Weekend Briefing No. 71

Welcome to the weekend. This week the nation was shocked by the shooting in a Charleston church (see more below), Saudi Arabia opened its stock market to foreign investors, Egypt’s Mohammed Morsi was sentenced to death, Jeb Bush officially announced his run (and the synopsis to Die Hard was found in the code of his website), Ramadan began, the Golden State Warriors won the NBA Finals, and Jurassic World made box office history, raking in $511.8 Million in its opening weekend.


As you know, for the month of June, we’re testing the Weekend Briefing on Instagram, and I’d love your support and feedback. A big congratulations to Jeffery Zurofsky! He won a free signed copy of my book Profit & Purpose just for liking a photo on Instagram. I’m giving away 1 per week for the month of June. If you want to win one take these simple 3 steps. First follow me @kylewestaway. Second read the post. Third, like it.







The Pope & climate change. This week Pope Francis released a 184-page encyclical on climate change, highlighting the disproportionate impact it will have on the poor. He called our overconsumption and apathy the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness ecological sins, for which we need to repent. He placed most of the blame on fossil fuels and human activity while warning of an “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems with serious consequence for all of us,” if swift action is not taken. Developed, industrialized countries were mostly responsible, he said, and should be obligated to help poorer nations confront the crisis. Learn more in this New York Times article.



Obama’s stealth startup. Gathered around the table in the Roosevelt room were some of tech’s best and brightest talent. Then the door opened and President Obama surprises everyone. Over the course of 45 minutes he gives the sales pitch to beat all sales pitches. They need to come work for him. They will need to take a pay cut, the president announces. But he doesn’t care what it takes—he will personally call their bosses, their spouses, their kids to convince them. The crowd laughs. But he gravely responds: I am completely serious. The President has built a 140-person stealth startup inside the Federal Government. Their purpose is to remake the digital systems by which government operates, to implement the kind of efficiency, agility and effectiveness that define Silicon Valley’s biggest successes, across everything from the IRS to Immigration Services. Learn more in this Fast Company article.



Organ-on-a-chip. An organ-on-a-chip is a new device to aid scientists in testing drugs. The chips do not contain complete organs, just the smallest colonies of cells necessary to replicate the function of one using tiny scaffolds to organize human cells. The first organs-on-a-chip are coming to market and, regulators permitting, will speed up drug testing as well as reduce the use of laboratory animals. Animals are not necessarily good analogues for humans because of fundamental differences in biology. Testing on tissue in a dish can likewise prove unreliable because its cells often stop working. The more realistic data promised by organs-on-a-chip could accelerate drug development and allow researchers to carry out experiments too risky for human volunteers. Moreover, by linking different chips together, researchers can study how reactions in one organ affect another creating a body-on-a-chip. Learn more in this Economist article.



Effective altruism. If you’re going to give, you should give effectively. The effective altruism movement is comprised of three pillars: (1) You can make a truly enormous difference in the world if you live in a rich country (If you earn more than $52,000 per year, then, speaking globally, you are the 1 percent); (2) you can “do good better” by thinking scientifically rather than sentimentally; and (3) you can do good even better by trying to find the greatest need for the next marginal dollar. The question a donor should be asking is “What is the greatest good where the next dollar could have the greatest impact?” Learn more in this Atlantic article.



North Face’s failed attempt to produce a local hoodie. In 2012, North Face set out to create a garment from seed to finished product, all within 150 miles of its San Francisco headquarters, to support local artisans and eliminate waste during production. Though they were able to produce the hoodie entirely in America (no small feat given the textile industry’s migration to Asia), they had to have their California cotton spun into thread across the country in North Carolina. This valiant attempt shows just how hard it is to produce high volume garments locally. Learn more in this Guardian article.







Jon Stewart on Charleston. The opening monologue of Thursday’s Daily Show was a hard-hitting condemnation of how we respond when foreign terrorists attack us I versus when Americans attack each other. If you haven’t seen it, this 5-minute video is worth a watch.







Modern Love by my favorite comedian Aziz Ansari is a fascinating read on how much romance has changed and how much it’s stayed the same in the age of technology. He touches on important topics such as the dehumanizing potential of technology, how more choice might be a bad thing, and, of course… sexting faux pas. I read it in 2 days and loved it. Buy your copy here now.







Polar Bears Are Hunting Dolphins and Freezing Them for Later. In Norway, a team of researchers have recorded a group of polar bears that are hunting dolphins, a first in scientific history.



Arnold Schwarzenegger voices Waze as the Terminator. The actor and former California governor is lending his persona as the famed Terminator from the movie franchise to the community-based traffic and navigation app Waze.







The Weekend Briefing is a selection of this week’s top stories on innovation and society, curated by Kyle Westaway – author of Profit & Purpose and Managing Partner of Westaway Law. I consider it a privilege to be a part of your weekend routine. Thanks.