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[Weekly Review]

Weekly Review

Despite its surge in cases, South Dakota has begun using federal COVID-19 relief funds for a multimillion-dollar tourism campaign.

During the press tour for his new book, Rage, Bob Woodward—whose biography of John Belushi was widely criticized for its inaccuracies and denounced as “really trash and garbage” by Dan Aykroyd—revealed that Donald Trump had intentionally downplayed the severity of COVID-19 in early 2020.1 “Bob Woodward had my quotes for many months. If he thought they were so bad or dangerous, why didn’t he immediately report them in an effort to save lives? Didn’t he have an obligation to do so? No, because he knew they were good and proper answers. Calm, no panic!” Trump tweeted; later, he said that he would “probably, most definitely” not read the book because he is too busy.2 3 It was reported that Trump-appointed officials at the Department of Health and Human Services have altered CDC reports on COVID-19 to more closely reflect the president’s claims about the virus, and in a Facebook Live video, the department’s assistant secretary for public affairs accused career scientists at the CDC of plotting against Trump and encouraged his viewers to stock up on ammunition because “When Donald Trump refuses to stand down at the inauguration, the shooting will begin.”4 5 “It’s amazing, what we have done,” said the president about the number of COVID-19 deaths in the United States—the highest count in the world.6 Canada reported no new deaths from COVID-19 for the first time in six months, the World Health Organization reported the highest single-day increase in coronavirus cases, and the chief executive of the Serum Institute of India—the largest drug manufacturer in the world—said that it would take four to five years to vaccinate the entire world population because pharmaceutical companies are not increasing production capacity.7 8 India, the nation with the second-most infections worldwide, is reopening the Taj Mahal to as many as 5,000 daily visitors; a Ukrainian church leader who called COVID-19 God’s punishment for gay marriage tested positive for the virus; and the Australian state of Queensland’s social-distancing regulations prohibit dancing at weddings but allow sex parties.9 10 11 The stripped-down Republican stimulus bill failed in the Senate.12 Despite its surge in cases, South Dakota has begun using federal COVID-19 relief funds for a multimillion-dollar tourism campaign, and Tennessee allocated its funds to the training of police officers.13 14 A self-described “polyamorous transgender Mississippian lesbian anarchist atheist” won the GOP nomination for sheriff in Cheshire County, New Hampshire; her campaign slogan is “Fuck the Police.”15

Emergency dispatchers in Oregon were inundated with 9-1-1 calls about a QAnon-backed rumor that Antifa had started the wildfires in their state.16 “Rumors spread just like wildfire,” cautioned the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. “This is in line with essentially every prediction for what could happen this year,” said a climate scientist as three out of the five largest fires in California history burned simultaneously and turned the sky in San Francisco and other parts of the state orange.17 Over 48 hours, Colorado experienced a record-setting heat wave and a record-breaking snowstorm.18 “I strongly believe we’re going to look back,” said NASA’s former chief scientist about the future of natural disasters, “and say, ‘Wow, 2020 was a crazy year, but I miss it.’ ”19 The U.S. Department of Education has begun reviewing internal employee activities, such as book clubs, for “Anti-American propaganda,” including the discussion of white privilege, critical race theory, and the suggestion that the United States is a racist country.20 It was reported that the Department of Homeland Security skirted restrictions on employee travel by transporting immigrant detainees accompanied by tactical teams to Virginia so that ICE agents could crack down on Black Lives Matter protests in Washington.21 The sole surviving protester shot by Kyle Rittenhouse, as well as the protester’s grandmother, has received death threats from Rittenhouse’s supporters.22 “We all do stupid things at seventeen,” said Donald Trump Jr. when asked about Rittenhouse.23 24 Roger Stone urged the president to institute martial law if he is not reelected.25

Archivists made public a cache of letters that had been written by Americans in the early Sixties condemning the Kennedy Administration’s drinking habits.26 James Blaesing, the grandson of Warren G. Harding and his lover, Nan Britton, requested that his grandfather’s remains be exhumed to prove that they are blood relations; the rest of the Harding family oppose the exhumation because they already believe that Blaesing is their relative.27 A man bought a lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair and a bloodstained telegram for $81,000.28 It was reported that Americans’ awareness of high blood pressure, its treatment, and its prevention has declined after a 15-year upward trend.29 A new study found that cats are more likely to contract COVID-19 than was previously thought, and a quantum thermometer detected the fevers of nematodes.30 31 Earth’s moon is rusting, Jupiter’s moons are warmer than they should be, there may be planets in other solar systems made of diamond, and scientists have found possible indications of life on Venus.32 33 34 35 “Please, brothers and sisters, let’s try to not gossip,” said Pope Francis.36 “Gossip is a plague worse than COVID.”—Clara Olshansky

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