May 8th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Trump pulls out of the Iran deal, MeToo's Infinity War, and how Chicken Nuggets explain capitalism.

Much of the western world wanted him to stay in the deal. Germany, France, and Britain made last ditch efforts to convince him not to withdraw. But, at the White House on Tuesday, President Trump announced that the US is pulling out of the deal. “It is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement. The Iran deal is defective at its core.” From the TPP to the Paris climate accord to the Iran nuclear deal, America First is increasingly looking like America Alone. Is there a method to Trump’s pull out madness? And what comes next? To borrow a phrase: Stay Tuned.

+ Do you know what we just pulled out of? (More importantly, does Trump?) Here is a look at the Iran deal, explained in 9 graphics. And six questions about the Iran deal you were too embarrassed to ask.

+ Among those paying close attention to whether or not America would stand by its own deal: Kim Jong-Un.

+ In a rare move, Obama responds: “At a time when we are all rooting for diplomacy with North Korea to succeed, walking away from the JCPOA risks losing a deal that accomplishes – with Iran – the very outcome that we are pursuing with the North Koreans. That is why today’s announcement is so misguided. Walking away from the JCPOA turns our back on America’s closest allies, and an agreement that our country’s leading diplomats, scientists, and intelligence professionals negotiated. In a democracy, there will always be changes in policies and priorities from one Administration to the next. But the consistent flouting of agreements that our country is a party to risks eroding America’s credibility, and puts us at odds with the world’s major powers.”


Rhodes Warriors

The NYT on how opponents of the Iran deal tried to dig up dirt on an Obama aide: “For years, opponents of the nuclear deal with Iran have accused Benjamin J. Rhodes, a top national security aide to President Barack Obama, of scheming to sell the diplomatic agreement on false pretenses to the American people. Now, just as President Trump appears likely to announce his decision to withdraw from the deal, evidence has surfaced that the agreement’s opponents engaged in a sophisticated effort to dig up dirt on Mr. Rhodes and his family that continued well after the Obama administration left office.” (As you know, I judge the importance of news stories for a living. If tied to the Trump administration, this story of the Israeli firm hired to investigate Obama staffers involved in the Iran deal is absolutely massive. On its own, it’s big. Together with the Russia story, it establishes a clear and damning pattern of behavior.)

+ Here’s Ben Rhodes’ reaction to Trump’s withdrawal: “It took five years of diplomacy to build the sanctions regime and two years of diplomacy to reach a Deal. Trump is blowing that up with no understanding of what’s actually in the Deal, no plan for what comes next, and no support from our closest European allies, Russia or China.”


Me Too, Infinity War

The scariest six words in journalism: Ronan Farrow is on the phone. Last night, Farrow and Jane Mayer broke the latest story in the MeToo saga as they reported on four women who accused New York’s high profile Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of physical abuse.

+ Ag Reflex: Within 3 hours of the story being published, Schneiderman was out as AG.

+ WaPo: Trump’s long, angry feud with the New York attorney general now accused of abusing women.

+ Yesterday, Schneiderman’s office was investigating why the NYC DA didn’t pursue leads against Harvey Weinstein. Today, the NYC DA is investigating MeToo claims against Schneiderman. This lede in Bloomberg is a pretty clear reminder of just how widespread this scourge really is: “First Eric Schneiderman was investigating Cy Vance Jr. Now Cy Vance Jr. is investigating Eric Schneiderman.”

+ Meanwhile, at Nike, 11 senior managers have left “the company as it continues to overhaul its upper ranks amid widespread allegations of harassment and discrimination against female employees.”


Glass Backwards

“They include thousands of nearsighted Nigerian truck drivers who strain to see pedestrians darting across the road and middle-aged coffee farmers in Bolivia whose inability to see objects up close makes it hard to spot ripe beans for harvest.” These folks have a small problem. But the ramifications are massive. From the NYT: A Simple Way to Improve a Billion Lives: Eyeglasses.


Meat Market

“Chicken is already the most popular meat in the US, and is projected to be the planet’s favourite flesh by 2020. Future civilisations will find traces of humankind’s 50 billion bird-a-year habit in the fossil record, a marker for what we now call the Anthropocene. And yet responsibility for the dramatic change in our consumption lies not so much in general human activity, but capitalism.” The Guardian: The most telling symbol of the modern era isn’t the automobile or the smartphone. It’s the chicken nugget.

+ NPR: How Prized Bull Semen and DNA Testing Are Reshaping America’s Beef Herd.


Emma Dilemma

“After the tragedy in Parkland — just as after the tragedies in Las Vegas, Orlando and Newtown, Conn. — amateur sleuths on Reddit, Twitter and WordPress questioned the stories of those who publicly grieved. They called the victims ‘fakers,’ political operatives, employees of a ‘deep state’ bent on disarming Americans.” For these attack dogs, Emma Gonzalez became an Internet obsession after the Parkland shootings. You already know that. But in this case, we’re not talking about that Emma Gonzalez. As it turns out the consumers of the internet’s most heinous conspiracy theories aren’t all that big on making distinctions. WaPo: People think she’s a Parkland ‘crisis actor.’ It’s terrifying.

+ Slate: Clarence Thomas’ wife is spreading a conspiracy about a Soros-backed coup.


Happy Pending

“The most surprising thing is that age tends to work in favor of happiness, other things being equal. The most strange thing is that midlife slump is often about nothing.” In his new book, The Happiness Curve, Jonathan Rauch argues that life gets better after 50. “Academics have found increasing evidence that happiness through adulthood is U-shaped – life satisfaction falls in our 20s and 30s, then hits a trough in our late 40s before increasing until our 80s.”

+ “Questions of pleasure and desire go right to the core of what being a human in the world is all about. The ability to stimulate selected functional circuits in the brain purposefully and precisely raises some fundamental questions for us. What is happiness? What is a good life?” Nautilus on the science and philosophy of deep brain stimulation: Can You Overdose on Happiness?


It’s a Vlad Vlad Vlad Vlad World

Rachel Maddow on Vladamir Putin’s latest (and weirdest) swearing-in ceremony, including a much-expected (but still surprising) Steven Seagal sighting. Odd bit of pomp marks fourth inauguration for Vladimir Putin.


Class System

“To get a sense of what all this brand exposure looks like, just spend an hour in my middle school classroom. On a typical day, students start class with a warm-up activity posted on Google Classroom. After we go over their answers and I teach a lesson, I might direct my students to open Google Docs and start writing. ‘Remember to check Google Calendar and start studying for your next quiz! Oh, and don’t forget to turn in your writing on Google Classroom before Thursday!'” We talk a lot about Facebook’s lock on our data. But Google’s got our kids.


Bottom of the News

“Digital media is great, but experiencing music is more than just listening to a sound file — it’s sensual, it’s reels that turn and can be touched. When it comes to audio quality, nothing else in the analog world gets you closer to the experience of being right there in the recording studio.” That probably sounds like a pitch for vinyl. But vinyl is just a warm-up for audiophiles. Now, it’s time to bring back Reel-to-Reel.

+ Digital Jukeboxes are eroding the dive-bar experience. (In fairness, most people go to dive bars specifically to have their experiences eroded…)

+ The Bay Area is so expensive divorced parents can’t afford to live separately.

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