July 27th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Cleaning up is hard (and expensive), The Towering Inference, plus Weekend Whats and Feel Good Friday

“We believe that Twitter’s value as a daily service is enhanced when the conversation on the platform is healthier and people feel safe freely expressing themselves.” So said CEO Jack Dorsey on Friday. It’s hard not to agree with that statement. I’m a tech professional, an indie publisher with a personal brand, and I measure my self-worth in retweets. I’m addicted and have been since I was one of the first few hundred people on the service. I’m as likely to leave Twitter as a squirrel is to kick his acorn habit. Seriously, Jack will quit Twitter before I do. But I often wonder why civilians stick around to take the abuse; and I’ve watched from my behind my laptop as many users opt out and churn their way back into real life. So yes, improving the platform’s health is critical. But as we learned from Facebook’s stock slide (and now Twitter’s), the fix can be costly. From Cnet: After years of unchecked harassment and abuse, social media’s reckoning has arrived.

+ Monika Glennon lived through a social media nightmare when someone created false stories about her being a homewrecker. “Eventually, after $100,000 in attorney’s bills, Glennon was able to unmask the culprit. It turned out to be a complete stranger who had been offended by a comment Glennon had made about a news article on Facebook.” Gizmodo: When a Stranger Decides to Destroy Your Life. (The good news is that social networks have decided to take this problem seriously. The bad news is that I’m not sure anyone is quite sure how to fix it.)


He’s a Shower And a Grower

With the midterms looming, the economic growth numbers become ever more important. And the latest ones are very good. President Trump celebrated the “amazing” numbers and predicted continued growth. However, “most independent economists say this quarter’s growth was juiced by stimulus from the trillion-dollar tax cut and a one-time rush by foreign companies to stock up on U.S. goods before Trump’s trade war escalated and tariffs kicked in on many products.” But the growth was still good. To extend the metaphor in my headline, the outcome of the midterm elections could hinge on whether or not the president can keep it up.


Weekend Whats

What to Youth: You may have noticed that we have a dearth of quality leadership around the world. Yet, as we’ve seen from Parkland and the marches around the country, young people are motivated and ready to assume leadership roles. To prime that ever-important pump, the most-excellent Dave Eggers, along with a slate of excellent writers and thinkers, has created the first International Congress of Youth Voices. The idea is to bring together the best teen minds from around the world to amplify their ideas and energy and to unite young people for a weekend of collaboration. One of the days is open to the public. Sounds like a great event for parents, teens, and anyone who’s interested in, well, the future. Get your tickets for the event at the Nourse Theater in San Francisco on August 4.

+ What to Watch: I’ve been looking for content that takes my mind completely off the news for a couple hours. It’s not easy, but I managed to pull it off for a couple hours with Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver, currently streaming on Showtime. Exciting from the first second, plus a great soundtrack. Since I liked Wright’s latest work, I dug in and watched Scott Pilgrim vs The World which is like a teen romance movie mixed with a video fighting game. In other words, it’s fun for the whole family. And basically everyone in it went on to star in stuff you’ve seen. So keep IMDB open.

+ What to Doc: Over a two-year period, filmmakers embedded with cops in Flint, Michigan, reveal a department grappling with volatile issues in untenable conditions. From public appearances by politicians to private moments between officers, Flint Town is a documentary series that provides a unique and intriguing look at a town on the brink.

+ Speaking of docs, Ken Burns’ The Vietnam War is now on Netflix.

+ I passed the 10,000 hour mark in the late nineties. So I know newsletters. If you missed it yesterday, I explained Why Newsletters are Immortal.


The Towering Inference

“Michael Cohen is reportedly ready to tell prosecutors that Donald Trump was aware of a June 2016 meeting between top campaign officials and Russians at Trump Tower before it occurred.” If that’s proven to be the case, it’s a total game changer as it pretty much defines collusion. The Atlantic: Michael Cohen’s Astonishing Claim About the Trump Tower Meeting. Rudy Giuliani discounted the claims and said of Cohen. “He’s been lying all week, he’s been lying for years.” (Wait, if he’s been lying for years and during those years he was Trump’s right hand man, lawyer, and fixer, then … ah, forget it.)

+ Among those who broke the latest Cohen story: Carl Bernstein.

+ WaPo: Trump is denying the allegations: “I did NOT know of the meeting with my son, Don jr.” (I started the day convinced he did know about the meeting, but those all-caps have got me thinking…)

+ Here’s something no one can deny, and something that is really, really hard to explain: There is currently no one in charge of U.S. cybersecurity.

+ Meanwhile, we have the first documented case of Russian hacking in the 2018 election.


The Parent Gap

In one of the sadder moments in recent American history, a court had to compel the federal government to reunite migrant children with their parents. Last night, the court imposed deadline passed. As The New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer explains, the government has decided that hundreds of immigrant parents are ineligible to be reunited with their kids. Who Are They?

+ The Atlantic: What will happen to the 463 migrant children whose parents have been deported? The Lost Ones. (These days, that headline could also apply to America’s values.)


Microsoft Underbelly

“Microsoft employees questioned the company’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, on Thursday, presenting him with a petition signed by more than 300,000 people that called on the software maker to cancel its contract with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.” NYT: Microsoft Employees Question C.E.O. Over Company’s Contract With ICE. As companies becoming more outwardly politically active, they’re facing increasing pressure from within. This is a trend to watch.


Some Satellite Dish

“Planet Labs Inc. recently unveiled a platform, Planet Analytics, that customers can use to track planes, ships, roads, buildings, and forests worldwide. Orbital Insight Inc. has its own oil storage tracker and does daily automobile counts for 80 U.S. retailers.” Satellites are smaller and much cheaper to get into space. So someone is watching pretty much everything. From Bloomberg: All the Things Satellites Can Now See From Space. (Better wipe that concerned look off your face. They can see that too.)


Remains on the Way

“It is believed that 55 soldiers have been returned this time, but their remains will need to be forensically tested to ensure they are indeed slain US troops – and it’s possible the identification process could take years.” BBC: Pyongyang returns US troops slain in Korean War.


Internet Access Journalism

“Police say a couple in their 60s woke up in their Palo Alto, California bedroom around midnight last Saturday to find someone looming above them wearing a mask, or possibly a black T-shirt covering their face. The intruder asked for their wifi password.” (When they put this kid behind bars, they should give him a break and make sure it’s five bars.)


Feel Good Friday

Iswari Natarajan is good at teaching calculus. Her class at all-girls St. Mary’s Academy scored the highest possible score on the AP Calculus exam. Like, the whole class. Every person. Oh, and this is the fourth consecutive year that has been the case for students in Natarajan’s class. (I’d make a killer AP Calc joke here, but I’m a Humanties major.)

+ Mr. Rogers was my actual neighbor. He was everything he was on TV and more.

+ “A little over 14 months after suffering a life-threatening injury when he was struck in the head by a batted ball, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon made his major league debut.” He pitched 7 no hit innings.

+ Baltimore’s homeless veterans get their own free barber shop. That’s good, but we shouldn’t allow our vets to be homeless…

+ A Florida police officer was caught on video … helping a homeless man shave so he could get a job.

+ We’re living through an amazing documentary boom.

+ Boys Freed From Thai Cave Enter Monkhood to Honor Fallen Rescuer.

+ I love these photos of waves. They make great desktop patterns too.

+ Eighty-year-old Julia Albu drove through Africa, breezing her way through notorious borders and military blockades by saying she was going to London to have tea with the Queen. (In addition to everything else, I bet she was actually a coffee drinker…)

+ Fan hit by metal debris from Wrigley scoreboard — but at least he was wearing a bucket on his head. (Let that be a lesson to you.)

+ Haven’t had enough? Here’s a look at a mass gathering of golden retrievers.

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