January 25th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

The government is reopening (sans wall), Roger Stone in shackles, Weekend Whats and Feel Good Friday.

Yesterday, I tweeted the following: “The shutdown is killing Trump at the polls and humiliating him everywhere from the media to the Senate floor. It will end within 24 hours. Watch.” With about two hours to spare, President Trump was in front of reporters in the White House Rose Garden to announce a deal to reopen the government, sans wall. It was inevitable, as the latest poll number indicated a cratering of support even within the Trump base. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of federal employees missed paychecks, struggled to make ends meet, and were put under great duress for what amounts to absolutely nothing — which is exactly the amount of wall funding Trump will get out of Nancy Pelosi. The big, beautiful wall began as a cheap, xenophobic, fear-mongering marketing stunt, and so it will remain.

+ In addition to all the other negative ramifications of this political stunt, Friday was the first day that the shutdown had a big impact on flight delays. But don’t believe the spin. Trump bent the knee because of the disastrous poll numbers. Here’s the latest on the reopening.


Everybody Must Get Stone

“Stone was charged by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III with seven counts, including one count of obstruction of an official proceeding, five counts of false statements and one count of witness tampering. After the early morning arrest at his home, Stone appeared briefly in federal court in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., wearing a blue polo shirt, jeans, and steel shackles on his wrists and ankles. The judge ordered him released on a $250,000 bond.” Looks like Mueller got another witch. WaPo: Longtime Trump adviser Roger Stone indicted by special counsel in Russia investigation.

+ “Perhaps the most surprising detail of the indictment is that Stone, a famous braggart, often downplayed the significance of his role as a conduit between the Trump campaign and Assange. He was not, as he has previously said, simply guessing and making vague predictions about the actions WikiLeaks was likely to take; he was an active participant in its attempts to cause chaos in the 2016 Presidential election.” Adam Davidson in The New Yorker: Robert Mueller Got Roger Stone.

+ WaPo: With a Godfather reference and a Nixon quote, Mueller accuses Roger Stone of witness tampering.

+ Stone outside the courthouse: “As I have always said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” (Actually, doing hard time in a federal penitentiary is worse than both…) The latest on the Stone fallout.


Weekend Whats

What to Doc: Come for the weird Nixon back tattoo. Stay for the even weirder everything else. On Netflix, Get Me Roger Stone. Also on Netflix, an interesting look at Fyre, the greatest party that never happened (the spelling error in the festival’s name served as a decent warning sign). And don’t miss the Monday night debut of an HBO documentary on two remarkably interesting and entertaining NYC newspaper columnists Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill. Breslin and Hamill: Deadline Artists. They were kings of an industry that has evaporated. “In 1988, the New York Daily News, the tabloid both Breslin and Hamill called home at times, had 400 reporters and editors. Thirty years later, that number was 45.”

+ What to Read: “Ten days before I met him at his home in British Columbia, Dave Asprey went to a clinic in Park City, Utah, where a surgeon harvested half a liter of bone marrow from his hips, filtered out the stem cells, and injected them into every joint in his body ‘Hey, I’m unconscious, you’ve got extra stem cells—put ’em everywhere!’ Everywhere meaning his scalp, to make his hair more abundant and lustrous; his face, to smooth out wrinkles; and his ‘male organs,’ for—well, I’ll leave that part up to your imagination.” Rachel Monroe in Men’s Health: The Bulletproof Coffee Founder Has Spent $1 Million in His Quest to Live to 180. (He should open up 75 news tabs every morning. I’m already 180.)

+ What to Newsletter: I always find something of interest in Recomendo, a weekly newsletter that gives you 6 brief personal recommendations of cool stuff.


That Was Ven, This is Now

“His regime is morally bankrupt, it’s economically incompetent and it is profoundly corrupt. It is undemocratic to the core.” That description could describe a lot of executive branches, but in this case Mike Pompeo is describing Venezuela’s president (or former president, depending on who you ask) Nicolás Maduro. In the past two years, leaders who fit that description have often been lauded by President Trump. What changed? NYT: President Trump has finally met a strongman he does not like.

+ The Economist: Why have Venezuelans turned against Nicolás Maduro? (Starvation, for starters.)

+ Bloomberg: Cocaine, Payola: How Maduro Keeps Top Military Brass in Line.

+ An excellent photo essay from InFocus: A Venezuelan Opposition Leader Declares Himself Interim President.


This is The Trend, My Friend

“2018 was hotter than any year in the 19th century. It was hotter than any year in the 20th century. It was hotter than any year in the first decade of this century. In fact, with only three exceptions, it was the hottest year on Earth since 1850. Those three exceptions: 2018 was slightly cooler than 2015, 2016, and 2017.” The World Just Experienced the Four Hottest Years on Record.

+ Here’s Columbia University Professor Jason Bordoff with a quick interview that provides an overview of the state of energy and climate change. (Fun fact: Immediately after this interview Jason got a text from his mom asking why he wasn’t wearing a jacket. Classic.)


Breaking Up is Hard(er) to Do

“By allowing these messaging apps to speak to one another across platforms, Facebook is no doubt hoping that it will keep its users more engaged and get them to use this merged system as their primary messaging service.” (Either that, or they’re trying to make it harder for the government if it calls for the company to be broken up.) Facebook plans to let Messenger, Instagram, and WhatsApp users message each other.

+ Reveal: Facebook knowingly duped game-playing kids and their parents out of money.


A Tribe Called Fest

“Those who came to the gig, called the Gila Monster Jamboree, in cars were given hand-drawn maps directing them to a checkpoint in Victorville, Calif., where they received a second guide, pointing three miles down a dirt road to a dry lake bed. Many were on acid.” NYT: Hundreds of Punks Hit the Desert. The Modern Music Festival Was Born. (And we may never forgive them…)

+ How a six-second drum solo from a 1969 b-side became the most sampled loop in music history.

+ Rappers, ranked by the number of unique words used in their lyrics. (Spoiler alter: They don’t call them the CunninLynguists for nothing…)


Pajama Party

It used to be popular for people to say, ‘I’ll sleep when I’m dead.’ The ironic thing is, not sleeping enough may get you there sooner.” It’s tempting to ignore science about what makes one healthy. Either you’re giving up something like potato chips, or you’re being told to get off the couch and hit the gym. By comparison, the latest advice from researchers might come as a welcome tip. Go the eff to sleep! WaPo: Brain researchers warn that lack of sleep is a public health crisis.



Bad weather is third most likely cause if your power goes out. Number two is squirrels. But, damn, they’re cute. Quartz gets you up to speed on our little neighbors. “The most special thing about squirrels may be that though we live in such close proximity to them, it turns out we hardly know them at all.”


Feel Good Friday

The group’s mission is to “dramatically reduce the number of people who are unjustly under the control of the criminal justice system, starting with probation and parole” Jay-Z and Meek Mill pledge $50m to free prisoners.

+ The Verge: How a Vermont Social Network Became a Model For Online Communities.

+ This girls basketball team lost 102-2, has no wins, yet keeps taking the court. (This is a little bit of a downer for a feel good story, but we already ended the government shutdown and arrested Roger Stone, so come on…)

+ “The decision bookends two months of debate surrounding whether benches with center armrests are ‘hostile architecture’ and anti-homeless.” Iowa City Council agrees to 14 bar-less benches. (It turns out that not letting people lie down isn’t a good solution for homelessness.)

+ Patton Oswalt got trolled on Twitter. Then he started raising money for the troll.

+ Golden retriever saves owner by leading an ambulance to him. (My cat wouldn’t even guide a hearse towards me.)

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