Morning Update: lol, *Snows In LA Once*

Cracking the Jussie Smollett case, new election in North Carolina, weekend longreads. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, Feb 22.

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This is how prosecutors cracked the Jussie Smollett case

In January, the Empire actor told police he was a victim of an attack in Chicago — he said two men yelled gay slurs, threw bleachlike chemicals on him, and put a rope around his neck.

Yesterday, Smollett was arrested for allegedly filing a false police report. Chicago police blasted the actor for staging a “publicity stunt,” adding that Smollett paid two brothers $3,500 to stage the attack because he was unhappy with his salary.

Prosecutors laid out a detailed timeline of how they believe the actor went about faking the attack.

To crack the case, police say they used a combination of surveillance footage, trips in a cab and Uber, and interviews with the brothers.

There’s going to be a new election in North Carolina after evidence of fraud was revealed

State officials have ordered a new election in the state’s 9th Congressional District in light of explosive testimony and a lengthy investigation showing that the Republican candidate funded and helped support an absentee ballot fraud scheme.

We’ve covered this story before, including detailing how the voter fraud worked in North Carolina, and how we got here.


Prosecutors wrongly kept victims of a millionaire’s child sex ring in the dark about his deal, a judge ruled. Judge Kenneth Marra agreed that a deal between multimillionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein and federal prosecutors failed the dozens of girls he sexually abused and trafficked.

A transgender woman who sought asylum in the US was deported and killed in El Salvador. Camila Díaz Córdova requested asylum in the summer of 2017. By November of that year, she was deported. Her death comes amid criticism of the Trump administration's treatment of transgender asylum seekers.

A woman who left the US as a teen to join ISIS is suing the Trump administration. The government denies that Hoda Muthana, born in New Jersey, is an American citizen. Muthana says she is prepared to surrender to authorities, but is suing to prove she is a citizen and wants to come home.

An elementary school apologized after students were instructed to play a “runaway slave” game. The Virginia school’s students were asked play a Black History Month “game” where they pretended to be runaway slaves navigating the Underground Railroad as they encountered obstacles.

It snowed for the first time in years in Los Angeles and people freaked out. Angelenos acted like they were bestowed a gift from above, while the rest of us groaned and slipped on the ice for the third time this winter. Everything is fine. This is fine. No, you’re bitter.

TikTok has created a whole new kind of cool girl

If you aren’t too familiar with TikTok, the platform is wildly popular, especially among a younger generation that has snubbed Facebook and Twitter, but loves Instagram.

As with all new social media platforms, users end up developing conventions and a language that only make sense in that space. As a result, TikTok hosts its own unique meme formats and challenges.

If you’re wondering why I’m speaking to you like a grandpa explaining how we used to play Canasta in the 50s, there’s a point here: Lauren Strapagiel explains how TikTok has given rise to a new kind of cool girl, way cooler than you.

While the 2000s had scene girls, TikTok has given us egirls: “She’s funny, she’s cute, she totally ‘90s, and she knows exactly how to play with expectations.”

Time to put the coffee on and enjoy some longreads

How Twitter Amplified The Ugliest Awards Season Ever. The Oscars are this weekend, and just ahead of the big show, Adam B. Vary looks at the social media fires that popped up throughout awards season. From the essay: “It’s become a kind of wearying ritual: The Academy leadership does something ill-advised, people take to Twitter in protest of that thing, and then the Academy reverses it.”

A bonus: Kate Aurthur has an ongoing ranking of all 90 Best Picture winners. Last year’s winner The Shape of Water sits at 75. Take up your grievances with her, not me.

Russian Doll Is Better At Video Game Storytelling Than Most Video Game Adaptations. If you haven’t started watching Russian Doll yet, Alison Willmore’s praise of the show’s ingenuity will move you to it. A taste of the essay: “Nadia is functionally stuck at a save point, unable to get past this particular stage in her life.”

We’re Finally Listening To Lorena Bobbitt. Why Did It Take So Long? The sensational coverage of Lorena Bobbitt’s case focused on one detail: how she cut off her husband’s penis, driving away with it and throwing it into a field. Scaachi Koul writes about Lorena, a documentary that explores the forgotten context of the story and how it brought marital rape to the forefront. From Koul’s piece: “Watching something like Lorena feels important, but it also feels lousy, because not enough is different now. Reconsiderations like these can’t be antidotes if we ignore the cure.”

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