August 26th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The Hatch Act Hatchet Job, Laura looks bad, and Chalk Talk.

“We knew, going into this convention, that Trump would make use of the grounds of the White House as he made his bid for reelection. But he has actually gone further, by using the actual powers his office bestows on him to perform presidential acts as part of the convention. It’s strange, because the act of pardoning a reformed prisoner or naturalizing a citizen is both uniquely presidential and, for presidents, relatively routine. But turning that kind of sober, consequential, and legal ceremony into a live show that is a bid for your reelection? That would be chilling if it weren’t so decidedly Mark Burnett. But it’s also just really chilling.” From using the White House as a backdrop, to a speech from a sitting Secretary of State, to an on screen pardon, the GOP convention is doing a hatchet job on the Hatch Act. Dahlia Lithwick: Trump Plays President in Prime Time.

+ It’s important to realize that the norm busting is considered a feature, not a bug, of this convention. The Daily Beast: Trump Isn’t Building a Case Against Biden. He’s Running a Convention to Troll the Press. (Norms, institutions, and democracy just happen to be collateral damage.)

+ “It was awful.” The Atlantic: President Trump’s surrogates are referring to COVID-19 in the past tense.

+ RNC speaker cancelled after boosting QAnon Conspiracy theory about a Jewish plot to enslave the world. Whatever happens in November, this troubling trend will remain.

+ “It feels like August of 2016 all over again. Polls show Donald Trump losing big. Pundits proclaim he can’t win. Reporters sneer at Trump voters on Twitter and cable.” Axios: How Trump could pull off another upset. Interesting stats in this piece, but I disagree with the intro. It doesn’t feel anything like August of 2016 because November of 2016 happened.


Laura’s Aura

“Hurricane Laura rapidly gained strength Wednesday, raising fears that it could come ashore as a catastrophic Category 4 storm with an ‘unsurvivable’ 20-foot storm surge that could sink entire communities in Texas and Louisiana. Authorities implored coastal residents to flee before it’s too late.” Laura now forecast to be a catastrophic Category 4 hurricane.


Mind Blowing

“The pandemic is the first wave of this tsunami, and the second and third waves are really going to be this behavioral health piece.” Feeling anxious and depressed? In California, you’re right at home.

+ “Already, the U.S. has faced nearly 40 such events costing at least a billion dollars each in the past decade, more than any period previously recorded. Mental-health experts worry the psychological toll from these increasingly common cataclysms — with a pandemic now overlaid on top — could be unprecedented.” The Center for Public Integrity: Disasters Are Driving a Mental Health Crisis.


Troll Tide

“‘The rise we’ve seen in recent days is unacceptable, and if unchecked, threatens our ability to complete the rest of the semester on campus,’ University of Alabama President Stuart Bell said.” Universities sound alarm as coronavirus cases emerge just days into classes — 530 at one campus. (They didn’t sound the alarm. They’re just finally hearing it.)

+ ABC: In stunning reversal, CDC abruptly changes position on when to get tested. “The public health reason for the change is unclear.” (After weeks of a president arguing that we have more cases because we have too much testing, could the reason for the change be any more clear?)


Rich Ant

“Ant’s core product is Alipay, the most popular digital payments app in China. It boasts a more than 50% share of China’s massive mobile payments market, the largest in the world. Experts don’t see the mobile payment revolution slowing any time soon, and Alipay is the global king in mobile payments. It also sells tech services to other Chinese financial and e-commerce businesses.” What you need to know about unicorn Ant Financial, potentially the largest IPO in history. (And the IPO that could make Jack Ma the most successful tech entrepreneur of an era.)

+ Mike Isaac and Andrew Ross Sorkin in the NYT: How TikTok’s Talks With Microsoft Turned Into a Soap Opera.


Explain Spoken

“Three people were shot, two of whom are dead, in the third day of unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, where demonstrators are demanding accountability in the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man.” The police shooting of Jacob Blake, explained.

+ Actually, it may have been explained even better by his sister.


Highways 101

Vice: The Broken Algorithm That Poisoned American Transportation. “It’s not so much about the measurement being wrong, it’s that the whole underlying thesis is wrong.” (That’s pretty much how I explain a failure to live up to my potential.)


Liberty Bagged

“The embattled evangelical leader resigned from the evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, a day after reports surfaced that he and his wife Becki took part in a longtime sexual relationship with a former hotel pool attendant.” Jerry Falwell Jr. to receive $10.5 million in compensation for resigning from Liberty University. (If he liked watching one person get screwed, he’s gonna love watching it happen to a whole school…)


Legends of the Small

“Controlling movement in these tiny machines requires the researchers to shine a laser on minuscule light-sensitive circuits on their backs, which propels their four legs forward. They’ve been designed to operate in all manner of environments such as extreme acidity and temperatures. One of their chief purposes, the researchers say, could be to investigate the human body from the inside. Scientists build army of 1 million microrobots that can fit inside a hypodermic needle.


Bottom of the News

“Some call it the Rolls Royce of chalk, the Steinway of writing utensils. Some say it’s unbreakable, others say it leaves no dust behind. And it turned the world’s brightest minds into hoarders, going to great lengths just for a few sticks of the stuff.” How a brand of chalk achieved cult status among mathematicians.

+ Notorious B.I.G.’s crown up sale at Sotheby’s first hip hop auction.

+ The Dirtiest Hot 100 No. 1s of All Time Before WAP.

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