🩳 Sunday Reading – September 6 2020


It’s Sunday. I hope you’re enjoying a socially distanced Labor Day weekend. Remember what happened on Memorial Day? Yeah, it didn’t turn out so well.

credit: guardian

In case you missed it: The elephant known as the world’s loneliest elephant has been cleared to travel onto greener pastures. Kaavan was deemed healthy enough to travel but not overall very healthy at all after years of living in a neglectful zoo in Pakistan. Activists have been campaigning for his release since 2016 and this will happen in the near future.

Watch: Turns out we’re sitting at our desks ALL kinds of wrong. I watched this video this week that had me change my entire desk set up. My neck thanks me.

Coronavirus Update: Total confirmed U.S. cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 6,245,866— Total deaths: 188,538 — Total recoveries:  2,302,187

 A key model is forecasting there will be 410,000 coronavirus deaths in the U.S. by January. That’s up from the 300,000 previously forecast.

In Today’s Newsletter:

  • Private schools can’t get bailout money
  • Vaccine: reality vs. politics
  • Man wants to live stream his death

Vaccine by November 1st?

credit: Getty

President Trump is on the campaign trail promising a COVID vaccine by November 1. Drugmakers, however, are not willing to make any such promises for political purposes.

Bloomberg reports that a group of major drug companies plans to make a public pledge not to send a vaccine to the FDA before it is ready, election or no election. Participating companies could include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline, and Sanofi.

3 phases

The Food and Drug Administration has three phases to drug trials and has reported positive results for the first two. Phase 3 drug trials typically take years, and the agency has been accused of pushing through the three phases too quickly before all of the data is in. On the other side of the coin, the President has accused the FDA of moving too slowly in order to hurt him politically.

Drugmakers are saying that they will not work on a political timeline, especially when human life is at stake. Or at least they are expected to say that in a public pledge possibly as soon as this week.

Turns out that’s illegal

credit: Betsy Devos, foxnews

A US District Judge ruled against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos plan for pandemic aid for private schools.

The case had been brought against DeVos’ plan by the NAACP, alleging that it gave affluent, privileged students preference and left out too many truly needy students.

The CARES Act set aside $13 billion in funding for schools. DeVos wanted to allocate private schools’ portions based on total enrollment, not on the number of low-income students. The ruling is precisely about this formula. Private schools can now only receive funding based on the number of low-income students. Several states had already ruled similarly, but the US District ruling is the final blow.

News By The Numbers

credit: la times

117 degrees. That was the temperature in some Southern California cities this weekend in a record-breaking heatwave. The heatwave caused thousands to lost power and contributed to several brush fires.

52%. According to Pew Research Center, that is the percentage of young adults that are back living with their parents. This is an all-time high. The last time it was anywhere close was when it measured 48% during the Great Depression.

$6 million. According to a federal filing, that is how much rapper Kanye West has spent on his Presidential campaign so far. The LLCs that he has paid to help him get on ballots have suspicious ties to Trump allies, giving a bit more life to the theory that West’s campaign is being used by the President to divide the Democratic vote.

Honey, the census guy is here.

credit: giphy

A federal judge has ordered the Trump administration to stop “winding down or altering any of the Census field operations.” Apparently, they had been doing this.

The judge issued a restraining order, which is a confusing double negative action. We order you to stop stopping.

In August, the Trump administration announced plans to truncate the 2020 Census due to the pandemic. This led to dozens of lawsuits across the country that advocate for minority groups, who insist that hard-to-reach populations must not be undercounted and undercut in the Census. The Judge in California noted that an incomplete census count would cause specific communities “irreparable harm.”

Did you read the employee handbook?

credit: ap

Do you know those harassment training programs that HR makes you do?

The Trump administration wants federal agencies to stop them.

The Office of Management and Budget sent a letter to federal agencies on Friday telling them that the President has become aware of racial awareness programs, and he does not like it. He thinks that they are “divisive, anti-American propaganda.”

What’s next?

Agencies are to identify these programs and any related spending and cancel them right away. Specifically, any program that concentrates “on ‘critical race theory,’ ‘white privilege,’ or any other other training or propaganda effort that teaches or suggests either (1) that the United States is an inherently racist or evil country or (2) that any race or ethnicity is inherently racist or evil.”

This is a very broad directive, and it is unclear exactly which federal agencies will be called to comply.

But even if the government does not want productive conversations, race riots ARE STILL happening, and people are getting hurt. White people DO make more money in comparable jobs than their black counterparts. Black men ARE sent to prison at a far higher rate than their white counterparts for the same crimes. Black boys ARE more likely to be punished in schools for the same behavioral offense as their white classmates. The government can pretend no privilege exists and there is nothing to be done about it anyway but that does not change our reality. If the government does not want these types of conversations in federal agencies, we’ll have to respectfully and truthfully have them ourselves.

Perhaps ‘live-stream’ isn’t the best name for it. 

credit: afp

Facebook has said that a man in France cannot live-stream his death because the platform rules “do not allow us to show suicide attempts.”

The 57-year-old man has been suffering from a degenerative disease for 34 years. He has gone on a hunger strike to bring upon his death and offered to live stream his slow demise, but Facebook will not allow it.

The man has asked the French government for legally-assisted suicide but was denied because French law does not allow it, even though neighboring Belgium, Switzerland, and the Netherlands do. He wants his death to help change laws in his country and is asking his supporters to help pressure Facebook to allow his videos to promote his cause.

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