That’s All, Hoax!

The Russia hacking of America's election has been detailed in the latest indictment to come out of the Mueller investigation. From the NYT: 13 Russians Indicted by Special Counsel in First Charges on 2016 Election Interference. Those indicted are accused of "illegally using social media platforms to sow political discord, including actions that supported the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump and disparaged his opponent, Hillary Clinton." (I guess the 400 pound hacker sitting on his bed is officially off the hook.)

+ Rod Rosenstein: "This indictment serves as a reminder that people are not always who they appear to be on the internet."

+ Back in 2015, the NYT's Adrian Chen wrote an in-depth profile of the Internet Research Agency, the St. Petersburg outfit on the receiving end of many of the latest charges: The Agency.

+ Here's a look at the kinds of messages sent by one of the Russian Twitter accounts.

+ Before we all start screaming at each other over this indictment, it's worth noting that one of the key goals of the Russia efforts was to sow discord and make America one nation, divisible. Those efforts predate the 2016 election ... and the internet. Julia Ioffe on the The History of Russian Involvement in America's Race Wars.

+ And it's not just about elections or race. The Russia bots went to work immediately after the school shooting in Florida. From NPR: As An American Tragedy Unfolds, Russian Agents Sow Discord Online. And from Wired: Pro-Gun Russian Bots Flood Twitter After Parkland Shooting.

+ Here's the full text of the indictment. And a good overview of what's in it.


The Signs Were Everywhere

Occasionally, a mass shooting incident is followed by interviews with the perpetrator's friends, family, and neighbors who all say the shooter exhibited no dangerous behaviors. Such is not the case this week in Florida. Authorities had been called to the shooter's house more than 35 times. "Neighbors said patrol cars were regularly in his mother's driveway. More recently, Mr. Cruz, 19, had been expelled from his high school. He posted pictures of weapons and dead animals on social media." A Lifetime of Trouble: Family Loss, Flashes of Rage. In addition to all the signs, "the FBI received a tip last month that the suspect in the Florida school shooting had a 'desire to kill' and access to guns and could be plotting an attack, but agents failed to investigate."

+ For some reason, the White House refuses to release a photo of Trump signing "a bill that made it easier for people with mental illness to obtain guns."

+ Mental health may have been a factor. But America's biggest mental health problem is that we can't pass sane gun laws. From AP: In many US states, 18 is old enough to buy a semiautomatic. And from the NYT: In Florida, an AR-15 Is Easier to Buy Than a Handgun.

+ My take (from yesterday): Play It Again, Uncle Sam: America's Automatic Response to Semiautomatic Tragedy.


Weekend Whats

What to Pod: "You think you know the story, or maybe you don't. But Watergate was stranger, wilder, and more exciting than you can imagine. What did it feel like to live through the scandal that brought down a president?" This is such a great series, and the parallels to today's scandals are pretty remarkable. Definitely give Slow Burn a listen.

+ What to Rock: I often worry about the longterm impacts of the wild and wanton content-related spending Netlfix is doing these days. But there are plenty of upsides. None greater than the the long-awaited return of a Chris Rock standup special. It takes him about 2 minutes to remind you why he is the best (and still the timeliest) standup in America.

+ What to Read: The excellent Dave Eggers on the wildly interesting Mokhtar Alkhanshali in a book that features war, adventure, immigrant tales, and a whole lot about coffee. The Monk of Mokha.


Convenience Story

"Convenience is the most underestimated and least understood force in the world today. As a driver of human decisions, it may not offer the illicit thrill of Freud's unconscious sexual desires or the mathematical elegance of the economist's incentives. Convenience is boring. But boring is not the same thing as trivial." The NYT's Tim Wu: The Tyranny of Convenience. (I found the story for you. Now you just need someone to read it to you...)


Five Ring Circus

"While their Canadian neighbors have long revered the game of roaring rocks and feverish sweeping, Americans have generally derided the sport as a bit dull. But that's changing." Just admit it. You're learning to love curling.

+ "They stood shoulder to shoulder at the finish line, the Colombian Sebastian Uprimny, the Tongan Pita Taufatofua, the Moroccan Samir Azzimani, and the Portuguese Kequyen Lam, as one last man made his way toward 116th place." WaPo: Thirty-six minutes after the gold medal was won, the Olympics happened.

+ The Atlantic on Akwasi Frimpong's improbable journey to Olympic sledding—from a country without ice. Ghana's Skeleton Hero.

+ The Ringer: Winners and Losers From Week 1 of the 2018 Winter Olympics.


Isn’t That Special

"We talked for a couple hours – then, it was "ON"! We got naked [and] had sex.' As McDougal was getting dressed to leave, Trump did something that surprised her. 'He offered me money,' she wrote. 'I looked at him ([and] felt sad) [and] said, ‘No thanks - I'm not ‘that girl.' I slept w/you because I like you - NOT for money' - He told me ‘you are special.'" Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker: Donald Trump, a Playboy Model, and a System for Concealing Infidelity: One woman's account of clandestine meetings, financial transactions, and legal pacts designed to hide an extramarital affair.


The Road to Perdition

"A chunk bigger than Prince Edward Island vanished last year alone. And when I set out to try to understand why – and what that means, not just for Brazil, but for the rest of us humans – the most knowledgeable people I talked with seemed to be filled with a level of despair I had never encountered before when reporting on climate issues." The Globe and Mail's Stephanie Nolen with an interactive piece on The Road: "Highway BR-163 cuts a brutal path through Brazil's conflicting ambitions: to transform itself into an economic powerhouse and to preserve the Amazon as a bulwark against climate change."


Photo Op

Alan Taylor at InFocus has put together an incredible selection of images nominated in the 2018 World Press Photo Contest. Wow.


Long and Winding Roadster

"Launched last week aboard SpaceX's new Falcon Heavy rocket, Elon Musk's interplanetary Tesla Roadster is currently on a lazy cruise around the sun., But the car's journey may come to an end in the not-too-distant future when—in a twist of karmic fate—it collides with the planet nearest and dearest to all our hearts." According to Hanno Rein of the University of Toronto: "The Tesla will likely impact the Earth within a few tens of millions of years." (I just hope I have enough warning so I can quickly jump into my Volvo where I'll be safe.)


Feel Good Friday

"If the blood test is adopted widely, it could eliminate the need for CT scans in at least a third of those with suspected brain injuries." NYT: Concussions Can Be Detected With New Blood Test Approved by FDA.

+ "Mr. Okra, a beloved New Orleans street vendor, died Thursday. He was 75." For the uplifting part of this story, you have to read the memories people are sharing about the impact that Mr. Okra had.

+ 60,000 Chinese troops have been deployed to plant trees in an extended area around Beijing roughly the size of Utah.

+ A Memphis teen creates subscription box to inform, inspire African-American girls.

+ Couple who lost everything in fire wins $1 million lottery.

+ Watching These Elderly Jews Have Shabbat Dinner At Wendy's Will Make Your Week.

+ Husband with Alzheimer's forgot he was married to his wife of 38 years. He proposed, and they married again.

+ A single dad walked 11 miles to work every day -- until his co-workers found out.