Welcome to Issue 38.4 of Digestable, your daily mouthful of real things happening in the world, minus alarmist pandemic news.
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Today’s news, fermented:
Let’s begin with updates about two of my favorite people to hate.
The first—Jeff Bezos has been put on notice by 400 politicians around the world, demanding that he raise wages and pay more taxes. It’s unclear if this will yield results, but maybe politicians beyond this group of 400 will have to reckon with the fact that generally, if electeds want to wield power, they pass laws, instead of sending letters. Might we want to regulate this so-called free market?
The second—Elon Musk’s SpaceX Starship has exploded while attempting to land after a test flight. The image this brings to mind is a little kid playing with toys and making weapon sounds, which is how I think Elon might see himself, but the toys are rare earth minerals and the sounds are his exploding spacecraft.
And now for some much-needed good news: New York State has decided to divest its $226 billion dollar pension fund from fossil fuels. It’s the third-largest pension fund in the country. This is a victory for organizers on the ground who have been fighting for divestment for years against a centrist government that until now, hasn’t been ready to take the plunge.
The pledge to divest is also accompanied by a plan to decarbonize the fund entirely by 2040. It’s unclear what exactly this means—and commitments that balance the equivalent of carbon budget sheets often don’t yield meaningful impact for those on the front lines of the climate crisis—but all investment is interconnected. So, when fewer institutions invest in fossil fuels (and thus also divest their confidence in the value of that investment), it puts pressure on other institutions to do the same, because nobody wants to get left with a pile of worthless Exxon stock.
It fills me with joy to think we can look back on 2020 as the death knell for the fossil fuel industry. This has been an impossible year full of loss, so we must celebrate what we can. We’ve all got our defenses up—but probably not as much as these bees, who use an elaborate strategy of ‘decorating’ their homes with animal feces to scare away predators.
Brought to you by the superb Latifah Azlan.
One of the biggest scandals to rock Hollywood in recent years was the involvement of stars Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin in a nationwide college admissions scandal and criminal conspiracy that saw many wealthy people being indicted on bribery and fraud charges over their attempts to influence undergraduate admissions at top American universities around the country. Felicity Huffman pleaded guilty to a single count of conspiracy to commit mail fraud over accusations that she was buying better SAT scores for her daughter so that she could enroll in a prestigious university. She did the smart thing, kept her head down, served her sentence, paid her fine, and has laid low ever since. We can debate the justness of the American justice system all we want, but that's not what this column is for. I say Felicity did the smart thing because she may have taken a hit PR-wise when she was first charged and sentenced, but she'll no doubt find it easier to reintegrate back into Hollywood's good graces give or take a few years from now. And that's because she's kept mum about the whole affair instead of trying to insist on her innocence or play some relatability card over a concerned parent wanting the best for her children.
Lori Loughlin on the other hand did the complete opposite thing by refusing to admit her guilt, then tried to play up the concerned parent angle, before playing up the religious awakening angle, and all the while leaking stories to her people of how much of a torture the whole ordeal for her has been, before finally realizing that the smart thing to do would be to just enter a guilty plea and stop talking. Lori Laughlin (and her husband), by the way, actually bribed officials at the University of Southern California to enroll her daughter, Olivia Jade Giannulli, at the school as a member of the rowing team. Complete with photos of her fake working out at the gym.
So anyway, the story today here is the fact that Olivia has decided to launch her apology tour with an appearance on Red Table Talk, the online talk show hosted by Jada Pinkett Smith, Willow Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris (Jada's mom). I'm not quite sure what possessed Olivia to do this but i can't think of anyone who was clamoring for her to speak on the college admissions scandal, especially as she was implicated in these crimes. Although to be fair, she was also (just) a child who may not have fully understood what her parents were doing at the time. And in the interview, Olivia says that she didn't even want to go to college, going along with the plot simply because her parents pretty much made her do it and was hyperfocused on making Olivia get into a good school. At the time, Olivia wanted to focus on growing her career as an "influencer" (lol), which her parents were pretty much against. And I can empathize with that to a certain extent -- college isn't for everyone and parents can be hard to reason with.
But also... girl, you posed for those fake photos and knew to a certain extent that what you did was fraudulent. So I guess that's why Olivia is saying a lot of the "right things" during this interview: to convince us that she's truly sorry for what she has done and what has happened. She talks a lot about her privilege and how she doesn't want pity from people, which I can assure you has not been an issue, babe. And in any case, she didn't even directly apologize for her wrongdoing and was even nonchalant about her parents going to prison, something she described as a "good learning experience for them." I snickered.