August 21st – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

All Legal Hell Breaks Loose!

Michael Cohen used to boast that he’d take a bullet for Donald Trump. Well, the Southern District of New York didn’t send a bullet. They sent prosecutors and a mountain of evidence. That was enough for the fixer to break. As part of plea deal, Cohen appeared in court and admitted, among other things, that he committed campaign finance violations “at the direction of the candidate.” In other words, we’re likely to see a presidential tweetstorm the likes of which we haven’t seen since at least last weekend. WaPo: Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen pleads guilty to eight counts.

+ NYT: “The plea agreement does not call for Mr. Cohen to cooperate with federal prosecutors in Manhattan, but it does not preclude him from providing information to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, who is examining the Trump campaign’s possible involvement in Russia’s interference in the 2016 campaign. If Mr. Cohen were to substantially assist the special counsel’s investigation, Mr. Mueller could recommend a reduction in his sentence.” (This is a fast-breaking story. For updates, you can basically check anywhere. And get comfortable, because our already insane news cycle is about hit another level.)

+ In other massive legal news, Paul Manafort has been convicted on 8 of 18 counts (5 tax fraud charges, 1 charge of hiding foreign bank accounts, and 2 counts of bank fraud). Here’s the latest. (When Trump said he was the law and order candidate, he wasn’t kidding…)


Coal Porter

“Called the Affordable Clean Energy rule, the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal largely defers to states on how to curb coal plant pollution, the second-largest source of climate emissions in the US.” The EPA just released its proposal to gut Obama’s Clean Air Act.

+ The Guadian: Arctic’s strongest sea ice breaks up for first time on record.

+ Want to get to the truth about the risk of climate change? Follow the science. Either that, or follow the money. “Three studies have found evidence that the threat of higher seas is also undermining coastal property values as home buyers — particularly investors — begin the retreat to higher ground.” WaPo: Sea level rise is eroding home value.


Wheel of Misfortune

How bad is the housing affordability problem in major American cities? It’s so bad that it’s become a parking problem too. “More Americans are sleeping in their cars than ever before … After years of crackdowns, cities from Santa Barbara, California, to Kirkland, Washington, are trying a new strategy: safe parking programs.” Amy Pollard in Slate: Living Behind the Wheel.

+ Meanwhile, the bull market enters record territory.


Crate and Peril

“David Xol and his 7-year-old son, Byron, spent three days in a wooden crate on their way to the U.S. in May. After being separated from his son at the border, Xol was sent back to a remote village in the highlands of Guatemala. He has no idea when Byron is coming home.” Texas Tribune: Where is my son?


The Oligarch of Justice is Long

“The Russian military intelligence unit that sought to influence the 2016 election appears to have a new target: conservative American think tanks that have broken with President Trump and are seeking continued sanctions against Moscow, exposing oligarchs or pressing for human rights.” NYT: New Russian Hacking Targeted Republican Groups, Microsoft Says. Until there’s a price to pay, they’re gonna keep on keepin’ on, folks.


Self Storage, In. Self Control, Out.

“At the same time we are amassing all this stuff, Americans are taking up more space. Last year, the average size of a single-family house in America was 2,426 square feet, a 23 percent increase in size from two decades ago … The number of self-storage units is rapidly increasing, too: There are around 52,000 such facilities nationally; two decades ago, there were half that number.” The Atlantic’s Alana Semuels: How online shopping, Amazon, and cheap prices are turning Americans into hoarders. (Yeah, I buy that…)


Prison Break

With thousands of prisoners fighting fires in California and many more participating in various industries across the country, America’s prisoners are going on strike in at least 17 states. “Every single field and industry is affected on some level by prisons, from our license plates to the fast food that we eat to the stores that we shop at. So we really need to recognize how we are supporting the prison industrial complex through the dollars that we spend.”


Asia Specific

“I am deeply shocked and hurt by having read news that is absolutely false. I have never had any sexual relationship with Bennett.” Hold your think-pieces. Asia Argento denies she had a sexual relationship with James Bennett and says Anthony Bourdain paid Bennett off because he was “afraid of the possible negative publicity that such a person, whom he considered dangerous, could have brought upon us.”


Cast Iron

“Maxine’s gift quickly became apparent. In the same way that tennis prodigies are somehow able to get extra spin and power on the ball from their first days on a court, Maxine could make the fly come off the tip of her rod with a zip and efficiency that young casters rarely have.” The NYT on the 14 year-old Mozart of Fly Casting.


Bottom of the News

“Mondelez International, the parent company of Nabisco, has redesigned the packaging of its Barnum’s Animals crackers after relenting to pressure from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.” Animal cracker boxes will no longer feature cages. (So now the animal crackers are free. Inside a small box. Until we eat them.)

+ NYT: Happy Children Do Chores.

+ VMAs: 10 Memorable Moments From the MTV Awards Show. (In other news, MTV exists.)

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