Monday, April 1st, 2019


Getting Off

There's a trial and error element when it comes to finding an antidepressant that actually works for you. While we still have many questions about what happens when you get on one of these drugs, we have a lot more questions about what happens when you get off. Rachel Aviv in The New Yorker: The Challenge of Going Off Psychiatric Drugs. "Antidepressants are now taken by roughly one in eight adults and adolescents in the U.S., and a quarter of them have been doing so for more than ten years. Industry money often determines the questions posed by pharmacological studies, and research about stopping drugs has never been a priority." (Full disclosure: Those last seven words also appear in the NextDraft mission statement.)


Affirmative Action Figures

"Columbia — an Ivy League campus right next to Harlem — was a particularly revelatory setting. Perhaps nowhere else were the divisions more striking between the privilege inside university gates and the troubles and demands of black people outside them." Anemona Hartocollis in the NYT: 50 Years of Affirmative Action: What Went Right, and What It Got Wrong.


Fighting Fire With Fuel

"Trump and Office of Management and Budget director (and acting White House chief of staff) Mick Mulvaney believe the fact that migrants are continuing to come to the US without papers is evidence on its face that aid isn't working and should be cut off. Other officials and experts, however — including fellow members of the Trump administration — have emphasized that economic development and improving security are the only ways to address the 'root causes' of migration." Vox on Trump's decision to cut off aid to 3 Central American countries. (This is exactly the way to slow down the rush of asylum seekers who are fleeing these countries. In opposite world.)

+ Meanwhile, "the White House doubled down Sunday on President Trump's threat to close the U.S. border with Mexico, despite warnings that the move would inflict immediate economic damage on American consumers and businesses while doing little to stem a tide of migrants clamoring to enter the United States." WaPo: Trump White House presses threat to close U.S.-Mexico border this week.

+ Bloomberg: The Coffin Business Is Booming in Central America Due to Gang Violence. "Manufacturing the 'wooden pajamas,' as some locals call them, has become such big business in Jucuapa that families have abandoned their bakeries, butcher shops, and sugar cane fields to enter the funeral industry."


Interiority Complex

If you've been staying indoors to avoid the life-shortening fumes, chemicals, and general pollutants in the air, you may want to rethink your strategy. The New Yorker on The Hidden Air Pollution in Our Homes: "The experiment's early results are just now emerging, and they seem to show that the combined emissions of humans and their daily activities—cooking, cleaning, metabolizing—are more interesting, and potentially more lethal, than anyone had imagined." (I live with three cats, two beagles, and two adolescents. You can't imagine what I've imagined...)


Swamp Drain Basket Cases

From AP: "A career official in the White House security office says dozens of people in President Donald Trump's administration were granted security clearances despite 'disqualifying issues' in their backgrounds, such as concerns about foreign influence, drug use and criminal conduct. Tricia Newbold, an 18-year government employee who oversees the issuance of clearances for some senior White House aides, says she compiled a list of at least 25 officials who were initially denied security clearances last year because of their backgrounds. But she says senior Trump aides overturned those decisions, moves that she said weren't made 'in the best interest of national security.'"


Chateau Jam

"Warrant in hand, the agents searched the French chateau-style mansion for financial records and other evidence to nail Tobin, the suspected ringleader of a stock scam that defrauded investors of millions of dollars. The raid imploded Tobin's very comfortable life. Faced with the prospect of years in prison and a seven-figure fine, the businessman flew to Boston to meet with the federal prosecutors handling the case. He was looking for mercy." And it turns out he had something to offer in exchange for that mercy. LA Times: The bizarre story of the L.A. dad who exposed the college admissions scandal.


Indy Hits

"It's the fate that meets the man who made the choices he made. You don't testify against the mob in federal court and live to tell about it. Especially when your father's the defendant. 'I know the statement my dad made. He said he'd kill me.'" Zak Keefer in the Indy Star: The Mobster in Our Midst. "John Franzese Jr. helped send his father, notorious Colombo family mobster Sonny Franzese, to prison. Then he turned up in Indianapolis."

+ The NYT's Michael Schwirtz on the normalization of Russia's targeted executions. Russia Ordered a Killing That Made No Sense. Then the Assassin Started Talking. "For the intelligence services, as bad as this sounds, murdering people is just part of the work flow ... They go to work, it's their job. You have a work flow, you write articles. They have a workflow, they murder people."


Hood Samaritan

"He once gave a pair of shoes to every student at an elementary school in Hyde Park, where he owned a burger joint, a fish market and a barbershop. He helped fund upgrades to the campus playground and offered jobs to his struggling neighbors. If someone lost a loved one to gun violence, he would sometimes chip in for the funeral. Those roles reversed Sunday afternoon when the Grammy-nominated rapper was gunned down outside one of his shops, the Marathon Clothing store, in the same neighborhood where he was known as much for his civic work as he was for his hip-hop music." Nipsey Hussle gunned down in a South L.A. he helped build up. ‘It's a sad day in L.A.'

+ "I'll remember the beauty that he saw in our community. And the beauty that he was." Celebrities Remember Rapper Nipsey Hussle.


Storm Trooper

"At 49, Morgerman has survived the inner cores of nearly 50 hurricanes—by choice. He is one of a small cadre of men (they're all men) who chase giant tropical storms around the world: wherever residents are trying to evacuate, Morgerman is usually on an inbound flight." Outside: Inside the Mind of a Hurricane Chaser.


Bottom of the News

Elon Musk released a rap song. A comedian is leading the Ukraine presidential elections. Listening to Skrillex can keep mosquitoes away. Here are ten stories that seem like April Fools' Day pranks, but aren't. (Pretty much every political story over the past two years could be on this list...)

+ Here's a list of some of the "real" April Fools' pranks, though none of them are as weird as the real stories above.

+ April Fools' Day should have been officially canceled in 1985 when George Plimpton set a standard that will never be matched. The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch. (The first letters in each word provides a key hint: "He's a pitcher, part yogi and part recluse. Impressively liberated from our opulent life-style, Sidd's deciding about yoga.")

+ Donald Trump has celebrated April Fools' Day 9,451 times since becoming president. (And that doesn't include his time on the golf course.)