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Trial of the Decade Incoming
tuesday report #16 // daniel penny arrested for manslaughter as trial of the decade approaches, open-source ariel (grimes), war of words (literal), earnings up (investment down), altman in congress
Welcome back to the Tuesday Report, the Pirate Wires weekly digest. Every week we deliver a brief, lead story followed by a storm of fire links to catch you up on everything you need to know.
Nation demands action, promptly arrests man of action. It’s been two weeks since 24-year-old Daniel Penny restrained Jordan Neely in the middle of a dangerous mental episode, and inadvertently killed the man on a New York City subway car. It doesn’t matter that several other men assisted Penny. It doesn’t matter that multiple passengers have (allegedly) expressed support for Penny, or that no passengers have yet spoken in defense of Neely. It doesn’t even matter that Neely was arrested 42 times before he was restrained, or that he was a convicted felon with a history of brutal assault. Last week, on the premise Neely posed no threat to train passengers when he entered a train car and threatened passengers, New York City’s District Attorney Alvin Bragg decided to prosecute Penny for manslaughter. The former Marine was arraigned, and will appear in court again on July 17.
As the nation rapidly polarizes on the issue, with talking heads already immune to most of the (few) facts we actually know about the encounter, the Penny trial could very well shape our next election. To a certain extent, the shaping has already begun.
Amidst a storm of press and bi-partisan political grandstanding, from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez insisting Neely was “executed” for the crime of being “houseless” to DeSantis going all-in for Penny’s defense fund, Neely’s family has begun to speak through lawyers, demanding Penny be held accountable for his “crimes.” It remains unclear where the family finally found the courage to stand up and fight for the man they left to rot and starve in slums for years. But their message is resonating.
In a dramatic departure from earlier neutral reporting, and despite the furious rebuttal of their typically sheep-like comment section, the New York Times opened its coverage of the arraignment as follows:
“Daniel Penny, who while riding the subway last week choked Jordan Neely, a homeless man, to death, was arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court Friday on a charge of second-degree manslaughter…”
Elsewhere, a local ABC affiliate provided a great montage of New Yorkers who have taken to Neely’s defense (here, as with the Times piece, commenters fiercely and almost uniformly rejected the frame). Editors were careful to include insistence Neely should have been “housed,” not sheltered!, and taken care of by the city. The expectation here, presumably, is ‘there should be a law.’ But, as AliceInQueens astutely noted on Twitter, one of the most interesting elements of this story has been the revelation of how well-stocked with staff, resources, and legal support New York City’s social services actually appear to be. They also got a lot right.
The city was not only aware of Neely, but of the opinion he was dangerous. Neely was offered help hundreds of times, and often forced to take help, most recently after shattering the bones in an elderly woman’s face. After he broke his agreement and left a care facility, a warrant was even issued for his arrest. But following multiple run-ins with social service workers and the police, the warrant somehow never mattered. A couple weeks later, Neely was dead.
In keeping with the norms of iPhone culture, furious onlookers are mostly now reacting to tribal recreations of a story in which many vital details are still missing. We have yet to see a single interview with a train passenger, for example, or any footage or photos before the chokehold. Nonetheless, there is almost endless content available to support any one of several favorite versions of reality. Then, from all corners, there is the same demand as always: ‘won’t someone, somewhere, finally take action?’
I often imagine such petitions lobbied from subway cars, where nervous commuters keep their heads down just across from other crazy people left to scream and roam the streets like zombies. Sometimes, when violence breaks out, these commuters decide they are at least brave enough to film the chaos, if not do anything about it. But, cowardice aside, their position — ‘someone must take action!’ — is exactly right. Clearly, not even ample resources or the right policy are enough. Someone has to do something. In a properly functioning society, that would like our government. But the state is absent, so Penny took action himself. Today, he’s facing fifteen years in prison.
What an incentive.
THIS WEEK IN PIRATE WIRES
BASE REALITY: An Interview with Grimes — the most important artist of the AI era (though she disagrees with the characterization). Check out Solana’s absolute banger of a literary white pill here, and the full audio here. TOPICS: content utopia, technocracy vs. the artist class, Grimes’ clone, doomerism, simulation theory, Fermi’s paradox, the optimistic moral imperative, megastructures, the multiverse, a sacred conversation between artists and technologists, and “all the laws are on one side, all the poets are on the other.”
What Grimes Is Doing With AI, Explained. A previous issue of the White Pill detailed Grimes’s plans to license her AI-generated voice to anyone, in exchange for a 50/50 rev share of any royalties generated. It’s been about two weeks since her announcement, and the songs have started rolling in. Check out our roundup of the tracks here.
Chicago Serial Killer: Real or Sham? Did a vigilante TikTok influencer nearly take down an elusive group of serial killers who have terrorized American cities for decades? Did he fabricate a moral panic about non-existent murderers and use the wave of virality to promote his tech startup? Are these even the right questions to be asking in a world where disposable-by-design, short-form video content is king? Nick Russo takes on all these questions and more. (Pirate Wires)
Don’t Be a Bigot, It’s “Houseless” Now. With language changing faster than ever, our words have become a cultural and political battleground, and adopting the “correct” new terminology at precisely the right time has begun to determine one’s position in polite society. River catalogs some of the more incredible examples here. (Pirate Wires)
Tech sector outperforms earnings expectations, investors still concerned. The industry had a strong first quarter, though tech winter persists. (Bloomberg)
Microsoft Cloud Service may soon be target of EU antitrust probe (Bloomberg)
EU approves Microsoft-Activision deal (Axios)
Peloton plummets after recalling 2 million bikes (NYT)
Netflix to cut spending by $300 million (WSJ)
Tesla’s brake software implicated in China’s 1.1-million-car recall (WSJ)
Ex-ByteDance exec: CCP “maintained supreme access” to TikTok data (Axios)
UK judge: Mike Lynch duped HP into overpaying for software company. The “British Bill Gates” has been extradited to America. (WSJ)
“Live shopping” on the rise in US. Like bidding on eBay, except instead of six-year-olds spending $40 of their parents’ money on a rare Yugioh card, it’s twenty-somethings buying the slutty LuLuLemon top their favorite e-girl wore in her last Twitch stream. (NYT)
Movie on the rise of BlackBerry coming to a theater near you (Axios)
TWITTER: New CEO criticized by basically everyone. Last week, Elon announced Linda Yaccarino, Chairman of Advertising & Partnerships at NBC Universal, would assume the role of Bird Queen. While Yaccarino’s ads background indicates this is an important tactical hire, her association with the World Economic Forum has infuriated the populist right. Simultaneously, her association with former President Trump, and the fact that she follows a bunch of right-coded Twitter accounts, has infuriated the media left. Congratulations to people who like to be mad on the internet. (Twitter) (Twitter)
AMAZON: Contracted drivers/dispatchers picket Palmdale, CA warehouse. Two weeks ago, 84 employees of an Amazon Delivery Service Partner organized a union. On Wednesday, picket protests began. They want safer working conditions (e.g., lower temps in delivery vehicles) and higher wages (they make $19.75/hr but want $30). The outcome could send an important signal to Amazon’s 2,500 other delivery service partners. (Press Release) (The American Prospect)
MORE: 700 UK workers unionize (Bloomberg)
UNITED STATES: Programs established by the CHIPS Act, designed to spark advances in the domestic chip industry, now taking effect. The Commerce Department is soliciting grant applications from manufacturers looking to build chip packaging factories. A great, important direction for the country, but the sector lacks domestic suppliers and workers, so — as Solana predicted in American Hustle: Microchip Edition — it’s an uphill battle. (NYT)
MORE: Biden cybersecurity mandates proving burdensome for software companies (Axios)
Nadia Asparouhova on Silicon Valley’s elite civil war. A great read from the author of Working in Public on the philosophical schism between tech titans. On one hand, famous entrepreneurs and investors who’ve mostly aligned with “Davos” globalists in an effort to leverage multinational business alliances and steer the world toward peace and prosperity (or, in their opinion). On the other, an increasingly influential counter-elite that believes individual ambition is the key to a better future. Our two genders. (Tablet)
Sam Altman to testify before Congress. Today at 10 am ET. Solana will be live tweeting. (WaPo)
EU moves to restrict American AI development. An amended version of its AI Act would ban American tech companies from offering API access to generative AI systems. (Technomancers)
Impressive AI-generated Coca-Cola commercial (Twitter)
Wendy’s is testing an order-taking AI chatbot (Smithsonian Mag)
GOOGLE: unveils PaLM, a new and improved generative AI model. Investors are impressed, apparently, as the stock price rose so sharply this week Larry Page and Sergey Brin grew $17 billion richer. (Axios) (Bloomberg)
MORE: Google opposes treating AI as inventor under U.S. patent law (Axios)
MORE: Google I/O 2023 off to a hot start (Twitter)
MORE: Google to start providing AI-generated search query answers (WaPo)
Softbank sells stake in Alibaba, shifts focus to AI. The Japanese firm is gearing up for an IPO of Arm, a British chip designer with strong inroads in the AI sector, which could fetch as much as $10 billion. (WSJ) (Bloomberg)
AI sugarbaby. Snapchat influencer Caryn Marjorie has used OpenAI to digitally clone herself. She calls it CarynAI, and it’s a voice-based chatbot trained on thousands of hours of her speech. Marjorie has offered CarynAI up as a digital girlfriend for the masses — for a price. More than 1,000 people are paying $1 per minute to talk CarynAI for anywhere from 10 minutes to several hours per day. She tapped AI-company Forever Voices to train the chatbot. After just a week, it has already earned $70k in revenue. (Fortune)
DURHAM REPORT: Special Counsel John Durham concludes the FBI never should have opened the Trump-Russia probe. Seven years after America’s most powerful cable news networks started flooding the airwaves 24/7 with credulous talk of Trump’s possible collusion with Russia, a comprehensive investigation has determined what many suspected all along: that the entire spectacle was a farce. After conducting 480 interviews, issuing 190 subpoenas, and reviewing six million pages of documents, Durham released his findings: the FBI rushed to investigate Trump without having any substantive evidence of collusion with Russia, and it never bothered to corroborate the Steele Dossier, which it used to obtain a FISA warrant. (CNN)
MEN WHO WANT TO BE THE PRESIDENT: Newsom declines to endorse his own task force’s recommendations on reparations. The special council of quacks and crazy people proposed up to $1.2 million in cash payments for every Californian descended from slaves. California was never a slave state. (NY Post)
Trump liable for sexual abuse, defamation. Jurors concluded he “more likely than not” used physical force to make sexual contact with E. Jean Carroll nearly three decades ago in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room. He was ordered to pay her $5 million. The next day, Trump appeared before an audience of millions live on CNN. (NYT) (Twitter)
Presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy wants to make minimum voting age 25. With exceptions for those 18-24 who have either done significant public service, or can pass a basic civics exam. (NY Post)
DeSantis signs bill mandating AAPI history in Florida school curriculum. Given the left’s open contempt for Asian Americans’ disproportionate success, it appears right wing operatives have spotted an opportunity to expand the Republican base. (Yahoo)
DeSantis signs bill cracking down on illegal immigration. With a federal immigration law set to expire soon, analysts expect a wave of migrants. In anticipation, DeSantis signed the self-proclaimed “strongest anti-illegal immigration legislation in the country.” Among the bill’s provisions: businesses with 25+ employees must E-Verify immigration status, hospitals must ask about patient immigration status, tougher penalties for migrant smuggling, DNA sampling in federal immigrant detainment centers, and extra funding set aside for transporting illegal immigrants out-of-state. (CBS News) (Press Release)
RELATED: Are Texas House Republicans creating a “vigilante immigrant death squad”? According to former Democratic presidential nominee Julian Castro’s senior advisor, yes. What’s actually happening: the bill would grant state law enforcement broader authority to send illegal immigrants back to Mexico. It would create a “Border Protection Unit” authorized to use non-deadly force to arrest and detain illegal immigrants. The unit could employ civilians who, with approval from the governor, could make arrests, and would be shielded from civil and criminal liability for authorized actions. (Texas Tribune)
NEW MEDIA DEATH SPIRAL: VICE files for bankruptcy. Once valued at close to $6 billion, a sale of the company on the order of $225 million is likely imminent. George Soros appears to be buying. (VICE)
MORE: MTV News is dead (Hollywood Reporter)
MORE: Austin Russell, CEO of Luminar Technologies, to acquire Forbes (Axios)
MORE: Former BuzzFeed head Ben Smith: “You could feel the moment coming to an end” (Yahoo)
Tucker’s back. He posted a video to Twitter promising the return of a show similar to his recently deceased Fox News nightly, now native to Twitter. If his first video is any indication, his reach will be massive: at the time of this writing, it had over 129 million views. Elon denies Twitter has made any contractual agreement with Tucker. (Twitter) (Twitter)
GENDER WARS: Missouri bans gender transition for minors, trans athletes from female sports. Puberty blockers, hormones, and sex reassignment surgery are, as of Wednesday, poised to become illegal medical treatments for minors in Missouri. Trans athletes will also be banned from girls’ and women’s sports teams from kindergarten through college, at both public and private schools. The governor is expected to sign both bills. Kansas City is preparing to disobey the former bill, and become a “sanctuary city for gender-affirming care.” (ABC News)
US delayed China sanctions for fear of harming diplomatic relations. After we shot down the spy balloon, a State Department official sent an email to staffers: “Guidance from S [Secretary of State] is to push non-balloon actions to the right so we can focus on symmetric and calibrated response. We can revisit other actions in a few weeks.” How prudent to postpone sanctioning an authoritarian regime for human rights abuses against an ethnic minority in the interest of symmetry! A day after Reuters dropped this story, the State Department official in question resigned. (Reuters) (Twitter)
Biden’s “rip and replace” policy for Chinese wireless carrier equipment getting costly. Countrywide, telecom equipment crews have been tearing out Huawei/ZTE wireless carrier components, and installing non-Chinese parts. Costs have already exceeded $5 billion — more than double expectations. (NYT)
China pushing to “de-Americanize” its chip industry. As the Biden Administration has escalated our trade war with China, our premier economic and geopolitical rival has taken steps to assert its chip manufacturing independence. Short term, this could be a win for the U.S., as China is lacking in the technological sophistication needed to make chips for cutting edge AI and aerospace applications. (NYT)
The FBI took down Russia’s “most sophisticated” cyber-espionage tool. Russian intelligence services had long used the malware network to spy on computers worldwide. (NYT)
Russia fines Google for failing to remove LGBT, Ukraine war content (WSJ)
Notorious Russian cybercriminals involved in Dallas ransomware attacks (Axios)
“You think you just fell out of a coconut tree? Hahaha. You exist in the context… of all in which you live, and what came before you.” — Madame Vice President Kamala Harris, in a recent speech about God knows what (Twitter)
Diva Down: Representative George Santos arrested. The 13-count indictment includes charges for money laundering, unemployment fraud, defrauding donors, and lying to congress among others. (Reuters)
RFK Jr. tells Fox News his father suspected CIA involvement in JFK Assassination. The Presidential candidate told Hannity the elder RFK’s first call after learning of his brother’s death was to the CIA where he asked, “Did your people do this?” (Twitter)
The Return of Queen D. Our eldest statesmxn, Senator Diane Feinstein, is back in action! And looking… like an 89-year-old woman in neurological decline who just fended off a case of shingles. Observing the facially absurd reality of her continued service is apparently very mean, however, so please keep your concerns to yourself. (Substack) (Substack)
Larry Page, facing Epstein-related lawsuit, goes missing! Kind of. The Virgin Islands government has made “good faith efforts” to serve Page a subpoena in-person, but says the four addresses it has identified as potential residences are all invalid. (Newsweek)
Mr. Beast Derangement Syndrome is real, and it’s deadly. “Mr. Beast has been buying up an entire neighborhood in North Carolina for his family, friends, and employees,” says a headline for a story about a guy who bought five houses on one cul-de-sac. (Yahoo)
Feds charge YouTuber who crashed plane on purpose for clicks. The YouTuber flew solo over a remote patch of mountains. Then he jumped out. Then he cleaned up the crash debris to evade authorities. Now he’s probably going to jail. Very cool guy, frankly. (CNN) (Twitter)
Ending racism with VR role-play video games. We all but declared the metaverse dead. Then we realized it could destroy white supremacy once and for all. (Axios)
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