After being showered by a consistent stream of news about the latest leak, I suppose it wouldn't take a whiz to predict this story would be today's number one (thankfully, there have been no reports related to number two). OK, with that voided from my system, let's get to Trump's fiery first press conference as president-elect. He defended himself against the stories about his connections with Russia, slammed the press (refusing to entertain a question from CNN), outlined his plans to hand his business over to his sons, reiterated his determination to repeal and replace Obamacare, insisted there would be a border tax levied against US corporations that move jobs abroad, claimed big pharma is getting away with murder (which plunged some of their stock prices), and promised, once again, to be "the biggest jobs creator God ever created" (a biblical moment that can be found in the Genesis section of Breitbart's printing of the Old Testament).
+ Here is the CNN report that caused a major uproar yesterday: "Classified documents presented last week to President Obama and President-elect Trump included allegations that Russian operatives claim to have compromising personal and financial information about Mr. Trump." Just after the CNN story broke, Buzzfeed (referred to as "garbage" by Trump in the presser) decided to publish an unverified dossier on Trump that had been swirling around among some politicians and journalists for several weeks. It contained allegations about "golden showers" and other unsavory acts. (Other outlets chose not to publish it). Trump conflated the two reports (CNN's and Buzzfeed's) in his press conference, and attacked both outlets as producing fake news (insert outtake of the obvious Alanis Morrissette song here).
+ Are any of the details in the dossier true? We don't know and one can easily argue that Buzzfeed should have held off sharing it. But the wider story is anything but fake news. Here's The Guardian on how the intelligence was shared: John McCain passes dossier alleging secret Trump-Russia contacts to FBI.
+ In a move unlikely to repair their already strained relationship, Trump lashed out at intel agencies for leaking the information and asked, "Are we living in Nazi Germany?"
+ Digg has a roundup of everything you need to know about the new reports on Trump's alleged Russian connections.
+ Wired's Andy Greenberg: How Spy Agency Vets Read That Bombshell Trump Report: With Caution.
Russia was also a key topic during day one of the Rex Tillerson confirmation hearings. The former head of Exxon called Russia's hacking "troubling" and took some heated questions from Marco Rubio and others. Here are some video outtakes from the hearing.
+ Will Tillerson get approved? Like everything in DC, it pays to follow the money.
President Obama gave his farewell address in Chicago on Tuesday, and brought himself (and others) to tears with tributes to his veep and first lady. The most interesting part of the address was the amount of time he dedicated to detailing what he sees as potential threats to our democracy (most of which come from within): "Without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, then we're going to keep talking past each other. And we'll make common ground and compromise impossible."
+ As we reach the end of the Obama era, I return to its beginning. Back at the 2004 Convention, before the speech that put him on the national stage, Obama spoke to a smaller group. It was at the Blogger's Breakfast.
"I get apprehensive when somebody asks me something I can't answer, like 'What does it feel like to be free?' How do you want me to know how it feels to be free? Ask me in twenty years." The New Yorker's Rachel Aviv on Albert Woodfox, who was one of the Angola 3, and was in isolation longer than any other American.
Let's lighten things up a bit with Bloomberg's look at The Preposterous Success Story of America's Pillow King which begins with this lede: "As so many great entrepreneurial success stories do, the tale of Mike Lindell begins in a crack house." (Kids, let that be a lesson to you!)
NY Mag tracks the latest on the new trending of a very old practice: Inside New York's Luxury Meditation Center. "I'm 100 percent positive that the next retail explosion that looks like SoulCycle, or like Blockbuster video, is going to be meditation. There is going to be a Starbucks and SoulCycle of meditation: the place that every trendy, rich, cool person goes to … and sits there." (That's remarkably similar to the value proposition offered by my couch.)
Some big names in tech are throwing their support behind the creation of ethical standards to protect society from artificial intelligence. LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and the Omidyar network are each donating $10 million to the cause. If the smartest guys in tech are worried about this, then I'm worried about this.
"One of the bitterest fights being waged in Congress right now is over an acrylic painting by a teenager in Missouri that almost nobody had heard of until this Friday." Vox on why several members of Congress are feuding over a teen's controversial painting that dramatizes events in Ferguson. (This is about as far away as you get from Bob Ross and the Joy of Painting.)
"O.J. Simpson arrives next door to Watts a year after the riots, but he's in this really white, conservative, apolitical place, right next to a place that had just burned out of frustration. You see all these parallel tracks and it's like, 'Isn't this everything we were talking about with the trial years later?' That's a core place to start the story." Wired shares the epic story of O.J.: Made in America's creation. It's a truly a remarkable piece of documentary filmmaking.
From NPR: Fitness Trackers Aim To Improve The Health And Happiness Of Zoo Elephants. (They started working out after being accused of having too much junk in the trunk.)
+ The Bruce Springsteen Archives and Center for American Music will be housed at Monmouth University in New Jersey. (I'm applying for grad school there immediately.)
+ 25 words that are turning 25 this year. (Meh.)
+ I can't quite figure out how this story fits into our efforts to bring jobs to the US. American Apparel is sold at auction to Canada's Gildan Activewear.