March 15th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

More Bank Stress, The Man Who Ruined Climate

You can take that to the bank. After the last week, that idiom has taken on new meaning. The latest concern hitting the global banking industry is the plummeting of shares in the globally connected Swiss bank Credit Suisse. The trouble “dragged down other major European lenders as fears about deeper problems in the world banking system spread in the wake of bank failures in the United States.” Meanwhile, regional US banks continue to feel the pressure related to the Silicon Valley Bank run. “First Republic Bank’s credit rating was downgraded on Wednesday by both Fitch Ratings and S&P Global Ratings on concerns that depositors could pull their cash despite the federal intervention.” In retrospect, I should have invested all my money into Xanax futures.

+ You can always count on the financial press to warn you about impending problems right after they happen. Luckily, some reporters are a lot better at piecing together what happened in the recent past. Here’s a good blow-by-blow of how things went down (all the way down) at SVB. NYT (Gift Article): Inside the Collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. “In the confident, almost bombastic, style that was his signature, Mr. Becker told the audience of investors, Wall Street analysts and technology executives that Tuesday afternoon that the future of the tech industry was sparkling — and so was Silicon Valley Bank’s place within it. What he didn’t say was that, roughly a week earlier, the rating agency Moody’s had called to tell Mr. Becker that his bank’s financial health was in jeopardy, and its bonds were in danger of being downgraded to junk.”

+ “The bank’s demise had come as just as much of a surprise to the White House as it did to the public, triggering a weekend sprint to contain the fallout that spanned several agencies and all hours of the day and night.” Politico: How Biden saved Silicon Valley startups: Inside the 72 hours that transformed U.S. banking.


The Best Laid Plans

Necessity is the mother of invention. But its invention’s kids you need to worry about. At least that’s the case when it comes to Thomas Midgley Jr, who invented some amazing things. But there’s a twist. “Each of these innovations offered a brilliant solution to an urgent technological problem of the era: making automobiles more efficient, producing a safer refrigerant. But each turned out to have deadly secondary effects on a global scale. Indeed, there may be no other single person in history who did as much damage to human health and the planet, all with the best of intentions as an inventor.” The always excellent Steven Johnson in the NYT Mag (Gift Article): The Brilliant Inventor Who Made Two of History’s Biggest Mistakes. (These kinds of outcomes are one of many reasons I’ve avoided brilliance.)


Fruit Punch

Blueberries and Spinach are two foods that always top the health lists. Sadly, they’re also two foods among those on the Dirty Dozen of nonorganic produce with the most pesticides. Blueberries have joined green beans in this year’s Dirty Dozen list. (I’ve been worried about blueberries since the Willie Wonka incident.)


Mifepristone Deaf

“While the antiabortion group challenging the drug acknowledged there is no precedent for a court to order the suspension of a long-approved medication, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk seemed open to the argument that mifepristone had not been properly vetted — claims the Food and Drug Administration and leading health organizations strongly contest.” WaPo: Texas judge presses lawyers on FDA approval of key abortion drug. (This is an antiabortion, Trump-appointed judge in Texas. If you don’t know how this case is gonna go, I’ve got a bank in Silicon Valley I’d like to sell you.)


Extra, Extra

Having the Lunchies: “The bento-like box of crackers, deli meats and other snacks has been available in grocery stores since 1988, but will start to be offered in school cafeterias this autumn. The product will be reformulated to offer two options that comply with school nutritional guidelines.” Why Lunchables are making a comeback for school lunch. (Maybe my Bionic Man lunchbox will be back in vogue.)

+ Nervous Wreckage: “Russia said it will try to retrieve the wreckage of the US drone downed over the Black Sea on Tuesday. The US said earlier that it was taking measures to ensure the drone won’t fall into the wrong hands but admitted it may never be recovered.” Here’s the latest updates on the latest US/Russia conflict.

+ To Bloom it Make Concern: “Sargassum, a naturally occurring type of macroalgae, has grown at an alarming rate this winter. The belt stretches across the Atlantic Ocean from Africa to Florida and the Yucatan Peninsula and is as much as 200 to 300 miles wide.” Big, stinky blob of takes aim at Florida. (Oddly, some people think it should run for president.)

+ Houston Spoilers? “Texas officials on Wednesday announced a state takeover of Houston’s nearly 200,000-student public school district, the eighth-largest in the country, acting on years of threats and angering Democrats who assailed the move as political.”

+ 400 Error: “An investigation launched by the brother of one of the victims also found that Holmes’ car was likely misidentified at the time and that key differences between his Oldsmobile and the one used by the robbers were overlooked.” A man who served more than three decades of a 400-year prison sentence for armed robbery charges was freed Monday after being exonerated. From the verdict to the sentence, crazy.


Bottom of the News

Republican Tennessee Lt. Gov. (feeling a little) Randy McNally (backer of Tennesse anti-drag and anti-LGBTQ legislation), “announced he would be pausing his social media use on Monday after posting complimentary comments on the Instagram posts of a scantily clad queer man. McNally’s account repeatedly commented on various racy pictures, saying ‘Finn, you can turn a rainy day into rainbows and sunshine,’ ‘Super look Finn,’ and ‘way to go Finn!!! You light up the world!!'” Now, McNally has announced he will be pausing his social media use. No, no, no. You need to pause your stupid, hate laws and just go back to letting Finn light up your world.

+ SNL’s Weekend Update likely spurred McNally’s decision to quit social media. Their report is really quite something.

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