May 10th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Pipeline hack, plus a beer and a shot.

“Our goal is to make money, and not creating problems for society.” So said a Russian ransom-demanding hacking group currently creating problems for society. Colonial pipeline hack claimed by Russian group DarkSide spurs emergency order from White House. “The Colonial Pipeline, responsible for the country’s largest fuel pipeline, shut down all its operations Friday after hackers broke into some of its networks.”

+ ABC News: “The cyberextortion attempt that has forced the shutdown of a vital U.S. pipeline was carried out by a criminal gang known as DarkSide that cultivates a Robin Hood image of stealing from corporations and giving a cut to charity.” Regardless of whether or not this hacking is a state-sponsored effort, the pipeline takeover points to long warned-about vulnerabilities of aging systems and outdated software. Understanding the broader threat is seeing Sherwood Forest through the trees.


The Ethernets and the Ethernots

“Counties on the wrong side of the line are poorer and more remote, losing population even as the country grows. This is why there’s no broadband, of course: from a business perspective, building out fiber in Apache County is a losing bet. But the lack of fiber also stifles economic activity and makes young people more likely to leave, creating a cycle of disinvestment and decay that has swallowed large portions of our country.” The Verge: This Is a Map of America’s Broadband Problem.


Modi Day

“The history of independent India is one of political and humanitarian crisis followed by self-renewal, and the country’s eventual recovery from covid-19 can hardly be doubted. Whether its democracy can also regenerate seems, at this dark hour, a less certain prospect.” Steve Coll in The New Yorker: The Politics Behind India’s Covid Crisis. “The coronavirus thrives off of complacent leaders, such as Prime Minister Narendra Modi.”

+ Uri Friedman in The Atlantic: Covid-19 Lays Bare the Price of Populism.



“In a case of a company like Robinhood, it’s not enough for them to have users on the site. You actually have to get them to hit the Buy or Sell button. You’ve got to make that feel like it’s inconsequential. You’ve got to lower all the barriers resistant people might have to making financial decisions, so that you don’t even think about the money at all.” The New Yorker’s Sheelah Kolhatkar on Robinhood’s Big Gamble. “Is the app democratizing finance or encouraging risky behavior?” (If you believe high finance is going to be democratized, Friar Tuck has a bridge he’d like to sell you.)

+ “To put it plainly, the stock market is not representative of the whole economy, much less American society. And what it is representative of did fine.” Vox: Why stocks soared while America struggled.


Women and Children Targeted First

“More than 60 people, mostly girls, are now known to have died in the attack that hit students as they left class. No-one has admitted carrying out the attack in Dasht-e-Barchi, an area often hit by Sunni Islamist militants. The Afghan government blamed Taliban militants for the attack, but the group denied involvement.” Kabul attack: Families bury schoolchildren of blast that killed dozens. It’s hard not to worry we’re going to see more of this as the US pulls out.


Jerusalem Thorn

“The latest violence follows days of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police in the nearby Sheikh Jarrah district of East Jerusalem, with the possible eviction of Palestinian families from their homes there by Jewish settlers a focal point for Palestinian anger.” Jerusalem violence: Rockets fired from Gaza after major clashes. “The past few days have seen the worst violence in the city for years.”


On a Nerd to Know Basis

“The Journal reports that Melinda Gates was concerned about her husband’s relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.” Melinda Gates met with divorce lawyers in 2019 amid Epstein revelations. (The Jeffrey Epstein story is the most salacious of our era and we probably know about 1% of the reasons why.)


Myth Ick Quest

“Key elements of the baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen from President Donald Trump took shape in an airplane hangar here two years earlier, promoted by a Republican businessman who has sold everything from Tex-Mex food in London to a wellness technology that beams light into the human bloodstream.” WaPo on The Making of a Myth.


Junkie Cold Medina

“Medina Spirit’s victory in the Kentucky Derby is in serious jeopardy because of a failed postrace drug test, one that led Churchill Downs to suspend Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert on Sunday in the latest scandal to plague the sport.” Medina Spirit could lose Ky. Derby win. “If Medina Spirit is disqualified, his connections will not receive the $1.86 million winner’s share of the Derby purse money. But for bettors, anything that happens next won’t matter.” (It was a dead giveaway when Medina Spirit announced plans to try out for several Major League teams.)


Bottom of the News

“A micro-brewery in Buffalo, New York, has been offering free beer to encourage vaccine-hesitant customers to visit pop-up vaccination clinics next to its taprooms – and the program has been a roaring success.” At least people are used to ordering a beer and a shot.

+ Dracula’s castle proves an ideal setting for COVID-19 jabs. (As long as you don’t mind night appointments.)

+ “Jeff Bezos will soon be the owner of a $500 million superyacht he purchased two years ago, and whose construction is nearing completion.” And its best feature? The Yacht Comes With Its Own Yacht. This gives new meaning to Yacht Rock.

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