Wednesday, August 17th, 2016


The Scene of the Crime

Does Walmart have a target on its back? It sure looks that way when you consider at the soaring crime rates at many of its stores. "Police reports from dozens of stores suggest the number of petty crimes committed on Walmart properties nationwide this year will be in the hundreds of thousands. But people dashing out the door with merchandise is the least troubling part of Walmart's crime problem. More than 200 violent crimes, including attempted kidnappings and multiple stabbings, shootings, and murders, have occurred at the nation's 4,500 Walmarts this year." It's a big problem. It's taxing police departments. And, as Bloomberg reports, it's the direct result of the company's cost-cutting strategies: Walmart's Out-of-Control Crime Problem Is Driving Police Crazy.


How I Ended Up in Buffalo

I'll rest when I'm dead. That's an adage that has become a lot less accurate over the past few years as body donations have been on the rise. "The University of Minnesota said it received more than 550 cadavers last year, up from 170 in 2002. The University at Buffalo got almost 600 last year, a doubling over the past decade. Others that reported increases include Duke University, the University of Arizona and state agencies in Maryland and Virginia. ScienceCare, a national tissue bank, now receives 5,000 cadavers a year, twice as many as in 2010."

+ NatGeo: The Secret Lives of Cadavers. (I already have plans to maintain my cadaver's social media accounts.)


Remote Control War

"The news that the United States had killed 150 unnamed individuals in a country halfway around the world with which it is not at war generated barely a ripple of attention, much less any protest, here at home. Remote killing outside of war zones, it seems, has become business as usual." In the New York Review of Books, David Cole examines the increased usage of drones under Obama: The Drone Presidency. The money line: "In short order, most of the developed world will have them. And when other nations look for precedents, Obama's record will be Exhibit A."


Coverage Story

"It is very likely that we would need to leave the public exchange business entirely and plan for additional business efficiencies should our deal ultimately be blocked." Aetna announced plans to pull out of a bunch of health care exchanges. They said it was because of financial losses. But it might have been political payback.

+ LA Times: A doctor bikes across the country to ask Americans about Obamacare. (In case his patients were wondering why it's been so hard to get an appointment...)


Five Ring Circus

It's somehow fitting that the biggest Olympic controversy is over a robbery. Swimmers Ryan Lochte and James Feigen said they were robbed at gunpoint. A Brazilian judge says their stories don't add up and demanded Lochte's passport (he's already back in the US). Maybe it was another guy with greenish hair?

+ OK, maybe that's not the biggest controversy in Rio. From the BBC: Olympic pole vaulter Hiroki Ogita denies the claim (and visual evidence) that his penis hit the crossbar. (At least he wasn't competing in Javelin...)

+ The Olympics doesn't end for a few more days, but many of the volunteers have already gone home.

+ NPR: Olympic athletes prove that older doesn't have to mean slower. (I wish I had the energy to offer a counterpoint.)

+ "There was nowhere in the country that I could train. I was completely alone, no other throwers to train alongside. No coach. For a while I was very low. Everyone is Kenya is a runner, running was all that mattered. But I was determined not to quit and eventually I had an idea." What was Kenyan Javelin Thrower Julius Yego's idea to get better at Javelin? Checking out YouTube videos.


Oh He Pivoted Alright

For the past few weeks, Donald Trump's advisors (and GOP insiders) have been urging him to pivot his campaign and become more presidential for the general election. The candidate just initiated a massive campaign shakeup, but it to many of his GOP critics, it may look like he just pivoted from bad to worse.

+ "[Steve] Bannon's life is a succession of Gatsbyish reinventions that made him rich and landed him squarely in the middle of the 2016 presidential race: He's been a naval officer, investment banker, minor Hollywood player, and political impresario. When former Disney chief Michael Ovitz's empire was falling to pieces, Bannon sat Ovitz down in his living room and delivered the news that he was finished. When Sarah Palin was at the height of her fame, Bannon was whispering in her ear." Courtesy of a Bloomberg 2015 profile, meet the new boss: This Man Is the Most Dangerous Political Operative in America. Yesterday, Fox's Ailes. Today, Breitbart's Bannon. If the campaign loses, Trump already has a team ready for the media empire.


The Fire and the Flood

Flooding in Louisiana caused by more than 30 inches of rain is finally receding after killing 11 people and damaging 40,000 homes in what the Red Cross calls the worst natural disaster since Sandy. Here are some photos from the flood.

+ And in California, a pair of late summer fires have forced mass evacuations and destroyed hundreds of structures.


Family Court

"When this is over, we're going to sue the shit out of these people." The Atavist with a look at how child protective services decide to remove a child from their homes (and how some parents tried to fight back). A Family Matter.


Area Man Buys Gawker

Gawker's sites have been acquired by Univision for around $140 million. That adds to their staple of millennial-focused outlets including Fusion and The Onion. Peter Thiel and Hulk Hogan may have taken down Gawker. But are they any match for The Onion?


Bottom of the News

"Narcissists are not identified in a vacuum; the person you label a narcissist is usually someone who's close to you, or a member of a tribe that you have been culturally encouraged or professionally incentivized to dislike." In other words, calling someone else a narcissist may make you one. (I know you are, but what am I?)

+ FiveThirtyEight takes science questions from toddlers and then answers them for adults. So let's do this: How much space does a fart take in your body?

+ Quartz: Why every newborn you see on Facebook is wrapped in the same baby blanket.

+ A police officer smashed through the window of a hot car to rescue a child. Only then did he realize it was actually a doll. (If it was an American Girl doll, his response was totally appropriate.)