Al Franken’s announcement, the Jerusalem move, and eight other stories you might have missed

The delayed spurning of Franken is a testament to his popularity among his colleagues.
The delayed spurning of Franken is a testament to his popularity among his colleagues.
Image: AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin
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1. The word of the year

This is not urgent. Don’t look at it while you’re at the family dinner table. Don’t glance at it from behind the wheel during your drive home from work. Even if you’re just sitting there doing nothing, there’s no rush. This can wait until later. Like most things on the internet, it can even wait until never. This is not breaking. But from what I can tell, it’s the only news that’s not. And so, after a year spent opening an unseemly number of browser tabs containing what felt like a nonstop onslaught of massive stories, this is my pick for the word of the year: Breaking.

+ A few weeks ago, the editorial team at Medium asked a bunch of impressive writers, deep thinkers, and public figures (and me) to choose 2017’s word of the year. There are lot of interesting takes in this collection of Words Thats Matter 2017. (Editor’s Note: Please don’t feel that you’re somehow obligated to read my piece first, give it several claps, and share it widely, just because I spend five or six hours a day collecting the day’s top news which I deliver to you with keen insights, pithy wit, and savage puns. That’s not what this is about.)

2. Groping mechanism

Calling out the irony that he is stepping down “while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assaults sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” Al Franken announced plans to resign from the Senate in the coming weeks.

+ Here’s a look at all the women who have accused Franken of sexual misconduct.

+ Politico: Inside the demise of Al Franken.

+ “Who survives this kind of scandal? The ones that are the least repentant — and often, the most guilty.” Paul Waldman on the depressing lesson of political sex scandals. (It may be the lesson of almost all scandals, not just ones that involve politics and sex.)

3. The Zion king

“Trump repeated his earlier assertions that he had to follow through on his campaign pledge, seemingly irritated by objections over security and the break with previous policy.” WaPo takes you inside one of Trump’s biggest decisions yet: Trump had for months been determined to move US Embassy to Jerusalem.

+ “People are waking up to the fact that the president doesn’t see grays and doesn’t like pastels. He is very proud that he’s fulfilled so many campaign promises, and the embassy decision is another notch on his belt.” NYT: For Trump, an Embassy in Jerusalem Is a Political Decision, Not a Diplomatic One.

+ The decision sparked protests and a call for a new intifada. CNN has the latest.

+ From American Jews, praise and alarm. (Here’s a take from this American Jew: The man who made the Jerusalem decision wondered why the Civil War couldn’t be solved peacefully, thought Frederick Douglass was still alive, and recently said this about the Middle East peace process: “It is something that I think is frankly, maybe, not as difficult as people have thought over the years.” So his decision-making prowess in this arena gives me pause.)

+ “Why in the world would you just give this away for free and not even use it as a lever to advance the prospect of an Israeli-Palestinian deal?” Tom Friedman: Trump, Israel and the Art of the Giveaway.

4. Conceal carry on my wayward son

“Police didn’t release details about the shooter but confirmed the other two people killed Thursday at Aztec High School were students.” On Thursday, two students were killed during a shooting at a high school in New Mexico. That shooting barely registered in headlines as we close out a year that included Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs. It was also a year in which there were calls for Congress to act on gun laws. And the House just did. They passed a bill “that would make it easier for gun owners to legally carry concealed weapons across state lines, the first significant action on guns in Congress since mass shootings in Nevada and Texas killed more than 80 people.”

+ WaPo: For six teens at a Las Vegas high school, homecoming week started with a country music concert.

5. Internet of bad things

“The same Facebook personalities who fought dirty to see Duterte win were brought inside the Malacañang Palace. From there they are methodically taking down opponents, including a prominent senator and human-rights activist who became the target of vicious online attacks and was ultimately jailed on a drug charge.” From BusinessWeek: What Happens When the Government Uses Facebook as a Weapon?

+ “A place that I used to go for joy, for connection, for information, has been perverted, abused, and reduced.” Joshua Topolsky on the death of the Internet.

6. Let love (kanga)rule

“The speaker of the House of Representatives, Tony Smith, declared the vote carried, since fewer than five MPs opposed it, triggering a standing ovation from the parliamentarians and public gallery.” The Guardian: Marriage equality law passes Australia’s parliament in landslide vote.

7. Lawnmower manners

“The account marks the first time either side has offered a reason for one of the nation’s most talked-about political mysteries: What sparked the worst attack on a sitting senator in decades?” WaPo: Intrigue grows over what sparked the attack on Rand Paul. (Paul’s neighbor once yelled at him over the grass clippings Paul’s lawnmower shot onto his yard.)

8. In bod we trust

“Exercise classes often function just as much like a church as they do like a gym: They gather people into a community, and give them a ritual to perform. The comfort of clipping your shoes into a beloved SoulCycle bike or landing the first blow on your favorite heavy bag at a boxing gym is not so far off from the reassurance of arriving at temple on a Friday.” The Atlantic on The Consumerist Church of Fitness Classes. (I’m agnostic: I doubt the existence of me at the gym.)

9. Left to our own divides

Pew with the latest on our stark divides, regardless of the issue: “Republicans and Democrats are deeply divided in views of possible wrongdoing by senior administration officials, as well as in confidence in Mueller to conduct a fair investigation. In addition, while just 19% of Republicans view the Russia probe as ‘very important’ to the nation, more than three times as many Democrats (71%) say the same.”

10. Bottom of the news

“Slipping on a suit is no longer a requirement for moving into the executive suite. It does not automatically imbue its wearer with authority. The most important person in the room is probably not wearing a suit.” WaPo with a history of the final dying days of the power suit. (I blame myself…)

+ Reminder: Tomorrow is Feel Good Friday. So if you find positive, uplifting news stories, hit reply and send me a link.

+ “Millions of people in cities rely on recorded nature sounds to manage sleep and stress, and scientists are slowly understanding why it works.”

+ Flickr’s top photos of the year.

Quartz now syndicates NextDraft, a daily roundup for the day’s most fascinating news curated by Dave Pell. Read the archive here. Sign up to get the newsletter or download the app here.