April 6th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

On the road (again and again) with Clarence Thomas

Who knew that Eddie Money’s song, Two Tickets to Paradise, was really about a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court? “For more than two decades, Clarence Thomas has accepted luxury trips virtually every year from the Dallas businessman without disclosing them, documents and interviews show. A public servant who has a salary of $285,000, he has vacationed on Crow’s superyacht around the globe. He flies on Crow’s Bombardier Global 5000 jet. He has gone with Crow to the Bohemian Grove, the exclusive California all-male retreat, and to Crow’s sprawling ranch in East Texas. And Thomas typically spends about a week every summer at Crow’s private resort in the Adirondacks. The extent and frequency of Crow’s apparent gifts to Thomas have no known precedent in the modern history of the U.S. Supreme Court.” ProPublica on Clarence Thomas and the Billionaire. If only we had some clue that Clarence Thomas wasn’t a great guy during his confirmation hearings… (Clarence and Ginni are the first family of the new rules for the Supreme Court, and they’re the first family of ignoring stories like this one. They’ll be On the Road again before you know it.)

+ “Leonard Leo, a rightwing legal activist, has raked in more than $73m over six years from non-profit groups that may be diverting money illegally to his businesses.” (Considering how this effectively guy re-architected the makeup of the Supreme Court, I’d guess most of his donors would say he deserves to embezzle that and more.)


It’s Hammer Time

If you build it, they will come. The trouble is that you might not be able to find enough construction help to build it for a long time. It was a rare act of bipartisanship that brought us the $1 trillion infrastructure law. We’ve got the money. We’ve got the needs. We just don’t have people to do the work. NPR: Where did the workers go? Construction jobs are plentiful, but workers are scarce. Basically, your bathroom remodel has become a metaphor for the American economy. Whenever they tell you it will be improved, add six months.

+ “The latest high-frequency data shows that the consumer could be running out of steam, hiring activity is moderating, business activity is softening, interest-rate sensitive sectors are pulling back and housing is suffering.” The US economy is unwell.


Bee Best

A new book “argues that bees can demonstrate sophisticated emotions resembling optimism, frustration, playfulness and fear, traits more commonly associated with mammals. Experiments have shown bees can experience PTSD-like symptoms, recognize different human faces, process long-term memories while sleeping, and maybe even dream.” In other words, bees are more human than most humans? You don’t want to hear me drone on about bees, so just read the article. Inside the stunning brains of nature’s hardest workers.


You’ve Got a Golden Ticket

“Back in the early 1950s, some employees at the Peeps factory were ending every shift with limp, sore arms. They had spent hours hand-squeezing marshmallow into the shape of tiny chicks. Back then, each individual Peep took 27 hours to make from start to finish. That all changed in 1954. That’s when Bob Born, who was a member of the family that founded the company, and a colleague invented a machine that could make Peeps automatically. Now it takes only six minutes from the moment marshmallow meets the conveyor belt to the final boxing.” NYT Mag (Gift Article) takes you on a A Visit to the Peeps Factory.


Extra, Extra

Smashville: “Thousands flocked to the Tennessee Capitol on Thursday to support the three Democratic lawmakers facing possible expulsion for their role in a gun control demonstration, cheering and chanting outside the House chamber so loud that it drowned out proceedings. The GOP-dominated House is set to vote on whether to oust Reps. Gloria Johnson, Justin Jones and Justin Pearson, an extraordinary move that the chamber has used only a handful of times since the Civil War.” This is disturbing. Out with how people voted and in with automatic weapons. Here’s the latest from AP and The Tennessean.

+ Reporters on Reporter: “At Lefortovo prison, the interrogations start with the clanging of metal.” WSJ reporters on what their own colleague is likely experiencing. ‘You Are Completely Alone’: Inside the Infamous Russian Prison Holding Evan Gershkovich.

+ Drill Seekers: “Willow represents a small fraction of hundreds of new oil and gas extraction projects approved in the past year across the world, including many more in the United States. And in the coming months, dozens of additional projects are expected to be approved.” NYT: It’s Not Just Willow: Oil and Gas Projects Are Back in a Big Way. Meanwhile, coal burning capacity climbs worldwide despite pledges to reduce use.

+ Borderless Patrol: “Although Oklahoma and Texas allow lawsuits against people who help facilitate an abortion within the states’ borders, Idaho’s law is the first that expressly criminalizes assisting with an out-of-state abortion.”

+ The Obsession: The governors from Indiana and Idaho sign bans on gender-affirming care, and Kansas lawmakers override governor’s veto, enacting ban on transgender athletes.

+ The (Crime) Beat Goes On: “More than 150 Catholic priests and others associated with the Archdiocese of Baltimore sexually abused over 600 children and often escaped accountability, according to a long-awaited state report released Wednesday that revealed the scope of abuse spanning 80 years and accused church leaders of decades of coverups.” (But yeah, protect your children from transgender teens or someone dressed in drag.)

+ Lady Liberty? “A Mass. school committee rescinded a superintendent candidate’s job offer after he referred to women as ‘ladies.’ In the words of Lady MacBeth, “Come you spirits, that tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here.”


Bottom of the News

“Yes, the family had long called it ‘The Bruegel,’ but it was an affectionate dig at a painting that was clearly a fake. Turns out, the family joke was a hidden masterpiece, a genuine work of Pieter Bruegel the Younger, a 17th-century Flemish artist. Painted more than 400 years ago.” They thought a painting in their TV room was a fake. It sold for $850K.

+ Some cool shots in the Rest of World’s first photography contest.

+ Report: Tesla workers shared sensitive images recorded by customer cars. “Some of the recordings caught Tesla customers in embarrassing situations. One ex-employee described a video of a man approaching a vehicle completely naked.” (He was disappointed to learn that electric cars have no tailpipes.)

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