Tuesday, July 11th, 2017


Disorganized Crime Family?

For months we've been hearing that there's only smoke when it comes to indications that the Trump campaign team colluded with Russia. Today, we've got our first glimpses of fire by way of a collection of emails released by Donald Trump Jr (he shared them on Twitter just before the NYT was set to publish them). Trump Jr was invited to a meeting in which he would gain access to material that was harmful to Hillary Clinton's campaign and which was "part of Russia and its government's support for Mr. Trump." His response: "If it's what you say I love it." The email exchange suggests that the subsequent meeting may have broken campaign laws (at the least). No matter how you look at it, President Trump is having a bad heir day.

+ WaPo: Donald Trump Jr.'s full emails about meeting a ‘Russian government attorney,' annotated. (It always comes down to emails...)

+ The president's initial response came through his spokesperson: "My son is a high quality person, and I applaud his transparency."


Pipe Reams

"Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers (ISPs) treat everyone's data equally – whether that's an email from your mother, a bank transfer or a streamed episode of The Handmaid's Tale. It means that ISPs don't get to choose which data is sent more quickly, and which sites get blocked or throttled." One of the key fights over the future on the Internet is back on the battlefield this week, as net neutrality is once again at risk. From The Guardian: Companies including Facebook, Google and Amazon will band together on July 12th to raise awareness about a threat to the open internet. So what's the big deal?


Has ISIS Lost Its Head?

"The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights is a London-based monitoring group that is widely relied upon by Western news organizations for information on the Syrian civil war. It is seen as reliable in its reporting." And they've confirmed the Russian report that ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is dead. This latest confirmation comes as ISIS has lost Mosul and is close to losing Raqqa.


Animal Harm

"Wildlife is dying out due to habitat destruction, overhunting, toxic pollution, invasion by alien species and climate change. But the ultimate cause of all of these factors is 'human overpopulation and continued population growth, and overconsumption, especially by the rich.'" A new study suggests that humans are ruining things again and that Earth's sixth mass extinction event is already under way.

+ NYT: "A warehouse in Colorado offers evidence of the immense demand for goods made from threatened and endangered animals." A Mausoleum for Endangered Species. (Humans can be a pretty sick bunch.)

+ Happier animal photos from the 2017 Audubon Photography Awards.


Chapel Hills and Valleys

Fewer Americans are getting married these days, and like many other topics, marriage "has become a clear dividing line in a stratified country. Its decline is most pronounced among those who didn't go beyond high school, as better educated people tend to marry each other. America's working and middle classes are faring badly, and the research points to unraveling families as one cause." To better understand the numbers, let's go to a place being hit hard by the marriage decline: Las Vegas.


Milli Vanilli’s Revenge

We've seen the impact of fake headlines and photoshopped images. Well, the next level of deception is more impressive (technically) and more dangerous for those of us still stubbornly clinging to the last vestiges of reality. From The Atlantic: Computer scientists can now make realistic lip-synched videos -- ostensibly putting anyone's words into another person's mouth.


Town and Country

Mark Leibovich (author of This Town) has always done a great job explaining the inner workings of DC. In this week's NYT Mag, he riffs on what has changed (and what hasn't) since Inauguration day. This Town Melts Down. "Trump was elected in part by portraying and revealing politicians to be feckless weenies -- and many of them went out and reinforced this view by displaying their willingness to be rolled by Trump in the campaign and unwillingness to stand up to him in office. This gets to one ethic of This Town that has endured and that Trump has reinforced: The interests of self-perpetuation drive nearly everything."


Who’s On First?

It's pretty much a sure thing that LA and Paris will host the 2024 and 2028 Olympics. As long as they can decide which city gets to go first.


Prime Choice

You've undoubtedly noticed that today is Prime Day, a newly-invented excuse to shop brought to you by Amazon. The fact that the holiday is being "celebrated" across the web is a sign of Amazon's influence on the shopping landscape. A bigger sign: The faux-holiday is now being observed by Amazon's ecommerce competitors.

+ Call me old fashioned, but to me, July 11th will always be Free Slurpee Day.


Bottom of the News

Pour one out for Gangnam Style. The song that entertained, irritated, and eventually haunted the world during its five year reign as the YouTube's biggest hit, has officially been dethroned. Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth's See You Again is the new champ. (But nothing lasts forever, and my video of my cat playing fetch has surged past the 100-view mark.)

+ Shanghai's umbrella sharing start-up lost nearly all of its 300,000 umbrellas in a matter of weeks.