August 14th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The Dollar Store giant opening three outlets a day, the scourge of coffee cups, and Omarosa and the dog days of summarizing.

“Buhler’s mayor, Daniel Friesen … understood why dying towns with no shops beyond the convenience store at the gas station welcomed Dollar General out of desperation for anything at all, like Burton, just up the road, where the last food shop closed 20 years ago. But Buhler had a high street with grocery and hardware stores, a busy cafe and a clothes shop. It had life. As Friesen saw it, Dollar General was not only a threat to all that but amounted to an admission his town was failing.” If the Dollar General Store is a sign a town is failing, then this stat is damn sobering. The chain is opening up new stores at the rate of three a day. Chris McGreal in The Guardian: Where even Walmart won’t go: how Dollar General took over rural America.


Cupping Therapy

“They look like paper, but they actually have a thin layer of plastic on the inside.” That’s the problem with your coffee cup. Starbucks sells about 6 billion of those cups a year. And that only represents one percent of the market. Now Starbucks and McDonald’s have teamed up to build a better cup. “But even with these companies’ vast resources, it’s proving to be a really big challenge. Starbucks has already tried out 13 prototypes in the past year.” (This is why I always ask baristas to pour the java directly into my mouth.)

+ If you missed it last week, this is Why It Took Dunkin’ Donuts 10 Years to Build the Perfect New Cup.

+ The Conversation: We are guinea pigs in a worldwide experiment on microplastic.


Trade Winds

“China’s leaders have argued that they can outlast Mr. Trump in a trade standoff. Their authoritarian system can stifle dissent and quickly redirect resources, and they expect Washington to be gridlocked and come under pressure from voters feeling the pain of trade disruptions. But the Communist Party is vulnerable in its own way. It needs growth to justify its monopoly on power and is obsessed with preventing social instability.” NYT: Trump’s Trade War Is Rattling China’s Leaders.

+ Erdogan says Turkey will boycott US electronics.


Genoa Bridge Collapse

“The state of the bridge always concerned us. Nobody has ever crossed that bridge with a light heart. Everybody has always done it praying that the bridge wouldn’t fall down. Today that happened.” The Morandi bridge in Genoa collapsed, killing at least 35 people.

+ Photos from the apocalyptic scene.


Dog Days of Summarizing

Trump denies using derogatory language about black people by calling a black woman a dog. From The Atlantic: Trump’s Attacks on Omarosa Are Getting Even More Vicious.

+ There are more tapes. This story will dominate the news cycle. But, as Christina Cauterucci explains in Slate: There Is Nothing Omarosa Can Say or Do That Could Possibly Matter. (If the birtherism campaign strategy, the Mexican rapists comment, the good people on both sides argument, the attacks on NFL players, the LeBron James critique, the efforts to avoid renting apartments to African-Americans, the Central Park jogger case, the wall, the Muslim ban, the disparaging of a Mexican judge, the suggestion that all Haitian immigrants have AIDs, the “shithole countries” description, the response to Hurricane Maria, the backing of Joe Arpaio and Roy Moore, and the constant dog whistles to the alt-right haven’t swayed you, spelling out an offensive word sure isn’t gonna make the difference…)

+ Meanwhile, Paul Manafort’s defense just rested after calling no witnesses.


Hard Act to Follow

I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. If you want to really understand Putin and Russia (and the Trump relationship), you have to understand the Magnitsky Act. And if you want to understand the Magnitsky Act, you have to know Bill Browder. Josh Yaffa in The New Yorker: How Bill Browder Became Russia’s Most Wanted Man.


West Virginia Mountain Drama

“Of the four impeached justices, one, Allen H. Loughry II, also faces 23 federal counts of fraud, witness tampering, lying to a federal agent and obstruction of justice. If convicted on all counts, he could face up to 405 years in prison and a fine of $5.75 million. He pleaded not guilty and was suspended without pay in June.” WaPo: West Virginia House votes to impeach entire state Supreme Court. (Editor’s note: Wow.)


Human Resources

“Almost by accident, though, Mactaggart had thrust himself into the greatest resource grab of the 21st century. To Silicon Valley, personal information had become a kind of limitless natural deposit, formed in the digital ether by ordinary people as they browsed, used apps and messaged their friends. Like the oil barons before them, they had collected and refined that resource to build some of the most valuable companies in the world.” By Nicholas Confessore in the NYT Mag: The Unlikely Activists Who Took On Silicon Valley — and Won.

+ “How did all this happen? How did digital technologies go from empowering citizens and toppling dictators to being used as tools of oppression and discord? There are several key lessons.” Zeynep Tufekci on how social media took us from Tahrir Square to Donald Trump.


Horse Majeure

“The horse had been left outside and underfed by his previous owner, who last summer pleaded guilty to criminal neglect. And now Justice, who today resides with other rescued equines on a quiet wooded farm within view of Oregon’s Cascade mountains, is suing his former owner for negligence. In a lawsuit filed in his new name in a county court, the horse seeks at least $100,000 for veterinary care, as well as damages ‘for pain and suffering,’ to fund a trust that would stay with him no matter who is his caretaker.” WaPo: Seeking justice for Justice the horse. Can a neglected animal sue?


Bottom of the News

Sandy Hingston examines How Millennials Killed Mayonnaise: “I racked my brain for the source of this generational disconnect. And then, one holiday weekend, while surveying the condiments set out at a family burger bash, I found it. On offer were four different kinds of mustard, three ketchups (one made from, I kid you not, bananas), seven sorts of salsa, kimchi, wasabi, relishes of every ilk and hue…” (My kids hate designer ketchup so much that we often bring Heinz with us to new-fangled burger joints. Also, since we’re Jewish, they have no idea what mayonaise is.)

+ Azealia Banks suggested that Elon Musk’s controversy related to taking Tesla private all came about because he was “too stupid to know not to go on Twitter while on acid.” (The only explanations less likely than this one are those we’ve heard so far…)

+ There’s no such thing as a sure thing. Except shark movies.

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