Daily Digest 8/4 – Fighting The Coronavirus Across America, How to Evaluate Pandemic News without Freaking Out


Lebanon foreign minister resigns, warning ‘the ship will sink’ amid financial crisis (Sparky1)

An entrenched political elite has pillaged nearly every sector of the economy. The system has been sustained by Lebanese banks offering high interest rates even as the country accumulated alarming levels of debt, which experts likened to a national-level Ponzi scheme.

An attempt by the government last year to levy tax on the WhatsApp messaging app brought to a head decades of simmering anger at the corruption, sectarian-based self-dealing and incompetence.

Airlines have a chance to emerge from the crisis leaner and greener (tmn)

To see the damage from covid-19 to aviation, look up. Where once a criss-cross of vapour trails told of holidaymakers heading for the sun or executives keeping businesses on track, the wide yonder is now a brilliant blue. This year nearly 5bn passengers might have been expected to take to the skies, but the actual number is likely to be only half as big. A fragile recovery is susceptible to new waves of infection. Britain’s imposition this week of a quarantine on passengers returning from Spain is the latest setback. Traffic may not return to 2019 levels until 2024.

Distrust of the Minneapolis Police, and Also the Effort to Defund Them (jdargis)

Residents complain of rampant police mistreatment, but also of out-of-control crime and violence. That reality has left many Black residents here unenthusiastic about what has become known as the defund movement. Adding complexity to the debate, they say that they despise the police but need someone to call when things go awry.

“It does seem like a no-win situation,” Ms. Williams said.

Kentucky town hires social workers instead of more officers – and the results are surprising (tmn)

“It was close to a $45,000 to $50,000 annual savings from hiring a police officer the first time to hiring a social worker,” Ward said. “They (police social workers) started solving problems for people in our community and for our agency that we’ve never been able to solve before.”

Ward believes the results in Alexandria, a city of less than 10,000, could be replicated in larger cities like Louisville, where officers respond to calls involving mental health, domestic disturbances, and homelessness an average of once every 10 minutes.

Many Americans Are Convinced Crime Is Rising In The U.S. They’re Wrong. (tmn)

And that combination of questions revealed something important about American fear: We are terrible at estimating our risk of crime — much worse than we are at guessing the danger of other bad things. Across that decade, respondents put their chance of being robbed in the coming year at about 15 percent. Looking back, the actual rate of robbery was 1.2 percent. In contrast, when asked to rate their risk of upcoming job loss, people guessed it was about 14.5 percent — much closer to the actual job loss rate of 12.9 percent.

How to Evaluate COVID-19 News without Freaking Out (tmn)

I encourage people to turn to their trusted traditional media sources rather than turning to Twitter or Facebook or WhatsApp, because when you do that, you do get information that’s a little bit more recent, but the quality of that information is far, far lower. You’re very susceptible to whatever rumors go spreading out across the Internet, and that can be a big problem.

A Vaccine May Not Be the “Magical Cure” Everyone Anticipates (thc0655)

Speaking of self-interest, we would blind not to notice the rapacious interest of Big Pharma in reaping billions of dollars in profits from a vaccine or vaccines. What could be better for obscene profits than a vaccine everyone must have to participate in the conventional economy, a vaccine the federal government will let the “owner” price at “market”?

“Owner” is in quotes because the federal government is funding much of the research expenses yet the Big Pharma corporations retain ownership of the results–such a deal for Big Pharma! The gummit puts up the money but Big Pharma gets 100% “ownership” and the right to price their vaccine at “market,” which is whatever the government is willing to pay for the vaccine it funded.

How the Pandemic Defeated America (tmn)

Despite ample warning, the U.S. squandered every possible opportunity to control the coronavirus. And despite its considerable advantages—immense resources, biomedical might, scientific expertise—it floundered. While countries as different as South Korea, Thailand, Iceland, Slovakia, and Australia acted decisively to bend the curve of infections downward, the U.S. achieved merely a plateau in the spring, which changed to an appalling upward slope in the summer. “The U.S. fundamentally failed in ways that were worse than I ever could have imagined,” Julia Marcus, an infectious-disease epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, told me.

National Survey Tracks Impact of Coronavirus on Schools: 10 Key Findings (Frances K.)

The EdWeek Research Center, the research arm of Education Week, is also pivoting quickly in this environment, conducting twice-monthly national surveys of teachers and district leaders to help the K-12 system navigate these unprecedented times. The surveys provide an evolving view of how schools are addressing challenges around communication, equity, attendance, and academic performance as well as the eventual reopening of school buildings.

Fighting the Coronavirus, from New York to Utah (jdargis)

For Tony, nervous energy quickly gave way to reflexive action. There was almost no time to meet his new colleagues. His first day was marked by a constant flow of patients: just as one was stabilized, another arrived, gasping for breath or already intubated. When a spare moment presented itself, he and his team would swap theories about the coronavirus and discuss the few studies that had been published. He felt disoriented, not just by the tumult of the ward and the uncertainties of the virus but by the unfamiliar faces and layout of a new hospital. One morning, he entered a break room and sank, exhausted, into a chair. “Hey! You’re the Utah guy,” one doctor said. Around him, many others were reviewing cases and debating treatments. He had known that all of the units on his floor had been transformed into covid-19 wards; only now did he realize that the same was true of nearly the whole hospital.

Pollution Is Killing Black Americans. This Community Fought Back. (jdargis)

Bennett, 76, a retired behavioral-health specialist, had raised five children in the tight-knit community of Grays Ferry. Bennett’s youngest daughter was just a little older than Kilynn Johnson; Ms. Sylvia had watched Johnson grow up and raise a family of her own. Now, observing her frail neighbor and the walker, she asked Johnson in her most gentle voice: “Where you been? Haven’t seen you for a while.” “I think I told her, ‘I been sick,’” Johnson says, recalling her reticence. Bennett knew not to pry. This went on for months, until the summer day when Bennett asked, “How you doing?” and Johnson told her, “Ms. Sylvia, I have cancer.”

‘Parthenon of shipwrecks’: Greece opens its first underwater museum (tmn)

“We offer humanity the Parthenon of shipwrecks,” said Kostas Agorastos, governor of Thessaly, the region where the island of Alonissos is located, according to Skai TV.

This large merchant ship is said to have sunk around 425 BC due to bad weather during a crossing between Chalkidiki, in northern Greece, and the island of Skopelos, Ert Pari Kalamara, director of the Department of Underwater Antiquities, told the television channel Ert Pari Kalamara.

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