1. Paris is Burning
On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted, “I will be announcing my decision on the Paris Accord over the next few days.” Meanwhile, several publications are reporting that the decision has been made and that the American president has decided to withdraw his country from the climate agreement. It seems unlikely that he’s still deliberating. Is this intended to be a gameshow-like build-up to a big reveal? Is Trump trying to out-negotiate Mother Nature? Either way, the suspense is killing us. Literally.
+ “Mr. Trump appears to have decided that a continued United States presence in the accord would harm the economy; hinder job creation in regions like Appalachia and the West, where his most ardent supporters live; and undermine his ‘America First’ message.” NYT: Trump Expected to Pull U.S. From Paris Climate Accord.
+ The Atlantic: Leaving the Paris agreement would be indefensible. (Even deliberating this long cedes America’s leadership role on the subject.)
+ BBC: What is in the Paris agreement?
+ Bloomberg: NASA Wants to Fly Into the Sun. (This project might seem a little redundant at this point.)
2. Demand Yankees
“The police were disbanded years ago. The mayor recently got a death threat and fled in the governor’s helicopter … But it’s when Highway 51 drops down from the rolling hills, and runs west in two lonely lanes across the scorched valley floor, that danger really starts to poison people’s lives. Drug bosses known as ‘the Tequila Man’ and ‘the Fish’ rule like feudal lords, at war with each other and the vigilante groups that have risen against them. Residents get kidnapped in groups. Tortured corpses are discarded in the valley, left to sear on hot pavement.” The heroin habit is devastating parts of the US. But it’s also created a hellish environment in some towns in Mexico, the country that provides 90% of our fix. From WaPo: In Mexico, The Price of America’s Hunger For Heroin.
+ “At this stage of the American opioid epidemic, many addicts are collapsing in public—in gas stations, in restaurant bathrooms, in the aisles of big-box stores.” And that could be by design. Addicts need to use, but they don’t want to die. From The New Yorker: The Addicts Next Door.
+ Ohio sues five drug companies over opioid crisis.
3. Casualties in Kabul
“Many of the casualties appear to have been Afghan civilians on their way to work or school and office workers in nearby buildings.” At least 90 people were killed and hundreds injured in a massive Kabul truck bomb attack in an area that is home to several foreign embassies.
+ The Guardian: “It felt like an earthquake, then everything came down.”
4. Sharing is Raring
When you have a population that exceeds 1.3 billion, it makes sense that people are going to have to share some stuff. But the sharing economy has never really been about sharing, and China might be taking things to extremes. From the NYT: “Today, Chinese start-ups want to share umbrellas, concrete mixers and mobile phone power banks. One wants to share basketballs.” It actually sounds pretty much like the American sharing economy.
5. Orange Theory
“What appearance-influenced voters are doing is substituting a hard decision with an easy one. Finding out whether a politician is truly competent is an effortful and time-demanding task. Deciding whether a politician looks competent is an extremely easy task.” We spend a lot of time obsessing over political news. But for a significant percentage of voters, making a decision about who to back takes as little as a tenth of a second. From Aeon: First impressions count.
6. Mary’s Memes
“Combined, Google and Facebook accounted for 85% of the total internet ad revenue growth between 2015 and 2016.” And “There are now 2.6 billion gamers, up from 100 million in 1995.” Those are just a couple of the interesting tidbits in Mary Meeker’s always informative Internet trends report. You can see the whole slide-deck here.
7. Deficit Deduction
“A trade deficit with the rest of the world, in and of itself, offers little to worry about—and a trade deficit with any one nation is typically irrelevant.” The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson on with an interesting explainer on why the trade deficit is not problematic for the reasons certain Tweets have suggested. But it still could be a problem.
+ AP: What’s behind the German trade surplus angering Trump?
8. Shrinking Cheese Stake
“Silicon Valley wunderkinds seek to infuse everyday objects with help from algorithms and apps. Entrepreneurs frequently embark on these missions with vast sums of money and a deep belief in technology’s power to solve all problems – which is not always a formula for success in the brick-and-mortar business of ordinary life.” Backchannel on how the trendiest grill cheese venture got burnt.
9. Squatty Potty Mouth
Kathy Griffin posed with a bloody effigy of Donald Trump’s head, and the Internet responded faster than you can say Covfefe. Griffin issued an apology, but that wasn’t enough to slow the criticism, or to save her New Year’s Eve gig on CNN. And we got this headline: Kathy Griffin Dumped by Squatty Potty Ad Campaign After ‘Inappropriate’ Trump Photos.
10. Bottom of the News
“One in eight Icelanders had already signed up for membership by the time doors opened in a Reykjavik suburb. Units from the country’s famed search and rescue teams were called in to manage crowd control on opening day.” And a fifth of the country’s population has joined the store’s Facebook group. In other words, Costco has come to Iceland.
+ There’s a test coming up in Ethiopia. So they shut off the internet. All of it.
+ Newsweek: Officials in Kuwait apprehended a pigeon carrying a backpack full of illegal pills. (Now I feel less weird about teaching my dog to fetch my bong.)