Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Japan ends its state of emergency

Science reports: Japan yesterday declared at least a temporary victory in its battle with COVID-19, and it triumphed by following its own playbook. It drove down the number of daily new cases to near target levels of 0.5 per 100,000 people with voluntary and not very restrictive social distancing and without large-scale testing. Instead, the country focused on finding clusters of infections and attacking the underlying causes, which often proved

As India’s lockdown ends, exodus from cities risks spreading Covid-19 far and wide

Science reports: One morning in mid-May, Nasim Qureshi suddenly developed a fever, cough, and shortness of breath. Qureshi, a member of Mumbai, India’s street vendor union, rushed to a small private hospital, where doctors gave him a check up but refused to admit him. Later the same day, he was turned away from two more hospitals before he finally found a bed at a municipal hospital. By then, his breathing

Coronavirus may become endemic, even with a vaccine

The Washington Post reports: There’s a good chance the coronavirus will never go away. Even after a vaccine is discovered and deployed, the coronavirus will likely remain for decades to come, circulating among the world’s population. Experts call such diseases endemic — stubbornly resisting efforts to stamp them out. Think measles, HIV, chickenpox. It is a daunting proposition — a coronavirus-tinged world without a foreseeable end. But experts in epidemiology,

How we make decisions during a pandemic

By Katherine Harmon Courage, Knowable Magazine, May 26, 2020 With many states and towns lifting strict stay-at-home orders, people are faced with a growing number of new decisions. Mundane logistical questions — Should I go get my hair cut? When can I picnic with friends? What should I wear to the hardware store? — during the Covid-19 pandemic carry implications for personal and public health, in some cases life-or-death ones.

Dishonest Elections Project: Conservative group fighting to restrict voting tied to powerful dark money network

The Guardian reports: A powerful new conservative organization fighting to restrict voting in the 2020 presidential election is really just a rebranded group that is part of a dark money network already helping Donald Trump’s unprecedented effort to remake the US federal judiciary, the Guardian and OpenSecrets reveal. The organization, which calls itself the Honest Elections Project, seemed to emerge out of nowhere a few months ago and started stoking

Appeals court ruling suggests little legal traction for Trump’s anti-Twitter campaign

Politico reports: A ruling that emerged from a powerful federal appeals court in Washington on Wednesday morning is strong evidence that the courts are unlikely to be receptive to President Donald Trump’s claims that he and his political supporters are being silenced by social media platforms like Twitter. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit resoundingly rejected a lawsuit the conservative legal organization Freedom Watch and right-wing provocateur

The Central Park bird watcher, that incident and his feelings on the woman’s fate

The New York Times reports: His binoculars around his neck, Christian Cooper, an avid birder, was back in his happy place on Wednesday: Central Park during migration season. He was trying to focus on the olive-sided flycatchers and red-bellied woodpeckers — not on what had happened there two days earlier. That was when Mr. Cooper, who is black, asked a white woman to put her dog on a leash. When

Music: Alan Pasqua — ‘Highway 14’

 

Trump sees a ‘rigged election’ ahead, while Democrats see a constitutional crisis in the making

Politico reports: First he lit into Michigan and Nevada, threatening to withhold federal funding because of his assertion that both states were preparing to commit voter fraud through mail-in ballot applications. Then President Donald Trump followed up Sunday with two more broadly-worded warnings that November would be “the greatest Rigged Election in history.” “The Democrats are trying to Rig the 2020 Election, plain and simple!” the president claimed. Trump’s increasingly

After the pandemic: No one knows what’s going to happen

Mark Lilla writes: The best prophet, Thomas Hobbes once wrote, is the best guesser. That would seem to be the last word on our capacity to predict the future: We can’t. But it is a truth humans have never been able to accept. People facing immediate danger want to hear an authoritative voice they can draw assurance from; they want to be told what will occur, how they should prepare,

New research rewrites history of when Covid-19 arrived in U.S. — pointing to missed chances to stop it

Helen Branswell writes: New research has poured cold water on the theory that the Covid-19 outbreak in Washington state — the country’s first — was triggered by the very first confirmed case of the infection in the country. Instead, it suggests the person who ignited the first chain of sustained transmission in the United States probably returned to the country in mid-February, a month later. The work adds to evidence

American cities are built for cars, but the coronavirus could change that

Doug Gordon writes: As the Covid-19 crisis wears on, a surprising tool has emerged in the effort to slow transmission: city streets. The car has long been king in America’s cities, with spacious roadways edged by narrow sidewalks. But with many sidewalks barely large enough for the six feet required for social distancing purposes, urban residents now find themselves struggling to comply with regulations during even a brief grocery trip.

More than a fifth of people in England believe Covid-19 is a hoax

The Independent reports: More than a fifth of people believe that the coronavirus crisis is a hoax, new research suggests. The study, conducted by the University of Oxford, saw 2,500 English adults take part in the Oxford Coronavirus Explanations, Attitudes, and Narratives Survey between 4-11 May 2020. The team of clinical psychologists state that the data from the survey indicates a large number of adults in England do not agree

Facebook saw evidence it promotes divisiveness and extremism but Zuckerberg wasn’t interested

Business Insider reports: Facebook had evidence suggesting that the company’s algorithms encourage polarization and “exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness,” but top executives including CEO Mark Zuckerberg killed or weakened proposed solutions, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. The effort to better understand Facebook’s impact on user behavior started in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and its internal researchers determined that, contrary to the company’s mission of connecting

The mercenaries who have thrived off Libya’s chaos

The New York Times reports: Two former British marines piloted their boats, a pair of military-grade inflatables, across the Mediterranean from Malta. Six helicopters were flown in from Botswana using falsified papers. The rest of the team — soldiers of fortune from South Africa, Britain, Australia and the United States — arrived from a staging area in Jordan. To anyone who asked, the mercenaries who slipped into the war-pocked port

Music: Alan Pasqua — ‘Badlands’