November 19th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Joysticks and Stones

“Ever step on ants and never give it another thought? That’s what you are made to think of the targets –- as just black blobs on a screen. You start to do these psychological gymnastics to make it easier to do what you have to do –- they deserved it, they chose their side. You had to kill part of your conscience to keep doing your job every day -– and ignore those voices telling you this wasn’t right.” Four U.S. Air Force whistleblowers are describing their experiences in the military drone program and calling on the administration to reconsider some policies that they say ultimately serve as recruitment tools for terrorists.

+ Drones are just the beginning of tech’s battlefield invasion. In the past, many technologies were innovated by the military before being released for commercial and consumer use. But times have changed. That’s why Department of Defense head Ashton Carter is spending a lot of time in Silicon Valley, where he’s making it clear to technologists that Uncle Sam really wants you (even with your coder attire and lifestyle). From Wired’s excellent Jessi Hempel: Ashton Carter Enlists Silicon Valley to Transform the Military.


Salmon Row

Folks who fish tend to overstate the size of their catch. From now on, such exaggerations might be unnecessary. The FDA has just approved the nation’s first genetically engineered animal. Critics refer to the faster-growing salmon as Frankenfish. Proponents call it dinner.


Dead Ringer

It took more than twenty-four hours for French authorities to formally announce that the suspected Paris attack ringleader Abdelhamid Abaaoud was killed in the St-Denis raid. He was identified by skin samples.

+ Selling sex slaves, dealing drugs, ransoming hostages, and plundering stolen farmland are a few of the ways ISIS derives income. But the big money comes from oil. From Bloomberg: Why ISIS Has All the Money It Needs.

+ “You can’t sleep or even close your eyes, forget about it … I felt like I own the world … There was no fear anymore after I took Captagon.” Those are some of descriptions of the tiny pill fueling Syria’s war and turning fighters into superhuman soldiers.

+ ABC News: Individuals on FBI’s Terrorist Watchlist are allowed to legally purchase firearms.


Hasta La Vista

Between the years 2009 and 2014, a period during which there were furious immigration debates, Mexicans who left the United States outnumbered those who entered.

+ WaPo: House passes bill to tighten flow of Syrian refugees.


Sodom and Plethora

While their opening prices were lower than some investors had hoped, both Square and Match Group traded higher in their stock market debuts.

+ The Match IPO came with a weird last-minute SEC filing that the company made after the CEO of its subsidiary Tinder gave a weird interview in which he got confused about the definition of sodomy. Like, really confused.

+ STDs in the United States have reached an all time high.


Paging All Readers

“Adam Johnson, in fiction; Ta-Nehisi Coates, in nonfiction; Robin Coste Lewis, in poetry; and Neal Shusterman, in young people’s literature.” Meet this year’s winners of the National Book Awards.


Jailing Jared

After pleading guilty, former Subway spokeman Jared Fogle was sentenced to more than 15 years in prison. The sentence is two and a half years more than prosecutors had sought.


Meet the Neighbors

“Go door to door, meet the neighbors, watch prices dip and soar, learn how historical forces shape a single street — and also, how to play skully.” NY Mag tells the story of one Brooklyn block in this interactive piece. Macdonough Street, from Patchen Avenue to Malcolm X Boulevard.

+ The Guardian: Closing down: the couple chronicling New York’s disappearing storefronts.


There Goes the Neighborhood

“I heard barking. I approached my front window and loudly asked what was going on. Peering through my blinds, I saw a gun.” From Fay Wells: My white neighbor thought I was breaking into my own apartment. Nineteen cops showed up.


Bottom of the News

As Windows turns 30, The Verge takes us on a visual history of the once-dominant operating system’s many iterations. (Warning: some of these images may be upsetting to Mac users.)

+ From Gizmodo (in this case, pronounced with a soft G): Why a Mouse’s Sperm Is Longer Than an Elephant’s Sperm.

+ The album is not dead yet. There are 3.6 million physical copies of Adele’s new release headed for stores near you. (That could produce enough tears to make El Nino look like a light drizzle.)

+ This video of the world record slackline walk is nuts.

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