Monday, October 28th, 2019


Baghdadi Issues

In the shadow of the much-decried American pullout from Syria, members of the US armed services needed an uplifting moment. And they got one, as did the rest of the free world, when a daring raid led to the welcome death of the world's most wanted man. AP: The tip, the raid, the reveal: The takedown of al-Baghdadi. "The helicopters flew low and fast into the night, ferrying US special forces to a compound where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was hiding in Syria. Half a world away, President Donald Trump watched the raid in real time via a video link as troops blasted into the hideout and sent the most-wanted militant running the last steps of his life."

+ "The raid that killed ISIS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was launched by the same old-fashioned tool that led to Osama bin Laden: human intelligence." Time: Here's How U.S. Forces Finally Tracked Down and Killed al-Baghdadi.

+ "New technology includes a smaller and much faster DNA-reader that troops can haul into combat aboard their helicopters and use while the smoke is still clearing." This is How US Commandos IDed a ‘Mutilated' Baghdadi So Quickly.

+ A few hours after the Baghdadi operation, Abu Hassan al-Muhajir, the person likely next in line for the top spot was killed in a airstrike. (It's probably not a good moment to be ISIS' third in the line of succession...)

+ "American officials said the Kurds continued to provide information to the C.I.A. on Mr. al-Baghdadi's location even after Mr. Trump's decision to withdraw the American troops left the Syrian Kurds to confront a Turkish offensive alone.
The Syrian and Iraqi Kurds, one official said, provided more intelligence for the raid than any single country." (From the world, to the Kurds: Thanks.) NYT: Trump's Syria Troop Withdrawal Complicated Plans for al-Baghdadi Raid.

+ "The videos included heat signatures of those moving around — which analysts labeled friend or foe — at the al-Baghdadi compound near Idlib, Syria. But those surveillance feeds could not show what was happening in an underground tunnel, much less detect if Mr. al-Baghdadi was whimpering or crying." NYT: Watching the Raid Was Like a Movie, the President Said. Except There Was No Live Audio.


The Horror, The Horror

"In hushed conversations over the past week, GOP senators lamented that the fast-expanding probe is fraying their party, which remains completely in Trump's grip. They voiced exasperation at the expectation that they defend the president against the troublesome picture that has been painted, with neither convincing arguments from the White House nor confidence that something worse won't soon be discovered. 'It feels like a horror movie,' said one veteran Republican senator. (Now that's a take around which we can all unify...) WaPo: Republicans feel anxious and adrift defending Trump.

+ Ignore the shocking boos for Trump before Game 5 of World Series and focus instead on the much-deserved cheers for first pitch honoree Chef José Andrés. The best of us is so much greater than the worst.


We’re Not Ready For This

Anyone curious about the future of climate change can come to California and see and smell it right now. Like an unprecedented number of Californians, my neighborhood spent the past couple of days without power. Even though power is out across much of our state, old fires are still spreading and new ones are erupting all over. California, truly the golden state right now, is burning. And even those away from the direct path of the flames woke to homes filled with the smoky stench of climate change. David Wallace-Wells: This Is What a Calm California Wildfire Season Looks Like Now.

+ SF Chronicle: Daylight reveals flattened homes as Kincade Fire surges toward 2017 disaster areas. LA Times: Getty fire off 405 Freeway in L.A. destroys several homes; thousands flee.

+ One guy with a hose in Windsor wasn't letting his neighborhood fall to flames.

+ Here are some photos and the latest updates from The Guardian and the SF Chronicle.


Ransom Kind of Wonderful

"Like a real-life version of Clark Kent or Peter Parker, the self-effacing Gillespie morphs in his spare time into a crime-foiling superhero. A cancer survivor who works at a Nerds on Call computer repair shop and has been overwhelmed by debt — he and his wife had a car repossessed and their home nearly foreclosed on — the 27-year-old Gillespie has become, with little fanfare or reward, one of the world's leading conquerors of an especially common and virulent cybercrime: ransomware. Asked what motivates him, he replied, 'I guess it's just the affinity for challenge and feeling like I am contributing to beating the bad guys.'" ProPublica: The Ransomware Superhero of Normal, Illinois.


Suicide Contention

"Inyoung You, a 21-year-old from South Korea, was so 'physically, verbally, and psychologically abusive' toward Alexander Urtula during their 18-month relationship that she caused the 22-year-old to kill himself, Suffolk County District Attorney Rachael Rollins told reporters at a press conference." Buzzfeed: A 21-Year-Old Has Been Charged After Allegedly Encouraging Her Boyfriend To Kill Himself.


Downward Dog Day Afternoon

"They listened attentively as celebrity chef Seamus Mullen conducted a cooking lesson, discussing the importance of food as 'nourishment' while pointing to a bouquet of squash. Then, much like a home-economics class, the group was broken into four groups, each responsible for cooking an assigned dish. This is but one of many events at Haven Coliving, a fully furnished adult dorm in Venice dedicated to wellness. When these residents aren't sleeping in a pod-style room with up to half a dozen strangers, they're treated to a full lineup of Goop-friendly activities." LA Times: This home comes with yoga, sound baths, star energy healing — and 95 roommates. (I have a Do Not Disturb door hanger for my room in my own house...)

+ Seriously, I'd rather live like the people in this story than that one. Secret Air Force Space Plane Lands After More Than 2 Years In Orbit.


Roll Credits

"Even though Hollywood history is filled with colorful characters, few can match the tale of Evans, whose life would seem far-fetched if it were fiction. With his matinee-idol looks, but little acting talent, Evans was given starring roles in a few movies and then, with no studio experience, was handed the production reins at Paramount in the 1960s. When he left the exec ranks, his first film as a producer was the classic Chinatown, and he followed with other hits, like Marathon Man and Urban Cowboy. Eventually, his distinctive look and speaking style turned him into a cult figure." Variety: Robert Evans dies at 89.

+ If for some reason you haven't seen the Robert Evans documentary, The Kid Stays in the Picture, do so immediately. For something a little longer, but equally good, there's the audiobook read by Evans.


America dot ASP

"President Donald Trump has repeatedly and publicly played down Amazon's prospects (he is apparently engaged in an ongoing vendetta against the company and its CEO Jeff Bezos). A speechwriter for former defense secretary Jim Mattis has told the Washington Post that Trump intervened to lock the company out of the contract." MIT Tech Review: Microsoft has beaten Amazon to the Pentagon's $10 billion cloud computing contract. (This story is shared with the now nearly universal caveat: Expect lawsuits.)


Eagles v Bills

"Frequent fliers often find themselves with hefty phone bills, and global travelers can drain their roaming data allowance. But eagles?" NYT: Even Eagles Have Data Roaming Limits, Researchers Find.


Bottom of the News

"More than 40 million pounds (18,000 metric tons) of pork bellies, the cut used for bacon making, were sitting in refrigerated warehouses as of Sept. 30." Bloomberg: America's Pile of Uneaten Bacon Is the Biggest in 48 Years. (If you're looking for a scapegoat, I'm a Jewish vegetarian whose favorite movie is Babe.)

+ Australia wants to use face recognition for p*rn age verification. (So go ahead and make that face and wait for them to get a good look at it...)

+ And today in metaphors: Sinkhole opens, swallows part of city bus during rush hour.