economic inequality, pandemic surge, widening gap, labor market
The author writes, “The winter surge of COVID-19 stopped and then reversed the progress in returning to work that had been made by the lowest-income workers, the New York Fed points out in a research paper released Tuesday. But it had limited impact on high- and middle-income workers, further boosting the employment gap between the groups.” Photo credit: Billie Grace Ward / Wikimedia (CC BY 2.0)

The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign That Saved the 2020 Election (Reader Steve)

The author writes, “A weird thing happened right after the Nov. 3 election: nothing. The nation was braced for chaos. Liberal groups had vowed to take to the streets, planning hundreds of protests across the country. Right-wing militias were girding for battle. In a poll before Election Day, 75% of Americans voiced concern about violence. Instead, an eerie quiet descended. As President Trump refused to concede, the response was not mass action but crickets. When media organizations called the race for Joe Biden on Nov. 7, jubilation broke out instead, as people thronged cities across the U.S. to celebrate the democratic process that resulted in Trump’s ouster.”

Reintroducing Sonia Sotomayor (Dan)

From New York Magazine: “Pandemic life cannot be a welcome change for Sonia Sotomayor. The justice is a people person, so much so that her clerks have been known to gently encourage her to leave events, at which she can be the last one in the room chatting up the service staff. … COVID times have also robbed Sotomayor of her usual discursive style at oral argument. In the Court’s most recent full pre-pandemic term, she asked the first question of advocates one-third of the time, more than anyone else. Last spring, when the justices were compelled to switch to livestreamed phone calls, rigidly moderated by Chief Justice John Roberts, an analysis by law professor Leah Litman found Sotomayor was the likeliest to have her questioning cut short.”

The Ugly Secrets Behind the Costco Chicken (Dana)

The author writes, “Probably like many of you, I think of Costco as an enlightened company exemplifying capitalism that works. One ranking listed it as the No. 1 company to work at in terms of pay and benefits — a prime example of a business that is both profitable and humane. Unless, it turns out, you’re a chicken. Rotisserie chickens selling for just $4.99 each are a Costco hallmark, both delicious and cheap. They are so popular they have their own Facebook page, and the company sells almost 100 million of them a year. But an animal rights group called Mercy for Animals recently sent an investigator under cover to work on a farm in Nebraska that produces millions of these chickens for Costco, and customers might lose their appetite if they saw inside a chicken barn.”

We Now Have New Evidence that Richard III Murdered the Princes in the Tower (Mili)

The author writes, “England’s King Richard III is at the center of one of the most famous assassination legends in history, immortalized in one of William Shakespeare’s greatest tragedies. It’s quite the tale: a power-hungry duke seizes the throne when his brother unexpectedly dies, and he orders his young nephews (one the rightful heir) murdered in the Tower of London to cement his claim to the throne. But was he really a murderer? The debate over Richard III’s presumed guilt has continued for centuries. Now, a British historian has compiled additional evidence of that guilt, described in a recent paper published in the journal History.”

Scientists Learn Even More About Wombats and Their Beautiful Cubed Poop (Dana)

From Gizmodo: “The world makes more sense today, thanks to new research detailing the digestive processes responsible for the bare-nosed wombat’s incredible cube-shaped poop. Nature can be so magical. For reasons not entirely understood, the bare-nosed wombat (Vombatus ursinus), a plant-eating Australian marsupial, produces poop roughly the same shape and size of dice. New research published in Soft Matter (great name) suggests this oddity of nature is no accident and that wombats have evolved highly specialized digestive capabilities to make it happen.”