To The Place I Was Before

Maui Burns, The House Wins, The Scotus with the Mostest

Every summer we read about mass wildfires that cause extreme destruction somewhere. To the locals, it’s often the tragedy of a lifetime. To others, it’s the destruction of a place they’ve never seen. But this week, as a hurricane-fueled fire swept across Maui, millions of people around the country and the world are witnessing the loss of a place they’ve visited, a tree in front of which they’ve taken family photos, and a place they thought of as paradise, lost. “Deadly wildfires on the Hawaiian island of Maui have torched thousands of acres, destroyed hundreds of structures and sent scores of residents and visitors fleeing. The death toll climbed from six to 36 on Wednesday evening.”

+ Wildfire decimates Lahaina, once the capital of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

+ Ring by ring, majestic banyan tree in heart of fire-scorched Lahaina chronicles 150 years of history.

+ “The fires in Hawaii would be shocking anywhere — killing at least 36 people, in one of the deadliest wildfires in the United States in modern history. But the devastation is especially striking because of where it happened: In a state defined by its lush vegetation, a far cry from the dry landscape normally associated with fire threats. The explanation is as straightforward as it is sobering: as the planet heats up, no place is protected from disasters.” NYT (Gift Article): How Climate Change Turned Lush Hawaii Into a Tinderbox.

+ “Sometimes understanding a phenomenon intellectually is not enough; it’s just not the same as the perspective you get when the flames are licking at your own door.” The Atlantic (Gift Article): Hawaii Is a Warning. (Or, at more accurately, the latest warning.)

+ Here’s the latest from CNN.


Pocket Rocket

“If you’re one of the (many, many) fans who find it irritating to now get much of your sports news filtered through the lens of what it means for bettors, the situation can only get worse as ESPN gets more centrally involved in gaming. Or maybe it’ll just turn you into a gambler against your better judgment, precisely as intended.” Sports Betting Won. I’m covering this story a lot because I think it will have a huge societal impact, especially among young men. We’re talking about a generation already addicted to their phones who are now carrying a casino in their pockets, while constantly being marketed to about the joys of laying a bet. From yesterday, The Mouse Always Wins.

+ “Penn Entertainment, a casino and online gambling operator, paid a total of about $550 million to acquire 100% control of (Dave Portnoy’s) Barstool — just a few months before deciding to cut Barstool loose” as part of the ESPN betting deal. So Dave Portnoy bought the company back … for one dollar.

+ Phil Mickelson wagered over $1 billion, tried to bet on Ryder Cup, book alleges.


The Scotus with the Mostest

“At least 38 destination vacations, including a previously unreported voyage on a yacht around the Bahamas; 26 private jet flights, plus an additional eight by helicopter; a dozen VIP passes to professional and college sporting events, typically perched in the skybox; two stays at luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica; and one standing invitation to an uber-exclusive golf club overlooking the Atlantic coast.” ProPublica on Clarence Thomas’ 38 Vacations and more. The ongoing story about all the stuff people offer to Thomas is the gift that keeps on giving. And he keeps on accepting.


A Sobering Tale

“Bartenders don’t see too many teenagers flashing fake IDs at establishments with a $14,500 bottle of wine on the menu, so Mr. Weintraub stood out. Again and again, staff members refused his increasingly aggressive attempts to buy a drink, the lawsuit said, until finally, in 2021, the hotel banned him entirely. What happened next was at first annoying and then disruptive and eventually led to a series of events so bizarre and disturbing that the hotel, The Mark on East 77th Street on the Upper East Side, sued Mr. Weintraub, now 19, for defamation.” Things often get weird when underage people try to buy up. But not this weird. NYT (Gift Article): A Wealthy Teenager, a 5-Star Hotel and a Bizarre Defamation Fight. No, really weird. “The celebrity (Drake), who is Jewish, later complained to hotel management that he was disturbed to hear someone screaming about Holocaust denial as he tried to come and go from the hotel.”


Extra, Extra

When Words Turn to Sticks and Stones: “The complaint includes numerous social media posts believed to have been made by Robertson threatening to kill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as several officials involved in prosecuting former President Donald Trump.” Man killed during FBI raid in connection with threats against Biden, other officials.

+ Candidate Killed: “Fernando Villavicencio, who was a journalist before entering politics, waged a yearslong battle against the forces that he saw transforming Ecuador, including crime that had seeped into nearly every aspect of life, from street robbery to cocaine trafficking and corrupt government contracting.” Ecuadorian presidential candidate fatally shot at a political rally.

+ Good Grief: “Grief is non-linear. One day, three years after a death, grief can return and feel as extreme as it did in the immediate aftermath of the loss. The ultimate difference between child grief and adult grief, she said, is how children will re-grieve throughout their lives.” The Walrus: Notes from Grief Camp. “Every summer, more than a hundred kids spend a weekend at Camp Erin swimming and canoeing. They also learn to deal with death.”

+ Bag Order: “In 2017, Kenya passed a law banning single-use plastic bags — the kind that grocery stores and other vendors give you to hold your purchases. The law was inspired by the toll of plastic pollution … It was hailed as a ground-breaking law by other countries and even the United Nations.” But even the toughest laws seem to be no match for plastic. A tale of smugglers, dumps and dying goats.

+ Take a Load Off, Robbie: Robbie Robertson, Leader of The Band, Dies at 80. From being Bob Dylan’s band, to writing timeless hits, to working with Martin Scorcese, it was a life of music. Rolling Stone: Robbie Robertson: 20 Essential Songs.

+ Swatch Dogs: “Owners or sellers of rainbow-colored timepieces made by the Swiss watchmaker Swatch face three years in prison in Malaysia, the interior ministry has said, as the Muslim-majority country rails against LGBTQ symbols it says could ‘harm morals'” (Who do they think they are, Florida?)

+ Hip Hopping Through Time: “In the five decades since hip-hop emerged out of New York City, it spread around the country and the world. And at each step there’s been change and adaptation, as new, different voices came in and made it their own. It’s touched everything, from art and fashion to sports and social justice.” AP with an interactive series marking 50 Years of Hip Hop.


Bottom of the News

“Loud and flashy peafowl have taken over a suburb of Miami. But with the birds’ population growing, residents have been looking for a way to humanely keep their numbers in check. Now, the town is pursuing a clever solution: It has hired a veterinarian to perform peacock vasectomies.”

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