May 29th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Roseanne lowers the Barr, Trump still pushing for North Korea summit, and the company that wants to buy your parents' house.

Roseanne Barr has a history of unhinged social media comments, so you know it has to be pretty bad if one of her Tweets makes headline news. And it was. Barr said that if the “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby,” it would be former Obama aide Valerie Jarrett. The backlash was immediate. After some resistance, Barr apologized and announced she was leaving the platform. Well, Roseanne may want to come back to Twitter. As of a few minutes ago, Tweeting is the only job she’s got. First, consulting producer Wanda Sykes announced she was done with the show. And then ABC canceled the wildly popular series altogether: “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show.” The swift justice meted out by ABC is a reminder of the pace of today’s media and the increasingly active role corporations are playing when it comes to social and political issues.

+ If Roseanne thinks she’s having a bad day now, wait until she tries to get her Flat White at Starbucks this afternoon. In a sad irony, today is also the day that Starbucks closed 8,000 of its stores for anti-bias training.


Eat, Pay, Love

Looking back, it’s hard to fault Amazon for starting with books. They’re easy to shop for, and pretty simple to pack and ship. But books have some limitations. Not everyone reads them. They can be endlessly shared. And they have a shelf life of forever. Over the years, Amazon has expanded into just about every other product category. And with its acquisition of Whole Foods, Amazon is going after the big prize: Groceries. And the company might just be perfectly positioned to anchor themselves at the base of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. “More than 40¢ of every dollar consumers spend on the Internet already goes to Amazon—an astonishing sum. And yet it appears Bezos is not satisfied leaving behind the roughly 85% of retail that still happens in brick-and-mortar stores. For the CEO, owning our digital lives is not enough. By attempting to seamlessly link both realms, Amazon has the potential to be part of every single purchase we make.” Beth Kowitt in Fortune: How Amazon Is Using Whole Foods in a Bid for Total Retail Domination.


Don’t Singapore One Out Just Yet

Last week, President Trump sent his North Korean counterpart a Dear Jong letter, but as of today, it looks like the June 12th summit in Singapore could be back on. Meanwhile, North Korea’s former intelligence chief General Kim Yong-chol is on the way to the US for pre-summit talks (among other things, he’s the man believed to be behind the Sony hacks). “It would be the first time a North Korean leader has met a sitting US president.”

+ In Time, Alex Gladstein tries to imagine what’s going through the minds of North Korean defectors watching South Korea and others “as they try to make amends with a tyrant whose atrocities were compared by a United Nations inquiry to those committed by Nazi Germany in World War II.” Denuclearization is a worthy goal, but the elevation of Kim Jong Un could be a tragedy for the North Korean people.


As Bad as It Looked

The official Hurricane Maria death count is 64. A new study from the Harvard School of Public Health found that number to be off the mark. By a lot. “This household-based survey suggests that the number of excess deaths related to Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico is more than 70 times the official estimate.” The New England Journal of Medicine: Mortality in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.


Kid Gloves Off

After all the news stories and social media outrage over the weekend, you might be asking this question: Did the Trump administration separate nearly 1,500 immigrant children from their parents at the border, and then lose track of them? The NYT’s Amy Harmon provides an answer to that question (and several others): “No. The government did realize last year that it lost track of 1,475 migrant children it had placed with sponsors in the United States, according to testimony before a Senate subcommittee last month. But those children had arrived alone at the Southwest border — without their parents. Most of them are from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and were fleeing drug cartels, gang violence and domestic abuse, according to government data.” (My follow-up question would be why we’re positioning these kids, who are running for their lives, as an evil force that represents some dire threat to America.)

+ The separation of kids from parents at the border is still a big problem (and an alarmingly bad look for America). Houston Chronicle: Immigrant families separated at border struggle to find each other.


Club Med’s Dwindling Membership

“If visitors are not in the mood for a McDonald’s, Burger King or Subway, there’s a KFC, a kebab restaurant, a noodle place, a sandwich bar, a tex-mex joint, a US-style diner or two Italian chains. Steak lovers can choose between Argentinian, Brazilian or American options, while a lone outlet meekly peddles healthy Asian food.” The Guardian on how the Mediterranean diet is dying out, even in Mediterranean countries.


Pained Logic

“Suggesting that activities that last occurred more than 16 years ago are responsible for today’s complex and multifaceted opioid crisis is deeply flawed.” That’s how a spokesman for Purdue Pharma reacted to a report that the company knew its opioids were being widely abused long before they admitted they did. (What’s deeply flawed is arguing that lighting a forest fire isn’t arson because the fire has been burning for so long and has done so much damage.)


Rental Institution

“Seniors have the nation’s highest homeownership rate. Close to 80 percent of Americans over age 65 own their homes. At the same time, older Americans are increasingly likely to retire without the savings to see them through their twilight years.” A startup has come up with a way to address these trends. They are offering to buy seniors’ homes—and let them live there for life. “The company will even take care of property taxes and maintenance … The trade-off: a sale price far below market value.” Slate: Live Free and Die. (Hopefully the new owners won’t mind my kids living in the basement. I doubt they’ll be be willing to move out.)


Learn to Be Happy

“In her very first lecture, Santos emphasizes to her class that she wants to teach them not just the science of happiness but the practice of happiness. And happiness, it turns out, does take practice. But first you have to learn what exactly happiness is.” NY Mag: The most popular course at Yale teaches how to be happy. We took it for you. (What if you’re feeling stressed and sad, and then you fail the happy course?)

+ A study has found that regularly eating meals alone is the biggest single factor for unhappiness, besides existing mental illness. (I eat a light, healthy meal with my family each night. Then after they go to bed, I eat for real.)


Bottom of the News

“The word Gerrymander was actually named after someone — Elbridge Gerry. But the 18th-century politician pronounced it more like Gary than Gerry.” First the Gif pronunciation debate, and now this. Gerrymandering: You’re Saying It Wrong!

+ Xkcd: If there were a kind of a fireman’s pole from the Moon down to the Earth, how long would it take to slide all the way from the Moon to the Earth?

+ Sometimes fan demands can win the day. For example, we now have a Weezer cover of Toto’s Africa.

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