1

Who’s on Worst?

There are many awards given out for poor performances. The Golden Mullet Award goes to the worst video game. The Golden Raspberry Award goes to the worst movie. The Ig Nobel Prize goes to the most questionable scientific achievement. There's even a Bad Sex in Fiction Award (which is only coveted less than the bad sex in non-fiction award). But like positive competitions, no one ever remembers who came in second place. While America may have had among the worst responses to Covid-19, it's not at all clear that we'll take the prize. Which world leader has the worst pandemic record? The competition is fierce. "It's hard to top the response of Nicaragua's near-eternal President Daniel Ortega and his wife, who responded to news of a pandemic by calling people into the streets for a festive parade they called 'Love in the Time of Covid-19' - a perversely fitting allusion to the work of Gabriel García Márquez, whose novels seamlessly blend fact and hallucination. The reckless move horrified human rights activists and scientists alike. Hard to top it is, but not impossible." But fear not. American exceptionalism isn't entirely dead. During the pandemic, we know we took the 2020 Foot in Mouth Award ("given every year to a famous person for a particularly baffling comment") many times over.

+ Still in the hunt for the title of worst Covid leader: "Brazil's Jair Bolsonaro is facing the biggest crisis of his presidency after the heads of the army, navy and air force all quit and the country recorded its highest daily Covid-19 death toll."

2

Gaetz of Hell

Matt "Gaetz, who represents parts of western Florida, is accused of having a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl and paying her to travel with him, and he is under investigation to determine if he violated federal sex trafficking laws." Wait, it gets worse. "The scrutiny was part of a broader Justice Department probe into one of his political allies and fellow Florida politician, Joel Greenberg, who was indicted last summer on sex trafficking and other charges that he stalked a political opponent. A judge ordered the former tax collector back to jail earlier this month for violating the conditions of his release." (Even Gaetz's own party is quickly stepping away from him. Who does this guy think he is, the president?)

3

Zeynepoch Times

"I can't read her mind, but if I were Walensky, I'd be scared because those who are not protected through vaccination or past infection are still at grave risk, a fact that may be overshadowed by all the good news. Even as our vaccines continue to work very well against it, the particular variant we're facing in this surge is both more transmissible and more deadly for the unvaccinated." So where exactly are we in the fight against Covid-19? For that, we turn to The Atlantic's Zeynep Tufekci who has analyzed these moments as well as any reporter. The Fourth Surge Is Upon Us. This Time, It's Different.

4

Sage Against the Machine

"It's fair to say you grew angrier and angrier?" Nelson asked. "I grew professional and professional. I stayed in my body," Williams replied. "You can't paint me out to be angry." A very powerful moment from the Chauvin trial. WaPo: The witness would not be described as angry. (Even though he has a couple centuries worth of reasons to be pretty pissed...)

+ The defense pushed the anger angle with a firefighter who was on scene but was prevented from attempting to save George Floyd's life: "I don't know if you've seen anybody been killed, but it's upsetting." Firefighter Testifies: 'I Was Desperate To Help ... And This Human Was Denied That.' Here's the latest from CNN.

5

Life is a Highway

"The measure, called the American Jobs Plan, includes big infrastructure fixes that both major parties — as well as a majority of Americans — consistently say they want to see, including upgrades to bridges, broadband and buildings." Fixed roads, upgraded schools, better power lines, cleaner water. Here's What's In President Biden's $2 Trillion Infrastructure Proposal.

+ It's not just about repairing highways. It's also about expanding the information superhighway. Biden plans to connect every American to broadband in new infrastructure package. (We'd be in a lot better shape if we had made this move before the pandemic dramatically widened the education gap.)

6

Movin’ on Up

"Inactivity is currently the world's fourth leading cause of death. It's a problem often confused and conflated with laziness and personal choice, but in reality the issue is geographic, systemic, and woven into the structure of modern living." Inactivity kills millions, but movement is the ‘miracle pill' that could save people and planet. (I'm increasingly convinced my wife is planting these stories to get me to finally try our new rowing machine.)

7

Delta Force

We've finally got some movement among corporations when it comes to Georgia's efforts to resuscitate the Jim Crow-era voting environment. "Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian condemned Georgia's new election law as 'unacceptable' in a memo circulated to staff on Wednesday, claiming that the 'entire rationale for this bill was based on a lie' about widespread voter fraud in 2020." (Corporations like to move in packs. This could trigger a shift.)

8

Extra Credit

More good vaccine news. "New clinical trials showed that Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine elicits '100% efficacy and robust antibody responses' in adolescents from 12 to 15 years old, the drug company announced Wednesday. The trial included 2,260 participants; the results are even better than earlier responses from participants ages 16 to 25."

+ "Some households are now just partially vaccinated, leaving families split on how to enjoy new freedoms while protecting the safety of those who are still vulnerable." NYT: She's Vaccinated. He Isn't. Now What? (He watches the kids, she goes on Tinder?)

9

Kayakety Yak

Are you into skiing or snowboarding? Meh, some people are more into kayaking. Even on the slopes. Here's a dude kayaking down a mountain at 60km per hour. (He probably looked pretty weird getting on the chairlift.)

10

Bottom of the News

Could anyone have predicted what our lives would look like in 2021? Yes. Archie comics. Amazing.

+ Godzilla vs. King Kong: Whose Poops Would Be Bigger?

+ Joe Biden's dog, Major, bites second person in a month. (I guess every administration has its Stephen Miller...)