September 18th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Big Food sells sugar smack abroad, Don plays the UN, and Spicer ... not funny.

While the main characters change, there are certain storylines that, with minor tweaks, are repeatedly recycled and reused. When the tobacco industry was faced with increased consumer awareness and government regulation in the US, they moved their sales efforts abroad. The opioid-pushing pharmaceutical companies have followed a simliar path. And now, as Americans become increasingly aware of the toxic nature of sugar, big food companies have responded with a two-word strategy: We deliver. From the NYT: As growth slows in wealthy countries, Western food companies are aggressively expanding in developing nations, contributing to obesity and health problems. “The prevailing story is that this is the best of all possible worlds — cheap food, widely available. If you don’t think about it too hard, it makes sense,’ said Anthony Winson, who studies the political economics of nutrition at the University of Guelph in Ontario. A closer look, however, reveals a much different story, he said. ‘To put it in stark terms: The diet is killing us.'”


Gray Matters of the Heart

“Our brains like to share emotions with others. This is just one reason that seeing a live performance — a concert, play, opera, etc. — is a neural rush. With our brain’s capacity for emotion and empathy, even in the wordless art of dance we can begin to discover meaning — and a story.” Science tries to make sense of humanities. From WaPo: This is your brain on art.



President Trump addressed the UN for the first time on Monday, and while his campaign tirades against the institution went on for some time, his remarks on Monday last only four minutes. In short, Make UN Great Again: “I am confident that if we work together and champion truly bold reforms the United Nations will emerge as a stronger, more effective, more just and greater force for peace and harmony in the world.”

+ To what extent does the world trust the US president when it comes to international affairs? The numbers are not good (other than Russia).


Lazarus Pitbull

The GOP attempts to repeal Obamacare had been left for dead. But, with 12 days until an important deadline — after which, the Senate would need 60 votes to repeal the law — new life has been breathed into the effort (which is a nice way of describing a zombie apocalypse). From The Atlantic: Why the Latest Obamacare Repeal Bill Might Have a Chance.

+ Could the support of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey be enough to flip McCain?


Heaven’s Tax Haven

“Space exploration has historically been an arena for grand, nationalistic operations that were too costly, dangerous and complex for civilians to take up without state backing. But now, private companies want in, raising questions that, until recently, have seemed like mere thought experiments or hypotheticals: who can lay claim to an asteroid and all of its extractive wealth? Should space benefit ‘all of humankind,’ as the international treaties signed in the 60s intended, or is that idealism outdated? How do you measure those benefits, anyway? Does trickle-down theory apply in zero-gravity conditions?” From The Guardian: Luxembourg has shown how far a tiny country can go by serving the needs of global capitalism. Now it has set its sights on outer space.


(Small) Handmaid’s Tale

Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale heralded in a new era of streaming prowess by taking home some top Emmy awards, including Best Drama. HBO’s Big Little Lies was another one of the big winners in a night where politics remained center stage. Nice to see Aziz Ansari get a writing trophy for the excellent Master of None and Kate McKinnon get acknowledged for her consistently great work on SNL. Here’s a list of all the winners.

+ THR shares its picks for the evening’s best and worst moments. To me, the worst was Sean Spicer’s cameo in which he overstated the crowd size (hardy har har). Diminishing the role of the free press and habitually lying to the American people and the rest of the world is not a punchline. No one who is a part of this Trump abomination should benefit from the notoriety. They should be shunned.

+ In a weird version of life imitating art imitating life, a location manager scouting locations for Season 4 of Narcos was shot and killed in Mexico.


The World Isn’t a Company Town

“As nations try to grab back power online, a clash is brewing between governments and companies. Some of the biggest companies in the world — Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Alibaba among them — are finding they need to play by an entirely new set of rules on the once-anarchic internet. And it’s not just one new set of rules. According to a review by The New York Times, more than 50 countries have passed laws over the last five years to gain greater control over how their people use the web.” The NYT with the latest chapter in a story that is quickly gaining momentum: People around the world are not happy with tech companies. Facebook Faces a New World as Officials Rein In a Wild Web.

+ “Most everyone I speak to tells me that last week’s revelations about Facebook, Russia, and political advertising is, in the words of Senator Mark Warner, ‘the tip of the iceberg.’ Whether or not that’s true (and I for one am quite certain it is), it’s plenty enough to bring the issue directly to the forefront of our political and regulatory debate.” John Battelle with a great explainer focused on how the Facebook and Google advertising platforms took over everything, and then spun out of control.



“It will be hard to address the addiction and overdose crisis without better understanding and addressing the neurobiology linking opioids, pain and social connectedness.” Scientific American on the studies that make the connection between loss, pain and drug use.

+ There’s no doubt that psychic pain plays a huge role in the opiate crisis. There are many other factors as well, which together make this the perfect American storm. Here’s one more piece of the puzzle: Amid Opioid Crisis, Insurers Restrict Pricey, Less Addictive Painkillers.


The NFL’s Failed Colin Cleanse

We’re a couple games into the season, and still, no NFL team has made an offer to Colin Kaepernick. But the fact that Kaep isn’t playing in the NFL “didn’t stop the NFL Players’ Association from naming the 29-year-old its Week 1 MVP.”

+ Bleacher Report: Colin Kaepernick Has a Job.


Bottom of the News

“When I first started, everybody was buried in suits and dresses … Now that we’re starting to see the boomers die, it’s individual expression that’s key.” From Racked: What Your Future Burial Outfit Says About You. (Mine will say he worked on the Internet.)

+ BBC: Why is it so hard to swat a fly? (I actually find that part easy. The hard part is living with myself afterwards…)

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