Friday, June 25th, 2021


Cop Out

When the media adopts a storyline, sometimes stories that fit into the narrative are retained while those that don't quite fit are discarded. While there's been a wholly justifiable focus on police brutality, there hasn't been much attention paid to a group of people caught in the media crossfire: good cops who do a good job but are still treated like the bad guys. Those cops are quitting in high numbers. Consider the experience of Officer Lindsay C. Rose in Asheville, N.C.: "Various friends and relatives had stopped speaking to her because she was a cop. During a protest in June around Police Headquarters, a demonstrator lobbed an explosive charge that set her pants on fire and scorched her legs. She said she was spit on. She was belittled. Members of the city's gay community, an inclusive clan that had welcomed her in when she first settled in Asheville, stood near her at one event and chanted, 'All gay cops are traitors,' she said. By September, still deeply demoralized despite taking several months off to recuperate, Officer Rose decided that she was done." Rose wasn't alone. At police departments across the country, "retirements were up 45 percent and resignations rose by 18 percent in the year from April 2020 to April 2021." About a third of the Asheville police force has left the job. Their chief explains: "They said that we have become the bad guys, and we did not get into this to become the bad guys." Neil MacFarquhar: Why Police Have Been Quitting in Droves.

+ NPR: Cops Say Low Morale And Department Scrutiny Are Driving Them Away From The Job.

+ And some closure from the case at the center of it all. Derek Chauvin sentenced to 22.5 years for George Floyd's murder.


Infrastructure, Weak

A slow motion tragedy is unfolding in Miami where a building collapse has caused four known deaths. 159 people are currently unaccounted for. Miami Herald: "The arduous and heartbreaking task of recovering the bodies of victims at the site of the collapse of the Champlain Towers South condo in Surfside began overnight and continued into a somber Friday in an unfolding tragedy that is feared to be the worst building failure in Florida history."

+ "Pablo Rodriguez, whose mother and grandmother are among at least 99 missing, said his mother called him to report 'creaking noises' she heard a day before the building collapsed." Here's the latest from CNN.

+ WaPo: Video timeline: How the Miami-Dade condo collapsed. And, rescue operation under way – in pictures.

+ NPR: Here's What We Know About The Condition Of The Florida Building Before It Collapsed.

+ USA Today: Collapsed Miami condo had been sinking into Earth as early as the 1990s.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: I'm a longtime fan of HBO's Real Sports. It continues to be one of the best, most informative, and most interesting shows on television. And you definitely don't have to be a sports fan to enjoy it. In the latest edition, the excellent Soledad O'Brien explores a new business that treats baseball players as investable commodities. I am a baseball fanatic and an investor, and I had no idea. And in a segment from earlier this year, available on YouTube, Real Sports covered a local high school team and the group of police officers that coached them into becoming a powerhouse. (This story brings together many of the threads covered in today's top story, making it a must watch.)

+ What to Chew On: I chew ice constantly. But for most of my adult life, I've been chewing plain old ordinary ice from my freezer. That changed when my wife got me an Opal Ice Machine that's now sitting on my kitchen counter. Yes, it's five hundred bucks. But for me (and thousands of internet reviewers), it's worth that and then some. For the last year, I stayed home for the pandemic. For the next year, I'm staying home for the ice.


Peach Overreach

"Our complaint alleges that recent changes to Georgia's election laws were enacted with the purpose of denying or abridging the right of Black Georgians to vote on account of their race or color, in violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act." The Justice Department is suing Georgia over its recently adopted voting laws.


Taking Back a Promise Land

From Israel, one of the fastest nations in terms of getting citizens vaccinated, a worrying sign. "Israel has reintroduced a requirement to wear masks indoors amid a rise in coronavirus cases, just days after it lifted the measure. Concern has grown after the country recorded more than 100 new daily cases in successive days after registering zero earlier this month. Most of the cases have been linked to the Delta variant from abroad."

+ "Even if we are denied answers, we can still learn lessons. Perhaps the biggest one is that we were due for a bat coronavirus outbreak, one way or another, and the research showing bat coronaviruses' ability to jump to humans was a warning not heeded." In the NYT, Zeynep Tufekci goes really deep on the Covid origin story: Where Did the Coronavirus Come From? What We Already Know Is Troubling.

+ "'I think my goal has been achieved,' says Chan. 'I just wanted people to investigate, take it seriously. My job is done, and I want to go back to a normal life.' That's not likely to happen soon." MIT Tech Review: They called it a conspiracy theory. But Alina Chan tweeted life into the idea that the virus came from a lab.


January Six Unpacked

"Text messages and interviews show that Stop the Steal leaders fooled the Capitol police and welcomed racists to increase their crowd sizes, while White House officials worked to both contain and appease them." ProPublica: New Details Suggest Senior Trump Aides Knew Jan. 6 Rally Could Get Chaotic.



"Routine maintenance is performed. Fire drills are carried out. Minimum safe manning standards are kept. Everything is ready and raring to go. But this ship hasn't moved for months – and most of its inhabitants haven't set foot on land since they set sail more than 100 days ago. All they can do is wait." Wired: The untold story of the big boat that broke the world.


Numbers Racketeer

NYT: The Manhattan district attorney's office has informed Donald J. Trump's lawyers that it is considering criminal charges against his family business. (The potential charges, which are relatively minor, appear to be aimed at squeezing Allen Weisselberg.)


Researchers Got a Big Head

"The skull appears to have a remarkable backstory. According to the researchers, it was originally found in 1933 by Chinese labourers building a bridge over the Songhua River in Harbin, in China's northernmost province, Heilongjiang, during the Japanese occupation. To keep the skull from falling into Japanese hands it was wrapped and hidden in an abandoned well." Massive human head in Chinese well forces scientists to rethink evolution. (Reading the news makes me question human evolution every single day.)


Feel Good Friday

"A simple blood test that can detect more than 50 types of cancer before any clinical signs or symptoms of the disease emerge in a person is accurate enough to be rolled out as a screening test, according to scientists."

+ A marriage proposal at SF's Sutro Baths goes super-viral after Twitter hunts the couple down.

+ "The 3,044 empty seats represented the students who did not graduate this year because they were killed by gun violence." Buzzfeed: A Parkland Victim's Dad Tricked A Former NRA President Into Speaking At A Fake Graduation.

+ Really cool idea: AllTruists: At-home, kid-friendly volunteer and giving projects delivered every month.

+ Tallest stack of M&M's record broken by 23-year-old Brit. (The stack was five candies tall.)

+ Missing Italian toddler found by reporter sent to cover disappearance. (Read it in the news now or watch the Netflix international series version in a couple weeks...)

+ A boat captain found a 95-year-old message in a bottle in Michigan. The internet helped track down the writer's daughter.

+ Cat who family thought had been cremated turns back up at home. (This sounds like it may have been less of a feel good story for another cat.)