Thursday, April 25th, 2019


The Spanish Disposition

"The outcome of the trial galvanised feminists in Spain like never before, turning feminism into a movement with unprecedented visibility and real political power. Immediately after the verdict, hundreds of thousands of women flooded plazas in dozens of Spanish cities to protest against the ruling, calling for Spain's sexual assault laws to be rewritten. But it wasn't just a transformative moment for feminists – it also became a rallying point for the far right." The Guardian's Meaghan Beatley on Spain's "wolf pack" case and its aftermath -- a story that has parallels with America's MeToo movement, and many other socio-political trends around the world. The arc of justice is long (and often, circuitous). The shocking rape trial that galvanised Spain's feminists – and the far right.


The Social Nyetwork

"When anti-government protests erupted in Sudan at the end of last year, the response of President Omar al-Bashir came straight from the dictators' playbook -- a crackdown that led to scores of civilian deaths. At the same time, a more insidious strategy was being developed -- one that involved spreading misinformation on social media, blaming Israel for fomenting the unrest, and even carrying out public executions to make an example of 'looters.' The author of this strategy was not the Sudanese government ... it was drawn up by a Russian company." CNN: Fake news and public executions: Documents show a Russian company's plan for quelling protests in Sudan. (Russia is using software to remotely manage the world.)


Pungent Spice

"His family lived in a beautiful white villa and traveled in a chauffeured BMW. He was feted by Sri Lanka's former president for 'outstanding service provided to the nation.' But on Wednesday the narrative of Mohammad Yusuf Ibrahim, one of Sri Lanka's wealthiest spice traders, was ripped apart. Officials revealed he was in custody in connection with the devastating suicide attacks on Easter Sunday that killed hundreds of people." Another reminder that suicide bombers are not always what we imagine them to be. NYT: Sri Lanka Suicide Bombers Included Two Sons of a Spice Tycoon.


Checks Out of Balance

"Mr. Trump's flurry of moves this week to block multiple congressional investigations signaled a new phase of constitutional friction that could redefine long-murky boundaries of Congress's power to conduct oversight of the executive branch — and the power of presidents to keep government affairs secret from lawmakers." NYT: Trump Vows Stonewall of All House Subpoenas, Setting Up Fight Over Powers.

+ WaPo: Trump's defiance puts pressure on Congress's ability to check the president. (America, better check yourself before your wreck yourself...)


Enemies, a Love Story

"There are a number of reasons for the trip, and one of them is to show the U.S. that they are not the only game in town." NBC News: What's really behind Kim Jong Un's meeting with Putin? Or put another way: Donald Trump's Two Favorite Despots Are Hanging Out Without Him.

+ "The presentation of the invoice — not previously disclosed by U.S. or North Korean officials — was extraordinarily brazen even for a regime known for its aggressive tactics." WaPo: North Korea issued $2 million bill for comatose Otto Warmbier's care.


Life is Charred

"The Camp fire crippled Paradise's educational infrastructure. It destroyed three campuses, including Jay's high school, Ridgeview, and forced Paradise High School to close, scattering students across Northern California. Since November, teachers have taught classes in an airport, a mall, and a LensCrafters as other districts struggled to absorb displaced students." As the state braces for the next wave of megafires, Buzzfeed's Brianna Sacks reminds us of the havoc still being wreaked by last year's blazes. Months After California's Most Destructive Wildfire Ravaged Their Town, Students Are Still Grappling With The New Norm.


The DNA’s The Thing

"The Folger Shakespeare Library's underground storage facility stretches a full block beneath the building, protected by a nine-inch-thick steel bank-vault door. It houses about 260,000 historically significant books, along with manuscripts, documents, and even costumes saved from 19th-century productions. But could the Capitol Hill research library—the largest collection devoted to the Bard in the world—also contain, quite literally, Shakespeare himself?" The Washingtonian: Is Shakespeare's DNA Hiding in the Folger Library's Vault? Project Dustbunny Aims to Find Out. (And you thought the only dust bunnies in Washington were in the Office of Government Ethics...)

+ If you dig the topic of Shakespeare, be sure to read the novel The Tragedy of Arthur, by Arthur Phillips, probably one of America's most talented writers (definitely one of its most attractive).


Dry Rot

"The Airblade was not the first high-speed dryer, but its luxe appeal and Dyson's brash marketing revolutionised the restroom universe; more and more, the hand dryer began to seem like a vital accessory to class up a joint. After the Airblade's launch, a battle began to boil, pitting the dryer industry against the world's most powerful hand-drying lobby: Big Towel." Hand dryers vs paper towels: the surprisingly dirty fight for the right to dry your hands. (I just stand there and let evaporation work its magic.)


Guise Like Us

"When the police opened the documents, McAlister and Raymond saw—for the first time—the full Besa Mafia messages. That was when they learned that the person who wanted Amy dead went by the name dogdaygod." Mara Hvistendahl in Wired: If You Want To Kill Someone, We Are The Right Guys. (That wording shows that even hitmen need editors...)


Bottom of the News

"The nation is currently counting down to next Tuesday when Emperor Akihito, 85, will make history by become the first Japanese monarch in centuries to abdicate, bringing to an end the era known as Heisei." Cans of air of an outgoing era go on sale in Japan ahead of new emperor. (I wish I had hoarded of few cans of air before November of 2016...)

+ An ape using a smartphone. (And no, this isn't another story about Trump and Twitter...)