The Big StoryJoe Manchin, the tie-breaking Democratic senator from West Virginia who has emerged as perhaps the most powerful single person in the United States, dispelled all doubt in an op-ed published in a Charleston newspaper this weekend: He won’t be voting for H.R. 1, an activist wish-list of electoral reforms, or for the elimination of the Senate filibuster, which in the Biden era has emerged as the enemy of all people of good faith and decency. High-profile Democrats, including New York freshmen congressmen Mondaire Jones and Jamaal Bowman, have accused Manchin of making common cause with Mitch McConnell and supporting a Jim Crow–like status quo. But the New York Times editorial board also sharply criticized the current version of H.R. 1, hinting at what may be a key political division within the party that controls the White House and Congress: The Democrats, their voters, and their institutional supporters agree that enabling ballot access and countering allegedly restrictive voting laws such as those passed in Texas and Georgia are top national priorities in which the stakes are no less than the survival of American democracy itself. But there’s deep disagreement over the exact nature of the problem and over how much the ruling party can really be expected to achieve with slim legislative majorities in a deeply divided country. Read more: https://www.yahoo.com/news/manchin-says-wont-vote-democrats-122241843.htmlThe Rest\n\nAt least 160 people were killed when militants attacked a village in Burkina Faso Friday night. Though no group has taken responsibility, there is both an Islamic State and an Al Qaeda affiliate active in the landlocked West African nation, where jihadist violence is increasing despite security assistance from both the U.S. and French militaries.\nRead more: http://www.ipsnews.net/2021/06/death-toll-burkina-faso-attack-reaches-160/There’s been a pretty big swing in New York City’s Democratic Party mayoral primary: According to a poll from Ipsos and NY1, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams now holds a comfortable six-point lead over the fading Andrew Yang―although under a new ranked-choice voting format, former sanitation commissioner and New York Times endorsee Kathryn Garcia is still very much in contention despite trailing the front-runner by seven points. Read more: https://www.ny1.com/nyc/all-boroughs/decision-2021/2021/06/06/eric-adams-jumps-in-front--yang-slips-in-ny1-ipsos-pollMedical history today: as the FDA approved aducanumab, a Biogen-made treatment aimed at slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s. This is the first FDA authorization of a new Alzheimer’s drug in 18 years and, as the New York Times put it, “the first approved treatment to attack the disease process of Alzheimer’s instead of just addressing dementia symptoms.” Just one problem: There’s serious debate within the medical community as to whether the drug really does anything, and even the FDA noted that clinical trials have been inconclusive. Biogen is holding another round of multiyear trials to determine whether the drug is a Nobel-worthy world changer or another false dawn in the fight against one of medicine’s most devastating enigmas.\nRead more: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/07/health/fda-approves-alzheimers-drug.htmlNew details from the “Officer X” saga in Israel raise more questions than they answer: The former technical officer in the IDF’s intelligence division who died in prison under mysterious circumstances last month was charged with “consciously carr[ying] out a number of acts that severely damaged state security,” according to information newly provided by the military, but he also wasn’t suspected of espionage or of colluding with any foreign power. Neither a cause of death nor the officer’s name have been released in a case that brings together any number of anxieties about national security and state secrecy in Israel. Read more: https://www.jpost.com/breaking-news/idf-spokesperson-reveals-additional-details-on-officer-x-670345 Washington Square Park has emerged as New York’s latest battleground: The NYPD has been imposing a 10 p.m. curfew, supposedly because of out-of-control public disorder in the park. Many have rightly wondered why the police have the ability to shut down a major public space without anyone’s input. Mayor Bill de Blasio, for his part, has defended the move. Read more: https://twitter.com/emmagf/status/1401922990879748100\nFile this under “easy come, easy go:” The United States has recovered “millions” of dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency from a $4.4 million ransom paid to the hackers who shut down an oil pipeline last month.\nRead more: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-07/doj-to-discuss-ransomware-attack-on-colonial-pipeline-on-monday?sref=mNrqRJq9A postelection autopsy compiled by a number of major Democratic Party-aligned activist groups has appeared online. Among other things, the authors concluded that Democratic support for strict coronavirus mitigation policies drove voters to the Republican camp during the 2020 congressional and presidential vote. Read more: https://twitter.com/HotlineJosh/status/1401924889859309568\nWell surprise, surprise: The U.N. agency responsible for Palestinian refugees and their descendants discovered a Hamas attack tunnel beneath one of its schools in the Gaza Strip, the umpteenth sign of how the Islamist militant group exploits civilian infrastructure in its fight against Israel.\nRead more: https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/unrwa-finds-attack-tunnel-under-one-of-its-gaza-schools-670262\n\nRappers Bhad Bhabie and Lil Yachty have invested $1 million in Lox Club, an application-only and partly matchmaker-driven high-end Jewish dating app. If a rhyme like “Codeine, got my fade on/Hook ’em up with a shadchan” shows up on Lil Boat 4, this will be why.\nRead more: https://www.timesofisrael.com/bhad-bhabie-and-lil-yachty-invest-1-million-in-jewish-dating-app/\n\nDavid Dushman, the last living liberator of the Auschwitz concentration camp, has died at 98. Dushman was one of just 69 people in his 12,000-man Soviet Army unit to survive the war, and he later became an Olympic fencing coach for the Soviet Union.\n\nMusic journalist Lucas Foster, a regular contributor to Jeff Weiss’s excellent Passion of the Weiss website, has died, Weiss announced on Twitter over the weekend. Lucas’s addictively readable archive, which is packed with wide-ranging and stylistically adventurous profiles and interviews of underground hip-hop figures from across the country, can be found here: https://www.passionweiss.com/author/lucas-foster/ The Back PagesOver the past month, two publications at which your newsletter writer once served as a fork and spoon operator have announced unionization drives—congratulations to my former colleagues at Insider and the Atlantic, the latter of which unionized late last week. And while we’re at it, this afternoon the union at the New Yorker has announced that “our strike is imminent,” throwing at least two weeks’ worth of back-page caption contest submissions into chaos. Meanwhile, at the New York Times, that other inner sanctum of Manhattan media power, a recent dispute over NewsGuild wages has pitted high-profile staff members against one another in what would once have been unthinkably public fashion.\n\nOn the one hand, the New York and Washington, D.C., media are an unlikely national test case for the future of organized labor: Staffers at the Atlantic are about the least disenfranchised people in the entire universe, and while there was frequent debate over its optimal temperature, the newsroom at what was then called Business Insider certainly didn’t resemble a coal mine. On the other hand, the New York and D.C. media are a perfect national test case for the future of organized labor: Their proponents often argue that unions aren’t just supposed to be for the weak or the exploited. And it’s no surprise that people who have chosen a field in which their work and, increasingly, their lives unfold in public would stake a high-profile claim to their milieu’s particular values. And those values are inevitably liberal in the most idealistic, least-threatening sense: Pragmatically, unions make it possible to ask for, and thus to receive, improvements in how employees are treated that individuals might never get on their own. In the larger sense, a union balances the scales between labor and management, giving workers more power over the forces that determine the majority of their waking life.\n\nThe media unions advance this view of social change, shared almost universally among editorial staffers at these publications, while also advocating for a supposedly vulnerable and underpaid workforce. And yet I admit I’m not sure how I might have reacted had I been at Insider or the Atlantic during their unionization drives. Leaving aside questions of whether a new and potentially poisonous layer of internal politics would have been worth the supposed benefits, or whether a union would have imposed labor costs that actually undermined many employees’ real long-term interests, there’s the possibility that the line between a union and a labor cartel would begin to blur in an industry that’s contracting so rapidly. A place like Insider could launch careers, mine included, because it kept its costs low and churned through staff. It sucks to be one of the churned-through—trust me, it sucks!—but there were people more junior than me who have careers as a result of that organization’s particular approach to its once-nonunion workforce. Media unions are meant to protect the gains of people who already have a thin fingerhold inside an industry that is in constant danger of total collapse yet also is extremely fun to work in and affirms employees’ high status in the wider world. But, of course, it’s easy to scoff at such alleged self-interest from the outside—union membership is a choice I was never offered at either publication.\n\nThe ultimate context for these unionization efforts, and for the ever-growing visibility of labor-management disputes at major outlets, is the decline of the media itself. A record 16,000 print, digital, and broadcast jobs were eliminated in 2020, meaning that unionization is concurrent with historic losses in the U.S. media workforce. As for the status-affirming nature of media employment, it’s possible that workers are now getting the exact inverse of this former perk: The media consistently polls as one of the least-trusted institutions in U.S. life. Media unionization is in part an inevitable scramble to protect what little is left, driven by a nagging and often unspoken awareness that the literal and figurative pie is only getting smaller.