July 24th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

A man bites watchdog story, Trump's farm aid, and wondering whether we're over-guarding the galaxy.

The first rough draft of history is getting rougher. While New York is known as the city that never sleeps, its newspaper industry sleeps with the fishes. How bad is the crisis that has led to dramatic reductions in the number of reporters covering local news? The center of the media world is now being described as a local news desert. And if things are that bad in NYC, just imagine how bad they are in smaller towns where local news coverage is even more absent. This week, parent company Tronc cut the already decimated staff at the NY Daily News in half. From WaPo: The city that never sleeps finds that it’s running out of reporters to report. “Local news is a direct link between a community’s safety and preservation, whether it’s putting a spotlight on the need for a new stoplight on the corner or on a corrupt city council person. We don’t have the legs to do that in New York anymore. The community doesn’t have the watchdogs it once had.” (This is a man bites watchdog story…)

+ Harry Siegel in the NYDN: “The thing I love about local news is that it doesn’t scale. It happens one court hearing or campaign or crime at a time so that you can fairly try and connect political decisions to individual people, the life of the city to that of its inhabitants.”


The Fog of Warmbier

“What made an American college student go to Pyongyang? What kind of nightmare did he endure while in captivity? How did his brain damage occur? And how did his eventual death help push America closer toward war with North Korea and then, in a surprising reversal, help lead to Trump’s peace summit with Kim Jong-un? The story I uncovered was stranger and sadder than anyone had known.” Doug Bock Clark in GQ: The Untold Story of Otto Warmbier, American Hostage.


The Athens Fire

“Rescuers found the bodies of 26 adults and children, who had apparently hugged each other as they died, trapped just metres from the sea.” BBC: At least 74 people have died in wildfires in the Attica region around Athens, in Greece’s worst fire disaster in more than a decade.

+ Here are photos of the massive destruction of life and property from InFocus and the BBC.

+ Japan’s weather agency has declared a heatwave sweeping the country a natural disaster, with at least 65 deaths recorded in the past week.


Going Home Alone

Just when you thought you could no longer be surprised by news about the border separation policy, there’s this from WaPo: 463 migrant parents may have been deported without their children. “The number of mothers and fathers potentially deported without their children during the ‘zero tolerance’ border crackdown could be far larger than previously acknowledged.”


Farm Aid

“The aid package is expected to target soybean farmers, dairy farmers, and pork producers, among others. White House officials hope it will temporarily quiet some of the unease from farm groups, but the new plan could revive debates about taxpayer-funded bailouts and the degree to which Trump’s trade strategy is leading to unforeseen costs.” White House readies plan for a $12 billion in emergency aid to farmers caught in Trump’s escalating trade war.

+ Not everyone feeling the financial pinch from the trade war is complaining about it. Tariffs Trim a Factory’s Profit, but Loyalty to Trump Endures. “You might think that managers and workers at Banner Metals would be up in arms over the Trump administration’s trade policies … But the reaction at the plant is based on more than self-interest. ‘I’m not looking at what’s best for Banner right now,’ said Bronson Jones, a part-owner of the company and its chief executive. ‘I’m looking at what’s best for the national economy. The U.S. has been taken advantage of for too long.'”



“A collection of bakers, tailors, engineers, pharmacists, painters, carpenters, and students nicknamed for their protective hats, they have saved more than a hundred thousand people in Syria’s vicious civil war. Their rescues produced iconic images: a little boy caked in dust and blood, sitting in silent shock on an orange ambulance seat; the triumphant rescue of a ‘miracle baby,’ only ten days old, pulled from under huge concrete slabs after sixteen hours of digging … Over the weekend, the White Helmets themselves had to be rescued.” Robin Wright in The New Yorker: The White Helmets—Syria’s Noble Rescuers—Have to Be Rescued by Israel.

+ Meanwhile, Israel says it has shot down a Syrian warplane which entered its airspace – a rare incident between the two foes.


Overguarding the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn was the latest person to be fired for offensive tweets. In this case, some the tweets were from a decade ago (the statute of limitations for offensive tweets seems to be longer than it is for some capital crimes). In The Hollywood Reporter, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar shares his take on Hollywood’s zero tolerance policy: “We need to have a rubric to judge social infractions. What exactly was said or done? In what context? What was the intention? Who was offended or hurt? How badly? How long ago did it happen? Is this a first offense? I, too, want to eliminate offensive speech and actions as quickly as possible. I still believe justice delayed is justice denied. But we need to judge the totality of the person, not just a stray utterance. How many of us would survive under that strict litmus test?”


Deep Sweep

President Trump is looking to revoke the security clearances of former top FBI and CIA officials whom he feels spend too much time on television criticizing him. (Editor’s note: Many of those named don’t still have a security clearance, and others don’t use it at all.) From Sarah Huckabee Sanders: “Not only is the president looking to take away Brennan’s security clearance, he’s also looking into the clearances of Comey, Clapper, Hayden, Rice, and McCabe. The president is exploring the mechanisms to remove security clearances because they politicized and in some cases monetized their public service and security clearances.” (Just when I was about to be outraged, she got me with that line about monetizing public service…)


Mirror, Mirror on the Wallet

“Millennials now comprise almost a quarter of the population and are the largest generation participating in the workforce. But their median salaries are lower than the prior generation of 30 year-olds, and the financial burdens they carry are heavier, limiting how much their lifestyle can mirror that of their parents.” Instead, today’s 30 year-olds are mirroring their parents in another way. They’re living with them.


Bottom of the News

“The CEO of a brokerage house explained that he had nearly completed building his own underground bunker system and asked, ‘How do I maintain authority over my security force after the event?'” Douglas Rushkoff: The wealthy are plotting to leave us behind. (Full disclosure: I’ve considered building a concrete panic room. But not because I’m afraid of the apocalypse. I just think it might do me some good not to have access to WiFi every now and then…)

+ NY Mag: What It’s Like to Be Married to a Very Attractive Man, As told to Alexa Tsoulis-Reay. (By, I assume, my wife.)

+ The Drone Photography Of The Year Contest Winners.

Copied to Clipboard