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Morning Update: 2018 Is Still Bad But Space Jam 2 Is Happening

The truth behind the Kavanaugh letter, Trump tours the Carolinas, the Apple Watch hints at the future. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, September 20th.

Posted on September 20, 2018, at 6:33 a.m. ET

Republicans say the timing of the Kavanaugh letter is “disturbing.” But here’s what actually happened.

Right now, the Republican line about the chaos around Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination is this: The maelstrom is due to Sen. Dianne Feinstein withholding a secret letter until the last minute for maximum political impact.

The letter they’re talking about is the one from Christine Blasey Ford, in which she claims Kavanaugh sexually assaulted her at a high school party in 1982. Feinstein says she did indeed receive the letter on July 30.

However, what unfolded next shows there is no one single narrative here. This story is well beyond political gamesmanship. Paul McLeod organizes the facts and the timeline of “a messy tale of a politician losing control of the situation, news outlets struggling to stay ahead of the competition, intra-party tension, and a woman contemplating the loss of both her privacy and her life as she knows it.”

President Trump visited the Carolinas to tour the damage from Hurricane Florence and things got awkward

The point of a presidential visit is to inspire calm. After major disaster strikes, presidents tour the area to demonstrate that they’re in touch with the people affected most.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump toured the damage left in the Carolinas in the wake of Hurricane Florence. He spent time speaking with first responders, elected officials, and locals.

As with the rest of this presidency, Trump’s visit got a little unorthodox.

For instance, as he visited homes destroyed by Florence, Trump spoke with a resident who ended up with someone else's yacht in their yard. “At least you got a nice boat out of the deal,” Trump said. “They don't know whose boat that is,” the president added. “What's the law? Maybe it becomes theirs.” We collected the other awkward things he said.

Before Trump embarked on the tour, he posted a video message thanking disaster relief workers. Talking to the camera, he called Florence “a tough hurricane, one of the wettest we’ve ever seen from the standpoint of water.” When reached for comment, water declined to address the remark.

Evan Vucci, AP


A surgeon and his girlfriend allegedly drugged, raped, and filmed women together. Orthopedic surgeon Grant W. Robicheaux, 38, and his girlfriend Cerissa Riley, 31, are accused of meeting women in restaurants and bars, spiking their drinks, taking them to Robicheaux's apartment, and sexually assaulting them. The pair have been charged with drugging and raping at least two women, and prosecutors believe there may be many, many more victims. Officials say they have more than 1,000 videos of what may be women being sexually abused.

An Uber driver sued NFL star Jameis Winston for allegedly sexually assaulting her. In the lawsuit, the woman says Winston attacked her as she was driving him in 2016. The suit, filed in federal court in Arizona, comes after BuzzFeed News exclusively reported on the allegations in November 2017. Winston, a Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback, was later suspended for the first three games of this NFL season, and the team will play its third game on Monday evening.

The reason behind the closure of a solar observatory turned out to be child porn. Without warning, the National Solar Observatory evacuated its employees and closed its remote Sunspot facility in New Mexico for nearly two weeks. People posited all kinds of absurd reasons for the closure, ranging from anthrax to, of course, aliens. Now we know what happened: According to a federal search warrant, a janitor at the facility had been downloading and distributing child pornography, prompting scientists to suddenly clear out the facility after they began to fear for their safety.

Cornell University food scientist Brian Wansink has had six more studies retracted. The eating-behavior researcher is under fire for scientific misconduct allegations, and six studies have been newly retracted from a suite of journals, bringing Wansink’s total retractions to 13.

Maroon 5 will reportedly perform at the Super Bowl, and a lot of people aren’t happy. As per its usual opaqueness, the NFL didn't confirm the report about the 2019 halftime show, saying the speculation is “Super Bowl tradition.” Billboard reported that the band will headline the halftime show and that Cardi B and Travis Scott may appear as special guests. It’s safe to say people have questions about this choice.

Ian Buruma is out at the New York Review of Books after justifying his decision to publish Jian Ghomeshi’s essay. It is unclear if Buruma resigned or was fired, but he no longer works for the magazine. He sparked outrage after defending the publication of a lengthy piece by Ghomeshi, a former Canadian radio host who was accused of sexual assault by more than 20 women. Buruma became the editor of the magazine last May. Ghomeshi’s 3,400-word essay for NYRB was titled “Reflections from a Hashtag.”

The new Apple Watch feels like a device for a future that isn’t quite here

The Apple Watch is an interesting device. Sure, the features are neat — the new one has a 30% bigger face, etc. — but honestly, that’s not the most important part. The product works best as a promise: You could moderate your relationship to your phone, and thus to being so constantly connected.

Charlie Warzel, not writing to recommend or disrecommend the Watch, wrote a thoughtful piece about the future it fits into. This caught my eye:

“I can’t seem to shake the notion that the Watch is priming us for a new kind of ambient computing behavior, where all our hardware is barely noticeable but just kind of connects to us — through wireless headphones and little sensors and gyroscopes scattered in everything from hats to glasses to our clothing.”

Space Jam 2 is officially happening, and it will star LeBron James

Everybody get up, it’s time to slam now, etc. The sequel will be King James’ first major film role since Amy Schumer’s Trainwreck in 2015, and it’ll obviously be a jam. Yes, Bugs Bunny is back.

Terence Nance, the creator of the HBO show Random Acts of Flyness, will direct, with both Black Panther director Ryan Coogler and Fast Five director Justin Lin producing.

In 30 years, historians will look back at this decade and think, “Why did they just want to watch constant reboots and sequels of things made 20 years before that?” And we will answer with crickets.

But for now, here’s your chance, do your dance, etc.