Morning Update: At Least It's The Last Royal Wedding For A While

You can make friends with salad, Gina Haspel confirmed to lead the CIA, and Jane the Virgin is coming to an end. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, May 18.

How Trump’s team worked the Trump Tower Moscow deal right through the campaign

We obtained documents and emails that show that President Donald Trump’s business partners worked to build a skyscraper in Moscow well into Trump’s presidential campaign.

How far into the campaign? Well, Trump personally signed the letter of intent to build the tower on the day of the third Republican presidential debate.

Who was involved: Michael Cohen, the president’s embattled personal fixer, and Felix Sater, who helped negotiate deals around the world for Trump, led the effort. Working quietly behind the scenes, they tried to arrange a sit-down between Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, the documents show.

The documents reveal a detailed and plausible plan to get the tower built, and an effort that included going spearfishing with a Russian developer on a private island and planning for a mid-campaign trip to Moscow for Trump himself.

Details not to miss: Sater arranged a tour of the Kremlin for Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. Sater recalled that Ivanka sat behind Putin’s desk, “spun in the chair twice, and that was that.”

And among the angry texts Cohen sent Sater as the plan faltered: “Not you or anyone you know will embarrass me in front of Mr. T when he asks me what is happening.”

The investigation really is a must-read.

Quick brief:

  • A black male porn star is suing after his white female costar called him the n-word twice during filming.

  • Cambridge Analytica, the firm at the center of the Facebook data scandal, has filed for bankruptcy in the US.

  • Bill Gates says Donald Trump asked him twice if HIV and HPV are the same thing. (They are not the same thing.)

Here’s everything you want — nay, need — to know about the royal wedding

First of all, cards on the table, I don’t get the obsession with the royal wedding. And I live in a constitutional monarchy.

Having said that, you might care about the royal wedding, and I care about you, and so let’s do this.

From this morning: Prince Charles, Meghan Markle’s future father-in-law, will walk her down the aisle.

A fascinating narrative for me: Royal media watchers say that Kensington Palace has lost control of the wedding — and that it’s TMZ’s show now. The website has been in near-constant contact with Markle’s father this week, while the palace has confirmed very little.

How are you watching the wedding? Watch it with us! BuzzFeed News will be hosting a live show from London and Windsor starting at 11 a.m. BST / 6 a.m. ET on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Twitch.

Here’s a list of every other place you can watch the wedding, on TV and online.

And for the fun questions, we put together an incredibly comprehensive guide to everything from pageboys and bridesmaids to who’s invited to the party.

PSST: A new episode

This was a busy week in news, and if you’re overwhelmed, I absolutely hear you. We made a new podcast just for you, to help you catch up and really understand the news. It’s called The News, and it comes out every Saturday.

You can listen to last week’s episode before the next one comes out tomorrow. You’ll find it on Apple, Google Play, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts from.

You can make friends with salad: The lettuce E. coli outbreak is basically over

Officially say the last of the romaine lettuce that was linked to an E. coli outbreak should be off the shelves now, and salad is good to eat again.

More than 170 people across 32 states had gotten sick after eating the bacteria-laced lettuce, which was grown in the region of Yuma, Arizona, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Nearly half of those who were sickened were hospitalized, reported the CDC, which had been urging people to steer clear of the lettuce if they didn't know where it was grown. One person died in the outbreak.

YouTube’s paid commenting system is being used to monetize racism and hate speech

Imagine you and 4,000 other people are watching a live discussion from your favorite YouTuber, and you’re all commenting as the stream goes on.

YouTube’s “Super Chat” system allows you to pay to have your comment stand out so that the YouTuber will see it, and maybe answer your question or acknowledge your response.

That in itself is not the controversial part. Prominent far-right and white nationalist figures have for months been helping YouTube channels earn thousands of dollars thanks to frequently racist commenters who pay for the opportunity to display their comments.

In one stream we monitored, featuring white nationalists Richard Spencer and Mike Enoch, we found they brought in just over $4,000, of which YouTube itself takes a cut. (The company declined to say how much.)

You should read the deep dive into this strange world.

Here are some longreads for your weekend, friend

Ramadan started this week, and shout out to all my people in the struggle. Ramadan is a holy month in Islam, where Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Fun fact: This year, it falls before the summer solstice, so the days get longer as the month goes on. Hanif Abdurraqib wrote a beautiful piece on why he still fasts during Ramadan. “I don’t remember when I stopped praying five times a day,” he writes. “I know the ways in which I fail in the face of my beliefs, and yet I wish to consider myself forgiven once each year.”

Are you watching Season 2 of Dear White People? I’m on Episode 4 (it’s so good!), and one thing that sticks out is how seamlessly the show has incorporated the effects of racist internet trolls and the ease with which you can get pulled into an online battle spiral. If it seems like the writers know that feeling well, it’s because they do. When the series was first announced, creator Justin Simien and the rest of the writers received death threats. We talked to Simien about how trolls shaped the second season.

New Girl just ended. Bim Adewunmi wrote a lovely tribute to Winston Bishop, the beloved character whose charms only increased as the show went on. “He was flawed and human, a weirdo allowed (and encouraged!) to be weird, and an all-around fantastic, genuinely nuanced character. We will miss him dearly,” Adewunmi writes.

Be well,


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