1. The madness in the mirror
“YouTube videos of police beatings on American streets. A widely circulated internet hoax about Muslim men in Michigan collecting welfare for multiple wives. A local news story about two veterans brutally mugged on a freezing winter night.” These are all examples of the content that ultimately ended up being part of Russian propaganda campaigns to alter the US election. While it’s important to get to the bottom of how they did what they did (and who may have assisted them), it’s also important to note that one of their core techniques was to amplify the negative trends already driving social media: “A New York Times examination of hundreds of those posts shows that one of the most powerful weapons that Russian agents used to reshape American politics was the anger, passion, and misinformation that real Americans were broadcasting across social media platforms.” The real people behind fake news, or how Russia harvested american rage to reshape US politics.
2. Monster movie maker
“I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different. That was the culture then.” That is one of the lines from Harvey Weinstein’s public apology for his decades of sexual harassment. That sounded like a dubious statement a few days ago (unless Harvey shared an office with Bill Cosby). The statement became more absurd when we learned that he once cornered an actress and forced her to watch him masturbate on a houseplant. And it’s downright disgusting after what we’re learning from The New Yorker today. “Three women—among them Argento and a former aspiring actress named Lucia Evans—told me that Weinstein raped them, allegations that include Weinstein forcibly performing or receiving oral sex and forcing vaginal sex. Four women said that they experienced unwanted touching that could be classified as an assault. In an audio recording captured during a New York Police Department sting operation in 2015 and made public here for the first time, Weinstein admits to groping a Filipina-Italian model named Ambra Battilana Gutierrez, describing it as behavior he is ‘used to.’ Four of the women I interviewed cited encounters in which Weinstein exposed himself or masturbated in front of them.”
+ “She refused his advances, she said, and confided in Brad Pitt, her boyfriend at the time. Mr. Pitt confronted Mr. Weinstein, and soon after, the producer warned her not to tell anyone else about his come-on. ‘I thought he was going to fire me,’ she said.” NYT: Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie and others say Weinstein harassed them.
+ Donna Karan said she wondered if women were asking for trouble. DKNYWTF?
3. Where there’s smoke
Like most days, I’m writing from the South of Market section of San Francisco, more than an hour’s drive away from the closest wildfire. And the inside of my office smells of smoke. It’s everywhere in the Bay Area. While I’m delivering the news as usual, my thoughts are with my friends who have lost houses, or who have had to evacuate their homes and still don’t know what they’ll find when they get back. Here’s the latest on California’s wildfires. “It just came through there, like a blow torch…I saw firetrucks racing up Martin West and then, five minutes later, I saw them racing down. I said, time to get out of here.”
+ Mercury News: Santa Rosa fire: How a sudden firestorm devastated a city.
+ InFocus: Photos of California’s destructive wildfires.
4. Fentanyl’s deadly side effect
“The increase is remarkable because fentanyl only arrived in the illicit drug supply in a noticeable way around 2012, and has now raced ahead of drugs usually responsible for overdose deaths. Fentanyl is roughly 50 times more potent than morphine and about 10 times more potent than heroin.” Fentanyl is now the leading cause of US overdose deaths. (21,000 in 2016.)
+ “I’m not an alarmist by nature, but this is not overhyped. It has completely overwhelmed us.” NYT: As overdose deaths pile up, a medical examiner quits the morgue.
5. The liddle teapot
“One Trump confidant likened the president to a whistling teapot, saying that when he does not blow off steam, he can turn into a pressure cooker and explode. ‘I think we are in pressure cooker territory,’ said this person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk candidly.'” From WaPo: Trump’s frustration and fury rupture alliances, threaten agenda. (It’s ironic that a guy named Corker is the only one to let loose on Trump. The anonymous leaks are getting redundant.)
+ The New Yorker’s Jonathan Blitzer on why the White House doubled down on DACA. They are “making a simple calculation that the mainstream no longer matters.”
+ NYT: “In labeling Mr. Corker ‘liddle,’ the president was evidently returning to a theme. He considered Mr. Corker for secretary of state during the transition after last year’s election but was reported to have told associates that Mr. Corker, at 5-foot-7, was too short to be the nation’s top diplomat. Instead, Mr. Trump picked Rex W. Tillerson, who is several inches taller.” And how’s that working out? Trump just suggested he could beat Tillerson in an IQ test. (I guarantee Trump would fail an EQ test.)
“We propose the suspension of the effects of the declaration of independence for a few weeks, to open a period of dialogue. If everyone acts responsibly the conflict can be resolved in a calm and agreed manner.” In a much-anticipated speech, “The Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, has pulled the region back from the brink of an unprecedented showdown with the Spanish government.”
7. Kicked off the island
“All he brought to Puerto Rico were those napkins. And you know what everyone’s wondering? What we’re expected to wipe with them: our asses, or our tears.” As desperation on the island builds, Jon Lee Anderson wonders how many Puerto Ricans will leave home after Hurricane Maria?
+ LA Times: Puerto Ricans fleeing their hurricane-ravaged island are pouring into the US mainland
+ Mark Zuckerberg’s weird decision to tour Puerto Rico as a virtual reality cartoon.
8. Getting passed on electric avenue
“Propelled by vast amounts of government money and visions of dominating next-generation technologies, China has become the world’s biggest supporter of electric cars. That is forcing automakers from Detroit to Yokohama and Seoul to Stuttgart to pick up the pace of transformation or risk being left behind in the world’s largest car market.” From the NYT: China hastens the world toward an electric-car future. (One of the many examples of other countries “winning” while our country tweets.)
9. The red (white and blue) zone
“Building on many discussions with clubs and players, we have worked to develop a plan that we will review with you at next week’s League meeting.” The NFL is considering a rule change to address the national anthem.
+ Jerry Jones: Players “need consequences” to stand up to peer pressure. (This is crazy. The pressure they’re responding to is that their peers are being shot dead.)
10. Bottom of the news
“The company is in advanced talks to forge a partnership with Phrame, a maker of smart license plates that allow items to be delivered to a car’s trunk… At the same time, Amazon is developing a smart doorbell device that would give delivery drivers one-time access to a person’s home to drop off items.” At this point, wouldn’t it be easier if we all just gave up and decided to live inside an Amazon warehouse?
+ Wired: The US Postal Service is building a self-driving mail truck. (This is probably a good time to announce my plans to develop a robotic watchdog.)
+ There are about 300 NextDraft stickers left. So hurry up and give me your address and I’ll take care of the rest.