May 5, 2020
“The most important tactic in an argument next to being right is to leave an escape hatch for your opponent so that he can gracefully swing over to your side without an embarrassing loss of face.”
“We have become, by the power of a glorious evolutionary accident called intelligence, the stewards of life’s continuity on earth. We did not ask for this role, but we cannot abjure it. We may not be suited to it, but here we are.”
“Homo sapiens [are] a tiny twig on an improbable branch of a contingent limb on a fortunate tree.”
― Stephen Jay Gould
Anthony Kwan via Getty Images
East Side Vs. West Side Rhetoric & Rap Battle: It’s Time To Point Gloved Fingers At Masked Faces
On April 17, a 57-page memo written by a top Republican strategist was sent to campaigns by the National Republican Senatorial Committee. The memo contains detailed advice on how GOP candidates could address the coronavirus crisis by aggressively attacking China. “Coronavirus was a Chinese hit-and-run followed by a cover-up that cost thousands of lives,” the memo states. Candidates are urged to stay relentlessly on message in responding to any questions about the virus. When asked if the spread in the US is President Trump’s fault, candidates are advised to pivot: “Don’t defend Trump…attack China.”
Senior administration officials began pressuring US intelligence agencies to hunt for evidence to support the unsubstantiated claim that the outbreak’s origin was a Wuhan government lab. By April’s end Trump was escalating an all-out public campaign blaming China for the pandemic, and calling for punishment.
At least part of the strategy is working. A global backlash is building against China for its initial mishandling of the pandemic, creating a deeply polarizing battle of narratives and impeding Beijing’s ambition to fill the leadership vacuum left by the US. Australia has called for an inquiry into the origin of the virus. Britain and Germany are rethinking letting in Chinese tech giant Huawei. Other governments want to sue Beijing for damages and reparations.
President Xi Jinping has responded aggressively — encouraging Chinese diplomats to be combative, combining medical aid to other countries with harsh nationalist rhetoric, mixing demands for gratitude with economic threats. The response has only added to the blowback, threatening trade relationships and undermining China’s desired image as a generous global actor.
- Coronavirus Survivors Want Answers, and China Is Silencing Them (NYT)
- Five Eyes network contradicts theory Covid-19 leaked from lab (Guardian)
- The Rest of the World Is Laughing at Trump: The president created a leadership vacuum. China intends to fill it. Atlantic, $)
- Coronavirus: World leaders pledge billions for vaccine fight (BBC)
Revenge Is A Dish Best Served With A High Tax Rate
- President Trump’s attacks on China ahead of the November 3 presidential election include weighing new tariffs as punishment for Beijing’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak.
- He is working hard to remove global industrial supply chains from the Communist country, promising to bring manufacturing back to America. Under consideration are measures like tax incentives and potential re-shoring subsidies to push companies to move both sourcing and manufacturing out of China.
- In April, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US was working with Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Vietnam to “move the global economy forward.” China overtook the US as the world’s top manufacturing country in 2010.
- The pandemic has highlighted its key role in the supply chain for generic drugs that account for the majority of US prescriptions. It’s also shown China’s dominance in goods like the thermal cameras needed to test workers for fevers, and its importance in food supplies.
- “We’ve been working on [reducing the reliance of our supply chains in China] over the last few years but we are now turbo-charging that initiative,” said an official at the State Department. “This moment is a perfect storm; the pandemic has crystallized all the worries that people have had about doing business with China,” said another senior official. (Reuters)
- Coronavirus: US to borrow record $3tn as spending soars (BBC)
- Coronavirus Brings Migrant Labor to a Near Halt (NYT)
Additional World News
- North Korean defectors say sorry after false Kim Jong-un speculation (Guardian)
- Ex-Green Beret led failed attempt to oust Venezuela’s Maduro (AP News)
- ‘It’s being built on our blood’: the true cost of Saudi Arabia’s $500bn megacity (Guardian)
- Covid-19’s future: small outbreaks, monster wave, or ongoing crisis (Stat)
- Italians Find Promise of Antibodies Remains Elusive, for Now (NYT)
- How to measure your nation’s response to coronavirus (National Geographic)
- How to compare coronavirus deaths to flu deaths more accurately (WaPo, $)
- Bill Gates explains his plan to end the coronavirus pandemic (Vox)
- What Coronavirus Herd Immunity Really Means (NYT)
- Will Inflation Return After Virus (Bloomberg, $)
- What travel may look like ahead of a virus vaccine (BBC)
- How Coronavirus Mutates and Spreads (NYT)
- The Cancer in the Camera Lens (New Republic)
- Trump’s Macabre Declarations of Victory (Atlantic)
- Even though we’re stuck in lockdown, we try to avoid staying in pajamas all day. The best way to do this is by planning ahead and buying outdoor day-to-day clothes that are just as comfortable as sweatpants or leggings.
- With 30% more stretch than regular denim, a signature gusset, and antibacterial properties, DUER jeans are made to help you stay cool and comfortable throughout the day and night, without restricting your movement.
- DUER also offers shirts and shorts that will keep you feeling fresh when you’re out and about, or hanging at home.
- With over 5000 5 star reviews from real DUERs, it’s a safe bet you’ll love DUER jeans just as much.
Sergio Flores via Getty Images
They’ve Been Making Mistakes Before It Was Cool
- The people behind Friday’s protest in Sacramento urging Governor Gavin Newsom to reopen California’s state capital were the founders of the Freedom Angels Foundation, an anti-vaccination bunch. Activists known to oppose vaccines have also been involved in protests in New York, Colorado and Texas, where they’ve found a welcome audience for their arguments for personal freedom and their suspicion of government.
- But their growing presence at protests has public health experts worried the messaging could harm authorities’ ability to waylay the pandemic if Americans do not accept a future vaccine against the virus. A doctor who studies the behavior around vaccines said: “One of the things that we’re finding is that the rhetoric is pretty similar between the anti-vaxxers and those demanding to reopen. What we hear a lot of is ‘individual self management’ — the idea that they should be in control of making decisions, that they can decide what science is correct and incorrect, and that they know what’s best for their child.”
- Friday’s protest was the latest example of overlapping interests that have connected a range of groups, including Tea Party activists and armed militia groups, to oppose the measures that governors have taken to stop the spread of Covid-19. (NYT)
- Masks Become a Flash Point in the Virus Culture Wars (NYT)
- Gov. Newsom Announces California Will Begin Easing Coronavirus Closures This Week (NPR)
- Three people charged in killing of Family Dollar security guard over mask policy (WaPo, $)
- Park ranger was telling a crowd to social distance. Mid-speech, someone pushed him into a lake (CNN)
- Coronavirus: Far-right spreads Covid-19 ‘infodemic’ on Facebook (BBC)
- Trump’s gun-toting supporters are firing blanks (WaPo, $)
- Montana Doctor’s COVID-19 Skepticism Fueling Anti-Lockdown Protests (BuzzFeed News)
- Is America’s “One Nation Indivisible” Being Killed Off by the Coronavirus? (New Yorker)
- Coronavirus gets a promising drug. MAGA world isn’t buying it. (Politico)
- Birx contradicts Trump on coronavirus death projection, protesters (WaPo, $)
Food and Freedom
- Because the pandemic has shuttered restaurants, hotels and schools, farmers with no outlet for their production have been plowing under vegetable fields, dumping milk and smashing eggs despite millions of Americans lining up at food banks. The destruction of fresh food on such a scale has prompted the Trump administration, state governments and individual groups to intercede.
- Over the next few weeks the Department of Agriculture will begin spending $300 million a month to buy surplus vegetables, fruit, milk and meat from distributors and ship them to food banks. The federal grants will also subsidize boxing up the purchases and transporting them to charitable groups, tasks that farmers say they cannot afford.
- New York officials said the state will give food banks $25 million to buy products made from excess milk on state farms; the state is also working with manufacturers like Chobani, Hood and Cabot to turn the milk into cheese, yogurt and butter. Some of the subsidies can be used to buy apples, potatoes and other produce that farms have in storage.
- These efforts are still just a drop in the bucket. Not since the Great Depression has so much fresh food been destroyed, which led to the federal government’s establishment of an early food stamp program in the 1930s. (NYT)
- Food banks struggle to keep pace with immigrant communities hit hard by pandemic (Guardian)
- Crisis Hotlines Offer Glimpse Of Mental Health In The Pandemic (NPR)
Additional USA News
- Amazon VP Resigns, Calls Company ‘Chickenshit’ for Firing Protesting Workers (Vice) A real profile in courage.
- The Stories Dan Crenshaw Tells Himself (The Bulwark)
- Why Biden’s Choice of Running Mate Has Momentous Implications (NYT, $) & Biden Camp Finds Selling Point in Ailing Economy: His Work on 2009 Recovery (NYT, $)
- How Greenwich Republicans Learned to Love Trump (New Yorker) & Jeff Flake on Trumpism: ‘I don’t know anyone who thinks that this is the future of the party’ (WaPo, $)
- Call It Hero Pay or Hazard Pay, Essential Workers Want More of It (WSJ, $)
- Supreme Court Hears Arguments Remotely, Making Livestream Public (NPR)
- How the Kent State massacre marked the start of America’s polarization (Guardian)
- Before Covid-19, Trump Aide Sought to Use Disease to Close Borders (NYT)
- “Trump is really aiming to take down Fox”: a group associated with Donald Trump Jr. is buying a major stake in Oann (Vanity Fair)
- WHO: US just reported deadliest day for coronavirus (CNBC) & Where Are the Photos of People Dying of Covid? (NYT) Memorial Day is one of the most sacred days at Daily Pnut. This year it’s starting to mean more than just Memorial Day for military veterans.
- Not enough ink has been spilled on the impact of COVID-19 on kids
- The performance-enhancing trick to being a better athlete (BBC) Help me, Trick me.
- No matter how much you or I might trick myself, there’s no way I’ll be doing this: The Man Who Runs 365 Marathons a Year (Outside). And if you are looking for the ultimate non performance-enhancing product, then here you go: How ‘Fast Carbs’ May Undermine Your Health (NYT, $) And a history of home fitness. (BBC)
- Coronavirus lockdown: Can nature help improve our mood? (BBC) Yes, we firmly believe it can. We take a break each day and walk around a local garden. Staring into nature feels like the very opposite of staring into a screen.
- The Man Who Thought Too Fast (New Yorker) Additional person: Thomas Young, “The Last Man Who Knew Everything.”
- Suddenly everyone wants to be preppy, but not the high school type of prepster but the goth-Armageddon type: I Used to Make Fun of Silicon Valley Preppers. Then I Became One. (NYT) & We Should All Be Preppers (Atlantic, $) We’ve generally found that by the time something has become a fad it means it’s either too late (to try to look or be cool) or it’s potentially already reached peak zaniness or peak threat. The time to be a prepper was months ago. But one should also always protect oneself our philosophy is hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
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