November 18th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Can babies learn to love veggies? Plus, several incredible investigative reports and possibly the worst interview ever.

“There seems to be this window of opportunity between six and nine months—maybe even twelve months—where they’re just interested in food. And that predisposes them to healthy eating. They’re like baby birds. It doesn’t even matter if they like it. They just try it.” As The New Yorker’s Burkhard Bilger writes, “No diet has been more obsessively studied, more fiercely controlled, or more anxiously stage-managed than baby food.” Can this period of development be used to create lifelong healthy eating habits? Can Babies Learn to Love Vegetables? (Between politics and climate change, we’re destroying the future of your planet, but seriously kid, eat the carrot.)

+ Related: Nobody Asked for Twinkies Cereal, but Here We Are. (Counterpoint: Twinkies were introduced on April 6, 1930. People have sort of wanted a Twinkies Cereal ever since.)


Long Island Iced Thee

“They had no idea agents directed them toward different neighborhoods than their white counterparts, gave them fewer house listings, put them under greater financial scrutiny, [and] disparaged minority communities when speaking with whites.” A three-year Newsday investigation uncovered widespread evidence of unequal treatment by real estate agents on Long Island. (Editors note: Newsday removed its paywall to share this important investigation. Every newspaper should do that for exclusive investigative reports. Especially now, the truth is too important to block…)


Guilty Party

“Since 2017, the authorities in Xinjiang have detained many hundreds of thousands of Uighurs, Kazakhs and other Muslims in internment camps. Inmates undergo months or years of indoctrination and interrogation aimed at transforming them into secular and loyal supporters of the party … President Xi Jinping, the party chief, laid the groundwork for the crackdown in a series of speeches delivered in private to officials during and after a visit to Xinjiang in April 2014, just weeks after Uighur militants stabbed more than 150 people at a train station, killing 31. Mr. Xi called for an all-out ‘struggle against terrorism, infiltration and separatism’ using the ‘organs of dictatorship,’ and showing ‘absolutely no mercy.'” NYT: Leaked Files Expose How China Organized Mass Detentions of Muslims. (This confirms what most of the world had assumed. Now what?)

+ “The sprawling campus has been occupied by demonstrators since last week, and has become the focus of the most prolonged and tense confrontation between police and protester.” Hong Kong: police say surrender is only option for protesters.

+ Photos from the increasingly violent and volatile scene, and the latest on the standoff from CNN.


Cable Guise

“Many of the cables describe real-life espionage capers that feel torn from the pages of a spy thriller. Meetings are arranged in dark alleyways and shopping malls or under the cover of a hunting excursion or a birthday party. Informants lurk at the Baghdad airport, snapping pictures of American soldiers and keeping tabs on coalition military flights. Agents drive meandering routes to meetings to evade surveillance. Sources are plied with gifts of pistachios, cologne and saffron. Iraqi officials, if necessary, are offered bribes.” NYT: The Iran Cables: Secret Documents Show How Tehran Wields Power in Iraq.


Trump Dump

“Trump blasted Williams in a tweet as part of a band of ‘Never Trumpers, who I don’t know & mostly never even heard of.'” Trump has lashed out (shocker) at another impeachment witness. It’s (surprise) a woman. This time the woman is an official at his State Department and an advisor to VP Pence. Neither Pence nor Pompeo (stunner) has come to Jennifer Williams’ defense. (Trump attacks never-Trumpers as his actions suggest everyone should be one. Irony should be an impeachable offense.)

+ Jennifer Williams and Alexander Vindman are the next two witness who will testify publicly. NPR: Who Is Testifying And What Happens Next?

+ The president says he’d consider answering questions (how could anyone not take him at his word?) and the House is investigating whether Trump lied to Mueller (see previous parenthetical). Here’s the latest on the impeachment from CNN and WaPo.

+ In other Trump news

+ “Lawyers hover in the background of many combat decisions. Before bombs are dropped, lawyers confirm that the target is legal. But these crimes do not involve close calls, legally. The decision to blow a hole the size of an apple into the torso of an unarmed teenage girl does not require legal evaluation so much as psychiatric evaluation.” Graeme Wood on the president’s war crime pardons that the Pentagon didn’t ask for (or want). War Crimes Are Not Difficult to Discern.

+ After North Korea called Joe Biden a ‘rabid dog’ who should be ‘beaten to death with a stick,’ Trump reacted sort of jovially via Twitter telling his favorite genocidal maniac, “See you soon!” Meanwhile, according to WaPo, North Korea says it doesn’t want Trump meeting if it’s just something for him to brag about. Meanwhile, “U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday the United States and South Korea have indefinitely postponed a joint military exercise in an ‘act of goodwill’ toward North Korea.” (Art of the Deal abridged: Give a lot. Get nothing. Repeat.)

+ “Trump reversed course — this time on a plan to address a major public health problem because of worries that apoplectic vape shop owners and their customers might hurt his reelection prospects.” Trump backs off flavored vape ban he once touted.


A Princely Summary

“In the interview, Andrew said he did not regret his friendship with Epstein, adding the relationship had some ‘seriously beneficial outcomes. The people I met and the opportunities I was given to learn, either by him or because of him, were actually very useful,’ Andrew said. Maitlis again pressed the prince if he had any regrets. ‘Do I regret the fact that he has quite obviously conducted himself in a manner unbecoming? Yes.'” It’s almost impossible to assemble a universal opinion on any topic these days. But Prince Andrew managed to do just that over weekend. Basically everyone in the world thinks his interview about his relationship with Jeffrey Epstein was a disaster. Prince Andrew Said His Inability To Sweat Is Evidence He Didn’t Have Sex With One Of Jeffrey Epstein’s Victims. (In fairness, I’m not sure he has a good interview to give on this topic…)


Spock Therapy

“I looked up from the screen of my iPad to my father, lying unconscious, amid tubes and wires, in his starship of a bed, in the irresolute darkness of an I.C.U. at 3 a.m. Ordinarily when my father lay on his back his abdomen rose up like the telescope dome of an observatory, but now there seemed to be nothing between the bed rails at all, just a blanket pulled as taut as a drum skin and then, on the pillow, my father’s big, silver-maned head. Scarecrow, after the flying monkeys had finished with him. His head was tilted upward and his jaw hung slack. All the darkness in the room seemed to pool in his open mouth. Hey, Dad, I need a line, I said, breaking, if only in my head, the silence that reigned between us. I’m writing dialogue for Mr. Spock.” In The New Yorker, the excellent Michael Chabon on writing Star Trek and mourning his father. The Final Frontier.


Town Haul

“With fewer young people and a glut of elderly residents—among the longest-lived in the world—many rural towns appear to be locked into a demographic death spiral. If current trends continue, by 2040, 869 municipalities—nearly half of Japan’s total—will be at risk of vanishing.” CityLab: In Japan’s Vanishing Rural Towns, Newcomers Are Wanted.


Legend Title Fits Him Tua T

“After Alabama won that game, Tagovailoa represented limitless potential. Then, remarkably, he lived up to it. Tagovailoa was flawed while leading Bama past Georgia for the championship.” As his short but undeniably legendary college football stint comes to an injurious end, The Ringer’s Rodger Sherman reflects on what we just saw. Tua Tagovailoa’s Alabama Career Was a Dream Come to Life.


Bottom of the News

“We’ve all been communicating online (but) this brings us together so we can shake hands and give each other hugs … We can collaborate, we can make new friends. Because guess what, our old friends… we lost a lot of friends.” The flat-Earth conspiracy is spreading around the globe. (I mean, of course, right?)

+ Kylie Jenner just sold a majority stake in her four year-old skincare and make-up business for $600 million.

+ I spent a day as a times square mascot.

+ Looking for a non-fiction read? Here are a couple of lists: The 50 Best Nonfiction Books of the Past 25 Years. And the 20 Best Works of Nonfiction of the Decade.

+ Bruce, Thunder Road, Acoustic, Stone Pony. Enough Said.

Copied to Clipboard