February 24, 2020
“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale Carnegie
“Friendship is everything. Friendship is more than talent. It is more than the government. It is almost the equal of family. – Mario Puzo
Exporting America’s Endemic Weapon Disease
Little has been done to effectively curb gun violence in the US, seemingly because the debate focuses almost exclusively on the policies, consequences and constitutional rights of American citizens. Staunch second amendment advocates insist that the number and availability of guns isn’t the problem, and the majority of law-abiding gun owners shouldn’t be penalized for the criminal acts of a few.
However, this view of gun control as a purely domestic issue doesn’t factor in the carnage American weapons are causing abroad. Licensed US gun dealers aren’t legally required to do much more than record retail sales, or even report those to authorities. What happens to a gun afterward — if it’s stolen, lost, given away or privately sold — often doesn’t involve paperwork at all. There is no national comprehensive registry of gun ownership. In fact, the federal government is forbidden to create one. This makes it extremely difficult to trace weapons that arrived in other countries and were used in homicides.
In Jamaica, for example, gun deaths are nine times the global average. Firearms typically coming from the US play such a central role in Jamaican murders that authorities keep a list of the country’s 30 deadliest guns based on ballistic matches, naming them individually to help keep track. One of those US guns — Briana — was able to be traced to nine different homicides in rural Jamaica. It’s just one of hundreds of thousands of American guns that have wound up in countries in Latin American and the Caribbean, where more than 100,000 people are killed annually, mostly by firearms.
- Seven wounded in shooting at flea market in Houston (Reuters)
- Opinion | The Parkland Massacre Isn’t an ‘Anniversary’ (NYT, $)
- Where the Police Wear Masks, and the Bodies Pile Up Fast (NYT, $)
- Colombia was the deadliest place on Earth for environmental activists. It’s gotten worse. (NBC)
- Women Are Fleeing Death at Home. The U.S. Wants to Keep Them Out. (NYT, $)
- A top priority of President George W. Bush in fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan was to liberate Afghan women from the draconian repression imposed upon them. Under Taliban rule women were barred from attending school, holding jobs, engaging in politics, or leaving their homes without a male escort. Violators were publicly flogged, beaten and stoned to death.
- After the 9/11 attacks US-led forces toppled the Taliban, and women experienced a sea change in their status, gaining a foothold in the workplace and in political life.
- For years the US said safeguarding those hard-won rights was a reason to keep fighting the Taliban. But President Trump’s singular focus on getting the 12,000 to 13,000 US troops out of the country places those victories in peril.
- The administration’s planned deal with the insurgents, to be signed February 29 after a partial truce goes into effect, contains no protections for Afghan women.
- The agreement sets out a timeline for American troop withdrawal in exchange for the Taliban renouncing terror and entering peace talks with the Afghan government. It provides no guarantees for preserving women’s rights or civil liberties now enshrined in the country’s constitution, which the insurgents do not recognize. (NBC)
- More Than 10,000 Civilians Injured Or Killed In Afghanistan Last Year, U.N. Says (NPR)
You Brought a Trident to a Nuclear Deal
- News of a commitment by Britain to buy a new generation of US nuclear warheads was leaked by Pentagon officials before an official announcement was made to the UK parliament or the public.
- MPs and experts were riled by the revelation, which will cost the UK billions of pounds and raises questions not only about Britain’s commitment to restricting nuclear proliferation, but about the country’s reliance on the US for a central plank of its defense strategy.
- Acting leader of the Liberal Democrats, Ed Davey, said: “It is totally unacceptable that the government seems to have given the green light to the development of new nuclear weapon technologies with zero consultation and zero scrutiny. Britain under Johnson increasingly looks like putty in Trump’s hands. That Britain’s major defence decisions are being debated in the United States, but not in the UK, is a scandal. Under Johnson, it seems that where Trump leads, we must follow.” (Guardian)
- George Eustice refuses to guarantee ban on chlorinated chicken (Guardian)
- Coronavirus: North Korea quarantines foreigners (BBC)
- Officials Scramble To Contain Coronavirus Outbreaks In South Korea, Iran And Italy (NPR)
- Coronavirus looks more like a pandemic: Italy, South Korea, and Iran report cases (Vox)
- Coronavirus credit crunch hits millions of Chinese firms (BBC)
- How does Coronavirus compare to Ebola, SARS, etc? (YouTube, Abacaba)
Additional World News
- Ne me touche pas… the shift in sex and power sweeping France (Guardian)
- Canada is fake: What Americans think of as their friendly neighbor to the north, if they think of it at all, is a scam. (The Outline)
- South Sudan Forges Unity Government, Renewing Fragile Hope For Peace (NPR)
- ‘Iranian society is sick,’ says son of former president (Guardian) & Iran elections: conservatives on brink of landslide victory (Guardian)
New, Delhi-cious Crowds
- President Trump is making his first visit to India, where he plans to hold a rally inside the world’s largest cricket stadium in the western state of Gujarat. Trump proclaimed seven to ten million people will turn out to see him when he arrives on Monday in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s hometown of Ahmedabad.
- This projection might be slightly off, since the city’s entire population is eight and a half million, and the stadium holds about 110,000.
- Nevertheless, Modi has promised the president large crowds will be there to greet him. Trump’s 36-hour-long trip includes a tour of the Taj Mahal, formal talks with the PM in the national capital of Delhi, and a state banquet on Tuesday evening. (CNN)
- How Hindu supremacists are tearing India apart (Guardian)
- As India’s Economy Sags, Even the Trump Brand Is Struggling (NYT, $)
See No Meddling, Hear No Meddling, Say No Meddling
- President Trump’s national security adviser Robert O’Brien claimed not to have “seen any intelligence that Russia is doing anything” to get his boss reelected, but then seized on reports that Russia wants Bernie Sanders to be the Democratic presidential nominee.
- O’Brien’s comments followed reporting last week that US intelligence officials had briefed the House Intelligence Committee on Russia’s continuing efforts to tip the 2020 election toward Trump.
- News of the briefing so infuriated the president that he fired the acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maquire, a retired vice-admiral and former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, and replaced him with the ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, a combative Trump loyalist with no background in intelligence or armed services.
- Grenell’s installation as acting director of the administration’s most senior intelligence post is yet another Trump trick, to sidestep the Senate confirmation requirement for those nominated for permanent positions, and replace career officials with ones who’ve demonstrated personal fealty.
- William McRaven: If good men like Joe Maguire can’t speak the truth, we should be deeply afraid (WaPo, $)
- Same Goal, Different Playbook: Why Russia Would Support Trump and Sanders (NYT, $)
- The 2020 Election Will Be a War of Disinformation (Atlantic, $)
- Cripple the Intelligence Agencies? Not Smart (NYT, $)
- Many Tech Experts Say Digital Disruption Will Hurt Democracy (Pew Research)
- 6 Takeaways From The Nevada Caucuses, Including Bernie Sanders As Front-Runner (NPR)
- How Bernie Broke the Democratic Establishment (Atlantic, $)
- It’s not just bros: Sanders wins with a diverse coalition (NBC)
- Who said it – Trump or Bloomberg? Take our revealing quiz (Guardian)
- Trump’s approval rating rises, boosting chances of winning second term (Guardian)
Additional USA News
- The End of Miss America (Jezebel)
- California street shut down after 40,000 bees swarm from hotel (Guardian)
- ‘America’s Dairyland’: Wisconsin’s farmers see bleak future (Guardian)
- Yes, Rich Cities Are Getting Richer. But That’s Not the Whole Story. (NYT, $) & Why Does It Cost $750,000 to Build Affordable Housing in San Francisco? (NYT, $)
- Senior leaders at Walgreens directed consultants to remove from their final report damaging information provided to them by pharmacy employees about high levels of stress and “unreasonable” expectations that had led to mistakes in filling prescriptions.
- The consultants’ draft report initially contained those employee complaints, as well as other employee concerns such as being told to ignore safety procedures. But the final report delivered to Walgreens corporate offices this month made no reference to the errors, or other concerns raised by employees.
- The Times reported last month that pharmacists in dozens of states have accused Walgreens, CVS, and other major drug store chains of putting the public at risk of medication errors because of understaffed and chaotic workplaces.
- The pharmacists said they struggled to keep up with an increasing number of tasks — filling prescriptions, giving flu shots, answering phones and tending the drive through, etc. — while racing to meet ‘excessive’ and ‘unsafe’ corporate metrics that often factored into employee bonuses and performance reviews. (NYT)
Additional Loose Nuts
- 100 Little Ideas (Collaborative Fund)
- Defeated Chess Champ Garry Kasparov Has Made Peace With AI (Wired)
- How to Write Usefully (Paul Graham)
- How to Ergonomically Optimize Your Desk to Avoid Aches and Pains (Lifehacker)
- Has progress in science and technology come to a halt? (Aeon)
- Why the lights are going out for fireflies (Guardian)
- How to make junk food less tempting to children (BBC)
- How Good Friends Are Good For Your Health (NPR)
“Be slow to fall into friendship, but when you are in, continue firm and constant.” – Socrates
“The antidote for fifty enemies is one friend.” – Aristotle
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