Tuesday, October 30th, 2018


Citizen Con

In his latest salvo to boost rage ahead of the midterms, President Trump says he's considering an executive order to end birthright citizenship. Yes, because the threat of toddler caravans invading America via our southern border isn't scary enough, we're now getting tough on newborns. From Trump: "We're the only country in the world where a person comes in and has a baby, and the baby is essentially a citizen of the United States for 85 years with all of those benefits." (Surprise: That's not true. "More than 30 countries, including Canada and Mexico, have similar policies.") WaPo: Trump eyeing executive order to end birthright citizenship, a move most legal experts say runs afoul of the Constitution. Welcome to Birtherism 2.0.

+ "All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." AP: A look at the 14th Amendment's Citizenship Clause.

+ Buzzfeed: The US Soon Will Have More Troops Along The Mexican Border Than It Has Fighting In Iraq And Syria.


I’ll Stop the World And Melt With You

"The WWF says the biggest drivers of the declines are habitat loss and overexploitation, but says climate change is a growing threat." According to a recent study, 60% of world's wildlife has been wiped out since 1970.

+ "Climate change has since left an unmistakable mark. Winter air on the western peninsula has warmed more than 10 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1950s. Winds drive changes in ocean circulation that bring warmer deep water toward the surface ... Sea ice now appears later and disappears faster: The ice-free season on the western peninsula lasts a full 90 days longer than in 1979. For a Northern Hemisphere equivalent, imagine summer suddenly stretching to Christmas." NatGeo shares the cold hard truth (and some amazing images) from the Antarctic Peninsula, where the rules of life are being ripped apart.

+ "Those rising temperatures are creating an epic underwater refugee crisis among marine life." Reuters with an interactive look at the planet's hidden climate change. Ocean Shock.

+ Vox: America is warming fast. See how your city's weather will be different in just one generation.


Mourn Ultimatum

President Trump was asked by Pittsburgh city leaders not to visit on the day the Tree of Life victims were being buried. Many invited leaders from the region and beyond have refused to join the president on his visit. But he's going anyway. WaPo's lede sums it up: "A mourning family doesn't want to meet him. Leaders of his own party declined to join him. The mayor has explicitly asked him not to come. And yet President Trump plans to visit this grief-stricken city Tuesday, amid accusations that he and his administration continue to fuel the anti-Semitism that inspired Saturday's massacre inside a synagogue." (Reminder: Trump held a rally hours after the massacre and followed that up with a tweet about the World Series.) Here's the latest from CNN.

+ "We're here to take care of sick people. We're not here to judge you. We're not here to ask 'Do you have insurance?' or 'Do you not have insurance?' We're here to take care of people that need our help." WaPo on the powerful humanity of the Jewish hospital staff that treated Robert Bowers. From Allegheny General Hospital president Jeffrey K. Cohen: "The gentleman didn't appear to be a member of the MENSA society. He listens to the noise, he hears the noise, the noise was telling him his people were being slaughtered. He thought it was time to rise up and do something. He's completely confused."


Trolling in the Deep

"Both of these guys made nasty, violent, prejudiced posts. Yet, as reporter after reporter has noted, their online lives were—to the human eye at least—indistinguishable from the legions of other trolls who say despicable things. There is just no telling who will stay in the comments section and who will try to kill people in the real world." Alexis Madrigal: The Dilemma of Anti-Semitic Speech Online.

+ "Before he opened fire inside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, killing at least 11 people who had gathered for Shabbat services, Robert Bowers, the alleged shooter, found a safe space to express the anti-Semitic hatred that was consuming him. 'There is no MAGA as long as there is a k*** infestation,' Bowers wrote on Gab. On Twitter or Facebook, Bowers's views would have gotten him banned; on Gab, he fit right in." Vanity Fair: Gab's Demise Is Just The Beginning Of A Horrific New Era Of Far-Right Extremism.

+ NYT: On Instagram, 11,696 Examples of How Hate Thrives on Social Media. (Editor's note: We need to stop pretending that the hate speech exploding across America is solely the result of social media. While social media hate speech is a very big problem, Fox News and Trump (and his enablers) are far more responsible than any social network. They have legitimized hateful lies, over and over. Gab didn't create the synagogue shooter. Look at his words. They're straight out of the Fox/Maga playbook.)


Fade to Black

"Three people briefed on the situation, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a fellow inmate with Mafia ties was being investigated for the slaying of the 89-year-old Bulger at the US Penitentiary Hazelton." Boston Globe: Whitey Bulger killed at federal prison in West Virginia

+ The New Yorker: The mobster Whitey Bulger secretly worked for the F.B.I. Or was it the other way around?


Let’s Dispense With the Formalities

"First, technological improvements to synthetic fiber have made products like spandex more flexible, durable, and washable than natural materials. Second, the modern fixation on healthy appearance has made yoga pants an effective vector for conspicuous consumption ... Finally, the blurring of yoga-studio fashion and office attire snaps into the long decline of formality in American fashion." Derek Thompson on yoga pants, tennis shoes, and the 100-year history of how sports changed the way Americans dress. Everything You Wear Is Athleisure. (My contribution to fashion is that I've managed to dress casually while still maintaining a look that suggests I never exercise or do yoga. I call it Internet Chic.)


Poll Position

The midterms will be all about turnout. There are aggressive efforts being made to get out the vote (and some underhanded efforts to keep people away from their polling places). For a good visualization of why turnout is everything, take a look at this piece from FiveThirtyEight: What If Only Men Voted? Only Women? Only Nonwhite Voters?


Meta Bollocks

"An ever-increasing number of new health companies are encouraging people to think and talk about nutrition: as a problem of personal technology, where losing weight isn't an experience of self-deprivation, but one of optimization, not unlike increasing a year-old iPhone's battery life or building a car that runs without gas." The Atlantic: The Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger Language of Dieting. (Or how devices that got you to sit around all day long will be the key to getting you back in shape...)


Juul Case

"It's just taking a page out of the playbook of the tobacco industry in teaching their own curriculum." Buzzfeed: Juul Offered Schools As Much As $20,000 To Roll Out A Vaping Curriculum It Developed.


Bottom of the News

Air Apparent: It's been years since I bought a new laptop. And it appears that my stubborn insistence on waiting for a new version of the MacBook Air has finally paid off. Analysts are busy assessing the market conditions that led to the new machine, but longtime readers know it was spurred by my open letter to Apple.

+ "In the midst of this crisis, a dystopian industry has emerged: Entrepreneurs from less-polluted countries are turning clean air into a commodity." A growing number of entrepreneurs are capitalizing on China's air pollution crisis by selling bottled air.

+ "Police and the bomb squad investigated the package, which contained a cassette tape by the band Journey." (So there's still, I suppose, a risk of a sonic boom...)