Tuesday, January 28th, 2020


A Real Peace of Work

People are saying this is the greatest deal and the biggest news out of the Middle East since the parting of the Red Sea. President Trump and Benjamin Natanyahu took time out away from their trial defenses to introduce a new Middle East peace plan. The plan and its introduction included a lot of optimism and the potential for a two-state solution. What it didn't include: Palestinians. "Trump called his plan a 'win-win' for both Israel and the Palestinians, but it was created without input from Palestinian leaders and they already had rejected it before the president unveiled it at the White House with Netanyahu by his side." AP: Trump Mideast plan cheers Israelis, angers Palestinians. (Editor's note: I know plenty of Israelis who aren't cheering.)

+ NYT: Trump Outlines Mideast Peace Plan That Strongly Favors Israel. (Maybe the Palestinians can improve their lot if they agree to dig up some dirt on Hunter Biden...)

+ Jared Kushner, the plan's architect: "It was very, very difficult to draw these lines... This is something we inherited." (Irony alert: The Bidens are being accused of nepotism on the same day the president's son in law is introducing his plan for Middle East peace.)

+ "Previous U.S. governments presented themselves as neutral arbiters between Israelis and Palestinians; neither side ever took that claim seriously. The Trump administration has never hidden its pro-Israel bias and, as expected, its peace plan is the most pro-Israel proposal ever to be put forward by Washington." Ian Bremmer: How the Trump Administration's Israel-Palestine Peace Plan Will Change the Middle East.

+ Meanwhile, Israel's government plans to vote Sunday on annexing 30 percent of the occupied West Bank.



"A National Public Radio correspondent was kicked off of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's upcoming trip to Europe and Central Asia, days after the top U.S. diplomat berated another reporter at the news organization, called her a liar and demanded she find Ukraine on a map." Pompeo was wrong when he attacked the NPR reporter, but retaliation of this sort is even more wrong. How do we know that? Trump thinks it's great: "I think you did a good job on her."

+ NYT: Site That Ran Anti-Semitic Remarks Got Passes for Trump Trip. "The White House granted TruNews, a right-wing Christian site, press credentials for the president's Davos trip after its founder's remarks calling impeachment a 'Jew coup.'"

+ As if the media didn't have enough problems with those they're trying to cover, now they're attacking themselves. Erik Wemple on WaPo's misguided suspension of Felicia Sonmez over Kobe Bryant tweets.


Smoking Gun Control

The call was perfect. Well, the call wasn't quite perfect, but it wasn't what people are accusing it of being. OK, the call sucked, but none of this is impeachable and past precedents mean nothing (and neither does anything else). Yes, the goalposts are moving. Susan B Glasser in The New Yorker: The Bolton Bombshell and the Unwaveringly Pro-Trump GOP. "At any other moment in Washington in my lifetime, I would have predicted with absolute confidence that the Bolton revelation would force Republican senators to switch their position and support witnesses. And not just a few, but almost all of them. But this is now, and the unthinkable and inconceivable have become increasingly routine." (What wasn't routine was Alan Dershowitz doing a complete reversal of past positions and Ken Starr actually complaining that there are too many impeachments, a claim that only works with a laugh track.)

+ The second leak from the Bolton manuscript indicates that he "told Attorney General William P. Barr last year that he had concerns that President Trump was effectively granting personal favors to the autocratic leaders of Turkey and China."

+ Graeme Wood in The Atlantic: John Bolton Knows What He's Doing. "For Bolton to surrender these advantages for free, to the advantage not of himself but of liberals with whom he agrees on little, would be for Bolton to stop being Bolton." Speaking of people who don't agree on much with liberals, John Kelly thinks Bolton should testify. "If John Bolton says that in the book I believe John Bolton."

+ Giuliani furious Democrats want testimony from Bolton but not him: "They are afraid of my physical presence." (Editor's note: Everyone is.)

+ And here's a random, totally unrelated fun fact: Rudy Giuliani's son makes $95,000 working as sports liaison for the White House.


California Roll

"Japan adheres to strict, unwritten rules of comportment. It is a culture of courtesies and public reserve — a land of order, where people line up to board subways, where they rarely eat or drink in public, where trash and graffiti are virtually absent." NYT: Japan's Skateboarders Roll, Warily, Out of the Shadows: "A culture long seen as a disruptive and dangerous presence on Tokyo's streets wonders if Olympic success this summer might finally bring everyday acceptance." (If Japanese skateboarders want to be accepted, they just need to import some of the adult hipsters on electric skateboards. They make kids on skateboards seem pretty great...)


Netflix and Chills

"How easily does the 2019-nCoV spread from person to person, and how deadly is the virus? At the moment, scientists only have informed guesses, which are likely to solidify in the coming weeks and months. But what we know so far is instructive." Julia Belluz in Vox: The 2 key questions that will determine if the coronavirus outbreak becomes a pandemic.

+ So far, there are 4,610 confirmed cases and 106 deaths. Those numbers are rising steadily in China as other countries begin to report cases. Here's the latest from CNN.

+ InFocus: Photos From Wuhan Under Quarantine.

+ For more on flu pandemics, Netflix recently released a docuseries called Pandemic, How to Prevent an Outbreak.


Pot Sticklers

"While unprecedented in scope, the United States' war on drugs was not the first of its kind. The reality is that marijuana has been controversial for almost as long as humans have been farming it. Many societies throughout history have banned cannabis cultivation and use. What many of these crackdowns and prohibitions have in common is social and economic inequality, or a distrust of the unknown." As more states move to legalize weed, the MIT Press Reader provides A Brief Global History of the War on Cannabis. (Sooner or later, I assume the global war on cannabis will make it to my man cave, but in the meantime, enjoy NextDraft!)


The Parent (En)Trap

"What followed, according to more than 15 medical experts who later reviewed Cox's case, was a series of medical mistakes and misstatements by hospital staff members that has devastated Cox's family and derailed his career. A nurse practitioner on the hospital's child abuse team confused the baby's birthmarks for bruises, according to seven dermatologists who have reviewed the case. A child abuse pediatrician misinterpreted a crucial blood test, four hematologists later said. Then, two weeks after the incident, armed with those disputed medical reports, Child Protective Services took the child." NBC News: An ER doctor was charged with abusing his baby. But 15 medical experts say there's no proof.


Coach K

Let's start getting pumped up for the Super Bowl with some build-up coverage (that will be wildly biased in favor of the 49ers!): "Without a football team to join in college, Sowers played basketball at Goshen College in Indiana, and was met with a giant hurdle when she hoped to enter the coaching ranks after graduating: the school didn't want an LGBTQ person coaching. Sowers was turned down for an unpaid coaching position." How Katie Sowers became the first woman and openly gay coach in Super Bowl history.

+ "A day after 24-time grand slam champion Court was honored at the tournament on the 50th anniversary of her calendar Grand Slam, McEnroe and Navratilova unfurled a banner calling for the Margaret Court Arena to be renamed in honor of fellow Australian Evonne Goolagong." John McEnroe and Martina Navratilova join forces at Australian Open to hold on-court protest.


Chicken Little

Think you're tired of the fast food chicken sandwich wars? Trust, me. It's worse for the little chickens. "Fast-food titans, embroiled in a chicken-sandwich battle, are trying to beat each other with small weapons. Little chickens, whose quarter-pound breasts fit perfectly inside a bun, are proving essential to the war effort. In the process, they're getting harder to come by." (I often worry about my weight, but I'm glad I'm too big for a bun...)


Bottom of the News

Tennis can be a psychological wrecking ball. And so it was at the Australian Open for Tennys Sandgren, an American journeyman who dropped seven match points to Roger Federer in a match where Sandgren had to suffer a crowd hoping for a Fed comeback, commentators critiquing him within earshot, and even a ball kid running into him between games. Luckily, Sandgren had a sense of humor about it. (Just being named Tennys and working your way up to playing in the quarters of a major against Roger Federer is pretty cool...)

+ A British explorer has become the first to conquer the world's most remote mountain unaided - which is so isolated only ten people have ever seen it.

+ A thief at a concert was arrested after being found with 30 phones in his cycling shorts. (Maybe he's just really into Strava.)