August 16th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Aretha, the media and Trump, and why Gov Means Never Having to Say Your Sorry...

America was always at its best when Aretha Franklin’s voice was the loudest in the room. We got one last reminder of that in the shadow of her passing, as a word one never associates with modern social media began to trend: Respect. David Remnick in The New Yorker: “Aretha Franklin’s voice was a pure, painful, and unforgettable expression of American history and American feeling, the collective experience of black Americans and her own life.”

+ “Acknowledging the musical genius of black women artists is important, not only as a source of respect but as a way to open the canon and see the ways in which black women, who are often viewed as mere ornaments in their own industry, have shaped music with their own surreal talent and aptitude.” Tomo Obaro: Aretha Franklin Wasn’t Just A Great Singer — She Was A Genius.

+ Matt Thompson in The Atlantic: “To be a popular artist is, generally, to bend yourself into whatever form the public demands of you. As audiences, we have tortured such gorgeous majesties out of our artists, coaxing them into unrecognizable shapes to satisfy our ever-shifting appetites and prejudices. Those contortions are more elaborate for people of color, practically byzantine for women, and downright murderous for black women. Aretha Franklin was unrivaled in her ability to bend that reality rather than bend to it.”

+ Lots of quotes, stories, and sounds from Quartz: Hail to the queen.

+ The greatest voice in American popular music has been stilled. Bette Midler and other musicians react.

+ “Coming to Muscle Shoals was a turning point.” Look back at the moment when Aretha became Aretha in a little studio in Sheffield, Alabama.

+ “The song turns from a plea from a man to the woman he loves to a woman’s demand.” Respect was written by Otis Redding. Aretha made it legendary. And from Slate: The story of the greatest cover song of all time and the quintessential empowerment anthem.

+ No one covered The Beatles like Aretha Franklin.

+ Variety: Aretha’s best live performances.

+ Photos: The Queen of Soul’s Amazing Career.


Dear Leader…

John Brennan no longer has his security clearance. He still has his opinions. In the NYT, he responds to Trump’s decision to strip his clearance: the president revoked my security clearance … to try to silence anyone who would dare challenge him. “While I had deep insight into Russian activities during the 2016 election, I now am aware — thanks to the reporting of an open and free press — of many more of the highly suspicious dalliances of some American citizens with people affiliated with the Russian intelligence services. Mr. Trump’s claims of no collusion are, in a word, hogwash.”


Enemy Bylines

“For more than two centuries, this foundational American principle has protected journalists at home and served as a model for free nations abroad. Today it is under serious threat. And it sends an alarming signal to despots from Ankara to Moscow, Beijing to Baghdad, that journalists can be treated as a domestic enemy.” The editorial board of The Boston Globe: Journalists are not the enemy. (About a quarter of Republicans agree with the statement: President Trump should close down mainstream news outlets, like CNN, the Washington Post, and The New York Times.)

+ NPR: More than 300 news publications across the country are joining together to defend the role of a free press.

+ NYT: “News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job. But insisting that truths you don’t like are ‘fake news’ is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the ‘enemy of the people’ is dangerous, period.”

+ New Yorker: “Trump is not merely joining a long list of Presidents who have bristled at criticism. He goes much further than his predecessors, including paranoiacs like Richard Nixon, who assembled a secret ‘enemies list’ and raged in the Oval Office to his chief of staff about barring the Washington Post from the White House grounds. Trump’s rages are public. They are daily. And they are part of a concerted effort to undermine precepts of American constitutionalism and to cast his lot with the illiberal and authoritarian movements now on the rise around the world.”

+ Editor’s note: For Nixon supporters, one of the key lessons of his era was that a corrupt president could be weakened and even destroyed by the combined investigative efforts of law enforcement and a free press. Trump has spent a good portion of his presidency attacking both — so that by the time he utters his version of “I am not a crook,” the institutions tasked with countering that statement will have been greatly weakened in the eyes of voters. While Brennan and the hundreds of media outlets are correct to make their stand, it’s worth noting that these battle lines have been drawn within a framework of Trump’s creation. Trump vs the media and Trump vs the so-called deep state are the battles he wants, and like those fought in the 60s and 70s, the outcome of this battle will define America for years to come.


Like Hell

“Reuters found more than 1,000 examples of posts, comments and pornographic images attacking the Rohingya and other Muslims on Facebook. A secretive operation set up by the social media giant to combat the hate speech is failing to end the problem.” A special report shows the depth of the social media problem, and highlights how unprepared the social media giants are to cope with it. Why Facebook is losing the war on hate speech in Myanmar.


Trading Cards

“If you lay aside the overarching disputes, five specific sticking points come up over and over among the diplomats, executives and trade negotiators seeking to end the trade war between Washington and Beijing. Problem is, resolving any one of them would require China to rethink a development model that has made the country rich.” Bloomberg with an interesting look at The Five Sticking Points Keeping Xi and Trump From a Trade Deal.


Catch Me a Catch

“The fact that online daters have so much more choice can break down barriers: evidence suggests that the internet is boosting interracial marriages by bypassing homogenous social groups. But daters are also more able to choose partners like themselves. Assortative mating, the process whereby people with similar education levels and incomes pair up, already shoulders some of the blame for income inequality.” About five minutes after Marc Andreessen invented the browser, someone invented online dating. And the rest is a work in progress. The Economist with an update on Modern Love.

+ The MeToo movement has moved to dating companies. From CNN’s Laurie Segall: Tinder exec: I had to protect the company from my own story.

+ Bloomberg: Americans Will Spend More Than $1 Billion on Weddings This Weekend.


Vanilla Iced

“The rusty machete he holds isn’t for cutting down vines or chopping away stubborn branches – it is a defense against thieves. Lots of other men – farmers like him – are out in the rain, patrolling the forest. For the past three months, they have left their homes every night and made the long journey into the plantations to protect their crop. But this is not an illegal coca plantation, or anything like it. In fact, these farmers are growing a crop whose name is a byword for something boring.” BBC: Fighting the vanilla thieves of Madagascar. (Less than 1% of the world’s vanilla flavor comes from real beans.)

+ “If cattlemen lost 50 percent of their cows, you know people would do something and react. But since it’s bees and everyone thinks we can just breed more, nothing’s done. No one appreciates the stress we’re under.” NYT Mag: The Super Bowl of Beekeeping.


Gov Means Never Having to Say You’re Sorry

“Here at the Conways’, it’s a house divided. She is Trump’s loyal adviser, the woman who carried him over the finish line to the White House. He is one of the president’s most notable conservative critics and wishes he had never introduced his wife to Trump in the first place.” Ben Terris in WaPo on life with Kellyanne and George Conway. (This article became a legend like 30 seconds after it was posted…)


It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Madonna World

“Power. Innovation. Identity. Madonna has blended all of these and much more into a singular career in music, fashion, movies and beyond that’s crossed boundaries and obliterated the status quo.” For her 60th birthday, the NYT makes note of 60 Times Madonna Changed Our Culture. (She was going viral when that was a hard thing to do…)


Bottom of the News

“The owner of MoviePass Inc., the hard-pressed movie-theater ticket subscription service, is facing two class-action lawsuits alleging investors took a bath because the company didn’t come clean about being unable to pay its bills.” (Ironically, when the big screen version of the MoviePass saga comes out, you’ll have to buy a full price ticket to see it.)

+ Cryptocurrency investor robbed via his cellphone account sues AT&T for $224 million over loss. (My determination to never fully understand cryptocurrencies continues to feel like it will pay off in the long run.)

+ Melania Trump to Address Cyberbullying Summit in Maryland.

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