Journal 131 — a long jumping prodigy, Trump’s money, world chess, a scandal at an Iowa dairy farm, & an unprecedented hack of technology infrastructure

Luvo Manyonga, long jumper

This week — a South African long jumping prodigy, Trump’s money, the politics of world chess, and a political scandal brewing at an Iowa dairy farm.

If you only read one thing — Bloomberg’s huge story on an unprecedented hack of US state and corporate technology infrastructure is worth the time.


The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies | Bloomberg Businessweek | Technology

This one could run and run. Of all the forms of cyber warfare, hacking the hardware (i.e physical machines), is perhaps the hardest to pull off. It also has the potential to be the most damaging. The story alleges that cloud servers owned by Super Micro, a big player in the tech infrastructure industry, contained tiny processors that could enable back door access to devices, programmes or networks that used them. Super Micro clients have included Amazon, Apple and numerous other blue chips, as well as several branches of the Federal government. The organisation that is alleged to have perpetrated the hack — the People’s Liberation Army of China.

The Long Shots | The Atavist | Sport

The story of Luvo Manyonga, a hugely gifted South African long jumper, and also a one time user of tik, a local variant of crystal methamphetamine. The story looks at his life and career and the lives of the people who saw his potential and sought to help him.

Trump Engaged in Suspect Tax Schemes as He Reaped Riches From His Father | The New York Times | Politics

The result of months of investigative work, this story examines Donald Trump’s finances and tax arrangements in detail. In doing so, it kills off one of the key Trump myths — that he was self-made, and it suggests that the family’s approach to tax was highly creative.

Devin Nunes’s Family Farm Is Hiding a Politically Explosive Secret | Esquire | Politics

Devin Nunes is amongst President Trump’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders in Congress, so his family running a large scale dairy in Iowa employing undocumented workers would be politically inconvenient. The investigative aspect of the story is gripping — featuring uncomfortable interactions with Nunes family members, chance meetings in the local cafe, sit downs with the mayor and the priest, and being followed around town by mysterious white SUVs. Of even greater value perhaps are the nuanced portraits of Iowans carefully balancing politics, faith, immigration, the global economy, personal finances, and human relationships.

Russia Made The King Of Chess. The U.S. Dethroned Him. | Five Thirty Eight | Politics

The remarkable story of Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, the former President of the World Chess Federation who was replaced this week after more than two decades at the helm. International chess administration under him was by many accounts an instrument of soft power and local politics, behind the scenes diplomacy on behalf of Russia, and somewhat suspect deal making. True to form, this week’s election changed tack dramatically when the former British champion Nigel Short endorsed his opponent at the last minute and took the role of Vice President in the new administration. The new President’s previous employment — Chief Organiser of the 2018 football World Cup in Russia.


Thank you for reading the one hundred and thirty-first edition of Journal, a weekly circular of writing worth reading. We’d really appreciate you sharing Journal with people you think would like it.

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