November 15th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Hitting the water pipe, how Facebook knows everything about you, and new NextDraft T-shirts.

“By 2020, the average age of the 1.6 million miles of water and sewer pipes in the United States will hit 45 years. Cast iron pipes in at least 600 towns and counties are more than a century old, according to industry estimates. And though Congress banned lead water pipes three decades ago, more than 10 million older ones remain, ready to leach lead and other contaminants into drinking water from something as simple as a change in water source.” But before we replace the old pipes, we’ve got to decide what to replace them with. Do we go with the traditional metals (that some say have caused some problems in the past) or with the upstart plastics (with problems unknown)? This is America, so we’ll settle the debate the way we always do: With a hell of a lot of lobbying (and, one imagines, the occasional tweet). And “how the pipe wars play out — in city and town councils, in state capitals, in Washington — will determine how drinking water is delivered to homes across America for generations to come.” So if you’ve got an opinion, you better pipe up now. From the NYT: The $300 Billion War Beneath the Street.

+ “Overall, we found that approximately 275 fewer children were born in Flint than we would have expected had the city not changed its water source.” From The Atlantic: The ‘Horrifying’ Consequence of Lead Poisoning. If you want to understand why a lot of people don’t trust government and other institutions, just follow the (ongoing) water story in Flint.


I Am The Algorithm

Just in time for the holiday season (oh the hell with it, this is Trump’s America and political correctness is over and I’m just gonna call it what it is: Hanukkah Season) we’ve got great new NextDraft t-shirts ready for your order and priced to move. The line-up includes I Am the Algorithm, Link Different, and a couple of old favorites. They really look great. So order yours today and wear your real news colors proudly.

+ I know some of you are reading about t-shirts and wondering where the heck your stickers are. Well, if you ordered one, it’s on the way (or will be soon). It turns out I underestimated the draw of free stickers (and the horrific pain of stamping and stuffing 4,000 envelopes).


Land of the Lost

“What is new, and unusual, about today’s far right is the large number of young people, most of them men, who have been drawn into its orbit—or, as they would put it, ‘red pilled.’ The metaphor comes from The Matrix, the dystopian science-fiction movie in which the protagonist, Neo, is offered a red pill that allows him to see through society’s illusions and view the world in its true, ugly reality.” Angela Nagle in The Atlantic: The Lost Boys: The young men of the alt-right could define American politics for a generation. (This is a companion piece to one I linked to yesterday: The Making of an American Nazi.)

+ CityLab: So You Accidentally Booked a White Supremacist Band… (The first clue was when your request for Hava Nagila was met with blank stares.)


Pastor Present?

“He’s totally well-known and extremely popular in Alabama.” Even though Roy Moore isn’t showing any signs of backing down, Mitch McConnell is floating the idea of having Jeff Sessions run as a write-in candidate (which would mean we’d need a new Attorney General which would mean, as a news aggregator, there’s a decent chance my head would explode…).

+ That letter with 50 pastors supporting Moore appears to have been recycled from a few months ago, before the scandal. But Moore still seems to have plenty of support from religious leaders.

+ If an adult dating a 14 year-old girl is bad, then isn’t marrying one worse? You might be surprised how the law answers that question: “Twenty-five states do not set a minimum age at which a person can get married, and eight more set it at an age lower than 16. Alaska and North Carolina, for example, set the age at 14. In New Hampshire it’s 13 for girls, 14 for boys.”


I Know What You Did Next Summer

“Behind the Facebook profile you’ve built for yourself is another one, a shadow profile, built from the inboxes and smartphones of other Facebook users.” Kashmir Hill explains how Facebook figures out everyone you’ve ever met.

+ “Courtney was beginning to feel trapped in a world of anonymous abuse. She didn’t know if she would be able to convince anyone that what she believed to be happening was real.” Wired: How one woman’s digital life was weaponized against her.


A Terrible Floor Plan

“Neal, identified as the gunman who killed five people in a string of shootings Tuesday, shot and killed his wife the previous night and concealed her body under a floor in his home.” Police find grim clues about a shooter who killed five and took aim at a school before being killed. (One sad aspect of the story is that before we learned about the dead wife under the floorboards, this mass shooting barely made the headlines. It apparently didn’t even warrant its own tweet…)

+ “Tehama County Assistant Sheriff Phil Johnston said Neal earlier in the year stabbed the woman, whom he did not name.” This guy did not exactly hide the signs he was about to snap

+ “I really want to say that the quick action of those school officials, there is no doubt in my mind based on the video that I saw, saved countless lives and children.” Reading, Rifles, and ‘Rithmetic…


Mandate with the Devil?

“The plan released Tuesday night mixes two red-hot debates by adding a repeal of the Obamacare law’s individual mandate to their tax legislation.” Bloomberg: Senate Republicans Toss Potential Obamacare Bomb Into Tax Bill.

+ The Hill: Nearly 1.5 million sign up for ObamaCare in first 11 days.

+ WaPo: “Although party leaders were deeply reluctant to insert the political hot potato of Obamacare into the tax debate, President Trump has heavily pressured the GOP to include it.” Some excellent analysis of the the increasingly heated debate in DC.


Grace Under Fire

“As dawn broke over Harare this morning residents looked out of their windows to see soldiers patrolling the streets. After a day and night of frayed nerves, with rumours of a coup and sightings of troop movements, the plotters struck.” The Economist: Zimbabwe’s army mounts a coup against Robert Mugabe.

+ “Grace Mugabe’s political ambitions may have been as much about self-preservation as an instinct to lead. She has two sons and a daughter with the 93-year-old president. Libya is not the only case study to demonstrate that history is not always kind to family members who outlive a long-term authoritarian ruler.” The Guardian: The rags to riches rise and fall of ‘Gucci Grace’. “There was the extraordinary incident in which she allegedly assaulted a young model in Johannesburg – and needed diplomatic immunity to avoid an embarrassing court case. There was the bitter feud with the vice-president and rival to succeed her husband, Emmerson Mnangagwa, which resulted in her denying she plotted to poison him.”

+ The military is saying it’s not a coup, but Robert Mugabe is currently under house arrest.


Betting the Over Down Under

“More than 12.7 million people – about 79.5% of eligible voters – took part in the eight-week poll, which asked one question: “Should the marriage law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” By a decisive margin, Australians show their support for same-sex marriage.


Bottom of the News

It’s that time of year when you’ll be seeing It’s a Wonderful Life as you flip through the channels. That makes this a good time to remind you it was sort of a flop. Here are 11 beloved movies that were box office flops.

+ Whether it was intentional or just a stroke of pure luck, AP has come up with a headline that aptly sums up all of 2017: Back from Asia, Trump resumes morning tweets and slams media.

+ Meanwhile, Jimmy Kimmel found an alarming number of people who want to impeach Hillary Clinton.

+ “The incident capped what had been a jovial evening.” Diplomat falls to his death playing ‘trust game’ on NYC terrace.

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