Wednesday, January 23rd, 2019


This SOTU Shall Not Pass

The shutdown continues. And somehow the debate has shifted from re-opening the government to whether or not Trump will actually give the State of the Union address in the usual place and at the usual time. Meanwhile, the protesters that packed the Senate's Hart Office building didn't seem all that concerned about that speech (after 32 days of this shutdown, we sort of all know what the state of union is anyway). Here's the latest on the shutdown. As of right now, Trump says he's planning to give a speech. Pelosi has informed him he's not invited to give it in the House chamber. Even by today's standards, this could get weird. (Maybe Trump should give the speech in the Covington High School Gymnasium...)

+ Meanwhile, "Michael Cohen announced he is postponing his public congressional testimony that was scheduled for February 7, citing 'ongoing threats against his family from President Trump' and his attorney." (Related: Anyone want to buy a new TV, a popcorn maker, and a few hundred rows of bleacher style seating?)


If You Can Make it Here…

"They make a show of putting their own countries first and breezily dismiss concerns about international law or human rights. They seek to bend the rules to their will, excoriating 'the deep state' for getting in their way. And when they are challenged by the press or other critics, they have a two-word rejoinder: fake news." As WaPo found, one of the most worrisome trends of the Trump era is happening outside of America. Around the globe, Trump's style is inspiring imitators and unleashing dark impulses. "In interviews on four continents, diplomats, rights activists and foreign officials said that after two years of Trump using the world's most powerful megaphone to cheer authoritarians, bully democratic allies and denigrate traditional American values, the impact on how others govern is becoming clear."


Caracas and Effect

"President Maduro's re-election in May 2018 was labelled a sham by much of the international community. The main opposition boycotted the poll and there was reports of vote-rigging in Mr Maduro's favour. The US has signalled their strong backing for the opposition." At least four people have died in Venezuela as thousands have taken to the streets to march in protest against President Nicolás Maduro.

+ "The people of Venezuela have courageously spoken out against Maduro and his regime and demanded freedom and the rule of law." Trump recognizes Venezuelan opposition leader as nation's president.

+ AP: "Backed by hundreds of thousands of protesters and the support of the United States, Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president on Wednesday, calling for free elections to end the rule of socialist Nicolas Maduro."


Kill Zone

"A report released by Mexico's Secretariat of Security and Citizen Protection recorded 33,341 intentional homicides in 2018, a 15% increase over 2017, which held the previous record for the highest number of opened investigations with 28,866 cases." NPR: Mexico Reports Highest Ever Homicide Rate In 2018. (The drug war, still not going well.)


Valley Forge

"The software engineer who refuses to work at Amazon, even though it tried to hire her ... The designer who left Facebook because he felt its growth-at-all-costs strategy was wrong ... The senior engineer who quit Google in protest of its relationship with China." The tech industry is growing up. And some folks in tech don't like how things in Silicon Valley are turning out. From California Sunday Magazine: A sometimes pointed, sometimes resigned conversation with engineers, designers, research scientists, and job candidates who are pushing for a more ethical Silicon Valley: The Tech Revolt.

+ While employees are lobbying their companies, their companies are lobbying in DC. From WaPo: "Five of the largest U.S. tech companies poured a combined $64.2 million into federal lobbying efforts last year."


Brain Teaser

"His ideas come from so far outside the mainstream of neurological research that you might think he's crazy or deluded or worse. But then, some very credible people think he might be on to something big—which might make the improbable, quixotic story you are about to read one of the most important as well." Fortune: Could This Radical New Approach to Alzheimer's Lead to a Breakthrough? (Or could it at least guide us towards different approaches to finding cures?)

+ Defense One: How Electric Therapy Is Curing Navy SEALs of PTSD … And Could Remake Brain Science.

+ "Fox will always be best known for his Back to the Future films and his other acting roles — that's only natural. But his most important legacy is the Fox Foundation, the model it created, and the hope it has given to people who have Parkinson's disease." Joe Nocera in Bloomberg: The Michael J. Fox Foundation Gets Results.


Singer Wrong Righter

"The accusations against Singer cover a spectrum. Some of the alleged victims say they were seduced by the director while underage; others say they were raped. The victims we interviewed told us these experiences left them psychologically damaged, with substance-abuse problems, depression, and PTSD." The Atlantic on case against blockbuster director Bryan Singer: "Nobody Is Going to Believe You."


From Bad to Nurse

"A licensed practical nurse who was caring for the woman at the Hacienda HealthCare facility, has been arrested and is being booked on preliminary charges of sexual assault and vulnerable-adult abuse." CNN: A nurse is accused of impregnating a woman in a vegetative state who later gave birth.


Divine in Tuition

"Some need to bolster recruiting in the face of major financial challenges. Others want to escape a pricing formula that assumes prospective students view high tuition as a mark of educational quality even though they simultaneously seek significant discounts or financial aid." Whatever the reasons, there's a new trend in higher eduction: Lower tuition. WaPo: Attention, college shoppers. These schools are slashing their prices.


Bottom of the News

"The internet could remain down for two to three weeks." Those are some ominous words. Buzzfeed: A Cable In The Middle Of The Ocean Broke And Now Tonga Has Almost No Internet.

+ Variety: James Gandolfini's Son Michael Gandolfini Cast as Tony Soprano in Sopranos Movie.

+ This visualization of light traveling from Earth to Mars in real time is a crazy reminder of how big our solar system is.