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QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We are living in an Idiocracy.” — Washington Post conservative columnist Max Boot bemoaning the stupidity of the federal government’s refusal to advocate ubiquitous mask wearing and thereby save 5% of GDP.
Hong Kong police arrested more than 300 people protesting a new security law imposed by China. Police said nine arrests were under the new law, which criminalizes any speech promoting Hong Kong’s independence from China.
Seattle police are clearing the CHOP protest zone. On Wednesday morning the mayor declared the area an unlawful assembly, and more than 100 officers from the Seattle Police Department and FBI are sweeping it. There have been four shootings in CHOP’s brief existence as a police-free zone, including one on Monday that killed a 16-year-old.
We’re six months into the coronavirus crisis, and there’s a lot we still don’t know. Where it came from. The mortality rate. Why the young get less sick. What actually kills people. How it spreads. The 11 questions we need to answer to defeat the pandemic.
Republican leaders finally embrace masks — except for President Donald Trump. Conservative media and politicians who shunned masks are praising them now that the pandemic is racing through red states. Fox News’ Steve Doocy said, “‘MAGA’ should now stand for ‘Masks Are Great Again.'”
A new theory for why “Sun Belt” states are getting hammered … air conditioning. A Harvard epidemiologist suggested that hot weather in the South may be driving people inside, where they “re-breathe” air circulated by air conditioning. Tuberculosis can spread this way. Maybe the coronavirus can too.
On the other hand, Trump reportedly expects a vaccine in the fall. There’s just no way that’s happening. It’s his latest example of magical thinking about the coronavirus.
VIEWS OF THE DAY
Skyrocketing coronavirus cases in Arizona, Texas, and Florida are slowing the economic recovery.
Lockdowns may have worsened the economic impact of the coronavirus, but they didn’t cause it. The main reason our economy has been crippled is that Americans are, wisely, changing their behavior to reduce the chance of getting sick.
This sensible caution — and the economic impact that results from it — are visible in this chart of restaurant reservations in Arizona, Texas, and Florida. Economist Paul Krugman posted the chart, which is based on data from the restaurant-reservations app OpenTable.
The chart shows the seven-day median of restaurant activity in the three states. The index is still down 50 to 60% from last year.
More broadly, the recovery of the US economy as a whole also appears to be slowing as the coronavirus surges. Here’s a recent real-time economic-activity index chart from Jefferies. In addition to the recent slowing, the chart shows how far we have to go to get back to normal.
What’s the best and easiest way to restart our economic recovery? A national mask-wearing mandate. As we discussed yesterday, Goldman Sachs estimates that this simple step would allow us to avoid new lockdowns and preserve an astounding 5% of GDP. — HB
Don’t celebrate the US cornering the market in remdesivir
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is crowing over the administration’s “amazing deal” to corner the market in remdesivir, the Gilead drug that has proved mildly effective in speeding up recovery from COVID-19. For the next three months, the US will buy more than 90% of Gilead’s supply, enough to treat about 500,000 patients.
So what have we accomplished? We’ve infuriated our allies and friends by locking them out of the market and guaranteed that patients and insurance companies will pay a high price for a slightly useful treatment.
The remdesivir gloating is a very good metaphor for the whole misbegotten US response to the pandemic. The administration wants us to spend tons of money on a meh drug because they couldn’t be bothered to spend a lot less money to slow the spread of the disease. Imagine the benefit we’d get if we had spent that billion-plus dollars on a public awareness campaign about masking, or on hiring 10,000 contact tracers? Hoarding mediocre medicine for already sick people — people who, incidentally, also have already passed their most infectious stage — is just about the least efficient, least valuable use of a COVID dollar. — DP
Hong Kong is gone
- It outlaws subversion, a crime that includes any attempt to “interfere, obstruct or damage” the function of any Chinese government or Hong Kong government agency.
- Secession is also a crime, as is inciting, aiding, abetting, or financing either of these activities.
- Terrorism is defined as everything from throwing Molotov cocktails to anything that “seriously endangers public safety.”
- The law prohibits anyone from aiding “terrorists” with information, funds, materials, labor, transportation, and technology, among other things.
- Foreign collusion is also prohibited. That includes anything from receiving financial aid to plotting with foreigners to obstruct the policy of the People’s Republic of China.
Participants in these crimes face three to 10 years in prison.
This law’s net is wide. Anyone from protesters calling for an independent Hong Kong to taxi drivers who helped them avoid police could be imprisoned. China’s secret police on the ground in Hong Kong are now codified into law, and the mainland government has wide latitude to take jurisdiction over these cases.
And so with that, Hong Kong as an open society governed by the rule of law is over. By the time the US was threatening to pass sanctions against people involved in enshrining and implementing this security law, it was too little, too late. There are two reasons for that, both are failures of the Trump administration.
- Trump doesn’t care about human rights, or Hong Kong, so he wasted precious months glad-handing Chinese President Xi Jinping in exchange for soybean purchases.
- The US State Department now thinks it can execute US foreign-policy objectives by going it alone. That is a mistake. To put pressure on a country like China, we need our allies.
We could’ve done better, but we didn’t, and now we’ve lost Hong Kong. — Linette Lopez
QAnon was never funny, and now it threatens the entire Republican Party.
Lauren Boebert, a Colorado gun-rights activist with a penchant for saying nice things about QAnon, beat a Republican incumbent yesterday in a House primary and is favored to be elected to Congress in November. A few weeks ago, a more overt Q-enthusiast, Marjorie Taylor Greene, won a Republican primary in Georgia in a safe district and will almost certainly be woo-wooing down to Washington to peddle her conspiracist junk. A Q-person also won the Republican Senate primary in Oregon. Trumpworld has moved from flirting with Q to making out with it, as Trump himself regularly retweets Q-ish accounts, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn is snuggling up to his QAnon admirers.
QAnon, the perfervid, incomprehensible deep-state conspiracy theory that worships Trump like a god, has transformed in three years from joke to lunatic fringe to criminal enterprise (remember the Pizzagate attack?) to a genuine force in conservative politics.
In the 1980s, the followers of Lyndon LaRouche briefly panicked the Democratic party by sneakily winning primaries and evangelizing his conspiracist rantings. QAnon is like LaRouche but vastly more dangerous because it’s grabbed hold of the party establishment. Rather than disavowing it or distancing themselves from it, the GOP and its president tacitly welcome Q to the party. Normal politics can’t survive when it’s infected with people who want to destroy it. The Republican Party should purge itself of this poison. — DP
And now Trump is on the wrong side of the immigration debate
According to Gallup, the US has changed its mind about immigration. Support for increasing immigration into the US is at its highest level since 1965, with 34% of American poll respondents in favor. Only 28% of respondents were in favor of decreasing immigration, a record low.
Not only is Trump on the wrong side of the debate, but it also seems the longer he sticks around, the more wrong he becomes. — LL
BUSINESS & ECONOMY
US companies added 2.37 million workers in June, according to ADP’s survey. But that’s less than the 2.8 million economists expected.
Apple developer war rekindled after a yoga app was rejected from the App Store. The Down Dog app says Apple rejected it because it didn’t autobill users when free trials ended. It’s just the latest feud between apps and Apple over billing terms.
Real Life. Real News. Real Voices
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The “Hamilton” movie arrives on Friday, streaming on Disney Plus. Filmed in 2016, it’s not merely a throwback to Obama-era optimism and multiculturalism, The New York Times review said. It’s “more vital, more challenging than ever.”
24 eggs. 3 different methods. 4 different cooking times. Hard-boiled eggs look vastly different depending on how you cook them.
THE BIG 3*
Boris Johnson offers British visas to 3 million Hong Kong residents. The prime minister is responding to China’s new security law, which he says violates the Sino-British joint declaration concerning governance of the territory.
Fox News fires White House correspondent Ed Henry. It said Henry was the subject of a complaint involving “willful sexual misconduct in the workplace.”
*The most popular stories on Insider today.
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