Takin' it to the Streets

Thou Doth Protest Too Little, It's Even Hot Underground

And the poets down here don’t write nothing at all
They just stand back and let it all be
—Bruce Springsteen, Jungleland

We’re used to the endless stories of Israel’s conflicts with its neighbors. But these days, the biggest threat to Israel’s democracy comes from within, and it’s a story quite similar to one that confronted (and may soon again confront) American democracy. While Americans often react to these threats by burying themselves in the latest Netflix binge, Israelis have taken to the streets … and stayed there, in one of the most consistent pro-democracy protest movements in recent memory. It’s unclear whether or not this protest will make a dent in efforts to thwart democracy by Benjamin Netanyahu and his far right coalition, but the outcome could set an example for others around the world, including America. Israeli protesters stage ‘day of disruption’ against controversial judicial overhaul. “Tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Israel on Tuesday in the biggest weekday protest in months against the government’s renewed moves to overhaul the country’s judicial system.”

+ NYT: Protesters Throng Israeli Airport After Government Moves to Rein In Judiciary. “The renewed demonstrations reflected how the debate over the judicial overhaul is far from over: The protests also illustrated the political bind facing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who risks setting off social unrest by proceeding with the overhaul, or the collapse of his hard-line coalition if he halts it.”

+ Times of Israel: Protests ramp up with roads blocked, dozens detained; thousands converge on airport.

+ “The coalition says the court has too often acted against right-wing interests — for instance by preventing some construction of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank or striking down certain privileges granted to ultra-Orthodox Jews.” Some background from the NYT (Gift Article): Israeli Government Presses Ahead With Judicial Overhaul.

+ Meanwhile, the challenges from the usual conflict (which is directly related to the internal one in many ways) continues apace. Newshour: Cycle of violence and economic turmoil pushes young Palestinians to take up arms.


Me, Myself, and AI

“Since the blockbuster launch of ChatGPT at the end of 2022, future-of-work pontificators, AI ethicists, and Silicon Valley developers have been fiercely debating how generative AI will impact the way we work. Some six months later, one global labor force is at the frontline of the generative AI revolution: offshore outsourced workers.” One early lesson: if you can’t beat ’em (and you can’t), you better join ’em. In other words, outsourced workers who are using AI are finding ways to thrive. But these are still early days. Rest of World: The workers at the frontlines of the AI revolution.


Hot Pockets

If you ever want to experience the heat and humidity of Greenwich Village August, just head to the lower level of the West 4th Street subway station in October. The heat is still there. And it turns out that, along with all other weather conditions, climate change is making the underground situation more threatening. NYT (Gift Article): Heat Down Below Is Making the Ground Shift Under Chicago. “Rising underground temperatures lead to warmer subway tunnels, which can cause overheated tracks and steam-bath conditions for commuters. And, over time, they cause tiny shifts in the ground beneath buildings, which can induce structural strain, whose effects aren’t noticeable for a long time until suddenly they are.”

+ “Catastrophic floods in the Hudson Valley. An unrelenting heat dome over Phoenix. Ocean temperatures hitting 90 degrees Fahrenheit off the coast of Miami. A surprising deluge in Vermont, a rare tornado in Delaware. A decade ago, any one of these events would have been seen as an aberration. This week, they are happening simultaneously … In 1980, the average time between billion-dollar disasters was 82 days. From 2018-22, the average time between these most extreme events, even controlled for inflation, was just 18 days.” NYT (Gift Article): Climate Disasters Daily? Welcome to the ‘New Normal.’

+ WaPo: “That heat dome has made coastal waters extremely warm, including ‘downright shocking’ temperatures of 92 to 96 degrees in the Florida Keys.” It’s almost like a hot tub and hurricane season is about to turn on the jets.


Basic Needs

Inflation (both natural and driven by corporations looking to increase profits) is starting to have a significant impact on consumer spending, even when it comes to the basics. “Despite surging inflation, shoppers kept spending thanks to income gains and government stimulus. But those benefits are waning, and now Americans are skimping, even on everyday items such as toilet paper and toothpaste.” Bloomberg (Gift Article): Americans Seeking Cheaper Everyday Essentials Threaten Corporate Growth.

+ There are exceptions: Chocolate prices keep rising, but that’s not stopping Americans from buying. “Buying is proving resilient thanks to a phenomenon known as ‘revenge living.’ … Consumers are willing to spend on areas of their life that were impacted in the pandemic, like travel and dining. And while lockdowns obviously didn’t make it impossible to eat candy bars at home, the everyday luxury is still getting swept up in the trend.” (During the summer, it’s fun to freeze your candy bars, because revenge living is a dish best served cold.)


Extra, Extra

Higher Summit: “A window of opportunity is being left to bargain Ukraine’s membership in Nato in negotiations with Russia. Uncertainty is weakness.” So said Volodymyr Zelensky as he urged those at the NATO Summit to back a faster path for Ukraine membership. The biggest news from the Summit is Sweden’s approved membership in NATO. Finland joined in April. Putin’s efforts to weaken NATO have backfired. Meanwhile, an independent statistical analysis suggests nearly 50,000 Russian men have died in the war in Ukraine.

+ Bench Warmers: “The Associated Press obtained tens of thousands of pages of emails and other documents that reveal the extent to which public colleges and universities have seen visits by justices as opportunities to generate donations.” Supreme Court justices and donors mingle at campus visits. These documents show the ethical dilemmas. (We need fewer norms and more rules.)

+ Boob Tube: “Tuberville insisted he wasn’t racist, to which Kaitlan Collins explained that a white nationalist, someone who wants to turn America into a white ethnostate, is by definition a racist. ‘”That’s your opinion,’ Tuberville said.” Rolling Stone: Tommy Tuberville Is Either Extremely Dumb or Extremely Racist. (The two are not mutually exclusive.)

+ Peak a Boo Hoo: Variety: “There’s one thing that writers and their estranged employers agree on: Peak TV has peaked. The talent pool has been stretched beyond its breaking point, and so have most of Hollywood’s balance sheets. The entertainment industry in aggregate can’t afford to keep producing content at the pace of recent years.”

+ Chris Crosses Over: “I feel like I’m living a dream right now.” The best Wimbledon story this year is the unlikely and out of nowhere run of American Chris Eubanks. “Regardless of what happens on Wednesday, he will leave London with his best major result, the biggest paycheck of his career totaling at least $437,852, and a new career-high ranking.”

+ Maliboo: “The Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority (MRCA) — a public agency dedicated to preserving parklands and coastal access in and around Los Angeles — accused the city of Malibu of tearing down its signs directing visitors to ‘hidden’ public beaches along the famous coastline.” I suppose that’s one way to deter visitors. Affluent California city accused of tearing down public beach access signs.


Bottom of the News

“Revenge is a common motivator for smash room customers, says Miguel Moises, who owns and operates Bay Area Smash Room in San Francisco’s financial district. And when visitors go out of their way to request particular items to smash, there’s a good chance they’ll ask for a printer.” WaPo: (Gift Article): People are paying to break printers with sledgehammers in smash rooms. “But there’s trouble in this rage-fueled paradise. The metals, gases and batteries inside consumer electronics are bad for our bodies.” (I’m guessing any physical bad is outweighed by the emotional upside.)

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