All kinds of Halloween minutiae
The other day, Michelle Williams tweeted, “What's making me happy this morning? @NYTmag’s explainer of what a Kit Kat is.” In case you missed it, Halloween’s the perfect time to dig into the candy beat, so check out Tejal Rao’s piece in The New York Times Magazine, In Japan, the Kit Kat Isn’t Just a Chocolate. It’s an Obsession. After all, you may bring in a good haul trick-or-treating, but will you be lucky enough to find Kit Kat minis flavored in sake, wasabi, matcha, “Tokyo Banana” or a dark-chocolate variety called “sweetness for adults”? Probably not. This is why Sara Libby says, “If I were a politician I would work ‘I will bring Japanese Kit-Kat flavors to America’ into my platform.”
Maybe you want to learn a bit more about your Halloween party soundtrack. At Tedium, David Buck brings you the history of the mash...“The Monster Mash.” Simon Carless calls it an “Excellent @readtedium piece with all kinds of minutiae on that Halloween staple.”
Or hunker down and reread some Poe. This popular Millions essay by Catherine Baab-Muguira, Edgar Allan Poe Was a Broke-Ass Freelancer, sounds depressing on the surface, and, given Poe’s style, potentially grim and mysterious. Plus, with sentences like, “In between and after these jobs, he’d be what John Ward Ostrom called a ‘literary entrepreneur,’ i.e., a broke-ass freelancer,” it might seem just a bit too relatable. But it ends on a hopeful note. We promise.
Still waiting for answers
And now, on to the rest of the news today. In a new editorial, The Washington Post notes that Jamal Khashoggi was brutally murdered four weeks ago. We’re still waiting for answers. Says Margaret Sullivan, “This atrocity, and Saudi’s sham investigation, should not be allowed to simply fade, or be shrugged, away ... Here’s a must-read @washingtonpost editorial.” “In particular, MBS, where is Jamal's body? Just answer that,” tweets Nicholas Kristof.
How dumb do you have to be
“Here is the best breakdown of how Jacob Wohl and Jack Burkman attempted to frame Robert Mueller,” says Amee Vanderpool, who links to the piece by Natasha Bertrand at The Atlantic, Special Counsel Refers Scheme Targeting Mueller to FBI (98,000+ shares). “Honestly how dumb do you have to be to try to frame Robert Mueller of all people,” Asha Rangappa wonders. As a reminder, Burkman is the one who, among other things, “launched his own private investigation into the murder of the Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, dangled uncorroborated claims of sexual harassment against a sitting member of Congress, and earlier this year offered $25,000 to FBI whistle-blowers for any information exposing wrongdoing during the 2016 election. He also promoted legislation that he authored—despite not being a member of Congress—that would ban gays from playing in the NFL,” writes Bertrand.
Tom Winter, Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins of NBC News are also following the story, Mueller refers sex assault scheme targeting him to FBI for investigation, and Collins tweets, “Jacob gave us comment at first, but went quiet when we told him Surefire Intelligence's phone number redirected to a voicemail account registered to his mom.” Dan Drezner says, “If I'm reading this kicker right -- and I'd like to think that I am -- then Jacob Wohl is the dumbest motherf**ker in America.”
For more, Lachlan Markay and Will Sommer of The Daily Beast take you Inside The Crazy Cabal Trying To Smear Robert Mueller. Jonah Goldberg has a suggestion: “If this story turns out to be true, we need an ‘I, Tonya’ style movie about these ass clowns. Coen Bros should direct.”
So, Has Mueller Subpoenaed the President? That’s the question posed in a new piece by Nelson W. Cunningham in POLITICO Magazine, and (spoiler) the answer is, “Yes, according to this analysis,” tweets Arian Koci. Barton Gellman gives the highlights: “A former prosecutor, Senate and White House lawyer assembles clues that suggest Mueller has already subpoenaed Trump and they’re locked in a sealed court battle as the president resists. No claim to certainty, but more than a guess.” Dave Levitan says, “This all seems very circumstantial and I am in no way qualified to judge whether these tidbits add up to anything. And yet.”
Well this is suboptimal
WIRED Magazine’s Issie Lapowsky reveals, Here’s How Much Bots Drive Conversation During News Events. She tweets, “A new tool by @robhatlabs helps newsrooms see how much of the Twitter conversation about any breaking news topic is being amplified by likely bots. Eg. One day last week, they found about 60% of the conversation about ‘the caravan’ was being driven by bots.”
At Vice, William Turton writes that Vice reporters posed as 100 senators to run ads on Facebook. Facebook approved all of them. As Kevin Roose puts it, “Well this is suboptimal.” On the other hand...Jim Tankersley’s “Current status: Drafting a fake candidate endorsement test for ‘Ninja Turtles PAC.’”
So woke they’re no longer functioning
“What fresh hell is this,” asks Amy Choi. Twelve young people spoke with New York Magazine about Why They Probably Won’t Vote (144,000+ shares), and Eric Levitz, Adam Raymond, Heather Hurlburt and Ed Kilgore have captured their stories for us. If you’re pressed for time, Kelsey Hayes offers the CliffsNotes version: “Shorter: ‘I’m not voting because politicians care only about older voters, but that’s because they actually vote, and by not voting, I just perpetuate this self-fulfilling circle of doom.’” Right in sync with Halloween, Michael Del Moro tweets, “I want to scream.” Ben Collins points out that “A lot of these people fall under the category of ‘So woke they're no longer functioning.’ Mindnumblingly braindead morons.” Adds George Lang, “For the first time in my life, I feel like denying a group of people access to the social safety net. Also, if you have time to grant an interview to a major magazine on why you’re not voting, you have time to vote.”
Maybe they should read Roxane Gay, who writes in her New York Times op-ed, You’re Disillusioned. That’s Fine. Vote Anyway (44,000+ shares).
In other news leading up to the midterms, Brooke Hammerling points out, “If you live in Connecticut, you should be horrified by the Republican behind this ad. If you’re a HUMAN you should be horrified by this ad. Vote for my cousin Matt Lesser.” She’s referring to a campaign mailer sent out by Republican Ed Charamut showing a Jewish candidate for state Senate with a fistful of money, fueling anti-Semitism complaints in the Connecticut state Senate race. Neil Vigdor and Shawn Beals have that story for the Hartford Courant.
And if that’s not horrifying enough, well, “Just in time for Halloween... Trump has transformed the federal government into his own Fear Factory, as part of his midterm strategy.” Ashley Parker links to her latest with Philip Rucker at The Washington Post, ‘Pushing every button’: Trump mobilizes the government in campaign’s final days.
Meanwhile, maybe not pushing buttons, but definitely knocking on doors, Oprah Is Going To Georgia To Campaign With Stacey Abrams, reports Bim Adewunmi of BuzzFeed News.
We’re assuming she’ll get a bigger reception than this one: Steve Bannon draws crowd of tens to rally for Steve Watkins in Topeka, writes David Hudnall of The Pitch. Yes, even with the free continental breakfast, only 17 people showed up.
Busy news day
In an op-ed for The Washington Post, Neal Katyal and George Conway (that one) explain why Trump’s proposal to end birthright citizenship is unconstitutional. Tweets Keith Larson, “Constitutional Scholar @realDonaldTrump pumps this lie because he knows Trumpsters will swallow it. while every legit constitutional lawyer - Including Husband of Trump's own @KellyannePolls in this OpEd - makes Very clear 14th Does cover birthright.”
“I know it’s a busy news day, but this is remarkable via @eilperin @jdawsey1: a probe into the conduct of the Interior Secretary has been referred to DOJ for possible criminal investigation.” Matea Gold links to Zinke’s own agency watchdog just referred him to the Justice Department, by Juliet Eilperin and Josh Dawsey of The Washington Post.
CNN’s KFILE team reviewed more than 4,000 of bombing suspect Cesar Sayok’s tweets and found that he tweeted more than 240 threats to at least 50 public officials, news organizations and media personalities. Read about the radicalization of an alleged domestic terrorist in the piece by CNN’s Andrew Kaczynski, Christopher Massie, Nathan McDermott and Donie O'Sullivan. Tweets Kaczynski, “One of bombing suspect Cesar Sayoc’s first most serious threats, saying media organizations’ ‘building needs to be eliminated torched,’ was in response to an Onion article he seemed to think was serious.”
From Corky Siemaszko of NBC News, Jews assail so-called ‘Christian rabbi’ who appeared with Pence, and so does his own movement. Yes, as if he wasn’t problematic enough already, it turns out, Loren Jacobs was stripped of his ordination by the Messianic movement 15 years ago. The irony is not lost on Kaili Gray, who tweets, “Wow his fellow fake ‘Jews’ are mad he’s running around pretending to be something he’s not. Must suck for them.”
Here’s a “Horrifying story of 2 sisters, 16 & 22, ordered by a Saudi official to leave the US because they'd applied for asylum. A day after their mother told police, their bodies were found taped together in a river.” Bill Neely links to Authorities probing immigrant Saudi sisters’ mystery deaths, by AP’s Michael Sisak.
“A kid died. Four months later, everyone has their jobs back. It’s not a stain on the athletic department. It’s a stain on the school,” says Barry Svrluga. He writes about it in a new op-ed for The Washington Post, Maryland ought to be ashamed.
The story reaches its unceremonious end
Within hours of his arrival at a federal prison in West Virginia, gangster James “Whitey” Bulger was beaten to death by inmates. Shelley Murphy and Travis Andersen have the details at the Boston Globe. Tweets Heather Ciras, “I wish everyone could have gotten this breaking news delivered to them the way I did: from @shelleymurph, who *literally* wrote the book on Whitey Bulger, yelling it at us.” Adds Amanda Katz, “After @shelleymurph's many, many years of reporting on Whitey Bulger, the story reaches its unceremonious end. Hard to say RIP given what he did to Bostonians.”
A quacking good news story
OK, we can’t end it on that note. So here’s something completely different, or as Meridith McGraw tweets, “Oh my goodness, what a story-- Chief Justice Rehnquist asked Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman on the Supreme Court, to marry him while law students at Stanford. She declined, but they remained friends, study buddies, and then went on to SCOTUS.” Check out A Supreme Marriage Proposal, by NPR’s Nina Totenberg.
And finally today, Brian Naylor calls this one “A quacking good news story” (someone had to do it): On Twitter, Julia Jacobs of The New York Times shares, “Tuesday was looking like a normal work day until I went to Central Park to chase a beautiful duck around a pond.” Her story reveals, A Mandarin Duck Mysteriously Appears in Central Park, to Birders’ Delight, and Des Shoe notes, “Everything about this duck is on point.” “This is some duck!” adds Emily Anthes. As Jacobs writes, “Against all odds, he is here. And he is dazzling.”