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Thursday, December 24, 2020
Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Notations From the Grid (Final Year-End Edition): A Final Set of #RandomThoughts
We present some late breaking notations courtesy the team at the Information along with some tips and techniques courtesy the team at the MUSE as we wind down the year here at the Daily Outsider...
|6 Out-of-Office Templates for the Holidays That You Can Copy and Paste|
|You’re ready to disconnect, recharge, and relax over your holiday break. All that’s left to do is set up your autoresponder to let people know you won’t be attached to your inbox. Whether you’re looking for something straightlaced and formal or over-the-top festive, here are six different holiday out-of-office messages you can choose from.|
Notations From the Grid (Special Mid-Week Edition): A Tribute to the Syrian White Helmets
We here at the Daily Outsider had a goal to be a voice--and as we wind down 2020, we want to provide an update courtesy the Syrian White Helmets whom despite all the challenges, have done such heroic work.
My name is Ayman and I’m the head of communications for the White Helmets. My job is to deliver the stories of the White Helmets’ life-saving work to you and the broader community of humanitarians who support us. As 2020 finally comes to an end, I wanted to write to you about our work and how our teams are adapting to unprecedented challenges.
The year started with the heaviest attacks on Idlib since the beginning of the conflict. Between January and March, our volunteers saved 1,174 civilians from under the rubble. Sadly we couldn’t save everyone. At least 515 civilians were killed by Syrian regime and Russian bombs in that period.
In March a ceasefire agreement was brokered, allowing for a period of relative peace despite ongoing violations by regime and Russian forces. Our teams used that opportunity to provide essential services to help the nearly 4 million civilians in that area recover. We conducted 3,157 rubble removal operations, rehabilitated 914 public facilities such as schools and bakeries, opened 3,621 roads, conducted 6,169 water refills for families living in displacement camps, and disposed of more than 22,000 unexploded ordnances.
Then COVID-19 hit, posing a massive challenge on our teams and communities, especially the more than 1 million internally displaced people living in overcrowded camps. We knew we had to step up -- it’s part of the pledge each man and woman makes when they join the White Helmets -- to save lives and restore hope to communities.
With the pandemic spreading in Syria’s neighboring countries, cross-border aid deliveries became even more difficult. We transformed our small uniform production facility into a production line of masks and Personal Protective Equipment for health workers, and established an oxygen cylinders factory to supply hospitals and medical centers amidst severe shortages. We continue to provide ambulance services to transport COVID-19 patients to quarantine centers and hospitals.
The White Helmets women-led teams have played an essential role in raising awareness about COVID-19. Since March, volunteers conducted 17,614 educational sessions including visits to families in displacement camps. In addition, the women’s centers continued to provide medical and first aid services to families including newborns.
As winter sets in, our biggest fear is for a new round of intense aerial attacks that would cause new waves of displacement. There is nowhere left for people to run and the conditions are already dire in the tents, many of which are drowning in mud and rain floods.
As we wrap up 2020, we mourn and honor the nine volunteers we lost this year. Mohamad Al-Assad and Othman Al-Othman were deliberately targeted by the Syrian regime and Russia while on duty. Along with seven others who died in traffic accidents or of chronic diseases, they’re among 288 volunteers we have lost since we started doing this work.
We have all learned a lot this year, and the most important thing I learned is that there’s always a chance for humanity to stand together. I know that because of the support and solidarity we receive from people like you around the world. My wish is that our volunteers will not spend 2021 digging civilians from under the rubble left by bombing, but helping them return and rebuild their homes.
Ayman from the White Helmets
Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Notations the Grid (Year-End 2020 Edition ): As the Year is Drawing to a Close....
It has been a very challenging year. As we draw the year to a close, We present a snapshot of deliberations as we gear up for 2021 courtesy the New York Times, OZY The Atlantic, The Financial Times & The Sydney Morning Herald:
|The great wall between Canada and America|
Rana Foroohar responds
Ed, We can indeed learn from the Canadians, but we can also learn plenty from certain US states, such as New York. The story you share reminds me very much of my own experience coming back from Chicago to New York City after dropping my daughter at college in December.
Andrew Cuomo, New York governor, had just put Illinois on the state’s quarantine and contact tracing list. When I landed in New York, I was greeted by pleasant and efficient Department of Homeland Security staff who took my details and informed me that I needed to stay in my home for 14 days and be tested on day five if possible. I received calls from the state authorities daily, and was offered a free hotel room if I couldn’t be socially distant from my family. I felt quite reassured about living in a well-governed state. Chicago felt like a bit of a hot mess comparatively. Although not as bad as South Dakota where my brother lives. He tells me tests are still unavailable for those without full-blown symptoms.
As an aside, I’m reminded by your piece (though certainly not your writing) on The New Republic’s most boring headline contest many years ago. The winner was “Worthwhile Canadian initiative.”
The White House
Over the weekend, The New York Times reported that President Donald Trump discussed further attempts to cling to power, including the possibility of imposing martial law, during a meeting with advisers.
Trump’s attempted coup will fail, one Atlantic writer argues, but it won’t be without consequence: His antidemocratic maneuvers set a dangerous precedent.
The president is losing his mind, Peter Wehner argues. “This is where Trump’s crippling psychological condition—his complete inability to face unpleasant facts, his toxic narcissism, and his utter lack of empathy—became lethal,” writes Wehner, who served in three Republican administrations.
And he’s moving once unthinkable acts into the realm of possible. “No, there won’t be a coup,” David Frum, a staff writer and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, writes. “But we have on record the first ever formal U.S. Army repudiation of a coup. That’s bad enough.”
In the future, aspiring autocrats could capitalize on that. “Imagine the same playbook executed with better decorum, a president exerting pressure that is less crass and issuing tweets that are more polite,” Zeynep Tufekci argued earlier this month.
Was it worth it? Our White House correspondent Peter Nicholas asked John Kelly, John Bolton, and other ex–Trump staffers to reflect on their time spent working for Trump. They all insisted that it was.
A dire time for restaurants
No matter how you slice it, the restaurant industry is in trouble. By some estimates, nearly 110,000 restaurants have permanently closed.
“People in the industry I’ve talked to seem to be in despair,” Pete Wells, a New York Times restaurant critic, told me.
Everyone has struggled, small and large. Independent restaurants have closed and reopened (and then closed again), built outdoor dining areas and bolstered takeout menus, along with other creative solutions.
Dine-in chains have a different set of problems. Outposts in cities with more relaxed regulations can tide over those that are under lockdown. But large restaurant companies have struggled to develop a coordinated approach. Several dining chains — including Chuck E. Cheese, California Pizza Kitchen and some Il Mulino restaurants — were compelled to file for bankruptcy.
The pressure is on now that we’ve officially entered the holiday season, usually the industry’s busiest time of year. But big company dinners and intimate family meals will be largely absent in 2020.
Diners were already hesitant to eat out, but indoor bans have dealt another blow. And temperatures have dropped, shortchanging outdoor options.
“It’s just so brutal right now,” Pete said. “We can see the light at the end of the tunnel, finally. All of these vaccines are flooding in. And at the same time, things in restaurants are worse than they’ve been at anytime since April.”
The government could still take steps to bail out restaurants, as has happened in many other countries. And the CARES Act did keep many unemployed restaurant workers afloat. But Pete says that within the industry, “no one really expects to see a bill that specifically addresses the industry’s needs, at least not until after the inauguration.”
If you want to help, or if you’re tired of cooking, it’s always good to order in from a favorite spot. Pete suggested focusing on one or two neighborhood places that you really want to support. And please, if you can, tip as if you had remarkable in-person service all meal long.
8 Ideas for a Holiday Spent Distantly
1. Stay in touch with loved ones.
“Even if you are not religious, the research shows that holiday happiness comes from being with people,” Arthur C. Brooks, our happiness columnist, writes in his latest. Because in-person gatherings aren’t safe right now, find creative ways to use technology to stay in touch.
2. Make old-fashioned telephone calls.
Reach out to friends and family to catch up. Long before the pandemic hit, our staff writer Amanda Mull argued in favor of phone calls, even in a digital age.
3. Play a game.
Ellen Cushing, our special-projects editor, shares her recommendation:
The universe tends toward disorder, and recreational Zooms tend toward everyone talking over one another at once and somehow not communicating a single thing. Or, worse, sitting in stony silence, worried about talking over one another. Having suffered through both experiences, I’ve come to believe that the only solution to the large Zoom gathering is structured fun in the form of an easy-to-learn, easy-to-play game. I recommend Scattergories: It works for all ages, requires only a pencil and paper, and—this is important—produces the kinds of very heated low-stakes arguments family lore is built on (Alex, if you’re reading this, receipts absolutely do not count as “things you find on the beach”). Here’s a handy list generator; just appoint someone to share their screen and you’re ready to go.
4. Enjoy some of the year’s best culture.
It was the year of ambitious TV watching. The year of the quarantine reading project. And the year of the comfort show.
Our Culture team is rounding up the highlights of 2020: Review their picks for the best TV shows, the best movies, and the best albums.
Our film critic David Sims also put together a list of family movies for every mood.
5. Read something great.
Writers and editors from around our newsroom selected nine poems worth reading during this tough winter.
6. Turn to art for stress relief.
Try to write a novel in three sentences. Or start a craft project using whatever’s lying around. Our staff put together this list of ways to stay creative in quarantine.
7. Journal about your experience.
Do it for yourself, or for future generations. “Diaries from the coronavirus era will help preserve details that may fade from public memory over time,” Morgan Ome reported this summer.
8. Make space for grief.
The world is mourning the loss of so many people this year. “After the death of a loved one, a season of indulgent celebration can feel perverse to the bereaved,” Mikala Jamison wrote in 2018. She shared some expert advice for spending a first holiday without a loved one.
Dear Movement Family,
This week the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival released a set of 14 policy and legislative priorities for the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration and the 117th Congress. Our priorities include comprehensive and just COVID relief, health care for all, a federal jobs program, and much more.
The Poor People’s Campaign will be bringing poor and low-income people, economists, public health experts, and moral leaders to meet with the Biden-Harris transition team. We’re eager to present an agenda that lifts from the bottom so that everybody rises.
Sign on now to add your support to these 14 priorities for the healing of the nation.
As of this writing, eight of the deadliest days (from a specific event or cause) in recorded U.S. history have now occurred this month. Sadly, that number will continue to rise. We need to continue to be vigilant in practicing social distancing, avoiding indoor congregant settings, and wearing masks.
Imagine that this disease was sweeping through and killing U.S. senators like it’s killing poor and low-wealth people, and ask yourself if the response would be so piecemeal and under-funded. Of course not. They would be doing everything they could to stop that.
This current proposal in the Senate, if you go to the bottom, is pushing for a liability shield for businesses to protect themselves from lawsuits from poor/low-wealth workers if they get COVID because the business did not protect them. That’s criminal.
It’s damnable that we are even being placed in this position that we have to make these choices. But if we have to make the choice, we cannot once again leave poor and low-wealth essential workers to be last.
Corporations have gotten everything they asked for and more, while one in eight Americans reported going hungry last week! The Senate should not compromise on the backs of the poor.
To have to compromise in the midst of a deadly pandemic with over 290,000 dead feels like the Three-Fifths Compromise during slavery. It was wrong then, and compromise is wrong now. We don’t need compromise, but character. McConnell and any who have helped the wealthy while they let the poor suffer and die will face the judgment of God. I say this with great love and tears for this nation. The blood of all those who suffer and die needlessly is on the hands of the U.S. Senate.
Herod is only referenced in the Bible to show us what not to be, why we should never follow his type of leadership and why Herod-type leaders cannot ultimately stop God's truth, love, and justice.
It’s time to bring his tragic term in office to an inglorious end and let him rant, rave, lie to and cheat those who want to believe him We who have voted and said no and called for reconstruction must recruit even more people to the good cause of healing the nation with policies of justice rooted in love and truth.
Forward together, not one step back,
Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
We close out with a look to the upcoming inauguration for the 46th President of the United States: