Monday, April 22nd, 2024


This Seder is Not Beseder

As Jews around the world gather for the Passover seder, they'll have plenty of bitter topics to discuss. Around my table, we'll hope for peace in Middle East and a future when Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side, we'll remember the innocent victims on both sides of the conflict, including those often forgotten in today's heated discourse—the hostages still held in Gaza, and we'll argue about the protesters on many college campuses, who are lucky enough to live in a society where you're allowed to protest. (As is the case in Israel, where many are protesting some of the same policies.) You're not, however, allowed to intimidate, threaten, or attack others based on their ethnicity, religion, or political beliefs, and some of these protests have morphed into antisemitism. For example, "at Yale, a Jewish student reporting on protests was jabbed in the eye with a Palestinian flag on Saturday night. The incident occurred after a group of Pro-Palestinian demonstrators allegedly formed a human chain around two visibly Jewish students trying to enter campus." Antisemitism shouldn't surprise anyone. It's been around since before Moses led the Israelites through the desert. But it should be controlled on campuses, while allowing students to continue the longstanding college tradition of peaceful protest. So far, that needle is not being thread, as acts that go beyond peaceful have been committed and colleges have arrested hundreds of their own students. And now, Columbia has canceled in-person classes for the week. In this political climate (with even Congress involved), it's apparently impossible to simultaneously protect speech and students. So this Passover we ask, how is the protest different from all other protests? For an answer, let's head to my alma mater and the birthplace of campus protesting. Here's UC Berkeley Chancellor Carol Christ with an interesting explanation of what's gone wrong. "'This is very different because this is student against a student,' Christ said in an interview in February. 'It's faculty against faculty. It's internally the most divisive protest issue that I've seen.' Christ's career at UC Berkeley spans nearly four decades." On Passover, we tell the story of four children: The wise one, the wicked one, the simple one, and the one who doesn't know how to ask. They're all well-represented on college campuses these days.

+ Columbia President Nemat Shafik: "The decibel of our disagreements has only increased in recent days. These tensions have been exploited and amplified by individuals who are not affiliated with Columbia who have come to campus to pursue their own agendas. We need a reset."

+ MIT, Emerson College, Tufts students start pro-Palestinian camps inspired by Columbia University protests.


A Bird Out of Hand

"H5N1, one of the many viruses that cause bird flu, had already killed at least 24,000 South American sea lions along the continent's coasts in less than a year. Now it had come for elephant seals. Pups of all ages, from newborns to the fully weaned, lay dead or dying at the high-tide line. Sick pups lay listless, foam oozing from their mouths and noses. Dr. Uhart called it 'an image from hell.'" NYT (Gift Article): Bird Flu Is Infecting More Mammals. What Does That Mean for Us? "H5N1, an avian flu virus, has killed tens of thousands of marine mammals, and infiltrated American livestock for the first time. Scientists are working quickly to assess how it is evolving and how much of a risk it poses to humans."

+ The Guardian: "The great concern of course is that in ... infecting ducks and chickens and then increasingly mammals, that virus now evolves and develops the ability to infect humans and then critically the ability to go from human to human." Risk of bird flu spreading to humans is ‘enormous concern', says WHO.

+ Barron's: H5N1 Strain Of Bird Flu Found In Milk.

+ New Hampshire's GOP Is Taking a Stand—Against the Polio Vaccine.

+ I'm sharing all of this news on a very notable Covid anniversary. Four years ago today, I got the following notification from the NYT on my iPhone: "At a White House briefing, President Trump theorized—dangerously in the view of some experts—about the power of sunlight, ultraviolet light and household disinfectants to kill the coronavirus." Even following one his craziest moments, the NYT could only bring itself to say that chugging disinfectant is viewed as dangerous by some experts...


Flank Stake

"Johnson received a key intelligence briefing from CIA Director Bill Burns, who painted a picture of the dire situation on the battlefield in Ukraine and the global consequences of inaction, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. The briefing left a lasting impression, and Johnson became increasingly convinced the fate of Western democracy was on his shoulders." How Mike Johnson came to embrace Ukraine aid and defy his right flank. The House chose democracy over authoritarianism. Let's hope this starts a trend.

+ "To make an avalanche takes more than one tumbling rock. Still, the pro-Ukraine, anti-Trump vote in the House is a very, very big rock. On something that mattered intensely to him—that had become a badge of pro-Trump identity—Trump's own party worked with Democrats in the House and Senate to hand him a stinging defeat. This example could become contagious." David Frum in The Atlantic (Gift Article) on a key player in all of this: Trump Deflates. It wasn't just Putin who lost in the House vote on Ukraine aid.


Trial and Air

So here's something you may have done: A show you heard good things about was playing on a streaming service where you're not yet subscribed. So you signed up (either for a month or for a free trial), binged the show, and canceled the service. That worked so well, you started to wonder why you should pay every month for any service when there are really only a few of their shows a year you actually want to watch. So you started canceling and resubscribing as necessary. Well, you're not alone. NYT (Gift Article): Americans' New TV Habit: Subscribe. Watch. Cancel. Repeat.


Extra, Extra

Pecker Unleashed: "This was a planned, long-running conspiracy to influence the 2016 election, to help Donald Trump get elected through illegal expenditures to silence people who had something bad to say about his behavior. It was election fraud, pure and simple." The Trump trial is underway. Both sides gave opening statements and the people called David Pecker. (Which seems like a pretty rude thing for the people to call David.) A lot of the early testimony will be about Pecker and the National Enquirer's catch and kill business. NYT Magazine (Gift Article): What I Saw Working at The National Enquirer During Donald Trump's Rise.

+ A Place in the Sun: "President Joe Biden is marking Earth Day by announcing $7 billion in federal grants for residential solar projects serving 900,000-plus households in low- and middle-income communities." Meanwhile, in California, solar panels are everywhere. And that's a good thing. But is it too much of a good thing for grid operators? "But now, the state and its grid operator are grappling with a strange reality: There is so much solar on the grid that, on sunny spring days when there's not as much demand, electricity prices go negative. Gigawatts of solar are 'curtailed' — essentially, thrown away." WaPo (Gift Article): Rooftop solar panels are flooding California's grid. That's a problem. (Not as big a problem as the world burning up, though!)

+ Bad Intel: "I carry that black day with me ever since, day after day, night after night. I will carry the horrible pain of the war with me forever." Israel military intelligence chief quits over 7 October.

+ Ozempics or It Didn't Happen: Ozempic is not usually associated with size increases. But that's exactly what's happening in Kalundborg, population under 17,000. That's where Novo Nordisk makes its product and is transforming a town. NYT (Gift Article): How Ozempic Is Transforming a Small Danish Town.

+ Hopelessly Divoted to You: Nothing like celebrating a Masters win with another win. Scottie Scheffler claims fourth win in five starts. But as is often the case these days, there's a women's sports story that's even better. Nelly Korda has won five consecutive LPGA tournaments.

+ Frampton Comes Alive: "It's a diverse list that stretches from R&B/rock pioneer Big Mama Thornton to pop superstars Cher and Dionne Warwick, and from '70s-rooted rockers like Peter Frampton, Foreigner and Ozzy Osbourne to '90s icons the Dave Matthews Band, Mary J. Blige and A Tribe Called Quest." Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Announces 2024 Inductees.

+ Tortured Competition: You'll never guess who just smashed Spotify's single day streaming record (beating her own record which previously beat her own record...)


Bottom of the News

We're living in the age of food delivery. But the battle to get your order to you fast (maybe too fast) started a long time ago. The Hustle with a look back at a guarantee that became deadly. The failure of the Domino's 30-minute delivery guarantee.

+ The Taylor Swift Haggadah? The Harry Potter version? There are a lot of Haggadahs these days. "And tonight, the Maxwell House Haggadah will likely be used at the Passover table by Jews around the world more than any other single text."