News 11.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 11.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 11.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
Cy Twombly, Letter of Resignation, 1991 / via @brendahashtag
News 11.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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Vibes has become a ubiquitous word in the past half decade, one many people now reach for when describing the distinct emotion given off by a place, or a thing. It is the prevailing shorthand for a cultural atmosphere, mood, and zeitgeist.

Vibe talk has also entered politics. In this magazine in 2021, Derek Thompson invited readers to think of politics as a “vibes war.” This spring, again in these pages, David A. Graham argued that John Fetterman won the Democratic Senate primary for Pennsylvania less on policy than “on vibes.” And Rolling Stone pronounced that Fetterman was “neither centrist nor a progressive. He’s a vibe.”

To the political commentator Will Stancil, “‘vibes’ is the idea that politics is rooted in and governed by mass psychology, which makes political behavior intrinsically difficult (and sometimes impossible) to model as a series of quantifiable inputs and predictable outputs, the approach favored by econometrically-inclined disciplines.”

In place of data, vibe-talk promises instead to capture deeper emotional currents. What interests me about this form of analysis is that it is a rejection of analysis itself. It’s a way of saying: Numbers lie, and emotion always lurks beneath the surface, so let’s stop pretending. It expresses the suspicion that dry objectivity is never quite sufficient.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

News 11.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 11.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

A leaked trove of confidential files has revealed the inside story of how the tech giant Uber flouted laws, duped police, exploited violence against drivers and secretly lobbied governments during its aggressive global expansion.

The unprecedented leak to the Guardian of more than 124,000 documents – known as the Uber files – lays bare the ethically questionable practices that fuelled the company’s transformation into one of Silicon Valley’s most famous exports.

The leak spans a five-year period when Uber was run by its co-founder Travis Kalanick, who tried to force the cab-hailing service into cities around the world, even if that meant breaching laws and taxi regulations.

During the fierce global backlash, the data shows how Uber tried to shore up support by discreetly courting prime ministers, presidents, billionaires, oligarchs and media barons.

Leaked messages suggest Uber executives were at the same time under no illusions about the company’s law-breaking, with one executive joking they had become “pirates” and another conceding: “We’re just fucking illegal.”

On Monday, Mark MacGann, Uber’s former chief lobbyist for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, came forward to identify himself as the source of the leaked data. “It is my duty to speak up and help governments and parliamentarians right some fundamental wrongs,” he said. “Morally, I had no choice in the matter.”

The cache of files, which span 2013 to 2017, includes more than 83,000 emails, iMessages and WhatsApp messages, including often frank and unvarnished communications between Kalanick and his top team of executives.

In one exchange, Kalanick dismissed concerns from other executives that sending Uber drivers to a protest in France put them at risk of violence from angry opponents in the taxi industry. “I think it’s worth it,” he shot back. “Violence guarantee[s] success.”

In a statement, Kalanick’s spokesperson said he “never suggested that Uber should take advantage of violence at the expense of driver safety” and any suggestion he was involved in such activity would be completely false.

The leak also contains texts between Kalanick and Emmanuel Macron, who secretly helped the company in France when he was economy minister, allowing Uber frequent and direct access to him and his staff.

Macron, the French president, appears to have gone to extraordinary lengths to help Uber, even telling the company he had brokered a secret “deal” with its opponents in the French cabinet.

Privately, Uber executives expressed barely disguised disdain for other elected officials who were less receptive to the company’s business model.

After the German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, who was mayor of Hamburg at the time, pushed back against Uber lobbyists and insisted on paying drivers a minimum wage, an executive told colleagues he was “a real comedian”.

When the then US vice-president, Joe Biden, a supporter of Uber at the time, was late to a meeting with the company at the World Economic Forum at Davos, Kalanick texted a colleague: “I’ve had my people let him know that every minute late he is, is one less minute he will have with me.”

After meeting Kalanick, Biden appears to have amended his prepared speech at Davos to refer to a CEO whose company would give millions of workers “freedom to work as many hours as they wish, manage their own lives as they wish”.

The Guardian led a global investigation into the leaked Uber files, sharing the data with media organisations around the world via the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). More than 180 journalists at 40 media outlets including Le Monde, Washington Post and the BBC will in the coming days publish a series of investigative reports about the tech giant.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

“I just got back from Miami,” the Los Angeles attorney Laura Wasser said the other day, as she led me into the offices of her firm, Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles, in Century City. Her long brown hair, worn girlishly loose down her back, twinkled with several strands of tinsel, an adornment that, she explained, had been given to her by her goddaughter during her trip. “All the kids are doing it,” Wasser said. “My friend was like, ‘Don’t you have a photo shoot when you get back? Wow, you really don’t give a fuck!’ ”

Wasser, who is fifty-four, is one of the highest-profile divorce lawyers in the country. She has represented some of the biggest celebrities of the past generation: Britney Spears during her split with Kevin Federline, Angelina Jolie during her divorce from Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp during his divorce from Amber Heard, and Kim Kardashian during her divorce from Kanye West, among them. The gossip Web site TMZ has dubbed her “the disso queen” for her facility in dissolving the unions of the rich and famous, and she is often featured on that site and on others like it, in conjunction with the relationship travails of her clients. (She begins every morning, she told me, by reading the Daily Mail, “where I get all my news.”) As managing partner at her firm—which was established by her father, Dennis Wasser, also a divorce lawyer—she is currently overseeing about a hundred cases. Wasser, Cooperman & Mandles’ offices were featured in Noah Baumbach’s 2019 divorce drama, “Marriage Story,” and Wasser was reportedly an inspiration for Laura Dern’s character in the movie, a kittenish attorney with a killer instinct.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

News 11.07.22 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


I’ve long been hesitant to write about BTS. When reporting on South Korea, I resisted the expected topics: Korean skin care, plastic surgery, dogmeat, and, yes, K-pop. I absorbed Western critiques of K-pop’s girl and boy bands: that they’re fluffy, manufactured, and exploitative of their members—as if the same weren’t true of New Kids on the Block. But, earlier this year, BTS became inescapable. The group was everywhere, and everyone seemed to be into them. To continue ignoring the BTS phenomenon was to risk missing something bigger than Beatlemania.

I first glimpsed the swell of hallyu, the Korean wave, a decade ago. In the winter of 2012, I was writing a story about Latina day laborers in Brooklyn who cleaned Hasidic homes before the Sabbath—when women’s work accumulated to the point where outsourcing became necessary. I had heard that many employers paid low wages or didn’t pay at all; some workers reported verbal abuse and sexual harassment. Standing among the women on a street corner in a black puffy coat, I tried to make conversation in my terrible Spanish. One morning, a worker approached me and asked, apropos of nothing, if I was Korean—not “Chinese or Japanese?” This precision was new. When I said yes, she beamed. “My daughter—she loves Korea,” she said. “She loves K-pop.”

The woman took out her phone and had me speak with her daughter, Karina, a young mother and deli worker in New York. Karina wanted to learn Korean so she could better understand the lyrics of boy bands such as Super Junior and SHINee. I agreed to teach her, and, in exchange, she agreed to be my interpreter. We established a semiweekly routine: meet in the morning to interview day laborers, then study Hangul at a nearby library. Karina practiced writing the alphabet, ㄱ ㄴ ㄷ . . ., and pronouncing basic phrases. She read Bruce Cumings’s “Korea’s Place in the Sun: A Modern History,” and composed a report that gushed about King Sejong and his invention of the Korean script. “I myself find it to be a beautiful language,” she wrote. “When you hear the words being spoken, it sounds as if it’s a melody.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New Yorker

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The Next Fight Over Guns in America

This morning, the Supreme Court struck down a New York State law that limited concealed-firearm permits to those with a demonstrated need to carry arms outside the home. Justice Clarence Thomas, writing for the 6–3 majority in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association Inc. v. Bruen, said, “The Second and Fourteenth Amendments protect an individual’s right to carry a handgun for self-defense outside the home.” Bruen thus opens one of the next major battlegrounds over guns in America: not who can buy guns or what guns can be bought but where these firearms can be carried, every day, by the millions and millions of Americans who own them.

This question will have major implications for what it’s like to be an American. Are people carrying guns at schools and shopping malls and public parks? What about at churches and synagogues and mosques? What is it like to pray in places where fellow supplicants are armed? Courts and legislatures will have to decide whether people can carry guns at protests and political demonstrations, in voting booths, on the subway and bus, and in pretty much every other public space in American life. The Supreme Court spent several decades determining where in the public square—streets, sidewalks, airports, fairgrounds, public libraries, public plazas—speakers have a First Amendment right to communicate. The Court’s answer—not in every place, and not equally in all places—is probably a harbinger for how the justices will determine the “sensitive places” where firearms can be restricted.

After all, something must be done to stem the flow of weapons into all parts of the public square. Even with the staggering frequency of mass shootings in our country, the Supreme Court in Bruen has now limited states’ discretion in regulating guns. New research by the Violence Project on mass shootings from 1966 to 2019, funded by the National Institute of Justice, finds that more than three-fourths of mass shooters bought “at least some of their guns legally.” If states can no longer use discretion to limit the number of people and places with guns at the permitting stage, identifying “sensitive places” will become an important means of restricting the presence of firearms in the public square.

Most states already have robust public-carry rights. But tellingly, state laws in both red and blue states are also chock-full of bans on public carry in a host of locations. They include public transit, polling places, areas near permitted events, athletic facilities, public swimming pools, riverboat casinos, school-bus stops, pharmacies, business parking lots, public highways, amusement parks, zoos, liquor stores, airports, parades, demonstrations, financial institutions, theaters, hotel lobbies, tribal lands, and even gun shows. Discovering commonalities across such a variety of locations is difficult. But it is possible to identify the core safety, functional, and constitutional-value concerns that have long justified treating some places as “sensitive” for purposes of public carry.

Nearly 15 years ago, the Court indicated that public carry of firearms could be restricted or even banned in at least some places. In District of Columbia v. Heller, which recognized an individual right to keep and bear arms for self-defense, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that nothing in his majority opinion should “cast doubt” on “laws forbidding the carrying of firearms in sensitive places such as schools and government buildings.” These “longstanding” restrictions, the Court held, are “presumptively lawful.” Such wording raised more questions than it answered. What makes these places “sensitive”? And what about all the other public and private places where people engage in worship, commerce, and other activities—are any, or all, of these places “sensitive”? This question was very much on the justices’ mind during the oral argument in Bruen. They asked about public-carry rights in Times Square, on the New York City subway, at public demonstrations, and on university campuses.

Read the rest of this article at: The Atlantic

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