Thursday, September 26th, 2019


A Something Burger

It's not the crime, it's the cover-up. Except when it comes to the Trump administration, when it's both. The whistleblower's now-released complaint alleges that the president abused his power for personal political gain - and the White House worked to coverup that effort. From the NYT: 8 Takeaways From the Whistle-Blower Complaint. Trump's constant scandals, big and small, have been like blocks pulled from a Jenga stack. As one after another was removed, the Trump tower of misdeeds weebled and wobbled, but it wouldn't fall down. With the Ukraine call and the whistleblower report, the walls appear to be collapsing. Susan Glasser in the New Yorker: The Forty-eight Hours That Sealed Trump's Impeachment. "The most interesting moments to be in Washington are when the conventional wisdom is shifting and not everyone knows it yet, or when an old certainty has been shredded and nothing has emerged to replace it. As of Monday morning, the political world was pretty sure that Donald Trump would not be impeached by the Democratic House of Representatives, and that he would enter the 2020 campaign and race to win reëlection, before the economy betrayed him with a recession that forecasters increasingly see as inevitable. Instead, over a remarkable day and a half, a new reality emerged: Donald Trump appears to have got himself impeached." (Kids, let this be a lesson to you. After seven decades of nonstop lies and bullying, you may make billions and be elected to the highest office in the land, but eventually it will catch up with you...)

+ NYT: Whistle-Blower Is a CIA Officer Who Was Detailed to the White House. You can read his full complaint here.

+ Acting DNI Chief Joseph Maguire told Congress that the "whistleblower did the right thing" and "followed the law every step of the way."

+ Vanity Fair: As Giuliani's quest for Biden dirt in Ukraine was failing, Trump grew frustrated and made the fateful call to Volodymyr Zelensky. (Rudy went from busting the mob to joining one...)

+ Some of the whistleblower's information is secondhand, and Trump lashed out at whoever shared information. "I want to know who's the person who gave the whistle-blower the information because that's close to a spy. You know what we used to do in the old days when we were smart with spies and treason, right? We used to handle it a little differently than we do now." (In fairness, we used to have presidents who put the country's welfare ahead of their own.)

+ This story is coming at you fast. Here's the latest from WaPo and CNN. (Prediction: Mexico is gonna pay for the impeachment...)


Gap Tooth and Nail

Here's the stat that drives many of the storylines in America and across the world. "The gap between the haves and have-nots in the United States grew last year to its highest level in more than 50 years of tracking income inequality."


Outsourced Job

"The terms permit the Trump administration to send migrants seeking protections in the US, under both international torture agreements and the asylum system, back to Central America, where rampant crime, violence, and corruption is driving tens of thousands to flee." Vox: Trump's agreements in Central America could dismantle the asylum system as we know it.

+ NatGeo photo essay: Life on the U.S. asylum waitlist: a long and dangerous wait.

+ RollCall: Emails show how private firms profit from ICE detention centers. (A very undertold part of the story...)

+ Vice: It's not just here. There's a Worldwide War on Asylum Seekers.


Dogma Days Are Over

"Religion has lost its halo effect in the past three decades, not because science drove God from the public square, but rather because politics did. In the 21st century, 'not religious' has become a specific American identity—one that distinguishes secular, liberal whites from the conservative, evangelical right." The Atlantic's Derek Thompson: Three Decades Ago, America Lost Its Religion. Why? (God only knows...)


Keyboard Characters

"Sergeants sat before keyboards; intelligence analysts on one side, linguists and support staff on another. Each station was armed with four flat-screen computer monitors on adjustable arms and a pile of target lists and IP addresses and online aliases. They were cyberwarriors, and they all sat in the kind of oversize office chairs Internet gamers settle into before a long night." NPR with a really interesting look at How The U.S. Hacked ISIS.


Don’t Talk to Rangers

"When he investigated his second homicide and persuaded a serial killer to take him to a hidden corpse, Holland found his calling. Through experience and study, he learned how best to approach sociopaths and psychopaths, becoming a serial killer whisperer, of sorts." LA Times: A Texas Ranger got a prolific serial killer to talk. This is how. (With that skillset, it was either be a lawman or host a podcast.)


Wheel of Fortune

With the IPOs of tech or tech-adjacent companies going more poorly than expect (Uber, Slack, Lyft) or not going at all (WeWork), the folks behind Peloton were well aware the company's coming out party would be an uphill climb. It wasn't quite the Pyrenees, but it wasn't easy. Bloomberg: Peloton Deepens IPO Slump in 3rd-Worst Unicorn Debut Since ‘08. (I don't ride a Peloton. But I love just like sitting on the couch and watching the videos...)


Political Platform

"TikTok, the popular Chinese-owned social network, instructs its moderators to censor videos that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or the banned religious group Falun Gong, according to leaked documents detailing the site's moderation guidelines." The Guardian on leaked docs that reveal how TikTok censors videos that do not please Beijing.

+ "Expat Uyghurs are gaming the social platform known for fluff to find loopholes in Xinjiang's information lockdown." Wired: TikTok—Yes, TikTok—Is the Latest Window Into China's Police State.


Vapor Trail

"Even as marijuana rules have loosened in more than 30 states, there's little information available on the new products that are appearing in stores across states like Colorado and California. Researchers are restricted from walking into a marijuana store in Denver or Los Angeles and buying products for testing because their funding could be jeopardized if they run afoul of federal regulations." Bloomberg: Even Nobel-Winning Chemists Don't Know What's in Your Weed Vape.


Bottom of the News

"Petrov did not report the incoming strike. He and others on his staff concluded that what they were seeing was a false alarm. And it was; the system mistook the sun's reflection off clouds for a missile." 36 years ago today, one man saved us from world-ending nuclear war. (Sure, but what have you done for us lately?)

+ Labradoodle 'Inventor' Calls the Crossbreed His Biggest Regret.

+ 23 of The Most Influential Pictures From Music History