Thursday, September 21st, 2023


Getting Away With Murdoch

The king is gone but he's not forgotten
This is the story of a Johnny Rotten.

—Neil Young, Hey Hey, My My

Rupert Murdoch's run at Fox has parallels to climate change. There's been so much harm done that the removal of one pollutant, even a really offensive one, won't do much to reverse the damage. Of course, Murdoch's media brands deny climate change, so they'll probably deny this too. After a seven decade run, Rupert Murdoch stepping down as chair of Fox and News Corp. In his note to employees, Murdoch wrote, "For my entire professional life, I have been engaged daily with news and ideas, and that will not change." Bummer.

+ Here comes the new boss. Same politics as the old boss. How Lachlan Murdoch became the new head of Fox and News Corp.


The Chairman Needs a Joint

General Mark Milley had one particularly bad moment in his run as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which ends this month. "During the George Floyd protests in early June 2020, Milley, wearing combat fatigues, followed Trump out of the White House to Lafayette Square, which had just been cleared of demonstrators by force." A week later he apologized. "His apology earned him the permanent enmity of Trump, who told him that apologies are a sign of weakness." That was hardly the most ridiculous or most dangerous Trump-related obstacle Milley had to deal with during his tenure. Like I've said in the past, these days, I'm a single issue voter. That issue is democracy. And Mark Milley helped protect it from Donald Trump. "In normal times, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the principal military adviser to the president, is supposed to focus his attention on America's national-security challenges, and on the readiness and lethality of its armed forces. But the first 16 months of Milley's term, a period that ended when Joe Biden succeeded Donald Trump as president, were not normal, because Trump was exceptionally unfit to serve ... Twenty men have served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs since the position was created after World War II. Until Milley, none had been forced to confront the possibility that a president would try to foment or provoke a coup in order to illegally remain in office." Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic: The Patriot. In one (more) telling tale about the terrible person Milley was dealing with, Goldberg describes the scene during Milley's welcome ceremony, when the General invited "a severely wounded Army captain, Luis Avila, to sing God Bless America. After Avila's performance, Trump walked over to congratulate him, but then said to Milley, within earshot of several witnesses, 'Why do you bring people like that here? No one wants to see that, the wounded.' Never let Avila appear in public again, Trump told Milley." (This is the guy Milley was tasked with protecting us from. It's also the guy whose run for a second term has been fully embraced by one of America's two political parties.)

+ "The Senate on Wednesday confirmed Gen. CQ Brown as the next chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, putting him in place to succeed Gen. Mark Milley when he retires at the end of the month. Brown's confirmation on a 83-11 vote, months after President Joe Biden nominated him for the post, comes as Democrats try to maneuver around holds placed on hundreds of nominations by Alabama Sen. Tommy Tuberville over the Pentagon's abortion policy."


Cool for the Summer

As climate change heats up, air conditioning has gone from being a luxury to a survival tactic. "Older Americans, who can still recall the preternatural cool of movie theaters as a rare escape from the tedious heat of summer, must now consider the physical stress of hot weather as a significant determinant of mortality." But as air conditioning cools off more and more people across the globe, it's adding to the problem that made it a requirement. WaPo (Gift Article): Addicted to Cool.


No Surge Protector

AI is making surge pricing a lot more common. "The only thing holding physical stores back from using dynamic pricing is the time-consuming task of updating price stickers — but tech is changing that. Walmart is bringing digital price tags into 500 of its stores, and French supermarket chain Carrefour has been using electronic shelf labels since 2014." Surge pricing is here to stay. (One hopes that variable pricing will also mean certain goods and services will be cheaper at times.)


Extra, Extra

Bordering on Disaster? "By opening migration processing centers in three Latin American countries, the Biden administration is trying to coax people not to make a harrowing trek to the border." NYT: Biden Plan Seeks to Keep Migrants Away From the Border. Will It Work? Also, from the NYT: Officials Scramble to Respond as Migrants Overwhelm Texas City. Meanwhile, "the Biden administration announced Wednesday the expansion of a form of humanitarian relief to Venezuelans already in the United States, making hundreds of thousands more people eligible for work permits and likely appeasing calls by New York City officials to provide work authorization to certain migrants."

+ Poverty POV: "No matter how well the economy performs, generous welfare programs that reach everyone in need are our most effective tool against poverty." Vox: We cut child poverty to historic lows, then let it rebound faster than ever before. The New Yorker's Isaac Chotiner with an in-depth conversation on the issue. How the U.S. Lifted Children Out of Poverty and Then Threw Them Back Into It.

+ Putin's Dream Team: "'Was Zelensky elected to Congress? Is he our president? I don't think so. I have questions for where's the accountability on the money we've already spent? What is this the plan for victory?' House Speaker Kevin McCarthy asked Tuesday." It's bad enough that Americans have to deal with our crazy House, now Zelensky does, too. These guys don't stand for democracy at home, why would they care about it abroad? Zelensky faces a more splintered GOP as he returns to Capitol Hill looking for aid. Also, Zelensky won't be addressing Congress because, according to the Speaker, McCarthy: Congress 'didn't have time.' Meanwhile, GOP hardliners sink Pentagon bill in another blow for McCarthy.

+ Card Carrying: "We breathe in about 16 bits of microplastic every hour, the equivalent of a credit card each week." So while you're getting into debt, debt is getting into you.

+ The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree: "Stanford University said it will be returning gifts it received from bankrupt crypto exchange FTX 'in their entirety,' after a lawsuit against founder Sam Bankman-Fried's parents alleged the school received millions of dollars in donations." (Two words: Go Bears.)

+ 86'd at 96: "It's the latest development in an unusually public and bitter fight over whether Judge Pauline Newman should continue to serve on the Washington-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit that has sparked a lawsuit and turned judges against one another." A 96-year-old federal judge is barred from hearing cases in a bitter fight over her mental fitness.


Bottom of the News

"I was standing there with them, and Greg put his hands around Fran's throat. That is a scary thing to witness up close, when one person is choking another. You sort of don't do that unless you sincerely desire the death of that person." As you may have guessed from that excerpt, this is a story about home plumbing problems. And it's a great one. Man Called Fran.

+ Woman rescued from outhouse toilet after climbing in to retrieve Apple Watch. I feel seen.