1. Nothing but nyet
Russia has been officially banned from the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea after an IOC investigation found evidence of a long-running, extensive, state-sponsored doping program. From the NYT: “The country’s government officials are forbidden to attend, its flag will not be displayed at the opening ceremony and its anthem will not sound. Any athletes from Russia who receive special dispensation to compete will do so as individuals wearing a neutral uniform, and the official record books will forever show that Russia won zero medals.” Vladimir Putin will not take kindly to having Russia neutralized by the IOC (not exactly a pillar of ethics), and he might pull out of the games altogether. Like many Russian stories, this one is about Putin v the world (because the doping program came from the very top). This guy is at the center of just about every international story.
+ In the Netflix documentary Icarus, an American cyclist/filmmaker set out to make a movie about the effects of doping, using himself as a guinea pig. What he stumbled into was the story of the vast doping scandal that leads the news today.
2. Changing borderline personality
“The number people caught trying to sneak over the border from Mexico has fallen to the lowest level in 46 years, according to Homeland Security statistics released Tuesday that offer the first comprehensive look at how immigration enforcement is changing under the Trump administration.” Meanwhile, “arrests of foreigners living illegally in the United States have surged.” In other words, Trump’s border efforts seem to be going pretty much according to plan. From NPR: Arrests along Mexico border drop sharply under Trump, new statistics show.
3. Benjamin Netan’s Yahoo
“U.S. endorsement of Israel’s claim to all of Jerusalem as its capital would reverse long-standing U.S. policy that the city’s status must be decided in negotiations with the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.” The Trump administration has not shied away from moves that are viewed as controversial by allies and others around the world. And now they’re moving into what could be the most contentious issue on Earth. From Reuters: President Donald Trump told Arab leaders on Tuesday that he intends to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. (You know it’s a new era in American leadership when even the Middle East is like, “Hey, can we all try to be a little less confrontational?)
+ Any official move decision could be delayed by six months.
4. Einstein’s dreams deferred
“The discrepancy in who gets patents is not the result of innate abilities … it’s the wealthy children who do well in math and science that end up getting patents.” The Atlantic on America’s Lost Einsteins.
5. Let’s go Deutsche
Life comes at you fast. Trump news comes at you faster. But as I wrote in The Most Ridiculous Story So Far, I think it’s worth pausing for this one. “While under house arrest for being a liar who was working with the Russians, Paul Manafort worked with a Russian to spread lies.”
+ “Deutsche Bank always cooperates with investigating authorities in all countries.” So said one of Trump’s favorite lenders as Mueller’s team subpoenas Trump’s Deutsche Bank records. (In other words, red line crossed.)
+ “This isn’t the outdoors brand’s first showdown against Trump, having criticized him for leaving the Paris climate change agreement … But this is a step further for any company—even Patagonia.” In one more sign of that everything is political now, Patagonia Is Suing the Trump Administration.
+ How did Ryan Zinke go from driving a Prius to becoming Trump’s attack dog on the environment?
6. One step up
“I am retiring today, and I want everyone to know how much I appreciate the support, incredible undiminished support I’ve received.” Facing accusations of sexual harassment, Rep. John Conyers, the most senior member of House, has announced that he will step down. He endorsed his son to succeed him. (Uh, thanks dad.)
+ In Alabama, the RNC has once again stepped up for candidate Roy Moore. And an article on one of Moore’s accusers sharing additional evidence with WaPo produces yet another disturbing line from this whole narrative: “That’s the age I was when I dated Roy Moore, because my braces were off.”
7. Background breaking
“It’s the largest number of such retrieval requests in 10 years, according to FBI records – an especially striking statistic after revelations that a breakdown in the background check system allowed a troubled Air Force veteran to buy a rifle later used to kill 26 worshipers at a Texas church last month.” From USA Today: Feds issue 4,000 orders to seize guns from people who failed background checks.
8. Golden state embers
California has already suffered a brutal season of massive fires. Now tens of thousands of people are being evacuated as a Ventura wildfire rages over 45,500 acres. Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen: “The prospects for containment are not good.”
+ Here are photos from the scene.
9. Talk is cheap
It’s been widely accepted that the more time a parent spends talking to a child, the better. But then researchers studied the Tsimané of Bolivia. Parents in a Remote Amazon Village Barely Talk to Their Babies—and the Kids Are Fine. (I long ago abandoned a conversational parenting strategy and just told my kids to follow me on Twitter.)
10. Bottom of the news
Rock is dead, they say. But it’s actually just getting pretty old. And so is synth pop. For example, this year, Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars are both getting outsold by Depeche Mode. People are People. (Even old people…)
+ GQ: 13 Songs That Defined Music in 2017.
+ The military is using falcons to build a drone killer.
+ Trump may be undoing Obama’s executive orders in Washington, but he still can’t touch Barry on Twitter.