News 12.21.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 12.21.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.21.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 12.21.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

SINGAPORE — Back in August, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with a group of economists in Beijing. “In the coming period, we will face more and more headwinds,” he explained, using unusually blunt language. Without naming names, Xi talked about China’s worsening trade and technology war with the United States under President Donald Trump, set against a backdrop of growing certainty in Beijing that America is bent on containing his nation’s geopolitical rise.

But then came the interesting part. “Since the beginning of this year, I have said on many occasions that we must promote the formation of a new development pattern, in which domestic and international cycles are the mainstay, and the domestic and international dual cycles promote each other,” Xi said. To an outsider, this might seem unremarkable, cloaked as it is in the elliptical phraseology that often marks Chinese economic ideas. But the “dual circulation” strategy Xi outlined actually represents a radical new understanding of globalization and of China’s place within it.

Read the rest of this article at: Noema

News 12.21.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 12.21.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Almost every weekday for six years, Christie Smythe took the F train from Park Slope downtown to her desk at Brooklyn’s federal court, in a pressroom hidden on the far side of a snack bar. Smythe, who covered white-collar crime for Bloomberg News, wore mostly black and gray, and usually skipped makeup. She and her husband, who worked in finance, spent their free time cooking, walking Smythe’s rescue dog, and going on literary pub crawls. “We had the perfect little Brooklyn life,” Smythe says.

Then she chucked it all.

Over the course of nine months, beginning in July 2018, Smythe quit her job, moved out of the apartment, and divorced her husband. What could cause the sensible Smythe to turn her life upside down? She fell in love with a defendant whose case she not only covered, but broke the news of his arrest. It was a scoop that ignited the Internet, because her love interest, now life partner, is not just any defendant, but Martin Shkreli: the so-called “Pharma Bro” and online provocateur, who increased the price of a lifesaving drug by 5,000 percent overnight and made headlines for buying a one-off Wu-Tang Clan album for a reported $2 million. Shkreli, convicted of fraud in 2017, is now serving seven years in prison.

“I fell down the rabbit hole,” Smythe tells me, sitting in her bright basement apartment in Harlem, speaking publicly about her romance with Shkreli for the first time. The relationship has made her completely rethink her earlier work covering the courts, and as she looks back on all of the little decisions she made that caused this giant break in her life, she says she has no regrets: “I’m happy here. I feel like I have purpose.”

Read the rest of this article at: Elle


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2020 was such a terrible, bad, no-good year that even complaining about it got old. A pandemic knocked the world to its knees, killing 1.6 million people so far and leaving untold suffering in its wake. Social distancing kept us inside, away from our friends and loved ones. Businesses shut their doors. Economic inequality grew.

Still, not everything was bad.

It’s been a very good year for bread, hand sanitizer, and pets. Also, greenhouse gas emissions declined in the United States. Earlier in the pandemic — back when people still made jokes — we joked that nature was healing itself.

Here’s a roundup of some of the most important 2020 trends, in charts. Twenty of them!

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

News 12.21.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 12.21.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. — On Thursday evening, I sat in the lobby of a Marriott hotel in Terre Haute, Ind., as Shawn Nolan and Victor Abreu tried to save a man’s life. Both wore bluejeans, button-down shirts and a day or more of scruff — Mr. Nolan’s salt-and-pepper, Mr. Abreu’s black. We shared a bottle of red wine in plastic cups as the two men, public defenders whose caseloads are strictly death penalty appeals, discussed the merits of pleading with the Supreme Court for a stay of execution.

“Days of life matter,” Mr. Nolan had reflected as we spoke earlier that afternoon.

Their work, never light, had recently increased. After a 17-year hiatus, the Department of Justice had resumed federal executions in July, wedging 10 deaths into the latter half of the final year of President Trump’s term. Two of those inmates were their clients.

Mr. Nolan and Mr. Abreu debated whether it would be worthwhile to bring a procedural claim before the court for their client Alfred Bourgeois, who was scheduled to die in less than 24 hours, at 6 p.m. on Friday.

Mr. Nolan’s office already had litigation pending over whether lower courts had fairly considered Mr. Bourgeois’s intellectual deficit. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit had denied their claim that judges had discounted Mr. Bourgeois’s disability based on standards that have been superseded by diagnostic criteria from organizations like the American Psychiatric Association. Since the Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot execute someone deemed intellectually disabled, the question of whether Mr. Bourgeois’s diagnosis had been given due consideration was crucial.

With that still on the Supreme Court’s docket, Mr. Nolan felt reluctant to submit a second petition, claiming the law required more time between the scheduling of Mr. Bourgeois’s execution and the killing itself. The court had already rejected similar claims, he said, and a rejection of that claim might make the justices take their other filing less seriously.

Mr. Abreu paced, took a call from a colleague, then sat again, contemplative.

“I’ve known Alfred for 15 years, almost,” he said. “I know as much about his life as any other person in the world does. And I care about him … as much as any other person in the world.”

As the lawyers conferred, the blue light of Mr. Abreu’s phone suddenly lit his face. The Supreme Court had denied Brandon Bernard’s request for a stay of execution. And despite a clemency campaign by celebrities like Kim Kardashian West, jurors from Mr. Bernard’s trial and a prosecutor who helped secure his sentence, President Trump had refused to intervene.

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

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News 12.21.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When it came time to relocate from near D.C. to the New York tristate area, Fareed Hayat thought, I’m certainly going to Brooklyn. It was the summer of 2017. He and his wife, Norrinda Brown Hayat, had both gotten new jobs — he would be teaching criminal law at CUNY, and she had taken a position as the director of the Civil Justice Clinic at Rutgers — and Fareed had dreams of brownstones fueled by a viewing of Spike Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It reboot on Netflix. They considered whether the city could be a suitable substitute for their suburban existence in Maryland, but while looking at homes with their two young sons, the eldest, Kingston, kept asking questions like “Where is the other floor to the house?” and “Are all of the houses just on top of each other?” “He was so extra,” Fareed said.

A few of Norrinda’s new colleagues lived in Montclair, New Jersey, and suggested she look there. Here’s the brochure copy: Only 40 minutes from New York by train. Not suburban, but “urban suburban.” An art museum there recently hosted a Kara Walker exhibit. Stephen Colbert is on the board of the annual film festival and still lives in town. Oh, and did you hear the rumor about the swinger parties? Parts of it are very affluent — Upper Montclair has been ranked as the wealthiest community in New Jersey. It leans heavily Democratic and has great restaurants, great public schools, a young Black mayor, and a really cute pie shop. And the kicker: Montclair is 24 percent Black.

Well, technically, the latest Census estimate has it at 22.3 percent Black, but ask a real-estate agent, a town resident, and a politician what’s unique about Montclair and eventually they’ll all trot out that 24 percent figure. For Montclair, diversity is a matter of local pride. New Yorkers could move there and find they wouldn’t have to sacrifice the reasons they had chosen to live in a city in the first place. In 2019, the New York Post wrote, “Montclair is the only suburb true New Yorkers will even consider.” Brooklynites move there with such regularity it has been called “Park Slope with backyards,” along with other epithets that are equally insufferable. To set a Zillow alert to Montclair (versus, say, Glen Ridge, a nearby suburb with comparable median property values but a significantly more homogeneous, white population) is to actively choose diversity and progressiveness in addition to that manicured lawn and the driveway with space for two cars. It is choosing to adopt what some residents half-jokingly call the “Kumbaya” Montclair mentality.

Read the rest of this article at: The Cut

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