August 19th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

CEO's notice factors other than share price, where they're marching (and where they're not), and more in this song title edition.

“We know that many Americans are struggling. Too often hard work is not rewarded, and not enough is being done for workers to adjust to the rapid pace of change in the economy. If companies fail to recognize that the success of our system is dependent on inclusive long-term growth, many will raise legitimate questions about the role of large employers in our society.” A group of top CEOs rethink a system that has benefited them — and their shareholders — greatly, at a great cost to just about everybody else. Long story short, maybe making it all about the share price wasn’t the best idea. AP: Top US CEOs rethink the meaning of shareholder value. (Editor’s Note One: Now we just need to enact some actual policies that will make this notion more than a cheap talking point.)

+ Deep Fakes: In The New Yorker, Andrew Marantz follows some of technology’s creators (and biggest beneficiaries) to the place they go when they’re having second thoughts about what they’ve unleashed: Esalen. “‘A few people around the Bay are starting to wake up,’ Tauber, who now works as an executive coach, told me recently. ‘They’re acknowledging where things have gone wrong, and their role in that, and they’re trying to get their peers to do the same … It can get kind of out there … There are folks exploring mindfulness, bodywork, psychedelics. Personal growth can take many forms. But ultimately if a handful of people have this much power—if they can, simply by making more ethical decisions, cause billions of users to be less addicted and isolated and confused and miserable—then, isn’t that worth a shot?” (Editor’s Note Two: See Editor’s Note One.)


Whiter Shade of Kale

“It has been a summer of fear, protest and tension in this crunchy college town ever since the popular Saturday morning farmers’ market was jolted by allegations that a husband and wife who had been longtime sellers of organic tomatoes and kale were also white nationalists … Anti-fascist protesters showed up one weekend dressed in black to stand in front of Schooner Creek Farm’s vegetable stall. A week later, armed members of a conservative militia group drove into Bloomington to support the farm against what they called anti-fascist enemies.” NYT: Amid the Kale and Corn, Fears of White Supremacy at the Farmers’ Market.


Woke This Way

“Hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy protesters braved a downpour on Sunday to once again jam the streets of Hong Kong.” Here are some amazing images from the scene. The mass protests around the world got WaPo’s Anne Applebaum thinking about the lack of protests in the US. Hong Kong and Russia protesters fight for democracy. The West should listen and learn. “Here is a paradox: In two of the most authoritarian countries on the planet, unprecedented pro-democracy demonstrations are now unfolding, inspiring precisely the same generation that is bored by democracy in the West.” (The American generation is woke, but not awake.)


Every Breath You Take

“After five years of investigations and protests, the New York City Police Department on Monday fired an officer involved in the 2014 chokehold death of the black man whose dying cries of ‘I can’t breathe’ fueled a national debate over race and police use of force.” NYPD fires officer 5 years after Garner’s chokehold death. “Video of the confrontation led to years of protests and calls by black activists and liberal politicians for Pantaleo to lose his job.” (He choked a guy out and only blacks and liberals had a problem with it?)



“The comic book format can be credited to a printing salesman, Maxwell Gaines, looking for a way to keep newspaper supplement presses rolling in 1933 by reprinting collections of popular newspaper comic strips in a half-tabloid format. As an experiment, he slapped a 10 cents sticker on a handful of the free pamphlets and saw them quickly sell out at a local newsstand.” In The Guardian, Art Spiegelman provides an excellent overview of the rise of comics and superheroes that dominate the marketplace today. (This piece was supposed to be an intro to a book, but Marvel nixed it.) Created in New York by Jewish immigrants, the first comic book superheroes were mythic saviours who could combat the Nazi threat. They speak to the dark politics of our times


Blinded By the Light

“American Jewish leaders think Netanyahu is a fool because they don’t realize how much he has to hide. He’s not a fool. He may have barred Omar and Tlaib partly because Donald Trump asked him to. He may have felt the stunt would appeal to right-wing voters in Israel’s upcoming elections. But he likely also understood that if Omar and Tlaib brought the American media with them to the West Bank, they might begin to puncture the cocoon that he and his American Jewish allies have worked so hard to build.” Peter Beinart pulls no punches in Forward: Netanyahu Banned Omar And Tlaib Because The Occupation Must Be Hidden To Survive.


Ring of Fire

From The New Yorker: Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of Trump. “Pompeo, an evangelical Christian who keeps an open Bible on his desk, now says it’s possible that God raised up Trump as a modern Queen Esther, the Biblical figure who convinced the King of Persia to spare the Jewish people. He defines his own job as serving the President, whatever the President asks of him … No matter what Trump has said or done, Pompeo has stood by him. As a former senior White House official told me, ‘There will never be any daylight publicly between him and Trump.’ The former official said that, in private, too, Pompeo is ‘among the most sycophantic and obsequious people around Trump.’ Even more bluntly, a former American ambassador told me, ‘He’s like a heat-seeking missile for Trump’s ass.'” (This gives new meaning to energizing the Trump base.)

+ “Stephen Miller was 22 and looking for work in Washington. He lacked government experience but had media appearances on talk radio and Fox News and a history of pushing causes like “Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week.” A first-term congresswoman from Minnesota offered him a job interview and discovered they were reading the same book: a polemic warning that Muslim immigration could mean ‘the end of the world as we know it.’ By the end of the interview, Representative Michele Bachmann had a new press secretary. And a dozen years later, Mr. Miller, now a senior adviser to President Trump, is presiding over one of the most fervent attacks on immigration in American history.” NYT Mag: How Stephen Miller Seized the Moment to Battle Immigration.


The Dope Show

“Though it’s difficult to know for certain, if the size of its sales force, the quantity of its shell companies, and the strength of its advertising are any indication, it appears that Yuancheng has sold more of the NPP and 4-ANPP used illicitly than any other company. It has done so not through secret underground networks or terrorist cells, but over the internet, using an army of young, perky sales representatives. Posting cheeky job advertisements on the internet and offering employees free cellphones, it’s a poison factory operating in plain sight.” The Atlantic with an excerpt from Ben Westhoff’s upcoming book on Fentanyl. The Brazen Way a Chinese Company Pumped Fentanyl Ingredients Into the U.S.

+ Vice: Mexican Smugglers Hid 4 Tons of Weed in a Truck Full of Jalapeños. (I’m not sure if this is a crime or the beginnings of a great idea for a restaurant chain…)


She Works Hard for the Money

“How that exactly happens — a still top-ranked presence bringing in cash for websites, yet leaving her without a cut — prompted questions over the secretive multibillion-dollar p-rn industry that reaps monster profits and keeps some women trying to outrun their past at the forefront of their audience.” WaPo: Mia Khalifa is among the world’s most-watched women. Yet the p-rn industry is keeping the profits. (She made a total of $12K during her time in the industry.)


Bottom of the News

“In Silicon Valley, techies are swooning over tarot-card readers. In New York, you can hook up to a ‘detox’ IV at a lounge. In the Midwest, the Neurocore Brain Performance Center markets brain training for everything from ADHD, anxiety, and depression to migraines, stress, autism-spectrum disorder, athletic performance, memory, and cognition. And online, companies like Goop promote ‘8 Crystals For Better Energy’ and a detox-delivery meal kit, complete with ‘nutritional supplements, probiotics, detox and beauty tinctures, and beauty and detox teas.'” (I’ve only tried about half this stuff since pinching a nerve in my neck). Brad Stulberg in Outside: We’ve Reached Peak Wellness. Most of It Is Nonsense.

+ From classic sitcoms to ’80s excess, a timeline of the most influential homes on TV. (Archie Bunker in his chair in front of the TV is all the influence I’ll ever need…)

+ Trump’s large union crowd at Shell was given the option of not showing up — and not getting paid.

+ Chris Christie has created a think tank centered on civility. (Since this was a song title edition, let’s end it with Warren Zevon’s Gridlock, James Taylor’s Traffic Jam, and Dear Mr. Fantasy, by … Traffic.)

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