Just how corrupt is Vladamir Putin? What is this Magnitsky Act thing I keep hearing about? Are we making too big a deal out of Russia’s role in our elections and that weird meeting between Don Jr and the Russians at Trump Tower? There’s so much news, sometimes it’s hard to get a grasp on how the various parts of a story fit together. So at some point this weekend—on a drive, a walk, or just sitting at your desk—listen to Preet Bharara’s riveting and informative interview with Bill Browder—a guy who knows as much about Putin’s corruption as anyone (and is in very real danger because of that). This is an absolutely incredible interview.
+ “He is a man who is obsessed with TV. He watches the evening news over and over and over again to see how he’s portrayed, to see how he looks.” That might sound like someone we Americans know very well. But it’s actually a quote about Putin from part one of Frontline’s look at “how Vladimir Putin came to see the United States as an enemy—and why he decided to target an American election.” Don’t miss: Putin’s revenge.
2. Cat’s out of the bag
“The result of the vote was greeted with jubilation by pro-independence MPs, who applauded and began singing the Catalan anthem, Els Segadors. Thousands of people who gathered outside Catalonia’s parliament cheered the announcement.” The political crisis in Spain deepens after secessionist MPs vote to create Catalan republic as an independent and sovereign state. (I can’t believe Catalonia declared independence before California…)
+ Shortly after the votes, Spanish PM Mariano Rajoy said “he is dissolving the Catalan parliament and calling regional elections over its push for independence.” Here’s the latest from AP, as European leaders throw their support behind Spain.
3. Weekend whats
What to dry: Full disclosure. In between editions of NextDraft, I’m preparing for apocalypse by dehydrating fruits and other foods in my new Excalibur 3926TB. It’s easy, sort of fun, the kids like it, and I’ve already got about two presidential term’s worth of dried apples and bananas; but, sadly, not even a single slice for you—so start drying. (Whether or not you’re ready for the Excalibur, you’ll definitely want a Cuisipro Apple Corer. If he were a grocer, Dirty Harry would have held one of these when he said, “You’ve gotta ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?” I’ve thankfully never had to test the theory, but I’m convinced that the Cuisipro Apple Corer could double as a home defense weapon.)
+ What to watch: You’ll have to wait around for a few hours while your fruit dehydrates. Luckily, Stranger Things is back for your binge.
+ What to read: And what will your kids do while the fruit is drying? (That’s one of those key questions never addressed in parenting books…) Hook them up with this great new book from Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr (writers, illustrators, and NextDraft T-shirt wearers): The Real McCoys.
4. Law and Order, real life edition
The Marshall Project shot a series of short videos to help make sense of crime and punishment in the US. “The American criminal justice system consists of 2.2 million people behind bars, plus tens of millions of family members, corrections and police officers, parolees, victims of crime, judges, prosecutors and defenders. In We Are Witnesses, we hear their stories.”
5. Cell block and tackle
“In many ways, the meetings would be a referendum on the same argument owners have been holding in private meetings for years: What is the NFL’s identity? Is it a strict entertainment company that Jones and others envision, controlling the behavior of its players in service of its financial bottom line? Or should it attempt to transform itself into a more socially conscious league that would strive, through the forging of a rare and fragile owners-players partnership in this moment, to use its mammoth platform to try to change society for the good, even if the cost of that process, slow and complicated, would likely be measured in short-term declining popularity and lower revenues?” Seth Wickersham and Don Van Natta Jr. take you inside the NFL meetings to decide how to handle the anthem-kneeling controversy made major by the president. Texans’ owner Bob “McNair, a multimillion-dollar Trump campaign contributor, spoke next, echoing many of the same business concerns. ‘We can’t have the inmates running the prison.'” (That line should go over pretty well in the Texans’ locker room…)
+ But wait. There’s (always) more to the story: From GQ: “The plan involved a covert political operative who worked with Putin, a double amputee, a settlement with Texas A&M, and—ultimately—a failed bid that opened up the opportunity for Donald Trump’s presidential run.” Inside Donald Trump’s Shady scheme to keep Jon Bon Jovi from buying the Buffalo Bills.
6. Lap dogs
The last two weeks have forced us all to reconsider how we respond to claims of sexual harassment and assault. Here’s a thought experiment: If five women said a guy was a predator, would you believe them? How about 10? Not sure yet? Let’s make it an even 20. While you’re considering your answer, let’s take a look back at Jia Tolentino’s October 16 piece in The New Yorker: Trump and the Truth: The Sexual-Assault Allegations. “Had he actually ever done the things he bragged about? No, Trump said—and he has continued to stick to this answer, despite the fact that twenty women have now come forward by name with firsthand stories.”
+ “‘I don’t want to sit on your lap,’ she thought. But, she alleges, Mark Halperin insisted.”
+ The number of James Toback accusers just broke 300.
7. Hoover and shakers
“There is nothing further on the Oswald case except that he is dead.” One of the interesting items found in the released JFK Files: J. Edgar Hoover said public must believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
+ Strippers, surveillance, and assassination plots: The wildest JFK Files. (They would have seemed a lot more wild before the last year happened…)
8. Gall matters
This lede from the NYT: “A 10-year-old girl with cerebral palsy has been detained by federal immigration authorities in Texas after she passed through a Border Patrol checkpoint on her way to a hospital to undergo emergency gall bladder surgery.” (Everybody feel safer now?)
+ WaPo: A 10-year-old immigrant was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. She was detained on the way. (Someone built a wall between America and its ethics.)
9. Rare advances
“The idea of a dish full of duck mince suddenly beginning to twitch and squirm makes me shake my head. What’s making duck bits move if not a brain and nerves? Schulze is used to this reaction. ‘For the past 12,000 years, we’ve assumed that when I say the word ‘meat,’ you think ‘animal,’ he says. ‘Those two ideas are concatenated. We’ve had to decouple them.” From Inc: Why this cardiologist is betting that his lab-grown meat startup can solve the global food crisis.
10. Bottom of the news
“The pursuit started around 8:30 a.m. on Thursday when the 10-year-old child was supposed to be waiting for his older sister to take him to school. It ended around 9:45 a.m. after an officer forced the child to crash into a police cruiser.” (Man, am I glad my son is 11 and we got thru the 10 phase…)
+ Here’s a shocker: Regular marijuana users have more sex, study says. “Usually, people assume the more frequently you smoke, the worse it could be when it came to sex, but in fact, we learned the opposite was true.” (This study was done at Stanford. For the record, no one at Cal ever assumed stoned people had worse sex.)
+ Haribo gummy candies are made with slave labor, and ingredients from mistreated animals. Happy Halloween, everybody.