Author Archives

Danielle Tcholakian
Freelance writer/reporter

Tech Companies Are (Maybe) Ready to Punch Nazis Now

In the week since white supremacists descended on Charlottesville with tiki torches blazing, tech companies have begun to eliminate website hosting or accounts run by neo-Nazis. The decision to kick people off the internet—a world many of us occupy in equal measure, if not more than we do the physical one around us—is not one taken lightly, and these companies have remained cautious until proven complicit.

The CEO of Cloudflare, Matthew Prince, explained in a public blog post why he chose to drop the Daily Stormer, a hate-mongering website that published openly racist, anti-Semitic, misogynist screeds, including a post about Heather Heyer. “Our terms of service reserve the right for us to terminate users of our network at our sole discretion,” writes Prince. “The tipping point for us making this decision was that the team behind Daily Stormer made the claim that we were secretly supporters of their ideology.” (ProPublica skewered Cloudfare earlier this year for providing the Daily Stormer with information about people who criticized or complained about the website’s explicitly offensive content.)

Cloudflare is not alone in abandoning Nazi clients. As Adrienne Jeffries reported at The Outline, in the last few days Squarespace has dropped an array of so-called “alt-right” sites, including the think tank of neo-Nazi poster boy Richard Spencer. On Tuesday, Sean Captain at Fast Company noticed that publishing platform WordPress.com (the parent company of Longreads) is no longer hosting the website for the ultra-nationalist organization Vanguard America. (The man who drove the car that killed Heyer and injured 19 other people was allegedly a Vanguard America member, though the organization has tried to disown him.) Read more…

The Case for Believing Women Who Are In Pain

If there’s only one important takeaway from the backlash to Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop, it’s that women seek alternative medicine — and therefore the “wellness” movement — because traditional doctors have never taken them seriously.

As Annaliese Griffin pointed out for Quartz, the American healthcare system, while undeniably terrible for nearly everyone, damages women to an extreme. Their “experience of pain is routinely minimized by health practitioners,” resulting in longer wait times, misdiagnoses and even an increased chance of death from things as common as heart attacks.

When Maxwell Williams learned a female friend of his was incapable of having sex without feeling excruciating pain but struggled to find a doctor who would take her pain seriously, he decided to investigate what was really causing the stabbing sensation that doctors kept telling his friend was all in her head. (Never mind that the head is part of the body, indeed controls all of the body, so it makes little sense to discount it.)

For his piece for GOOD Magazine, Williams spoke with about a dozen women who shared his friend’s experience, including one whose marriage unraveled because of it, and he learned of vulvodynia, a Latin medical term that roughly translates to “vulva pain.” The condition plagues far more than the dozen women he spoke with — as much as 16 percent of the female population, or 14 million women, markedly more than those who experience endometriosis or breast cancer. So why don’t we know about it? And why are treatment options so scarce?

“If you were a woman and you were asked, ‘In your last sexual encounter or your last series of sexual encounters, did you experience pain?’ what would you think the answer would be?” he says. “It’s a little over a third. That’s a freaking epidemic. One third of women in our environment are having pain during sex. That’s an unnecessary, bothersome, distressing issue. We need a lot more effort in understanding it.”

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‘I’m trying to tell white people: They’re coming for you, too, bro’

The Daily Beast‘s Harry Siegel tells the story of “an old friend of an old friend of” his, Louis Trumanti, an Italian-American plumbing surveyor from Queens, New York, who lives in Westchester with his Hungarian immigrant wife and toddler son. Trumanti, Siegel writes, is “a good-natured if foul-mouthed 37-year-old” Bernie Sanders supporter who etches his son Marco’s name behind the walls of the high-end Manhattan buildings he surveys.

He’s also suing the local police department where he lives in Westchester after they broke his back when his wife called 911 a year ago, afraid he was having a heart attack.

“This cop is telling me: ‘Yeah you beat your wife up. Is that the kind of man you are?’’

“I’m crying. I mean, I’ve never laid a hand on my wife. I had a great day. We had dinner and I played Call of Duty and fell asleep on the couch. Went into our bed and held my wife and fell back asleep. Wake up and there are the police taking me down—boom!—and telling me I beat my wife.

“I’m licking my lips and someone tells me to fucking stop so I do and I feel nauseous. Then tells me not to throw up, or it’s going to a big problem. They put a bag over my mouth.

“I’m crying. Is this who I am? Last thing I knew, I was falling asleep.”

Read the story

A Close Reading of Ryan Lizza’s Phone Call from Anthony Scaramucci

The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza got a rare triple-stack headline on his bombshell of a post Thursday chronicling a phone call from new White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci that would be unbelievable if anything was unbelievable anymore.

Anthony Scaramucci Called Me to Unload About White House Leakers, Reince Priebus, and Steve Bannon

Interesting. Okay. I guess these are topics relevant to your professional life, Anthony. Continue.

Lizza had tweeted about Scaramucci’s dinner plans and Scaramucci really wanted to know who told Lizza about Scaramucci’s dinner plans, a subject which, if revealed, posed “a major catastrophe for the American country.”

Wait, what?

“What I’m going to do is, I will eliminate everyone in the comms team and we’ll start over,” he said. I laughed, not sure if he really believed that such a threat would convince a journalist to reveal a source. He continued to press me and complain about the staff he’s inherited in his new job. “I ask these guys not to leak anything and they can’t help themselves,” he said. “You’re an American citizen, this is a major catastrophe for the American country. So I’m asking you as an American patriot to give me a sense of who leaked it.”

Again, this is about the dinner plans of a man referred to as “The Mooch.”

I asked him why it was so important for the dinner to be kept a secret. Surely, I said, it would become public at some point. “I’ve asked people not to leak things for a period of time and give me a honeymoon period,” he said. “They won’t do it.”

A honeymoon period.

Mooch then becomes convinced Reince Priebus, the Republican Party’s delegate in the Trump White House, is leaking things about him.

He channelled Priebus as he spoke: “ ‘Oh, Bill Shine is coming in. Let me leak the fucking thing and see if I can cock-block these people the way I cock-blocked Scaramucci for six months.’ ”

Here is where we say a little prayer of thanks that this phone call was not wasted on the tongue-biting puritans at the New York Times. Cock-block!

Scaramucci was particularly incensed by a Politico report about his financial-disclosure form, which he viewed as an illegal act of retaliation by Priebus. The reporter said Thursday morning that the document was publicly available and she had obtained it from the Export-Import Bank. Scaramucci didn’t know this at the time, and he insisted to me that Priebus had leaked the document, and that the act was “a felony.”

“I’ve called the F.B.I. and the Department of Justice,” he told me.

“Are you serious?” I asked.

That last line could have been the headline of this piece.

“The swamp will not defeat him,” he said, breaking into the third person.

Oh, my god.

“I’m not Steve Bannon, I’m not trying to suck my own cock,” he said, speaking of Trump’s chief strategist.

OH, MY GOD.

Scaramucci said he had to get going. “Yeah, let me go, though, because I’ve gotta start tweeting some shit to make this guy crazy.”

The sheer magnificence of this story appears to have crashed The New Yorker’s website, but once that’s remedied, you should definitely…

Read the story

A Transgender-Military Reading List

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump announced, via Twitter, a ban on transgender people serving in the United States military.

His tweeted justification was that “our military must be focused on decisive and overwhelming victory and cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military [sic] would entail.”

It was, several Twitter users noted, an odd way to mark the 69th anniversary of President Harry Truman signing an executive order that ended racial discrimination in the military. There are currently thousands of transgender people serving in the nation’s all-volunteer military.

As BuzzFeed News noted, a policy instated last year ensures transgender people the right to serve in the military, and have the medical costs of their transition covered. Trump’s tweet alone can’t undo that, and the Pentagon does not appear to have any new policies in the works that would. In fact, military officials weren’t given notice of the new ban before Trump tweeted about it:

At the Pentagon, the first of the three tweets raised fears that the president was getting ready to announce strikes on North Korea or some other military action. Many said they were left in suspense for nine minutes, the time between the first and second tweet. Only after the second tweet did military officials receive the news the president was announcing a personnel change on Twitter.

Trump’s tweets appeared to come out of nowhere, though hints of attempts to unravel Obama-era protections for transgender service members have been seen in recent weeks.

The policy enacted last year included efforts to recruit more transgender military members, which Trump’s Department of Defense has been delaying, BuzzFeed News reported last month. Foreign Policy published a story on Tuesday reporting that Vice President Mike Pence has been pushing Republican members of Congress to tack amendments onto a Pentagon spending bill that would rescind financial coverage of transition procedures for transgender military members. Similar legislation failed to pass earlier this month.

Pence, for what it’s worth, has long hated diversity in the military. CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski dug up a 1990s op-ed by Pence that amounts to a screed against the Disney movie “Mulan,” which he believed was pushing the liberal agenda of including women in the military.

According to Politico, Trump’s tweets on Wednesday were part of negotiations to secure funding for his much-discussed border wall with Mexico, a key campaign promise. Though Trump repeatedly vowed to strong-arm Mexico into paying for it, it appears it will be paid for with the rights of transgender patriots, instead.

Trump’s tweets apparently took even the Republicans he was trying to please by surprise, however. They only wanted to prohibit Pentagon funds from being used for gender reassignment surgery and medication, not wholesale ban transgender people from service. As Politico reported:

“This is like someone told the White House to light a candle on the table and the WH set the whole table on fire,” said one senior House Republican aide. The source said that while GOP leaders asked the White House for help, they weren’t expecting — and got no heads up on — Trump’s far-reaching directive.

Jonathan Swan at Axios tweeted that it was a strategic move to influence midterm elections.

As STATnews and The Atlantic noted, estimated costs of covering transition services for transgender service members are minimal — “little more than a rounding error in the military’s $47.8 billion annual health care budget,” according to the author of a New England Journal of Medicine study in 2015.

The New England study found that there are 12,800 transgender services members eligible for medical care, and fewer than 200 would require transition care. A June 2016 RAND study, commissioned by the Department of Defense, found between 1,320 and 6,630 transgender active-duty service members, out of 1.3 million total. The New England study found an overall estimated cost of $4.2 million to $5.6 million, while the RAND study found providing care to transgender service members would increase military healthcare expense by between $2.4 million and $8.4 million each year — an uptick of between 0.04 and 0.13 percent.

As far as Trump’s claims that transgender service members create “disruption,” RAND found that fewer than 0.1 percent of military members would seek treatments that could delay deployment.

Trans Military Service Member

Army Sergeant Shane Ortega, the first openly transgender person in the U.S. military, works out with gymnastic rings at a park on March 26, 2015 in Mililani, Hawaii. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

For comparison, James Hamblin at The Atlantic noted military bands cost $437 million of the DoD’s estimated total $640 billion budget, and that the increase to care for transgender soldiers amounts to one tenth of the annual $84 million that the military spends on medication for erectile dysfunction. (It’s easy to mock treatment for erectile dysfunction, but important to keep in mind that it’s a common side effect of post-traumatic stress disorder.)

As Hamblin wrote:

The diseases that do seem to disproportionately afflict transgender people are mental-health issues. The pathology behind this is abetted by societal marginalization of exactly the sort that Trump’s language propagated today—portraying transgender people as a burden to The Mission, with a focus on “medical costs” as an apparent euphemism for gender-reassignment surgeries.

For now, the military is taking no action without further instruction from the president.

Some on Twitter noted that the response from both former military officials and Republicans is an indication of how far the struggle for transgender rights has come in the past few years alone. Orrin Hatch, the 83-year-old longest-serving U.S. Senator, was one of the first to speak out against the ban.

The American Civil Liberties Union is already moving to block any potential ban stemming from the President’s tweets.

Here is a reading list on transgender people serving in the United States Armed Forces.

1. “The Military Is An Imperialist Tool, But The Ban on Trans Folks is Dehumanizing As Fuck” (L’Lerrét Jazelle Ailith, Wear Your Voice, July 2017)

One of the only pieces by a trans writer published in the wake of Trump’s tweets, Ailith’s post at Wear Your Voice also talks more broadly about the plight of transgender Americans under Trump.

Much like the debate on which bathroom trans people should be able to use, this issue of trans involvement in the military is less about the actual military itself and more about denying us our right to occupy space, make decisions, navigate authentically, and live within our full dignity as human beings.

But the President’s tweets from this morning are also a distraction. They are a distraction from the multiplicity of ways that the system has failed to protect trans people. Especially Black and Brown trans folks.

2. ‘”Did I just get fired… via tweet?” Transgender troops in Colorado react to Trump announcement” (Jennifer Brown, The Denver Post, July 2017)

Brown followed up with transgender troops featured in her 2015 Denver Post story on trans people in the military before they could serve openly.

“Did I just get fired … via tweet?” Staff Sgt. Patricia King asked on her Facebook page Wednesday shortly after President Donald Trump used Twitter to announce that transgender people can no longer serve in the military.

“This is a concerning turn of events,” said King, who lived for 16 years as a male soldier before transitioning to female while stationed at Fort Carson south of Colorado Springs in 2015. “Please keep trans service members in your prayers and call your representatives.”

3. “A Soldier’s Story” (Jennifer Brown, The Denver Post, October 2015)

At the time of Brown’s story, King was one of an estimated 15,500 transgender service members living dual lives.

For now, Trish must play the role of male soldier while on duty. It is only after work, at her home in Colorado Springs, that she lives “genuinely.”

Splitting her life in two is a torment.

Trans Military Service Member

Army Sergeant Shane Ortega, the first openly transgender person to serve in the Army, shaves at home at Wheeler Army Airfield on March 26, 2015 in Wahiawa, Hawaii. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

4. “What It Feels Like Being a Trans Person Serving In The Armed Forces” (Jess Ruliffson, BuzzFeed Reader, October 2016)

Ruliffson illustrates her interview with former Senior Airman Jordan Blisk, an Air Force Reserves member who joined the military as a young girl because her family couldn’t afford college. “When I started getting called ‘sir,’ I was scared by how right it felt,” Blisk told her.

5. “Transgender, in War and in Love” (Fiona Dawson, New York Times Op-Docs, June 2015)

This short film shares the story of a transgender military couple who at the time could not serve openly as their true selves. The producer, Fiona Dawson, also created “TransMilitary,” a platform for transgender service members.

6. “Transgender airman: ‘I would like to see them try to kick me out of my military'” (Stephen Losey, Air Force Times, July 2017)

After Trump’s tweets, one of the transgender service men in the Times Op-Doc told Air Force Times, “You are not going to deny me my right to serve my country when I am fully qualified and able and willing to give my life.” He was one of several people interviewed by the publication.

A Marine military police officer who is a transgender man (he asked that his name not be used), pointed out that he’s served honorably through two deployments. He’s never endangered his comrades, he said, or made anyone else “conform to my world view.” All he asked for, he said, was the same respect he gave others.

“I have never described myself as trans; I’m a mother—-ing Marine,” the corporal said. “That‘s all that matters. Don’t tarnish my title with your bigotry and fear of the unknown.”

US-MILITARY-TRANSGENDER-RIGHTS

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announces that the military will lift its ban on transgender troops during a press briefing at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, June 30, 2016. ‘This is the right thing to do for our people and for the force,’ Carter said. (Photo Credit: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

7. “Trump’s Pick to Lead the Army Believes Being Transgender is a Disease” (Amanda Terkel, Huffington Post, April 2017)

When Trump announced he wanted to nominate Tennessee state Sen. Mark Green as Army secretary, Terkel highlight Green’s recent comments to the Chattanooga Tea Party.

Green replied that many service members are younger and are more than fine serving alongside openly gay men and women, which have been allowed in the military since President Barack Obama signed the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” in 2010. He said that although most millennials are comfortable with people who are transgender, it is a “disease.”

8. “Trans Soldier Shane Ortega on Trump’s Military Ban, How to Save America” (Raven Brajdic, Rolling Stone, July 2017)

Shane Ortega, the first openly transgender soldier in the U.S. Army, tells Rolling Stone his thoughts on Trump’s tweets.

This is so much more than people needing jobs, or serving, or war. This is about who is considered a valid human being, and who is not a valid human being. And who gets to decide. Right now, we’re seeing that Donald Trump gets to decide.

I knew what gender I was before I joined. These new recruits will know what gender they are before they join. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. These people still chose to take bullets for you.

9. “Transgender in the military: A Pentagon in transition weighs its policy” (Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post, April 2015)

Ortega was first profiled in 2015, before the Obama administration allowed transgender people to serve openly in the military.

He holds a man’s military travel passport, based on the new Social Security card he received when he changed his name. But he is still identified as female in the military’s official computer system. He must wear a woman’s “dress blues” for official occasions.

Looking for clarity, his commanders have formally asked the Army a simple question: Can Ortega serve openly as a man?

“Administratively I shouldn’t exist,” said Ortega, 28. “But I do exist, so that’s still the problem.”

US-POLITICS-MILITARY-TRANSGENDER-RIGHTS-USA

Transgender former US Air Force member Vanessa Sheridan poses for a photo after talking with reporters in Chicago, Illinois on July 26, 2017, after Trump’s tweets. (Photo Credit: DEREK R. HENKLE/AFP/Getty Images)

10. “Kristin Beck: A Navy SEAL in Transition” (Devin Friedman, GQ Magazine, November 2015)

A SEAL on the unit that took out Osama bin Laden earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, among about 50 other ribbons and medals. Friedman’s piece is so eminently readable and compelling, it’s hard to pull just one quote.

It’s a weird thing to say, but talking about transgender people has become a trend. Which is a good thing. “Visibility is good,” as Kristin says. But trends are also reductive and facile and sometimes dehumanizing while letting everyone off the hook. It’s like using the hashtag Black Lives Matter and thinking—well, we took care of racial injustice, let’s go have brunch. A trend usually fails to make a connection between people like Kristin Beck and the rest of us. Kristin Beck’s story isn’t just about the relatively small number of people who are born with the traits of a gender they don’t identify with. Aren’t most of us hiding some part of ourselves? Would we not, most of us, be terrified at having to walk out into the world with that part of ourselves on the outside? Are we not, often, made up of impulses and identities that seem like they can’t exist together? What Kristin Beck is asking is: What happens if you feel like a Navy SEAL and a woman in a red dress accepting a bouquet of flowers from an admirer at an airport? Are any of us really just one thing? Aren’t we all made up of a bunch of conflicting identities (masculine and feminine, liar and self-righteous, etc.) that we’ll never be able to make fit together? And how do we bear life, knowing we are so many things that can never be reconciled?

How ‘Jane Crow’ Is Ravaging Families of Color

Six or seven years ago, I met a teenage mother in the Bronx who was mired in the city’s bureaucratic and legal systems. It wasn’t just through no fault of her own; the blame for the circumstances in which she and her young son found themselves rested squarely with the same bureaucracy and courts that were condemning them. The city’s family shelter system refuses aid to anyone who has family who says they will house them, and the city goes to lengths to track down family members. This girl’s grandmother had told city officials she would house the girl, but when she gave birth, she kicked them both out, saying she didn’t want to live with a baby. The girl went to live with her brother and his girlfriend, but became a pawn in their fights, and was ultimately kicked out of their place too. It was winter, so she tracked down her father, who was squatting in a decrepit, vermin-infested building in the Bronx. She did her best to keep her boy safe, including taking him to doctor appointments required by the city in exchange for care for some of his medical issues. One day, she had to choose between making it to an appointment with the family shelter system or going to one of those doctor appointments. Desperate to get her son out of that vermin-infested building, she skipped the doctor, just that once. The doctor reported the missed appointment, and investigators went to her grandmother’s place, and then her brother’s, where her brother’s girlfriend suggested they find the father at his squat. When they arrived and found the baby amid all that vermin, they took him away. His mother, who was not a drinker or drug user, diligently went to parenting classes, Narcotics Anonymous and jumped through every other hoop the city placed before her — whatever she needed to do to get her son back. She was a better, more attentive and more devoted parent than most others I’ve known, and after letting her down over and over, the city punished her, treating her like a stereotype she didn’t fit and taking away the one thing she had ever cared about.

I thought of her this weekend when I read the New York Times‘ exposé on New York City’s use of foster care as punishment for “predominantly poor black and Hispanic women,” a practice that the Times reported some have nicknamed “Jane Crow,” in reference to the laws that codified the American practice of racial segregation.

In the Times story, one of the lawyers who represents these women in court explains how Jane Crow works:

“It takes a lot as a public defender to be shocked, but these are the kinds of cases you hear attorneys screaming about in the hall,” said Scott Hechinger, a lawyer at Brooklyn Defender Services. “There’s this judgment that these mothers don’t have the ability to make decisions about their kids, and in that, society both infantilizes them and holds them to superhuman standards. In another community, your kid’s found outside looking for you because you’re in the bathtub, it’s ‘Oh, my God’” — a story to tell later, he said. “In a poor community, it’s called endangering the welfare of your child.”

Read the story

It’s A Very Muppets Controversy!

A kerfuffle over Kermit is causing a Muppets media maelstrom.

In October, parent company Disney fired Steve Whitmire, the man who has voiced and handled Kermit the Frog since creator Jim Henson’s death in 19990. While Henson was alive, he was the sole voice of the famous frog. When he died in 1990, his son Brian took over his company and tapped Whitmire, who had been part of the Muppet family since 1978, to keep Kermit alive.

Last week, Whitmre wrote about his sudden firing in a blogpost.

For me the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion. They are a calling, an urgent, undeniable, impossible to resist way of life. This is my life’s work since I was 19 years old. I feel that I am at the top of my game, and I want all of you who love the Muppets to know that I would never consider abandoning Kermit or any of the others because to do so would be to forsake the assignment entrusted to me by Jim Henson, my friend and mentor, but even more, my hero.

Whitmire’s complaints are typical of someone pushed out of a career after decades. Why didn’t you give me a warning? Why are you taking away everything I’ve ever cared about?

Read more…

But His Emails: The Evolving Story of Donald Trump, Jr.’s Russia Meeting

Remember that part in “All the President’s Men” when Deep Throat tells Dustin Hoffman, “The truth is, these are not very bright guys and things got out of hand”?

Well.

It’s been a heck of a few days after a heck of a few months after approximately 900 years that got squeezed into this mutation of the space-time continuum we’re calling 2017.

Our president’s namesake has gotten himself into a bit of a pickle and the New York Times, as the saying goes, is on it. The first story, published on Saturday, noted how Donald J. Trump, Jr. said in March that he probably met with people that were Russian — who hasn’t, in today’s globalized world? — but no meetings “that were set up” and “certainly none” in which he was representing his father’s presidential campaign.

And then this beauty of a standalone single-sentence paragraph:

Asked at that time whether he had ever discussed government policies related to Russia, the younger Mr. Trump replied, “A hundred percent no.”

But then the Times tells Junior — and Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, and Jared Kushner, the young son-in-law with the security clearance and the mandate to fix the Middle East — that they know about a meeting.

How do they know about it? Well, that security clearance-wielding son-in-law’s lawyer went ahead and told them Junior invited his brother-in-law to it.

Families, am I right?

So back on Saturday, approximately 16 lifetimes ago, Junior says the meeting, with Krelim-connected Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, was just about adoption.

On Sunday, the Times publishes another story, this time citing five anonymous sources, two of whom are identified as advisors to the White House, saying Junior went to the meeting after being promised damaging information about Hillary Clinton.

This time, Junior says, OK, yes, we talked about Clinton — but it’s not what you think!

“After pleasantries were exchanged,” he said, “the woman stated that she had information that individuals connected to Russia were funding the Democratic National Committee and supporting Mrs. Clinton.”

Russia was helping ClintonAlso, for what it’s worth, this Russian lady lawyer “made no sense,” Junior tells the Times. 

On Monday, the Times has a new story. This one says there’s an email that explicitly told Junior the Russian lawyer had information on Hillary Clinton that “was part of a Russian government effort to aid his father’s candidacy.”

Yikes. What say you now, Junior?

Well, but, see, Junior. According to Vox, you’re really not supposed to get that info from foreign governments.

Junior also said the Times just didn’t ask enough questions for the first two stories, on which three reporters have bylines.

And by the way, he is happy to be called before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Other tweets that day include a New York Post story calling the Times’ work “a big yawn,” a Fox host claiming that calling the meeting a “nothing burger” is an “insult to nothing burgers,” and a retweet of Dad’s biggest fan, Laura Ingraham, re-upping Politico story from January about Ukrainian efforts to help Clinton.

(In case you, like Ingraham, are too busy to click on the story, it says that Ukraine’s efforts “were far less concerted or centrally directed than Russia’s alleged hacking and dissemination of Democratic emails. Russia’s effort was personally directed by Russian President Vladimir Putin, involved the country’s military and foreign intelligence services, according to U.S. intelligence officials.”)

Junior then channeled our favorite Mean Girl, tweeting:

And then along comes Tuesday. At 11 a.m., Junior tweets a statement and three pages of emails. What the heck?

Ohhh.

Guys. Guys! Never give them more time to comment. This is the greatest lesson I ever learned from Andrew Cuomo’s press office. You politely say, “We’ll be happy to add in your comment whenever you send it!” and hit publish.

Now let’s look at this latest New York Times story.

Russian Dirt on Clinton? ‘I Love It,’ Donald Trump Jr. Said

Whomever wrote this headline is having a great day.

Less good day for the person who wrote the email to Junior that explicitly stated they wanted to provide information on Clinton that “is part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”

To which Junior responded with a line that will make Carly Rae Jepsen weep missed-opportunity tears when she reads it:

He replied within minutes: “If it’s what you say I love it especially later in the summer.”

This is LFO meets Icona Pop. This is a line from a perhaps too-perfect summer banger, the likes of which we’ve never heard. Junior, you have a calling.

The rest of the Times story includes incredible reporting, but more impressive is how it is written as a straight news story, but with the driest, most next-level shade investigative journalism has ever seen.

As part of their explanation of one of the characters involved, Emin Agalarov, whose father “boasts close ties to Mr. Putin,” they embed a music video featuring young Emin and our current U.S. president.

After quoting an email in which lawyer Rob Goldstone mentions “the Crown prosecutor of Russia,” the Times notes “there is no such title as Crown Prosecutor in Russia.” Another sentence refers to the damning Junior email (or future summer banger) as “his ‘love it’ reply.”

Hillary Clinton Testifies Before House Select Committee On Benghazi Attacks

(Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

While all of this is obviously bad for Junior, it’s also not great for Kushner, whose lawyers have gone to lengths to emphasize his obliviousness to his surroundings before, during and potentially even after this meeting. And for Manafort, who said in February, “It’s not like these people wear badges that say, ‘I’m a Russian intelligence officer.'”

Both men were forwarded the email that promised Russian state-sponsored dirt on Clinton. And even if they didn’t open it, the subject line was, I kid you not, “FW: Russia – Clinton – private and confidential.”

Still can’t stop thinking of that line from “All the President’s Men.”

Despair All Ye Who Enter Into the Climate Change Fray

A New York Magazine story on climate change is making the rounds on the internet, frequently being shared by people characterizing it as a “terrifying” “must-read.” “It is, I promise, worse than you think,” writes David Wallace-Wells, who goes on to tell his readers that even the most anxious among them are unaware of the terrors that are possible “even within the lifetime of a teenager today.”

What many readers seem to be overlooking is how frequently words like “may” appear in the text of Wallace-Wells’ article. “May” is in there seven times; “suggest” six times, “possible” and its variants a few more. Wallace-Wells is, of course, referencing the positions of scientists, whom he says have become extra cautious due to “climate denialism,” steering the public away from “speculative warnings” that could be debunked by future scientific progress, weakening their own case and giving weight to their opponents.

As Jack El-Hai wrote for Longreads in April of this year, science editor Peter Gwynne is still dogged by an article he wrote for Newsweek more than 40 years ago, “The Cooling World,” which predicted — wrongly, as it turns out — another Ice Age. The prediction at the time was supported by evidence, he claimed, that was mounting so quickly, “meteorologists are hard-pressed to keep up with it.” The evidence Gwynne relied on has since been disproved — a phenomenon not uncommon a field as relatively young as climate study. As El-Hai noted:

The study of the world’s climate was still primitive in the 1970s. Few meteorological scientists then knew how to interpret trending temperature information, and the cause of climate changes was mysterious. The information that climate researchers had collected was incomplete and easy to misread. The biosciences have advanced by huge leaps since then, and many more scientists now study the climate.

Gwynne’s article was used for decades as fodder by those who trade in what Wallace-Wells dubs “climate denialisms,” showing how those determined not to believe in a certain scientific finding can benefit from the natural trial-and-error of most scientific inquiry.

After Wallace-Wells’s piece was published, climate scientist Michael E. Mann took to Facebook to criticize his story. (He also claimed Wallace-Wells interviewed but didn’t quote or mention him). Mann is equally critical of “doomist framing” and “those who understate the risks” of climate change, and argues that Wallace-Wells’ article includes “extraordinary claims” without “extraordinary evidence” to back it up.

About the risk of catastrophic methane released by melting permafrost, for example, Mann says the science “is much more nuanced and doesn’t support the notion of a game-changing, planet-melting methane bomb. It is unclear that much of this frozen methane can be readily mobilized by projected warming.”

Mann also highlights Wallace-Wells’ referencing of “satellite data showing the globe warming, since 1998, more than twice as fast as scientists had thought.”

“That’s just not true,” writes Mann. “The study in question simply showed that one particular satellite temperature dataset that had tended to show less warming that the other datasets, has now been brought in line with the other temperature data after some problems with that dataset were dealt with… The warming of the globe is pretty much progressing as models predicted… which is bad enough.”

Mann’s position is that the evidence supporting the notion that climate change is “a serious problem that we must contend with now” is overwhelming enough without a doomsday narrative that he fears has a “paralyzing” effect and makes people feel hopeless, potentially deterring efforts to mitigate the human-caused harm.

There’s an argument to be made in defense of Wallace-Wells’ meltdown-style writing, however. As Atlas Obscura staff writer Sarah Laskow noted on Twitter, the exploration on which he embarks is hardly novel — New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert won a Pulitzer this year for a book on the topic, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. Yet, Wallace-Wells’ story got readers’ attention in a way that seemed to suggest it was news they’d never encountered before.

For scientists like Mann, it’s true that the evidence easily at our fingertips is compelling enough to warrant immediate mitigating efforts. But not everyone is a scientist like Mann. As El-Hai noted in his piece on Gwynne’s disproved Newsweek article, a U.S. Senator held up a snowball on the Senate floor in 2015 as part of an argument that global warming isn’t real. Today, Antarctica is poised to shed one of the largest icebergs ever recorded, while the Trump administration is abandoning international climate agreements, undoing dozens of environmental regulations dealing with everything from methane to grizzly bears to chemical spills and using the agency meant to protect the environment to launch a program challenging climate science. In light of all that, it’s just as easy to sympathize with Mann’s concern about making people feel so hopeless they believe there’s nothing left to be done, as it is hard to blame Wallace-Wells for despairing.

How Do You Introduce A Candidate Like Randy Bryce?

When a political ad for Randy Bryce, the Wisconsin ironworker challenging Paul Ryan’s congressional seat, hit the internet last month, it quickly went viral. Esquire called it “one hell of a political ad.” A Twitter user suggested that Bryce was “genetically engineered from Bruce Springsteen songs.” Bryce himself was elated when GQ wrote it up, tweeting from his own account — @IronStache, naturally — that his mother told him he’d never reach such heights.

The ad is a compelling mix of verité documentary filmmaking and political savvy. It was produced by Acres New York, which last year made a four-minute ad for Bernie Sanders   featuring a testimonial from the daughter of Eric Garner. (In 2015, Acres also produced an ad for the Senate run of John Fetterman, the major of Braddock, PA, who had pulled his town away from the brink of disaster and into the world of Levi’s ads).

Longreads reached out to Acres founder Matt McLaughlin and director Paul Hairston to learn more about their approach to storytelling. McLaughlin is business partners with Bill Hyers, a political strategist who ran Bill de Blasio’s 2013 campaign. The pair recently launched WIN, which develops political strategy around video campaigns, and whose list of clients includes Bryce, Fetterman, Sanders, Bill De Blasio, and Martin O’Malley. The Bryce ad is WIN’s inaugural work. 

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