…I have to rely on cute Jack Russell Terrier videos to keep me from heading to the bridge…
1. No, guys, it’s not unethical to retract a bad law. SCOTUS Justices Samuel A. Alito Jr, Thomas and Gorsuch were annoyed that the Supreme Court refused to consider the Constitutionality of a New York anti-gun law after the state not only repealed the law, but passed a law preventing a similar law from being passed again. The Supreme Court today dismissed a major gun rights case that Second Amendment activists had hoped would clarify the right to bear arms. The decision dismissing the case was unsigned, but the dissent was signed, so we also know who made up the majority. “By incorrectly dismissing this case as moot, the court permits our docket to be manipulated in a way that should not be countenanced,” Alito et al. hurrumphed. The law’s removal rendered the case moot and denied the Court an opportunity to explore whether there is a right to carry a gun outside the home.
I’d say that when the prospect of being slammed by the Court makes a state back down from an overreaching law, that’s a win. Stop complaining.
2. Hat tip to WordPress. I noted over the weekend that I suddenly could not embed videos. When I contacted WordPress, as I have found before, I was in an online chat with a live staffer within minutes. He or she quickly solved my problem( at least temporarily; the problem was that I’m an idiot). My life would be so much happier if more tech companies (and communications companies) were this easy to deal with, and there is no good reason why they cannot be.
3. From the Ethics Alarms nepotism files: New York city Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that his wife, Chirlane McCray, will co-chair a Task Force on Racial Inclusion and Equity as the city plans its eventual reopening. This is the second go-round for the city’s First Couple on the nepotism carousel. Earlier, he installed his wifeas the executive director of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, a nonprofit foundation. She didn’t exactly do a great job, either.
“Chirlane doesn’t have an impressive track record running task forces or agencies,” said Councilman Joe Borelli (R-SI).“This is too serious an issue to use it as profile raiser.” added, referring to her potential political aspirations. McCray has been rumored to be looking at a run at the Brooklyn borough presidency. Nepotism is outlawed under the City Charter in Chapter 68 which forbids public servants using their positions “to obtain any financial gain, contract, license, privilege or other private or personal advantage, direct or indirect, for the public servant or any person or firm associated with the public servant.” Maybe there are some loopholes the Mayor is exploiting—his wife won’t be paid—but this clearly breaches the spirit of the law if not the letter.
I blame President Trump. This is a perfect example of how the fish rots from the head down. Trump’s ostentatious use of his daughter and son in law in key White House positions, while not forbidden for a President, undermines the societal consensus against nepotism generally. [Pointer: Neil Dorr]
4. “WHO’s on first?” Last week, WHO published a scientific brief on “immunity passports,” the concept that governments should grant special documents to citizens who test positive for Wuhan virus antibodies, thus allowing them to move about freely. WHO’s assessment was that this was premature, since “no study has evaluated whether the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans.” It’s tweet version, however, said only: “There is currently no evidence that people who have recovered from #COVID19 and have antibodies are protected from a second infection.”
Did most reporters read the full document? No. Did they take into consideration the perils of using Twitter to convey complex information? No. Did they leap to the most sensational interpretation possible, thus spreading anxiety and panic?
Of course they did.
Bloomberg News, for example, turned the tweet into a story with the headline “WHO Warns You May Catch Coronavirus More Than Once.,” and told readers,
Catching Covid-19 once may not protect you from getting it again, according to the World Health Organization, a finding that could jeopardize efforts to allow people to return to work after recovering from the virus.
That’s just wrong. There is no “finding” to speak of here, just an absence of definitive proof that antibodies confer a degree of immunity. Many readers undoubtedly would come away from these statements with a level of anxiety—You can get it again! We’re doomed!—that isn’t merited.
WHO eventually deleted the tweet.
Reason concludes, “From parroting the Chinese communist government’s lies about COVID-19 to wrongly warning people against wearing masks, the WHO has badly mishandled its communications about the pandemic. The organization really needs to get its act together.”