Thursday, July 17th, 2014



A Malaysian Airlines flight with 295 people on board flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur has crashed in eastern Ukraine.

+ With fake photos and false information spreading on social media, factual details are still scarce. But many sources are reporting that the plane may have been shot down by a surface to air missile fired by Russian separatists who are "believed to have shot down two Ukrainian military planes over the region in recent days."

+ You can track live updates on the story from ABC News and the Telegraph.

+ If the commercial aircraft was shot down, it wouldn't be the first time. From MoJo: 5 other commercial airliners that were shot down.

+ This event takes place against the backdrop of rising tensions in the region and expanded U.S. sanction against Russia. From Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev: "We may go back to the 1980s in our relations with the states that are declaring these sanctions."


If and/or When

In a ruling that stunned many experts, a federal judge ruled that California's death penalty is unconstitutional because the condemned person faces "complete uncertainty as to when, or even whether" the penalty will be carried out. From Carol Steiker, a criminal law professor at Harvard Law School: "That's a ruling of tremendous breadth. We haven't seen very many rulings from the federal courts declaring a whole state's system unconstitutional. That's quite stunning."


Five Hour Peace Plan

The five hour humanitarian truce between Hamas and Israel lasted as long as planned, and not a minute longer, as the attacks commenced again. Meanwhile, talks on a prolonged truce continue in Cairo.

+ LA Times: We were boys, we were friends, we were enemies.


Downwardly Mobile

Microsoft has announced plans to cut 18,000 jobs, a majority from the recently acquired Nokia division.

+ Any job loss is tough to take. But it's even worse when you learn of it via what Kevin Roose calls a hilariously bad memo. It took Stephon Elop eleven paragraphs to (barely) get to the point.

+ Om Malik: It's time to stop rewarding failure: "Think of it this way -- since Elop took over as Nokia CEO, the company has cut over 50,000 jobs (if you include today's announcement.) That is just mind boggling."


I’d Tap That

It's certainly no secret that everybody is listening to everybody these days. But according to Vice's Brian Anderson, almost 90 Percent of all US wiretaps listen for suspected drug deals.

+ Vox: The case for decriminalizing heroin, cocaine, and all other drugs. "Nobody's got any empirical evidence that shows criminalization reduces consumption noticeably."

+ What I've learned as an Internet drug dealer.

+ Have marijuana delivery services turned us into the laziest people on Earth? Thankfully, you can read one person's answer and provide your own take, all without moving from your seat.


Six Degrees of Secession

The golden state is abuzz with one venture capitalist's dream to divide California into six separate states. I'll take any piece that still has some water left. At this point, California's land is so dry and brittle, it might break up all by itself.



Want to get a better night's sleep and maybe even improve your metabolism the next day? Turn down that thermostat. And beware of those early risers. Studies suggest that they become less moral at night. (That actually sounds like a positive, especially since your bedroom is freezing...)


Reading, Writing and… Wait What?

The study results are in. Stay with me. Don't check Twitter or Facebook or text anyone. It turns out that interruptions at work are even worse than we thought -- especially for writers. (Although they've been pretty good to folks who write pieces on interruptions at work...)

+ The New Yorker's: Maria Konnikova on how to be a better online reader.

+ Speaking of reading and writing, I am on the board of a great San Francisco non-profit called 826 Valencia. "Founded in 2002 by educator Ninive Calegari and author Dave Eggers, 826 Valencia supports writing aspirations among 6- to 18-year-olds through one-on-one attention and programs that produce various student publications." We're pleased to announce that we're opening up a new branch in the Tenderloin. It's the perfect place to help kids who need it, and a perfect opportunity for tech companies to help support the city's neediest residents, who happen to be right in the neighborhood. More on 826 Valencia.


Taking a Photo Opportunity

"My daughter recently passed away after a long battle in the children's hospital. Since she was in the hospital her whole life we never were able to get a photo without all her tubes. Can someone remove the tubes from this photo?" A dad posted that to Reddit the other day. He got back the photo he wanted and a lot more.


The Bottom of the News

Some U.S. hospitals are following the lead of their European counterparts and using nitrous oxide as a way to relieve the pain of childbirth. I don't know about childbirth, but it definitely makes parenthood easier.

+ McSweeney's: Jamie and Jeff's Birth Plan.

+ Consumerist: Confessions of a Comcast video repair agent.

+ Follow a NYC taxi's daily slog (while there are still some taxis left).