Tuesday, June 30th, 2015


And the Brand Played On

By Monday, more than 26 million Facebook users had given their profile pictures the rainbow treatment in support of the Supreme Court's ruling on gay marriage. Along with the popular support among individuals, a significant number of corporations jumped on-board (or even led the bandwagon). America's biggest corporations have recently been among the most ardent proponents of social change. That's in part because of the executive-level leadership found in a new breed of young companies. But I'm convinced it's also because of the impact that social media has in an age where corporations hear loud and clear opinions from their customers. Consider how quickly stores raced to pull the Confederate flag from their shelves. We'll undoubtedly see a steady rise in the effectiveness of this new rainbow coalition of popular opinion and corporate influence. For now, Newsweek's Emily Cadei takes a look at how corporate America propelled same-sex marriage.


America’s Secret War

As Americans get wise to the health risks associated with smoking, tobacco companies have been aggressively pushing product on other countries. And they're not working alone. They have the help of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The NYT's Danny Hakim with a blistering report: "From Ukraine to Uruguay, Moldova to the Philippines, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its foreign affiliates have become the hammer for the tobacco industry, engaging in a worldwide effort to fight antismoking laws of all kinds."

+ Pando: "The poor, the young, the black and the stupid": Inside Big Tobacco's plans to kill a billion people


Credit Paradox

Socrates is known for the quote: "The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing." A lot of Greek citizens are feeling pretty wise this week. As Bloomberg reports, many of them have just one question about the upcoming Yes and No vote. What does it mean? (On the plus side, Greece just got a letter saying they've be pre-approved for a Capital One credit card.)

+ Here are the latest updates on the Greek debt crisis. Greece should just have Uber raise the money for them. (If that doesn't work, maybe the Indiegogo campaign will do the trick.)

+ Vox has a great overview of the damage being done: Why Greece's financial crisis is a health crisis too.


Giggity Giggity

"If someone uses Uber to get to the airport, is the driver an Uber employee, or an independent contractor using Uber to find customers?" That question examined by James Surowiecki in the New Yorker is at the heart of a legal quagmire in the new freelance, on-demand economy. Are you my employee, or is this just a gig with benefits?



It "is a country where Facebook is banned, yet in the conservative, holy city of Qom a Grand Ayatollah -- among the highest echelons of clerics -- lamented to us excessive use of Facebook among his grandchildren. It is a country that is home to one of the oldest civilizations in the world, but that has become a magnet to the fastest-growing economy in the world." The excellent Christopher Schroeder takes us far from the nuclear negotiations, where a new tech-savvy Iranian generation takes shape.


California Whacks Anti-Vax

California Governor Jerry Brown just signed one of the nation's toughest mandatory childhood vaccination bills. "While it's true that no medical intervention is without risk, the evidence shows that immunization powerfully benefits and protects the community."


Glory Days

Chris Christie returned to his old high school in New Jersey to officially announce that he is running for President of the United States. (I once returned to my high school to sit in the bleachers and cry.)

+ Christie's announcement provides a good excuse to link to Jeffrey Goldberg's story on the governor and the Boss -- a tale of politics, rock and roll, and unrequited love.


Trading Slavery Stories

"Listen, I just wanted to say that dragging all this slavery stuff up again is bringing down America." Margaret Biser used to lead tours at a plantation. You won't believe the questions she got about slavery.

+ Bree Newsome became an Internet sensation after taking down the Confederate flag. She also inspired a lot of artists.


You Kids And Your Watches

Some of you kids today might think you're witnessing the beginning of the smartwatch revolution. But it's been going on for decades. Phone books, calculators, health monitors ... The Verge takes a look back at Casio's history of wild wrist designs.


Bottom of the News

Weird news stories have been popular for a long time. But the Internet has turned them into a form so common that they're really not that weird anymore. Daniel Engber reflects on how oddball items came to dominate the news business, and became normal in the process.

+ The Donald continues to face challenges in his quest for the White House. In the latest move, thousands of people have demanded that Macy's stop selling Donald Trump's merchandise. (If you're clad in Donald Trump menswear, you've been punished enough.)