Tuesday, May 7th, 2019


The Fog of Door

I'll be on the road for the rest of the week. Delivery of Nextdraft will be sporadic.

My family recently moved to a new neighborhood. Since I spend most waking hours staring silently at a computer screen, I'm a pretty ideal neighbor. The same cannot be said of my two beagles and three cats. Within a few weeks of us moving in, just about all of our neighbors had experienced our vocal menagerie of degenerates firsthand. And just about all of our them reacted with kindness and good humor. That's the offline story. Like most stories these days, the online story would probably be worse. Violent crime levels have been going down in America. But people perceive those levels as going up. That contradiction is nothing new. But it could be dramatically exacerbated by the proliferation of a new kind of social network that connects you to your neighbors -- without you ever leaving the house. Rani Molla in Recode: The rise of fear-based social media like Nextdoor, Citizen, and now Amazon's Neighbors. In theory, these apps are providing a layer of protection. But they could also be creating a much thicker layer of fear. Like my beagles, local crime's bark is probably worse than its bite.



We're in a pretty amazing period of American politics during which a norm-busting executive branch is refusing to comply with the check and balancing role of the legislative branch. From WaPo: Mnuchin rejects Democrats' demand to hand over Trump's tax returns. "A number of legal experts have said it would be unprecedented for Mnuchin to refuse to turn over the tax returns, as the power for lawmakers to seek the returns is written explicitly in a 1924 law." The White House has also invoked executive privilege to bar former White House counsel Donald McGahn from turning over documents to Congress.

+ Mitch McConnell took to the Senate floor to declare "case closed" on the Trump investigations. Meanwhile, there are now 650 federal prosecutors who signed a letter that states that were he not president, Trump would be indicted for obstruction


The Gang’s All Here

"Since the turn of this century, more than 2.5 million people have been killed in the homicide crisis gripping Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the Igarapé Institute, a research group that tracks violence worldwide. The region accounts for just 8 percent of the global population, yet 38 percent of the world's murders. It has 17 of the 20 deadliest nations on earth." The NYT takes you Inside Gang Territory In Honduras. "In one of the deadliest cities in the world, an embattled group of young men had little but their tiny patch of turf — and they would die to protect it."


The Pen is Mightier Than the Penitentiary

"Wa Lone, 33, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 29, had been convicted in September and sentenced to seven years in jail in a case that raised questions about Myanmar's progress towards democracy and sparked an outcry from diplomats and human rights advocates." Two Reuters reporters have been freed in Myanmar after spending more than 500 days in jail.


Ribeye on the Prize

"A small number of firms still control most of the country's – and by now the world's – beef. They draw from many comparatively small ranchers and cattle feeders, and depend on a low-paid, mostly invisible workforce. The fact that this set of relationships remains so stable, despite the public's abstract sense that something is not quite right, is not the inevitable consequence of technological change but the direct result of the political struggles of the late 19th century." Adapted from his new book on the topic, Joshua Specht on The price of plenty: how beef changed America. "Exploitation and predatory pricing drove the transformation of the US beef industry – and created the model for modern agribusiness." For more, here's the book: Red Meat Republic: A Hoof-to-Table History of How Beef Changed America.


Shroom with a View

In a remarkably rapid turnaround, the nationwide legalization of cannabis is looking like a near certain outcome. Are 'shrooms next? From NPR: A Growing Push To Loosen Laws Around Psilocybin, Treat Mushrooms As Medicine.


Wading into Roe

"Georgia is the fourth state to pass such a law this year alone. The bills prohibit abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. But reproductive rights advocates and doctors say the laws, which prohibit abortion before many women know they are pregnant, amount to a near-total ban on the procedure ... But for some supporters of the bills, banning nearly all abortions isn't a problem — it's the whole point." The once fringe idea of heartbeat bills that could ban almost all abortions, explained.


There’s the Rub

"Contrary to what sunscreen manufacturers have been saying, UV-blocking chemicals do seep into circulation. Now, don't panic and toss your tubes. There's no evidence yet that they're doing anything harmful inside the body. But the revelation will have serious impacts on sunscreen manufacturers going forward, and may change what options you'll find on drugstore shelves before the year is out." Wired: Sunscreen Chemicals Soak All The Way Into Your Bloodstream. (I've decided to throw shade at this whole issue by staying indoors.)


Fob Mentality

"An entire neighborhood filled with slightly frustrated and likely hopeful suburbanites wondering if they were in the presence of a real-life E.T. got their answer in the form of a basement dad who just wanted to know when other people were home, by the looks of it. Incredible." A man's homemade electronics disrupt entire neighborhood's car keys and garage openers.


Bottom of the News

"When a Florida deputy asked a woman if she had anything else on her during a routine traffic stop, he wasn't expecting what she did next. She 'proceeded to pull an alligator out of her yoga pants (about one foot in length) and placed it into the bed of the truck.'" (No matter how much the rest of world lets us down, Florida never disappoints...)

+ Winners of the 2019 Big Picture Natural World Photography Competition. And for something a little more wild, 37 People Who Really Committed To Their Look At The Met Gala This Year.