January 19th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Paradise Tossed

“They can snooze in nap pods or, if they feel more energetic, work out in on-site gyms or take yoga classes. There are dry-cleaners on the premises to do their laundry and buses to ferry them to and from work.” They’ve got great coffee and artisanal snacks in the kitchen, and hip, open office spaces with high ceilings and exposed brick. And, until a few weeks ago, their stock options were vesting towards a positive pay-day. So why are so many employees at glamorous tech startups unhappy at work? From The Economist: The other side of paradise.


Better Off Lead

Bernie Sanders called for Michigan’s governor to resign. Cher has sent in 180,000 bottles of water. And residents of Flint are once again finding themselves in an urban petri dish of poor decisions, failed leadership, and in this case, poison. From WaPo: This is how toxic Flint’s water really is.

+ In Flint, faucets flow with “water that runs yellow and brown and smells like sewage even when it doesn’t.” And that water ain’t cheap.

+ Vox: Every major American city has hazardous amounts of lead.

+ The Daily Beast: Erin Brockovich is back to fight in Flint.

+ PBS Newshour: The invisible catastrophe sickening families in California.


War and Pieces

Iraqi civilians had it bad during the U.S.-led invasion. And they’ve had it bad during the aftermath. Consider these numbers: Violence stirred up by ISIS led to 19,000 civilian deaths between January of 2014 and October of 2015. During that period, more than 3 million people were displaced and thousands are being held as slaves.

+ ISIS fighters are paid for their services via biweekly paychecks. And now, those salaries are being cut in half.


Swap, Meet

“They asked us why are they working so hard for you? And I just said that it’s America and they love their citizens. Even the other Iranian prisoners were moved.” American prisoners who were freed from Iranian jails after a heavily negotiated prisoner exchange are in Germany and have been describing what it was like to finally get to leave.

+ NYT: Detention of Jason Rezaian’s family nearly scuttled the Iran prisoner swap.


Changing Forecast

“This diagnosis puts me in an interesting position. I’ve spent much of my professional life thinking about the science of climate change, which is best viewed through a multidecadal lens. At some level I was sure that, even at my present age of 60, I would live to see the most critical part of the problem, and its possible solutions, play out in my lifetime.” In the NYT, a leading climate scientist diagnosed with pancreatic cancer reflects on his work and his views on a future he thought he’d live to see.


Welcome to the Jungle

On this week’s What Hurts podcast, Phil Bronstein and I try to see the forest through the trees when it comes Sean Penn’s jungle interview with El Chapo. Is Penn a journalist? Was the interview fair game? Phil has some insightful takes as he was the editor who first unleashed Sean Penn’s pen onto the world back when he was the editor of SF Chronicle (not that I’m placing any blame…). You can listen via iTunes, on our What Hurts website, via Overcast or just search for What Hurts in your favorite podcast app.

+ “It would be [proof of] the intention and the attempt to want to launder money for El Chapo.” From Vice: Kate Del Castillo wanted to make tequila with El Chapo. Dios mio.


Clean Up Your Act

Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith have both announced plans to boycott the Academy Awards because of its all-white acting nominees. Can a boycott like this really make a difference?

+ Cheryl Boone Isaacs, president of the Academy, has already issued a strong, supportive response: “I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees. While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes.”


Married to the Mob

“He was really knowledgeable, we all learned Italian literature by constantly listening to him. We would take notes, get books he mentioned in his neverending lectures to his kids. It was like listening to a radio program and we were all fascinated by his manners, his way of thinking and his creativity. It was hard to believe he was a mobster.” PRI on the secret lives of Mafia hunters.

+ The Guardian: Alexander Litvinenko: the man who solved his own murder.


Security Blanket

“He shot at people and got blown up. Bombs went off within feet of him. The explosions rattled his brain. He relived these scenes, over and over, in nightmares.” While he had unusual experiences, Andrew Petrulis was faced with a common symptom: Insomnia. It was a problem he couldn’t solve, until he curled up under a seventeen pound blanket.

+ More from Motherboard’s exhaustive series on sleep.


Bottom of the News

Spiders, flies, beetles, and book lice. And that’s just for starters. According to NatGeo, up to 500 kinds of bugs could be living in your house.

+ Syndicated from Kottke: YouTube user DJ Hammers has been uploading videos of start-to-finish trips on NYC subway lines from the perspective of the operator at the front of the train. The realtime videos are interesting to watch, but the 10x time lapses are probably a better use of your attention.

+ The Carolina Panthers have a secret weapon: The Waffle House. (Now I get why Cam Newton is always smiling…)

+ Update: Your passwords still suck.

+ Stop and frisk. And blush.

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