1

When Burgers Flipped

"Imagewise, the [fast food] industry may have reached its nadir in 2016, when McDonald's confessed in a widely circulated memo that just one in five millennials had tried a Big Mac. Bear in mind, this was the heyday of the celebrity chef and experiential dining, when the trendiest food was performative, not convenient." But then the pandemic hit and the tables turned. Sad times called for Happy Meals. Money was tight, everything changed, and people wanted affordable take-out comfort food that was consistent enough to bring back a sense of normalcy. The trend kicked off a Domino's effect. Burger was king. Dairy was Queen. Chick-fil got an A for effort. The Taco Bell curve couldn't be flattened. KF could C clearly. Churches were closed, but Church's was open. Wendy's ... nuts. Sales at Pizza Hut hiked. Sonic boomed. Jack was jacked up. Popeye's had eye popping sales. Wingstopped and smelled the roses. ShakeShacked up. El Pollo Locomoted. Fast food became a Subway of life. The In-N-Outlook was positive. I could go on but I'm too flippin' out of shape from eating so much fast food. Kara Baskin in Experience Mag: The pandemic saved the fast food industry.

2

Tokyo No

"Recent polls show that as many as 83% of people in Japan do not want the Games to be held, with many fearing the arrival of about 80,000 officials, journalists and support staff could turn Tokyo 2020 into a coronavirus super-spreader event." Official sponsor Asahi Shimbun newspaper says Japan Games must be cancelled. (It's highly unlikely the event will get cancelled, but safety is the one area where Tokyo will need to earn a gold medal.)

3

San Jose Massacre

America's latest deadly mass shooting has arrived in San Jose. "An assailant opened fire Wednesday at a California railyard serving Silicon Valley, killing eight people. The suspect was also dead, authorities said." 8 dead in shooting at railyard serving Silicon Valley.

+ California Rep. Ro Khanna: "They keep our public transportation running. They don't get paid a lot. They show up to work every day. And to have this happen at their workplace is just such a devastating, heartbreaking blow to our community." Here's the latest from CNN.

4

Getting Our Origin Story Straight

"Biden still held out the possibility that a firm conclusion may never be reached, given the Chinese government's refusal to fully cooperate with international investigations." AP: Biden asks US intel officials to investigate COVID-19 origin.

5

Assad But True

"The husk of Syria is, in many ways, more under the Assad family's control than at the war's outset. Power structures established over four decades have anchored dynasty and dictatorship." ‘Mob boss' Assad's dynasty tightens grip over husk of Syria.

+ "The AP and HRC Lab identified more than 130 instances where security forces appeared to be using corpses and the bodies of the wounded to create anxiety, uncertainty, and strike fear in the civilian population. Over two-thirds of those cases analyzed were confirmed or categorized as having moderate or high credibility, and often involved tracking down the original source of the content or interviewing observers." AP Investigation: Myanmar's junta using bodies to terrorize. (In case after case, we're seeing the bad guys come out on top.)

6

Metro Goldwyn Mayoral Race

"The media world is consolidating and there aren't many targets left for a would-be acquirer. Amazon has spent many billions on video without much to show for it, and thinks owning a studio — and, crucially, the rights to the intellectual property the studio owns — could help it create Really Big Movies and TV Shows You Really Want To Watch. Not so much because it wants to own streaming, but because it wants you to keep coming to Amazon." Vox: Why Amazon is paying nearly $9 billion for MGM and James Bond.

+ "Amazon said it hopes to leverage MGM's storied filmmaking history and wide-ranging catalog of 4,000 films and 17,000 TV shows to help bolster Amazon Studios, its film and TV division." Welcome to Amazon primetime.

7

Congold Rush

"Southern Congo sits atop an estimated 3.4 million metric tons of cobalt, almost half the world's known supply. In recent decades, hundreds of thousands of Congolese have moved to the formerly remote area. Kolwezi now has more than half a million residents. Many Congolese have taken jobs at industrial mines in the region; others have become "artisanal diggers," or creuseurs. Some creuseurs secure permits to work freelance at officially licensed pits, but many more sneak onto the sites at night or dig their own holes and tunnels, risking cave-ins and other dangers in pursuit of buried treasure." The New Yorker: The Dark Side of Congo's Cobalt Rush. "Cell phones and electric cars rely on the mineral, causing a boom in demand. Locals are hunting for this buried treasure—but are getting almost none of the profit."

8

Maricoping Mechanism

You've probably heard about the 2020 presidential election challenge taking place in Maricopa. But that's just one of many. The Bigly Lie is very much alive, and very much a threat. "The ramifications of Trump's ceaseless attacks on the 2020 election are increasingly visible throughout the country: In emails, phone calls and public meetings, his supporters are questioning how their elections are administered and pressing public officials to revisit the vote count — wrongly insisting that Trump won the presidential race." WaPo: Inspired by Arizona recount, Trump loyalists push to revisit election results in communities around the country.

+ Meanwhile, in reality: New York district attorney convenes grand jury in Trump criminal inquiry.

9

We’ve Lost Contact

"The strikeout dilemma has MLB officials deeply concerned given it is the primary reason for the game's sluggish pace of play and its troublesome lack of action on certain nights. All sorts of remedies are the focus of experiments on the minor league level, including moving the pitching mound back 1 foot. But those are just bandages. This is the game's biggest ailment. So, when did this strikeout phenomenon begin and, more importantly, what is the solution to stop this K train -- or at least slow it down?" ESPN's Tim Kurkjian: How the 'K' became the most destructive letter in Major League Baseball.

10

Bottom of the News

"I'm not sure how to tell this story without simultaneously revealing myself as an absolute, honest-to-god, genuine, grade-A, hazing, blazing maniac. But here is the movie trailer version: About a half year ago, I found out that the same company that makes my favorite protein supplement also sells what's allegedly a brain-boosting powder for video gamers looking to start juicing. I ordered some with the intention of trying it out for an Esquire story. Instead, I abused the shit out of the powder—which is Swedish Fish-flavored!—and developed a crippling dependency on Brady's special juice." This falls somewhere between a testimonial and cautionary tale. I Started Juicing to Become a Pro Gamer. It Went Terribly Wrong.

+ No big deal, just a couple bees removing a Fanta cap.

+ Mountain lion breaks through window into Bay Area home, no one injured. "The cat may have been attracted to large stuffed game that was mounted on the walls of the home." (I have so many pets that if this happened at my house, we'd probably just keep him.)