May 9th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

E-Car Petri Dish, Carroll Wins Case Against Trump, Timothy McVeigh’s Dreams Coming True?

What would happen if Americans started buying more electric cars? Would the grid collapse? Would jobs be lost? Would there be enough chargers to go around? Perhaps the best way to clear the air on these questions is to look to Norway, where they’ve already made the transition and where the air has been cleared. NYT (Gift Article): In Norway, the Electric Vehicle Future Has Already Arrived. “Last year, 80 percent of new-car sales in Norway were electric, putting the country at the vanguard of the shift to battery-powered mobility. It has also turned Norway into an observatory for figuring out what the electric vehicle revolution might mean for the environment, workers and life in general.” (As we discussed yesterday, in the US, it’s not that people aren’t buying new electric cars, it’s that most can’t afford new cars at all.)

+ Some politicians in Texas are against transitions, even to cleaner fuels. No one is suggesting renewables can immediately fulfill our fuel needs. But why be against the additional sources? WaPo (Gift Article): Why Texas, a clean energy powerhouse, is about to hit the brakes. “Texas embraces a famously laissez-faire approach to energy development, but now some of its most anti-regulatory lawmakers are pushing new rules and permitting requirements for solar and wind.”


Grab Em By the Jury

In the civil case brought by E. Jean Carroll, a jury took only 2.5 hours to find that Donald Trump sexually abused Carroll and later publicly defamed her. Carroll has been awarded $5 million in damages. There are places where the truth still matters. I wish those included polling places. (Don’t bet on a Trump check being in the mail. Paying off his debts is not his type.)


Devil Inside

“‘Remove his badge. Remove his gun belt. Remove his vest. His shirt. All that stuff … He walked out of here in his pants and his undershirt.” That’s how things went down when Springfield Police Chief Ken Scarlette removed an officer from his force after uncovering years of white supremacy posts (none of which the officer disavowed). That was the end of one cop’s tenure, but the story was far from over. WaPo (Gift Article): A police chief got rid of a neo-Nazi. Then came the hard part. “Scarlette’s no-nonsense response drew attention among analysts tracking the spread of far-right ideologies. Law enforcement leaders seldom act decisively when extremists are uncovered in their ranks, hate monitors say, with cases typically stagnating because of pushback from police unions, fear of expensive First Amendment challenges, or resistance to being seen as caving to anti-police activism.”

+ “The shooter who killed eight people at a Dallas-area mall was wearing a patch that read ‘RWDS’ — short for ‘Right Wing Death Squad’ — a phrase that has been embraced in recent years by far-right extremists who glorify violence against their political enemies.” The meaning behind the far-right symbol Texas shooter wore as he killed 8. (His swastika and the SS tattoos require no explanation.)

+ “It’s hard to think of a historical precedent for a society allowing itself to be terrorized in the way we have. The normalization of both right-wing terrorism and periodic mass shootings by deranged loners is possible only because McVeigh’s views have been mainstreamed. ‘In the nearly 30 years since the Oklahoma City bombing, the country took an extraordinary journey — from nearly universal horror at the action of a right-wing extremist to wide embrace of a former president (also possibly a future president) who reflected the bomber’s values.'” Michelle Goldberg in the NYT (Gift Article): Timothy McVeigh’s Dreams Are Coming True.


In Bot We Trust

Are we turning technology into a religion with AI as our new god? Maybe it’s less of a takeover than a merger. Consider these stories, the first from Rest of World. India’s religious AI chatbots are speaking in the voice of god — and condoning violence. “When ChatGPT was setting new growth records, Bengaluru-based software engineer Sukuru Sai Vineet launched GitaGPT. The chatbot, powered by GPT-3 technology, provides answers based on the Bhagavad Gita, a 700-verse Hindu scripture. GitaGPT mimics the Hindu god Krishna’s tone — the search box reads, ‘What troubles you, my child?'”

+ After a hassidic movement banned artificial intelligence, Rabbi Moishy Goldstein created Kosher.Chat, an AI chatbot with answers appropriate for Orthodox Jews. Oy.

+ On her way to the picket line, TV writer Alena Smith waves goodbye to human storytelling. Vanity Fair: The AI Apocalypse Is Coming for Hollywood, but Don’t Robots Rule Us Already? “Does anyone really doubt an AI could handle the next 40,000 superhero sequels? And who in the dazed, content-battered audience would protest? Surely not the generation of smooth-brained youths who have barely left the house in four years, whose interiorities have oozed out of them, becoming one with the feed. Those poor kids, with their Roblox and their Minecraft and their p-rn addictions, who have surrendered all their privacy yet still ended up with a loneliness epidemic … We had a good run with our myriad millennia of arts and culture, but I’m calling it now: That’s a wrap.” (Hey, it’s not over until Kosher.Chat says it’s over…)


Extra, Extra

States of Alert: The state of the nation depends on the state where you’re living (and dying). “The lowest average life expectancies are seen in the states of the Southeast, according to 2020 figures from the CDC: South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana, West Virginia and Mississippi all had average life expectancies from birth of less than 75 years. (The lone state from outside the region in the bottom 10 was New Mexico.) The highest life expectancies were generally in states on the West Coast, the northern Midwest and the Northeast. Hawaii ranks first at 80.7.” America’s decline in life expectancy speaks volumes about our problems.

+ Lancing on the Ceiling: ” Democrats are intent on a “clean” debt ceiling increase that isn’t paired with any spending cuts. Republicans, meanwhile, are dedicated to using the must-pass debt ceiling bill as leverage for serious social spending cuts that have no chance of passing the Senate.” What everyone wants going into Tuesday’s big debt ceiling showdown.

+ Strong Man Theory: “In March 2022, he instituted what’s called a state of exception, which limited constitutional rights, enabling him to crack down on the country’s gangs. He’s jailed over 65,000 people over the past year, built a new mega-prison, and packed it with former gang members. He tweeted recently, ‘Strong men create good times.'” El Salvador President Nayib Bukele has enjoyed a sky-high approval rating of 91% for his crackdown on crime. But thousands of families say their sons and husbands have been unjustly imprisoned under his recent suspension of civil liberties.

+ You Want Prize With That? The 2023 Pulitzer Prizes have been announced for books and journalism. Many of the articles will be familiar to longtime NextDraft subscribers. Among this year’s Pulitzer winners are a father and son from Alabama. (My son just became the news editor of his school paper and I still can’t get him to subscribe!)

+ Dragged Away: Republican who called drag shows a threat to kids quits after having sex with a 19 year-old intoxicated intern.

+ Birds Catching: “The ongoing outbreak of avian flu has killed hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of wild birds, including endangered species like the California condor. It’s one of the worst wildlife disease outbreaks in history.” A frightening virus is killing a massive number of wild birds.

+ Khan Test: “Pakistan’s paramilitary forces arrested former Prime Minister Imran Khan inside a courthouse in the capital Islamabad on Tuesday. The move has escalated political tensions at a time of economic distress in the country.”

+ What We Do in the Shadows: “A Louisiana man faces aggravated assault and battery charges after firing a gun at children who were playing hide and seek outside his home, wounding a 14-year-old girl … Doyle told detectives that he got his gun when he saw shadows outside his home and shot at people he saw running away.”

+ Book Case: A mother who wrote a book with her children to help them deal with the grief over losing their father is now facing charges for his murder.


Bottom of the News

“May is dedicated to numerous outdoor activities—including grilling and cycling—and another pastime most commonly enjoyed indoors and away from prying eyes.” It’s National Masturbation Month. At least it’s one holiday greeting you don’t have to limit, to those who observe.

+ Speaking of foot longs, the California woman suing Subway for claiming its tuna products contain ingredients other than tuna wants to end her lawsuit because she is pregnant. Subway isn’t going to let her off so easy.

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