News 05.29.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 05.29.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 05.29.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 05.29.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

More than a decade into their fame, the Kardashian-Jenners tend to induce eye rolls and sighs among jaded media consumers. But when it comes to their wealth, even critics of reality TV’s first family are intrigued; the Kardashian-Jenner machine—and the cash it generates—has been the subject of articles, podcasts, even books. But no one cares more about the topic than the family itself, which has spent years fighting Forbes for higher spots on our annual wealth and celebrity earnings lists.

So when the youngest of the clan, Kylie Jenner, sold 51% of her Kylie Cosmetics to beauty giant Coty in a deal valued at $1.2 billion this January, it was a watershed moment for the family. One of the greatest celebrity cash-outs of all time, the transaction seemed to confirm what Kylie had been saying all along and what Forbes had declared in March 2019: that Kylie Jenner was, indeed, a billionaire—at least before the coronavirus.

Read the rest of this article at: Forbes

News 05.29.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 05.29.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

According to the Stanford historian Walter Scheidel, there have been only four phenomena in the course of modern human history that have ever rendered our societies more equal in any sustainable fashion. Three of the four involve violent, human-instigated conflicts against other humans — war, bloody revolution, and state failure. The fourth is pandemic.

“For thousands of years, civilization did not lend itself to peaceful equalization,” Scheidel writes in 2017’s The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century. “This was as true of Pharaonic Egypt as it was of Victorian England, as true of the Roman Empire as of the United States. Violent shocks were of the paramount importance in disrupting the established order, in compressing the distribution of income and wealth, in narrowing the gap between rich and poor.”

And one particular kind of shock, historically, has the edge. “In the past, plague, smallpox, and measles ravaged whole continents more forcefully than even the largest armies or most fervent revolutionaries could hope to do,” Scheidel writes. For one thing, in plagues like the Black Death, the poor could requisition the goods and property of the newly deceased rich. More significantly, willing and able laborers were suddenly very valuable, so they could secure better terms — though not always without conflict. “Elites commonly attempted to preserve existing arrangements through fiat and force,” Scheidel writes, “but often failed to hold equalizing market forces in check.” Labor usually triumphed, and the playing field was leveled.

The historian raises the question: Wasn’t there something, anything else — worker movements? political reform? — in the annals of history that lessened inequality without mass death? “If we think of leveling on a large scale, the answer must be no,” Scheidel writes. “Democracy,” he adds, “does not of itself mitigate inequality.” But it might when paired with a pandemic.

Read the rest of this article at: One Zero


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IT WAS STILL DARK on October 26, 1991, when Elmer Yuill slid from beneath the patchwork quilt as his wife, Hazel, slept. The seventy-seven-year-old dairy farmer went out to do the barn chores, as he did every morning. In rubber boots, he crunched across frost-laden grass, Becky the black Lab at his heel. At 4:30 a.m., Todd Carlton, the farmhand, found Yuill face down on the concrete. His body was still warm. “I tried to shake him and wake him up,” said Carlton. What he didn’t see, in that moment of shock before running into the house to call for help, was that Yuill had been shot, execution style, in the back.

Twenty minutes later, the ambulance arrived at Elm Knoll Farm, in the community of Old Barns, Nova Scotia. The paramedics were still pumping Yuill’s chest as they raced him to the hospital in the nearby town of Truro. In the waiting room, police delivered the grim news to Hazel. At first, she thought it had been an accident, that Yuill had been struck by a stray round. After all, hunting season had just begun. But, when doctors removed not one but two Tic Tac–size bullets, the truth became clear. Two bullets are no accident. Two bullets are murder.

Read the rest of this article at: The Walrus

News 05.29.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 05.29.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

In the middle of March, as Americans faced down a terrifying pandemic caused by a novel and poorly understood virus, only one choice felt certain, or at least safe. It was time for America’s all-­purpose disaster response; it was time to stock up. But this time-­honored routine was newly challenging. The broad, sterile, fluorescent aisles of supermarkets and big-box retailers suddenly felt more like viral gantlets. In some cities, lines stretched out the doors, suggesting chaos and barren shelves inside. In many states, whole categories of brick­and-­mortar retail were shut down, either voluntarily or by edict. It was, at perhaps more than any moment in its history, Amazon’s time to shine.

At the online retailer, however, things were not going well. For many shoppers, it was the first place to turn, but demand for certain items was overwhelming the company’s ability to fulfill orders, not just for panic buyers but in general. By March 17, Amazon had suspended shipments to its warehouses of items that were not in ‘‘high demand,’’ scrambling, and often failing, to keep up with orders for soap, sanitizers and face masks, as well as a wide range of household staples, including food. By then, customers looking for these items were, for the first time, experiencing an Amazon that was conspicuously broken. Empty shelves in a supermarket are self-­explanatory. But on Amazon, customers were confronted with failures that were much weirder and harder to understand, with, of course, nobody around to explain them.

Searches for antibacterial soap and hand sanitizer turned up page after page of irrelevant products, scams and overpriced items with shipping times weeks or months in the future. (By the end of March, the company said it had removed over 3,900 seller accounts and half a million products in the U.S. for price-­gouging alone.) As time went on, widening shortages told the story of customers’ evolving attitudes, lifestyles and needs in the time of ­Covid-19: webcams, exercise equipment, video-­game consoles, diapers, bleach. (By April, hair clippers.) In categories under high demand, well-known brands appeared to be sold out, as were direct competitors, also-rans and half-­related items. By May, some customers searching for hand sanitizer were still being presented, on the first page of search results, with Kindle ­e-books about how to mix it at home.

Here, in a time of crisis, Amazon’s vaunted e-­commerce machinery was failing, and at the very tasks for which its millions of customers flocked to it. All of a sudden, the Everything Store wasn’t even as well stocked as, say, an urban corner store, or a gas station, or a smaller online retailer. To customers trying to place orders, it didn’t just seem overwhelmed — the site seemed broken, more like a sprawling, malfunctioning machine than a retailer under unusual stress. More than just failing them, it seemed to be exposing them to scams and exploitation, a peculiar sort of store that seemed to have lost control of its own shelves. There were signs of distress in Amazon’s vast network of fulfillment centers, too. Employees were falling ill. Some workers were staying home out of fear for their own health; others staged walkouts.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 05.29.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Just after 7am on the morning of 23 March 2017, journalist Miroslava Breach Velducea, a 54-year-old mother of three, was driving her 14-year-old son to school in the city of Chihuahua, Mexico, when a man walked up to her car and shot her eight times. According to reports, her son was not injured, but Breach died on the way to hospital.

The Mexican newspaper la Jornada reported that a cardboard note was found at the scene of the murder, which read: “For being a snitch. You’re next, Governor – El 80.” According to Mexican police, “El 80” was Carlos Arturo Quintana, son of the leader of an organised crime syndicate known as La Línea, which in its heyday controlled one of the lucrative smuggling routes for the supply and transfer of drugs from Colombia to the US. Three days before Breach was murdered, Quintana’s father had been killed in a confrontation between rival gangs.

Breach worked for la Jornada and for the regional paper Norte de Ciudad Juarez, covering politics and crime; she had also set up her own news agency, Mir. She had reported extensively on the links between organised crime and politicians in Chihuahua state. On 4 March 2016, Breach wrote in la Jornada about the alleged criminal connections of mayoral candidates in several small towns in western Chihuahua. Breach had received threats to her life on at least three occasions as a result of her reporting. In October 2016, she had told a meeting of the Federal Mechanism for Journalists and Human Rights Defenders that she had been threatened. Nevertheless, on the day she was killed, she had no protection.

Breach’s story is not an isolated one. She was one of six journalists killed in Mexico in 2017; more than 150 journalists have been killed there since 2000, 22 of them in the state of Chihuahua. In 2019, according to data compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Mexico had the seventh-highest number of unsolved murders of journalists in the world, behind Somalia, Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, the Philippines and Afghanistan. On 18 May this year, gunmen killed the owner of a newspaper, Jorge Miguel Armenta Ávalos, and one of the policemen assigned to protect him, following earlier threats. Armenta, who is at least the third journalist to be murdered in Mexico in 2020, was attacked in broad daylight while leaving a restaurant.

According to the World Press Freedom Index for 2020, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and released in March, journalists in Mexico face a dire situation: “Collusion between officials and organized crime poses a grave threat to journalists’ safety and cripples the judicial system at all levels. Journalists who cover sensitive political stories or organized crime are warned, threatened and often gunned down in cold blood.”

Attacks on journalists around the world take many forms, some of which are sanctioned in law. Legal or quasi-legal mechanisms include the use of civil or criminal legal actions, covert surveillance, overt censorship and financial threats (such as withdrawing state advertising), as well as more direct intimidation and threats.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

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