March 12th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

How did Trump become a man of god? Plus, May calls out Putin, and the White House show's who's afraid of the NRA.

“Trump’s past political stances (he once supported the right to partial-birth abortion), his character (he has bragged about sexually assaulting women), and even his language (he introduced the words pussy and shithole into presidential discourse) would more naturally lead religious conservatives toward exorcism than alliance. This is a man who has cruelly publicized his infidelities, made disturbing sexual comments about his elder daughter, and boasted about the size of his penis on the debate stage. His lawyer reportedly arranged a $130,000 payment to a porn star to dissuade her from disclosing an alleged affair.” And yet, Trump has maintained a remarkable level of support from evangelicals. And not just when compared to other flawed sinners. Trump “won four-fifths of the votes of white evangelical Christians. This was a higher level of support than either Ronald Reagan or George W. Bush, an outspoken evangelical himself, ever received.” The Atlantic’s Michael Gerson takes a look at how evangelicals came to support the least traditionally religious president in living memory (he may have been the least traditionally religious reality TV star as well): The Last Temptation.


Vladimir Bistu Shame

“It was an indiscriminate and reckless act against the United Kingdom, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk. And we will not tolerate such a brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil.” Theresa May says Russia is highly likely to be behind poisoning of spy in a British town. “Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country. Or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others.”

+ Putin, running out of excuses for election meddling, blames the Jews. (We should hear a strong US response condemning that suggestion any second now…)


The Saud Squad

“During months of captivity, many were subject to coercion and physical abuse, witnesses said. In the early days of the crackdown, at least 17 detainees were hospitalized for physical abuse and one later died in custody with a neck that appeared twisted, a badly swollen body and other signs of abuse.” The NYT on the signs that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman used coercion and abuse to seize billions.



“What keeps people glued to YouTube? Its algorithm seems to have concluded that people are drawn to content that is more extreme than what they started with — or to incendiary content in general.” Why is that a big deal? Because a lot of people watch YouTube, and a lot of people follow its autoplay algorithm down the rabbit hole.
Zeynep Tufekci in the NYT: YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century.

+ “Social-media platforms are “feedback machines, giving us not what we claim to want, nor what might be good for us, but what we actually pay attention to.” The New Yorker: Reddit and the Struggle to Detoxify the Internet.

+ Tim Berners-Lee: The web can be weaponized – and we can’t count on big tech to stop it.


Gun Shy

“Many of the student survivors have urged Washington to toughen restrictions on gun purchases, but such measures are fiercely opposed by the National Rifle Association, and the Trump plan does not include substantial changes to gun laws.” In fact, by calling for the arming of teachers, the Trump plan essentially calls for more guns. WaPo: White House vows to help arm teachers and backs off raising age for buying guns. (Last week Trump chastised Senators for failing to raise the age limit because they were “afraid of the NRA.”

+ The NRA sued Florida over its gun bill on the same day Gov. Scott signed it into law.

+ Buzzfeed: There’s a serious divide over gun policy between gun owners who are and aren’t NRA members.

+ Do You Know Where America Stands On Guns? Take the quiz. You might be surprised.


Risk Management

“Now, Ms. Morris says proudly, ‘we have fires, we use knives, saws, different tools,’ all used under adult supervision. Indoors, scissors abound, and so do sharp-edged tape dispensers (‘they normally only cut themselves once,’ she says).” In Britain, educators are rebelling against the overly cautious inspections and rules. They want to bring a little risk back to the playground.


Run Through It

“Here’s the most important thing I learned while writing a book on running and mental health: In clinical studies, regular aerobic exercise is as effective as antidepressants in reducing symptoms of mild to moderate depression. And that’s not just because moving might help you get into shape and feel better about yourself.” Slate: Running From the Pain.

+ WaPo: After a stroke, her decades of severe depression vanished.


A Package Deal

CNN: “A pair of package explosions that left two people dead in Austin, Texas, over the past 10 days share similarities and authorities said they suspect they’re connected … In both instances, a resident retrieved a package that blew up when it was opened. Both packages were not delivered via any mail services and both homes are those of African-Americans.”


Race Course

“When we decided to devote our April magazine to the topic of race, we thought we should examine our own history before turning our reportorial gaze to others.” National Geographic kicks off its race issue by examining its own racist history.


Bottom of the News

Today, many Americans are telling their kids to study hard and do their homework. Otherwise, they could end up being Secretary of Education. The Betsy DeVos 60 Minutes interview did not go well.

+ Mental Floss: 135 Amazing Facts for People Who Like Amazing Facts.

+ Minnesota’s 2018 Hockey Hair All Stars are finally here.

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