The Mask Mystery that Isn’t

Good Morning. Friday’s quote was Israeli officials declaring the cease fire with Palestinian-backed Hamas. Back with 4 stories, today the Texas mask-pocalypse that wasn’t; Phil Mickelson wins the PGA; China works to restrain cryptos; and Belarus imprisons an opposition leader.

Number of Jews in Egypt: 10 (total population: 100 million)

Jordan: 0 (10M)

Saudi Arabia: 0 (34M)

Lebanon: 100 (7M

Syria: 0 (17M)

Iraq: 4 (39M)

Iran: 8,300 (83M)

Number of Arabs in Israel: 1.9M (9M), with full civil rights.

But sure, Israel is the apartheid state.

Media Spotlight

The Atlantic is befuddled by the so-called Texas Mask Mystery. The Lone Star State yanked its mask mandate over two months ago, and as researchers in the National Bureau of Economic Research point out, doomsday predictions “failed to materialize;” they concluded that nixing the mask mandate had no observable effect on the spread of COVID-19. Writing for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson quickly dismissed the theory that “masks in particular do almost nothing”—a clever misdirect. It is not that masks do almost nothing; it is that a mask will only be effective against COVID-19 if it is N95 compliant, if it is properly washed (or disposed) regularly, and if it is properly fitted around the nose and mouth. Since that description does not match most—if any—masked-up persons in the general public, the Texas phenomenon should be no mystery at all for those who dared to look around.

Sports

Phil Mickelson became the oldest person—and first in his 50s—to win the PGA Championship golf tournament at the Ocean Course in South Carolina. Triumphantly, he notes: “There’s no reason why I or anybody else can’t do it at a later age. It just takes a little more work.” A 6-time runner-up a the US Open, Mickelson earned himself a 5-year exemption to notch that one elusive victory before his PGA win expires.

Technology

Beijing is working to crack down on cryptocurrency trading. Long run, that’s a bad proposition—decentralized currencies are too sophisticated to be caught by the long arm of government. But in the short run, traders are mainly utilizing third-party wallet providers like Coinbase, which report to centralized agencies. Already well off of year-end highs, Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies spiraled further South on China’s renewed efforts.

World

Diverted in mid-air, one Ryanair commercial aircraft was forced to land as it passed through Belarusian airspace. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko appears to have had secret service on-board in a successful attempt to arrest journalist and opposition leader Raman Pratasevich. Belarus is charging Pratasevich with up to 15 years in prison, igniting international condemnation and fears for the ramifications on Euro-centric commercial airliners.

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