Thursday, March 17th, 2022


They Paved Paradise

WaPo's Terrence McCoy and Raphael Alves took a roadtrip to Brazil to report on the ways Highway 319 is causing controversy and cutting through the Amazon. But down in those parts, highway robbery is not the biggest risk of reporting. "These rough-hewn side roads are often the work of armed criminal groups. The groups, which dominate this stretch of the forest, had unleashed a wave of fire and destruction that was transforming much of southern Amazonas state into smoldering pastureland. The way they solve problems is with violence. People disappear. Their bodies are never found." WaPo (Gift Article): Death in the Forest. For millions of people (and plenty of Brazilian politicians), the road represents a much-needed "lifeline that connects them to the rest of the country and paves the path toward development." But for the rest of the world, this head-on collision with climate change science looks more like the highway to hell. "The outcome of the emotional political clash, scientists say, has implications not only for the rest of the forest but the world. The Amazon is a crucial bulwark against global warming, helping to slow the inexorable march of climate change. But researchers warn that finishing the highway and subsequent state roads would open up its core to destruction. Scientists at the Federal University of Minas Gerais found in 2020 that paving the highway would quadruple deforestation here over the next three decades. 'That would be the end of the forest,' said Carlos Nobre, a climate scientist who focuses on the Amazon." For now, proponents of the highway can't see the forest through the trees, even though there are fewer and fewer trees in their way.


The Fascist and the Furious

To understand Putin's Russia, you have to think of it less as a country and more as a crime family with nukes. Even the oligarchs operate like mafia capos, doing the bidding of the world's most genocidal godfather. Patrick Radden Keefe in The New Yorker is basically the godfather of nonfiction writing these days. If I link to him enough, I'll be a made man. In this case, it's an easy place to direct a hit. How Putin's Oligarchs Bought London. "The stark implication of 'Putin's People' is not just that the President of Russia may be a silent partner in one of England's most storied sports franchises but also that England itself has been a silent and handsomely compensated partner in Putin's kleptocratic designs—that, in the past two decades, Russian oligarchs have infiltrated England's political, economic, and legal systems."

+ "In 36 days of fighting on Iwo Jima during World War II, nearly 7,000 Marines were killed. Now, 20 days after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia invaded Ukraine, his military has already lost more soldiers, according to American intelligence estimates." NYT (Gift Article): As Russian Troop Deaths Climb, Morale Becomes an Issue. He's murdering his own people, too. And faced with poor results, he's lashing out at his own population in classic fascist style.

+ "No one knows how long Ukrainian defenders can hold. Russian forces have attacked with tanks, artillery and fighter jets, pummeling the city on three sides. Every day brings more death. But also defiance." NYT (Gift Article): ‘I'm Not Scared of Anything': Death and Defiance in a Besieged Ukrainian City.

+ "They had no orders for what to do if they are defeated. That, they didn't plan for." The two-day battle of Voznesensk dealt one of the biggest routs to Vladimir Putin's forces since they invaded Ukraine.

+ Over 3.1 million refugees have fled Ukraine since Russian invasion began. It's incredible how much damage one sociopath can do.

+ WNBA star Brittney Griner's detention in Russia extended to May 19.


Rate and Switch

"By increasing its benchmark rate a quarter of a point on Wednesday, the Federal Reserve is trying to rein in inflation, which is at a 40-year high. The mechanics are relatively straightforward: By raising its federal funds rate — the rate banks charge one another for overnight loans — the Fed sets off a domino effect. Whether directly or indirectly, a number of borrowing costs for consumers go up. In theory, this slows demand for goods and taps the brakes on inflation." NYT: What a Federal Reserve Rate Increase Means for You.


Ballot Box Out

"More than 27,000 mail ballots in Texas were flagged for rejection in the first test of new voting restrictions enacted across the U.S., jeopardizing votes cast by Democrats and Republicans alike and in counties big and small." It puts the rate of rejected mail ballots in Texas on track to significantly surpass previous elections."

+ Trump White House aide was secret author of report used to push big lie. (Shocker.)

+ "At one time, science said man came from apes, did it not? That's what's interesting, though. If that is true, why are there still apes? Think about it." ... "Well, now, you're getting too smart for us."


Extra, Extra

Missouri Loves Company: "Missouri Republicans have introduced bills that would prohibit residents from traveling out of state to terminate a pregnancy and force women to carry ectopic pregnancies that could kill them. Alabama is vigorously defending a law that allows district attorneys to cross-examine minors seeking an abortion without parental consent—and allows judges to appoint a guardian to represent the fetus in court ... Not to be outdone, Idaho has taken a slightly different approach: On Monday, its Legislature passed a bill that effectively allows the father, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles of a 'preborn child' to veto an abortion. The law applies not just to minors, but to any adult seeking the procedure." Idaho's New Anti-Abortion Law Offers Cash Bounties to Rapists' Family Members.

+ Netflix and Bill: "Netflix announced Wednesday it plans to start cracking down on password sharing among watchers, and customers are not taking it well." (Either pay for the product or become the product.)

+ Josh Pit: The unpunished, fist-raising, seditionist Josh Hawley accused Biden's SCOTUS pick of being soft on child p-rn. Enjoy St. Patrick's Day while you can, because next up is American Traitors Attack a Black Woman to Score Cheap Political Points Week.

+ Siri Suggests You Wash Your Jeans: "The technology to make smartphones that smell is nearing reality, says Andreas Mershin, a research scientist and inventor at MIT. 'I think we're maybe five years away, maybe a little bit less,' he says, 'to get it from where it is now to fully inside of a phone. And I'm talking [about deploying it] into a hundred million phones.'" Cancer has a smell. Someday your phone may detect it.

+ Hoop Streams: For every win in the tournament until the Final Four, a team earns its conference around $2m. The economics of March Madness.


Bottom of the News

"There's something intriguing, bizarre and frankly, dystopian about it all. A handful of people from all walks of life happen to cross paths at the intersection of science and humanity." What it's Like to Be A Human Lab Rat.

+ Zipline Adventure: Wheeeeeeee! Sloth.