June 27th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The Russian bounty on US soldiers, the Coke pause that refreshes, and she's just not that into U...SA.

Just when you thought 2020 could no longer surprise you, there’s this from the NYT: Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says. “The intelligence finding was briefed to President Trump, and the White House’s National Security Council discussed the problem at an interagency meeting in late March, the officials said. Officials developed a menu of potential options — starting with making a diplomatic complaint to Moscow and a demand that it stop, along with an escalating series of sanctions and other possible responses, but the White House has yet to authorize any step, the officials said.” In fairness, it’s not like Trump did nothing. A few weeks ago, he indicated that he wanted to invite Putin back into the G-7. (Let me predict the Trump Tweet that will follow this revelation: Fake News! Now all those radical liberal democrats are mad that Russians are putting bounties on the heads of American soldiers. It’s called Freedom! But the Dems want to take away Putin’s Second Amendment Rights. And something about a statue. Also, Black People, scary! Law & Order!)


Arctic Circle KO

“Although Verkhoyansk has seen hot temperatures in the past, Saturday’s 100.4-degree record follows a wildly warm year across the region. Since December, temperatures in western Siberia have been eighteen degrees above normal. Since January, the mean temperature across Siberia has been at least 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit above the long-term average. As the meteorologist Jeff Berardelli reported for CBS, the heat that has fallen on Russia in 2020 ‘is so remarkable that it matches what’s projected to be normal by the year 2100, if current trends in heat-trapping carbon emissions continue.'” The New Yorker: A Disastrous Summer in the Arctic.


Family Lines

“‘He said, ‘Don’t you think that that needs to be done from the inside?’ his mother, Joni Kueng, recalled him saying after he watched protesters block a highway years ago. ‘That’s part of the reason why he wanted to become a police officer — and a black police officer on top of it — is to bridge that gap in the community, change the narrative between the officers and the black community.'” In the NYT, Kim Barker zooms a now global story down to a single family. The Black Officer Who Detained George Floyd Had Pledged to Fix the Police. “Mr. Kueng’s sister Radiance posted a video of Mr. Floyd’s final minutes on Facebook. ‘Just broke my heart,’ she wrote … ‘I don’t care if it was his third day at work or not,’ she said. ‘He knows right from wrong.'”


Is Coke It?

No company has had more famous slogans over the years than Coke. In 1986, Coke ads told you to Catch the Wave. In 2020, the company itself caught the wave of advertisers temporarily halting their ad spending on Facebook; and the undertow left the company’s usually bubbly stock flat. Coca-Cola joins Facebook boycott with a pause on all social media advertising starting July 1st. For fans of reality and stemming online hate, this is reminiscent of Coke’s 1929 slogan, The Pause that Refreshes. How much difference will these corporate moves make? Possibly a lot. It’s about time Facebook stopped abdicating responsibility when it comes to hate, lies, false political ads, and fake news. Maybe they should try to live up to one of Coca-Cola’s other famous taglines: Facebook, It’s the Real Thing.

+ The company has already blinked. AP: “Facebook said Friday that it will flag all ‘newsworthy’ posts from politicians that break its rules, including those from President Donald Trump. Separately, Facebook’s stock dropped more than 8%, erasing roughly $50 billion from its market valuation.” (Separately?…)


Undue Process

Judge “Gee’s order is not the first time the Trump administration has been confronted by the courts over its detainment of migrant children during the coronavirus pandemic, but it is the first time such a deadline has been set.” US must release children from detention centers due to Covid-19, judge rules. “Gee also excoriated the Trump administration for failing to abide by the most basic recommendations set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for preventing the spread of Covid-19 in the detention centers.”

+ Meanwhile, Measures to protect Trump from coronavirus scale up even as he seeks to move on. “As he seeks to insert rival Joe Biden’s health into the presidential campaign, Trump has voiced escalating concern about how it would appear if he contracted coronavirus and has insisted on steps to protect himself, even as he refuses to wear a mask in public and agitates for large campaign rallies where the virus could spread.”


Statues and Liberty

“What is a monument but a standing memory? An artifact to make tangible the truth of the past. My body and blood are a tangible truth of the South and its past. The black people I come from were owned by the white people I come from. The white people I come from fought and died for their Lost Cause. And I ask you now, who dares to tell me to celebrate them? Who dares to ask me to accept their mounted pedestals?” Poet Caroline Randall Williams with a tour de force in the NYT: You Want a Confederate Monument? My Body Is a Confederate Monument.


She’s Just Not That Into U…SA

Forget six feet or even two meters. Europe wants to social distance from America to the tune of about 3,000 miles. “European diplomats are poised to approve an agreement on which foreign travelers they want to welcome starting July 1 as the European Union reopens its external borders for the first time since March. But with the coronavirus still raging in the United States, the possibility of allowing American tourists hasn’t even figured into the discussion, according to six diplomats familiar with the talks.” (In fairness, the European Union didn’t love American tourists all that much even before the virus.)


His Heart Was Always in the Right Place

“If they’re talented and they’re lucky, designer-artist-creators get to lob an icon out into the larger culture — Leo Fender’s Stratocaster guitar, say, or Shepard Fairey’s Obama poster. If they’re great, maybe they create two. Milton Glaser, though, operated on another plane — he just kept hitting the bull’s-eye, again and again, throughout his seven decades as an illustrator, graphic designer, art director, and visual philosopher and paterfamilias. He loved New York City, and celebrated it in multiple ways: with a magazine, with posters, and (most visibly of all) with the three-letters-and-a-red-heart slogan he created.” Milton Glaser, Co-founder of New York Magazine and Creator of ‘I❤NY,’ Dies on his 91st birthday.


Brain Drain

“You know all those studies about brain activity? The ones that reveal thought patterns and feelings as a person performs a task? There’s a problem: The measurement they’re based on is inaccurate, according to a study out of Duke University that is rocking the field.” FastCo: Duke University researchers say every brain activity study you’ve ever read is wrong. (At this point, evidence of any brain activity at all seems like a feel good story…)


Bottom of the News

Vice: Invading Cicadas May Turn Into Sex-Crazed Zombies This Summer. “But this year’s cicadas have an even bigger thing to worry about above surface: a hallucinogenic fungus that turns them into sex-crazed zombies. This fungus, called /Massospora cicadina,/ invades the cicada and causes its abdomen to slide off. The cicadas enter a zombie-like state, driven to mate with anything they can find. But their efforts are fruitless, because the fungus has eaten away their butts and genitals.” (Meanwhile, the Mike Pence of Cicadas is like, “We’re doing a great, great job controlling the impact of this fungus…”)

+ Kellogg’s Mashups Cereal Combines Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops. (That’s disgusting. And it’s what’s for breakfast in my house tomorrow.)

+ Doomscrolling is slowly eroding your mental health. (Nah, it’s eroding my mental health. And I didn’t have that much at risk in the first place.)

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