April 6th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Just Pruitt Already, Trade Wars, Russian Sanctions, Weekend Whats, Feel Good Friday, and more!

Just Pruitt already. That’s the way many political observers must be feeling as they wait to see whether the trickle of damaging stories about EPA head Scott Pruitt will add to a constant stream of administration firings. The Pruitt story is in many ways the story of the administration. He was assigned to lead a department with values he holds in contempt. He’s been at the center of a series of corruption scandals. And as calls for his firing (including those from the White House Chief of Staff) reach a fevered pitch, a newly independent-minded president continues to resist. According to President Trump, Pruitt is doing a great job but is TOTALLY under siege?

+ “There were … questions raised about a request that Mr. Pruitt be issued a bulletproof sport utility vehicle with so-called run flat tires, which keep a vehicle moving even when sustaining gunfire. And … Mr. Pruitt’s expanded security detail of approximately 20 members.” Pruitt has made some strange travel and security requests since taking the helm at the EPA (a bullet-proof desk?). Just don’t confront him about them, or you could be gone. NYT: Officials Sidelined After Questioning Scott Pruitt.


Shake, Tattle, and Roll

We’ve suffered through a couple weeks of negative tech news. So let’s focus on a technology that helps us. From Buzzfeed: Here’s how a few people knew the strongest earthquake in years was about to hit LA. “The shaking, triggered by a magnitude 5.3 earthquake — the largest to hit the region in years — was centered about 40 miles off the coast, rattling nerves across the Los Angeles area. But for a small handful of people, it was also a glimpse into a safer, Minority Report-esque future where people receive earthquake alerts on their cell phones seconds before the shaking begins.” (How do I get on this beta list…)


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: He’s a low-budget hitman. He wants to be an actor. I’ve just described a show synopsis that could easily go off the rails. But Bill Hader and company pull it off. Definitely try out Barry on HBO.

+ What to Doc: You may think you don’t need to watch another documentary about MLK. But King in the Wilderness on HBO, which chronicles his last years, shows the challenges faced by a conflicted leader who faced an onslaught of criticism from both sides of the political spectrum. And the stories are told by his friends and colleagues. Excellent.

+ What to Hear: Brandi Carlile’s latest album is great, especially the first single, The Joke. Incredible voice. Do yourself a favor and give Brandi a listen. (She’s also a master of covers, and you can find plenty of good ones on YouTube.)


Troubling Forecast

Someone recently asked my dad (who survived the Holocaust, joined the partisans during WWII, and knows a thing or two about what the rise of fascism looks like) what he thought of Poland’s new law that restricts how one can talk about the Holocaust in that country. He said, “It looks like it did back in the 30s. It’s actually worse in some ways.” Madeleine Albright in the NYT: “We may be encouraged that most people in most countries still want to live freely and in peace, but there is no ignoring the storm clouds that have gathered. In fact, fascism — and the tendencies that lead toward fascism — pose a more serious threat now than at any time since the end of World War II.”


Oligarch Enemies

NYT: Trump Administration Imposes New Sanctions on Putin Cronies: “The sanctions are designed to penalize some of Russia’s richest industrialists, who are seen in the West as enriching themselves from Mr. Putin’s increasingly authoritarian administration.” (I hear that’s going around these days…)

+ “The announcement included everything necessary for a first-class soap opera, from arms trafficking to organized crime to the smuggling of millions in cash in suitcases.” NPR: The Russia Sanctions Saga: Weapons dealers, mobsters and suitcases full of cash.



Here’s the good news about the stock market. It’s not open on Saturday. Hopefully, the weekend will give the US and China time to cool off the heated rhetoric around competing tariffs which has the two countries moving towards a full-on trade war and a serious hit to the global economy. In the meantime, the market boom is going kaboom.

+ AP: China’s government vowed Friday to ‘counterattack with great strength‘ if President Donald Trump goes ahead with plans to raise US tariffs.

+ Some background from CBS News: Trade war with China: What you need to know. And from WaPo: In a US-China trade war, who has more to lose? (If my portfolio is an indication, the answer is me.)


Face Lift

Mark Zuckerberg is doing some advance work ahead of his appearance in front of Congress, including Facebook’s just announced changes to combat election meddling. “The social media company will now begin labeling all political and issue ads, and showing who paid for them, and it will require anyone who wants to run a political or issue ad to verify their identity and location.” It’s a good thing that Facebook will now label political ads and tell you who paid for them. But the important part of the story is the pressure it took to get them to do this. There’s no such thing as self-regulation.


Park and Reparation

Yes, we’ve had quite a couple years in American politics. But don’t go complaining to South Koreans where an equally (if not more) weird era came to a close with the former president being sentenced to spend 24 years in prison and pay $17 million in fines. “Whereas most politicians fall from grace due to banal things like corruption or marital infidelity, the fall of South Korea’s first female president resulted from her relationship with a shadowy figure from an obscure religious cult that critics have derided as a ‘shaman fortuneteller’ with sinister, Rasputin-like influence over Park.” Vox: South Korea’s former president is going to prison. The scandal behind it is batshit.


La La Mode

I figured we’d start with a Hydroboost IV vitamin drip, do a little time in the hyperbaric oxygen chambers, and then cool down with some Cryotherapy. Yeah, you guessed it. We’re gonna workout in LA. From the LA Times: In LA today, fitness can mean IV drips, vitamin shots and a daily freeze at -292 degrees. (Hey, it beats doing burpees…)


Feel Good Friday

“The judge ordered the works be transferred to the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum. He was a songwriter, director and actor who openly mocked Hitler and performed musicals and plays for his fellow prisoners in the Dachau concentration camp.” Bloomberg: Nazi-Looted Art Ordered Returned to Holocaust Victim’s Heirs.

+ “Mr Wang and his wife spent years searching for her in the city and surrounding areas, taking out advertisements in newspapers and setting up online appeals … In 2015, Mr Wang decided to broaden the search by signing up as a driver with ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing.” BBC: Family in China finds lost daughter after 24-year search.

+ “I never tell people ‘Have a nice day’, I always tell people, ‘Make it a good day.’ So what we’re attempting to do with this art project is we’re trying to make it a good day.” CBS News: Milwaukee couple sells off art to benefit needy.

+ Scientists harvest 1st vegetables in Antarctic greenhouse.

+ Teen admitted to all 20 colleges and universities he applied to. They also all offered him a free ride.

+ Vice: Jaguars Literally Cannot Resist Calvin Klein’s Obsession for Men. (The Feel Good part of this story is that I don’t wear Calvin Klein’s Obsession.)

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