Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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Why Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic has been a ‘catastrophic failure’

James Fallows writes: Coping with a pandemic is one of the most complex challenges a society can face. To minimize death and damage, leaders and citizens must orchestrate a huge array of different resources and tools. Scientists must explore the most advanced frontiers of research while citizens attend to the least glamorous tasks of personal hygiene. Physical supplies matter—test kits, protective gear—but so do intangibles, such as “flattening the curve”

A Sun Belt time bomb threatens Trump’s reelection

Politico reports: The explosion of Covid-19 cases in Sun Belt states is becoming another albatross for President Donald Trump’s reelection hopes — and creating a new opening for Joe Biden and Democrats in November. Republican governors in Florida, Arizona and Texas followed Trump’s lead by quickly reopening their states while taking a lax approach to social distancing and mask-wearing. Now, each of them is seeing skyrocketing coronavirus caseloads and rising

Reddit, acting against hate speech, bans influential pro-Trump community

The New York Times reports: Reddit, one of the largest social networking and message board websites, on Monday banned its biggest community devoted to President Trump as part of an overhaul of its hate speech policies. The community or “subreddit,” called “The_Donald,” is home to more than 790,000 users who post memes, viral videos and supportive messages about Mr. Trump. Reddit executives said the group, which has been highly influential

Twitch temporarily bans Trump for ‘hateful conduct’

The Verge reports: Twitch has temporarily banned President Donald Trump, in the latest surprise and high-profile suspension from the streaming service. Trump’s account was banned for “hateful conduct” that was aired on stream, and Twitch says the offending content has now been removed. One of the streams in question was a rebroadcast of Trump’s infamous kickoff rally, where he said that Mexico was sending rapists to the United States. Twitch

Russian bounties to Taliban-linked militants resulted in deaths of U.S. troops, according to intelligence assessments

The Washington Post reports: Russian bounties offered to Taliban-linked militants to kill coalition forces in Afghanistan are believed to have resulted in the deaths of several U.S. service members, according to intelligence gleaned from U.S. military interrogations of captured militants in recent months. Several people familiar with the matter said it was unclear exactly how many Americans or coalition troops from other countries may have been killed or targeted under

World Food Programme: Syria faces mass starvation or mass exodus without more aid

BBC News reports: Syria faces the risk of mass starvation or another mass exodus unless more aid money is made available, the head of the UN World Food Programme has said. Ahead of a donor conference in Brussels on Tuesday, David Beasley told the BBC a million Syrians were severely food insecure and some were already dying. The war-torn country’s currency has collapsed and food prices have soared. In desperation,

‘Boogaloo’ believers think a civil war is coming. Gun firms are openly marketing to them

The Informant reports: In mid March, Fenix Ammunition, an ammunition manufacturer in Michigan, saw its daily online sales rise from $4,000 to $40,000. The pandemic had boosted demand for guns and ammunition around the country, and Fenix was reaping the fruits of the national following it has cultivated since its 2016 launch. In addition to record high civilian demand, Fenix also counted at least three local police departments, a law

Music: Pat Metheny Group — ‘Language Of Time’

 

How Trump and the Black Lives Matter movement changed white voters’ minds

The New York Times reports: A majority of American voters support the demonstrations against police brutality and racial injustice that have roiled the country over the past month, embracing ideas about bias within the criminal justice system and the persistence of systemic racism that are central tenets of the Black Lives Matter movement, according to a new national poll of registered voters by The New York Times and Siena College.

Facebook just lost one of the biggest advertisers in the world for the rest of 2020

NBC News reports: The campaign to convince marketers to ditch Facebook has added one of the world’s largest advertising spenders. The global consumer packaged goods company Unilever announced Friday that it will halt its advertising on Facebook and Instagram, joining a growing movement to stop spending ad dollars on the social media platforms. The New Jersey-based conglomerate also said it would pull its advertising from Twitter because of a polarized

The link between restaurant spending and new cases of coronavirus

CNBC reports: Higher restaurant spending appears to be linked to a faster spread of the coronavirus, according to a JPMorgan study. Analyst Jesse Edgerton analyzed data from 30 million Chase credit and debit cardholders and from Johns Hopkins University’s case tracker. He found that increased restaurant spending in a state predicted a rise in new infections there three weeks later. He also said restaurant spending was the strongest predictor across

As Trump plays down the danger of the coronavirus pandemic he steps up measures to protect himself

CNN reports: President Donald Trump appears ready to move on from a still-raging coronavirus pandemic — skipping the first White House task force briefing in months and moving the event out of the White House itself. But the measures meant to protect him from catching the virus have scaled up dramatically. As he seeks to insert rival Joe Biden’s health into the presidential campaign, Trump has voiced escalating concern about

Compared to the European Union, why has the U.S. done such a poor job in containing Covid-19?

Max Nisen writes: A sluggish initial response and failure to ramp up testing let the virus spread far and wide in the U.S. And instead of coordinating a coherent and aggressive national response, President Donald Trump has consistently downplayed the threat of the infection and left decisions to insufficiently supported states. As a result, decisions over lockdowns and reopenings have been chaotic and have ignored the guidelines put forth by

European Union plans to bar most U.S. travelers when bloc reopens

The New York Times reports: The European Union is ready to bar most travelers from the United States, Russia, and dozens of other countries considered too risky because they have not controlled the coronavirus outbreak, E.U. officials said Friday. By contrast, travelers from more than a dozen countries that are not overwhelmed by the coronavirus are set to be welcomed when the bloc reopens after months of lockdown on July

Russia secretly offered Afghan militants bounties to kill U.S. troops. Briefed months ago, Trump has had no response

The New York Times reports: American intelligence officials have concluded that a Russian military intelligence unit secretly offered bounties to Taliban-linked militants for killing coalition forces in Afghanistan — including targeting American troops — amid the peace talks to end the long-running war there, according to officials briefed on the matter. The United States concluded months ago that the Russian unit, which has been linked to assassination attempts and other

Music: Chris Gall & Bernhard Schimpelsberger — ‘Myriad’