It’s time once again for news and views that you can peruse. It’s time once again for your regularly scheduled Weekly Reader! Got some hot links, blog posts, or articles from a local paper you’d like to share? Head over to the comments and let us know.
Sweden’s Pandemic Experiment (from the New Yorker): “Tegnell’s prediction of a tapering epidemic curve and quickly-attained immunity never came to pass. Sweden’s per-capita case counts and death rates have been many times higher than any of its Nordic neighbors, all of which imposed lockdowns, travel bans, and limited gatherings early on. Over all in Sweden, thirteen thousand people have died from covid-19. In Norway, which has a population that is half the size of Sweden’s, and where stricter lockdowns were enforced, about seven hundred people have died. It’s likely that some simple policy changes—especially shutting down visitations to nursing homes sooner, and providing more P.P.E. and testing to nursing-home staff—would have saved lives. And the strategy doesn’t seem to have helped the economy much: the Swedish G.D.P. fell by around three per cent, better than the European average, but similar to the drop in other Nordic countries.”
DISENFRANCHISED: WHY ARE AMERICANS STILL BUYING INTO THE FRANCHISE DREAM? (from Pacific Standard): “Franchisees enjoy few regulatory protections at the federal level, and even at the state level, statutes intended to prevent exploitative franchising arrangements can be vague. New Jersey’s Franchise Practices Act, for instance, outlaws the imposition of “unreasonable standards of performance upon a franchisee” but doesn’t define what these are.
Some people might argue that federal and state governments have no business imposing specific limits on private contracts between consenting parties. But governments already do that through minimum wage and maximum hour laws. There’s no logical barrier to regulating franchise agreements in a similar way.”
How vulture capitalists ate Toys ‘R’ Us (from The Week): “Instead, the legacy of the leveraged buyout turned this into an existential crisis, and Toys ‘R’ Us filed for bankruptcy midway through last year. Then, when holiday sales didn’t pan out, the company’s leadership decided to sell or shutter all its stores. And 33,000 working people could lose their jobs.
Bain, KKR, and Vornado will have to write off their investment, of course. But they did suck around $200 million in fees out of Toys ‘R’ Us over the course of their ownership.
Basically, the trio took an imperfect-but-functioning company and cannibalized it for cash.”
Deep Space Nine Is TV’s Most Revolutionary Depiction of Black Fatherhood (from Vulture): “The pilot, “The Emissary,” artfully lays the groundwork for their relationship, introducing Sisko as a widower reluctant to take the position as commander aboard the space station and shepherd the Bajorans, a highly religious people recently freed from a decades-long occupation by the Cardassians, into joining the Federation. His wife, Jennifer (Felecia M. Bell), died during the Battle of Wolf 359 which was headed by a Borg-assimilated Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), making their first and only meeting in the series an icy one. Both Sisko and Jake are grieving this loss, clinging to each other for stability and familiarity as they enter a strange new environment. When watching “The Emissary” recently, the chemistry between Brooks and Lofton was immediately apparent. They moved and touched one another with a familiarity that struck me as having a deep, emotional history. They felt like a family with an immediacy I’ve seen few actors able to match on television.”
‘A biological Fukushima’: Brazil COVID-19 deaths on track to pass worst of U.S. wave (from Reuters): “On Tuesday, the Health Ministry reported another 4,195 COVID-19 deaths in the past 24 hours, well above the country’s prior single-day record. Brazil has set daily death records every week since late February, as a more contagious local variant and meager social distancing efforts fuel an uncontrolled outbreak.
With mass vaccinations curtailing the U.S. outbreak, Brazil has become the epicenter of the pandemic, contributing about one in four deaths per day globally, according to a Reuters analysis.”
Japan just recorded its earliest cherry blossom bloom in 1,200 years. Scientists warn it’s a symptom of the larger climate crisis (from CNN): “The flowers, which experience a “peak bloom” that only lasts a few days, have been revered in Japan for more than a thousand years. Crowds celebrate with viewing parties, flocking to the most popular locations to take photos and have picnics underneath the branches.
But this year, cherry blossom season has come and gone in the blink of an eye, in one of the earliest blooms on record — and scientists warn it’s a symptom of the larger climate crisis threatening ecosystems everywhere.”
Open Letter to A Transgender Young Person (from John Pavlovitz): “I just want you to know that I see you, that I am for you, that I am in your corner as you struggle to simply be and to breathe freely and to step fully into the dreams you have for the future.
I want you to know that I am fighting for you today as I am able, and that I will keep fighting for you because you are so worth fighting for.
I want you to know that even though it may feel that way inside your head or in your home or at your school—you are not alone. I and millions of other people believe in you and want you to have every opportunity to live this life as the most authentic version of yourself; people who celebrate you fully and support you without reservation.”
How Trump Steered Supporters Into Unwitting Donations (from the New York Times): “The sheer magnitude of the money involved is staggering for politics. In the final two and a half months of 2020, the Trump campaign, the Republican National Committee and their shared accounts issued more than 530,000 refunds worth $64.3 million to online donors. All campaigns make refunds for various reasons, including to people who give more than the legal limit. But the sum the Trump operation refunded dwarfed that of Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s campaign and his equivalent Democratic committees, which made 37,000 online refunds totaling $5.6 million in that time.”
Facebook Remains a Threat to Democracy (from The Nation): “Zuckerberg is reportedly motivated by his desire to keep in the good graces of the political right, which has terrified the multibillionaire with spurious complaints of bias. These complaints are a transparent effort to work the referee.
The right has won a major victory in its campaign to cow Facebook. To placate his right-wing critics, Zuckerberg elevated some prominent conservatives into positions of power, most notably Joel Kaplan, the vice president of global public policy. Kaplan is a longtime Republican functionary, who participated in the notorious “Brooks Brothers” riot to stop the vote recount in Florida during the 2000 election and later served as deputy chief of staff under George W. Bush.”
Marketplace attended a COVID-19 conspiracy boot camp to see how instructors are targeting vaccine skeptics (from CBC): “Tenpenny also has other ways of making money from her students, selling additional courses and even getting a referral commission from a private lab that gives her $10 for every $100 spent on vitamin-deficiency tests, a fact she mentions in one of her seminars.
Tenpenny falsely claims that the reason some people have more serious illness from COVID-19 is because they are vitamin-deficient. She also asserts that taking vitamins can be a cure for COVID-19-positive patients.”
WHO report says animals likely source of Covid (from Politico): “A joint WHO-China study on the origins of Covid-19 says that transmission of the virus from bats to humans through another animal is the most likely scenario and that a lab leak is “extremely unlikely,” according to a draft copy obtained by The Associated Press.
The findings offer little new insight into how the virus began to spread around the globe and many questions remain unanswered, though that was as expected. But the report did provide more detail on the reasoning behind the researchers’ conclusions. The team proposed further research in every area except the lab leak hypothesis.”
That’s all for this time. But I’ll be back next week with more articles you’ll want to read. So until then, have a great rest of your week, stay safe and happy reading!