The Supreme Court’s LGBTQ ruling is marvellous, and not enough

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“Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear…”Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch’s majority opinion holding that federal law protects LGBTQ workers from employment discrimination


The Supreme Court declined to hear cases challenging the doctrine of “qualified immunity,” which protects police officers from suit even when they grossly screw up on the job. Ending qualified immunity is one of the reforms proposed by the Black Lives Matter movement.

Atlanta’s top prosecutor will decide this week whether to charge officers in the killing of Rayshard Brooks.Garrett Rolfe, the officer who shot Brooks, was already fired by the police department.

Trump’s niece Mary Trump was the person who leaked some of his tax returns to the New York Times. She’s revealing that fact, as well as other “salacious” stories about her uncle, in a book that will come out in August.


Protesters hold an LGBT rights flag outside the US Supreme Court in support of marriage equality on April 25, 2015.
Protesters hold an LGBTQ rights flag outside the US Supreme Court in support of marriage equality on April 25, 2015. PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP via Getty Images

A Supreme Court decision is never enough.

Today, Americans should celebrate the overdue Supreme Court ruling – written by a conservative justice, no less – that civil rights law protects LGBTQ workers from employment discrimination.

But tomorrow let’s remember why a protest movement has claimed the streets of our cities and the attention of the world. Americans are protesting because a legal victory – even a Supreme Court victory – wins a battle but never ends a war.

The Civil Rights movement achieved memorable Supreme Court triumphs and passed essential laws – including the law vindicated today for LGBTQ workers. But politics, inequality, tradition, and prejudice constantly eroded the legal conquests. The legal writs did not fix the problem, which is why George Floyd protesters are still fighting many of the same fights they did 50 years ago.– DP

More evidence that the coronavirus spreads most easily indoors with prolonged exposure and talking, singing, or heavy breathing…

A new “preprint” study from Japan adds more insight into how and where the coronavirus spreads – and, therefore, where we should focus our mitigation measures.

Researchers studied 3,184 cases in 61 “clusters” in Japan in which five or more people were infected. The findings increase evidence that the riskiest behaviour involves prolonged exposure in crowded, confined indoor spaces with talking, singing, or heavy breathing.

None of the clusters involved outdoor activities – something to remember when we see photos shaming people for going to parks.

Only one of the clusters occurred on public transportation (an aeroplane).

Nearly half of the “spreaders” were asymptomatic at the time of transmission.

Also, nearly half of the spreaders were aged 20-39.

The most common “venues” for cluster formation were healthcare (30%) and nursing and day-care facilities (18%). The rest included restaurants and bars (16%), workplaces (13%), music-related events like karaoke, concerts, and choruses (11%), gyms (8%), ceremonies (3%), and an aeroplane (2%). – HB

Trump’s upcoming rally seems like the perfect “super-spreader” event

Trump rally
President Donald Trump addresses a campaign rally Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, in Minneapolis. AP Photo/Jim Mone

President Trump is diligent about protecting himself from the coronavirus: Everyone who meets with him must get tested. But when it comes to protecting normal Americans, he doesn’t seem to care.

Trump’s planned rally in Oklahoma this weekend meets all the criteria of a “super-spreader” event. It will be held inside, for a prolonged period, with a big crowd, with lots of chanting. (“Lock her up!”) And in the die-hard MAGA crowd, one imagines that there won’t be much mask-wearing.

Trump understands the risks, which is why he’s making everyone who attends the rally sign a liability waiver and promise that they won’t sue him if they get sick.

Unfortunately, Trump’s rally will risk the health of many more people than those who attend – and none of the latter will have the chance to sign a liability waiver. Anyone exposed at the rally will then go back to their communities, potentially infecting their families, friends, colleagues, and the unsuspecting people who come into contact with them.

Trump loves his rallies. But perhaps he could also consider the people he’s putting at risk. – HB

Reopening won’t fix all this…

In parts of the US, you could almost pretend life was normal this weekend. But look away from the picnics and beaches and read an extraordinary Washington Post story about how the pandemic has rocked the town of Whitehall, Michigan.

COVID-19 devastated airline travel, which smashed airlines, which cancelled orders for new planes, which whacked Boeing, which stunned parts suppliers like Howmet, the largest employer in Whitehall; which ended the jobs of 700 people in Whitehall, which slashed demand at John Dillivan’s sandwich shop, which stopped him from hiring any waiters. And all of this is ravaging local tax revenues, which will shatter local government services….

Now multiply this times most towns in America.

And now multiply it times the world. Consider this New York Times report on how the pandemic curtailed vaccine programs in the developing world, which has caused outbreaks of diphtheria, cholera, polio, and measles.

But that’s not all! The vaccine programs are operating again, but huge numbers of parents in Francophone Africa are opting their kids out. That’s because they fear being secretly subjected to COVID-19 experiments, because French researchers were widely quoted proposing to test COVID-19 vaccines in Africa.

What took decades to build – supply chains, trained workforces, vaccine delivery networks, public trust – fell apart in a moment. That’s why “reopening” is such a measly, insufficient word for what needs to happen. We need to recover, rebuild, and restore, and it will take years. – DP

A vendetta against the world’s bravest journalist.

Maria ressa
Maria Ressa, the award-winning head of a Philippine online news site Rappler, talks to the media after posting bail at a Regional Trial Court following an overnight arrest by National Bureau of Investigation agents on a libel case Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019 in Manila, Philippines. Associated Press/Bullit Marquez

Today’s conviction of Maria Ressa on a charge of cyber libel in the Philippines is appalling news for press freedom globally.

The founder of the investigative news site Rappler, Ressa has fearlessly tried to hold the Duterte government to account. For years, Duterte and his cronies have been squeezing press freedom in a country that used to have a lot of it. Convicting Ressa, who faces a prison sentence of up to six years, will help limit criticism of his authoritarian tactics and brutish drug war.

Everything about this case is chilling, not least the fact that the supposed libel occurred in an article published before there even was a cyber libel law, and the government trumped up a criminal charge by saying Rappler republished the article when it corrected the misspelling of a word. This kind of warping of law to punish enemies is the hallmark of authoritarianism. – DP

Read this book

John Dickerson’s The Hardest Job in the World: The American Presidency comes out this week, and you should read it if you want to understand what the presidency should and should not be. Dickerson (a close friend!) brilliantly explains how the presidency grew and evolved and accumulated power, how Trump has warped it, and how it can be fixed. -DP

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Patrick Hutchinson rescues counterprotester london

Black Lives Matter protester Patrick Hutchinson carries an anti-Black Lives Matter counterprotester to safety after he was injured during Saturday clashes in London.


Another SWAT team resigned. The ten members of the Hallandale Beach, Florida, SWAT team resigned because they were criticised by the 22-year-old vice mayor of the town, who took part in BLM protests. This follows the resignation of all 57 members Buffalo’s Emergency Response team after two of them were punished for assaulting a peaceful protester. This seems like a great opportunity for an experiment! It’s not clear why a town of 37,000 people needs a 10-person militarised police unit. Hallandale should see what happens when it no longer has a SWAT team: Is the town safer or more dangerous? Is there more crime or less? – DP


The $US600 per week unemployment boost will end in late July. Top Trump economic official Larry Kudlow told CNN it should stop because “the jobs are coming back and we don’t want to interfere with that process.” The administration may propose replacing it with a hiring bonus.


Dining out eating at restaurant pandemic coronavirus mask waiter cocktails

What it’s like to eat at a socially distanced restaurant. Insider’s Irene Jiang went out for dinner in Seattle and lots of hand sanitizer, a shorter menu, and 25% capacity.


Melania ivanka trump
Melania Trump (L) and Ivanka Trump look on as Republican presidential elect Donald Trump speaks during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016. JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

Melania Trump blocked Ivanka from renaming the First Lady’s Office the “First Family Office.” That’s according to a new book about the First Lady.

Atlanta police release the body cam footage showing the struggle before Rayshard Brooks’ killing.

The shocking age gaps between actors in famous movies. Those two above from Love Actually are only five years apart. Also Colin Firth played the love interest of Emma Stone, 28 years his junior.

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