1. Grass backwards
California, slow your roll. Just days after it became the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana, Attorney General—and notorious weed wacker—Jeff (Don’t Beauregard That Joint) Sessions has moved to blunt the movement by “rescinding an Obama-era federal policy that provided legal shelter for marijuana sales in states that have allowed recreational pot.” It’s unclear whether federal prosecutors will actually pursue cases, and that uncertainty leaves many dispensary owners feeling as paranoid as their customers. (Related: Anyone have an update on the plans to fight the opiate crisis?)
+ Most pot businesses already operate at the edge of legality because it’s so difficult to figure out where to deposit their (mostly cash) proceeds. “Not only does selling marijuana violate federal law; handling the proceeds of any marijuana transaction is considered to be money laundering. Very few banks are willing to bear that risk.” From the NYT Mag: Where Pot Entrepreneurs Go When the Banks Just Say No.
+ In other Justice Department news, they’re about to start looking into Hillary Clinton’s email server again.
2. Trash talk
“To travel deep into the world of New York’s midnight trash collection is to enter a realm where people often toil in grave danger for low pay. Those perils are easy to miss in the roar of a diesel engine, the rush of a giant truck and a waft of scent from a bag we’re all happy to see somebody else remove.” ProPublica takes you inside the deadly world of private garbage collection.
3. Orphan age
“Three months ago, these two Rohingya brothers had a loving family, a little house near a river, a worn soccer ball to play with and 15 cows for fresh milk. It’s all gone now: The family killed. The house torched. The cows stolen.” And the trouble isn’t over. Now the orphaned Rohingya brothers have to figure out a way to survive a refugee camp. From WaPo’s Annie Gowen: Everyone has parents but us.
4. Middle earth
“If bridges, pipelines, and railroads are the arteries of the modern world, then China is positioning itself as the beating heart.” While America exits trade treaties and retreats from the international scene, China is racing to position itself as the center of the economic world. The New Yorker on Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, “the most ambitious infrastructure project the world has ever known.”
5. Shrink rap
Some of the anecdotes relayed in the upcoming Michael Wolff book have ignited a public discussion about President Trump’s mental fitness. But that question was being asked privately long before the book excerpts started making the rounds. “Lawmakers concerned about President Donald Trump’s mental state summoned Yale University psychiatry professor Dr. Bandy X. Lee to Capitol Hill last month for two days of briefings about his recent behavior.” From Politico: Washington’s growing obsession: The 25th Amendment.
+ “After more than a year of considering Trump’s behavior through the lens of the cognitive sciences, I don’t think that labeling him with a mental illness from afar is wise.” But there’s currently no official way to really evaluate a sitting president from up close. The Atlantic’s James Hamblin with a very interesting explanation of why there should be: Is Something Neurologically Wrong With Donald Trump?
+ Meanwhile, about that book… Trump’s lawyers are seeking to block its release, and Steve Bannon insists he still thinks Trump is “a great man.” And from Vox: The new book seems juicy. But what should we believe?
+ In other news from the executive branch, the US has suspended security aid to Pakistan, and on Wednesday, President Trump dissolved his sham commission that was investigating imaginary voters committing a crime that never took place.
6. Chip and fail
“The two problems, called Meltdown and Spectre, could allow hackers to steal the entire memory contents of computers, including mobile devices, personal computers and servers running in so-called cloud computer networks.” (So just try to avoid those items.) From the NYT: Researchers Discover Two Major Flaws in the World’s Computers.
+ “Daniel Gruss didn’t sleep much the night he hacked his own computer and exposed a flaw in most of the chips made in the past two decades.” Reuters: How a researcher hacked his own computer and found worst chip flaw.
+ The Verge: The CPU catastrophe will hit hardest in the cloud, and, How to protect your PC. (It’s probably wise, at this point, to assume you can’t protect the information on your PC, in the cloud, or on any other connected device.)
7. Spousal support
“At the time, the two had never spoken — they had made an email-only rule. Seeing each other face-to-face was intense.” An amazing story from Nora Krug in WaPo: Two dying memoirists wrote bestsellers about their final days. Then their spouses fell in love.
8. See the forest through the me’s
“By the time Logan Paul arrived at Aokigahara forest, colloquially known as Japan’s ‘suicide forest,’ the YouTube star had already confused Mount Fuji with the country Fiji. His over 15 million (mostly underage) subscribers like this sort of comedic aloofness—it serves to make Paul more relatable.” Wired: The Logan Paul video should be a reckoning for YouTube.
+ “But just as Twitter has shown—in its descent from a forum for amusing one-liners to a hellish bog of harassment and Nazism—when left nearly entirely to its own devices, the central spirit of the Internet hive mind, its great howling id, tends toward darkness.” Richard Lawson in Vanity Fair: Why Logan Paul Should Really Worry Us.
9. Ice scream
“At least 8 million people are under blizzard warnings, and 58 million are in the path of this storm.” CNN with the latest on the big freeze.
+ Vice channels millions of people who want to ask a meteorologist: Why the F*ck Is It So Cold?
+ Some photos of the cold conditions.
+ Hospitals Across Maine Report Epidemic of Chipped Nipples. (Every now and then, San Francisco real estate seems worth the price…)
+ James Temple: The year climate change began to spin out of control.
10. Bottom of the news
It’s national trivia day. So Mental Floss has put together a list of 60 interesting facts. And speaking of trivia, a game called HQ Trivia is the latest internet rage. And it’s about to go mainstream. Will it scale?
+ Someone Just won a Virginia election after his name was picked out of a bowl.
+ Mark Zuckerberg has outlined his personal goal for the year: Fixing Facebook.