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MinnPost Picks: a COVID journal, the Spanish flu in Minneapolis, and land grant land grabs

Our weekly roundup of great stories from around the web, as recommended by MinnPost’s staff and contributing journalists.

New York firetruck
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
“‘Dead on Arrival’: A N.Y. Fire Chief’s COVID Journal,” ProPublica

New York City survived 9/11, but now it’s under a completely different type of attack. Here’s Central Brooklyn Fire Chief Simon Ressner’s incredibly moving account of a day in his life as New York firefighters race from patient to patient with COVID-19. —Greta Kaul, data reporter

“The American Influenza Epidemic of 1918-1919: Minneapolis, Minnesota”

This article in the University of Michigan’s Influenza Encyclopedia provides the most detailed account I’ve seen of the Twin Cities’ differing responses to the “Spanish influenza,” including the University of Minnesota’s early decision to close the school to civilians; political arguments over bans on public gatherings, school closures and limits on streetcar passengers — and, before it was all over, renewed outbreaks and a strike by telephone operators. —Susan Albright, managing editor

“Trump is mishandling coronavirus the way Reagan botched the AIDS epidemic,” Vox

Reporter Zack Beauchamp interviews scientist and activist Gregg Gonsalves about the comparisons between President Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the similarities to how President Ronald Reagan dealt with the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s. Gonsalves, a leading member of the AIDS activist group ACT UP, feels the “malign neglect” of this outbreak is similar to the response to the AIDS epidemic, which killed 450,000 Americans between 1981 and 2000. —Corey Anderson, creative director

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Arundhati Roy: ‘The pandemic is a portal,’” Financial Times

A few days ago, Indian novelist Arundhati Roy wrote this piece about how the coronavirus is hitting her country and how the Indian government and people are responding to it. While she focuses a lot on India, she also puts her attention on what this time is revealing for the world. She calls it a “rupture.” —Jonathan Stegall, user experience engineer

“Land-grab universities,” High Country News

A two-year investigation by the magazine High Country News found that the law approved by Abraham Lincoln creating land-grant colleges also effectively turned expropriated indigenous land into university endowments across the country. Minnesota is included, and University of Minnesota land can be traced back to the aftermath of the Dakota War. “For every dollar the United States claims to have spent to purchase Dakota title, the Morrill Act heaped $250 into the University of Minnesota’s coffers — a return of 250 to 1,” the story says. —Walker Orenstein, environment and workforce reporter