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Smash and Grab
Smash and Grab
Local police raided the office of Marion County Record, a small community newspaper in Kansas, last week. They took cell phones and computers from the newspaper. They also plundered an Alexa and a router from the home of one of the paper’s owners and even photographed the unrelated personal bank records of a reporter.
Police were reportedly conducting a probe into “identity theft and unlawful computer acts” that may have been used to procure information about drunk driving by a local businesswoman, Kari Newell, with connections to the county attorney. (Ironically, the paper says that it had already decided not to run a story.) But the paper was also conducting investigations of the police chief, Gideon Cody, who was in charge of the raid.
The raid was almost certainly illegal — and shredded free speech norms — and it’s been widely denounced. During the seizure at the newspaper’s office, at least one reporter was purportedly injured. Further, the paper claims that the stress contributed to the death of Joan Meyer, a 98-year-old co-owner of the paper who expired the day after the raid.
After a studiously noncommittal comment from Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, state police took over the case.
POLITICS and WORLD
‘ROLLING SPECTACLE’: Former U.S. President Donald Trump and 18 others were indicted in Georgia for racketeering, related to their attempt to subvert the 2020 election. These appear to be the most serious of the four sets of indictments against Trump. There’s also a chance that the indictment will be televised.
BULLET NOT BALLOT: An Ecuadorian opposition candidate, Fernando Villavicencio, was assassinated less than two weeks before an election. The country has spiraled under the influence of corrupt politicians and drug cartels. Villavicencio, a longtime crusading journalist, was running on an anti-corruption platform. Details are sketchy, but the campaign had been threatened by organized crime.
ON THE PRIVATE DOLE: The U.S. Supreme Court’s corruption scandal keeps hurtling forward. The latest: ProPublica revealed evidence that Justice Clarence Thomas was much more extensive and patterned than previously realized. Thomas has lived in a “stream of luxury” funded by a “cadre of industry titans and ultrawealthy executives,” ProPublica alleges. All this luxury was, of course, undisclosed. Interpreting laws doesn’t mean you have to follow them.
UNPOPULAR DEMAND: In Ohio, voters rejected an attempt to increase the majority needed for a constitutional amendment. It would have moved the threshold for new changes from a simple majority to two-thirds. Really, the failed change was designed by Republicans to block a measure that would write abortion rights into Ohio’s state constitution — a response to the Supreme Court scrapping federal abortion protections last year. Since raising the threshold failed voters will decide if they want to write abortion protections into the state constitution this November.
BUSINESS and ECONOMICS
IRREGULARLY SCHEDULED BREAK: Around 11,000 workers in Los Angeles walked off the job last week. City workers were striking for wage hikes and an end to “unfair labor practices.” It was the first citywide strike in 40 years.
PRICE OF PREJUDICE: Following up on a previous story… The World Bank says it won’t consider new loans to Uganda because of that country’s anti-homosexuality law. The law — dubbed the “most anti-gay law in the world” — punishes homosexual love with death. Uganda, in the face of losing hundreds of millions (if not billions) in development assistance, crossed its arms and shrugged. For context: In 2022, the World Bank loaned around $5.4 billion to Uganda, though that year was perhaps unusually high, according to data from the development institution.
WHERE VIRTUAL MEETS REALITY: Roblox, the game platform valued at more than $18 billion, plans to conduct future interviews in the “metaverse,” the high-tech fantasy of a VR alternative universe. As if job interviews weren’t already exasperating enough. While the hype has died, it’s a reminder that some aspects of the metaverse linger on.
THE HINDSIGHT SIDE: A woman adopts a homeless Black teen who goes on to a profitable career in the National Football League. That was the plot of the 2009 Warner Bros. blockbuster “The Blind Side.” The real blind side? That was a lie: The family never adopted the 18-year-old, only had him sign a conservatorship to give themselves control of his finances. At least, that’s what Michael Oher, the subject of the film, is alleging in Tennessee court. For what it’s worth, that would make for a more interesting movie.
ROLL THE BONES: The heat is unrelenting this summer. And that’s likely just the beginning as climate-worsened weather puts human resilience to a cruel and sometimes lethal test. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy is betting another $1.2 billion on “direct air capture,” a contested process for sucking carbon out of the air. It’s the biggest check ever written to back “carbon removal,” the department has said. And some of that money will find its way to fossil fuels.
ANYWHERE BUT DIXIE: The U.S. Space Command headquarters will remain in Colorado Springs. President Biden axed a Trump-era decision that would have relocated the command to Huntsville, Ala. Unsurprisingly, Huntsville has denounced the decision, describing it as political meddling. House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, has publicly floated the idea of moving the FBI headquarters to Huntsville in recent weeks.
IDIOCRACY: The most advanced information delivery network to have ever existed is making us dumber: A set of new research reaffirms the “Google effect” — that we forget things more often when we know we can just look them up later.
SMITHSONIAN’S ‘RACIAL BRAINS’: For more than a century, the Smithsonian has quietly kept brains in preservative — well over 200 — ripped from the skulls of minority groups and stashed in a Maryland facility. The removals were performed “largely without consent of the individuals or their families,” according to The Washington Post, which conducted an investigation into the matter. The “racial brain collection,” mostly hidden from public view, traces to the racist anthropology of Ales Hrdlicka, a eugenicist who hoped to prove the superiority of the white race. The brains are, in fact, part of a larger collection of tens of thousands of body parts held by the institution, many of which were looted from graves. The institution has begun to repatriate some of these, but slowly.
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