Morning Update: When Did Being Petty Become A Career

Trump defends his wall proposal, R. Kelly is under investigation, going on Facebook in secret. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, Jan. 9.

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Trump’s speech, and a political situation of his own creation

In an address to the nation, President Donald Trump claimed with little evidence that a “crisis” at the US southern border is so dire that he needs to build a wall.

18 days ago, Trump shut down the government over the Democrats’ insistence to reject funding the wall, meaning 800,000 federal government workers are not getting paid.

The Oval Office address comes on the heels of days of Trump’s aides defending misleading claims about the border wall.

Trump called on Congress to close what he called “border security loopholes.” However, the situation is much more nuanced than that. For instance, overall arrests at the border are actually at historic lows right now. Here are four other things you should know about the southern border.

You should also know:

👉 The Trump administration claimed 4,000 people on US terror watch lists had been detained at the southern border last year. The actual number was six.

👉 The administration keeps pointing at a secret terror watch list. Not everyone on it is a terrorist.

👉 People bet how much Trump would lie in his address, and won $276,424.

The US government shutdown is starting to cause major problems at airports

As the shutdown enters its second week with no end in sight, staffing issues at airports across the US are increasingly creating delays for travelers and could start to present a major security risk as air traffic controllers and safety inspectors remain off the job.

Some TSA officers have already quit rather than work without pay, and if the shutdown continues, union leaders expect more will start looking for new jobs, in addition to calling out sick.

Also noteworthy: Joshua Tree National Park is closing after visitors damaged trees and left overflowing garbage during the shutdown.


Paul Manafort’s lawyers tried to redact a court filing about whether Manafort lied to investigators. It didn’t work. Portions of the document were supposed to be redacted and kept under seal. But due to what appears to be an error in how the document was filed, they're readable. Here’s what you should know.

Iran was just accused of assassinating two people on European soil. The Dutch foreign minister says Iran is behind the killing of of two Dutch nationals in the Netherlands, in 2015 and 2017. In response, the European Union moved to put new economic and diplomatic sanctions on Iran.

R. Kelly is being investigated in Georgia after the Lifetime documentary about him. The attorney representing parents who told police their adult daughter is being held captive by Kelly confirmed that prosecutors had reached out after Surviving R. Kelly aired.

CES gave a sex toy an award and then disqualified it...because it’s a sex toy. The Consumer Electronics Show selected a sex toy called Osé as an honoree in its robotics and drones Innovation Awards program. But two weeks later, they disqualified the device and banned its exhibition — because it’s an adult product.

HBO announced all the main actors who will be on the Game of Thrones prequel. The prequel takes place thousands of years before the events of the series (because of course it does), and will star Naomi Watts, Josh Whitehouse, and Jamie Campbell Bower.

Women in rural India are defying their communities by going undercover on Facebook

In some of India’s most patriarchal corners, women are prohibited from going on Facebook. Male leaders in these parts dislike the social media platform because it gives young women a space to post pictures, put themselves out there, and meet young men.

But young women across rural India are going on Facebook anyway — they’re just doing it under false identities.

They use the names of Bollywood actors or other made-up monikers, and sometimes even pose as men, as they seek a place in modern digital life.

Using fake names is less about privacy and more about escaping harsh social consequences. Read Pranav Dixit’s story on the women trying to connect to the world and each other, and the lengths they have to go to to do so.

A meme about Venmo has actually led to people getting paid for petty favors on social media

There’s a new Twitter joke format about carrying out the pettiest of favors for people. Users are tweeting “Venmo me $20 and I’ll” do x thing for you.

It started out pretty funny, like “Venmo me $20 and I’ll comment ‘ew’ on your enemy’s Instagram photo of choice.”

But like all things on the internet, some have taken it beyond the limit. People started sending money, and now some are actually getting paid to carry out such acts of professional pettiness.

Some of the other services on offer: “$10 to msg your mans and see if he’s cheating.”