May 5th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Do Not Pass Go

“For too long, too many judges have been too quiet about an evil of which we are a part: the mass incarceration of people in the United States today. It is time that more of us spoke out.” That’s Jed S. Rakoff in The New York Review of Books with a piece on the silence of the judges and America’s massive (and growing) problem of over-incarceration. The numbers in this article are astounding.

+ Many of those who make up the increase in the prison population are nonviolent drug offenders, and most of those are black. A recent study in Milwaukee County found that “more than half of African-American men in their thirties had done prison time.” Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm is looking to change that trend, and a lot of other prosecutors are watching. The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin on The Milwaukee Experiment.


Bark Has it Rough

“The national forest is stressed out.” And in California, it has good reason to be. At least twelve million trees have died due to the drought (and the bark beetles), and the state’s forests are being turned into tinderboxes.

+ Give us Californians some credit. We cut our water use by 3.6% in March. The governor had asked for 25%. (I’m doing my part this Cinco de Mayo. Instead of water, I’m only drinking desalinated margaritas.)


Bitter Truth?

Although the claim is far from verified, ISIS is claiming responsibility “for the thwarted attack outside a prophet Muhammad cartoon contest near Dallas, threatening to carry out ‘worse and more bitter’ violence on American soil.”

+ NYT: Lawmakers in France move to vastly expand surveillance.


Run For the Shadows in These Golden Years

As New York’s expensive condo high-rises go up, more of the parks and streets below are covered by a permanent shadow. WaPo’s Emily Badger on the sky-scraping metaphors rising above Central Park. “They’re a stark reminder that the new growth needed in healthy cities can come at the expense of people already living there. And in some ways, shadows even turn light into another medium of inequality — a resource that can be bought by the wealthy, eclipsed from the poor.”


Pens and Swords

“Ammar al-Shahbander gave his life to two causes that are never for the faint of heart and that have recently lost support — Iraq’s future, and the freedom to think and write.” The New Yorker’s George Packer on a heroic journalist in Iraq.


Their Eyes Were Watching Baud

According to a recent study, 68% percent of millennials report digital eye strain. (I guess my blurred vision is a way for me to feel young again.) One of the reasons most of us seem to be suffering from eye strain is because we refuse to look away from these screens. As the WSJ reports, the 40 hour work week is a thing of the past.

+ NYT Upshot: How some men fake an 80-hour workweek, and why it matters.

+ Seeing some nature can improve your mood and even increase your productivity. And, according to a recent study, that holds true even if you just glance at nature for a few seconds. (Just make sure it’s not human nature.)


Viva Mas Viva

It’s known as the Hispanic paradox. In the United States, “Hispanics are three times less likely to have health insurance and twice as likely to be in poverty.” But they also live longer than whites. What gives? It could come down to smoking.



“It can be hard to find the perfect way to describe Joseph ‘Sepp’ Blatter, the head of FIFA. The Daily Mail has called him a ‘smug, self-righteous Zurich gnome.’ The Guardian has called him ‘the most successful non-homicidal dictator of the past century.'” Bloomberg provides some more backstory on the checkered history (and future) of Sepp Blatters rule: A League of His Own.


Eight Startups in a Duffel Bag

Have we hit peak Uber economy? I’m not sure, but the fact that there’s now a startup that will send someone to your house to pack your duffel bag ahead of a trip sure seems like some kind of sign. From shopping to packing to cooking to cleaning, there’s now pretty much an Uber for everything. (Who am I to judge? I’m basically your Uber for news.)


The Bottom of the News

If you’ve listened to a decent amount of music over the years, you’ve probably noticed that there are a lot of real loves. Thankfully, and at long last, The Awl has come up with a list of real loves, in order of realness.

+ “It is, in its spirit, less like an awards show than an elaborate costume party.” Megan Garber on the perfect ugliness of the Met Gala. Here’s a look at the outfits that made the biggest hit on the red carpet. And Rihanna won the meme-inspiration competition.

+ GQ: Man attempts to take selfie with selfie book-carrying Kim Kardashian. And somehow, the world did not implode.

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