Wednesday, November 8th, 2023


People’s Choice Awards

After a week of reading gloomy reports in the polls, Democrats had a great day at the polls. Abortion was a the driving issue across several states, following a trend that began with the overturning of Roe. "The political potency of abortion rights proved more powerful than the drag of President Biden's approval ratings in Tuesday's off-year elections, as Ohioans enshrined a right to abortion in their state's constitution, and Democrats took control of both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly while holding on to Kentucky's governorship." NYT (Gift Article): How Abortion Lifted Democrats, and More Takeaways From Tuesday's Elections.

+ WaPo (Gift Article): "Abortion rights advocates won major victories Tuesday as voters in conservative-leaning Ohio decisively passed a constitutional amendment guaranteeing access to abortion, while those in ruby-red Kentucky reelected a Democratic governor who aggressively attacked his opponent for supporting the state's near-total ban on the procedure. In Virginia, a battleground state where Republicans pushed a proposal to outlaw most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, Democrats were projected to take control of the state legislature after campaigning heavily on preserving access."

+ "The outcomes suggested that, as in 2022, an unusually broad group of voters who believe that Democrats have not delivered for their interests voted for the party's candidates anyway because they apparently considered the Republican alternatives a threat to their rights and values on abortion and other cultural issues." Ronald Brownstein in The Atlantic (Gift Article) on Dem wins from Virginia to Kentucky to Ohio. "Even as many Democrats have been driven to a near panic by a succession of recent polls showing President Joe Biden's extreme vulnerability, the party in yesterday's elections swept almost all the most closely watched contests. "

+ After he was falsely accused in the Central Park jogger case, Donald Trump called for his execution. Now Yusef Salaam will be on the New York City Council. (We're approaching a scenario where one of the Central Park Five is in office and Donald Trump is in jail.)


Running Red Lights Out of Town

"I don't want to live in a city where the only cultural advantage is that you can make a right turn on a red light." So says the protagonist in Annie Hall in response to the idea of moving to California. Is that cultural advantage on the way out because of safety concerns? USA Today: As pedestrian deaths reach 40-year high, right-on-red comes under scrutiny nationwide.


I Know What You’re Doing Next Summer

"Becoming a full-time creator has emerged as one of the most popular career goals among schoolchildren in America and around the globe. Nearly 30 percent of kids ages 8 to 12 listed 'YouTuber' as their top career choice in a global survey conducted in 2019 by the Harris Poll and toymaker Lego — three times more than picked 'astronaut.' ... To meet the growing demand, after-school programs and summer camps like Creator Camp have cropped up from coast to coast to teach relevant filmmaking skills." Taylor Lorenz in WaPo (Gift Article): Camps teaching kids to be YouTubers are cropping up across the country. "'YouTubers make a lot, a lot of money,' said camper Colin, 9, who is also in the fourth grade." (The economic upside explains why these camps are so much better attended than my annual, three-month, intensive Newsletter and Pun Exploration Summertime Silent Retreat.)


Hummus and Humanity

"If you are closing up, you are surrendering to terror. We will not agree to this kind of language of fear." It's not easy to find glimmers of decency and hope when it comes to the Middle East crisis, so when I find them, I'll share them. One such glimmer can be found at a restaurant called Kanaan in Berlin. ‘Best of both sides': Berlin's Israeli-Palestinian restaurant that won't give in to fear. "The fruit of a project by Ben David, an Israeli, and Jalil Dabit, a Palestinian, the casual restaurant has long sought to straddle one of the world's most divisive conflicts over a culture-melding menu."

+ "No forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, not now, not after the war. No use of Gaza as a platform for terrorism or other violent attacks. No reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends. No attempts to blockade or besiege Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza. We must also ensure no terrorist threats emerge from the West Bank." Blinken: Postwar Gaza should have no Israeli occupation or blockade.

+ "In the bloody arithmetic of Hamas' leaders, the carnage is not the regrettable outcome of a big miscalculation. Quite the opposite, they say: It is the necessary cost of a great accomplishment — the shattering of the status quo and the opening of a new, more volatile chapter in their fight against Israel." NYT (Gift Article): Behind Hamas' Bloody Gambit to Create a ‘Permanent' State of War.'

+ House votes to censure Rep. Rashida Tlaib for Israel-Hamas war comments. (I don't agree with her comments and her description of the meaning of "From the river to the sea" is beyond absurd. But she has the right to voice her opinion and she is, of course, especially close to this subject. Censuring House members sets a bad precedent.)

+ Tens of thousands of Palestinians have used a safe corridor to leave Northern Gaza, the G7 calls for humanitarian pauses, 130 Tunnels destroyed. Here's the latest from CNN and BBC.


Extra, Extra

Weight, Weight, Don't Tell Me: "While Mounjaro had already been used by some patients 'off-label' for weight loss, the new FDA approval will allow the drugmaker to begin officially selling and marketing tirzepatide — branded as Zepbound — for weight loss too." FDA approves a new weight loss drug, Zepbound from Eli Lilly.

+ Traffic Stop: "An Eritrean trafficker promised to help Africans desperate to reach Europe—then brutalized them inside a Libyan compound while extorting their families back home. With his fortune, he partied in Dubai." The New Yorker: The Kingpin Who Kidnapped Migrants for Ransom

+ Network News: "They are doctors, they are lawyers, they are accountants, they are elected officials, they are executives of high tech companies and pharmaceutical companies, they are military officers, government contractors, professors, scientists." And they are probably pretty nervous right about now. CNN: DOJ announces arrests in ‘high-end brothel network' used by elected officials, military officers and others.

+ Body Heat: "Lieven de Key, a housing corporation in Amsterdam, is planning what is believed to be the first sewer warmth project that will tap into a main district sewage pipe to warm 1,600 existing social and student homes. After the Dutch words for sewer, riool, and warmth, this sustainable, 24/7, year round heat source is dubbed riothermie." ‘A treasure beneath our feet': How the Dutch went down the toilet looking for heat.

+ A Bad Heir Day? New York prosecutors are grilling their final witness in the Trump fraud trial. Ivanka.


Bottom of the News

"For Led Zeppelin fans it is an instantly recognisable image: that of a grey-bearded figure stooping, his leathery hands grasping the pole supporting a bundle of hazel on his back. But the origin of the image, which forms the centrepiece of the eye-catching front cover of Led Zeppelin IV, has remained a mystery for more than half a century." Figure on Led Zeppelin IV cover identified as Victorian Wiltshire thatcher.

+ Nacho average bear: Florida mammal swipes $45 Taco Bell order from porch. "Video shows the beast sauntering up to the front door and grabbing the bag in its mouth. Then, a short time later, it comes back to steal the drinks." (And to demand a more authentic burrito...)

+ Patrick Dempsey Is (Finally!) People's 2023 Sexiest Man Alive. (Foiled Again...)