Tuesday, June 8th, 2021


The Wire(less)

"Aussie police officers and FBI agents came up with the idea to run the platform while having some after-work beers in 2018." First they tapped the keg. Then they tapped some phones. And someone should buy them a few more rounds, because a plot to use a messaging app to track criminals has led to the arrest hundreds of organized crime figures around the world. (In the end, oversharing will take us all down.)

+ "You had to know a criminal to get hold of one of these customized phones. The phones couldn't ring or email. You could only communicate with someone on the same platform."

+ "Australian police have told local media that the man who unwittingly helped to distribute the FBI-run encrypted messaging app was a fugitive named Hakan Ayik.
Alleged to be a drugs kingpin himself, officials say Mr Ayik was identified as a key influencer and given access by undercover agents to a handset which he then recommended to other criminal associates." (An influencer used to take down people who couldn't resist using a hot, new app. This is the metaphor that never stops giving.)


Life in the Fastly

So much for the safety of a distributed network. "Internet users were unable to access major news outlets, e-commerce platforms, and even government websites. Everyone from Amazon to the New York Times to the White House was affected." A company you've probably never heard of caused half the internet to go dark. (I'm a news curator. The internet is dark for me every day.)


External Revenue Service

"ProPublica has obtained a vast cache of IRS information showing how billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing." The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax. I'm not sure this is such a blockbuster report or that it's worth sharing private tax returns. What it shows is that people don't pay taxes on stock they own (wealth), they pay taxes on stocks they sell (income, capital gains). Some people think that should change and it's certainly related to the massive and increasing problem of inequality. But it doesn't seem like breaking news.

+ "In the landmark agreement, G7 finance ministers agreed to pursue a global minimum tax rate of at least 15% and to allow market countries to tax up to 20% of the excess profits - above a 10% margin - of around 100 large, high-profit companies. Yellen said the 'significant, unprecedented commitment'"' would end what she called a race to the bottom on global taxation." But... U.S. Republicans vow to oppose Yellen's G7 tax deal, casting doubt on its future.


The Staff Has The Rod

"Up and down the wage scale, companies are becoming more willing to pay a little more, to train workers, to take chances on people without traditional qualifications, and to show greater flexibility in where and how people work. The erosion of employer power began during the low-unemployment years leading up to the pandemic and, given demographic trends, could persist for years." NYT: Workers Are Gaining Leverage Over Employers Right Before Our Eyes.

+ NYT: From Appetizers to Tuition, Incentives to Job Seekers Grow. (I know the tuition will help my kids forge their future, but dammit, I'm gonna take the appetizers.)


Our Fricking Fract

"In Free America, the winners are the makers, and the losers are the takers who want to drag the rest down in perpetual dependency on a smothering government. In Smart America, the winners are the credentialed meritocrats, and the losers are the poorly educated who want to resist inevitable progress. In Real America, the winners are the hardworking folk of the white Christian heartland, and the losers are treacherous elites and contaminating others who want to destroy the country. In Just America, the winners are the marginalized groups, and the losers are the dominant groups that want to go on dominating. I don't much want to live in the republic of any of them." George Packer in The Atlantic: How America Fractured Into Four Parts.


Mi Casa No Es Tu Casa

"I want to emphasize that the goal of our work is to help Guatemalans find hope at home. At the same time, I want to be clear to folks in this region who are thinking about making that dangerous trek to the United States-Mexico border: Do not come, do not come." AP: ‘Do not come': Harris seeks ‘hope at home' for Guatemalans.

+ The migrant crossings are already complicated now. Climate change is going to make matters a lot more complicated. As more climate migrants cross borders seeking refuge, laws will need to adapt.


Don in a New Age

"'When members of the White House media asked then-President Trump to respond to Ms. Carroll's serious allegations of wrongdoing, their questions were posed to him in his capacity as President,' the Justice Department wrote in Monday's reply brief. "Elected public officials can — and often must — address allegations regarding personal wrongdoing that inspire doubt about their suitability for office." The Justice Department Will Keep Fighting To Defend Donald Trump In A Case Related To A Rape Allegation.


You Ransome You Lose Some

"The attackers made an unusual error in this case by failing to keep money moving. The $2.3 million that ultimately was recovered was still sitting in the same Bitcoin account it had been delivered to." How A New Team Of Feds Hacked The Hackers And Got Colonial Pipeline's Ransom Back.


Frank Disussion

"Hilderbrand, whose books are generally set around Nantucket Island, has just published her latest novel, Golden Girl, in which author and mother-of-three Vivian is killed in a car accident, and watches her family's life from the 'Beyond' for one last summer. It features a short passage in which Vivi, as a child, is planning to stay in her friend's attic. 'You're suggesting I hide here all summer?' Vivi asks. 'Like … like Anne Frank?' This makes them both laugh – but is it really funny, and is Vivi so far off base?" Elin Hilderbrand asks for Anne Frank reference to be cut from novel after complaints. (Now we're canceling fictional characters who make stupid analogies? We've lost our minds.)


Bottom of the News

"Adults can claim a complimentary joint of marijuana in Washington state this week when they receive a COVID-19 vaccine shot." (Anyone who calls it a "joint of marijuana" doesn't want a joint.)

+ "But he made a catastrophic error during his ersatz toilet break: He failed to even pretend to use the toilet. The chair umpire issued a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct because, as I confirmed with an ATP spokesperson, the line umpire who escorted him off the court reported that Sinner had not used his break for its intended purpose." Giri Nathan in Racquet on those momentum-breaking bathroom breaks in pro tennis. The Deuce Court.