Thursday, April 22nd, 2021


Earthly Concerns

Nature can be a real mother. After decades of ignoring the damage human nature has done to humans' nature, it's going to require a real clime to prevent nature from taking its course. That's just the nature of the beast. If we don't get eco-logical now, it might be too late. President Biden moved to improve the forecast by convening a summit of 40 world leaders to get weather back on the radar on this Earth Day. John Kerry described the challenge: "It will require mobilizing finance at an absolutely unprecedented level, and it will require governments to help facilitate the net-zero transition around the world, and to help … the vulnerable countries, the people who just don't have the finance or the technology or the ability to do this. Given the magnitude of this challenge, however, governments alone cannot possibly find all the necessary investment. There's no government in the world that has enough … in their budgets to be able to provide what we need to make this transition. Ultimately, how governments, international financial institutions and private providers of capital work together is really going to determine the outcome of this challenge." It takes a global village. Here's the latest from the two-day summit. Biden hosts global climate change summit on Earth Day. (The key, of course, will be whether the words translate into action. The last thing Earth needs now is more hot air.)

+ Vox: 10 things we learned about Earth since the last Earth Day.

+ And a back-up plan... NASA's Perseverance rover has produced pure oxygen on Mars.


DC Commix

"In a party-line vote, House Democrats have approved DC statehood, sending the bill to the Democrat-controlled Senate — where even a party-line vote would not be sufficient to send the legislation to President Joe Biden's desk. And that itself isn't guaranteed." The House has voted to make DC the 51st state. That's probably as far as it will go for now. The fight for DC statehood gets its best chance yet.


Delhi Cases

"'In the last 24 hours alone, [India has] had 300,000 cases, and that's most certainly an undercount,' said Dr. Kavita Patel, a Yahoo News medical contributor. 'In some parts of India, like Mumbai and New Delhi, as high as 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 people are testing positive, [and that's] actually, again, an underestimate. As a result, India's hospitals are completely full. There is now rationing of everything, including doctors, nurses, oxygen, beds, supplies.'" India's COVID tsunami is the worst in the world. "The curve is so steep, it's almost vertical."

+ Some countries are desperate for the vaccines. Other countries, well ... WaPo: U.S. sees significant drop in vaccinations over past week.


Protest March Madness

"While Democrats seized on Mr. Floyd's death last May to highlight racism in policing and other forms of social injustice, Republicans responded to a summer of protests by proposing a raft of punitive new measures governing the right to lawfully assemble. G.O.P. lawmakers in 34 states have introduced 81 anti-protest bills during the 2021 legislative session." NYT: G.O.P. Bills Target Protesters (and Absolve Motorists Who Hit Them). "Oklahoma and Iowa have passed bills granting immunity to drivers whose vehicles strike and injure protesters in public streets." (Florida, too.)


Steel Trap

"The explosions and breakdowns in safety underscore the dangerous impact that financial crimes like money laundering can have on everyday people — cost-cutting, neglect and a lack of investment — when buildings and workplaces are used to clean cash. It also reveals how a foreign operator — a target of a corruption probe in his own country — could stake a claim in the U.S. steel industry at a time it's considered vital to the national security of the United States." A Post-Gazette Investigation: Dirty Dollars.


Foster Freeze Out

"The Marshall Project and NPR have found that in at least 36 states and Washington, D.C., state foster care agencies comb through their case files to find kids entitled to these benefits, then apply to Social Security to become each child's financial representative, a process permitted by federal regulations. Once approved, the agencies take the money, almost always without notifying the children, their loved ones or lawyers." State Foster Care Agencies Take Millions Of Dollars Owed To Children In Their Care. (Two thoughts: This story is insane. And we need investigative journalists.)


Roth Auth Blake Snake?

"Earlier this month, the biographer Blake Bailey was approaching what seemed like the apex of his literary career. Reviews of his highly anticipated Philip Roth biography appeared before the book came out, with major stories in magazines and literary publications. It landed on the New York Times best-seller list this week. Now, allegations against Mr. Bailey, 57, have emerged, including claims that he sexually assaulted two women, one as recently as 2015, and that he behaved inappropriately toward middle school students when he was a teacher in the 1990s." Sexual Assault Allegations Against Biographer Halt Shipping of His Roth Book. (His publisher has paused distribution of what was a remarkably well-reviewed book, and his agency has dropped him.)
NOLA: Author Blake Bailey accused of abusing ex-Lusher students' trust for sex; denies illegal conduct.

+ There is a ton more on this story on a blog where the accusations seem to have first gained steam.


Professor Navalny

"So far, the only person who has a coherent strategy for dealing with Putin is Navalny. He described it in a handwritten note he sent to Yevgenia Albats, a Russian journalist and close friend. 'Everything will be all right,' he told her. 'And, even if it isn't, we'll have the consolation of having lived honest lives.' He has already shown his compatriots that it is possible to live an honest life in a dishonest political system. It's an invitation for others to follow. Dictatorships survive because most people are not willing to pay that high a price." Anne Applebaum in The Atlantic: Navalny Has a Lesson for the World.

+ Plenty of Russians are heeding that lesson. And Putin is taking actions to teach the opposite. Russia arrests over 1,700 at rallies for hunger-striking Navalny.


Ship Uh Oy

"So apparently a ship, sailing under the Panamanian flag, owned by a Japanese company, operated by a German company, staffed by Indians and stuck in Egypt has no international guarantees of rights for its workers not to end up in a kind of floating solitary confinement." Crew Of 'Ever Given' Could Be Stuck On The Big Boat For Years.

+ Huge superyacht squeezes down narrow Dutch canals. (If it passes, they should call this boat the Metamucil.)


Bottom of the News

"Scientifically known as thanatosis, or tonic immobility, playing dead occurs across the animal kingdom, from birds to mammals to fish. Perhaps the most famous death faker is North America's Virginia opossum, which opens its mouth, sticks out its tongue, empties its bowels, and excretes foul-smelling fluids to convince a predator it's past the expiration date." Many animals play dead—and not just to avoid getting eaten. (I do it every time my wife says someone needs to take the garbage out.)

+ Amazon is bringing palm-scanning payment system to Whole Foods stores.

+ And the very bottom of the news is reserved today for the bottom of the barrel when it comes to leadership. By a 94-1 vote, the Senate passed an anti-Asian hate crimes bill. The 1? Josh Hawley. Unreal that this seditious clown is still a U.S. Senator.