August 23rd – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Trump goes full mafia, Neanderthals will sleep with anyone, and what is holding wages down?

As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster…Donald Trump has been complaining about rats and flippers. “I know all about flipping. For 30, 40 years I’ve been watching flippers. Everything’s wonderful and then they get 10 years in jail and they — they flip on whoever the next highest one is, or as high as you can go … [It] almost ought to be outlawed. It’s not fair.” That could easily be a line from a classic mafia movie. And someday it might be. But for now, it’s America’s top official lamenting about the way federal crimes are often prosecuted. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg on Donald Trump’s Mafia Mind-Set. “What we see … is an implicit endorsement by the president of the United States of omertà, the Mafia code of silence.” Sadly for Trump, the feds have been quite effective at making his cronies an offer they can’t refuse.

+ You learned the two greatest things in life… never rat on your friends and always keep your mouth shut… From NY Mag: “It is obviously quite rare to hear a high-ranking elected official openly embrace the terminology and moral logic of La Cosa Nostra. But Trump is not just a guy who has seen a lot of mob movies.”

+ You go in alive, you come out dead and it’s your best friend that does it… Gabe Sherman in Vanity Fair: “Now Trump’s most powerful media ally next to Fox News has broken with him. According to two sources briefed on the Cohen investigation, prosecutors granted immunity to David Pecker, chairman of The National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc.” (We always knew Trump’s Pecker would come back to haunt him.)

+ Say hello to my little friend… Jeff Sessions fires back after Trump insults him by saying “what kind of a man is this?'” Sessions: “While I am Attorney General, the actions of the Department of Justice will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

+ Don’t ever take sides with anyone against the family… From CNBC: Michael Cohen paid a mysterious tech company $50,000 ‘in connection with’ Trump’s campaign. And equally troubling for the Trumps, Cohen is now talking to the NY Attorney General’s office about a damning case against the Trump Family Foundation, and maybe Trump, Inc too.

+ The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room… From Trump: “If I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor.”

+ Editor’s note: We’re all sick of Trump news, but just when we thought we were out, they pull us back in. You’ve got the best prosecutors in America going after an unashamed liar who surrounded himself with low rent thugs. We’ve just dipped a toe in what will be a bottomless pit of charges, indictments, and humiliations. Trust me, if you think this is even close to over, fuhgeddaboudit.

+ NextDraft will be off tomorrow. But don’t worry, I doubt there will be any breaking news…


Cave to Love

“When the results first popped up, paleogeneticist Viviane Slon didn’t believe it. “What went wrong?” she recalls asking herself at the time. Her mind immediately turned to the analysis. Did she make a mistake? Could the sample be contaminated? The data was telling her that the roughly 90,000-year-old flake of bone she had tested was from a teenager that had a Neanderthal mom and Denisovan dad.” (I don’t want to cast aspersions, but seriously, those Neanderthals will go for almost anyone…) NatGeo: Ancient Girl’s Parents Were Two Different Human Species.


Lane Changing

“What is for sure: Hawaii is going to be impacted. The question is: how bad?” Here’s the latest from CNN as Hawaii braces for Hurricane Lane.

+ The fierce power of Hurricane Lane, as seen from space.

+ “India’s southern state of Kerala is suffering its worst monsoon flooding in a century, with more than one million people displaced, and more than 400 reported deaths in the past two weeks.” As is often the case, the story is best told with photos.


This Didn’t Wage Well

“Unemployment has plummeted to 3.9 percent, the lowest level since the early 2000s. Earnings calls are replete with chief executive officers bemoaning employee shortages. Small businesses are also feeling the pinch … Despite this, wages are creeping higher rather than making the robust gains a hot labor market ought to produce. Accounting for inflation, paychecks actually shrank in July. The disconnect has surprised Wall Street economists and Federal Reserve policymakers alike.” Bloomberg: What’s Holding Back Wages in America?


Separation Powers

“So who is to blame, and will there be any accountability? The family-separation policy raised questions about Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which is responsible for the treatment of parents in detention, and the Department of Health and Human Services, which is tasked with caring for the separated children. But, a former government official told me, the prime movers behind zero tolerance were members of a ‘cabal of anti-immigration guys’ at the White House, the D.H.S., and the Department of Justice.” The New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer has been on this story since the beginning. And he’s justifiably sticking with it. Will Anyone Ever Be Held Accountable for the Zero-Tolerance Policy?


Murder Rap

“The story is a tragedy, an irreparable loss for Tibbetts’s family and community. It’s an illustration of the many inequities in the way American media outlets cover missing persons. And now, thanks to President Trump, it’s become a political hot button — even though that’s not what some of Tibbetts’s family wants.” Vox: A young woman disappeared in Iowa. Here’s why politicians got involved. The White House tweeted a suggestion that this case justifies the child separation policy: “The Tibbetts family has been permanently separated.” (If normal day to day politics makes you throw up a little in your mouth, this will make you projectile vomit.)


Getting Warmer

“His name never came up in the investigation. We have a master suspect list of over 8,000 names. All the suspects that each of us investigators had drummed up… And his name never was in that list.” That was decades ago. Before new advances in DNA technology. Rolling Stone: Cold-Case Cure: Inside a New Era of Hunting Serial Killers.


School of Glock

“As recently as March, Congress passed a school safety bill that allocated $50 million a year to local school districts, but expressly prohibited the use of the money for firearms.” That could change. NYT: Betsy DeVos Eyes Federal Education Grants to Put Guns in Schools.


Mushroom Cloud Nine

“Microdosing involves taking roughly one-tenth the ‘trip’ dose of a psychedelic drug, an amount too little to trigger hallucinations but enough, its proponents say, to sharpen the mind. Psilocybin microdosers (including hundreds on Reddit) report that the mushrooms can increase creativity, calm anxiety, decrease the need for caffeine, and reduce depression.” Stat: Microdosing is touted by shroomers. Science is starting to test their claims — and finding some truth. (Don’t look so surprised. You’re basically microdosing the news right now.)


Bottom of the News

According to The Atlantic: Posting Instagram Sponsored Content Is the New Summer Job. With “jobs you need to do a lot of training. Then you have to, like, physically go out and do the job for hours a day. Doing this, you can make one simple post, which doesn’t take a while. That single post can earn you, like, $50.”

+ The Eagles just took the all-time top album title from Michael Jackson. So this is as good a time as any for this from the BBC: Hotel California by the Eagles: What was it actually about? (Spoiler alert: Not much really.)

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