Saturday, May 15

Where Reopening Is Working – The New York Times

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Two, many people are taking more precautions than they were in February and March. They’re wearing masks, remaining six feet apart and being careful about what they touch. “Even absent top-down health interventions” — like lockdowns — “people want to keep themselves safe,” Rivers said.

The combination appears to have eliminated most “superspreader events,” like parties, concerts and restaurant meals, where multiple people get sick. Such events may account for 80 percent of all transmissions, research suggests. (Read this Times Op-Ed for more.)

I recognize that this is a somewhat dangerous message. Transmission rates in the U.S. are higher than they need to be, and they have begun rising again in parts of the South and West. In Arizona, where the governor has played down the virus and hospitals are filling up, the situation looks especially bad. But many other places are showing what a responsible and effective reopening looks like.

One crucial caveat is that the virus will outlast the summer — everywhere. During the 1918-19 flu, transmission rates fell in the warmer months, only to soar again in the fall. “People thought it was over,” as Apoorva Mandavilli, a science reporter at The Times, said, “and stopped taking precautions.”

Where the news is worse: A few big countries where cases are still rising — India, Mexico, Russia, Iran and Pakistan — are nevertheless ending their lockdowns, citing economic reasons.

A court-appointed expert urged a federal judge to reject the Trump administration’s attempt to drop the criminal case against Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser. The expert, a retired federal judge, criticized the Justice Department’s “highly irregular conduct to benefit a political ally of the president.”

Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about his contact with Russia’s ambassador, but the Justice Department later claimed the lies were not “material.” Those claims, the retired judge, John Gleeson, wrote, “are preposterous.”

What’s next: The case will continue on Friday when a three-judge panel on the Court of Appeals considers the case.

After the National Guard took part in the crackdown on peaceful protesters outside the White House last week, a white commander referred to the standoff as the “Alamo.” But among the ranks of the D.C. Guard, a majority of whom are people of color, troops feel demoralized, The Times reports. The National Guard is now conducting an investigation into the day’s events.

Some troops said they were so ashamed in their role that they have kept it from family members.

In other protest developments:

  • In a series of late-night tweets, President Trump threatened to take federal action to control protests in Seattle, mocking local officials for not doing so. Jay Inslee, the governor of Washington State, returned the scorn, saying Trump was “incapable” of governing.

  • In Richmond, Va., protesters pulled down a Jefferson Davis statue, where it lay broken in the street until a tow truck carried it away.

  • Amazon said it was putting a one-year pause on letting the police use its facial recognition tool, amid concerns about how the technology treats African-Americans.

  • NASCAR announced that it would prohibit the Confederate battle flag from its events after Bubba Wallace, the sport’s only black driver, called for the ban. Separately, Trump rejected a Pentagon proposal to consider renaming Army bases named after Confederate officers.

In their first economic projections this year, officials at the Federal Reserve said they expected the unemployment rate to end 2020 at 9.3 percent and to remain elevated for years. The Fed pledged to do “whatever we can” to support the recovery. “This is the biggest economic shock, in the U.S. and the world, really, in living memory,” Jerome Powell, the Fed chair, said.

A call for more stimulus: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called for “another bipartisan legislation to put more money into the economy.” The Trump administration and congressional Republicans have been sending mixed messages about more stimulus.

  • Republicans expect to move their national convention this summer to Jacksonville, Fla., from Charlotte, N.C., after Trump disagreed with North Carolina officials about social-distancing measures.

  • Speaker Nancy Pelosi pushed back against Democrats who have argued that Joe Biden must pick an African-American running mate. “I think Joe Biden should pick whoever he wants,” Pelosi said in a round table with journalists. “I would never, never narrow his possibilities.”

  • The final count in Georgia showed that Jon Ossoff had received more than 50 percent of votes in the Democratic primary, which will allow him to avoid a runoff and become the party’s nominee for a Senate election this fall.

  • Lives lived: Lennie Niehaus first attracted attention as an alto saxophonist and arranger in the 1950s. But his most lasting legacy may have been the scores he wrote for films directed by Clint Eastwood — among them “Bird,” for which he also taught Forest Whitaker to emulate the saxophone playing of Charlie Parker. Niehaus has died at 90.

The interruption of pro sports has led many desperate fans to watch ESPN documentaries like “The Last Dance” and “Lance.” It turns out that one ESPN documentary also offers a searing look at police brutality: “O.J.: Made in America,” by Ezra Edelman.

The main narrative is about O.J. Simpson and the 1994 murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. But the backdrop to the story, and to the jury’s deep mistrust of the prosecution, is the Los Angeles Police Department’s longtime mistreatment of the city’s black residents, through violence and lies.

As the Times critic A.O. Scott told me: The movie shows “the deep roots of mistrust and resentment that the L.A.P.D. sowed among the city’s black citizens over decades of abuse and contempt. The jury’s verdict — so shocking to so many at the time — is shown as an act with clear historical roots and political meaning.” (His 2016 review of the film compared it to the work of Norman Mailer and Robert Caro.)

The Times’s Wesley Morris says: “It’s one of the most rigorous, most haunting X-rays of this country’s racial crises and racist myths, from law enforcement and criminal justice to sex, sports, and Hertz.” The movie stretches over five episodes and almost eight hours, but, as Wesley says, “You’ve spent far more time with far less superior storytelling.”

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