presidential and demonstrate he's able to negotiate agreements. 'He wants it to show his deal-maker abilities,' one of them said. 'It's just a big stage.'" Who does Trump want to meet with to show his deal making prowess? Putin. Seriously. Trump eyes Putin meeting before November election.


Bolt Action

I'm the first to admit we're weather weaklings in the Bay Area, spoiled by the mild conditions we pay top dollar to enjoy. So I didn't complain too much about the heat wave we're experiencing. But when a lightning storm wakes my family up, I gotta share. Here's a timelapse from Pacifica.

+ I'm just glad we didn't get that fire tornado warning...


Bottom of the News

"Sharing the details about where we've traveled has always been a way to transmit our values, tastes and means — look no further than the postcards of the 19th century or the Kodak carousels of the 1960s and 70s. Then came Instagram, a decade ago, to turbocharge the practice. And while technology has made it easy to keep up with loved ones during this period of physical distance, there is one topic being withheld from conversations and hidden from social media: vacations. For a variety of reasons related to the pandemic, some travelers are content to let the tree fall in the forest, so to speak, without a single soul around to hear it." NYT: Shhh! We're Heading Off on Vacation. (Hey, anything that makes you share less on social media seems like a net positive...)

+ "Her GPS warned her she should not proceed with the type of vehicle she was driving ... The occupants on the bus convinced her to proceed, which she did."