August 14th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The mail theft problem gets worse, the huge Middle East Deal, and Weekend Whats.

Led by Trump donor, supporter, and appointee, Louis DeJoy, “the United States Postal Service is removing mail sorting machines from facilities around the country without any official explanation or reason given.” (Unless you count the reason that the president has repeated every day for weeks.)

+ USPS says Pennsylvania mail ballots may not be delivered on time, and state warns of ‘overwhelming’ risk to voters.

+ WaPo: Postal Service warns 46 states their voters could be disenfranchised by delayed mail-in ballots.

+ Male Fraud: Trump and first lady request mail-in ballots despite attacks.

+ The Atlantic’s Ron Brownstein with the question of the election: Just How Far Will Trump Go?

+ If the mail shenanigans don’t do the trick, there’s always Birtherism. It seemed to work the first time around, so you shouldn’t be surprised that it’s being used again, this time on Kamala Harris.


Annex Lax

“Donald Trump announced the normalization of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Israel is also committing to not annexing the West Bank. The agreement will shock those who thought the portion of the Jared Kushner portfolio devoted to peace in the Middle East consisted of a single briefing folder filled with printouts of Wikipedia articles.” The Atlantic: Why the UAE Made Peace With Israel.

+ “This deal is right in Iran’s face. The tacit message is: ‘We now have Israel on our side, so don’t mess with us.’ The vast damage Israel inflicted on Iran through apparent cyberwarfare in recent months may have even given the U.A.E. more breathing room to do this deal.” Tom Friedman in the NYT: A Geopolitical Earthquake Just Hit the Mideast.

+ Robin Wright in The New Yorker: Israel’s New Peace Deal Transforms the Middle East. “After decades of dominating and defining tensions across the Middle East, the Palestinians are no longer a pressing priority; they also seem increasingly irrelevant to the region’s trendlines. Their brethren are abandoning them.”

+ David Ignatius in WaPo: Trump is right. The Israel-UAE agreement is a huge achievement.


Weekend Whats

What to Read: “When they said Dixie was an offensive word, I thought, ‘Well, I don’t want to offend anybody. This is a business. We’ll just call it The Stampede.’ As soon as you realize that [something] is a problem, you should fix it. Don’t be a dumbass. That’s where my heart is. I would never dream of hurting anybody on purpose’ … The change came two years before the police killings of unarmed Black Americans like George Floyd sparked a reckoning with systemic racism in the United States — one that led country acts such as the Dixie Chicks and Lady Antebellum to change their names to similarly avoid glorifying dark chapters of history. Parton hasn’t attended any recent marches, but she is unequivocal in her support of protestors and the Black Lives Matter movement. ‘I understand people having to make themselves known and felt and seen,’ she says. ‘And of course Black lives matter. Do we think our little white asses are the only ones that matter? No!'” Billboard: Dolly Parton Steers Her Pandemic Through a Pandemic.

+ What to Book: The economic divide is the problem that underlies almost all other American problems. Kurt Andersen traces how we got into this mess (it wasn’t by accident). Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America.

+ What to Playlist: If 2020 is leaving you nostalgic for past years (any of them), here are a couple of new playlists from The What to take you back. Night Moves 70s and Totally 80s.



“The US Senate adjourned for a month Thursday, further signaling there will be no coronavirus relief package passed this summer, nearly three weeks after unemployment benefits expired.” Pretending the virus wasn’t happening has worked so well that we’re gonna pretend the economic misery isn’t happening either.


There Will (Have To) Be A Test

“To understand the scale of his vision, start with the closest American analogue, the ubiquitous, paper-based, inexpensive at-home pregnancy test. Americans use 20 million of those each year. This is not sufficient for Mina’s plan. “Ideally, we’re making way more than 20 million [paper tests] a day,” Mina said. Entering a grocery store? Take a test first. Getting on a flight? There’s a test station at the gate. Going to work? Free coffee is provided with your mandatory test. He began pitching the idea as a moonshot in July, but it quickly took hold. By the end of the month, Howard Bauchner, the editor in chief of The Journal of the American Medical Association, gushed on a podcast that ubiquitous tests were ‘the best way we can get back to a semblance of working society.'” The Atlantic’s Robinson Meyer and Alexis C. Madrigal have been all over the testing story (and its been an ugly story to be all over). Their latest: The Plan That Could Give Us Our Lives Back.


Nite Stand

“Epic Games executed its most ambitious Fortnite live event yesterday, leading both Apple and Google to remove one of the world’s most popular games from their app stores. It was a well choreographed sequence of events designed to highlight the power Apple and Google hold over app stores, especially Apple’s walled garden. Epic Games has now filed lawsuits against both Apple and Google in a battle that’s likely to last months.” The Verge: Apple Has Finally Met Its Fortnite Match. (If both TikTok and Fortnite are unavailable, my kids may finally have to interact with me…)

+ ArsTechnica: Epic’s battle for ‘open platforms’ ignores consoles’ massive closed market. “Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo demand the same platform control—and the same 30% fee.”


Dial Up Sheet Creek

“Lee County, a community of around 7,000 people deep in the Appalachian Mountains, is one of many rural school districts around the country where the decision over whether to bring students back into classrooms is particularly fraught. As in other places, parents and officials are concerned about the virus, but dramatically limited internet access here also means kids could fall seriously behind if the pandemic keeps them home again.” Rural families without internet face tough choice on school.


Bye Bye Birdy

A bald eagle took down a Michigan government drone. “‘The attack could have been a territorial squabble with the electronic foe, or just a hungry eagle,’ the department said.” (Either that or the birds see that humans are vulnerable and they’re coming for us.)


Members Only

“‘Hey [b]ois, I might have f*cked up,’ the man who shot himself in the balls wrote above a picture of his naked legs and splattered blood on the carpet of his floor. A towel is stuffed between his legs and a printed out copy of the constitution is crumpled on the edge of the photo.” Vice: Gun Enthusiasts Celebrate Man Who Shot Himself in the Balls as Their King. (Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.)


Feel Good Friday

“‘When I heard the news, I decided I was definitely going,’ she said. ‘Randi and John are godsent people. I don’t even have words for the heart they have to stop and speak to him and then find us.'” WaPo: A homeless man hadn’t seen his family in 20 years. This couple reunited them.

+ Brad Stulberg: Redefining Success So It Doesn’t Crush Your Soul. (Several years ago, I made the decision to redefine success as failure and I’ve been happy ever since.)

+ Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater Renames Trick To Properly Honor Its Deaf Creator.

+ “A dog treading water nearly four miles offshore in Lake Michigan has been rescued by a family out on a boating trip … The family was able to have the dog scanned for a microchip. The owners later were located and reunited with their dog.” (The dog was later seen putting on a bathing suit and sneaking back out of the house…)

+ “I didn’t want to be there for a couple of days before somebody would come by. So I said, ‘Ok Boo-Boo, go get me some help.” N.C. Veteran Recovering from Stroke Reunited with the ‘Miracle’ Chihuahua that Saved His Life.

+ Dennis Quaid, the actor, adopts Dennis Quaid, the cat. (This makes me feel less weird about naming both my beagles Dave Pell.)

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