Friday, November 15th, 2019


All The President’s Menace

An ambassador who made the sacrifice to serve America for more than three decades was smeared, attacked, and intimidated by a president of the United States as part of an effort to further his political ambitions and spread conspiracy theories raised by, and beneficial to, Vladimir Putin. When that ambassador had the courage to publicly speak out about these events, the president smeared, attacked, and intimidated her in real time for the entire world to see. No one with a scintilla of patriotism, a modicum of loyalty, or a shred of human decency could possibly defend this despicable, thuggish behavior by the president, or the grievous damage it has done, and is doing, to America. It's really that simple.

+ Marie Yovanovitch's opening statement: "At the closed deposition, I expressed grave concerns about the degradation of the Foreign Service over the past few years and the failure of State Department leadership to push back as foreign and corrupt interests apparently hijacked our Ukraine policy. I remain disappointed that the Department's leadership and others have declined to acknowledge that the attacks against me and others are dangerously wrong."

+ The White House (for some reason) released an earlier call between Trump and Zelenskiy. It was nearly as perfect as the next call. "When I owned Miss Universe, they always had great people. Ukraine was always very well represented."

+ Here's the latest from the impeach pit from WaPo and NYT.

+ NPR: Trump asks Supreme Court to block New York subpoenas for his tax records. (Hiding the truth. It's a full time job.)


Stone Wall Broken

"Roger Stone, a longtime friend and ally of President Donald Trump, was found guilty Friday of witness tampering and lying to Congress about his pursuit of Russian-hacked emails damaging to Hillary Clinton's 2016 election bid." (Editors note: Shocker.) Another one of Trump's henchmen is headed for prison. AP: Roger Stone guilty of witness tampering, lying to Congress. (At this point, the two people most anxious for a pardon are Roger Stone and his future cellmate.)

+ "The case grew out of the Mueller investigation, but the jury heard details that -- because of the Stone case -- were hidden from the public when the Mueller report was released earlier this year. Most surprising: The extent to which Trump and his top advisers appeared to welcome the release of stolen emails and documents damaging to Democrats by WikiLeaks."

+ "Though prosecutors sought to prove only that Stone had lied to Congress, they asserted that his motive for the falsehoods was protecting Trump from embarrassment — and thus made the president and his campaign a key component in their case." WaPo: Roger Stone guilty on all counts in federal trial of lying to Congress, witness tampering. (Between Stone and Yovanovitch, this is one of the most damning days for any American president, ever.)


Weekend Whats

What to Book: I'm reading Peter Houlahan's Norco '80: The True Story of the Most Spectacular Bank Robbery in American History. It's a riveting story with a ton of interesting details. It's also a case that had a big impact what kind of weapons criminals would start to use and that police across the country would start to demand for themselves.

+ What to Doc: The Interpreters, from Independent Lens, "is a poignant but tense portrayal of a very human and high-stakes side of war's aftermath, the story of how Afghan and Iraqi interpreters risked their lives aiding American troops–but then became the people we left behind." It's also a really touching and informative story about a friendship.

+ What to Read: "Isaiah told me that he was upfront about the BB gun but that he never confessed to the robbery. But instead of going home like he said the investigators promised, Isaiah went to the county jail. When he first walked in, someone else was getting booked, and an officer announced, 'He's here.' The officers escorted Isaiah into solitary confinement and closed the metal door." Ko Bragg with another excellent investigative report from Reveal: Bound By Statute: In Mississippi, Jim Crow era laws result in a high rate of black kids charged as adults.


Family History in the Making

"These are sensitive times. It's not like I don't want to express my opinion, it's that I don't want my views to affect the family business. We don't discuss the current situation with our customers. I don't want people to label us as 'yellow' [pro-democracy] or 'blue' [pro-government]. And our business has been affected; there are fewer customers. The fruit market is never this quiet on a Saturday — it would've taken you 15 minutes to walk from the end of the market to the other. Look how empty it is right now." California Sunday Magazine with a look at how the Hong Kong protests have exposed bitter divisions — even among friends and families. Tear gas on one street and civilians walking on another.


Burbin’ Street

"Levittown was built on rules. No fences around the yards. Grass had to be maintained and trimmed. Clothes could only be hung to dry in the backyard on weekdays. Only white people could live there. Though these rules no longer apply, their mere existence has continued to shape and permeate the town's culture today, particularly for Levittown's teens, who speak about traditions and customs and the deep-rootedness of certain conservative mentalities." Curbed: Growing Up in Levittown. This is part of an interesting collection of stories focused on life in the 'burbs.


Hell Met

"The NFL announced Friday that the Cleveland Browns defensive end has been suspended for the rest of this season, including the playoffs should the Browns make it, and will have to meet with the commissioner's office before being reinstated in 2020." To no one's surprise, Myles Garrett has been suspended from the NFL. It's hard to shock one of the world's most violent sports with an act of violence. But Garrett did just that has attacked Steeler QB Mason Rudolph with his own helmet. Myles Garrett suspended indefinitely.


Eminence Front

"Those masterminding these abrupt appearances are all banking on the same short-term bet: People still want to shop in stores, even if what they want that store to be in six months is completely different." Amanda Mull in The Atlantic: The Zombie Storefronts of America. "If retail is dying, then pop-up shops might be what replace it."


Robe a Tusslin’

"Back in May, three Indiana judges got into a fight. It was the crescendo of an incident brimming with colorful details: a gaggle of judges drinking the night before a judicial conference, a failed attempt to visit a strip club called the Red Garter, a brawl in the parking lot of an Indianapolis White Castle." NPR: 3 Indiana Judges Suspended After White Castle Brawl That Left 2 Of Them Wounded.

+ WaPo: A 15-year-old with no arms or legs was tackled and pinned by a sheriff's deputy in a ‘horrific' video.


Body at Rest

"There are three major seasons in the life of a bear: the active season, beginning in May; a period of intense eating, in late September, and hibernation, from January into spring." Sounds awesome, right? NYT: Hibernation Works for Bears. Could It Work for Us, Too? (If it can, NextDraft will be back in the Spring...)


Feel Good Friday

"I felt strange as soon as the anesthesia started to wear off. The best way I can describe it is that it just felt like my brain was only music, and that everything anybody said to me became musical. All of my thoughts became musical. Every street sign became musical. I couldn't get my mind into any other mode." The Wild Story of How Mary Steenburgen Wrote the Best Original Movie Song of the Year. (This is basically my experience, but when the anesthesia started to wear off, everything was headline puns...)

+ From my old friend from our high school newspaper, Carolyn Jones: Oaklanders Learn Reading at the Laundromat.

+ "'This isn't a Band-Aid solution,' said founder Alise Shafer Ivey, a veteran early childhood director from Santa Monica. 'This isn't sweetening the day of a child who might be stuck on a mattress in a shelter. Of course we're sweetening the day of that child, but it's so much more than that. This is about really setting a trajectory that will have an impact.'" KQED: California Teachers Build a 'Nest' for Migrant Kids at the Border.

+ NYT: This Tom Hanks Story Will Help You Feel Less Bad.

+ Hospital surprises Mrs. Rogers with babies in cardigans on World Kindness Day.

+ Raised an only child, Southgate woman, 92, learns she has 19 half siblings. (This Thanksgiving is gonna be a major change!)

+ "You see those stories where somebody was adopted as a kid and they meet their parents years later -- it felt somewhat like that, like meeting a long-lost relative." The day a cancer survivor and his stem cell donor ran into each other at a marathon.

+ Nine-year-old child genius to graduate university. (If we're gonna have a child for a president, why not this one?)

+ High Schoolers Build Prosthetic Arm for Fellow Student Who Plays Cello.

+ 'I didn't want him to hurt anybody,' says Montrealer who used SUV to protect pedestrians from speeding car.

+ Villagers knit jumpers for Indian elephants to protect the large mammals from near-freezing temperatures.

+ Nike debuts Air Zoom Pulse sneakers for nurses, doctors, and home health providers.

+ Cows swept off island during Hurricane Dorian found after swimming for miles.

+ 4th grader collects bottles to raise money for Operation Smile.

+ This tiny bookstore on wheels brings books to towns whose bookstores have closed—and it's gorgeous.

+ The world record for standing high jump is pretty impressive.

+ Idaho's 1st Female Lawmakers Properly Honored Thanks To 11-Year-Old Student.

+ Introducing the Charmin Forever Roll: The Toilet Paper You Didn't Know You Needed. (Counterpoint: You knew.)