Tuesday, May 16th, 2017


A Who-Don-It Mystery

At about 10am on Monday morning, I tweeted: "Compared to last week, this news week is starting out quiet. Too quiet." As we all know by now, the respite was short-lived, as another White House scandal blanketed the headlines. First, WaPo reported that President Trump revealed highly classified information to a Russian foreign minister and ambassador. Then came the denials, followed by what is becoming a familiar plot twist: Trump appeared to undercut his staff by tweeting that he shared the info and has the absolute right to do so.

+ For the second time in two days, H.R. McMaster spoke to the media to make the administration's case: "It is wholly appropriate for the president to share whatever information he thinks is necessary to advance the security of the American people. That's what he did."

+ NYT: Israel said to be source of secret intelligence Trump disclosed to Russians.

+ Full disclosure: I fully expected that the Trump administration would be a disaster. But not a Firing the FBI Director and Sharing Secrets with a Spy in the Oval Office disaster… Here's my take: Hell in a Bucket.

+ "He apparently divulged the information to show off, which not only shows a lack of self-discipline: It shows, yet again, how easy this man is to play, particularly by veteran manipulators like his two experienced, talented, and thuggish guests." Eliot A. Cohen: The Terrible Cost of Trump's Disclosures.

+ The NYT's David Brooks: When the World is Led by a Child.

+ Someone should give SNL a heads-up that Fox's Kimberly Guilfoyle says she's talking with Trump administration about press secretary job. (Perfect start. She's leaked a story about herself.)


Wanna Get Away?

Later this week, Trump will wisely take a trip to a place where the political landscape is less fraught with obstacles and complexities: The Middle East. The New Yorker's Robin Wright on What Donald Trump Can Expect On His Tour Of The Middle East.


Word Problems

"I've had phone calls telling me to stop investigating certain murders or drug bosses. I've had to suppress important information because they could have my family killed if I mention it. Sources of mine have been killed or disappeared… The government couldn't care less. They do nothing to protect you. There have been many cases and this keeps happening." Javier Valdez spoke often about the risks associated with reporting on the drug cartels in Mexico. On Monday, he was dragged from his car and murdered. The BBC: "His words illustrate both the cost of printing the truth, and the bravery of those who continue to do so..."


Family Secrets

"After my mother died of leukemia, in 1999, Lola came to live with me in a small town north of Seattle. I had a family, a career, a house in the suburbs—the American dream. And then I had a slave." The late Alex Tizon's story about a woman who lived with his family for 56 years: My Family's Slave.


Rod and His Staff

"I'm usually just dressed in shorts, loose shirt, and slippers. No one ever notices me or the gun I have under my shirt. It's how I could get away with killing someone. When I'm close enough to a target, I can give him one in the head, one in the heart and casually walk away." Ana P. Santos talks to a pair of hitmen who made a career killing on behalf of Rodrigo Duterte.


Long Island Rebound

"The seriousness of the offense is among the most serious you can imagine. On the other hand, the value of the cooperation is among the most valuable you can imagine." The NYT"s Adam Goldman on the sentencing of Bryant Neal Vinas, a "onetime altar boy who grew up on Long Island" who joined Al Qaeda, but later helped the US stop terror plots: Service to Both Al Qaeda and U.S., With Fate Hanging in the Balance.


Let’s Get Small

Real Estate listings often feature coded words (cozy, charming) that really mean small. In Hong Kong, the "dark side to the property boom" has left some residents living in spaces so small that no euphemism would suffice. So they just call them coffin homes.


Circle Perk

"'This might be a stupid question,' I say. 'But why do you need a four-story glass door?' Ive raises an eyebrow. 'Well,' he says. 'It depends how you define need, doesn't it?'" In Wired Steven Levy takes you inside Apple's insanely great (or just insane) new mothership. For the cafe, the company even patented "a box that will keep to-go pizzas from getting soggy." (I'd tell you what kind of pizza they serve, but first you'll have to sign an NDA.)


Watch Me Now

"This study showed that we can detect that people are looking at us within our field of view –- perhaps in the corner of our eye – even if we haven't consciously noticed." The BBC on some research that helps explain what causes you to feel like you are being watched. (This only applies to your offline experience. When you're online and you feel like you're being watched, it's because you are.)


Bottom of the News

"Oh, absolutely over the moon." That's how Bryson William Verdun Hayes, a 101-Year-Old D-Day Veteran, described the feeling after he broke the record to become the oldest skydiver. (If he's anything like the rest of us, he probably just wanted to avoid Trump news for a few minutes.)

+ Letterman will be awarded the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.