October 11th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Trying to trace a note found in a purse to its origins, the market takes another hit, the key to productivity, and Kanye goes full Kanye.

Someone finds a note in a purse that was manufactured overseas. “The note claims the product had been made using forced labor or under poor working conditions. The writer of the note also claims to be in a faraway country, usually China. The shopper takes a photo of the note and posts it to social media. It’s reported on by all sorts of publications” and the story goes viral. This is actually a pretty common occurence. But then the news cycle moves on and and the note, whether real or fake, is quickly forgotten. Vox’s Rossalyn A. Warren decided to change the second half of the narrative with some good old fashioned investigative journalism. You buy a purse at Walmart. There’s a note inside from a “Chinese prisoner.” Now what? “The only way to make sense of this puzzle — one with actual human stakes that can help explain how what we buy is made — is to try to trace the journey backward, from the moment a note goes viral to its potential place of origin. Which is how I find myself in rural China, outside of a local prison, 7,522 miles away from where Christel first opened her purse.”


Market Research

“‘We have not only people from other parts of the state. We have people from other parts of the country who come here.’ Every year, drug tourists from all over the United States visit Kensington for the heroin.” In the NYT Magazine, Jennifer Percy visits the extreme edge of an all-too common case. A Philadelphia neighborhood is the largest open-air narcotics market for heroin on the East Coast. Addicts come from all over, and many never leave. Trapped by the Walmart of Heroin.


Mike Check

“First the cars started floating by and stuff and all the debris was in the air and the wind was just so strong and stuff. The next thing, the water. When the water came in, houses started floating in front of our home and stuff. And then once you seen that, then everything went black. You couldn’t see anything anywhere. The storm was so strong.” With rescue operations still underway, Floridians begin to assess Michael’s massive damage. Here’s the latest.

+ Photos of the destruction from InFocus and CNN.

+ And the longer term forecast from the NYT: “One critically important and underreported fact is that as temperatures rise, absolute humidity, the total amount of moisture in the air, will also increase. That may create combinations of heat and humidity so extreme that the evaporation of human sweat won’t sufficiently cool our bodies.”


Saudi, Partner

“The intelligence, described by U.S. officials familiar with it, is another piece of evidence implicating the Saudi regime in Khashoggi’s disappearance last week after he entered the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Turkish officials say that a Saudi security team lay in wait for the journalist and killed him.” WaPo: Crown prince sought to lure Khashoggi back to Saudi Arabia and detain him.

+ “That Trump has bet big on the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, makes the Saudis’ disappearing and likely assassination of the dissident Jamal Khashoggi in their Istanbul consulate—’monstrous’ on its own terms—a different sort of escalation. For Trump, this has been personal.” The Atlantic: Saudi Arabia is Taunting Trump.

+ “This took place in Turkey and to the best of our knowledge, Khashoggi is not a US citizen.” Buzzfeed: Trump Doesn’t Want To Halt Arms Sales To Saudi Arabia Over Missing Journalist Jamal Khashoggi. (What could have possibly given the Saudis the idea that America would be ok with the killing of a journalist — also known as an “enemy of the people” — in cold blood on foreign soil?)



Following a crash that killed 20 people in upstate New York, the operator of the limousine company has appeared in court, facing charges of criminally negligent homicide. While the story is tragic, it’s also filled with bizarre intrigue. “An examination of Mr. Hussain’s history, based on court records and interviews with those who dealt with him, shows a man who has spent the better part of two decades crossing back and forth from one side of the law to the other. His work helped convict two leaders of an Albany mosque in a 2004 plot to import a missile and assassinate a Pakistani diplomat, and four other men in a 2009 conspiracy to bomb synagogues in the Bronx. In both cases, the attacks never took place because they were part of a sting operation.” NYT: Limo Company Owner in Crash Revealed as F.B.I. Informant, Recruiter of Terrorists, Fraudster.


That Sucking Sound

“Tech shares fell more than 4.5 percent on Wednesday, marking their worst day since 2011.” And Thursday isn’t providing much relief as the markets are still seeing red.

+ Trump: “It’s a correction that I think is caused by the Fed and interest rates. The dollar is very strong, very powerful – and it causes difficulty doing business.” CNBC: Trump says the Federal Reserve caused the stock market correction, but he won’t fire Chair Powell. (Relax guys, he’s got this.)

+ Seems like an appropriate time for a walk down memory lane to that time Trump called Mike Flynn at 3am to ask if the US wanted a strong or weak dollar.


Banana Spiel

“Faced with a crisis that could see the Cavendish gone forever, a handful of researchers are racing to use gene-editing to create a better banana and bring the world’s first TR4-
resistant Cavendish to the market. To get there, they will butt up against not only the limitations of technology, but resistance from lawmakers, environmentalists and consumers wary of GM crops. But as TR4 closes in on Latin America, gene-editing may be the last chance we have to save the one banana we have chosen above all others.” Wired: The banana is dying. The race is on to reinvent it before it’s too late.


Garlic Press

“Chances are if you’re cooking with garlic (or, less commonly, using it medicinally), it’s from China, which has an iron grip on the U.S. market, controlling more than 90% of the dried garlic trade and killing many American garlic farms. U.S. farmers think Trump’s new 10% tariff could bring them back to life.” Axios: U.S. garlic growers are in love with the China trade war.


Fun Fact?

In The Guardian, Oliver Burkeman makes the case that the biggest predictor of whether something gets done is whether it’s fun to do: “I’ve experimented with countless time-management techniques, but the results leave me forced to agree: by far the biggest predictor of whether something gets done is whether it’s fun to do. The secret of productivity is simple: just do what you enjoy.” (I enjoy vaping THC, overeating, and binge-watching television while browsing the internet on my laptop. And I can confirm that I accomplish those tasks on a remarkably consistent basis…)


Bottom of the News

“That was quite something.” That’s how President Trump responded to Kanye West’s 10-minute soliloquy in the Oval Office, that touched on everything from hydrogen-powered planes to race to Maga to sleep deprivation falsely diagnosed as mental illness. I don’t often agree with Trump, but his description of visit was pretty accurate. NBC News: Kanye unfiltered. (There’s nothing all that funny about an overt, rambling, and sad example of mental illness spilling out in the Oval Office. There’s nothing all that funny about Kanye’s visit either…)

+ An Illustrated Timeline of Kanye West and Taylor Swift’s Seesawing Fortunes. (I’m guessing this means Taylor is up pretty dramatically today…)

+ The long, long history of long, long CVS receipts.

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