February 7th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The emperor buys no clothes, another White House official is out, and What Elon Strange Trip It's Been...

Maybe it’s because the internet industry successfully transformed Casual Fridays into Casual Always. Maybe it’s because the cost of some clothing has dropped in recent years. Maybe it’s because millennials are more interested in experiences (and artisanally-crafted beards) than they are in enhancing their wardrobe. Whatever it is, the past few decades have not been trending in the right direction for apparel makers. “In 1977, clothing accounted for 6.2 percent of U.S. household spending, according to government statistics. Four decades later, it’s plummeted to half that.” (Don’t blame me. I’m wearing pretty much the same outfit right now as I wore in 1977.) From Bloomberg: The Death of Clothing.

+ We wear them so many places these days, it’s easy to forget that sneakers used to be for sports. Today, athleisure has overtaken athletics in the sneaker industry.


Eat, Pray, Lovehandles

“The 4,500 people of Musselshell County, Mont., collectively buy the least healthful groceries of any county in the United States. Their baskets are loaded with fat and sugar, Nielsen data show. They aren’t big on fiber or protein.” WaPo’s Caitlin Dewey on a new study that attempts to explain why eating habits are so bad in Musselshell (and counties like it). It turns out it’s not just about access to healthy food.


Me Two

The NYT on the latest Trump official to leave the building: “Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, said Wednesday that he would resign his position, a day after a news account that quoted his two ex-wives accusing him of physical abuse during the course of their marriages.” Porter added: “These outrageous allegations are simply false.” Here’s more from The Intercept: Former wives of top White House aide Rob Porter both told the FBI he abused them.

+ “Wynn is credited with taking the city’s casinos from the era of gin joints and saloons into modern luxury resorts, with suites and art galleries and high-end dining.” But after harassment claims (and settlements), Wynn Resorts will have to get used to life without Steve Wynn as CEO.

+ “According to the most recent Department of Defense data, 14,900 service members were sexually assaulted in 2016 — more than 40 per day on average. More than two-thirds of those assaults went unreported, the Defense Department estimates.” Task and Purpose: The Military Has Been Fighting Sexual Assault In Its Ranks For Decades, But Women Say It’s Still Happening. (And, during the last year, sexual assault reports doubled at West Point.)

+ “Anna didn’t know that in New York, there is no law specifically stating that it is illegal for police officers or sheriff’s deputies in the field to have sex with someone in their custody. It is one of 35 states where armed law enforcement officers can evade sexual assault charges by claiming that such an encounter — from groping to intercourse — was consensual.” Buzzfeed: This Teenager Accused Two On-Duty Cops Of Rape. She Had No Idea The Law Might Protect Them.

+ Vox: More than 60 women have filed sexual harassment complaints against IHOP, Applebee’s restaurants.


Steele Drumbeat

“Those who believe Steele consider him a hero, a latter-day Paul Revere who, at personal risk, tried to provide an early warning about the Kremlin’s unprecedented meddling in a U.S. campaign. Those who distrust him say he is merely a hired gun leading a political attack on Trump.” As the Mueller investigation makes progress and the memo wars continue, you’re going to be hearing a lot more about Christopher Steele. Here’s WaPo with an excellent look at who he is and we got here. Hero or hired gun? How a British former spy became a flash point in the Russia investigation.

+ Meanwhile, Russian efforts to influence American politics continue, unabated (and by some, unacknowledged). This is one way they do what they do. How Twitter Bots and Trump Fans Made ReleaseTheMemo Go Viral.


Assad State of Affairs

It’s largely gone from our headlines, but the onslaught in Syria continues. From the NYT: “At least 80 people were killed on Tuesday in Syrian government air and artillery strikes on besieged suburbs of the capital, Damascus, one of the last rebel-held strongholds. It was the bloodiest day so far in a weekslong escalation that prompted United Nations officials to issue an unusual call for an immediate cease-fire … Yet, Syria seems to have lost its hold on public attention, even though in the past year more than 8,000 people per day have been driven from their homes. In the north since mid-December, some 300,000 people have fled from their homes, some of them displaced for the second or third time.”


This is Not OK

“The roots of the fiasco are not hard to determine. As in Oklahoma’s northern neighbour, Kansas, deep tax cuts have wrecked the state’s finances.” Four-day school weeks and underpaid teachers are just the tip of the budgetary iceberg. From The Economist: What’s the matter with Oklahoma?

+ What happens when bad policies lead to massive education cuts? 6 Teenage Boys Are Running for Governor of Kansas.

+ Idaho Stripped Climate Change From School Guidelines. Now, It’s a Battle. (It’s the same battle being waged across America. The battle over reality. Related: EPA head Pruitt on the possibility that climate change might be good for you. And the coal lobbyist about to become the EPA’s second in command. )


Marching Orders

“I think we are all aware in this country of the President’s affection and respect for the military. We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them to the White House for a decision.” So said Defense Secretary James Mattis as the Pentagon considers ways to satisfy President Trump’s request for a military parade on the streets of DC. (Hopefully, the infrastructure bill covers potholes.) The last time we had a military parade in DC was in 1991, to mark the victory in the Gulf War.


House Arrest

“Thanks to the Internet of Things, I could live in my very own tech-mediated Downton Abbey. That’s the appeal of smart homes for most people, and why they are supposed to be a $27 billion market by 2021. But that wasn’t my primary motivation. The reason I smartened up my house was to find out whether it would betray me.” Gizmodo: The House That Spied on Me.


What Elon Strange Trip It’s Been

Here’s another great angle on the landing of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy outboard boosters. Think about it. During the same week, Dodge Ram ran a commercial that featured an MLK speech on the dangers of consumerism, Elon Musk launched a Tesla into space, in what come to known as the greatest commercial of all time. (The only bummer is that Musk realized he left his house keys in the glove compartment.)

+ Meanwhile, a flat-earther finally tried to fly away. His rocket didn’t even ignite. Darn, now we’ll never settle this debate.


Bottom of the News

“That they were the worst musicians in the world. They were no-playing motherf–kers. Paul was the worst bass player I ever heard. And Ringo? Don’t even talk about it … But you know who sings and plays just like Hendrix? Paul Allen” In Conversation with Quincy Jones. (And, yeah, Paul Allen can play guitar.)

+ Fun idea. What’s happening just offscreen of famous album covers?

Copied to Clipboard