August 15th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The world's cooling off period, Trump revokes Brennan's security clearance, and you're gonna be limited to one emotional support animal.

It “has changed buildings, and the ways they are used, more than any other invention: more than reinforced concrete, plate glass, safety elevators or steel frames. Its effects have directed the locations and shapes of cities.” What is it? Here are some more hints: We’ve “reached the point where a ski-slope with ‘real’ snow could be built in a Dubai shopping mall” and the 2022 World Cup is being held in Qatar. In The Guardian, Rowan Moore takes an interesting look at an inversion of nature: how air conditioning created the modern city. As your air conditioner keeps you cool inside, it makes it just a tiny bit hotter outside. That’s worth keeping in mind as the world continues to heat up.


Cross Examination

“The report, which covered six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses and found more than 1,000 identifiable victims, is the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The report said there are likely thousands more victims whose records were lost or who were too afraid to come forward.” They Hid It All: Catholic Priests Abused 1,000 Children. We’re talking about a report on a single state. Think about it. An institution infamous for the relentless and continuing sex abuse of children regularly passes judgment on the sex lives of consenting adults. We live in a giant insane asylum.

+ AP: “A priest raped a 7-year-old girl while he was visiting her in the hospital after she’d had her tonsils removed. Another priest forced a 9-year-old boy into having oral sex, then rinsed out the boy’s mouth with holy water. One boy was forced to say confession to the priest who sexually abused him.”

+ Church helped former priest accused of abuse get a Disney job.


King Dumb Come

“President Trump has revoked the security clearance of former CIA director John O. Brennan, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Wednesday, citing ‘the risk posed by his erratic conduct and behavior.'” In addition to the erratic behavior, the White House also called out Brennan’s “frenzied commentary,” “wild outbursts on the internet and television,” lies, and efforts to monetize his position. Seriously.

+ Brennan’s most recent tweet preceding the White House move doesn’t seem like it required any particular security clearance. “It’s astounding how often you fail to live up to minimum standards of decency, civility, & probity. Seems like you will never understand what it means to be president, nor what it takes to be a good, decent, & honest person. So disheartening, so dangerous for our Nation.”


Drug Test

“Since the military took to the streets to fight the increasingly powerful and violent cartels producing and trafficking drugs north to consumers in the United States, tens of thousands of Mexicans have died. And a broken police and judicial system means perpetrators are almost never held accountable for a disappearance or murder.” Here’s some breaking news. The drug war has been an unmitigated failure. But no one seems willing to take any steps towards ending it. From Vox: Mexico’s new president has a radical plan to end the drug war. “If the incoming president gets his way, this will be Mexico’s first major split from the US on crime-fighting and drugs in decades. But the obstacles are many.”

+ Vice: Much of the world used to treat drug addiction as a health issue, not a criminal one. And then America got its way.

+ For those who commute across the Brooklyn Bridge, NYT’s Alan Feuer explains how El Chapo is causing your traffic jams.


Thugs and Kisses

“His allies control the major regional newspapers, which provide supportive coverage of Mr. Orban’s anti-immigrant agenda and his methodical erosion of the country’s democratic checks and balances … For years, Mr. Orban’s government has craved validation from Washington, spending millions of dollars on lobbying, mostly in vain. The Obama administration largely ostracized Mr. Orban, avoiding high-level, bilateral contacts as punishment for his creeping authoritarian tendencies. American diplomats criticized Mr. Orban’s crackdown on civil society — as did President Barack Obama himself.” Times have changed, as has the view of strongmen from the Oval Office. “President Trump thinks that he is a very strong leader. And our president admires strong leaders.” NYT: Hungary’s Leader Was Shunned by Obama, but Has a Friend in Trump.

+ NPR: Australian Lawmaker Refers To ‘Final Solution’ In Push For Muslim Immigration Ban. (These jackasses are bubbling up in every corner of the globe. Be worried.)


Sweet and Dour

“They employ an army of food scientists and psychologists to trick us into eating more than we need, while their advertisers use the latest findings in neuroscience to overcome our resistance.” In most places across the world people are getting fatter. But not necessarily for the reasons you think. The Guardian: We’re in a new age of obesity. How did it happen?

+ “People who have a rare genetic mutation called essential fructosuria lack the primary enzyme needed to metabolize fructose, a natural sugar found in honey, fruits and vegetables. No ill consequences have been linked to the defect, save for an aversion to sweets.” Bloomberg: A Rare Genetic Aversion to Sweets Could Be Key to Fighting Obesity.

+ Think it’s just a case of mind over matter? Consider this headline from the NYT: In Thailand, Obesity in Our Monks Is a Ticking Time Bomb.


Oxy Con

“They say cutting off access to prescription painkillers could lead some patients to seek opioids by any means necessary — or even turn to heroin, which is often tainted with deadly forms of illicit fentanyl. Other patients, they say, could endure the return of once-debilitating pain. Some could die from suicide.” Stat: In radical move, Oregon’s Medicaid program weighs cutting off chronic pain patients from opioids. Purdue Pharma knowingly flooded the market with an addictive product, doctors overprescribed the medication, the government failed to protect patients, and drug cartels capitalized on the scourge by flooding the market with heroin. So here’s a great idea for a solution: Let’s punish those who are suffering from debilitating chronic pain.


Truncated Risks

“They ought to be walking (or swimming) masses of tumors—but clearly they aren’t. For the vast majority of mammals that have been studied, the odds of dying from cancer range from 1 to 10 percent, whether you’re talking about a 50-gram grass mouse or a 5,000-kilogram African elephant.” Ed Yong: Elephants Have a Secret Weapon Against Cancer.


Wrap Genius

“Like a lot of foodstuffs, the burrito’s origins are murky. But let’s start with its distinguishing feature: the big flour tortilla.” Quartz does a deep dive into burritos (something I’m likely to do as soon as this edition is out).


Bottom of the News

Southwest Airlines announces new rules for emotional support animals. “Beginning September 17, only one dog or cat, either in a carrier or on a leash, will be allowed per customer on Southwest flights.” (I personally only need the one dog. But that dog can’t travel without his brother…)

+ America’s hottest export? Sperm. (It’s only a matter of time before someone slaps a tariff on it…)

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