August 17th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The Truth Hurts

“I recall the day, shortly after the French presidential election in 2017, that Emmanuel Macron invited Salman and me for coffee at the Élysée Palace in Paris. He was astonished that Salman had so little protection. ‘I’m not the martyr type,’ Salman joked. ‘Im just a writer. Why would anyone hold such a big grudge against a writer?'” It’s a good question and one we’ve been asking forever. But as Rushdie’s friend Bernard-Henri Lévy writes, Rushdie “was wrong. This kind of killer never lets up. You can despise them, you can push them out of your mind—the bounty hunters and lunatics that history sets on your tracks—but the pack never forgets about you.” And thus, the fight for freedom of expression—and the broader fight between sanity and extremism—goes on. Maybe Rushdie should have titled his book The Satanic Chorus, because the story of meeting ideas with violence keeps repeating itself over and over. The Atlantic: The attack was an outrage not only against a great and brave author but against truth and beauty themselves. It must have a ringing response.

+ Things are more connected than you think. In Texas, “ahead of the first day of school, the Keller Independent School District is removing all books that were challenged last year within the school district, including the Bible, The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank’s The Diary of Young Girl.”

+ “The case also marks the latest example of how the crown prince Mohammed bin Salman has targeted Twitter users in his campaign of repression, while simultaneously controlling a major indirect stake in the US social media company through Saudi’s sovereign wealth fund.” The Guardian: A Saudi student at Leeds University who had returned home to the kingdom for a holiday has been sentenced to 34 years in prison for having a Twitter account and for following and retweeting dissidents and activists.


The Truth Hurts

As expected, Liz Cheney was trounced in her Wyoming primary. But Wyoming is a small sample size. Next stop, a presidential run.

+ With Cheney’s Loss, Just 2 House Republicans Who Voted To Impeach Trump Are On The Ballot In November. And from WaPo: A new endangered species: House Republicans who voted to certify the 2020 election. (America’s most endangered species is the truth.)


They Resisted

NYT (Gift Article): Behind Enemy Lines, Ukrainians Tell Russians ‘You Are Never Safe.’ “They sneak down darkened alleys to set explosives. They identify Russian targets for Ukrainian artillery and long-range rockets provided by the United States. They blow up rail lines and assassinate Ukrainian officials they consider collaborators with the Russians. Slipping back and forth across the front lines, the guerrilla fighters are known in Ukraine as partisans, and in recent weeks they have taken an ever more prominent role in the war.” (I know the type.)


Yacht Rock and a Hard Place

“The unclaimed yacht looms as a slightly ridiculous avatar of the hubris, greed, and recklessness of the firm’s 35-year-old co-founders. With their hedge fund in the midst of chaotic liquidation proceedings, Zhu and Davies are currently believed to be in hiding.” NY Mag: The Crypto Geniuses Who Vaporized a Trillion Dollars. Everyone trusted the two guys at Three Arrows Capital. They knew what they were doing — right?


Extra, Extra

The Climate Changed: “Manchin had a spot on the dais for the bill signing and received a round of applause during Biden’s remarks when the president quipped, tongue in cheek: ‘Joe — I never had a doubt.'” Biden signs sweeping climate, health care, tax bill into law. From Vox: 4 underrated parts of the Inflation Reduction Act.

+ Divining Rods: “The silver iodide rods — which are typically the size of cigarettes — are shot into existing clouds to help form ice crystals. The crystals then help the cloud produce more rain, making its moisture content heavier and more likely to be released. Cloud seeding has been in practice since the 1940s and China has the biggest program in the world.” China is seeding clouds to replenish its shrinking Yangtze River. Meanwhile, China cuts power to factories, homes as reservoirs fall.

+ Paint the Town: “Most of the surfaces have been painted a light shade of gray, but a local artist was commissioned to design a series of colorful murals on a basketball court, a school playground, and a parking lot.” 1 million square feet of L.A. roads are being covered with solar-reflective paint.

+ Bulldog in Georgia: “The former New York mayor and Trump attorney remained inside the Fulton County courthouse after several hours of facing questions as part of a rapidly escalating investigation that has ensnared several Trump allies.” Rudy Giuliani faces grand jury in Georgia 2020 election probe. (He arrived via car, but he’ll leave under the bus.) Meanwhile, according to WaPo, Trump is rushing to hire seasoned lawyers — but he keeps hearing ‘No.’ “The former president’s current legal team includes a Florida insurance lawyer who’s never had a federal case, a past general counsel for a parking-garage company and a former host at far-right One America News.” He has had some success. “Last week Trump hired Drew Findling, an Atlanta-based lawyer who is known online as BillionDollarLawyer and for representing a star-studded list of clients, including artists Cardi B, Migos, Waka Flocka Flame, and Gucci Mane.”

+ Newish Space Lasers: “A new laser technology creates cold brew coffee in minutes. Even better: it tastes just as good and may be coming to a coffee shop near you.” Cold brew coffee—pew, pew, pew—brewed with lasers! Why not just caffeinate the laser and shoot them at me directly?


Bottom of the News

From Vanity Fair: An Oral History of Superbad. “Mostly, though, Superbad endures because the film is as heartfelt as it is raunchy, thanks to the bond between the fictional Seth and Evan. As we watch these two best friends careen toward an uncertain future, Superbad also asks us all to reflect on one of the most important questions a teenager can ask: ‘Where can I find booze??'” (These days the most important question for most teens is, ‘Where can I find WiFi?’)

+ “This book is like a tour of a once majestic 18th-century wooden house, now burned to its foundations, that focuses solely on, and rejoices in, what’s left amid the ashes: the two singed bathtubs, the gravel driveway and the mailbox. Kushner’s fealty to Trump remains absolute. Reading this book reminded me of watching a cat lick a dog’s eye goo.” The NYT didn’t seem to like Jared’s memoir.

+ “Ecco due imbecilli prepotenti che si fanno beffa della Città.” The mayor of Venice was none too happy with “the two overbearing idiots who made a mockery of his city” by foil surfing along Grand Canal. (I can’t believe my family just spent a week in Venice without raising the mayor’s ire.)

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