July 31st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Stock buybacks are eating America, you're absorbing content 11 hours a day, and summer camp for migrants.

“How much might workers have benefited if companies had devoted their financial resources to them rather than to shareholders? Lowe’s, CVS, and Home Depot could have provided each of their workers a raise of $18,000 a year, the report found. Starbucks could have given each of its employees $7,000 a year, and McDonald’s could have given $4,000 to each of its nearly 2 million employees.” Corporations are making massive profits and realizing huge stock price gains. Yet, millions of workers are still waiting for their flatlined wages to see a blip. What gives? Part of the answer is related to (once illegal) stock buyback programs. In The Atlantic, Annie Lowrey does a good job providing an overview of a problem that’s only getting worse. Stock buybacks are eating the world. (And employees are lucky if they get the scraps…)

+ This has been an issue for some time. But things are accelerating. From Politico: “Some of the biggest winners from President Donald Trump’s new tax law are corporate executives who have reaped gains as their companies buy back a record amount of stock, a practice that rewards shareholders by boosting the value of existing shares.”

+ Vox: One chart that shows how much worse income inequality is in America than Europe.

+ NYT: Trump administration mulls a unilateral tax cut for the rich.


Let Them Eat Cake Boss

“Despite all the new technologies people can now use to access media, the regular old radio was the most ubiquitous form of media audiences interacted with during the period. Ninety-two percent of US adults listened to the radio—via standard broadcasts, internet streams of AM and FM stations, or satellite—during an average week.” Quartz: Americans are now spending 11 hours each day consuming media. (We spend the other 13 hours a day asking people which shows and podcasts we should be checking out…)


Smoke Signals

“It’s burning differently. It’s burning more aggressive than it has in years past. And I know we say that every year, but it’s unprecedented.” Vice: Thousands of firefighters are battling unprecedented fatal wildfires in California.

+ In effect, a ‘firenado’ like the one that erupted near Redding is a hot, deadly manifestation of chaos theory. It is Mother Nature saying to scientists, ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet.'” Rolling Stone: California Is Burning Before Our Eyes.

+ Photos of wildfires ripping through California towns.

+ Buzzfeed: 40 Employees At This California Hospital Lost Their Homes In The Carr Fire. They Showed Up To Work Anyway.

+ “This is not a future scenario. It is happening now.” The NYT talked to people who found themselves on the front lines of climate change this year. Here are their stories.

+ Bloomberg: “The U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt a novel and sweeping lawsuit pressed by children and teenagers seeking to force the federal government to take steps against climate change.”


Missile Pop

“The findings are the latest to show ongoing activity inside North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities at a time when the country’s leaders are engaged in arms talks with the United States. The new intelligence does not suggest an expansion of North Korea’s capabilities but shows that work on advanced weapons is continuing weeks after President Trump declared in a Twitter posting that Pyongyang was ‘no longer a Nuclear Threat.'” U.S. spy agencies: North Korea is working on new missiles.


Facebook Still Popular (Among Witches)

“American intelligence and law enforcement officials have been warning for months that Russia’s efforts to undermine American democracy remain active and pose a threat to this year’s elections.” And they aren’t kidding. Facebook Has Identified a New Ongoing Political Influence Campaign.

+ “Intelligence and security has become an arms race, a new kind of cold war made from memes instead of warheads. And yet, the U.S. government hasn’t established a sufficient approach to the threat … Facebook is now one of the most important agents in that struggle, all around the globe. Like it or not, if you’re a human who lives and votes in a nation on Earth, you’ll have to trust the company to play its part.” Ian Bogost: The government, and the world, is too reliant on this company to protect democracy.

+ What kind of leadership are we getting when it comes to fighting this scourge? This headline says it all: Trump Says “Collusion Is Not A Crime.”


Camp Internment

During a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, an ICE official looked to ease concerns about the residential centers where families are being held, describing them as being more like a summer camp. I hated summer camp. My counselors took away the care package my sister sent. There was a weird old guy who made us drop our towels so he could “check for ticks” after we showered. And I wet my sleeping bag for week a straight. But still, these families in the reunification process sure as hell don’t look like they’re at summer camp to me.

+ I also don’t remember this directive coming up during my summer camp. Trump administration must stop giving psychotropic drugs to migrant children without consent.


Malaysia Error

“Authorities believe the airplane crashed in the southern Indian Ocean. Everyone aboard is presumed dead in what has become the greatest airline mystery since the disappearance of Amelia Earhart.” After spending years and hundreds of millions of dollars searching for clues, it’s become clear that we’ll likely never know what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. One thing most experts seem sure of: It wasn’t mechanical error. It “probably resulted from manual inputs.”


Freeze or I’ll Print

“On Monday, attorneys general from 20 states announced that they’re suing the US State Department and Defense Distributed, in an effort to force them to rescind their settlement. The AGs are asking for an immediate restraining order to prevent the gun group from publishing its digital firearm files.” Wired: The last-ditch legal fight to stop 3-D printed guns.

+ Relax, guys. President Trump tweeted that he’s already spoken to the NRA, and that he’s “looking into 3-D Plastic Guns being sold to the public.” (Of course, it’s not the guns that are sold to the public. It’s the designs. You can print them at home. Hence, the concern.)

+ A soldier-turned-war-reporter asks why child’s play is starting to look more like combat: This Is My Nerf Blaster, This Is My Gun.


Lanterne Rouge

“Craddock finished 145th – more than four and a half hours behind the winner, Geraint Thomas.” No one ever remembers who came in second. But sometimes, they do remember who came in last. And such will be the case in this year’s Tour De France. NPR on Lawson Craddock’s Amazing Last-Place Finish.

+ SB Nation: This man ran the entire route of the Tour de France to raise money for mental health.


Bottom of the News

“Last week, James Quincey, Coke’s president and C.E.O., told investors that the company will have to raise its soda prices, in an effort to rebalance the books. The reason? Largely Trump’s tariffs on Chinese imports, apparently, which have driven up costs for aluminum and steel. This is, it seems, the rare instance in which the Commander-in-Chief has not managed to privilege his personal interests. Drink up, Mr. President. A reckoning awaits.” Nathan Heller in The New Yorker: The Decline and Fall of Diet Coke and the Power Generation That Loved It.

+ Tsundoku: The art of buying books and never reading them.

Copied to Clipboard