August 22nd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Can code replace bail? Can Trump manage Afghanistan? And which state has the highest proportion of trolls?

“The poor are far more likely to get stuck in jail, which makes them far more likely to get fired from jobs, lose custody of children, plead guilty to something they didn’t do, serve time in prison and suffer the lifelong consequences of a criminal conviction.” What’s the key element that drives these factors? Money. The bail system provides significant advantages to those who can afford bail. “America’s justice system runs on the exchange of money for freedom.” Now, in New Jersey, lawmakers are testing a new system that replaces bail with an algorithm. Can it work? A special report from NBC News: Post Bail.


Meet the New Boss

“Thirty years ago, almost no one used the Internet for anything. Today, just about everybody uses it for everything. Even as the Web has grown, however, it has narrowed. Google now controls nearly ninety per cent of search advertising, Facebook almost eighty per cent of mobile social traffic, and Amazon about seventy-five per cent of e-book sales … the new monopolies are even more powerful than the old ones, which tended to be limited to a single product or service.” This is an important issue that you’ll be hearing a lot more about in the near future. From The New Yorker: Who Owns the Internet? (Don’t ask me, I just edit it…)



President Trump delivered a primetime address on Monday night during which he outlined America’s new strategy in Afghanistan. America’s longest war is particularly complicated, so it’s not too surprising that, aside from the addition of a few thousand troops, there’s not much of a new strategy. Here’s the transcript of the speech. “When I became president, I was given a bad and very complex hand.” (Weren’t we all…)

+ How did President Trump arrive at a decision that contrasted with his campaign promises and, as he said, his instincts? From the NYT: Angry Trump Grilled His Generals About Troop Increase, Then Gave In.

+ How a 1972 photo of women in miniskirts helped persuade Trump to commit to war in Afghanistan.

+ The next stop for Trump is Arizona, where he will address a rally (and perhaps protesters) about his border wall, and other issues.

+ Meanwhile, some numbers: “9 percent in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll call it acceptable to hold neo-Nazi or white supremacist views, equivalent to about 22 million Americans.”


Current Events

“The divers were able to locate some remains in those sealed compartments during their search today.” From NPR: Remains of Some Missing Sailors Found on USS John S. McCain.

+ “Ten sailors from the McCain are missing but the vessel is now at Changi Naval Base in Singapore. It’s an extraordinary and tragic collision, but all the more-so because a remarkably similar accident happened just two months ago. The USS Fitzgerald was struck by a large container ship off the coast of Japan. Seven US sailors died.” BBC on why it’s not surprising that ship collisions still happen.


Blind Leading the Blind

“There was a 10% drop in plays during the eclipse today. Well played, Moon.” That message came from Netflix, as the company saw a decrease in viewership while we were all staring up at the sky.

+ But we didn’t exactly take a day off from our screens. The solar eclipse was bigger for Facebook than any of the last four Super Bowls. Millions and millions of people took tens of millions of photos, and like 20 of them are good. (In that sense, it was just like every other day.)


Hud Sucking Proxy

There has been so much news about the Trump presidency that we’ve been distracted to some from the more mundane stories of the inner workings of government. Although, these days, even those aren’t mundane. ProPublica and NY Mag go behind the scenes to see how Ben Carson (sometimes with the help of his son) is running the office of housing and urban development. Is Anybody Home at HUD?


Kelly File

“Her detailed and well-documented story of accepting cash settlements from the star in return for signing nondisclosure agreements, which has not been previously reported, illustrates how Kelly has been able to silence young women he has allegedly wronged.” From Buzzfeed’s Jim DeRogatis (who has been all over this story): A woman who says she had underage sex with R. Kelly is finally telling her story.


Season Picket

It’s rare that preseason football game makes news (especially when that game features the Cleveland Browns). But Monday’s matchup between the Browns and the NY Giants was noteworthy because of what happened before the opening kickoff. “More than a dozen Cleveland Browns players staged the largest national anthem protest yet, and were joined by white players for what’s believed to be the first time.”


Ben and Jerry (Springer)

“The company analyzed 92 million comments over a 16-month period, written by almost 2 million authors on more than 7,000 forums that use the software.” And which state had the highest proportion of nasty comments? Vermont. For more on tech and society, check out Wired’s guide to the great tech panic of 2017.


Bottom of the News

“Jonathan Scheiman, a microbiologist at Harvard Medical School, has been studying the bacteria in the digestive tracts of elite long-distance runners and rowers. He thinks that if he can identify micro-organisms that help elite athletes reach the finish line faster, their powers could one day be harnessed into a probiotic pill.” From Quartz: Scientists are collecting poop from elite athletes to try to put their endurance into a pill. (If you’re more interested in become an elite news curator, please send me a self-addressed stamped envelope.)

+ Bloomberg gathers up what we know so far about what will be new in the iPhone 8.

+ “Authorities in Mumbai have shut down a manufacturing company after it was accused of dumping untreated industrial waste and dyes into a local river that resulted in 11 dogs turning blue.”

+ Reminder: I’ll be off the next couple days. Back at you Monday.

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