April 23rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

How putting chalk on tires violates the Constitution, even Amazon's competitors pay Amazon, and Kush from the tush.

“Trespassing upon a privately-owned vehicle parked on a public street to place a chalk mark to begin gathering information to ultimately impose a government sanction is unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment.” That was the argument made by a lawyer who argued that his client had been unfairly targeted by a traffic enforcement officer who put chalk marks on her tires to determine if a car had been parked in the same spot for too long. And that argument won the case. “A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit unanimously agreed. Chalking tires is a kind of trespass, Judge Bernice Donald wrote for the panel, and it requires a warrant.” From NPR: Court Says Using Chalk On Tires For Parking Enforcement Violates Constitution. (So, after the last couple years of law breaking and institution bashing, this is where the Constitution finally draws the line?)

+ “People have a lesser expectation of privacy in their cars than, for example, in their homes, the district court ruled.” But the appeals court overruled that decision. WaPo: Federal appeals court says tire-chalking by parking enforcement officers is unconstitutional. Given all the surveillance you’re under from public cameras to the phone in your pocket, it now seems that your tires are more entitled to privacy than you are…


Cloud Cover

“Apple’s cloud expenditure reflects the company’s determination to deliver online services like iCloud quickly and reliably, even if it must depend on a rival to do so.” Many consumers feel like they’re always spending money on Amazon. Well, so too do most companies. CNBC: Apple spends more than $30 million on Amazon’s cloud every month.

+ So that’s consumers and companies. Who’s left? Oh, right. Amazon Sets Own Lobbying Record as It Vies for Pentagon Cloud.


Searching for Answers in Sri Lanka

“Islamic extremists carried out Sunday’s coordinated attacks in retaliation for a March attack on two mosques in New Zealand, said Ruwan Wijewardana, the Sri Lankan State Defense Minister.” That version of events has yet to be confirmed as the aftermath of the Sri Lankan bombings has been filled with confusing, and often contradictory, information. Here’s the latest from CNN.

+ Sri Lanka shut down social networks after the attacks. But as Casey Newton explains, blocking social networks after terrorist attacks can do more harm than good. (Platforms can and must do more to prevent their systems from being abused. But I worry that our platform-blaming has gotten so extreme that it lets the bad actors who abuse the platforms — or work to prevent transparency — almost completely off the hook.)


Nearly United Nations

WaPo: UN adopts weak resolution on sexual violence in conflict. “The U.N. Security Council has approved a watered-down resolution on combatting sexual violence in conflicts after eliminating language on providing ‘sexual and reproductive health care’ to survivors of rape and abuse to get U.S. support.” (This is how extreme America’s position has become on any issue that can be tied to abortion…)

+ Some background from The Guardian: US Threatened to Veto UN resolution on Rape as a Weapon of War.

+ Buzzfeed: How Doctors And The Church Conspired To Stop An 11-Year-Old Girl From Having An Abortion After She Was Raped.


Kush Talks Out of His Tush

The mostly silent Jared Kushner shared his thoughts on the Mueller Report during an interview at the Time 100 conference: “You look at what Russia did, buying some Facebook ads to try to sow dissent and do it, and it’s a terrible thing. But I think the investigations and all of the speculation that’s happened for the last two years has had a much harsher impact on our democracy than a couple of Facebook ads. If you look at the magnitude of what they did, the ensuing investigations have been way more harmful.” (In keeping with his team’s tradition, that’s not true.) In fairness, there are some things that have harmed our democracy more than the Russian interference, but Mueller’s report is not one of them. Examples include: A president selling out America in Helsinki, the expressing of love for dictators and genocidal maniacs, separating kids from parents and then holding them in cages, fueling white supremacy, enabling Yemen, promoting climate change, attacking American instituions, lying habitually, ceding America’s leadership role in the world, attacking and endangering journalists, nepotism in hiring, and really stupid comments that reduce foreign meddling in our elections to buying a few Facebook ads.


Hitting Paydirt

“In recent decades our microbiomes have been altered by poor dietary habits; overuse of disinfectants, antibiotics, and other germ fighters; dwindling contact with vital environmental microbes, including those carried by wildlife and livestock; and the rise in cesarean section births, which don’t immerse babies in the valuable bacteria found in the birth canal. According to one 2015 study, Americans’ microbiomes are about half as diverse as those of the Yanomami, an isolated Amazonian tribe.” Bloomberg: Germ-Killing Brands Now Want to Sell You Germs.


Jewel Case

“There is a precise algorithm that lives in the heart of every woman, one that alerts her when the injustice she is experiencing outweighs the joy. Dawn saw those payroll records and knew she couldn’t stand for it anymore.” Taffy Brodesser-Akner in the NYT Mag: The Company That Sells Love to America Had a Dark Secret. For thousands of women, working at the nation’s largest jewelry retailer meant unequal pay, harassment or worse.


Doc Holiday

“As a physician in a small community with limited resources, Ortenzio did a bit of everything: He made rounds in a hospital intensive-care unit and made house calls; he provided obstetric and hospice care. Ortenzio loved his work. But it never seemed to end. He started missing dinners with his wife and children. The long hours and high stress taxed his own health. He had trouble sleeping, and gained weight. It took many years, but what began with that one Vicodin eventually grew into a crippling addiction that cost Ortenzio everything he held dear: his family, his practice, his reputation.” The Atlantic: Physicians Get Addicted Too.

+ Laura Hilliger:


My Up Runneth Over

NYT’s Upshot has provided some of the most interesting (and often surprising) information shared in this newsletter. The NYT is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the feature with a look back at its favorite, most-read or most distinct work since 2014.


Bottom of the News

“The second thing I detect after entering the convention is the sheer amount of milk. Milk in cafeteria-style half-pints, milk in whipped-cream cans aimed directly into mouths, milk splashed forensically near the garbage can, and milk cascading down chins. The room contains a disconcerting volume of milk. Nobody told me this was the milk expo, I wonder, questioning the point of all this dairy, only to answer that question just a little later, in the most self-destructive possible fashion.” Deadspin: Conquering The Carolina Reaper Requires Self-Deceit, Milk, And A Lot Of Barf. (Doesn’t sound all that different from perusing the news…)

+ “My mother was the first person to discover the face of Jesus in a tortilla — whether or not it was a sign from God, it changed our lives.” Christ on the Comal.

+ Washington may become first state to legalize human composting. (Looks like I’m gonna need a bigger green bin.)

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