Tuesday, April 11th, 2017


De Plane, De Plane

The only thing that could make this any worse would be if Kendall Jenner handed United's CEO a Pepsi. The United Airlines forced-deplaning incident has quickly become the most talked about story in America (and it's gaining steam across the globe). By my count, this is one of three stories that have wrested a full news cycle from the tsunami of nonstop Trump coverage since the election: The greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, the Oscar best-picture envelope snafu, and this -- a perfect storm of viral videos, an airline that has long been social media's favorite foil, and a paradoxical corporate response that only inflamed the ire of meme-making masses. What's especially interesting here is the way the story traveled from social to mainstream media and back again, to create a swirling information vortex (or a drain, if you own United stock). With a story that inspired rage and (let's admit it) humor delivered with unbridled enthusiasm, United didn't just re-accommodate a passenger, they re-accommodated the entire Internet.

+ The Atlantic: "Sometimes, a shocking controversy like this one is both freakish and representative." The footage is shocking. So is the law.

+ Which large American airline bumps the most passengers? Sorry, no plot twist here. It's United.

+ And, as if you needed further evidence that this is a story that just keeps on giving, United's chief executive was recently awarded communicator of the year.


London’s Fog

"Modern London thrives on the idea that one city can be a global melting pot, a global trading house, a global media machine and a place where everyone tolerates everyone else, mostly. The thought is that being connected to the rest of the world is something to celebrate. But what happens to London when that idea unexpectedly falls away?" In a very interesting, interactive piece, the NYT looks at what might become of the world's crossroad in a post-Brexit era. Will London Fall? More generally, this is a look at an increasingly common theme: what happens when the views of those in a country's largest and most important city disagree with a nation's broader direction?


Partner Stretch

"It is clear to us the reign of the Assad family is coming to an end. We hope that the Russian government concludes that they have aligned themselves with an unreliable partner." Secretary of State Tillerson brings tough line to Moscow ahead of meetings that may or may not include Putin.

+ "Ivanka is a mother of three kids and she has influence. I'm sure she said 'listen, this is horrible stuff.' My father will act in times like that." Eric Trump on what may have moved his father's policy shift.

+ So what's the US policy moving forward? We've had at least five different policies in the past two weeks.

+ During his press briefing, Sean Spicer explained that Hitler "didn't even sink to using chemical weapons." (At this point, Spicer should hired the United CEO to handle his PR...)

+ Meanwhile, the president is also mixing it up with North Korea and China ... on Twitter: "North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A."


Cheat Home Alabama

"He pled guilty to both as part of a deal that sidesteps the four felony charges he might have faced. He later resigned, bringing to a close one of the odder sex scandals in recent memory, something like a soft-core porno by Robert Penn Warren." The Atlantic's David Graham on Robert Bentley: Alabama's 'Luv Guv' Has Resigned.

+ "The governor's state-issued cell phone's cloud was linked to his state-issued iPad, which he had gifted to his then-wife, allowing her to watch the rumored affair unfold in real time." Five of the weirder details from the report on Bentley's efforts to hide the affair. (This may have been the most poorly hidden affair in history...)


Every Day is D Day

"Millions of people are popping supplements in the belief that vitamin D can help turn back depression, fatigue, muscle weakness, even heart disease or cancer. In fact, there has never been widely accepted evidence that vitamin D is helpful in preventing or treating any of those conditions." The NYT's Gina Kolata wants to know why so many people are popping vitamin D. (And why we're testing for its deficiency in the first place...)


Lede the Pack

"Sam Siatta was deep in a tequila haze, so staggeringly drunk that he would later say he retained no memory of the crime he was beginning to commit." C.J. Chivers' (now, Pulitzer Prize-winning) story from the NYT Magazine: The Fighter: "The Marine Corps taught Sam Siatta how to shoot. The war in Afghanistan taught him how to kill. Nobody taught him how to come home."

+ "I lost some friends, but some people don't understand us, why we would badger county supervisors so that their sugar daddy went away. I said, 'Because it wasn't right.' We felt the public deserved to know who's paying our bills. We did a lot of groundbreaking news reporting and my son (who's 24) did most of the heavy lifting." Poynter on a tiny, family-run newspaper that just won a Pulitzer Prize.

+ Longreads has links to all of the Pulitzer-winning stories.


The Guy’s Got (Kidney) Stones

"Our four kidneys were pretty good, but some chains can go even longer. A chain started by a 44-year-old man in California named Rick Ruzzamenti wound up getting 30 people kidneys. Ruzzamenti's chain let people live 270 to 300 years longer. You can literally measure the years of life his kidney donation chain gave in centuries." Vox' Dylan Matthews identified one way for a writer to be certain their work will be featured in NextDraft: Just donate an organ as part of the story. Why I gave my kidney to a stranger -- and why you should consider doing it too. (If donating an organ isn't in the cards, I also respond pretty well when you just email a link to whatever you wrote.)


The Expirationer’s Song

"Arkansas, which has not put anyone to death since 2005, is about to embark on a grimly accelerated task. The state plans to execute seven men -- a full fifth of its death row -- over 11 days beginning later this month." What's the rush? The state's supply of midazolam is about to hit its expiration date. (No, really.)


Seed Funding

"God's placed a seed in you. And he wants to see it come to fruitfulness." From Bloomberg: Entrepreneurs from Cincinnati's Crossroads Church try to scale their startups without selling their souls: What Would Jesus Disrupt? (This trend was pretty predictable. Half the CEOs in the valley have a Jesus complex.)


Bottom of the News

"In the world of important political documents -- from the Magna Carta to the Pentagon Papers -- there are also those known for more pedestrian reasons. Count Mitt Romney's binders full of women in that category." Well, all these years later, the Boston Globe has found the actual binders. Think about how much political discourse (and what we consider a notable gaffe) has changed in such a short time.

+ Slate: Why do movie villains have so many dermatological issues?

+ SF Gate: Who's making Trader Joe's food? An investigation of the secretive grocery chain.