We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—Verily's quick takes on the happenings of this week.
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies
Last Friday Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at age 87 at her home in Washington, D.C. after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. The second woman to hold a place on the Court, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton in 1993 after he publicly noted that “many admirers of her work say that she is to the women’s movement what former Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall was to the movement for the rights of African Americans.”
Raised in Brooklyn, New York, Justice Ginsburg’s father was a Jewish immigrant from Russia and her older sister died tragically at age 8, leaving Ruth feeling that she grew up “with the smell of death.” Then, her mother died of cervical cancer the day before Ruth graduated high-school. She went on to meet her husband at Cornell University, marrying him following graduation. Together they attended Harvard Law School and grew their family, raising two children. Ginsburg went on to begin her momentous legal career, becoming an outspoken advocate for gender equality, voting rights, and women’s rights. During her time on the Court, she also legally championed abortion rights, even controversially supporting lifting the ban on partial-birth abortion on the grounds that “at stake in cases challenging abortion restrictions is a woman’s ‘control over her [own] destiny.’” She also took stands against pregnancy discrimination, such as in 1972, when Ginsburg prepared a brief for the Supreme Court to defend a pregnant Air Force woman’s right to carry her baby to term and place the child up for adoption, without losing her job. The late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia called Ginsburg “the leading (and very successful) litigator on behalf of women’s rights," and maintained a friendship with Ginsburg, despite their differing views.
The late Justice will lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Building after having lain in repose at the Supreme Court on Wednesday and Thursday. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also announced that a formal ceremony takes place on Friday morning. Of Ginsburg’s legacy, she said, “her passing is an incalculable loss for our democracy and for all who sacrifice and strive to build a better future for our children. . . . Her opinions have unequivocally cemented the precedent that all men and women are created equal.” —Mariel Lindsay
Breonna Taylor ruling leads to more civil unrest
Wednesday night, after the grand jury ruled on the Breonna Taylor case without criminally indicting officers for her tragic death, those who believe her death to have been racially motivated once again took to the streets. In Louisville, Kentucky, where Breonna resided and where the grand jury’s decision took place, crowds became particularly volatile, setting fires and causing property damage. One protestor, 26-year-old Larynzo Johnson, opened fire on police officers, wounding two. According to Interim Police Chief Robert Schroeder, both officers are “doing well and will survive their injuries.”
Louisville Police later reported that 127 were arrested on charges related to damaging businesses, looting, and ignoring orders to disperse. Violence likewise erupted in Seattle, Washington, where police made 13 arrests related to smashed windows and spray-painted buildings. Local police also report that multiple officers were injured. In Portland, Oregon, protestors are reported to have thrown rocks through windows at the law enforcement precinct station and hurled Molotov cocktails at officers on the ground, hitting one in the foot. Reports also indicate that protestors set the Police Bureau on fire.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell addressed both the grand jury’s decision on Breonna Taylor, as well as the ensuing violence, on the Senate floor the following day, saying that “many Kentuckians have channeled their continuing grief and anger into a peaceful exercise of their First Amendment rights. But in Louisville last night, we saw more of the lawlessness, riots, and violence that has plagued American cities too often this year.” Meanwhile, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris urged her Twitter followers to “keep speaking Breonna Taylor’s name.” —ML
COVID-19 resurges in Europe
Leaders throughout Europe are considering implementing new measures this week to clamp down on the novel coronavirus, which has begun spreading again in the continent after a quieter summer.
As positive test numbers shot up in countries like Germany, France, and Spain, the World Health Organization called the situation a “wake up call,” CNBC reported. In the United Kingdom, local shutdowns have been implemented to control pockets of disease, but Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be considering another nationwide lockdown similar to the quarantine strategy that was implemented this spring.
The long-feared “second wave” of the virus in Europe may bring fewer fatalities than the first surge, which caught frantic governments off guard and led to overwhelmed healthcare systems, particularly in Italy and Spain. However, the prospect of a second round with COVID has financial systems rattled, and not just across the pond; the U.S. stock market has stumbled in recent days as investors digest the news that the major economies in Europe may be in for a prolonged slump.
One nation that so far seems to have escaped a second wave is Sweden. The country took a different approach to dealing with the virus than other Western nations, with few restrictions on public life even during the worst days of the infection. Now, nationwide, there are fewer than 20 COVID patients in intensive care. The strategy came at a dire price, however—on a per capita basis, Sweden has endured a much higher death rate than its Nordic neighbors. —MB
CDC officially recommends against trick-or-treating this Halloween
Your neighborhood contingent of pint-sized goblins and ghosts will perhaps be saying “Boo!” for a different reason this year: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control has come out against traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating, labeling it a high-risk activity for spreading the deadly infection.
Also discouraged: hayrides, trunk-or-treat events (where candy is handed out of car trunks), and haunted houses. The holiday need not be completely canceled though. The public health agency suggests taking advantage of low-risk fall traditions like pumpkin carving, scary movie marathons in your living room, or (virtual) costume contests.
Speaking of costumes, the CDC points out that costume masks are not a substitute for the cloth masks that have become ubiquitous, and in some localities, required. Wearing two masks at once could make breathing difficult, so the CDC recommends skipping the costume mask entirely.
It should be noted that the CDC’s advice is just guidance, and decisions about trick-or-treating and other activities will be made on a local or household basis. Emerging reports indicate canceling the door-to-door candy crawl will be a hard sell. In Los Angeles County, authorities had announced a ban on trick-or-treating, only to have to walk back the decision this week. The LA County sheriff says his officers won’t be enforcing health rules against trick or treaters. —MB
Fast-food chains are growing off the charts
While we reported the high number of restaurants that have closed as a financial byproduct of the coronavirus pandemic, sales at their counterparts, fast-food chains, have skyrocketed. In April, May, and June, drive-thru visits jumped about 26 percent, according to the market-research company NPD Group.
As a result, fast food chains including Burger King, Starbucks, and Taco Bell have adapted significantly. Many have shrunk indoor dining spaces and expanded outdoor shaded seating. Burger King, for example, has unveiled two new restaurant types—one with a 60 percent smaller footprint than its traditional layout and the other with a 100 percent touchless experience. One layout includes a kitchen and dining room that suspends over the drive-thru lanes and will enable patrons to pick up their food from a conveyor belt. Diners can also park under a solar-power canopy and wait for their food from their cars in parking spots. These types of restaurants will appear in Miami (Burger King’s headquarters), Latin America, and the Caribbean sometime in 2021. —Melanie Wilcox
Times Square Alliance Announces Virtual New Year’s Celebration in Times Square
Just when we hoped the madness of 2020 could be left for 2020… The iconic ball drop celebration welcoming 2021 in Times Square will not host any guests, with the exception of limited live entertainment, Tim Tompkins, president of the Times Square Alliance, said.
Instead, Topmpkins said the Times Square Alliance, in conjunction with Countdown Entertainment, will offer new and enhanced virtual, visual and digital offerings to complement the live entertainment. The event will honor essential workers and others who have made a difference in 2020, Tompkins said. —MW
Good News of the Week
A triathlete helps a rival (who lost his way) cross the finish line
A Spanish athlete is being lauded for good sportsmanship after an incident at the 2020 Santander Triathlon.
British competitor James Teagle was running in third place in the contest when, as he neared the end of the race, he didn’t see signs pointing him to the correct route. He ran in the wrong direction.
Diego Méntrida of Spain initially overtook Teagle but when he realized Teagle’s mistake, he slowed down so his rival could catch up. The two athletes shook hands and Teagle stepped over the finish line. “When I saw that he had missed the route, I just stopped. James deserved this medal,” Eurosport quoted Méntrida, who said he’d do it again.
Race organizers have recognized Méntrida with an honorary third-place medal and equivalent prize money. —MB
Watch of the Week
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