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Daily Bread for 8.11.20

Good morning.

Tuesday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of eighty.  Sunrise is 5:58 AM and sunset 8:01 PM, for 14h 02m 46s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 52.1% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand three hundred seventy-second day. 

 Whitewater’s Public Works Committee meets at 6 PM.

 On this day in 1919, the Green Bay Packers professional football team is founded.

Recommended for reading in full —

 Drs. Joshua Budhu, Méabh O’Hare, and Altaf Saadi write How “excited delirium” is misused to justify police brutality:

“I am concerned about excited delirium or whatever.” These were the words spoken by a fellow police officer as Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for the final eight minutes of his life. This concern for “excited delirium” may now become part of the case for the defense in the upcoming trial for the murder of George Floyd, as it has for other Black men before him. Just three months shy of Floyd’s murder, officers in Tacoma, Washington had suggested “excited delirium” as the cause of death in the case of another unarmed Black male, Manuel Ellis. And last year in Aurora, Colorado, paramedics injected Elijah McClain with ketamine, for “exhibiting signs of excited delirium”. McClain later died of cardiac arrest after the injection.

Law enforcement officers nationwide are routinely taught that “excited delirium” is a condition characterized by the abrupt onset of aggression and distress, typically in the setting of illicit substance use, often culminating in sudden death. However,?this “diagnosis” is not recognized by the vast majority of medical professionals. In fact, “excited delirium” is not recognized by the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, or the World Health Organization, and it is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

The diagnosis is a misappropriation of medical terminology, used by law enforcement to legitimize police brutality and to retroactively explain certain deaths occurring in police custody. There is no systematic or publicly available data about how this diagnosis is used in relation to deaths in police custody. The limited data available involves small samples in certain states only: In one Maryland-based study, excited delirium was invoked in 11 percent of deaths in police custody and in another Florida-based study, 53 deaths in police custody were attributed to this entity over the past decade.

Ari Sen and Brandy Zadrozny report QAnon groups have millions of members on Facebook, documents show:

An internal investigation by Facebook has uncovered thousands of groups and pages, with millions of members and followers, that support the QAnon conspiracy theory, according to internal company documents reviewed by NBC News.

The investigation’s preliminary results, which were provided to NBC News by a Facebook employee, shed new light on the scope of activity and content from the QAnon community on Facebook, a scale previously undisclosed by Facebook and unreported by the news media, because most of the groups are private.

The top 10 groups identified in the investigation collectively contain more than 1 million members, with totals from more top groups and pages pushing the number of members and followers past 3 million. It is not clear how much overlap there is among the groups.

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The company is considering an option similar to its handling of anti-vaccination content, which is to reject advertising and exclude QAnon groups and pages from search results and recommendations, an action that would reduce the community’s visibility.

Perseid meteors captured by NASA all-sky cameras:

The Pandemic Economy

Economists Carmen Reinhart and Vincent Reinhart write in Foreign Affairs that we’re in The Pandemic Depression:

Although dubbed a “global financial crisis,” the downturn that began in 2008 was largely a banking crisis in 11 advanced economies. Supported by double-digit growth in China, high commodity prices, and lean balance sheets, emerging markets proved quite resilient to the turmoil of the last global crisis. The current economic slowdown is different. The shared nature of this shock—the novel coronavirus does not respect national borders—has put a larger proportion of the global community in recession than at any other time since the Great Depression. As a result, the recovery will not be as robust or rapid as the downturn. And ultimately, the fiscal and monetary policies used to combat the contraction will mitigate, rather than eliminate, the economic losses, leaving an extended stretch of time before the global economy claws back to where it was at the start of 2020.

The pandemic has created a massive economic contraction that will be followed by a financial crisis in many parts of the globe, as nonperforming corporate loans accumulate alongside bankruptcies. Sovereign defaults in the developing world are also poised to spike. This crisis will follow a path similar to the one the last crisis took, except worse, commensurate with the scale and scope of the collapse in global economic activity. And the crisis will hit lower-income households and countries harder than their wealthier counterparts. Indeed, the World Bank estimates that as many as 60 million people globally will be pushed into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic. The global economy can be expected to run differently as a result, as balance sheets in many countries slip deeper into the red and the once inexorable march of globalization grinds to a halt.

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In its most recent analysis, the World Bank predicted that the global economy will shrink by 5.2 percent in 2020. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recently posted the worst monthly unemployment figures in the 72 years for which the agency has data on record. Most analyses project that the U.S. unemployment rate will remain near the double-digit mark through the middle of next year. And the Bank of England has warned that this year the United Kingdom will face its steepest decline in output since 1706. This situation is so dire that it deserves to be called a “depression”—a pandemic depression. Unfortunately, the memory of the Great Depression has prevented economists and others from using that word, as the downturn of the 1930s was wrenching in both its depth and its length in a manner not likely to be repeated. But the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were filled with depressions. It seems disrespectful to the many losing their jobs and shutting their businesses to use a lesser term to describe this affliction.

One can leave it to economists to decide – and for society to adopt as a common expression – whether this period of economic loss is worthy of the term depression. It’s enough to note that hopes of a quick rebound – a v-shaped recovery – have proved unrealistic.  If America could have prevented worse by slowing the spread of the novel coronavirus across this continent, then one can at least say that she has not done so.

The re-opening debate, however fraught, assumes there was ever a thorough closing. If where America is now assumes a proper closing, then the term proper closing has no serious meaning.

Daily Bread for 8.10.20

Good morning.

Monday in Whitewater will be mostly cloudy with a high of eighty-three.  Sunrise is 5:57 AM and sunset 8:02 PM, for 14h 05m 16s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 61.6% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand three hundred seventy-first day. 

 Through audiovisual conferencing, the Whitewater United School District board meets at 6 PM, and the Whitewater Planning Commission also at 6 PM.

 On this day in 1846, the Smithsonian Institution is chartered by the United States Congress after James Smithson donates $500,000.

Recommended for reading in full —

  Jonathan V. Last writes of Identity Politics Conservatism:

The other view—let’s call it Identity Politics Conservatism until we come up with something better—is largely agnostic on questions of policy. Do these people want tariffs, or free trade? Do they hate socialism, or do they want the government picking winners and losers according to the national interest? Are they pro-life, or are the deaths of 160,000 people just something that “is what it is”?

The Identity Politics Conservatism theory would say that these people don’t care a whit about the policies—they care about who is doing the policymaking. Like old-guard Leninists, their primary concern is: Who? Whom?

In case you’re too young for Lenin, when you go from his original Russian….his bon mot translates as “Who will overtake whom?” And in practice, this was more precisely carried out as “Who will obliterate whom?”

The logic of Identity Politics Conservatism suggests that all of this think tanking and speechifying is—at best—tertiary to what these voters care about. They do not want a new strategy for bringing tech giants to heel.

They want Lafayette Park.

Niall McCarthy reports A Third of Americans Unwilling to Get Covid-19 Vaccine:

That’s according to a Gallup poll conducted between July 20 and August 02 which found that more than a third of American adults, 35%, would avoid such a vaccine.

A partisan gulf in attitudes was one of the most eye-catching results of the research with 81% of Democrats saying they would be willing to get an FDA approved vaccine while 19% said they would not. A 53% majority of Republicans on the other hand would refuse to take a vaccine while 47% would be willing to take it.

Broken down by age, 76% of younger adults aged between 18 and 29 would be willing to take a vaccine, along with 70% of senior citizens with reluctance highest among middle-aged Americans. The high level of willingness among over 65s is likely due to that age-group experiencing the most serious risk of complications and a higher chance of death due to Covid-19.

BBC News reports Violent protests in Belarus as President Lukashenko claims “landslide” election victory:

How Thread Became Critical in a Pandemic:

Daily Bread for 8.9.20

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of eighty-seven.  Sunrise is 5:56 AM and sunset 8:04 PM, for 14h 07m 44s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 70.2% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand three hundred seventieth day. 

 On this day in 1974, Nixon becomes the first President of the United States to resign from office. His Vice President, Gerald Ford, becomes president.

Recommended for reading in full —

 William H. Frey writes Trump’s new plan to hijack the census will imperil America’s future:

Despite initial support from Trump and the House of Representatives, the Census Bureau—apparently under pressure from the White House—has abruptly shortened its timeline. On August 3, the Bureau announced its intention to end all follow-up activities by September 30 and report the results to the president by December 31. This move has been criticized by many experts, including four former Census Bureau directors who served under Republican and Democratic presidents. It also contradicts past statements by Bureau personnel that emphasized the impossibility of completing the census with enough time to report results to the president by the end of 2020.

The now-rushed end date—reportedly to accommodate Trump’s insistence to have reapportionment numbers while he is still in office—places a huge burden on the Bureau’s staff. This involves effectively enumerating hard-to-count populations who have not responded to earlier requests, those who have moved during the pandemic, the homeless, residents of dormitories, rural residents, and Native American reservations that have always taken extra efforts to reach. The New York Times estimates that during this period, 60 million households will need to be contacted, in comparison to 47 million at this stage of the 2010 census.

Racial minorities are a large part of this hard-to-count population, and they will likely be undercounted even worse than in earlier censuses if Trump’s directives remain. These include Latino or Hispanic, Black, American Indian, and Asian American populations. If previous censuses are a guide, members of these groups who are low-income, renters, small children, young adults, or foreign-born will be particularly hard to reach. Moreover, given the time crunch, the Census Bureau may be forced to statistically estimate (to a far larger degree than in earlier censuses) information for households that cannot be contacted. This process can lead to even greater undercounts of racial minorities compared to whites.

Adam Kilgore reports Health experts worry coronavirus could cause lasting heart complications for athletes:

(Mayo Clinic researcher Jay) Schneider is one of many cardiovascular experts concerned about the nascent, growing body of evidence about how covid-19 affects the heart. The studies have not focused on athletes, but their findings have implications for the sports world. Research raises the possibility that athletes who recover from covid-19 may face dire or lasting heart complications, and medical experts have urged cardiac screening for athletes returning to play after contracting the virus. Two high-level athletes — including the projected Opening Day starter for the Boston Red Sox — have reported heart issues in the wake of recovery from covid-19.

Many questions remain unanswered, and they are coming at a pivotal time. Scores of NFL and college football players have opted out of competing this year, owing to concerns regarding covid-19. Thousands of high school, college and professional athletes are returning to play, and inevitably some will contract the virus. Guarding against the possible effects the disease has on the heart will be crucial, and maybe even lifesaving.

Infectious-disease and cardiovascular experts do not have enough data to make conclusions about how covid-19 might affect an athlete’s heart, and even recent studies of other populations require further validation. But what they have seen has alarmed them.

“We have very strong, serious concerns about the potential for covid to affect athletes cardiovascularly,” said Michael Emery, co-director of the sports cardiology department at the Cleveland Clinic.

Continue reading

Daily Bread for 8.8.20

Good morning.

Saturday in Whitewater will be partly sunny with a high of eighty-six.  Sunrise is 5:55 AM and sunset 8:05 PM, for 14h 10m 11s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 78.8% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand three hundred sixty-ninth day. 

 On this day in 1974, Pres.Nixon, in a nationwide television address, announces his resignation from the presidency effective noon the next day.

Recommended for reading in full —

Laurence Tribe, Jennifer Taub, and Joshua Geltzer write Trump Has Launched a Three-Pronged Attack on the Election:

We can see glimmers of Trump’s approach in what he said about Florida’s tight 2018 gubernatorial and Senate races, and he’ll say it again to delegitimize the counting of mail-in ballots that might cost him reelection. We’ve received a frightening preview in the Census Bureau’s recent announcementthat it plans to cut off population-counting efforts one month early, well before needed to meet the December 31 deadline for delivering census results to Congress.. This decision was made after the Trump administration itself had asked for more time, not less. It’s the same play: When Trump doesn’t like the numbers coming in, he stops counting.

Halting vote-counting after Election Day requires Trump to stage a three-pronged attack: slowing mail delivery, then urging Republican state legislatures to deem Election Day “failed” because of the many uncounted votes, and finally denouncing as illegitimate all vote-counting that continues after Election Day—even as slowly delivered mail-in ballots keep arriving. Leading the first step is Postmaster General Louis DeJoy, who’s reportedly shutting down post offices and slowing mail delivery under the guise of cost-cutting. Employees say that piles upon piles of letters and packages remain undelivered, stranded for weeks on end. These efforts undermine public confidence in the Postal Service and threaten to slow the distribution of blank ballots to voters and the return of completed ballots to state officials—with a likely disproportionate effect on Democratic-leaning urban voters, for whom the coronavirus’s circulation in cities makes mail-in voting particularly appealing. The likely surge in mail-in ballots that the pandemic will encourage suggests that tallying the election results won’t be completed on November 3 but will take days, possibly weeks, to complete accurately.

Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne report As Trump demurs, an unimaginable question forms: Could the president reach for the military in a disputed election?:

As the election approaches, the president has once again declined to say he would accept its results. “I have to see,” he said during a Fox News interview this month [in July]. “I’m not going to just say yes. I’m not going to say no. And I didn’t last time either.”

The president has warned for months that mail-in voting — expected to be used more widely than ever due to the coronavirus pandemic — or potential foreign interference in Democrats’ favor could yield widespread fraud and a “rigged” election, comments his critics worry are laying the groundwork in case he decides to dispute the result. The remarks take on new meaning as former vice president Joe Biden, his presumptive Democratic challenger, assumes a commanding lead in polls.

Scholars cautioned that they are not suggesting that the military would proactively seek to influence the vote, but rather that Pentagon leaders could be forced in a disputed election to become involved in a way that would appear partisan, similar to what occurred in the nation’s capital in the wake of protests in June.

Philip Bump examines Trump’s dishonest rhetoric about mail-in voting:

 A Melting glacier — Ice chunk shows signs of breaking away in Italy:

Friday Catblogging: A Cat Cafe During the Pandemic

Embedded above is a video about the Neko Cat Cafe in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. The pandemic’s led to changes at the establishment.  Gabe Gurarante writes The Cats at Capitol Hill’s Temporarily Closed Neko Cafe Basically Run the Place Now:

Even though Capitol Hill’s cat cafe Neko has been temporarily closed for months due to the pandemic, the furry residents are hanging out there. Co-founder Caitlin Unsell says most of the cats were adopted when all restaurants, bars, and coffee shops were closed for indoor service in the spring, but those that were put in foster care have now returned to the cafe.

The cats receive visits from caretakers who feed and give them love, but for the most part, they are left to their own devices, as the cafe starts planning to reopen for humans within the next few weeks. (Despite rumors a few weeks ago that there was some property damage during area protests, the space is all intact.) Neko’s second location, up in Bellingham, is currently open to the public, with reduced occupancy, social distancing, and other COVID-19 guidelines in place.

Daily Bread for 8.7.20

Good morning.

Friday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of eighty-one.  Sunrise is 5:54 AM and sunset 8:06 PM, for 14h 12m 37s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 86% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand three hundred sixty-eighth day. 

 On this day in 1782, George Washington orders the creation of the Badge of Military Merit to honor soldiers wounded in battle It is later renamed to the more poetic Purple Heart.

Recommended for reading in full —

Craig Silverman and Ryan Mac report Facebook Fired An Employee Who Collected Evidence Of Right-Wing Pages Getting Preferential Treatment:

Last Friday, at another all-hands meeting, employees asked Zuckerberg how right-wing publication Breitbart News could remain a Facebook News partner after sharing a video that promoted unproven treatments and said masks were unnecessary to combat the novel coronavirus. The video racked up 14 million views in six hours before it was removed from Breitbart’s page, though other accounts continued to share it.

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On July 22, a Facebook employee posted a message to the company’s internal misinformation policy group noting that some misinformation strikes against Breitbart had been cleared by someone at Facebook seemingly acting on the publication’s behalf.

“A Breitbart escalation marked ‘urgent: end of day’ was resolved on the same day, with all misinformation strikes against Breitbart’s page and against their domain cleared without explanation,” the employee wrote.

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The engineer joined the company in 2016 and most recently worked on Instagram. He left the company on Wednesday. One employee on an internal thread seen by BuzzFeed News said that they received permission from the engineer to say that the dismissal “was not voluntary.”

Craig Timberg and Andrew Ba Tran report Facebook’s fact-checkers have ruled claims in Trump ads are false — but no one is telling Facebook’s users:

Fact-checkers were unanimous in their assessments when President Trump began claiming in June that Democrat Joe Biden wanted to “defund” police forces. PolitiFact called the allegations “false,” as did CheckYourFact. The Associated Press detailed “distortions” in Trump’s claims. FactCheck.org called an ad airing them “deceptive.” Another site, the Dispatch, said there is “nothing currently to support” Trump’s claims.

But these judgments, made by five fact-checking organizations that are part of Facebook’s independent network for policing falsehoods on the platform, were not shared with Facebook’s users. That is because the company specifically exempts politicians from its rules against deception. Ads containing the falsehoods continue to run freely on the platform, without any kind of warning or label.

Enabled by Facebook’s rules, Trump’s reelection campaign has shown versions of the false claim on Facebook at least 22.5 million times, in more than 1,400 ads costing between $350,000 and $553,000, a Washington Post analysis found based on data from Facebook’s Ad Library. The ads, bought by the campaign directly or in a partnership with the Republican National Committee, were targeted at Facebook users mainly in swing states such as Ohio, Georgia, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania.

Chacour Koop reports ‘It spread like wildfire.’ How one man at church with COVID-19 led to 91 cases in Ohio:

A single person attending church with COVID-19 led to an outbreak of nearly 100 cases, showing the risk of group gatherings during the pandemic, Ohio officials say.

The 56-year-old man attended a church service on June 14 while infected with coronavirus, Gov. Mike DeWine says. By the Fourth of July, at least 91 people ranging in age from a 1-year-old girl to a 67-year-old woman had the virus.

“It spread like wildfire,” DeWine said.

Goalkeepers Have the Loneliest Job in Soccer, Here’s Why:

Daily Bread for 8.6.20

Good morning.

Thursday in Whitewater will be sunny with a high of seventy-nine.  Sunrise is 5:53 AM and sunset 8:08 PM, for 14h 15m 01s of daytime.  The moon is a waning gibbous with 92% of its visible disk illuminated.

Today is the one thousand three hundred sixty-seventh day. 

 On this day in 1945, an American B-29 drops an atomic bomb on Hiroshima.

Recommended for reading in full —

Justin Baragona reports Trump’s Debate Moderator Wish List Is Stacked With Fox News Stars and Pushovers:

The Trump campaign released a list of suggested moderators for this year’s presidential debates and, perhaps unsurprisingly, it is loaded with many of the president’s favorite right-wing pundits and Fox News personalities.

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A large portion of the names would be familiar to the most devoted of Fox News viewers. While the president didn’t include his close confidants like Sean Hannity or Lou Dobbs, and left off the denizens of his favorite morning show Fox & Friends, the campaign included several pundits and personalities featured across his favorite Fox programming.

Rachel Campos-Duffy, a Fox News contributor and former Real World cast member, made the cut despite her role as a sycophantic pro-Trump commentator across Fox’s opinion shows. Campos-Duffy is married to former Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI), a current CNN contributor who now serves as an official Trump surrogate.

 Tim Walker reports Trump still claims Covid will ‘go away’, Fauci disagrees:

Donald Trump claimed again on Wednesday that the coronavirus would “go away”, and “sooner rather than later”. That is not the view of his administration’s top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, who told Reuters it would take at least a year to bring the pandemic under control and it was unlikely the virus would ever be eradicated altogether. Meanwhile, Facebook for the first time removed a post from the president’s page that contained false information about the disease.

The US has now recorded 4.8 million Covid-19 cases and 157,690 deaths. The US census bureau has suspended a weekly survey tracking Americans’ quality of life, which painted a bleak picture of the effects of the pandemic and the economic downturn. And as Trump continues to insist schools should return in person in September, Chicago’s public school system has announced plans to teach the start of the school year entirely online.

Juan Perez Jr. reports NCAA ditches fall championships for hundreds of schools:

Division II and Division III officials nixed their fall postseasons after the NCAA’s governing board announced earlier Wednesday that each division could make its own call on whether to cancel the competitions amid the coronavirus pandemic. But administrators for higher-profile NCAA Division I programs have yet to pull the plug.

Division I campus sports officials now have two weeks to make a decision about their fall championships, though top college sports conferences are setting out ambitious football schedules and the nation’s blockbuster College Football Playoff says it’s pressing ahead with minor changes to its operations this fall.

As of Wednesday, 11 of the 23 Division II conferences had announced they would not compete in sports during the traditional fall season, according to the NCAA.

Why Calling the 2020 Election Will Be Different Than Any Year Before: