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The News Fix

The virus hasn’t gone away. And for the most vulnerable among us, COVID-19 is especially destructive.  

Children of color are dying at higher rates than white children. Children in poverty are losing touch with public systems, which is leading to education loss. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the number of people around the world experiencing extreme poverty has grown by 37 million; the impact on children will be devastating.

Essential workers, like school cafeteria staff preparing free lunches, are rarely protected from the heightened risks they face on the job. Nursing homes were woefully unprepared to care for the elderly. People who rely on public services, such as drug rehabilitation programs, face the prospect of losing the treatment they need as state and local budgets are slashed. And millions of out-of-work Americans have lost employer-sponsored health insurance.

On top of all that, flooding and wildfires have displaced thousands of people from their homes, presenting even more health risks to essential workers and children.

It’s hard to know how to think about all of this. In the journal The Lancet earlier this year, public health professor Sandro Galea of Boston University had one idea: compassion. “This moment calls for careful reflection and a reinvestment in compassion as a foundational approach to health,” Galea wrote. 

Smart in a shot

The view from Princeton, New Jersey, on Tuesday evening.
Dennis Louis (@birdyluisa on Twitter)

It’s not just in movies anymore. 

This week, air quality in Portland, Seattle and San Francisco was the worst among major cities around the world. And as the smoke and ash drifted eastward, residents on the opposite coast faced a menacing sight: a dull, deep orange sun looming in the sky. (Above, a photo snapped in Princeton, New Jersey, on Tuesday evening.)

This could be the new normal. While the coasts may be thousands of miles apart, their ecosystems are deeply intertwined. And the greenhouse gases wildfires release — their volume growing, due to climate change — will drive temperatures higher around the world, further aggravating climate change. (Just in case you needed a reminder: the climate is the economy.)

The Numbers

The climate situation has become so bad, major corporations are asking for more regulation


That’s how many companies, in industries ranging from oil and gas to retail, signed on to a statement this week calling on the United States to place “a price on carbon.” Their intention is to drive innovation and encourage competition among companies to clean up their act, they said. 


The group of companies, known as the Business Roundtable, wants the U.S. to reduce its net greenhouse gas emissions “by at least 80%” by 2050, relative to 2005 levels. That’s the same target laid out in 2016’s international Paris climate accord, which President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2017.

$2 trillion

This summer, presidential candidate Joe Biden laid out a $2 trillion environmental agenda that aims, in part, to eliminate carbon emissions entirely from the electricity sector by 2035. The plan would push alternative energy sources including wind, solar, hydropower, biomass and nuclear. 

This week on the podcast

A mother works from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Women have reduced their work hours more than men to take care of children and attend to household needs.
Marco Di Lauro / Getty Images

Episode 278: Coronavirus is pushing women out of work

We are doing the work of governments. And "we" mostly means "women." (Listening time, 34:37)


Make me smile

Tell us what’s making you smarter (or making you smile) at We'd love to include your recommendation in a future newsletter.

Not a Peep

Given the shortage of sugary, marshmallowy Peeps expected at Halloween and the December holidays this year, Marketplace editor Carrie Barber recommends this recipe for a Peep-substitute from the Los Angeles Times.  


A classic movie scene, but make it adorable

Listener Kevin K. recommends this story about a family that’s recreating classic movie scenes, starring their small children. The videos don’t exactly measure up to the real thing, but they’re doing it for a good cause — raising money for food bank network Feeding America. 


Young feminist book club

Newsletter reader J.H. recommends the children’s board book “Feminist Baby: He’s a Feminist Too!” by Loryn Brantz. The titular character knows “it’s OK to cry” and expresses himself by dressing as a dinosaur ballerina. Of all the books she’s reading to her infant son, J.H. says this is the one that most animates him.
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