August 26th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

America's addiction to the war on drugs, Macron's Art of Le Deal, and Luck runs out.

America’s worst addiction could be its addiction to the war on drugs. “The war on drugs has been one of America’s most grievous mistakes, resulting in as many citizens with arrest records as with college diplomas. At last count, an American was arrested for drug possession every 25 seconds, yet the mass incarceration this leads to has not turned the tide on narcotics.” The war on drugs has been an epic failure, so any time someone is trying to address the drug problem in a different way, it’s worth noting. Especially if there are signs that the new way might be showing some signs of progress. Nicholas Kristof in the NYT: Seattle Has Figured Out How to End the War on Drugs. One of the more interesting aspects of the Seattle program is how a prosecutor’s experience with his own sister had a big impact on the change of tactics. “What Shelley needed was not a jail cell and not a judge wagging a finger at her, but she needed some support.”


Fighting Fire with Ire

“Presumably, this is not just the result of Macron’s rhetoric — ‘our house is on fire,’ the French leader tweeted late last week — but what followed: a promise to spike a major European trade deal with Brazil if Bolsonaro did not take the fires seriously. In other words, a threat to apply the same tools of leverage and sanction and shame to crimes of climate as have been applied, in the past, to violations of human rights and territorial sovereignty.” David Wallace-Wells in NY Mag: The Glimmer of a Climate New World Order.

+ “Bolsonaro didn’t pour lighter fluid to ignite the flames now ravaging the Amazon, but with his policies and rhetoric, he might as well have. The destruction he inspired—and allowed to rage with his days of stubborn unwillingness to douse the flames—has placed the planet at a hinge moment in its ecological history.” The Atlantic: The Amazon Fires Are More Dangerous Than WMDs. “One person shouldn’t have the power to set policies that doom the rest of humanity’s shot at mitigating rising temperatures.”

+ Related: Trump skips talks on climate crisis and Amazon fires.


The Art of Le Deal

Emmanuel Macron’s G-7 gambit to save the Iran nuclear deal appears to have rekindled at least of flicker of hope. BBC: G7 summit: Trump “would meet Iran’s Rouhani if circumstances right.” From Trump: “Iran is not the same country it was two and a half years ago when I came into office. I really believe that Iran can be a great nation… but they can’t have nuclear weapons.”

+ Meanwhile, stay tuned for next year’s G-7 in the US. Trump is planning to hold it at his own resort. “Trump said that his staff had scoured the country and determined that — of all America’s resorts and resort towns — Trump’s club was the best situated to host the international meeting. ‘They went places all over the country, and they came back and said, ‘This is where we’d like to be,’ Trump said. ‘It’s not about me. It’s about getting the right location.'” (It’s really gross that you guys thought it was about him and not just finding the right location. Consider yourselves set straight.)


Nukes of Hazard

The use of such weapons “might not even alter the storm” and the “radioactive fallout would fairly quickly move with the tradewinds to affect land areas.” Nope, it’s not a good idea to nuke a hurricane. (Even if you can get a pretty clear shot at one from Greenland…)

+ On today’s crazy scale, the idea of attacking a hurricane with a nuclear bomb barely measures as Category 2 nuts. It’s not even a new idea. Wired: America’s Decades-Old Obsession With Nuking Hurricanes (and More).


Luck Runs Out

“Beset by injuries ranging from a lacerated kidney, to a torn labrum in his shoulder requiring surgery, to more recent calf and ankle problems, Luck missed half of the 2015 season and all of 2017. Still, he returned last year to play the best football of his career … which is why it was such a shock on Saturday night to learn that Luck, not yet 30 years old, was retiring from football.” The Ringer: Andrew Luck and the Afterburn of Early Retirement. (Colts fans booing Andrew Luck as he walked off the field and away from a life of constant pain is a perfect metaphor for the empathy-free imbeciles we’ve become in the social media age. I guarantee you one thing: No one who has ever suffered severe chronic pain criticized Andrew Luck.)


Fire of My Loins

“In 2019, officials in nearly 30 states have proposed bills to prohibit companies from using words such as meat, burger, sausage, jerky or hot dog unless the product came from an animal that was born, raised and slaughtered in a traditional way. Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma and Wyoming have already enacted such laws. In Missouri, the first state where the ban took effect, violators incur a $1,000 fine and as much as a year in prison. Mississippi’s new law is sweeping: ‘Any food product containing cell-cultured animal tissue or plant-based or insect-based food shall not be labeled meat or as a meat product.'” WaPo: Veggie burgers were living an idyllic little existence. Then they got caught in a war over the future of meat. (By this logic, doesn’t the product name animal crackers cause too much confusion?)

+ Next up: KFC’s Beyond Meat-powered Vegan Nuggets. (This trend is gaining so much steam, I keep worrying I’ll walk in on my teenage son pounding his plant-based meat…)


Nazism Next Door

“The students’ motivation and identities are unclear. But the images in Newport and Garden Grove reflect both a rise in such incidents nationwide and a conflict more specific to Orange County: tension between a rapidly diversifying populace and racist elements deeply seated in its history.” LA Times: Nazi acts by youth loom over increasingly diverse Orange County.


Tired of All The Darwinning

“Evolutionary progress can be propelled both by the competitive struggle to adapt to an environment, and by the relaxation of selective forces. When natural selection on an organism is relaxed, the creative powers of mutation can be unshackled and evolution accelerated. The relief of an easier life can inspire new biological forms just as powerfully as the threat of death.” Kelly Clancy in Nautilus: It’s time to give the violent metaphors of evolution a break. Survival of the Friendliest. (If it can work in nature, maybe it can work on Twitter?)


Sup Dude

“With calloused hands and a lei draped around his neck, de la Rosa felt exhausted but relieved as he relished in being able to have face-to-face conversations again — and to taste an ice cold beer.” ‘Incredible’: Man’s solo paddleboard trip from San Francisco to Honolulu breaks record.


Bottom of the News

“A complaint involving bank access from the space station is just one of a number of complex legal issues that have emerged in the age of routine space travel, issues that are expected to grow with the onset of space tourism.” NYT: NASA Astronaut Anne McClain Accused by Spouse of Crime in Space.

+ A short cultural history of tie-dye (which, apparently, is the new thing again).

+ Gizmodo: Bird Twitter Is My Oasis in Internet Hell.

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