November 3, 2016

The Economist - Between the borders 20min

The myth around which the EU has grown is that ministers and their officials always planned gradually, but inexorably, to subordinate the nation state to a higher European order. In the words of Vaclav Klaus, a former prime minister of the Czech Republic, countries would “dissolve in Europe like a lump of sugar in a cup of coffee”. But although Monnet and some of those around him did indeed dream of a European superstate, the politicians who made use of their ideas did not. The pooling of sovereignty found in the treaties first of Paris and then of Rome—which created the European Economic Community in 1957—was designed to save the nation state, not bury it. Europe’s governments have jealously guarded their powers ever since. ... If one key aspect of Europe has stayed constant, another has come full circle. Monnet’s scheme was an answer to the problem of Germany: too large to co-exist as a first among equals, too small to dominate its neighbours without resort to force. It was, for a long time, a good answer. For 65 years Germany has been prepared to subsume itself in Europe and, in exchange, has been allowed to act as a full member of the Western alliance. Today, by dint of unification and EU enlargement as well as its mighty economy, Germany runs Europe. ... Nobody thinks Europe’s great power is about to take up arms. But what sort of union does it want? ... The EU was not predestined, but makeshift. In the frantic politics of the post-war world other Europes were possible. But the one that actually came into being has been oddly durable. The fretful union of today, dominated by governments that scrap and bicker and backslide, is not an aberration. It is how things began. ... Leaders rarely act without a crisis to spur them on, and as a result their remedies are often inadequate.

Texas Monthly - The Iconoclast 35min

The rise of immunotherapy hasn’t shifted that reality overnight, but it has sent a new jolt of energy into an age-old dream: that maybe, just maybe, medical science can turn terminal cancers into survivable conditions. ... In the past two years alone, the FDA has approved three second-generation checkpoint inhibitors, and two other arms of immunotherapy—cancer vaccines and a therapeutic approach known as adoptive T cell transfer, in which a patient’s own T cells are engineered outside the body and reinjected into the bloodstream—are showing ever-more-promising results. ... If immunotherapy leads the way to cancer cures in the coming decade, it’ll be tempting to look back on its development as inevitable, a breakthrough that was merely waiting for technology and biological research to make it possible. This would be true to some extent—scientists have hypothesized for over a century about the potential for the immune system to beat back tumors—but such a view would overlook the human choices and biases that shape the course of science. It would also overlook the power of small groups of individuals to spark major advances by bucking conventional wisdom and seeking out new frontiers. In other words, it would ignore the life of Jim Allison—a shaggy-haired, patchily bearded son of small-town South Texas whose creativity, diligence, and zest for pursuing a seemingly quixotic path far from the front lines of cancer research have added up to a revolution.

Bloomberg - tronc If You Want to Save Journalism 13min

Ferro, who declined to be interviewed for this story, began his career as an entrepreneur, launching companies in the 1980s and ’90s, including a software startup. By the time he met Fiasco, Ferro had long since transitioned from creating businesses to buying them—especially ones in financial trouble. And for an investor in distressed companies, few industries have targets as numerous and tempting as newspapers. ... The Ferro era at Tribune has quickly become one of the more baffling chapters in media history. Within eight months, Team Ferro has rejected one purchase offer, angering shareholders; promised to unveil a “content monetization engine” that would unleash newspapers’ true potential as a “rock star business”; posted a want ad for an employee to assist “news content harvesting robots”; rejected another, more lucrative purchase offer; rebranded Tribune as Tronc, or tronc, as the company insists; and split and re-rebranded tronc into troncM, for media, and troncX, for exchange. ... corporate renaming ignited extended spasms of #tronc mockery on social media. Sample tweet: “WHAT YOU GONNA DO WITH ALL THAT JONC ALL THAT JONC INSIDE YOUR TRONC.” ... yet, until recently, Ferro was on the verge of laughing all the way to the bonc, as it were. ... now the spotlight is back on Ferro and his vision for saving journalism.

Outside - What Happened to Eastern Airlines Flight 980? 24min

On New Year's Day in 1985, Eastern Air Lines Flight 980 was carrying 29 passengers and a hell of a lot of contraband when it crashed into the side of a 21,112-foot mountain in Bolivia. For decades conspiracy theories abounded as the wreckage remained inaccessible, the bodies unrecovered, the black box missing. Then two friends from Boston organized an expedition that would blow the case wide open. ... Mount Illimani, a 21,122-foot mass of rocks and glaciers rising from the eastern edge of Bolivia’s Altiplano region, towers over La Paz. The Andean mountain is so textured by ridgelines, high peaks, and shadows that, viewed from the city, it seems to move and change shape throughout the day. ... In all, at least five expeditions have climbed Illimani in search of the wreckage over the past 30 years. None of them found any bodies or flight recorders, nor could anybody establish what brought down the plane. Officially, it was designated a “controlled flight into terrain,” which means it couldn’t be blamed on a bird strike or an engine malfunction or hijackers. The NTSB ultimately filed its own report to supplement the Bolivian one, but it came to the same flat conclusion: the plane was destroyed because it ran into a mountain. ... As time passed, however, details emerged that invited speculation among South American journalists, the families of the victims, and anyone else still following the story. ... Where were the flight recorders? Where were the bodies? ... So here’s another question worth asking: What sort of foolhardy seeker suddenly takes an interest in a 30-year-old plane crash?

Eater - ‘Meat-Eater’s Mecca’: How the Brazilian Steakhouse Swept America 7min

The restaurant wasn't the first Brazilian steakhouse chain in the U.S. — Rodizio Grill, which debuted in 1995, takes credit for that — but it was Fogo de Chão's aggressive expansion that introduced Americans to a new way to eat meat — an unlimited way, so to speak. In the last 20 years, the "Brazilian steakhouse" category has grown and gathered even more chain concepts (besides Fogo de Chão and Rodizio Grill, there's the Dallas-based Texas de Brazil and Tucanos) which, together, have 92 units spread all over the U.S. And that's not to mention the independently owned Brazilian steakhouses that don't belong to chains. ... The Fogo de Chão story started in 1979, when brothers Arri and Jair Coser bought, with two partners (Aleixo and Jorge Ongaratto, also brothers), an old and rustic churrascaria (or "steakhouse") called Fogo de Chão in the city of Porto Alegre. The act of churrasco (Portuguese for "barbecue") is an integral part of Brazilian culture: More than a meal, it's a celebration, whether Brazilians are hanging out with friends during the hot weekends or celebrating a birthday or even a wedding. The appeal of churrascarias permeates the country. ... GP Investments, made its initial investment in Fogo de Chão in 2006. GP acquired the brand outright in 2011, then sold its shares to American private equity firm Thomas H. Lee Partners in 2012 for $400 million.