Holding state power accountable
Big news for local reporting today as ProPublica Picks 14 Newsrooms and Investigative Projects for Year 2 of Its Local Reporting Network. Seven of the projects will focus on state government, while the rest will cover a broad range of subjects. The projects will span the country, with ProPublica senior editors Charles Ornstein and Marilyn W. Thompson collaborating with newsrooms in Alabama, Alaska, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, New York, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia. Intriguingly, Kyle Whitmire tweets, “Congratulations @ConnorASheets. I can't talk about what he’s got planned, but some folks in this state should be nervous.” He’s referring to Connor Sheets of Reckon by AL.com/The Birmingham News, so stay tuned Alabama.
Anarchy in the UK tour, 2018
Meanwhile, it could be the beginning of the end for Theresa May, but there’s no end in sight to the Brexit bedlam. Jessica Elgot of The Guardian writes that Brexit is in chaos as MPs trigger vote of no confidence in May (61,000+ shares). In other words, “Anarchy in the UK tour, 2018,” tweets Aaron Chapman. Or “Mayhem Act 3,” as Faiza Shaheen puts it. “I’m not sure ‘Keep Calm and…’ works as a British brand anymore,” adds Matt Steinglass.
For ongoing live coverage, Katharine Murphy offers, “If you can stand another leadership crisis without feeling the need to scream, forcefully, into the void, do tune in, LIVE.” She links to The Guardian’s live updates here. Robert Hutton adds that “Bloomberg's Brady-tastic May-hem Tory Contest Blog is LIVE here.” Or follow along with the BBC News live coverage here.
Oval Office Rumble
In “an extraordinary public airing of hostilities that underscored a new, more confrontational dynamic in Washington,” Trump threatened to shut down the government over his border wall (184,000+ shares), writes Julie Hirschfeld Davis of The New York Times. That piece includes “A showstopping @dougmillsnyt photo of the Oval Office Rumble,” as Michael M. Grynbaum notes. Adds Eli Pariser, “The photo here is a beautiful Accidental Trumpian Renaissance. The expression on the face of the woman holding the mic behind Schumer!” And if you watched it all go down, you probably had the same thought as Stephanie Strom at some point: “Who forgot to plug Pence in?”
Also at The Times, Carl Hulse writes, Playing by His Own Rules, Trump Flips the Shutdown Script, and Versha Sharma wonders, “how did they manage to spin this into a win for Trump.” Jeff Cioletti suggests an edit: “WTF is wrong with you @NYTimes?! You spelled ‘Trump gets owned by Nancy Pelosi’ wrong.”
Siding with the despot
In other conversations on Tuesday, Trump tells Steve Holland and Roberta Rampton of Reuters that he is standing by the Saudi crown prince despite pleas from Senate. MIchael Calderone puts that into context: “On the same day Time mag highlights journalists facing violence and repression around the world, the president sides with a Saudi despot believed to have ordered a journalist’s murder.” Pedro Rosado emphasizes, “Just to be clear, @realDonaldTrump supports the guy who ordered a man SAWED TO PIECES while he was ALIVE. Trump and son-in-law have business dealings with Saudis so playing nice with murderers for sake of money makes it ok in their twisted world…”
And the gap continues to widen between Trump and intelligence community on key issues, reports Greg Miller of The Washington Post — although Antonia Zerbisias thinks, “You almost don't need the word ‘community’ in this headline.” Miller writes that CIA officials were “staggered” when Trump sided with Putin in Helsinki this summer, quoting one official who said, “There was this gasp” among those watching at the CIA. “You literally had people in panic mode watching it at Langley. On all floors. Just shock.”
A riddle: Who’s More Likely to Be Audited: A Person Making $20,000 — or $400,000? ProPublica’s Paul Kiel and Jesse Eisinger found the answer: If you claim the earned income tax credit, whose average recipient makes less than $20,000 a year, you’re more likely to face IRS scrutiny than someone making twenty times as much. As Eric Umansky notes, “So as a result of GOP pressure, the IRS has been auditing the rich *less* and the working poor *more.*” Richard Tofel sums it up: “The IRS has been stripped of most of the resources it used to devote to audits. But more than a third of those it still does are of the working poor. The effective upshot: a massive tax cut for wealthy tax cheaters.”
On a related note, an Associated Press investigation by Stephen Braun, Jeff Horwitz and Bernard Condon finds that Ivanka, Kushner could profit from tax break they pushed. For the record, “The definition of corruption is using public office for private gain,” Dan Zak explains. And Shane Goldmacher notices, “Lots of NY/NJ properties here.”
Meanwhile, in her first extensive interview since winning last month, incoming New York attorney general Letitia James tells Allan Smith of NBC News that she is planning wide-ranging investigations of Trump and his family (82,000+ shares), from real estate deals to emoluments to the Trump Foundation and more. Erica Orden wonders, “What potential violation of state law was the Trump Tower meeting, which Tish James says she plans to investigate as state AG?”
You knew it was bad, but now Chris Mooney of The Washington Post reveals that the Arctic is in even worse shape than you realize. The oldest and thickest ice in the Arctic has declined by 95 percent over the past three decades, with “major implications not only for creatures such as walruses and polar bears but, in the long term, perhaps for the pace of global warming itself.” Glenn Schwartz points out, “The ‘canary in the coal mine’ for climate change is the massive warming and melting ice in the Arctic. This has been happening faster than computer models suggested.”
Bloomberg’s Josh Eidelson reports that writers and editors at Slate have voted nearly unanimously to green-light a strike, escalating tensions between the digital publication and its newly unionized employees. Alyssa Bereznak finds it “kinda fascinating that, in the digital economy, intentionally going AWOL on slack can be a form of protest.” Christine Lagorio-Chafkin dubs it the “New (mini) picket line: Ignoring your managers on Slack.” And Ed Bott offers up “Maybe the best Slate Pitch ever: The Slate Editorial Staff Walked Out. Here's What Happened Next (Followed by a completely blank page).”
In Australia, Patrick O'Neil and Michael Bachelard of The Age reveal Why the media is unable to report on a case that has generated huge interest online. They write, “A very high-profile figure was convicted on Tuesday of a serious crime, but we are unable to report their identity due to a suppression order” issued by the Victorian County Court. Peter Sterne explains, “Australian newspapers are not legally allowed to report on the outcome of a high-profile criminal trial. In Australia and the UK, courts can order newspapers not to print certain information. In the U.S., the First Amendment prevents this.” Luke Mcmahon says there are “Good points made in this article regarding the futility of some suppression orders. When it gets a point that a Wikipedia article on the person details the information - it’s a pretty good sign it should be lifted.”
More union news from Josh Eidelson of Bloomberg, who reports, Employees at Amazon’s New NYC Warehouse Launch Unionization Push. “hell fuckin yeah,” tweets Eric Limer. Adrianne Jeffries highlights this particular detail: “She said she’s insulted by the company’s ‘power hours’ in which employees are pressured to move extra fast in hopes of winning raffle tickets. 🤮” Christopher Mims notes, “Common to unionization efforts of Amazon warehouse workers in Europe and the USA: Workers complain of being treated ‘like robots.’”
Did someone say “like robots”? Dodai Stewart requests, “black mirror but make it dark comedy.” Et voilà: ‘High-tech robot’ at Russia forum turns out to be man in robot suit, as Andrew Roth reports at The Guardian. Julia Macfarlane shares, “I can’t be distracted with other stories right now but honestly.” And as Gaby Hinsliff says, “favourite headline of the day by miles.” The lesson, Amy Mackinnon reminds us, is this: “Fact check your robots.”