February 11th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

How many lives could have been saved?

“Almost 470,000 Americans have died from the coronavirus so far, with the number widely expected to go above half a million in the next few weeks. At the same time some 27 million people in the US have been infected. Both figures are by far the highest in the world.” The Guardian: “The US could have averted 40% of the deaths from Covid-19, had the country’s death rates corresponded with the rates in other high-income G7 countries.” A lot of this, of course, is the historically terrible leadership that coincided with the pandemic. But there are other factors as well.

+ FastCo: “The authors paint a damning picture of Trump politics, concluding that he purposely sought struggling white voters, and then backed policies that threatened their health: He earned his largest 2016 electoral margins in counties with the country’s worst mortality statistics, with life expectancies averaging 2 years shorter than in counties where he lost. His policies overwhelmingly favored corporations and wealthy Americans.” (This is why they want their voters to fixate on culture wars and conspiracy theories.)


Shot Clock

“Scrambling, the doctor made house calls and directed people to his home outside Houston. Some were acquaintances; others, strangers. A bed-bound nonagenarian. A woman in her 80s with dementia. A mother with a child who uses a ventilator. After midnight, and with just minutes before the vaccine became unusable, the doctor, Hasan Gokal, gave the last dose to his wife, who has a pulmonary disease that leaves her short of breath.” Dan Barry in the NYT: The Vaccine Had to Be Used. He Used It. He Was Fired.


Peer Review

The House Managers are presenting the most damning and obvious case in the history of damning and obvious cases. Failing to convict would be a disgrace of historic proportions. And we should prepare for that result. Trump’s enablers have developed herd immunity to the truth. They appear unswayed. “While Josh Hawley didn’t seem to be paying attention to the floor proceedings, he did note that his view from the gallery afforded him the opportunity to watch senator reactions from above. ‘It’s interesting to sort of see people taking notes or not’ Hawley said. To Hawley’s point, a number of Democrats spent Wednesday taking notes and paying close attention to the presentation, while most Republicans seemed uninterested and unengaged, sitting back in their seats or reading unrelated documents.” (The fact that Josh Hawley has a vote in this trial gives new, and more literal, meaning to getting a jury of one’s peers.)

+ David Frum in The Atlantic: “The remorseless, crushing power of the House managers’ evidence, all backed by horrifying real-time audio and video recordings, shuttered any good-faith defense of Trump on the merits of the case. The constitutional defense—that it’s impossible to convict a president if he leaves office between his impeachment and his trial—was rejected by 56 senators yesterday, not least because it defies a quarter millennium of federal and state precedents. There is no defense. There is only complicity, whether motivated by weakness and fear or by shared guilt.”

+ EJ Dionne in WaPo: The impeachment managers have sealed off Republicans’ escape hatches.

+ Five people associated with Proud Boys arrested for Capitol riot on conspiracy charges. “Stand back and stand by.”

+ Here’s the latest from CNN and The Guardian.


Face Cask

“In one of the more confounding disconnects between the laws of supply and demand, many of the nearly two dozen small American companies that recently jumped into the business of making N95s are facing the abyss — unable to crack the market, despite vows from both former President Donald Trump and President Biden to “Buy American” and buoy domestic production of essential medical gear.” NYT: Can’t Find an N95 Mask? This Company Has 30 Million That It Can’t Sell. (Too bad face palms aren’t protective as face masks.)


Dems The Breaks

“In much of San Francisco, you can’t walk 20 feet without seeing a multicolored sign declaring that Black lives matter, kindness is everything and no human being is illegal. Those signs sit in yards zoned for single families, in communities that organize against efforts to add the new homes that would bring those values closer to reality. Poorer families — disproportionately nonwhite and immigrant — are pushed into long commutes, overcrowded housing and homelessness. Those inequalities have turned deadly during the pandemic.” Ezra Klein in the NYT: California Is Making Liberals Squirm.


There’s an App (Suppressor) For That

“A drug that suppresses appetite has led to some people losing more than a fifth of their body weight, a major international trial shows. A weekly injection of the drug, semaglutide, was given alongside advice on diet and fitness.” Appetite drug could mark ‘new era’ in tackling obesity.


Out of the Frying Pan Into the Pandemic

“Relationship issues were still the most common complaint among teens, but the hotline has seen a marked increase in teenagers grappling with self-harm, suicidal thoughts and child abuse. They’re fighting with their parents, sick of their siblings and missing once-reliable emotional outlets, like venting to friends between classes.” American teens were having a rough time before the pandemic. Things have gotten worse. WaPo: The loneliness of an interrupted adolescence.


Putting Skin in the Game

AP: Hustler publisher Larry Flynt dies at 78. “From his beginnings as a fledgling Ohio strip club owner to his reign as founder of one of the most outrageously explicit adult-oriented magazines, Flynt constantly challenged the establishment and was intensely disliked by the religious right and feminist groups that said he demeaned women and put them at risk with pictures of bondage and other controversial acts. Flynt maintained throughout his life that he wasn’t just a pornographer but also a fierce defender of free-speech rights.”


Lost Your Affection?

Elle: Your Husband Cheated. Should You Be Able to Sue His Mistress? “So-called ‘alienation of affection’ lawsuits are netting scorned lovers millions in North Carolina.”


Bottom of the News

How do wombats poop cubes? Scientists get to the bottom of the mystery. (Who cares, Why? I want to know How?)

+ The Gorilla Glued hair has been freed.

+ Melting snowflakes in reverse.

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