Wednesday, December 11th, 2019


Time is of the Essence

"We can't just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow. That is all we are saying." Of course, Greta Thunberg is saying a lot more than that, which is why she was selected as the Time Person of the Year. The magazine's cover features a photo of Thunberg with the tagline, the power of youth. But just as important to this year's pick is the power of truth, which, these days, could be the only thing facing a more existential threat than the planet. Thunberg probably doesn't much care about the personal recognition. She recently rejected an award, explaining that "the climate movement does not need any more awards. What we need is for our politicians and the people in power to start listening to the current, best available science." With that in mind, let's move from the felicitations to the issue for which Thunberg stands.

+ WaPo: The Arctic may have crossed key threshold, emitting billions of tons of carbon into the air, in a long-dreaded climate feedback.

+ Greenland is losing ice seven times faster than it was in the 1990s.

+ NatGeo: The world's supply of fresh water is in trouble as mountain ice vanishes.

+ And that war on Christmas? It's not being waged by the media, secularists, liberals, or any of the other usual fantastical targets. But it is being waged by climate change. AP: Climate change threatens reindeer and a way of life.


The Prosecution Wrests

"He long guarded the gruesome details inside his mind, unable to speak publicly about the prosecution that had both infused him with deep purpose, but also strained his marriage and eroded his trust in law enforcement. In the fall of 2017, moments after jurors convicted the boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, of murdering Gabriel, Hatami thought it was finally safe to unburden his heart. 'Sorry,' he said in a hushed voice, swallowing tears. 'I was a victim of child abuse.'" Marisa Gerber in the LA Times: To bring a boy's murderers to justice, a prosecutor wrestled with his own childhood abuse.


Kosher Mark

"The footage revealed that after the assailants shot Detective Seals in an earlier encounter, they drove slowly and deliberately to the market, roughly a mile away. 'The perpetrators stopped in front of there and calmly opened the door with two long rifles.'" Jersey City Shooting: Suspect Published Anti-Semitic Posts. Plus, Jersey City mayor says video shows kosher market was targeted in shooting.

+ WaPo: "President Trump plans to sign an executive order Wednesday that defines the Jewish people as a nationality for purposes of federal civil rights law, an effort to step up enforcement against episodes of anti-Semitism on college campuses." (I'm Jewish. But I already have a nationality. It's American.)


Listen Like Thieves

From Bloomberg: Silicon Valley Is Listening to Your Most Intimate Moments. "Contractors who asked managers whether they could skip overly private clips were told no clips were too private. They were expected to transcribe anything that came in. Contractors often lasted only a couple of months, and training on privacy issues was minimal. One former contractor who had no qualms about the work says listening in on real-world users was 'absolutely hilarious.'" (I already hear enough laughing during my most intimate moments. The last thing I need is Alexa piling on...)



"Garcia Luna faces three counts of conspiracy to import and distribute cocaine and a fourth count of making false statements with regard to an immigration naturalization application ... Luna stands accused of taking millions of dollars in bribes from 'El Chapo' Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel." Oh, and Luna was doing all this "while he controlled Mexico's Federal Police Force and was responsible for ensuring public safety in Mexico." The architect of Mexico's war on cartels was just arrested in Texas and accused of drug trafficking and taking bribes.


Different Hoax for Different Folks

"Sen. Feinstein asked: 'Attorney general Barr expressed his doubt about the legitimacy of the FBI's investigation in press statements. Did Attorney General Barr provide any evidence that caused you to alter this key finding that the FBI investigation had an adequate predicate?' 'No, we stand by our finding,' Horowitz said." Here's the latest as the Inspector General testifies on the origins of the FBI's Trump-Russia investigation.

+ "If you are ensconced in the pro-Trump-propaganda universe of Fox News and its spawn, you know ... that the Russia investigation was a 'hoax' developed by the 'deep state' and the media, an attempt by a fifth column within the FBI to engage in a 'coup,' a conspiracy, a frame job, 'nothing less than the attempted overthrow of the U.S. government.' Any evidence of wrongdoing by the president, in this universe, has been manufactured by Trump's shadowy and powerful enemies—George Soros, liberals in the FBI, Barack Obama. The belief that Trump is the victim of a vast and ongoing conspiracy is a crucial element of the president's enduring appeal to his supporters." Adam Serwer in The Atlantic: The ‘Russia Hoax' Is a Hoax.

+ How effective is that pro-Trump-propaganda universe? According to a new poll, almost 4 in 10 Republicans told a pollster that Donald Trump is a better president than George Washington.


Chain Link

"North American visitors to the shopping corridors of Tokyo and Osaka may be surprised to find brands they'd written off as dead at home. In between the Uniqlos, Lawsons, Tokyu Hands, and other domestic chains that dominate the streets of Japanese cities, you'll see American names that you'll recognize from the nearest dead or dying mall: Toys ‘R' Us, Tower Records, Barney's, and Dean & Deluca. They echo U.S. chains that have been gone bankrupt in their homeland and yet survive, even thrive, in Japan and other Asian markets." CityLab: The Bankrupt American Brands Still Thriving in Japan.


Domain Event

"'Where's your computer?' he demanded. According to Deyo's courtroom testimony, he led the man across the hall and into his office with the gun now shoved into the small of his back. He sat down, the man opened up his MacBook Pro, and Deyo felt the gun move from his spine to the rear of his skull, the metal hard on his scalp. 'Okay, motherf*cker,' Deyo recalled him saying. 'GoDaddy dot com.'" Ian Frisch in OneZero: The Influencer and the Hit Man. How a years-long domain name feud ended in a bloody shootout.


Image Search

"5.6 million. That's roughly the number of images photo editors of The New York Times sift through each year to find the perfect photographs to represent the news for our readers. This collection of images is a testament to a mere fraction of the conflicts and triumphs, catastrophes and achievements and simple but poignant moments of everyday life in the past 365 days." This time from the NYT: Another amazing collection of the year in photos. (5.6 million is also the number of photos one has to peruse on social media before finding an interesting one.)


Bottom of the News

"In the US Northwest, rain can damage the fruit on cherry trees. So helicopter pilots are paid to fly over the orchards, using their downdraft to dry the fruit as it ripens. For the pilots, it's a risky but potentially profitable job." ... "Three million students at US schools don't have the internet at home." ... "In 2012, only one sports team (Manchester United) was worth more than $2bn. Today, there are 52 sports teams worth more than $2bn." Those are just a few of the interesting, surprising, or just plain odd things you'll learn from Tom Whitwell's annual list. 52 things I learned in 2019.

+ The Yankees signed pitcher Gerrit Cole to a record 9-year, $324M deal. Here's an interesting visualization of the world's highest paid athletes (1990-2019).

+ People Keep Spotting Pigeons Wearing Tiny Cowboy Hats In Las Vegas.