When it reigns it pours. In a series of tweets and statements, Donald Trump shifted the focus away from the root causes of Mike Flynn's resignation to what he called "fake news" and the deluge of leaks that brought the story to light. "The real scandal here is that classified information is illegally given out by 'intelligence' like candy. Very un-American!" (Forget the love of Russia. What's with his love of hyphens?) Meanwhile, the blockbuster stories continue to roll out. From the NYT: Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence. From CNN: Trump aides were in constant touch with senior Russian officials during campaign. (Question: If this is all a case of fake news, why was Flynn forced out?)
+ The Atlantic: American Institutions Are Pushing Back Against Trump. (In retrospect, maybe it wasn't a great idea to simultaneously declare war on intelligence agencies and the media.)
+ Politico Magazine: Who Told Flynn to Call Russia?
+ Mike Drop: Ten Takeaways from Flynngate.
+ There has been a sharp decline in international searches for flights to the US. One report "found that these searches had declined by 17%. The overwhelming majority of countries studied showed a drop in interest. The most notable exception was Russia."
+ Meanwhile, there's a Russian spy ship patrolling 30 miles off the coast of Connecticut. (Relax, they're probably just here to pick up Mike Flynn.)
The other night, Twenty One Pilots picked up a Grammy for their song Stressed Out. Maybe the song should be an unofficial national anthem, because the title certainly describes our current state. From Bloomberg: Americans Just Broke the Psychologists' Stress Record.
In a joint press conference with Bibi Netanyahu, President Trump urged the Israeli prime minister to hold back on settlements, and backed away from a two-state requirement for peace. "I can live with either one. I thought for a while that two states looked like the easier of the two. If Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I like the one they like the best."
"After Macedonia became independent in 1991, though, Veles began to decline. The factories closed; the jobs evaporated. The local soccer team, FK Borec, won so infrequently that it was dropped from the first division to the third. The town's only movie theater folded a decade and a half ago. Its downtown withered. Briefly, in the mid-2000s, the economy shook itself awake when a few men splashed around money they'd made selling heroin in Germany and Austria, but the police soon broke up that drug ring and Veles returned to its state of morose dilapidation." And then fake news came to town. Wired's Samanth Subramanian with a glimpse inside the Macedonian Fake-News Complex.
+ Ben Crair: Maniac Killers of the Bangalore IT Department. Why is India obsessed with crimes committed by software engineers?
"A 28-year-old woman, Doan Thi Huong, had been positively identified from CCTV footage and was alone at the time of her arrest, the Malaysia inspector general said." An arrest has been made in the killing of the half brother of Kim Jong-un. If you're looking for motive, consider this: "Just weeks after his half-brother's elevation to the isolated nation's highest office in late 2011, he told the Japanese journalist Yoji Gomi that the world would view his leadership as a 'joke.'"
Facing impossible numbers, Andrew Puzder has withdrawn his name and given up efforts to be confirmed as Trump's labor secretary. (I doubt this had anything to do with the fact that Carl's Jr. doesn't sell borscht...)
+ The Atlantic: Why the Puzder Nomination Fell Apart: "What changed in recent days is an emerging focus not on Puzder's professional history, but on his home life. And it was the liabilities there that ultimately made it hard for more moderate Republicans -- particularly women -- to support him."
"Sons follow their fathers. But the state can't allow that children are educated to be criminals" From the NYT: An Italian judge is breaking up the family as a way to break up the mob.
A German Shepherd named Rumor took home best of show at the 141st annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Here's a look at Rumor and some of the other contestants.
+ The fan favorite may have been Mia, the easily distracted beagle. (If you have a beagle, this one will seem remarkably focused...)
Valentine's Day can be overly commercial and sort of ridiculous, but it's still fun for the kids. And yesterday, my daughter received what has to be the greatest Valentine's card in the history of 2nd grade.
+ Politics dominates everything these days, including dating.
+ Quartz: Soon, you will never lose your boarding pass because it will be your face. (Depending on the airline, it could be an angry face.)