Thursday, May 24th, 2018


Conscious Kim Jong Uncoupling

After months of a tumultuous relationship, President Trump sent his North Korean counterpart a Dear Jong letter. For now, the June 12th summit is off: "I was very much looking forward to being there with you. Sadly, based on the tremendous anger and open hostility displayed in your most recent statement, I feel it is inappropriate, at this time, to have this long-planned meeting." From Robin Wright in The New Yorker: In a Testy Letter, Trump Cancels the North Korea Summit.

+ Here's the full letter. (Sidenote: America needs a Secretary of Grammar.)

+ South Korea is disappointed. Putin is chiming in. Here's the latest from CNN.

+ Given the fact that Muammar Al-Gaddafi was killed several years after his weapons of mass destruction deal with the US, Libya was the one example American negotiators didn't want to bring up. Yet, both John Bolton and Mike Pence brought up Libya in the last week. One wonders what was up with that.

+ Meeting or no meeting, Kim Jong Un has been elevated. This is how North Korea already got some of what it wanted.

+ Vox: 9 experts explain what happens now.

+ One silver lining: The White House is still offering Trump-Kim summit coins, at a discount.


Living on the Edge

"In the last 16 years, parts of Louisiana have been struck by six hurricanes. Areas near San Diego were devastated by three particularly vicious wildfire seasons. And a town in eastern Kentucky has been pummeled by at least nine storms severe enough to warrant federal assistance." Want to avoid natural disasters? Consider avoiding these zip codes. From NYT Upshot: The Places in the US Where Disaster Strikes Again and Again.


The Way of the Gun

"The only gun shop in all of Mexico is behind a fortress-like wall on a heavily guarded military base. To enter the Directorate of Arms and Munitions Sales, customers must undergo months of background checks — six documents are required — and then be frisked by uniformed soldiers." If there's only one gun store in Mexico, then why is gun violence soaring? Here's a hint: "On this issue, like so many aspects of life in Mexico, the influence of its powerful neighbor to the north is keenly felt."


Lies Ahead

There was no birth certificate issue. There were no tapes of the Comey dinner. There were no Democratic spies. Anyone sensing a trend here? Let me lay it out for you. There is no Spygate. There is only Lie Gate.

+ Trump tweeted that James Clapper admitted to spying on his presidential campaign. He didn't.

+ "More than five years after one of the most horrific mass shootings in modern history, the families of Sandy Hook victims are still enduring daily threats and online abuse from people who believe bogus theories spread by Mr. Jones, whom President Trump has praised for his 'amazing' reputation." NYT: Sandy Hook Families Sue Alex Jones, Conspiracy Theorist. (This is America's most vital battle. The battle to save truth.)


Anthem Coverage

"If somebody takes a knee, that fine will be borne by the organization, by me, not the players. I never want to put restrictions on the speech of our players. Do I prefer that they stand? Of course. But I understand if they felt the need to protest." The Jets owner says he'll pay the fines if players choose to take a knee during the anthem. (Fun fact: "Johnson is currently acting as owner of the team while his brother, Woody Johnson, serves as Trump's ambassador to Britain.")

+ Meanwhile, President Trump lauded this week's move by NFL owners. To players who choose to kneel or remain in the locker room: "Maybe you shouldn't be in the country." (Until recently, this was precisely the country where you should be if you wanted the right to protest.) I said it yesterday, and I'll say it again: The reason I always stand for the national anthem is because I live in a country that allows citizens not to.


Stock Footage

"Netflix's growth has been spurred by a slew of original shows, including Narcos, The Crown, and Jessica Jones. But to keep the hits coming, Netflix has been paying big bucks. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos has said the company will spend $8 billion on content this year — directly in line with competitors like Time Warner, Disney, and Fox when it comes to non-sports programming." It's a risky strategy. But it's one that the market seems to like. As of today, Netflix is worth more than Disney and Comcast.


What Elon Strange Trip It’s Been

From Tesla to SpaceX, I'm not sure I've seen a business titan get more glowing press than Elon Musk. And yet, he's decided to take some time away from running companies, digging tunnels, and selling flamethrowers to attack the media, including the great reporters at the Reveal and the Center of Investigative Reporting. It might be time for Elon to take a few days off and recharge the batteries.

+ This was the Reveal report that lit the fuse. And this is their latest piece on worker conditions at Tesla.

+ Buzzfeed's Ben Smith: "Musk may be trying to ape Trump's tactics, but his absurd charge — ask Exxon or Ford if they'd swap their press for Tesla's — reveals something different: how little the tech barons shaping the new ways we live and consume information understand about journalism."


Pulling a Punch

"I am taking this very righteous step, I believe, to correct a wrong that occurred in our history and to honor a truly legendary boxing champion. It's my honor to do it. It's about time." In the culmination of a process that began with a call from Sylvester Stallone, President Trump issued a pardon for Jack Johnson.

+ "The search for the 'white hope' not having been successful, prejudices were being piled up against me, and certain unfair persons, piqued because I was champion, decided if they could not get me one way they would another..." Ken Burns did a documentary on Jack Johnson called Unforgivable Blackness. Here's the trailer.


Dry Hump?

"Compared with cow's milk, [it] has five times the vitamin C and ten times the iron ... It doesn't contain the whey proteins found in cow's milk that contribute to dairy allergies." The World Wants More Camel Milk. Australia Can Help.


Bottom of the News

"One airman said he felt paranoia. Another marveled at the vibrant colors. A third admitted, 'I absolutely just loved altering my mind.'" It's probably fine that a few consenting adults wanted give LSD a try. It's less fine that those consenting adults were in charge of securing nuclear missiles.

+ "Like a Homeric parable, it is only available to players who can overcome hubris and ignore the temptation of personal glory." Slate on the most ruthlessly effective move in sports: The Kickball Bunt.

+ In addition to causing some unfortunate destruction, Hawaii's Kilauea volcano is putting on a photographic show for the ages. Here are the shots from The Big Picture and InFocus.