Thursday, December 11th, 2014


The Unknowable

In a rare press conference, CIA Chief John Brennan defended the organization, but also explained that "in many ways this was uncharted territory for the CIA and we were not prepared." As to the question whether the "enhanced interrogation techniques" yielded any key intelligence, Brennan claimed that was "unknown and unknowable." Among journalists and many on Twitter, the big story was Brennan's refusal to use the word torture. Calling Torture "enhanced interrogation techniques" is like calling Cosby's love life "enhanced pick-up lines."

+ While Brennan was taking questions from journalists, Senator Dianne Feinstein was live-tweeting her rebuttals. The new age of media has arrived.

+ You can watch the press conference at C-Span.

+ Are Americans more forgiving of the use of torture than those who run the organization that carried it out? According to polling, we've become more accepting of torture.

+ Slate's Fred Kaplan argues that there's no way Bush and Cheney didn't know. And Cheney seems to agree. He also called the report "a load of crap."

+ Going rogue? The former CIA interrogation chief says reports of "rectal feeding" and people being forced to stand with broken bones came as news to him.


Hound Dog

"The dogs wouldn't jump. All they had to do to avoid electric shocks was leap over a small barrier, but there they sat in boxes in a lab at the University of Pennsylvania, passive and whining. They had previously been given a series of mild shocks and learned they could do nothing to stop them. Now, they had given up trying." The NYT's Benedict Carey on the how the architects of CIA interrogation used psychology studies (which they may have misunderstood) to induce helplessness.

+ Vox: From Eminem to Barney, how the CIA used music to break detainees.

+ Vice: Why sound torture hurts.


Wince of Tides

A six year study has led to the conclusion that there are at least 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic in the ocean. On the plus side, at least we were able to get all that plastic off the land.


Highered Guns

Call it the shootout at the Guns are OK Corral. For the first time in a couple decades, Pew reports that "there is more support for gun rights than gun control. Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership."


Beverly Tells

"For a long time I thought it was something that only happened to me, and that I was somehow responsible. So I kept my secret to myself, believing this truth needed to remain in the darkness. But the last four weeks have changed everything, as so many women have shared similar stories." The case against Bill Cosby is about to get even stronger, and probably a lot louder. Beverly Johnson in Vanity Fair: Bill Cosby Drugged Me. This Is My Story.


Nice Globes

Birdman and Fargo were both heavily nominated for this year's Golden Globe Awards. Here's a list of all the nominees.

+ Meet the double-nominees.

+ Variety: Biggest snubs and surprises.

+ LA Times: Snubs, surprises and assorted trends.


Sony Island

"The malware that was used would have slipped and gotten past 90 percent of the net defenses that are out there today in private industry and been a challenge to state governments." That's someone from the FBI cyberdivision describing just how vulnerable most companies are.

+ Is Sony fighting back with its own denial of service attacks?


Organic Chemistry

What do you picture when you think of the farms that sell organic milk and eggs? Chances are, it's not what you'll see in these aerial shots.

+ NYT: Schmaltz Finds a New, Younger Audience. (When I saw that headline, I thought it might be a story about the popularity of NextDraft.)


We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat

It's bring your boat to work day in much of Northern California where we've been hit hard by a major storm. It was a school "rain day" and well over 100,000 people are without power. Here's the latest from Buzzfeed. Here are some more Rainpocalypse photos.

+ Luckily, I was prepared.


The Bottom of the News

The Internet has undeniably turned this era into the age of cats. So how the hell did a magazine like Cat Fancy disappear from shelves? From NY Mag: Who Killed Cat Fancy?

+ InFocus' final installment of the year in photos.

+ Here's the latest salvo fired in the quest to turn everything into part of the sharing economy. This startup wants to pay you to fly with strangers' stuff in your luggage. What could be worse than that? How about a social alarm clock that lets you wake up strangers.

+ NPR's favorite songs of 2014.