Thursday, September 17th, 2020



"At one point in April, USPS leaders drafted a news release announcing plans to distribute 650 million masks nationwide, enough to offer five face coverings to every American household. The document, which includes quotations from top USPS officials and other specifics, was never sent." WaPo: Newly revealed USPS documents show an agency struggling to manage Trump, Amazon and the pandemic.

+ If that had happened, tens of thousands of lives may have been saved, your kids would be in school right now, and America's light at the end of the pandemic tunnel wouldn't be as obscured as the West coast skies. But for it to have happened, the administration would have needed to he honest about the threat of the virus, the way it spreads, the efficacy of masks, and, as it turns out, the vital importance of the postal service to our democracy. Instead we went from Mask It to Casket. And at this point, even as we approach 200,000 deaths, President Trump is publicly humiliating the head of the CDC for discussing the importance of mask wearing and also making stuff up about the stage of vaccine development (he doesn't believe in science, but he knows more about it than scientists.)

+ Moderna vaccine trial blueprint: Answers on efficacy may not come until next spring.

+ Trump blames 'blue states' for increasing nation's coronavirus death rates, ignores high rates in red states. (Now Trump is trying to convince dead people in red states that they're not dead.)


Addition Thru Sedition

"Letting the most junior members set the agenda might be a good philosophy for a Montessori preschool, but it's no way to run a federal agency." Bill Barr defended his damaging politicization of the Justice Dept by blaming career prosecutors for politicizing it by upholding the law. In case that wasn't repulsive enough, he compared covid lockdowns to slavery. "Other than slavery, which was a different kind of restraint, this is the greatest intrusion on civil liberties in American history." (At least he admitted slavery was bad.)

+ Oh, I forgot to mention, Barr also looked into ways to charge US mayors for their handling of protests and charge protesters with sedition.. (In the business, we call this projection.)

+ Homeland Security chief defies House subpoena to testify.

+ Maybe he didn't want to talk about the latest Washington Post piece: Federal officials stockpiled munitions, sought ‘heat ray' device before clearing Lafayette Square, whistleblower says. (In fairness, it may have also been because of the stories below...)


Deport in a Storm

I've been holding off sharing a story about ICE, a doctor, and forced medical procedures until there was more coverage of the story. This aspect pushed me over the edge. "As explosive allegations were coming to light about immigrant women who say they've been subjected to unwanted hysterectomies and other gynecological procedures, one of those detainees was put on a plane back to her home country." NPR: ICE Almost Deported Immigrant Woman Who Says She Got Unwanted Surgery While Detained. (They insist the deportation timing was coincidental. She was literally on the plane.)

+ WaPo: ICE flew detainees to Virginia so the planes could transport agents to D.C. protests. A huge coronavirus outbreak followed.

+ Jonathan Blitzer: "We're at DefCon1 levels of gross mismanagement at the DHS at this point, where each day brings another massive scandal. So many of these scandals are unfolding at once, in real time, that it's worth highlighting the basic chronology of a few of them from past couple of weeks."

+ I don't want to leave you with the impression that the federal government isn't working for anyone. It's working for Trump. Trump's businesses charged Secret Service more than $1.1 million, including for rooms in club shuttered for pandemic.


Deadly Isolation

"Overlooked amid America's war against the coronavirus is this reality: People with dementia are dying not just from the virus but from the very strategy of isolation that's supposed to protect them. In recent months, doctors have reported increased falls, pulmonary infections, depression and sudden frailty in patients who had been stable for years." WaPo: Pandemic isolation has killed thousands of Alzheimer's patients while families watch from afar.


Contactless Lenses

"Given that the rate of nearsightedness appeared to be so much higher in the general population than in the Covid ward, the scientists wondered: Could wearing glasses protect a person from becoming infected with coronavirus?" NYT: Does Wearing Glasses Protect You From Coronavirus? This is anything but definitive, but it's interesting. On the downside, I only wear glasses when I'm working at my laptop. On the plus side, I'm always working on my laptop.


Lightning Crashes

"It began as a stunning light show on a mid-August weekend — lightning bolts crackling in the skies over Northern and Central California, touching down in grasslands and vineyards. The National Weather Service warned that the dry lightning striking a parched landscape 'could lead to new wildfire.' It turned out to be a huge understatement." Lightning storm, easterly wind: How the wildfires got so bad. (That lightning storm was the weirdest thing I've ever seen in my life, but only about the 13th weirdest thing I've seen in 2020.)

+ Devastating Photos Show The Aftermath Of The Oregon Wildfires.

+ Gulf Coast braces for 2nd round of flooding in Sally's wake.


Denial of Service Attack?

After ingesting what seems like a lifetime of upsetting news in 2020, even gross stories rarely give me the slightest case of nausea. So it's noteworthy that this op-ed from San Francisco archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone in WaPo made me projectile vomit from my laptop to the promised land. Americans' right to worship is being denied by governments. I won't be silent anymore. "I never expected that the most basic religious freedom, the right to worship — protected so robustly in our Constitution's First Amendment — would be unjustly repressed by an American government." This is the thanks San Francisco and California leaders get for trying to save lives. God can see you on Zoom (where thousands of Jews in Salvatore's neighborhood will be marking the high holy days this week). Religion unjustly suppressed? Give me a break. If the government wanted to go after the Catholic Church, I'm guessing they'd have plenty of ammo.


Cube Job

When he "finally did it, after weeks of frustration, he was overcome by 'a great sense of accomplishment and utter relief.' Looking back, he realizes the new generation of 'speedcubers' — Yusheng Du of China set the world record of 3.47 seconds in 2018 — might not be impressed. 'But, remember, this had never been done before.'" NYT: He Invented the Rubik's Cube. He's Still Learning From It.


Courts and Courtship

"Moore, 31, paused her playing career in February 2019 to help overturn Irons' wrongful conviction. Now 40, Irons was sentenced to 50 years in prison in 1998 after he was convicted of breaking into a Missouri home and twice shooting a homeowner. In March, a judge ruled that prosecutors had suppressed fingerprint evidence that would have strengthened Irons' defense. He was released from prison on July 1." WNBA star Maya Moore married Jonathan Irons, man she helped free from prison, over summer.


Bottom of the News

"An Anchorage dentist who extracted a patient's tooth while on a hoverboard was sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison for dozens of charges including Medicaid fraud. Seth Lookhart was captured on video extracting the tooth from the unconscious patient. Anchorage Superior Court Judge Michael Wolverton said Monday that Lookhart nearly killed several patients by frequently sedating them for extended periods of time."

+ Beyoncé's mother, Tina Knowles-Lawson, said that the spelling of her eldest daughter's name came from a birth certificate error that wasn't fixed because of her race. (Beyincé?)