July 3rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The broader meaning of the Redskins name debate, the cursed platoon, Weekend Whats, and Feel Good Friday.

The Washington Redskins have announced plans to conduct a ‘thorough review’ of their team name. I don’t want to focus on the protests that brought this issue back to the forefront, or the history of the name, or even the absurd notion that the topic needs a review more “thorough” than the team has been able to conduct during the several decades since this issue became a controversy. I want to focus on why the move is happening now, and the broader implications of that timing. “This week marked a possible sea change on the issue with investors writing to FedEx, PepsiCo and other sponsors hoping they woould influence change. FedEx was the first to act publicly. The title sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover Maryland, FedEx said Thursday, ‘We have communicated to the team in Washington our request that they change the team name.’ FedEx paid $205 million in 1999 for the naming rights to the stadium. On Thursday night, Nike appeared to remove all Redskins gear from its online store.” I’ve been saying for a while that the Trump era ultimately forces people to pick a side. And the pressure being applied to the Redskins is part of a trend. Corporate America is opposing Trump in the culture wars. And in politics, like football, momentum is everything.


Lead Astray

“Clint Lorance had been in charge of his platoon for only three days when he ordered his men to kill three Afghans stopped on a dirt road. A second-degree murder conviction and pardon followed. Today, Lorance is hailed as a hero by President Trump. His troops have suffered a very different fate.” WaPo’s Greg Jaffe with a powerful look at how one Sean Hannity-pushed pardon shook up the military, especially one platoon. The Cursed Platoon. “Traumatized by battle, they have also been brutalized by the politicization of their service and made to feel as if the truth of what they lived in Afghanistan — already a violent and harrowing tour before Lorance assumed command — had been so demeaned that it no longer existed.” There’s also a podcast version of this story.


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: After years of therapy and hypnosis, this morning I finally managed to get the Hamilton soundtrack out of my head. The break won’t last long as the show’s much anticipated debut on Disney Plus arrives this weekend. For a refresher, or an introduction, NYMag: How We Told the Story of Hamilton. (The Trump musical is on hold because Lin-Manuel Miranda is having a hard time coming up with words that rhyme with orange.)

+ What to Doc: Frontline investigates how Insys Therapeutics profited from a fentanyl-based painkiller 50 times stronger than heroin. Opioids, Inc. And completely related: Inside the Sinaloa Cartel’s Fentanyl Smuggling Operations.

+ What to Book: “American democracy is beset by a sense of crisis. Seismic shifts during a single generation have created a country of winners and losers, allowing unprecedented freedom while rending the social contract, driving the political system to the verge of breakdown, and setting citizens adrift to find new paths forward.” And this was all before 2016. The Unwinding by George Packer, which tells the story of American politics and economics through personal stories of people ranging from Newt to Jay-Z, is a solid way to consider America on her birthday weekend.


Dakota Fanning the Flames

America will celebrate independence day as a country that stands alone atop the record books. “The United States has reached a daily global record for the coronavirus pandemic — reporting more than 55,000 new COVID-19 cases. The daily U.S. tally stood at 55,274 late Thursday, which exceeds the previous single-day record of 54,771 set by Brazil on June 19.”

+ “Pence was scheduled to go to Phoenix on Tuesday but went on Wednesday instead so that healthy agents could be deployed for his visit.” WaPo: Secret Service agents preparing for Pence Arizona trip contracted coronavirus.

+ I’m sure the rest of the Secret Service can’t wait to join in for what Trump promises will be “display like few people have seen.” Trump means his fireworks show at Mt Rushmore. What the rest of us see is a narcissist risking yet more lives so he can get his rocks off in front of a mountain of stone. “Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, a Trump ally, has said social distancing won’t be required during the event and masks will be optional.” At least the president will spend a few weekend hours somewhere he doesn’t own. He has now spent a year of his presidency at his properties.

+ Some states have paid a price for not taking Covid seriously. Others have paid a price despite doing so. How California Went From Coronavirus Success to Hotspot in Just 5 Weeks.


Suite the Parents

“Perhaps the pandemic is an occasion—an unwelcome one, sure—to reappraise a living arrangement that is often maligned, yet has become more and more common, in part because of how the past few decades have altered the arc of American adulthood.” The Atlantic: The New Boomerang Kids Could Change American Views of Living at Home. (My parents will have changed their locks before you get to story number 6…)


Silence on the Lam

“For a year leading up to her arrest, the vanishing act of Jeffrey Epstein’s longtime friend, lover, and alleged accomplice vexed the authorities, the press, and the women who accuse her of luring them into a web of sexual abuse.” Vanity Fair: Inside Ghislaine Maxwell’s Life on the Lam.


Deja Clue

A few weeks after offering Geoffrey Berman a promotion to leave SDNY, there’s this story, that has a familiar (crime) ring to it. “Richard Donoghue is leaving the Eastern District, which includes Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island, to serve as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General, the top deputy to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.” U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Stepping Down.


Surfing USA

“This creates an odd dynamic for the Americans. ‘You’re still third in the world and that’s not good enough [for the Olympics],’ explains Peterson a day before the competition is set to start. ‘If someone says they’re not really thinking of that, they’re probably lying.'” The three best women surfers in the world are American. But only two of them can make the Olympic team. The Battle for the Waves.


Chex and Balances

“South Koreans have waited 16 long years for a savory, crispy bite that would satisfy their taste buds and right an infamous wrong. This week, they finally could fill a bowl with the cereal they wanted all along: green onion-flavored Chex.” AP: Was new Chex flavor worth South Koreans’ 16-year wait?


Feel Good Friday

“Dench first took to the air in a paraglider in a quest to conquer her ‘debilitating’ fear of flying after a frightening experience in a small plane. ‘It’s such simple technology and I could feel every single movement, so I felt very connected to the air. I could catch thermals like a bird. Learning to fly was an intense experience.’ Then she saw someone put a motor on their back and realised that she could ‘take off anywhere and do anything. So, now I have an aircraft in the back of my car.'” Human swan to take flight on new mission to follow migrating ospreys. (You wanted an idea for a socially distanced vacation, here it is…)

+ NYT: A ‘Cure for Heart Disease’? A Single Shot Succeeds in Monkeys.

+ Kayaker Rescues A Deer That Got Swept Down The Rapids.

+ Black-owned businesses see sales surge.

+ This new high-tech glove translates sign language into speech in real time.

+ A family wanted to help a street vendor, so they bought all his ice pops. (I once did this, but because I wanted to eat all the ice pops.)

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