Morning Update: Okay, But What If The News Never Slows Down

A secret tech meeting, Australia has a new prime minister, your weekend longreads. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, August 24.

Trump lashes out, Sessions pushes back

This presidency is pushing the news cycle to the brink in terms of constantly reevaluating the important stories of the day. If you’re overwhelmed by this week in news, I hear you — it’s been a lot.

In the wake of the Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen convictions this week, significant stories keep popping up. Let’s look at stories from yesterday.

Flipping out

President Donald Trump said flipping should “almost” be illegal. “Flipping” is just another name for when a defendant cooperates with law enforcement in exchange for a reduced punishment. In Trump’s case, he was lashing out at his former lawyer for cooperating with federal authorities.

Trump slammed Cohen for making “a very good deal” to testify against him in court.

Trump vs. Sessions

Trump criticized Attorney General Jeff Sessions (again) for recusing himself from the Russia probe. When asked if he would fire Sessions, Trump said, “I wanted to stay uninvolved,” but that when talking about the Justice Department, “I always put ‘justice’ now with quotes.”

Hours after Trump made the comments, Sessions hit back. The attorney general said in a statement that his DOJ “will not be improperly influenced by political considerations.”

The David Pecker show

Yesterday, David Pecker was granted immunity by prosecutors. Pecker is the owner of the National Enquirer, and prosecutors say he knows about three key moments in Trump’s campaign.

Yes, schools may soon be able to use federal funds to buy guns. Here’s why.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is considering a plan that would allow school districts to use federal funds to purchase guns and possibly arm teachers.

The Education Department reportedly began looking into whether states could use money from grants intended for student health and wellness to purchase firearms.

The grants come from an Obama-era federal education law called the Every Student Succeeds Act. They’re controlled at the district level and, unlike other federal education funding, do not explicitly bar states from using the money to buy guns.

If she chooses, DeVos could let local officials decide how they use the grant money and not interfere if they opt to spend it on firearms.


Australia just got its sixth prime minister in 11 years. This week in Australian politics gave a whole new meaning to the phrase “there’s a lot going on here,” but at the end of it, Scott Morrison was sworn in as the new prime minister. Here’s everything you should know about him. Here’s the play-by-play of how this down, in case you’re into political drama. And here it is in a fun infographic.

A major hurricane is bearing down on Hawaii and many residents have nowhere to go. The mayor of Honolulu acknowledged that “we don’t have enough shelters for the almost million people that live on this island,” as Hawaii’s capital city prepares for the wrath of Hurricane Lane, a powerful storm threatening to unleash intense winds and devastating floods. A Hawaii emergency official said the state’s shelters “have not been designed or hardened to withstand winds greater than a tropical storm.”

McDonald’s fired an employee after she threw hot grease on a drive-thru customer. The two apparently got into an argument after the “irate” customer changed his mind at the pick-up window and wanted a cheeseburger instead of the chicken nuggets he originally ordered. The customer said the employee tried to close the window on his arm but he pushed it back open, prompting her to take a “container filled with boiling hot grease” and throw it in his face.

Reality Winner — the NSA analyst who leaked evidence of Russian election hacking — has been sentenced to five years in jail. It's the longest civilian sentence in US history for leaking classified government information to the public. Winner, 26, pleaded guilty in June to leaking a top secret NSA report to the Intercept. That report outlined how the agency believed the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency, had attempted to phish a US election vendor.

A man who attacked a priest reportedly said, “This is for the little kids.” Authorities said an Indiana priest who was knocked unconscious while praying inside a church Monday morning was likely the victim of a hate crime. According to the police chief, the unknown attacker yelled out, “This is for all the little kids” — an apparent reference to the ongoing child sex abuse scandal embroiling the Catholic Church. The police chief said, “I have enough there to say it’s a hate crime.”

Tech companies are gathering for a secret meeting to prepare a 2018 election strategy

For the sake of putting it mildly, let’s just say it hasn’t been a great year for trust in technology companies. Questions swirl about tech giants’ abilities to manage misinformation and deal with people trying to exploit their platforms for political gain.

With this cloud hanging over them, representatives from the biggest US tech companies, including Facebook and Twitter, have scheduled a private meeting for today, to share their tactics in preparation for the 2018 midterm elections.

The first item on the agenda: Each company will present the work they’ve been doing to counter information operations.

Some longreads to unwind with

Have you watched To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? It was released on Netflix last week, and ever since it came out it has inspired a wave of nice, beautiful softness in its audience (me included). Alanna Bennett wrote about the way people have responded to this film, and it’s great. One person speculated that maybe the reason the movie became a classic so quickly is because it’s “a master class in little looks that make your heart swell.”

I don’t yet understand ASMR, and luckily I don’t have to, because Scaachi Koul has done the work for me. Koul wrote about her experience at Whisperlodge, a sort of IRL ASMR session. Her thoughtful piece isn’t at all about the tingling sensations or the whispers — it’s about being faced with an intimacy you’re not ready for. From the piece: “Using an eyedropper, she dripped water onto my fingertips, my wrists, my forehead, my throat, an act so tender that I forgot momentarily that this woman was a stranger.”

Contributor Lezlie Lowe wrote a powerful essay on a space that’s not discussed often enough: the public bathroom. Specifically, the piece is about how for people with Crohn’s disease, public bathrooms can be a nightmare. For people with decreased mobility or gastrointestinal diseases, these facilities are often too poorly designed to be depended on. This bit stuck out for me: “When the issues become too big, when finding a bathroom in public just becomes too much of a gamble, people stop going out. It’s then that they go from being merely unseen to being invisible. The problem isn’t solved. It’s shelved.”

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