May 27th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News


When it comes to soccer, the ball isn’t the only thing with a checkered past. In a series of moves that read like scenes from a mafia movie, the Justice Department, F.B.I. and I.R.S. came in heavy against FIFA officials and the sports marketing executives who bribed them as a series of arrests were made. “According to Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch: “These individuals and organizations engaged in bribery to decide who would televise games, where the games would be held, and who would run the organization overseeing organized soccer worldwide.” One day you’re traveling the world and raking in millions in bribes. And the next day you’re in Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaail.

+ Offside? From WaPo: How the U.S. can arrest FIFA officials in Switzerland.

+ Why does it matter? Who was arrested? These questions and more answered in this BBC explainer.


Reign Dance

Living through a drought that could end up being one of the worst in a thousand years certainly doesn’t help. But the water shortage threatening the West “is as much a man-made crisis as a natural one, the result of decades of missteps and misapprehensions by governments and businesses as they have faced surging demand driven by a booming population.” ProPublica with the first of five part series. Holy Crop: How federal dollars are financing the water crisis in the West.


The Honeymooners

“When Jejoen was fifteen he started doing poorly in math, and had to transfer to a remedial high school. Then his girlfriend dumped him. At that point, Dimitri told me, Jejoen ‘fell down in a black hole.'” The New Yorker’s Ben Taub examines why so many teenagers from around the world are joining ISIS. (It turns out they are often more recruitable if they don’t have a religious background.)

+ She married the butcher: From AP: For Islamic State group fighter, a paid honeymoon in the caliphate’s heart. ISIS’ strategy goes well beyond fighting.


Genetically Altered Reality?

“The process could lead to plants that can withstand what an increasingly overheated nature has in store. It could also result in a more nutritious yield, from less plant.” In Newsweek, Tom Parrett makes the case that GMO scientists could end world hunger if we’d let them: You are totally wrong about genetically altered food.


A Real Dream House

For the last couple years, my wife Gina has spent a lot of time working with women and children who live in a safe-house for victims of domestic abuse. The house gives these families a shot to escape their abusers and get a fresh start. It’s a great program with wonderful success stories. I couldn’t be prouder of my wife and the other folks who donate so much of their time and money in support of people who need and deserve it. At Gina’s urging, the organization just set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise funds for childcare so the mothers can have time to continue their education or restart their careers. If you have a minute and few bucks, I’d really appreciate your support.


Membership Has Its Rewards

“Posing in a picture, acting cool or acting tough can be a navigation strategy. That may not mean they want problems; in fact, it may mean the opposite.” In the NYT Mag, Daniel Alarcón provides an interesting and timely backdrop to a question that gets at issues both legal and social: How do you define a gang member?

+ “If these biker gangs were non-white, we’d have a national freakout.” From The Marshall Project: When The Gang-bangers Are White Guys.


Meters Don’t Foot the Bill

Today, I’m writing from Washington, DC where — like in many other cities — those new and improved parking meters are making it a lot easier to pay up and avoid parking violations. But don’t worry, cities are still making good revenues off tickets. They just had to raise the penalty fees.


The Mod Squad

“Planets are big, like really huge, right? Take Earth. 500 million square kilometers, which is a lot. Until you learn that Minecraft has a surface area of Four. Billion. Square. Kilometers.” A new Wired video examines a key question of our times: How big is Minecraft? (Spoiler alert: Really big.)


The Zero Sum Game

Every now and then I glance at someone’s phone or computer screen and notice that they have thousands of unread email messages. I could never live like that. My natural state is inbox zero. According to one researcher, I fall into a camp of those who are “more susceptible to feeling a loss of control [and] in missing out on information.” I’ve got a 174 tabs open right now. I’m more worried about missing out on life. But still, I must be at zero. From Joe Pinsker in The Atlantic, Inbox Zero vs. Inbox 5,000: A Unified Theory.


Bottom of the News

A Danish radio station is defending a host who clubbed a rabbit to death during a debate about animal welfare. I’d like to see a thousand giant rabbits thump on this guy until he looked like a battle-scene extra from a particularly gruesome episode of Game of Thrones. (I know there are probably simpler ways to make him pay, but that’s the one that seems most satisfying.)

+ “Like some inflatable phoenix whose wings double as beer koozies, SkyMall is rising from the ashes.”

+ Kindle introduces a new font and page layout to make e-reading more like reading print.

+ “It sounded like one lady walked up and asked the other lady if she was in line for the waffle maker. She didn’t answer, so this lady started to make her waffle. The other confronted her and said, ‘That was my waffle’ and the other lady said, ‘No, it’s mine’ and then it went down hill from there.”

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