Two Trump stories you need to know about
The first story:
What do I need to know? This is a big deal. New York’s attorney general is suing the Trumps.
What does the lawsuit say? It alleges the president and his three children engaged in a “pattern of illegal conduct” that included “improper and extensive political activity, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions, and failure to follow basic fiduciary obligations.”
What does the lawsuit say in English? The accusation here is that the Trump Foundation is essentially a checkbook for personal and political gain. The suit contains various allegations, including one that the president used the charity to pay legal obligations and promote his chain of hotels.
What does Trump say? In response to the news of the suit, President Trump tweeted that he would not settle the case.
The second story
Give it to me in a sentence: Trump told G7 leaders that Crimea is Russian because everyone speaks Russian in Crimea, according to two diplomatic sources.
What’s the background to this? Russia invaded and then annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, leading to widespread international condemnation and sanctions. The move directly led to Russia being kicked out of what was then the Group of 8. That’s why they’re the G7 now.
What’s Trump’s view? During the dinner, Trump seemed to question why the G7 leaders were siding with Ukraine. The president told leaders that “Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world.”
What’s the takeaway? It is unclear whether Trump’s comments were throwaway remarks said in jest, or whether he was signaling a radical departure from current US foreign policy. But then again: That’s all of 2018, innit.
Investigators say James Comey was “insubordinate” in the Clinton email probe
People have been waiting for this report for a while. Investigators from the Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General concluded that political bias did not play a role when the department cleared Hillary Clinton of criminal wrongdoing.
The same report slammed former FBI director James Comey for being “insubordinate” in his handling of the investigation.
To jog your memory here, Comey effectively went rogue at key points of the investigation and drew fierce criticism for his decision to make a public announcement in July 2016 that the FBI would not recommend charges against Clinton — without coordinating with senior Justice Department officials.
The inspector general’s report takes Comey to task for this. In response, he wrote for the New York Times that he didn’t agree with all of the conclusions, “but I respect the work of his office and salute its professionalism.”
Argentina just took the first step toward legalizing abortion. In a historic session that lasted more than 23 hours, lawmakers in Argentina's lower house of Congress voted to make abortion legal until the 14th week of pregnancy. The vote was close, with 129 votes in favor of the bill and 125 against. If it gets approval from the Senate, then it will go to President Mauricio Macri for his signature.
US State Department tells diplomats to stop evaluating women on their baking skills. No, you didn’t accidentally end up in 1952 — the State Department sent out an email to managers about employee reviews. Most of it was the standard stuff: Submit a report for each employee supervised, comment on employee potential, etc. But then it also contained this reminder: “It is disappointing that a few raters last year mentioned female employees’ baking skills, which, among other things, wasted space…”
Instagram has stopped notifying people when you screenshot a Story. Instagram rolled out a test of the feature earlier this year, notifying users when someone screencapped their Story. The company’s told us that the test is officially over, so you can go back to lurking and sharing screenshots of people’s Stories in peace.
US teens are less likely to have sex or use drugs than in the past, but they’re also feeling more despair. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveys US teens about things like sex and drug use, as well as their mental health and exposure to violence and bullying. This year, the survey found 40% of teens say they had had sex, down from 50% a decade ago. Sexual activity in teens in 2017 was at the lowest levels since the survey began nearly 20 years ago. The survey found mental health issues are increasing.
Drake reunited the whole Degrassi cast for his new music video. I, admittedly, cannot contain my excitement about this and have now concluded, 24 hours later, that this is the best music video ever made. Nearly everyone is back for the “I’m Upset” music video. Here’s what it was like behind the scenes of making this all-time classic piece of culture. Best part: The whole cast was all clear about the fact that they still call Drake by his birth name, Aubrey.
Microsoft wants to take on Amazon in checkout-free stores
Competitors are rushing to keep up with Amazon, who beat everyone to this — back in January, the online retail giant opened an automated convenience store in Seattle.
Microsoft is taking its shot — the company is reportedly developing systems that can track what shoppers add to their cart. Not only that, but Microsoft has demonstrated sample technology to retailers like Walmart.
Meanwhile, as the race for the technology heats up, Amazon plans to open additional cashier-less Amazon Go stores in Chicago and San Francisco.
Just how I like my tech companies: ever-present and tracking my every move while tripping over themselves to convince me they’re not even there. The future is fine.
Some fascinating long reads to spend your weekend with
Have you seen Hereditary yet? I have to work myself up to see horror movies. Alison Willmore wrote a thoughtful piece about the throughline of this year’s most talked-about horror movies — not just Hereditary, but also A Quiet Place. Nominally, they both deal with family, but Wilmore gets at the questions that drive these films, like, “What does it mean to grow up not trusting the people who are supposed to take care of you and have your best interests at heart?” Perhaps most ominously, Willmore ends with this: Hereditary is “a movie that suggests dark things can't be triumphed over or escaped from: They're already baked into who we are.” I’m in.
Why are so many stars rocking the barefaced look? Bim Adewunmi explores the makeunder trend in a smart essay: “It takes work ... but it must seem largely effortless. Effortlessness is, after all, the greatest commodity a woman can own.” Adewunmi looks at the machinery of makeup and the expectations its industry creates, never losing sight of the fact that it is, well, an industry. Here she is again: “It is worth noting that the toning down of makeup comes at a time when we are also turning up on ‘skin care.’ What is being sold with the dizzying array of skin care lines is a version of time travel wrapped up in the idea of a new makeup freedom.”
The truly remarkable thing about Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is how enduring the love for the show is. Mention Mister Rogers and people instantly get a soft look in their eyes, like they’re suddenly reminded of all the good things. Sandi Rankaduwa captured this feeling beautifully in a moving piece about the lessons Mister Rogers taught us — and particularly, the ways he taught us to care for ourselves. Here’s Rankaduwa: “For some, a self-care practice might mean hiking scenic trails, taking a bath, or unplugging their devices; for me, it’s watching old, lo-fi videos of Mister Rogers.”
Be well and take a minute for yourself,