2020, pandemic, history, humanity's progress
The author writes, “2020 will go down in infamy for all the obvious reasons, but history shows it doesn’t actually rank among humanity’s worst years. ... Understanding just how far we’ve come from the years when life was nasty, brutal, and short can help us put the pain of 2020 in perspective, and appreciate the progress we need to defend.” Photo credit: Pxhere

Trump’s Private Bankers Resign From Deutsche Bank ; What I learned From Reading Over a Thousand Letters to Santa ; and More Picks 12/24

Georgia Elections Chief Seeks to End No-Excuse Absentee Voting (DonkeyHotey)

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Wednesday asked Georgia state representatives to end no-excuse absentee voting, a proposal that would limit the voting method over 1.3 million people used in the presidential election. Raffensperger wants to reduce absentee voting after promoting it during the coronavirus pandemic, when he mailed ballot applications to active registered voters before the primary election.”

Trump’s Private Bankers Resign From Deutsche Bank (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “The private bankers responsible for lending to President Donald Trump and Jared Kushner have resigned from Deutsche Bank, the bank said. ‘Rosemary Vrablic and Dominic Scalzi have tendered their resignations to Deutsche Bank effective as of year-end, which was accepted by the bank,’ Daniel Hunter, a spokesman for the bank said in a statement. Vrablic and Scalzi have worked closely together for years since joining Deutsche Bank a decade ago. Vrablic was a trusted contact to the Trump Organization and Kushner and assumed the bank’s lending relationship with Trump in the private side of the bank after the commercial lending division stopped doing business with Trump.”

Convicted Using False Testimony, Michigan Man Is Free After 38 Years (Russ)

The author writes, “Walter Forbes had enrolled in drafting technology classes at the community college in Jackson, Mich., in hopes of jump-starting a career in real estate development. That plan ended when he was arrested, at age 25, in connection with an arson death. In 2017, a witness admitted that she had lied on the stand after being threatened. After a judge vacated the sentence in November, a prosecutor decided last week not to pursue a new trial, freeing Mr. Forbes, now 63, after 38 years behind bars.”

What I learned From Reading Over a Thousand Letters to Santa (Dana)

From the Defector: “Although the Postal Service began digitizing some letters [to Santa] in 2017, this year’s operation has gone entirely digital due to COVID-19. … Every letter has been anonymized, scanned, and uploaded to the Operation Santa website, for anyone to read and adopt with a click of a button (once the letter is adopted, it’s removed from the site). … I wanted to know what kids were asking Santa for during a pandemic, so each day from Dec. 4, when the first batch of letters hit the website, to Dec. 13, I spent hours engaged in the surreal, intimate, heart-wrenching practice of reading children’s letters to Santa Claus one after another—about a thousand in all. This year, Operation Santa is an explicit look at the disastrous impact of COVID-19 on America’s poor and the utter failure of the government’s response.”

Do Canada Geese Still Fly South for Winter? Yes, but It’s Complicated (Dan)

The author writes, “Migrating Canada geese, in their iconic v-formations, can fly an astonishing 1,500 miles in just 24 hours. They can also waddle indefinitely around your local office park. In recent years, more people across the United States and Canada have noticed the noisy black-and-white-headed birds taking up residence year-round on golf courses, lawns, and other green spaces. Have these geese, perhaps encouraged by milder winters and easy suburban living, simply stopped flying south? In many cases, yes — but the explanation is complicated.”

Paragliding Santa Claus Rescued From Power Lines in California (Dana)

The author writes, “A California Santa Claus paragliding with a motorized parachute ended up needing assistance from the elves at the local fire department when he became tangled in power lines. Metro Fire of Sacramento said the St. Nick impersonator was using his motorized paraglider, a parachute propelled by a motor-operated fan, to deliver candy canes to local children Sunday when his aircraft became tangled in some power lines in Rio Linda.”

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