climate crisis, cities, protection, budget constraints
The author writes, “One in four cities around the world lack the money to protect themselves against the ravages of climate breakdown, even though more than 90% are facing serious risks, according to research. Cities are facing flooding, overheating, water shortages, and damage to their infrastructure from extreme weather. ... A survey of 800 cities, carried out by the Carbon Disclosure Project, found that last year about 43% of them — representing a combined population of 400 million people — did not have a plan to adapt to the climate crisis. Budgetary restraints were cited as the key reason by about 25% of cities.” Photo credit: Coast Guard News / Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Flu Has Disappeared Worldwide During the Pandemic ; Judge Says NYC Federal Jails Are Run by ‘Morons’ ; and More Picks 5/12

PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to

Flu Has Disappeared Worldwide During the COVID-19 Pandemic (Dana)

From Scientific American: “Since the novel coronavirus began its global spread, influenza cases reported to the World Health Organization have dropped to minuscule levels. The reason, epidemiologists think, is that the public health measures taken to keep the coronavirus from spreading also stop the flu. Influenza viruses are transmitted in much the same way as SARS-CoV-2, but they are less effective at jumping from host to host. As Scientific American reported last fall, the drop-off in flu numbers was both swift and universal. Since then, cases have stayed remarkably low.”

NYC Federal Jails Are Run by ‘Morons,’ Says Judge After Inmate Describes Horrors (Dan)

From the New York Daily News: “New York City’s two federal jails are run by ‘morons,’ a furious judge declared at a recent sentencing, saying the U.S. Attorney General himself should be aware of the ‘disgusting, inhuman’ conditions at the lockups. Manhattan Federal Judge Colleen McMahon said incompetence by the Justice Department and its Bureau of Prisons made it impossible to impose a fair sentence on Tiffany Days, 40, convicted in a drug-dealing conspiracy case in the Highbridge section of the Bronx.”

Online Cheating Charges Upend Dartmouth Medical School (Russ)

The author writes, “[Sirey Zhang] is one of 17 medical students whom Dartmouth recently accused of cheating on remote tests while in-person exams were shut down because of the coronavirus. The allegations have prompted an on-campus protest, letters of concern to school administrators from more than two dozen faculty members and complaints of unfair treatment from the student government, turning the pastoral Ivy League campus into a national battleground over escalating school surveillance during the pandemic.”

Germany Takes the Lead in Global Race to Net Zero With New Goal (Nick)

The authors write, “Germany is shaking up the global climate movement with a single declaration. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition said [last week] it will aim to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, five years earlier than its previous goal and the shortest timeline among major economies. Policymakers are working on a new climate law that will raise Germany’s short-term reduction targets above its European Union peers.”

The Gates Divorce Is About More Than a Marriage (Sean)

The author writes, “When Bill and Melinda Gates announced [last week] that they would be ending their 27-year marriage, they tweeted in tandem that they ‘no longer believe [they] can grow together as a couple.’ The reasoning wasn’t unusual for a 21st-century divorce, but their private emotional journey has highly atypical financial implications: Between their personal holdings and the charitable foundation they started together, the amount of money they control — somewhere around $180 billion — is roughly equal to the annual GDP of Kazakhstan or Qatar. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which they launched 25 years after Bill co-founded Microsoft, is one of the biggest private charitable foundations in the world, with an endowment of about $50 billion. In a sense, the jobs of its 1,600 employees and its investments in malaria prevention and early-childhood education have rested on the bedrock of Bill and Melinda’s marriage.”

Juliana Mazza Was Reporting on a Stolen Dog in Cambridge. Then She and Her Photographer Saw the Suspect With the Pup. (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “7News reporter Juliana Mazza was covering the story of a stolen dog in Cambridge [MA] on Saturday when she and her photographer spotted something — a man walking nearby with the missing pup. … Mazza and her photographer were at the scene of the theft on Saturday reporting on the story when they noticed a man walking with a dog in their direction. ‘We stopped him to ask a few questions, and all of a sudden we realized — that’s the dog that was taken,’ Mazza said in her subsequent report.”

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