Wednesday, April 12th, 2023


You’ve Been Warned

On a case by case basis, one could find examples where getting a heads-up on the subject matter being discussed in a university classroom might be helpful. But the broader trend of requiring trigger warnings and silencing alternative opinions is a much bigger issue, and some universities are starting to say that quiet part out loud, regardless of who gets offended. NYT (Gift Article): Should College Come With Trigger Warnings? At Cornell, It's a ‘Hard No.' A member of Cornell's undergraduate student assembly believed her friend, who had recently testified about being sexually assaulted, "deserved a heads-up about the upsetting material. That day, she drafted a resolution urging instructors to provide warnings on the syllabus about 'traumatic content' that might be discussed in class, including sexual assault, self-harm and transphobic violence. The resolution was unanimously approved by the assembly late last month. Less than a week after it was submitted to the administration for approval, Martha E. Pollack, the university president, vetoed it."

+ New faculty-led organization at Harvard will defend academic freedom.

+ If you're gonna be triggered about something, be triggered about the suppression of content, not the sharing of it. "A small Texas county is weighing whether to shut down its public library system after a federal judge ruled the commissioners violated the constitution by banning a dozen mostly children's books and ordered that they be put back in circulation." And in another situation related to pushback against book bans, Missouri House Republicans vote to defund libraries.


This is Not a Tailpipe

"The Biden administration is proposing strict new automobile pollution limits that would require up to two-thirds of new vehicles sold in the U.S. to be electric by 2032 ... If finalized next year as expected, the plan would represent the strongest push yet toward a once almost unthinkable shift from gasoline-powered cars and trucks to battery-powered vehicles."

+ "Car companies have launched an advertising blitz portraying electric cars and trucks as high-end performance vehicles instead of emphasizing their eco-friendliness. But Gallup finds that Americans' attitudes toward EVs are still very much tied to the way they view global warming." 71% of GOP voters say they would never purchase an EV. (The acceleration is mind-blowing, one pedal driving is great, and you never have to go to the gas station. Just try to ignore the climate change benefits.)


The Great Nut Drain

"Some of the world's largest investment banks, pension funds and insurers, including Manulife Financial Corp.'s John Hancock unit, TIAA and UBS, have been depleting California's groundwater to grow high-value nuts, leaving less drinking water for the surrounding communities, according to a Bloomberg Green investigation. Wall Street has come to Woodville, wringing it dry." Bloomberg (gift article) on the Groundwater
Gold Rush
. "Banks, pension funds and insurers have been turning California's scarce water into enormous profits, leaving people with less to drink." (This is all about growing nuts. Maybe regulators should grow some.)

+ "Depending on the plan, either California would be the most affected, or Arizona and Nevada would be parched." US considers imposing Colorado River water cuts to western states.


Zoe Pluribus Unum

Is there anything that unites all nations? Possibly the emergence of crypto-adjacent ponzi schemes. "Over 2020 and 2021, more than ten thousand people bought into Zoe, investing hundreds of millions of dollars between them. Zoe grew rapidly, hyping new tech innovations including the 'robots' and a cryptocurrency called Zoe Cash. Its interests and visibility expanded: The Zoe name appeared on burger joints, car dealerships, a plane rental company, and pet shops, all emblazoned with its name. It sponsored soccer teams and even created three of its own." The rise and fall of Argentina's celebrity crypto pastor. (Seriously, if you can't trust a crypto pastor, who can you trust?)


Extra, Extra

Laden Voyage: In the early morning hours of May 28, 2021, a strange boat appeared in the Caribbean. As local fishermen approached it, they made a grisly discovery: Everyone aboard it was dead. The boat and its passengers' origins were a mystery ... For nearly two years, The Associated Press assembled puzzle pieces from across three continents to uncover the story of this boat — and the people it carried from hope to death." A special report on one of the many lost boats and a few of the countless migrant deaths. Adrift.

+ Same as the Old Boss? "US asylum officers are frustrated by policy whiplash under President Joe Biden, and some are considering leaving their posts, as administration officials contemplate restarting controversial Trump-era border policies that would largely limit who could seek refuge in the United States." CNN: It feels like Groundhog Day.

+ Friends and Foes: "Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee, a Republican, signed an executive order on Tuesday aimed at streamlining and optimizing background checks for gun purchases in the state. The move comes two weeks after a 28-year-old shooter legally purchased seven firearms and killed three adults and three children at a private school in Nashville." Tennessee governor who lost friends in Nashville shooting strengthens background checks. "Lee's announcement comes a day after a shooter opened fire at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky, killing five people, including a 'very close friend' of Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear."

+ Burn Notice: "A massive fire emitting toxic smoke from an eastern Indiana recycling plant described by the city's mayor as a known 'fire hazard' has forced evacuation orders for about 2,000 people as the battle to put it out is expected to drag on for days." Meanwhile (and this is not a headline from The Onion): Truck carrying 40,000 pounds of toxic soil from East Palestine train derailment overturns on highway.

+ Twitter Quitter: "NPR has announced that it will no longer use Twitter to distribute its content after the social media platform began labeling the network as 'US state-affiliated media,' putting it in the same category as government mouthpiece publications like RT and China Daily." NPR becomes first major news organization to leave Twitter.

+ They're Back: The second of "two Black Democrats expelled from the Republican-led Tennessee House will return to the Legislature after a Memphis commission voted to reinstate him Wednesday." Both of the expelled lawmakers will have to win a special election to keep the spots they already earned.

+ Bali Chain: "Many in Bali are sick of the disrespect, the illegal work and the indecent social media posts from foreigners." WaPo: ‘It's disgusting': Bali locals are fed up with bad tourists. (The photo that leads this article says it all...)

+ Animal Based Flu Spreads to Human in China? I should emphasize that this strain does not appear to spread between humans, but given our recent past, I'd be remiss if I didn't report that "a Chinese woman has become the first person to die from a type of bird flu that is rare in humans."

+ Token Aback: "Swiss photographer Willy Spiller was spellbound when he first saw the ‘great human menagerie' in 1977. His dazzling images are now a time capsule for a lost, thrilling and dangerous world." Soul train: An eight-year ride on the New York subway.


Bottom of the News

Everyone loves the newly shortened major league baseball games. Well, almost everyone. MLB teams extend beer sales after pitch clock shortens games.

+ Pearl the chihuahua is the world's shortest dog.