1. Can you hear me now?
“I started talking about Harvey the minute that it happened. Literally, I exited that hotel room at the Peninsula Hotel in 1997 and came straight downstairs to the lobby, where my dad was waiting for me, because he happened to be in Los Angeles from Kentucky, visiting me on the set. And he could tell by my face—to use his words—that something devastating had happened to me. I told him. I told everyone.” Among a multitude of other news stories that seemed to normalize abnormality, 2017 will be etched in history as the year when people finally started listening to what women like Ashley Judd were telling them. Time’s Person of the Year is The Silence Breakers: The Voices That Launched a Movement.
+ Backlash: It’s not a coincidence that the MeToo movement happened during a year when Donald Trump (leader of the Me movement) is in the White House. What’s amazing is that Trump (to many, the ultimate example of someone who got away with sexual harassment) was Time’s Person of the Year in 2016. Even more amazing, this line from one year ago: “‘To be on the cover of Time as Person of the Year is a tremendous honor,’ Trump told Matt Lauer in an interview.”
+ On the same day as Time made its announcement, a slew of Democratic Senators called on Al Franken to resign. (And that comes a day after John Conyers announced his resignation.)
+ And yet another amazing article on the incredible amount of time and effort (and teamwork) it took to develop and maintain Harvey Weinstein’s Complicity Machine. “I’m Harvey Weinstein,” he used to say. “You know what I can do.” (We do now, Harvey. We do now…)
2. Rain on the scarecrow, blood on the plow
“We were growing food, but couldn’t afford to buy it. We worked 80 hours a week, but we couldn’t afford to see a dentist, let alone a therapist. I remember panic when a late freeze threatened our crop, the constant fights about money, the way light swept across the walls on the days I could not force myself to get out of bed.” Debbie Weingarten in The Guardian: Why are America’s farmers killing themselves in record numbers? (“The suicide rate for farmers is more than double that of veterans.”)
3. Capital offensive
“I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. This is nothing more or less than the recognition of reality.” And with that, president Trump “broke with decades of U.S. and international policy and formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.” (But he still signed the waiver delaying any physical embassy move.)
4. Portugal the managing
“Portugal’s policy rests on three pillars: one, that there’s no such thing as a soft or hard drug, only healthy and unhealthy relationships with drugs; two, that an individual’s unhealthy relationship with drugs often conceals frayed relationships with loved ones, with the world around them, and with themselves; and three, that the eradication of all drugs is an impossible goal.” The Guardian: Portugal’s radical drugs policy is working. Why hasn’t the world copied it?
+ A new “report reveals that deaths from cocaine overdoses among black people were roughly on par with heroin and prescription-opioid-caused deaths among white people.” (In political stories, follow the money. In drug overdose stories, follow the despair.)
5. Chicken pox
“People had to make a decision: Embrace change or get rid of it. And if you get rid of it, it’s going to cost you your town.” So much of the modern-day America’s story is weaved into this piece by Slate’s Henry Grabar: Who Gets to Live in Fremont, Nebraska?
+ “A group of small-town environmentalists wanted to stop a potentially toxic Costco chicken plant. How did they end up fighting alongside anti-Muslim xenophobes?” The New Republic: Compromised.
6. Private dicks
An amazing lede from The Intercept: “The Trump administration is considering a set of proposals developed by Blackwater founder Erik Prince and a retired CIA officer — with assistance from Oliver North, a key figure in the Iran-Contra scandal — to provide CIA Director Mike Pompeo and the White House with a global, private spy network that would circumvent official U.S. intelligence agencies, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials and others familiar with the proposals. The sources say the plans have been pitched to the White House as a means of countering ‘deep state’ enemies in the intelligence community seeking to undermine Donald Trump’s presidency.” This is both completely crazy and completely in line with the near-constant attacks on the FBI and Justice Dept coming from the Oval Office.
+ According to the White House (that has had a shifting response the the story), “This idea is going nowhere.”
7. Putting blue in the red
“Republicans’ tax-rewrite plans are riddled with bugs, loopholes and other potential problems that could plague lawmakers long after their legislation is signed into law … some of the provisions could be easily gamed … others would have unintended results … some provisions are so vaguely written they leave experts scratching their heads.” And this is a law that they hope will be in place by January 1st. Politico: “The more you read, the more you go, ‘Holy crap, what’s this?'” (In 2017, that wouldn’t be a bad tagline for NextDraft…)
+ Bloomberg: How the GOP Tax Bill Whacks Liberal Tenets.
8. Things so south in SoCal
“Multiple are raging in Southern California. A series of Santa Ana wind-driven wildfires have destroyed at least 180 structures, forced thousands to flee and smothered the region with smoke in what officials predicted would be a pitched battle for days.” SoCal has faced a series of fires this season. And the current batch could grow into the worst. Here are live updates from the LA Times. And here are photos of the areas being ravaged by fire.
9. Ear piercings
“It’s the most specific finding to date about physical damage, showing that whatever it was that harmed the Americans, it led to perceptible changes in their brains. The finding is also one of several factors fueling growing skepticism that some kind of sonic weapon was involved.” The story of American diplomatics harmed in Cuba (by what may or may not have been some kind of sonic weapon) keeps getting weirder.
10. Bottom of the news
“In that moment, it became my mission. With the help of fake reviews, mystique and nonsense, I was going to do it: turn my shed into London’s top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor.”
+ In America, you’re never far from the next Starbucks. In Shanghai, you’re never far from the same Starbucks. The company is opening a 30,000 foot cafe.
+ According to a new report, superior IQs are associated with mental and physical disorders. (It aches me to read that.)
+ And at long last, Amazon Prime Video is coming to AppleTV.