Thursday, October 12th, 2017


Can I Get a Witness?

The Harvey Weinstein story is big because it involves a powerful perpetrator and celebrity victims operating in America's most obsessively observed industry. But it's also big because of its connections to the broader story of sexual harassment and abuse; who comes forward, how we treat them when they do, and what happens next. It's easy, now, to make public pronouncements about the repugnancy of Weinstein's monstrous history of abuse. What's more difficult is figuring out a way to urge more victims to come forward, and to ensure that they're not punished, in one way or another, for doing so. The New Yorker's Jill Tolentino with a short, powerful piece on how men like Harvey Weinstein implicate their victims in their acts.

+ Manohla Dargis in the NYT: Harvey Weinstein Is Gone. But Hollywood Still Has a Problem. "What largely separates Mr. Weinstein from other predators, within and without the entertainment world, is that he was once powerful, he got caught and a number of gutsy women are on the record."


Art of the Repeal

Congress couldn't repeal the Affordable Care Act, so President Trump is looking to dismantle it piece by piece by way of executive orders. Under the guidance of Rand Paul, the first of those orders was signed today. Vox on Trump's executive order to undermine Obamacare. "Trump wants to open more loopholes for more people to buy insurance outside the health care law's markets, which experts anticipate would destabilize the market for customers who are left behind with higher premiums and fewer insurers."

+ Boston Globe: What does Trump's one-man effort to end Obamacare actually mean?


Nature’s Thrall

After several days in which the Norcal fires have burned out of control and caused unbelievable damage, firefighters might finally be getting a few breaks from the weather. Addressing his team of sleepless fire-fighters, Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tom Gossner said: "We need to hit this thing hard and get it done. It's time to finish this thing." Meanwhile, the pockets of containment have allowed recovery crews into some areas to begin "the grim task of searching for bodies in the ashes of neighborhoods." Here's the latest from the LA Times.

+ Haunting drone video of a postal truck driving through streets where there used to be a neighborhood (accompanied by music that reflects how many people out here are feeling this week).

+ AP: Emergency alerts get scrutiny after deadly wildfires.


The Bully’s Pulpit

Here's a headline that, just a few months ago, would've been entirely unthinkable. After Prompt From TV Personality, Trump Threatens to Abandon Puerto Rico. As far as I can tell, Trump hasn't mentioned the fires or anything about visiting Northern California. As a resident, I thank him for that.

+ "Interior towns like Utuado and Barranquitas face total isolation, landslides, and dwindling supplies. FEMA estimates that over a third of the islanders are in need of water, a fact underscored by alarming reports that some people have tried to obtain drinking water from contaminated EPA Superfund sites. In all, millions of people are struggling to find basic necessities, and the presence of federal aid has been tenuous or lacking in rural areas. People are dying, and people will likely continue to die from worsening illnesses." The Atlantic: Puerto Rico's recovery is more uncertain than ever.


Freed Hostages Turn Down Ride?

From NPR: "An American woman, her Canadian husband and their three young children have been freed after five years in captivity by an extremist group in Afghanistan."

+ The couple was freed by the Pakistani military (although the details being shared don't make a lot of sense). Another odd part of the story: "The US had a C-130 ready to fly the family out of Pakistan but the husband did not want the US-supplied transportation, the American officials told NBC News. It was not clear why they rejected the opportunity to immediately leave."


Myanmar was Burning

"In the next violent blur of moments, the soldiers clubbed Rajuma in the face, tore her screaming child out of her arms and hurled him into a fire. She was then dragged into a house and gang-raped. By the time the day was over, she was running through a field naked and covered in blood. Alone, she had lost her son, her mother, her two sisters and her younger brother, all wiped out in front of her eyes, she says." From the NYT: Rohingya Recount Atrocities.

+ The New Republic: On a remote spit of land in the Bay of Bengal, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims are fighting for their lives.


The Buck Stops All Over Here

"The company's aggressively plain yellow-and-black logo is becoming the small-town corollary to Starbucks Corp.'s two-tailed green mermaid. (Although you can spot her on canned iced coffee at Dollar General, too.) Already, there are 14,000 one-story cinder block Dollar Generals in the US—outnumbering by a few hundred the coffee chain's domestic footprint." From Businessweek: Dollar General Hits a Gold Mine in Rural America.


Blind Dates

"Loose ties have traditionally played a key role in meeting partners. While most people were unlikely to date one of their best friends, they were highly likely to date people who were linked with their group of friends; a friend of a friend, for example." Online dating changed all that. And it's having broader impacts on who we marry, and how long we stay married. MIT Tech Review with the first evidence that online dating is changing the nature of society.


Bird Brain

Some technologists predict that we'll be able to control a computer or send a text using only our thoughts. It might sound like something out of a science fiction novel, but scientists have already figured out a way to read a bird's brain and predict its next song. "The team's main innovation was to simplify the brain-to-tweet translation." (Just what we need. Fewer barriers between brains and tweets...)


Bottom of the News

The news has been rough over the past couple weeks. It's even been hard to find items for the bottom of the news to offer a brief respite from the storm. I'm guessing this lede won't do the trick: "Scientists working in and around Yellowstone National Park say that the supervolcano sitting under the tourist attraction may blow sooner than thought, an eruption that could wipe out life on the planet."

+ How Video Games Satisfy Basic Human Needs. (This rings true for me. I only play solitaire.)