Freeze Chain

Things are getting a little icee between two Slurpee slingers in Osaka. When one franchisee decided to change the hours his store was open, the parent company tried to freeze him out. The relationship is still on the rocks. "Across Japan, it can seem as if there's a 7-Eleven on every corner. Now, on a single corner in a working-class suburb of Osaka, there are two. The unusual pairing is the latest manifestation of a grudge match between one of Japan's most powerful companies and, arguably, one of its most stubborn men." The NYT takes you inside the chilling story, complete with threats, spies and videotape. A Grudge Match in Japan: One Corner, Two 7-Elevens. (This is what happens when there's a fight between two parties, both willing to take it to eleven.)

+ This seems like a good time to serve up a shoutout to Omar Knedlik, inventor of the ICEE and Slurpee.

+ Related: 26 terrifying pictures of gorilla hail that fell in Texas and Oklahoma this week. (Seriously nature, chill.)


People You Meet at the Gaetz of Hell

Just when you thought the Matt Gaetz story couldn't get any more disgusting, Roger Stone appears. "They know he paid me to pay the girls and that [Gaetz] and I both had sex with the girl who was underage." The Daily Beast has obtained a confession letter that Joel Greenberg wrote after asking Roger Stone to help him obtain a pardon. Gaetz Paid for Sex With Minor, Wingman Says.

+ In other scumbaggery, WaPo reports that the FBI warned Giuliani and Ron Johnson of a Russian disinformation campaign targeting Biden. (That's like warning Thomas Edison he might be able to read at night.)

+ The most classic part of this whole situation is the line from Andrew Giuliani: "If this can happen to the former president's lawyer, this can happen to anyone." Yes, uh, that's how laws are supposed to work.


Weekend Whats

What to Rock: Anyone who tells you rock is dead doesn't listen to Royal Blood. The dynamic duo is back with a new album, a hint of disco added to their sound, and a must listen. Check out Typhoons. This is the rock band that old school rockers love.

+ What to Book: I got an advance copy of The End of the Golden Gate, a collection of essays from writers on loving and (sometimes) leaving San Francisco. It's an excellent book and it couldn't be more timely. It features 25 acclaimed writers taking on the Bay Area-dweller's eternal conflict: Should I stay or should I go? (To paraphrase the Clash: If I go, there will be trouble, And if I stay it will cost me double.)

+ What to Carb: Unlike most Americans, I didn't rediscover carbs during the pandemic. I have remained true to pasta. And I'm pretty sure I just started boiling the best pasta brand I've tried. It's called Mancini, and my pot runneth over.


Tragic Festival

"Our bodies were swept along by themselves. People were thrown up in the air - others were crushed on the ground." Families in Israel have begun burying their loved ones after at least 45 people died in a crush at a crowded Orthodox Jewish festival.


Like a Roth to a Flame

"More than 20 years before I got up the courage to send an open letter to the New York Times accusing my former English teacher Blake Bailey of grooming his eighth grade students and then, years later, coercing us into sex—or, in my case, just holding me down and doing it even while I cried "no" and "stop" repeatedly—I sent a very different letter on his behalf. I wrote his nomination for the Louisiana Humanities Teacher of the Year in 2000, an award he went on to win." Eve Crawford Peyton in Slate: I Was 12 When We Met.

+ "Before he was Philip Roth's biographer, Blake Bailey taught the eighth grade. His students say he made them feel special. They worshipped him. They trusted him. He used it all against them." Slate: Mr. Bailey's Class.


Still Going Viral

"More Brazilians have died from the virus in the first four months of this year than in all of 2020, with the death toll having jumped from 300,000 to 400,000 in the past five weeks alone." Brazil's COVID-19 Deaths Top 400,000 Amid Fears Of Worsening Crisis.

+ "As cases in India surge faster than anywhere in the world, Indians struggle to care for their family members who have COVID and mourn lost loved ones." Photos Show How Dire The Coronavirus Surge In India Is. (The numbers in India are likely being undercounted, but when you look at the disasters in India and Brazil, keep in mind that America had worse numbers under a president who called the virus a hoax.)


Smoke and Mirrors

"Our work shows that California's forest offsets program increases greenhouse gas emissions, despite being a large part of the state's strategy for reducing climate pollution. The program creates the false appearance of progress when in fact it makes the climate problem worse." Lisa Song of ProPublica and James Temple of MIT Technology Review: The Climate Solution Actually Adding Millions of Tons of CO2 Into the Atmosphere.

+ California rivers dry, so baby salmon will be trucked to the Pacific. (Who are we kidding. We're all trucked.)


Opposites Attack

"This left the United States pursuing dual missions — eradicating the Taliban and installing a new, highly centralized state — that were not, at least at first, irreconcilable. But a series of choices put them increasingly at odds." The NYT's Max Fisher: The Contradiction That Doomed America's Mission in Afghanistan.


A Trend Worth Worrying About

"The ruling parties in Budapest and Warsaw have long been emulating each other in cracking down on judicial autonomy, independent media, the civic sector, and vulnerable minority populations. Recently, however, they have moved from attacking the liberal principles that underpin democracy to setting new norms themselves and openly spreading antidemocratic practices." The Antidemocratic Turn.


Feel Good Friday

"There was a time I needed a helping hand. They gave us an opportunity to get back on our feet. So it is my job to give back." Steelers Draft Pick Najee Harris Hosts Draft Party at Homeless Shelter Where He Used to Live.

+ Number of Americans fully vaccinated tops 100 million.

+ CVS to offer in-store mental health counseling.

+ "He started to explain that his wife was struggling with her vision right now, and was struggling to curl her own hair and was burning herself. He really wanted to help her." Alberta man takes impromptu hair, make up lesson at local college to help aging wife.

+ "Three years ago, a National Women's Soccer League team in New Jersey had no working toilets or showers in its training facilities." The New Yorker: The Transformation of a Soccer Club, and the Ways We Value Women's Sports.

+ Arab towns offer food, drink to Meron survivors; hundreds give blood in Tel Aviv.

+ Buffy the yellow Labrador retriever couldn't guide the blind. But she can smell Covid-19.

+ Researchers in Spain have found no sign of higher levels of infection among people who took part in a large test concert last month.

+ Number of children held in Border Patrol facilities drops 84% since peak last month.

+ Crazy odds: Minneapolis mom gives birth to three kids, each two years apart, all on the same day. (I'm guessing the dad's birthday is exactly nine months before this date.)