July 20th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Trump goes it alone, rethinking the milkman, Weekend Whats and a much needed dose of Feel Good Friday.

Every time you’re sure the story will slow, it accelerates. Every time you think it’s near bottom, it plummets. While it was once easy to imagine that a lot of the Trump/Russia storylines were overblown, it’s now easier to imagine that every hunch we’ve had about Trump will turn out to be true. This week, it really feels like the walls between us and the truth are beginning to come crumbling down. But then again, though I really believe it this time, I’ve felt this way before (like a thousand times in the past two years). In the latest shocker, President Trump has reportedly invited Putin for a visit (Sure, you can sow chaos via the internet, but let’s see you say it to our face.). Think you’re surprised? Take a look at the reaction from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats who added, “That’s gonna be special.” How special? Let’s review:

+ First, it’s clear that the intelligence community is working harder to get the facts out about what Trump knew (a lot) and when he knew it (long before all the witch hunt talk). NYT: “Two weeks before his inauguration, Donald J. Trump was shown highly classified intelligence indicating that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia had personally ordered complex cyberattacks to sway the 2016 American election.”

+ Will Hurd (former CIA office, current GOP congressman from Texas): “Over the course of my career as an undercover officer in the C.I.A., I saw Russian intelligence manipulate many people. I never thought I would see the day when an American president would be one of them.”

+ The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson: Why the President is so nice to Putin, even when Putin might not want him to be.

+ The most shocking news to come out of the Helsinki meeting (so far) is that Trump considered “allowing Russian investigators to question U.S.-born investor Bill Browder, former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul and others.” But as Susan Glasser explains in The New Yorker, “the real scandal of Helsinki may be only just emerging.” Why? Because no one in the administration seems to have any idea what was discussed or what was agreed to behind closed doors. The leader of the free world is winging it. The Trump-Putin Summit and the Death of American Foreign Policy.

+ NYT: Who Heard What Trump Said to Putin? Only One Other American. (But asking a translator to say what she heard in a such a meeting is a slippery slope…)

+ In the latest twist, today we learned that Michael Cohen Secretly Recorded Trump Discussing Payment to Former Playboy Model. (The thing to focus on here is that we’re getting hints of what beans Cohen could potentially spill. The story of an affair and coverup, while salacious and intriguing, has been rendered minor by recent events.)

+ Is everyone viewing this news the same way? Unsurprisingly, no. A New Talking Point From the Pro-Trump Fringe. “If Russia assists MAGA Candidates on the internet in this year’s midterms, that’s not the end of the world.” (No, not the world. Just the world order…)


Let the Motherf*cker Churn

When people used to question how I could be about a foot taller than my parents, my mom would respond, “Well, our milkman was very tall.” It turns out that was just one of the many ways we’ve falsely maligned the milkman and his wares over the years. James Hamblin on The Vindication of Cheese, Butter, and Full-Fat Milk.


Weekend Whats

What to Get: The folks over at Morning Brew provide a quick, fun overview of the days business and market news — with catchy headlines and pithy blurbs (and I know you like that combination). Between trade wars and global uncertainty, things are about to get crazy in the market. Don’t go it alone. Sign up for Morning Brew here, you’ll definitely dig it.

+ What to Doc: “A famous prison escape sparks the idea for a cult-like race that has seen only 10 finishers in its first 25 years. This award-winning, oddly inspiring, and wildly funny documentary reveals the sports world’s most guarded secret.” I love documentaries like this (others suffering impossible athletic conditions while I sit on the couch with my dogs), and this is the most like this documentary I’ve ever seen. The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young.

+ What to Brandi: A couple weeks ago I recommended Brandi Carlile. I was recently lucky enough to see her perform at a small venue and I recorded a couple songs for you. First, my favorite Brandi song: The Joke. And next, when she was introducing the song Evangeline, a train went by. And that, it turned out, was good news. Carlile also played The Joke with Benicio Bryant (Uh… wow) on Seth Myers last night.


Boat Tragedy

“We had boats out there, it was perfectly calm, and we had a high-speed wind system that just came out of nowhere.” NPR: 17 Dead After Amphibious Tour Boat Sinks In Missouri Lake.


Mark, My Words

“Everyone, Facebook included, wants to find a way out of the mess generated by every voice having a publishing platform. But what if there is no way out of it?” That’s Alexis Madrigal responding to Mark Zuckerberg’s comments about Holocaust denial on Facebook. “It’s hard to impugn intent and to understand the intent. I just think, as abhorrent as some of those examples are, I think the reality is also that I get things wrong when I speak publicly.” (Long story short, Mark Zuckerberg can’t be trusted as an editor of our news. Being good at building a social network has nothing to do with being smart about other things. We really need to learn that lesson. And we can’t leave this issue up to a machine either. News is too important to be sorted by an algorithm.)

+ Kara Swisher’s full interview with Zuckerberg is a worth a listen.

+ “False news traveled farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than the truth in every category of information, sometimes by an order of magnitude, and false political news traveled farther, faster, deeper, and more broadly than any other type.” HBR reports on their very interesting study: Truth Disrupted.

+ WaPo’s Monica Hesse with an anecdote that leads to the question of our times. “How do you address beliefs when they’re not rooted in reality? How do you tell someone, I’m trying to treat your fears seriously, but your facts don’t exist? How, as individuals, and how, as a country?”


When It’s Too Risky to Tell

“He grabbed my breasts … He put his hands in my pants and he touched my private parts. He touched me again inside the van, and my hands were tied. And he started masturbating.” The NYT on stories of sexual assault inside ICE detention. (You’re never in more danger than when people think you can’t tell anyone what happened. It’s a story migrants are all-too familiar with. For a closer look at this issue, check out the book: The Beast: Riding the Rails and Dodging Narcos on the Migrant Trail by Oscar Martinez.)

+ Buzzfeed: This Immigrant Returned To Her Dangerous Home Country — Where She’d Been Raped — After Having A Miscarriage In A US Detention Center.

+ Border Patrol accused of giving children rotten food and undrinkable water.

+ CNN: 1,606 parents possibly eligible for reunification with kids.


Trade War Mongers

A trade war is on. A currency war is brewing. As Bloomberg reports: “While there’s no shortage of doom and gloom coming from corporate America about President Donald Trump’s trade war with China, there is at least one U.S. industry cheering him on: textiles.”


All For (Jugger)naut

“When Amazon gets involved in anything from supermarkets to pharmaceuticals, the market knee-jerks in a very predictable way, wiping billions of dollars off the valuation of every other company in the industry. The logic, such as it is, is that Amazon is such a formidable competitor that no company can do well while competing with them. Except, that logic isn’t really borne out by any kind of evidence.” In Wired, Felix Salmon says we should stop being so worried about The False Tale Of Amazon’s Industry-Conquering Juggernaut. (We’ll see if he feels the same way when Amazon gets into business journalism…)

+ Best Buy Should Be Dead, But It’s Thriving in the Age of Amazon.

+ The Ringer’s Justin Heckert heads to Alaska for one last Blockbuster night.


You Better Sit Down for This One

From Quartz: “From ancient Egyptian artisans to Charles Darwin, who created the first modern office chair—yes, really—figuring out a better way to get stuff done while seated has been an age-old human obsession. Where will our deepening understanding of human physiology and psychology take the office chair next?” (Maybe I’m too contrarian. Just when everyone was switching to standing desks, I traded in my office chair for a couch.)


Feel Good Friday

“As Ms. Ginsberg grew older, she kept writing lyrics and poetry, and realized she needed to find new ways to reach an audience. How was she going to gain attention in a society where older women are neglected, silenced and often cast off? At age 93, she discovered a solution: death metal.” A 96-year-old who fled the Holocaust finds a new way to be heard.

+ “There are so many people out there that are survivors, but there are few that have a voice. I know that I’m one of the few that are being heard, so I just want to do right by people.” ESPN: Aly Raisman Takes The Floor.

+ “When she came through the door, I still saw her as a 13-year-old girl — and I still do somehow; it just doesn’t sink in that so many years passed. She looks exactly like I remember her.” WaPo: They survived the Holocaust, and then he rescued her from communism. Sixty-five years later, they’ve reunited.

+ Drone finds climber presumed dead on world’s 12th largest mountain. Allen had previously found encountering drones irritating, “but this has changed my perception of them.” (Ya think?)

+ New San Jose coffee shop gives people with disabilities job training.

+ Birmingham student receives car after walking almost 20 miles to work.

+ Feeling good yet? If not, try the dog photographer of the year awards.

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