August 14th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Trump's two statements, North Korea's new tech, and your new shirt.

After a weekend of criticism from across the political spectrum, President Trump read a prepared statement to amend his earlier comments on the violence in Charlottesville. “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups.” Earlier, Trump had said, “We condemn in the strongest most possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.”

+ It’s up to each American to decide if they believe the presidential statement made Monday, or his initial statement, the policies pushed during several months in office, the years of campaign rhetoric starting with the racist birther conspiracy, and this morning’s Tweet attack aimed at the CEO of Merck who quit the White House manufacturing council to “take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

+ Here’s my take: There’s a name for a person who fans the flames of racism, but only for personal gain: A Racist. Pick a side. Here are ten quick thoughts about Charlottesville.

+ VP Mike Pence took issue “with the fact that many in the national media spent more time criticizing the president’s words than they did criticizing those that perpetrated the violence to begin with.” In this case, the national media barely had time to keep up with all the critiques coming from leaders in the president’s own party.

+ Charlottesville Mayor Mike Signer: “When you dance with the devil, the devil changes you. And I think they made a choice in that campaign, a very regrettable one, to really go to people’s prejudices, to go to the gutter.”

+ Vox: Unite the Right, the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, explained.

+ Dahlia Lithwick, Charlottesville resident, law journalist, and my good friend, on the day white supremacists marched on her hometown: “The Nazis may come to town, terrorize and threaten people with guns, even brutally murder a young woman. This president may fail to condemn it. But all right-thinking Americans will recoil in horror. And white supremacists will be replaced. There is no room for them here. On Saturday they were relegated to parking at the shopping mall and walking miles in the hot sun, in their sad supervillain Comic-Con outfits. Today they are already slinking back to their own homes, where they are also being replaced, by history, by moral justice, and by our children, who are growing up exactly where they belong, at home, irreplaceable, sacred, and, especially today, brave.”

+ “A judge has denied bail to James Alex Fields Jr., the suspect held in connection with the death of Heather Heyer, according to reports Monday.” Here are the latest updates from Buzzfeed.


Lessons Learned

“Every German school child must visit a concentration camp; as essential a part of the curriculum as learning to write or count.” The Economist reports from Germany on what zero tolerance of neo-Nazi ideology looks like.


Kim Jung-Un and the Shirt on Your Back

“Using North Korea to produce cheap clothes for sale around the globe shows that for every door that is closed by ever-tightening U.N. sanctions another one may open. The UN sanctions, introduced to punish North Korea for its missile and nuclear programs, do not include any bans on textile exports.” From Reuters: North Korea factories humming with ‘Made in China’ clothes.

+ “While the world watches North Korea launch missiles, the very paranoid supreme leader has been busy eliminating anyone in his family who might knock him off the throne.” Esquire takes you Inside Kim Jong-un’s Bloody Scramble to Kill Off His Family.

+ NYT: Trump threats are wild card in showdown with North Korea. “It remains to be seen if the don’t-mess-with-me attitude that cowed Republican primary rivals like Jeb Bush will have a similar effect on a regime that has managed to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States while making progress toward miniaturizing a nuclear warhead that would fit on top.”

+ “The studies may solve the mystery of how North Korea began succeeding so suddenly after a string of fiery missile failures, some of which may have been caused by American sabotage of its supply chains and cyberattacks on its launches.” The NYT on North Korea’s nuclear connection to Russia.


Can Hugo Too Far With Threats?

“Like his predecessor and mentor, the late Hugo Chavez, Maduro says the country must be unified by socialism in order to defend against a U.S. invasion aimed at stealing Venezuela’s vast oil resources.” Reuters: Venezuela’s Maduro seeks to capitalize on Trump’s military threat.


These Pipes are Clean

“To understand how clean eating took hold with such tenacity, it’s necessary first to consider just what a terrifying thing food has become for millions of people in the modern world. The interesting question is not whether clean eating is nonsense, but why so many intelligent people decided to put their faith in it.” The Guardian’s Bee Wilson on why we fell for clean eating.

+ Wired: Is mindfulness meditation a capitalist tool or a path to enlightenment? Yes.


From Rabbit Ears to the Rabbit Hole

Back in the day, how to work the VCR was about the hardest TV-related lesson you’d have to teach (and reteach) your parents. These days, you need a PhD in tech to figure out how to get to the show you want to watch. The NYT’s Kevin Roose on the messy, confusing future of TV. “We’ve rushed headlong into a hyper-fragmented mess, with a jumble of on-demand services that, added up, cost more and often offer less than the old cable bundle. There are lots of great shows and movies being made, but finding them has become harder than ever.” (TV’s modern challenge is to find the show you’re looking for before social media spoilers ruin the episode for you.)

+ Netflix just lured Shonda Rhimes away from ABC with more money and the promise of creative freedom.


J Watch

“Whether you see Assange as a ‘fallen man’ depends on how you viewed him to begin with. He has detractors who believe that he is a criminal, or a maniac, or both, and supporters who consider him an immaculate revolutionary. There have been calls for his assassination, and for him to be given a Nobel Peace Prize. Assange often describes himself in simple terms—as a fearless activist—but his character is complicated, and hard to reconcile with his considerable power. He is not merely the kind of person who will wear socks with holes; he is the kind of person who will wear socks with holes and rain fury upon anyone who mentions the holes in public” The New Yorker’s Raffi Khatchadourian on Julian Assange, a Man Without a Country (but not without regular visits by, and the occasional poem from, Pamela Anderson…)


Mayor Island

Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams wanted to get a better understanding of homeless shelters. So he set out to learn more. “Back in March, just days before he was due by state law to select a third site for a new homeless resource center — a decision he knew would anger thousands of his constituents, regardless of his choice — McAdams left work on a Friday with no money or ID and walked to Salt Lake City’s most troubled neighborhood.”


Smell the Glove

“It might be America’s favorite pastime, and few things are more personal to baseball-lovers than their first glove — the smell, the feel, the memory of childhood summers. But most gloves are stitched together thousands of miles away by people who couldn’t afford a ticket at Fenway Park.” From Bloomberg: The Last American Baseball-Glove Maker Refuses to Die.


Bottom of the News

“It holds up remarkably well because it feels honest. The pain that they feel, the humiliation that these kids feel, the frustration, the doubt, and insecurities that all feels authentic.” Variety on Fast Times at 35.

+ When I die, do anything with my body. Other than putting it into a crowd-funded interactive biodegradable funerary urn.

+ A guy with two axes seems really mad at a bunch of wood.

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