Released every Sunday, The Five is a weekly roundup (of sorts) of the political landscape in the United States. It is a compliment to The Weekly Column and The Two Minute Drill and includes Good Reads (the five best articles we’ve read all week) and By the Numbers (a weekly digest of the telling numbers inside the news). Thanks for reading!
This is The Five for the week of August 1 – August 7, 2016.
GOOD READS: The Five Best Articles We’ve Read All Week.
1) The Five Ring Circus
“Brazil, in important ways, is more representative of the world than any other country. It has been, in recent decades, among the most unequal countries in the world. If you combine all of the world’s people together and measure inequalities of wealth, you get an even higher level of inequality than exists in any single nation. Still, it is Brazil’s profile that comes the closest to matching the global situation: a small, wealthy, and dominant upper class, a modest middle class, and a poor majority that struggles for both income and effective rights.” From Patrick Iber in New Republic: Brazil’s Billionaire Problem.
2) A Pillar of Desalination
“We are standing above the new Sorek desalination plant, the largest reverse-osmosis desal facility in the world, and we are staring at Israel’s salvation. Just a few years ago, in the depths of its worst drought in at least 900 years, Israel was running out of water. Now it has a surplus.” From Rowan Jacobsen in Scientific American: Israel Proves the Desalination Era Is Here.
3) The Secret Life of Oil
“As the price of oil rose earlier this decade, this capital city did as well. Glass skyscrapers soared above the rubble of a 27-year civil war. American pop stars such as Mariah Carey were flown in to play private concerts. Luanda would become, its government announced, ‘a new Dubai.’ But as oil prices have crashed, the impact on one of Africa’s richest and most unequal countries has been devastating. The same officials who boasted of Luanda’s sparkling ascent are asking for billions of dollars in loans. Thousands of people are dying of preventable illnesses, and the nation’s hospitals are out of medicine. A bag of rice can now cost five times what it did a year ago.” From Kevin Sieff in The Washington Post: An Oil Boom Made It the Most Expensive City in the World. Now It’s in Crisis.
4) From Russia With Love
“The fellow-feeling between the two is complex, but it is not hard to see who gets the better of whom. Trump sees strength and cynicism in Putin and hopes to emulate him. Putin sees in Trump a grand opportunity. He sees in Trump weakness and ignorance, a confused mind. He has every hope of exploiting him.” From David Remnick in The New Yorker: Trump and Putin: A Love Story.
5) Most Popular Voting Bloc
“‘We think of the left-behind groups as extinct,’ Isenberg writes, ‘and the present as a time of advanced thought and sensibility. But today’s trailer trash are merely yesterday’s vagrants on wheels, an updated version of Okies in jalopies and Florida crackers in their carts. They are renamed often, but they do not disappear.'” From Alec MacGillis in The Atlantic: The Original Underclass.
BY THE NUMBERS: Five Telling Numbers Tucked Inside the News.
1 attorney. Michael Barrett, the director of Missouri’s public defender system, assigned a case to a prominent Missouri attorney, Gov. Jay Nixon. Barrett said the state’s public defender system is ranked 49th in the U.S., and argued that the reason for the low raking is that Gov. Nixon has repeatedly cut its budget, leaving him unable to hire enough attorneys for the department to do its job. Section 600.042.5 of Missouri’s state code permits him to select any member of the Missouri bar to defend a case if the need arises. Point made. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
27.4 gallons. That’s the amount of bottled water each American will drink in 2016, according to Euromonitor, marking the first time that bottled water will be more popular than soda. Why is this happening? The biggest bottled-water companies – Nestle Waters, Coca-Cola Co., PepsiCo Inc., and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group – say its not just because their products are calorie-free and portable, but also because of crumbling infrastructure in the U.S. [Bloomberg]
30 to 40. Approximate number of capybara who reside inside the Rio Olympic golf course perimeter. The 150-pound rodents are native to South America, and are part of a “veritable Noah’s Ark of Brazilian wildlife” on the course. Also residing on the links: sloths, boa constrictors, micro monkeys and burrowing owls. [SF Gate]
47 percent. Opposites detract. Percent of Hillary Clinton supporters who say they have no close friends who support Donald Trump. For Trump voters, that figure was 31 percent. [Pew Research Center]
5 tech companies. For the first time in history, the five largest companies by market value, at the close of business last Monday, were all tech companies: Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook. [Bloomberg]
If you read an interesting story or see a significant number in the wild, send it to [email protected].