In the News 05.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


In the News 05.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Alyssa Kapito Interiors
In the News 05.25.18 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The Trouble With Charitable Billionaires

In February 2017, Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was in the headlines for his charitable activities. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, founded by the tech billionaire and his wife, Priscilla Chan, handed out over $3m in grants to aid the housing crisis in the Silicon Valley area. David Plouffe, the Initiative’s president of policy and advocacy, stated that the grants were intended to “support those working to help families in immediate crisis while supporting research into new ideas to find a long-term solution – a two-step strategy that will guide much of our policy and advocacy work moving forward”.

This is but one small part of Zuckerberg’s charity empire. The Initiative has committed billions of dollars to philanthropic projects designed to address social problems, with a special focus on solutions driven by science, medical research and education. This all took off in December 2015, when Zuckerberg and Chan wrote and published a letter to their new baby Max. The letter made a commitment that over the course of their lives they would donate 99% of their shares in Facebook (at the time valued at $45bn) to the “mission” of “advancing human potential and promoting equality”.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

Vanity Foul


PUFFERY, IN THE SENSE OF “inflated laudation,” dates back to the late eighteenth century. In law, it is used to denote that which no one would reasonably believe, originating with a legal case in 1892 in which some poor Gilded Ager tried to get their money back when an anti-flu potion failed to inoculate them. The company’s ad had promised to pay one hundred pounds if it didn’t work but the defense was, essentially, “God, we were kidding”—it wasn’t serious, it was “mere puff.” The company lost, the word won. In the mid-twentieth century it found its way into the “puff piece,” a journalistic idiom denoting less an article than a hand job, celebrity profiles being the piece de non-resistance. In a 2014 chronicle of the form, Anne Helen Petersen wrote of the celebrity profile’s reputation for being “flattering and banal in the way that florid descriptions of drapes and romances can be.” Though “personality journalism” stretched back to the 1700s, in the 1920s the press conspired with the film studios to create thinly veiled PR copy. In the latter part of the century, these puffs of smoke-up-the-skirt spread like Monroe’s itch along with the circulation of the mainstream press. “In the twenties and today, the profile functions as the celebrity urtext, setting and resetting the tone and tenor of the celebrity’s image,” Petersen explained, remarking that the “oversight and calculation created prose that was generally stiflingly boring.”

But one hundred years after the puff piece floated into our consciousness, it is being swept aside by a new kind of celebrity profile, developed within a newly engaged culture. It may be no less calculating than its predecessor, but its purpose is the opposite. Rather than meaning nothing, it means everything. The power piece positions itself as the celebrity profile as activism, and sometimes it even succeeds.

Read the rest of this article at: The Baffler

Tuscany Tote in Midnight

Shop the Tuscany Tote in Midnight
at Belgrave Crescent &

A New Look Inside Theranos’ Dysfunctional Corporate Culture

Alan Beam was sitting in his office reviewing lab reports when Theranos CEO and founder Elizabeth Holmes poked her head in and asked him to follow her. She wanted to show him something. They stepped outside the lab into an area of open office space where other employees had gathered. At her signal, a technician pricked a volunteer’s finger, then applied a transparent plastic implement shaped like a miniature rocket to the blood oozing from it. This was the Theranos sample collection device. Its tip collected the blood and transferred it to two little engines at the rocket’s base. The engines weren’t really engines: They were nanotainers. To complete the transfer, you pushed the nanotainers into the belly of the plastic rocket like a plunger. The movement created a vacuum that sucked the blood into them.

Or at least that was the idea. But in this instance, things didn’t go quite as planned. When the technician pushed the tiny twin tubes into the device, there was a loud pop and blood splattered everywhere. One of the nanotainers had just exploded.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired


How Britain Let Russia Hide Its Dirty Money

In March, parliament’s foreign affairs committee asked me to come and tell them what to do about dirty Russian cash. As a journalist, I’ve spent much of my career writing about financial corruption in the former Soviet Union, but the invitation came as something of a surprise. After all, ever since I was at school in the 1990s, British politicians have welcomed Russian money to our shores. They have celebrated when oligarchs have bought our football clubs, cheered when they’ve listed their companies on our Stock Exchange. They have gladly accepted their political donations and patronised their charitable foundations.

When journalists and academics pointed out that these murky fortunes could buy influence over our democracy and undermine the rule of law, they were largely dismissed as inconvenient Cassandras warning MPs to beware Russians bearing gifts. But earlier this year, after the poisoning in Salisbury of the former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia, those little-heeded prophecies jumped straight into the pages of Hansard. “To those who seek to do us harm, my message is simple: you are not welcome here,” Theresa May told the House of Commons on 14 March, in a speech that blamed Russia for the attack. “There is no place for these people, or their money, in our country.”

Britain’s entire political class joined the prime minister in this screeching handbrake turn. MPs who had long presented the nation’s openness to trade as a great virtue suddenly wanted to be seen as tough on kleptocrats, tough on the causes of kleptocrats. Having allowing so much Russian money into Britain, these MPs were now seized with concern that Vladimir Putin might, through his power over his nation’s super-rich, be able to influence our institutions. Were we selling Putin the rope with which he would hang us, they wondered.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

What Happened In VegasThe Days, Weeks, And
Months After The Worst Mass Shooting In Modern American History


It is Monday evening, less than 24 hours after Stephen Paddock — an isolated, shadowy 64-year-old retired tax auditor and postal worker from Mesquite, Nevada, a high roller who liked to play video poker on the Las Vegas Strip — installed himself in a 32nd-floor corner suite at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, smashed the windows with a hammer, and opened fire into a crowd of 22,000 country music festivalgoers below. Paddock killed 58 people and injured more than 500 others, a figure that would later be revised to 851 to encompass not only victims of gunshot wounds but those injured from shrapnel, trampling, and attempts to scale barbed-wire and chain-link fences while fleeing. It was, as we would hear in the coming days, the worst mass shooting in modern American history.

At a candlelight vigil at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where I’ve taught journalism for the past two years, hundreds of students, undergraduates in their late teens and early 20s, have crowded into a concrete courtyard. They are holding tiny, flickering white votive candles, the kind sold by the bag at discount stores, and have come to mourn the victims, the injured, and the city they call home. It’s a familiar scene, one we have witnessed again and, frustratingly, again, but the emphasis on community has a slightly different valence here. Las Vegas, it is said on this night, “doesn’t look like any other community” — a reference to the fact that the city and its larger metro area have a mere 2 million permanent residents versus the tens of millions of tourists who visit each year. This disparity gets to the heart of why the mass shooting was, for those who live in Las Vegas, at once heartbreaking and strange: A tragedy happens in your city, thousands of people are shot at like trapped animals, and yet most of them don’t live there and leave the following day. Everyone has dispersed, but a floating anguish remains.

The students have built a makeshift shrine of flowers, handwritten posters, and more candles: that instantly recognizable expression of collective mourning. The air smells of vanilla and spiced apples, like a Bath & Body Works store. A girl who is introduced as Beatrice gets up and sings Avril Lavigne’s “Keep Holding On” in a touchingly off-key falsetto. The students sway and wave their glowing cellphones in response. These young people were toddlers during 9/11 — all their lives, they’ve known terrorism and mass violence, from Aurora to Sandy Hook to San Bernardino — and when disaster hits, they have a disconcertingly instinctive sense of what to do.

Read the rest of this article at: The California Sunday Magazine

P.S. previous articles & more by P.F.M.

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