Thursday, September 19th, 2019


This Blows

The answer my friend is blowin' on the wind. But for now, we've got nothing but a lot of hot air. WaPo: Trump's communications with foreign leader are part of whistleblower complaint that spurred standoff between spy chief and Congress. "The whistleblower complaint that has triggered a tense showdown between the U.S. intelligence community and Congress involves President Trump's communications with a foreign leader, according to two former U.S. officials familiar with the matter ... But acting director of national intelligence Joseph Maguire has refused to share details about Trump's alleged transgression with lawmakers, touching off a legal and political dispute that has spilled into public view and prompted speculation that the spy chief is improperly protecting the president." You know how to whistle, don't you? You just put your lips together and tweet. (I'm dubious that this report, even if/when released, will live up to the hype. What's troubling for sure is the pattern of obfuscation and the constant body checks on checks and balances...)

+ Trump calls the report fake news and says, besides, "is anybody dumb enough to believe that I would say something inappropriate with a foreign leader while on such a potentially 'heavily populated' call. I would only do what is right anyway..." (Life needs a laugh track.)

+ Meanwhile, at the border, the line of the day: "Sir, there could be some merit in not discussing that."


Gone With The Wind

"Notable shares of the public give people in these powerful jobs low ratings when it comes to behaving ethically, dealing with ethical problems in their ranks and admitting mistakes." In case you need further explanation, Pew has the latest results on why Americans don't fully trust many who hold positions of power and responsibility. (Editor's note: I don't fully trust those out of power, either...)


Justin the Wind

That escalated quickly. Within hours of the leak of a photo of Justin Trudeau in brownface, two more photos surfaced. Buzzfeed: Two Instances of Justin Trudeau In Blackface Have Emerged Since He Apologized For Partying In Brownface. (At this rate, there might be enough photos for a coffee table book by election day...)


Wind Pipe Bomb

The hundreds of illnesses and seven deaths across at least 38 states have officials racing to figure out what's going on with certain vaping products. WaPo: Vaping-related illnesses surge as FDA discloses criminal probe. "Officials said they still do not know the cause of the lung injuries that are making people so sick."

+ NPR: The Vaping Illness Outbreak: What We Know So Far

+ Time: How Juul Hooked Kids and Ignited a Public Health Crisis.


Against the Wind

"Daesh is destroying Iraq, so I want a job that lets me build it back again. All the houses I've ever lived in have been destroyed." Here's a very powerful photo series that asks refugee children what they want to be when they grow up.



"Visitors descending on the remote Nevada desert for 'Storm Area 51' are from Earth, not outer space. No one knows what to expect, but the two tiny towns of Rachel and Hiko near the once-secret military research site are preparing for an influx of people over the next few days." AP: Possible ‘Storm Area 51' crowds worry Nevada desert towns. (And Nevada just got rid of the Burning Man crowds...)

+ Vox: Area 51 and aliens: the myth, the meme, and the strange reality, explained. (I don't get the current obsession with Area 51. The shit you're seeing right in front of you isn't weird enough?)


Wind Beneath Their Wings

"The mosquitoes are winning, and everything else is losing." That update comes courtesy of The Center for Public Integrity: Man vs. Mosquito: At the Front Lines of a Public Health War. "Mosquito-borne illnesses are on the rise, and climate change will worsen the threat. Little-known local agencies are the main line of defense."

+ Deadly mosquito virus EEE has Michigan urging people to stay indoors.

+ "An experimental trial to reduce the number of mosquitoes in a Brazilian town by releasing genetically modified mosquitoes has not gone as planned ... The claim was that genes from the release strain would not get into the general population because offspring would die. That obviously was not what happened." Genetically Modified Mosquitoes Are Breeding in Brazil, Despite Biotech Firm's Assurances to the Contrary.


Airing of Grievances

"They are checked in under a state law that lets mental health centers keep people who might hurt themselves or others for up to 72 hours. But when that time is over, some patients find themselves held captive by the place that is supposed to protect them." Tampa Bay Tribune: How one Florida psychiatric hospital makes millions off patients who have no choice. (Far from being the enemy, investigative journalists are often the last friends you've got...)


Air Supply

An to complete our air/wind themed edition, there's this interesting piece from Science Mag: Hypoxia City: "At 5100 meters' elevation, a Peruvian gold mining town is the world's highest settlement—and a good place to study how life at extremely low oxygen levels ravages the body." Why would people be living so high? There's gold in them thar hills...


Bottom of the News

"Men have a far greater appetite for sex and are more attracted to p-rnography than women are. This is the timeworn stereotype that science has long reinforced ... So it was somewhat surprising when a paper ... reported in July that what happens in the brains of female study subjects when they look at sexual imagery is pretty much the same as what happens in the brains of their male counterparts." NYT Mag: What Can Brain Scans Tell Us About Sex? (My brain is usually in the state of disbelief.)

+ Puka shells are making a comeback.

+ The wearable chair. (Or proof that anything can get funded.)

+ A California family found a mountain lion lounging in their bathroom.