The Home Front
How Response to the Pandemic is Clearing the Air
“Here's an unexpected side effect of the pandemic,” tweeted a woman in Italy. “The water flowing through the canals of Venice is clear for the first time in forever. The fish are visible, the swans returned.” With Italy on lockdown, NASA satellite images show significant drops in pollution. And from the once smog-laden city where the outbreak originated, a young man tweets, “I'm in the central city of China-Wuhan, today the weather is very good, the blue sky, birds and trees have grown green! Under the control of the virus outbreak, our city will usher in a beautiful spring!”
Halting human activity in response to COVID-19 seems to be reversing (if only temporarily) some of the environmental devastation Rachel Carlson wrote about in her famous book, Silent Spring. Open your window and listen; can you hear more birds today?
A close-up of President Trump's notes for a March 19 press conference: "Corona" was replaced with "Chinese" Virus. (Jabin Botsford—The Washington Post/Getty Images)
STOP, LOOK, LISTEN!
Consequences: Intended and Otherwise
I intended to be back in Sevilla by now, but here I am in Pennsylvania, sheltering in place. I have a lot more freedom of movement than you have in Spain, but we all have WAY too much time to obsess about everything. For instance: Do you think it's possible that I inadvertently started all this months ago, when I invoked a pox upon Mitch McConnell? (I've read The Secret, about unleashing the awesome power of our thoughts...) I now see that I should have envisioned something non-contagious for him, like flatulence, or excessive nose hair.
New Yorker: How Pandemics Change History by Isaac Chotiner
Epidemics are a category of disease that seem to hold up the mirror to human beings as to who we really are. They reflect our relationships with the environment. They show the moral relationships that we have toward each other as people.
Pointing the finger:
Time: Trump's 'Chinese' Virus Is Part of a Long History of Blaming Other Countries for Disease by Becky Little
Associating diseases with specific countries has led to ethnic and racial discrimination, stymied efforts to effectively handle public health crises, and distorted public historical memory.
Changing the rules:
Slate: America Is a Sham by Dan Kois
Whenever the government or a corporation benevolently withdraws some penalty because of the coronavirus, it’s a signal that there was never any good reason for it in the first place.
Stuff You Should Know: The Pledge of Allegiance (15 min)
Salute your flag, and thank a socialist.
Folks have been passing along photos of Seville on lockdown...
STOP, LOOK, LISTEN!
Degrees of Separation
I met my dad at a diner for lunch yesterday. (I feel lucky that we can still do that here in PA.) He had just come from a local gun show.
I don't think the attendees were practicing much social distancing there; lots of hand-shaking and back-slapping. I could picture them passing around rifle sights and boxes of hollow-point bullets. Not a big hand-sanitizer crowd. Dad seems kind of dismissive of the COVID-19 scare.
Before we ordered our sandwiches, he showed off his purchase—a new Trump 2020 hat (which features a rather mean-spirited slogan, instead of strong-minded and upbeat support of his candidate of choice). All in all, that's probably the best thing he could have brought home from the gun show.
Grist: Can the zero-waste movement survive the coronavirus? by L.V. Anderson
Given the rapid spread of COVID-19, all manner of reuse habits that might have been considered environmentally virtuous now invoke a kind of germaphobic fear response. We tend to think of plastic packaging as being sanitary. It’s not.
Marshall Project: What Do We Really Know About the Politics of People Behind Bars? by Nicole Lewis, Aviva Shen, and Anna Flagg
Long stretches in prison appear to be politicizing: The more time respondents spend in prison, the more motivated they are to vote, the more they discuss politics, and the more likely their opinions are to evolve.
It can happen to you:
The Root: The Mayor of Kansas City Went to Vote. A Poll Worker Turned Him Away by Joe Jurado
Mayor Quinton Lucas decided to turn the mistake into a moment of advocacy: as an elected official, he was able to get clarification from an official and return later to vote. Those who aren’t in his exceptional position may not be allowed the same courtesy. We need to make it easier for folks to vote, not harder.
Resisters — along with a few thousand of our closest friends — took to the streets in Sevilla on Sunday for Día Internacional de la Mujer. "The March was wonderful today — big, noisy, chaotic, energizing!"
Thanks to everyone who came out for our Pub Party and Democrats Abroad Global Primary night — another great event with our friends at Merchant's Pub!
STOP, LOOK, LISTEN!
As many observers have commented, the exciting diversity of Democratic primary field has now been reduced to a couple of old white guys.
Don’t get me wrong—some of my best friends are old white guys. But I mourn the departure of Elizabeth Warren.
Warren's campaign has ended, as well as those of other inspiring candidates, but their influence and some very important ideas remain. Don’t let that energy go to waste. I hope we will all support the ultimate Democratic candidate, but without forgetting the issues and principles that we are counting on that candidate to uphold.
All is forgiven:
Market Watch: Trump’s pardons demonstrate his belief that white-collar crime isn’t real crime by Paul Brandus
Trump has lived in a world of non-accountability for his entire adult life.
You don’t say:
Common Dreams: EPA Expands Rule Limiting Science the Agency Can Use to Make Public Health Policy Decisions by Julia Conley
The rule could allow industry-funded studies as the EPA makes regulatory decisions, while blocking results from academic studies. "Now is not the time to play games with critical medical research…”
Newsweek: 37 Republicans File Supreme Court Brief Arguing Trump Can't Block Manhattan DA's Tax Fraud Investigation by Matthew Impelli
Trump's lawyers have argued that criminally investigating a president while in office is unconstitutional, claiming that Trump is immune to investigation as well as prosecution.
Grist: How do I choose a more climate-friendly phone? by Eve Andrews
The most eco-conscious device is the one that you will use for as long as possible. How long will the battery last? Can you repair it if something goes wrong? (Check out this list of smartphones from iFixIt, ranked by repairability)
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The Home Front:
Eat Well on Meatless Mondays
Rich and I love comfort food, and I spend a fair amount of time researching recipes that are meatless, easy, reasonably healthy, and use ingredients I can get here in Seville. And of course, totally satisfying and delicious. Here are some that have become mainstays in our household, starting with the stuffed sweet potatoes I’m making tonight.
Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Beans and Guacamole
Extra Vegetable Fried Rice
Baked Risotto with Roasted Vegetables
Cozy Autumn Wild Rice Soup
Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato with Balsamic Honey Glaze
Watermelon Feta Salad
STOP, LOOK, LISTEN!
Our Daily Dread
In spite of the fact that here in the US the coronavirus is a major topic on the midday, evening, and nightly news (not to mention the daily paper) it's probably not time to panic yet—at least about the virus. On the other hand, I think we can all go ahead and freak out about the fact that Mike Pence has been named to direct the govenment's response to the outbreak.
Take a hike:
Mother Jones: The Energy Industry’s “Metaphysical” Argument for a Pipeline That Crosses the Appalachian Trail by Will Peischel
The National Park Service controls the trail, but the land surrounding it is under the jurisdiction of the Trump Administration’s US Forest Service—which issued construction permits for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline.
New York Times: Why a Top Trump Aide Said ‘We Are Desperate’ for More Immigrants by Jeanna Smialek and Zolan Kanno-Youngs
Mick Mulvaney acknowledged the economic reality, even if President Trump’s policies have not.
ACLU/At Liberty: "Your hair is okay. You are okay." (Podcast, 19 min)
Hair discrimination is a form of racial discrimination (and often gender discrimination)—although, the argument goes, unlike skin color, people can change their hairstyles. But should they have to?
• A year ago this Mississippi news anchor lost her job over her natural hair style.
• See Hair Love Oscar-winning short film (7 min)
Just for fun: Good grooming
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