Tuesday, June 6th, 2017


Bread Basket Case

NextDraft will be off on Wednesday. My kids have last day of school functions and I need to mentally prepare for Summer.

It's long been assumed that sourdough bread -- in addition to providing a superior experience to the tastebuds -- is a healthier choice than the much-maligned evil-doer of the carb aisle, white bread (cue boos and hisses). But a recent short term study led by a team of Israeli scientists found that this common assumption is wrong. Even more interesting, "their results showed that people vary substantially in how the two breads affect their blood sugar: Predictably, some people's blood sugar spiked more dramatically after eating white than sourdough, but unexpectedly, others' did the reverse." In other words, different breads drive a different physical result in a different people. (This study keeps alive my long-held theory that bagels will ultimately give me a six-pack.)

+ "Exposure to a rich array of indoor germs may actually be salutary, helping stave off a variety of illnesses." From the NYT: Are Pets the New Probiotic? (Now we know why cats clean themselves so much: to make sure they won't be helping us in any way.)


Reality Bites

"The government learned of the leak after a reporter contacted an individual working at another government contractor seeking an opinion about the document. That person then contacted authorities, sparking the investigation." From WaPo: Contractor charged in NSA document leak case. The name of the NSA-leaker who has been arrested is, rather remarkably, Reality Winner. (I hope we can add a comma between those two words before this is all over.)

+ The documents, leaked to The Intercept, were related to Russian efforts to hack voting machines ahead of the 2016 election. Here's the report.

+ The Outline: This is how not to leak top secret documents.

+ "The vast majority of people who do the National Security Agency's intercept work, who translate and analyze -- most of them are fresh out of high school." NBC News: How Did Accused NSA Leaker Reality Winner Get Security Clearance?


Fentanyl Stage

"Although the data is preliminary, the Times's best estimate is that deaths rose 19 percent over the 52,404 recorded in 2015. And all evidence suggests the problem has continued to worsen in 2017." The opioid crisis might feel like old news, but its associated deaths are escalating and "drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under 50." From the NYT: Drug Deaths in America Are Rising Faster Than Ever.

+ Vox: The opioid crisis changed how doctors think about pain. (If we're talking about the opioid crisis, we better also be talking about psychic pain.)

+ Buzzfeed: "Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, arrived on the US illegal drug market at just the right time, in 2012, to set off a wave of fatal overdoses like a match dropped into a gasoline tank."

+ "The two most exciting developments in psychopharmacology in the 21st century so far have been ketamine for depression and MDMA for PTSD." An interesting post: Is Pharma Research Worse than Chance?


Qatar’s Way

President Trump appeared to side with (and even take credit for) the Saudi-led decision to isolate Qatar. "So good to see the Saudi Arabia visit with the King and 50 countries already paying off. They said they would take a hard line on funding... extremism, and all reference was pointing to Qatar. Perhaps this will be the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism!" (Well, this and a handful of timely tweets...)

+ "Trump's visit changed the calculus. His speech emboldened the main Sunni powers not only to step up their confrontation with Iran and its 'proxies' but also to cut off Qatar." Fred Kaplan on Qatar: It's complicated. "As recently as last week, U.S. officials were singing Qatar's praises for its role in combating terrorism."

+ AP Analysis: "Gulf Arab nations often get considered one giant family, as many ruling tribes intermarried and have long ties stretching back to the days before oil turned dusty fishing villages into skyscraper-studded metropolises. But if the last day has proven anything, it's that every family fights."

+ And, about that $110 billion arms deal with the Saudis...


Murder, She Texted

"Can a person be charged and convicted in someone's death even if she was not with the victim when he died? And can a person be found guilty of killing someone based solely on what she said in text messages?" Those are the legal questions at stake in a Massachusetts case in which a teenaged girl is on trial for the texts she sent to a boyfriend who ultimately committed suicide.

+ Boston Globe: Read the texts at the center of the Massachusetts teen suicide case.


A Koch and Bull Story

In the days following Trump's climate treaty pullout, "more than 1,200 business leaders, mayors, governors and college presidents have signaled their personal commitment to the goal of reducing emissions." If you measure the reaction to the move and look at public opinion polls, you might be left wondering why Trump (and more interestingly, many Senators and others politicians) supported the move. From The New Yorker's Jame Mayer: In the withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, the Koch Brothers' campaign becomes overt.


Give it the Old College Buy

"The program seeks to address one key factor -- lack of income -- that might lure ex-offenders and former gang members back on the street. 'As much as we want to do good in school, we need money,' says Franklin, whose stipend goes toward his rent, groceries, and probation fees. 'I love this school stuff, but how can you live life without being financially stable as well?'" From CityLab: Why Boston is paying ex-gang members to go to college.


Decency Takes a Mulligan

"In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it's clear that the course wasn't free--that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament. Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization." Yes, we're all tired of Trump news, but this Dan Alexander piece in Forbes ... damn. How Donald Trump Shifted Kids-Cancer Charity Money Into His Business.


Pop Rocks

"Our popularity even predicts our physical health -- those who were least popular in childhood are more likely to have cardiovascular and metabolic illnesses decades later than those who were well-liked. One analyses suggested that the risks of unpopularity on our mortality is as strong as the risks that come from smoking!" From Scientific American: Cracking the Popularity Code. (If readership stats can't be applied to one's popularity, I'm totally hosed.)


Bottom of the News

"Falls are one of life's great overlooked perils. We fear terror attacks, shark bites, Ebola outbreaks and other minutely remote dangers, yet over 420,000 people die worldwide each year after falling. Falls are the second leading cause of death by injury, after car accidents." So if you're gonna fall, you better learn how to land. From Mosaic: How to fall to your death and live to tell the tale.

+ Here's the first footage of Alex Honnold's rope-free climb up El Capitan. (Forget climbing, I got too scared to even watch the whole video.)

+ Peter Sallis has died at the age of 96. You might not recognize the name, but you'd recognize the voice from Wallace and Gromit.

+ This may not be El Capitan, but there's no doubt it's the greatest waterslide-related performance of all time.