Friday, April 7th, 2017


Strike That, Reverse It

President Trump described a missile attack on the Syrian airbase from which a chemical attack was recently launched, as being in the United States' "vital national security interest." A spokesperson for Putin called the limited strikes "violations of the norms of international law, and under a far-fetched pretext." And Assad called the move an "unjust and arrogant aggression." From WaPo: U.S. strikes Syrian military airfield in first direct assault on Bashar al-Assad's government.

+ Emergency talks at the UN get heated.

+ Syria is perhaps the most complicated crisis in the world. And President Trump's actions, while praised by many in the US and abroad, further complicate our ability to understand his worldview. Frank Bruni on the riddle of Trump's Syria attack: "President Obama had advisers who wished he'd done something similar, and there were Democrats aplenty -- Hillary Clinton apparently among them -- who found his restraint when it came to Syria and the regime of Bashar al-Assad to be infuriating, a surrender of America's role and moral authority in the world. But Trump's military action makes little sense in the context of most of what he said in the years before he was elected and much of what he has done as president so far."

+ Trump's dramatic policy reversal was driven in part by the images he saw on television. "Even beautiful babies were cruelly murdered in this very barbaric attack. No child of God should ever suffer such horror." Of course, beautiful, innocent babies are among the Syrian refugees Trump has demonized for years. And "more than 55,000 children have been killed in the Syrian war, mostly by the Assad regime."

+ How dramatic is this policy shift? Here's candidate Trump: "You're going to end up in World War Three over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton. You're not fighting Syria any more, you're fighting Syria, Russia and Iran, all right?" David Frum on seven lessons from Trump's Syria strike.

+ Jeffrey Goldberg: The Obama Doctrine, R.I.P. (It's pretty clear it would have suffered the same fate under a Clinton administration.)

+ The big question: Will these strikes matter? The NYT's Max Fisher with a very interesting overview: "The end result may not be so different from the Obama administration's decision, in 2013, to stand down from similar strikes -- a message that Mr. Assad faces relatively low costs for using chemical weapons, costs he could now deem acceptable."

+ Meanwhile, Syrian jets just took off from air base U.S. missiles struck.


Your Money and Your Life

Money may not buy you happiness, but it can apparently buy you a lot more time to search for it. Here's a pretty startling stat. "Increasing inequality means wealthy Americans can now expect to live up to 15 years longer than their poor counterparts."


Weekend Whats

What to Watch: I turned on my first episode of Brockmire starring Hank Azaria and Amanda Peet assuming that it wouldn't be my cup of tea. Well, I was wrong (although it's less like a cup of tea and more like a bottle of whisky). And here's the good news for you. You'll know if you like it after about two and half minutes. If you're not easily offended, definitely give it a try.

+ What to Doc: "Off The Rails tells the remarkable true story of Darius McCollum, a man with Asperger's syndrome whose overwhelming love of transit has landed him in jail 32 times for impersonating New York City bus drivers and subway conductors and driving their routes." And the story is even more interesting (and a lot deeper) than it sounds. You can watch it on iTunes or try out Sundance Now, where it's also streaming.

+ What to Pilgrimage: Three diverse groups of people share their stories of making the annual pilgrimage to Bonnaroo (including a cool kid, the inspirational and awesome Bonnagrannies, and my live-music worshipping pal John Parsons.)

+ What to Shiva: Oh man, you gotta watch Jimmy Kimmel's tribute to Don Rickles.


Gorsuch As It Were

"Friday's vote offers a final vindication of what at first seemed like a risky -- and surely unprecedented -- move by McConnell last year to hold Scalia's seat open through the election." Neil Gorsuch is your next Supreme Court Justice. He'll be officially sworn in next week.


Jungle Booking

"When police approached her, the monkeys surrounded the girl, protecting her as one of their own, and attacking an officer as the girl screeched at him, the New Indian Express reported this week. After rescuing the girl, the officer sped away in his patrol car, the monkeys chasing him." From WaPo: A girl was found living among monkeys in an Indian forest. How she got there is a mystery.

+ "She was also unable to communicate but would screech and initially walked on all fours." BBC: India police search for parents of girl living with monkeys.


Lunch Pox

According to the NYT, New Mexico has outlawed school lunch shaming. What is school lunch shaming? Well, it's worse than it sounds and more common than you'd think. Kids whose parents are behind on payments can be shamed in several ways: "These practices can include making the child wear a wrist band or requiring the child to perform chores in exchange for a meal. In some cases, cafeteria workers have been ordered to throw away the hot lunches of children who owed money." I still remember when school bullies were other kids.


Terror Truck Syndrome in Stockholm

"At least two people were killed when a stolen truck was driven into pedestrians on the busiest street in the center of Stockholm." Police in Stockholm have made an arrest in what looks to be the latest case of someone using a vehicle as a weapon of terror.


The Kid Stays in the Picture

While the Syria strikes are making international headlines, another battle is riveting DC: Bannon v Jared. "On one side are Mr. Bannon's guerrilla warriors, eager to close the nation's borders, dismantle decades of regulations, empower police departments and take on the establishment of both parties in Washington. On the other are Mr. Kushner's 'Democrats,' an appellation used to describe even Republicans who want to soften Mr. Trump's rough edges and broaden his narrow popular appeal after months of historically low poll numbers." (There hasn't been a knockout yet, but Kush is way ahead on all the judges' scorecards.)


Bros and Cons

Can one surgical strike accomplish anything? The one that Twitter dropped on the federal government sure seemed to do the trick. A day after the company sued the Trump administration, "a federal agency has dropped its demand that Twitter turn over information about an anti-Trump account."

+ "'It's a PR problem, with the media piling on. And PR can fix it. Let Uber be Uber...' 'Let's not, shall we?'" Kara Swisher: Dear Tech Bros: It's not a PR problem at Uber.

+ John Gruber on Walt Mossberg's retirement announcement. (Walt once gave a positive review for a site I ran called Rollyo. It was a big day.)


Bottom of the News

"They could make me a cigarette salesman; the face of a nationwide campaign to maim all horses; the lead image in an article about premature ejaculation. Worse still, because I'd signed away the photos I wasn't getting paid for any of it." From Vice: Appearing in Stock Photos Was the Biggest Mistake of My Life.

+ In all the hubbub, you may have missed the news that a Britney Spears concert delayed an Israeli election. Oops, I Yid it Again. (OK, my mom might not like me using that word. But I'm about to be stuck eating Matzah for a week, so she'll cut me some slack.)

+ "In Thailand, it's common to believe in paranormal spirits." And apparently, those spirits really like Strawberry Fanta.

+ The electric trains in New Zealand might be a little too quiet.

+ My five word acceptance speech: I'm Tired of the Winning... Vote for NextDraft for a People's Choice Webby Award.