1

Derek and the Domino Effect

Derek Chauvin's knee on George Floyd's neck was a slow motion disaster that ignited a Black Lives Matter protest movement that spread across the country and the world. Just as Floyd's death marked a key moment in America's racial history, so too will the trial of Derek Chauvin which is now underway. StarTribune: Derek Chauvin trial represents a defining moment in America's racial history. "What began 10 months ago at the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue has transformed into nothing less than an American reckoning on justice, racial equity, the proper role of law enforcement and the historical wrongs society has perpetrated on Black people." In his opening statement, Defense attorney Eric Nelson argued: "You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career." Prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell told jurors, "You can believe your eyes, that it's a homicide. You can believe your eyes." Whether or not people decided to believe what they were seeing and hearing was at the core of the battle for America's soul in 2020. That battle continues in a Minnesota courtroom. Here's the latest from CNN.

2

Let My Cargo Go

"Lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea, and divide it; and the children of Israel shall go into the midst of the sea on dry ground." That's what god told Moses the last time an important Red Sea route was unpassable. And once again, during Passover no less, an obstacle in that region was removed as the Ever Given was de-wedged and the Suez Canal is slowly getting back into the flow. Yacht-Zee! Maybe we went overboard on this story, but it was hard to fathom such a stern situation could barge into our lives and turn the tide on global trade. I did knot see that coming. Naut at all. I know, I know. Too schoon.

+ Related: If everyone on Earth sat in the ocean at once, how much would sea level rise?

3

Doom and Zoom

The race between the vaccines and the variants continues in America. And while the vaccine numbers are promising, the virus numbers are perilous. CDC head Dr. Rochelle Walensky: "Now is one of those times when I have to share the truth, and I have to hope and trust you will listen. I'm going to pause here. I'm going to lose the script, and I'm going to reflect on the recurring feeling I have of impending doom."

+ Sharing the truth. What a concept. Meanwhile, from WaPo: Birx tells CNN most U.S. covid deaths ‘could have been mitigated' after first 100,000. (Some comments are too soon. Some are too late.)

+ Some very positive news: Real world study by CDC shows Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 90% effective.

4

Yale Fail

"In July 2019, Alan M. Dershowitz, the lawyer who defended President Donald J. Trump during Mr. Trump's first impeachment trial, said in an interview that he had a "perfect sex life" with his wife. Mr. Dershowitz's phrasing — in response to questions about his connections to the accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein — drew headlines at the time. The comments also prompted Bandy X. Lee, then a psychiatrist at Yale University who had questioned Mr. Trump's mental fitness and his influence over his supporters, to assess Mr. Dershowitz's behavior. In January 2020, she compared Mr. Dershowitz's wording with Mr. Trump's own prominent use of the word 'perfect,' suggesting in a tweet that it could reflect a 'shared psychosis' through which Mr. Dershowitz had taken on what she said was Mr. Trump's 'grandiosity and delusional-level impunity.'" Now Lee is out of a job. This is yet another example of how effective it can be when the famous and powerful attack those who dare to hint at their bullshit. Let's not focus on victims claims about Dersh's behavior with the Jeffery Epstein crew. Let's focus on a comment a shrink makes about him. NYT: A Yale Psychiatrist's Tweet About Dershowitz, Her Dismissal, and a Lawsuit. (Bandi Lee nailed the Trump story and accurately predicted how his behavior would morph during his time in office. She should have gotten a promotion.)

5

Koch and Bull

"The participants conceded that the bill, which would stem the flow of dark money from such political donors as the billionaire oil magnate Charles Koch, was so popular that it wasn't worth trying to mount a public-advocacy campaign to shift opinion. Instead, a senior Koch operative said that opponents would be better off ignoring the will of American voters and trying to kill the bill in Congress." Jane Mayer in The New Yorker: Inside the Koch-Backed Effort to Block the Largest Election-Reform Bill in Half a Century.

6

Thirty-Six Day Shipping From Amazon

"He grabbed a pocketknife, a flashlight, a couple of lighters and a phone with little juice in the battery and scrambled away from the aircraft. Moments later, it burst into flames. Then he settled down to wait for his rescue. It was a long wait." NYT: His Plane Crashed in the Amazon. Then Came the Hard Part.

7

Blame it on the Reign

"The word 'crisis' is both an overstatement and an understatement of the situation. There were more families and children seeking asylum at the border under Trump in 2019 than there are now. And the current numbers, if higher than Biden anticipated, are not unexpected. The pandemic has led to renewed desperation in Central America, as have two hurricanes that devastated the region last fall, displacing tens of thousands of people. Yet, in another sense, the situation is worse than much of the public understands, because the issues involved are genuinely complex and nearly impossible to settle as long as policymakers in Washington continue to regard decency as a sign of political weakness rather than of moral strength." The New Yorker's excellent Jonathan Blitzer on Biden and the Blame Game at the Border.

8

Masked Battery

"More than 400,000 fewer child welfare concerns reported during the pandemic and 200,000 fewer child abuse and neglect investigations and assessments compared with the same time period of 2019. That represents a national total decrease of 18% in both total reports and investigations." AP: Pandemic masks ongoing child abuse crisis as cases plummet.

9

Beak Demand

"The first time we thought, 'Once in a lifetime kind of thing, this is never going to happen again.' But sure enough a year later, same Costco. This year, it was a pack of pork ribs that they had gotten into." Anchorage Costco customers say ravens are stealing their groceries in the parking lot. (The fact that Ravens are able to lift Costco-sized packages has a bit of Jurassic Park vibe to it...)

10

Bottom of the News

"We started digging around, and things quickly became unsettling. I found a video clip of him at a conference, reading a chapter I'd written. He was dressed like me. Even his mannerisms and speech patterns were similar. Then I came across a picture of his hands, where he'd poorly copied my tattoos: the flowers on the backs of my hands, with the words 'know more' and 'artefact' written across the fingers. This man had been stealing my work and elements of my identity for years. It creeped me out." I tracked down my impostor. (I've had a few newsletter impostors try to mimic my pun game, but in the end, they couldn't handle the eye-rolls.)

+ Top Paid LA Lifeguards Earned Up To $392,000 In 2019. (And they get to wear shorts to work.)

+ Man looks up neighbor's property, finds his cat has been living a double life next door. (Our cat Emoji went to stay with one our neighbors so many times that we all agreed the neighbor should keep her. And everyone seems pretty happy about the situation.)