1. Yearly checkup
A year after Donald Trump shocked pundits and prognosticators by winning the White House, voters in several key races gave the president his annual political check-up, and like most yearly check-ups, there was some discomfort. In the biggest race of the day,
Democrat Ralph Northam beat Republican Ed Gillespie in what was widely described as a test of Trumpism without Trump. (It turned out to be Trumpism without votes.) Here’s WaPo’s Jennifer Rubin with 15 takeaways from Virginia.
+ “Robert Marshall, who once referred himself as Virginia’s ‘chief homophobe,’ had held the position for more than two decades and recently introduced his own version of a ‘bathroom bill’ to the state legislature.” Last night, he lost to Danica Roem, who will become the first out transgender person to be elected and get seated in a state legislature. Marshall focused on hate. Roem focused on traffic.
+ Chris Hurst, whose girlfriend died in a live TV shooting, won a seat in Virginia’s statehouse.
2. Are you an innie or an outie?
“Some are richer and cashing in on their work with the president. Some face significant legal risks. And some of them are just content to be out of the spotlight. But all of them seem happy about one thing: The morning tweets are no longer their problem.” A lot of the key players in the Trump administration did not make it to the one year mark. Politico looks at their post-Trump lives: Tee times, smoothie diets, and fat paychecks. (Actually, that sounds like a pretty acurate description of life in office…)
+ Perhaps there’s no better way to look back on this year of nonstop news than by reflecting on the year in push alerts.
3. He said, Xi said
“Do not underestimate us. Do not try us.” In an address to South Korea’s parliament, President Trump directly addressed Kim Jong-un. He also addressed one of his golf courses. Trump then moved on to China where president Xi Jinping greeted him by rolling out the red carpet. And here’s Bloomberg with 2017’s version of the Nixon Goes to China headline: Trump Tweets From China.
+ “Flattery is a skill Chinese officials have perfected over the millennia. They know how to entertain and to impress visiting leaders.” The Daily Beast: When It Comes to US Presidents, Trump Is China’s Dream.
+ Meanwhile, members of the UCLA basketball team (including LiAngelo Ball) have been arrested in China for shoplifting.
4. Like it or not
“Years ago Jürgen Habermas, a noted German philosopher, suggested that while the connectivity of social media might destabilize authoritarian countries, it would also erode the public sphere in democracies. James Williams, a doctoral student at Oxford University and a former Google employee, now claims that ‘digital technologies increasingly inhibit our ability to pursue any politics worth having.’ To save democracy, he argues, ‘we need to reform our attention economy.'” The Economist: Once considered a boon to democracy, social media have started to look like its nemesis.
5. Islands in the scheme
“James H. Simons, a reserved mathematician and hedge fund operator from Boston now approaching 80, is a big Democratic donor. Warren A. Stephens, a 60-year-old golf enthusiast once called the king of Little Rock, Ark., inherited a family investment bank and became a booster of conservative Republicans.” But this unlikely duo found common ground … in offshore tax havens. From the NYT: How Business Titans, Pop Stars and Royals Hide Their Wealth.
6. Mall chats
“Mall kiosks are not an often-interrogated part of our shopping ecosystem. How do they work? Who works at them, and should we hold them accountable for their hard-sell tactics?” Racked unearths The Secret Life of the Mall Kiosk Worker. (Why not? Everyone else has had their say…)
+ ESPN: The Secret Life of Live Mascots. (There’s some concern that they don’t always root for the teams they represent…)
7. Organizer’s gonna organize
“It wouldn’t be Chicago if we didn’t have complaints about everything … People are definitely excited about the library, without a doubt, but they are concerned about ‘how does it impact me?’ … Chicagoans are like that about everything. . . . It means that we care about what’s going to happen in our neighborhood.” Obama’s tenure as president might seem like the low stress years once Chicago is done debating his library plans. “In what local pundits are calling the irony of ironies, Obama — who cut his teeth as a South Side community organizer — is now in the bull’s eye of the area’s community organizers.”
+ CityLab: Hope and Change Collide on the South Side.
+ Obama even got called for Jury duty on Wednesday. And showed up.
8. Oh snap…
Snap just had another bad quarter and the company is currently trading below its IPO price. Meanwhile, China’s Tencent purchased a significant stake in Snap (and almost immediately became Eightcent).
9. Raw files
“Let’s say you have a spiteful ex who decides to embarrass you by posting a nude photo that was supposed to be private. Facebook Inc. says if you send a copy of the photo to it first, it will make sure the picture never shows up on its site.” LA Times: Facebook says to shield you from revenge p-rn, it needs your naked photos.
10. Bottom of the news
“On their first full day of jury deliberations at the bribery trial of Senator Robert Menendez, a juror asked the judge a basic question: What is a senator?”
+ “After training, the sheep chose photos of familiar faces over unfamiliar ones significantly more often than not.” At Cambridge, researchers trained sheep to recognize celebrities. (And now, even they want to pull the wool over their eyes.)
+ I begged Twitter not to go to 280. But they didn’t listen: Twitter’s Character Assassination.