Avert your eyes! My Sunday morning look at incompetency, corruption, and policy failures:
• The Towers and the Ticking Clock Pull up a map of the Florida coast, drop your finger onto the surface and you’ll almost certainly land on a town or city with its own disaster in the making. According to one recent study, 918,000 of Florida’s condo units are, like the ones in Champlain Towers South, more than 30 years old; many towers were thrown up during the boom years, when oversight was lax, developers were incentivized to prize speed over attention to detail and every permit was a rubber stamp away. Even in the most rigorously built structures, secured to the face of the earth by heavy pylons driven through yards of shifting sand, the coastal environment has inevitably taken its toll. (New York Times)
• Don’t Listen to the Matt Damon Crypto Ad What makes it work? Money. The same thing that always makes it work: money, real money. You have PR firms who reach out to agents and reps and money gets negotiated, and we’re talking big money. I mean, a $100 million ad campaign for Crypto.com. I don’t know what Damon got paid, but it’s obviously millions of dollars. (Slate)
• The Betrayal: It took four presidencies for America to finish abandoning Afghanistan. George W. Bush’s attention wandered off soon after American Special Forces rode horseback through the northern mountains and the first schoolgirls gathered in freezing classrooms. Barack Obama, after studying the problem for months, poured in troops and pulled them out in a single ambivalent gesture whose goal was to keep the war on page A13. Donald Trump cut a deal with the Taliban that left the future of the Afghan government, Afghan women, and al Qaeda to fate. It fell to Joe Biden to complete the task. America’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan added moral injury to military failure. But a group of soldiers, veterans, and ordinary citizens came together to try to save Afghan lives and salvage some American honor. (The Atlantic)
• I’m an Influencer, and I Think Social Media Is Toxic Teen girls experience an increase in suicidal thoughts after using Instagram. Other studies focused on Instagram’s detrimental effect on eating disorders and body image issues. Seventeen percent of teen girls said that their eating disorders worsened after Instagram use, and 32 percent reported that the app made them feel worse about their bodies. (Slate)
• How the Capitol attacks helped spread Christian nationalism in the extreme right For many in the right-wing extremist fringe, Christian nationalism is becoming a shared language. (Religion News Service) see also The Supreme Court is leading a Christian conservative revolution Almost as soon as Justice Barrett was confirmed, the Court handed down a revolutionary “religious liberty” decision. It hasn’t slowed down since. (Vox)
• Beijing’s Assault on Apple Daily Is a Hong Kong Cautionary Tale: The demise of Jimmy Lai’s newspaper shows how far China will go to bring Hong Kong into line. (Businessweek)
• How Trump Coins Became an Internet Sensation Getting to the bottom of a modern mystery. What became clear was not just the coin’s unusual origins, but an entire disinformation supply chain that relied on falsehoods and misinformation at nearly every step. Fueling the coin’s success were fake social media accounts that pushed false ads and a fleet of misleading news websites that preyed on partisan discontent. (New York Times)
• Book Ban Efforts Spread Across the U.S. Challenges to books about sexual and racial identity are nothing new in American schools, but the tactics and politicization are. (New York Times)
• A Police Car Hit a Kid on Halloween 2019. The NYPD Is Quashing a Move to Punish the Officer. Civilian investigators found that officers engaged in serious misconduct, including hitting one boy with a car, pointing a gun at another and wrongly arresting three teens. Then the NYPD intervened. (ProPublica)
• The revealing Trump White House debate over whether to seize voting machines The major question — use the military or ask DHS? — shows how perilous things were for democracy. (Vox) see also Trump Had Role in Weighing Proposals to Seize Voting Machines New accounts show that the former president was more directly involved than previously known in plans developed by outside advisers to use national security agencies to seek evidence of fraud. (New York Times)
Be sure to check out our Masters in Business interview this weekend with Rebecca Patterson, Director of Investment Research at Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, where she is also a member of the firm’s investment committee. Previously, she was Chief Investment Officer at Bessemer Trust, managing $85 billion of client assets.
U.S. Has Far Higher Covid Death Rate Than Other Wealthy Countries
Source: New York Times
To learn how these reads are assembled each day, please see this.