Alex's case wasn't investigated
An investigation from ProPublica which you absolutely must read, share, and pay attention to reported that In Immigrant Children’s Shelters, Sexual Assault Cases Are Open and Shut. “Across the country, kids are reporting sexual assaults in immigrant children’s shelters. One kid, Alex, decided to come forward. There was surveillance video. But Alex's case wasn't investigated. His isn’t the only one,” the organization shared. This vital story is the work of Michael Grabell, Topher Sanders, and Silvina Sterin Pensel.
Speaking of the border, NBC News’ Brandy Zadrozny and Ben Collins uncovered that the founder of the viral fundraiser for Trump's border wall actually has a questionable news past. Collins added on Twitter: “The guy behind #GoFundTheWall didn't mention the right-wing sites he owned that were banned by Facebook two months ago, or his Fight4FreeSpeech group (also accepting donations!) in his GoFundMe for the wall. I asked him.”
Mattis is leaving
Thursday afternoon, Trump announced that Mattis will leave as defense secretary at the end of February. That story came from Missy Ryan and Paul Sonne at the Washington Post.
You can also read Helene Cooper’s piece about the decision from the New York Times in which she called Mattis a Marine General Turned Defense Secretary.
The announcement prompted David A. Graham to publish his piece about James Mattis's Strange, Steady Tenure Coming to an End in The Atlantic. He also tweeted, “Mattis was an ascetic among the profligate, an institutionalist among nihilists, a lifelong public servant among political climbers and businessmen, an aphorist serving a logorrheic president.” Yoni Appelbaum also shared this quote from Graham’s piece: "The question now facing both U.S. and foreign leaders is plain: Who will constrain Trump?”
Mattis-Knew-Trump-From-The-Beginning, Jeffrey Goldberg published also at The Atlantic. Millie Tran added, “Mattis’s departure means we're entering the third phase of Trump’s foreign policy: ‘Trump alone, besieged, but believing, perhaps more than ever, in the inerrancy of his beliefs.’”
'Um, more news'
First, we had news from the Wall Street Journal that the Trump Administration Was Considering A Substantial Afghan Troop Drawdown.
Then officials told the New York Times’ Thomas Gibbons-Neff that The U.S. Is Set to Withdraw About 7,000 Troops From Afghanistan. “Um, more news,” was Jonathan Weisman’s very reasonable reaction.
And at the AP, Matthew Lee and Susannah George broke the news that it was Trump’s call with Turkish leader that led to an announcement the US would pull out from Syria.
What’s Robert Mueller up to?
Likely having seen “Saturday Night Live’s” sketch about the matter, Ken Dilanian, Pete Williams at NBC News told us that Robert Mueller may submit his report to the attorney general as soon as mid-February.
Meanwhile, Ethics officials say Whitaker need not recuse from supervising special counsel probe, a person familiar with the matter told Devlin Barrett and Matt Zapotosky at the Washington Post. “Lol what a joke,” Erick Fernandez wrote.
Elsewhere in the administration
A Top Aide’s Exit Plan Raises Eyebrows in the White House, according to Maggie Haberman and Nicholas Fandos at the New York Times. The employee in question is John Kelly’s closest aide, whom Haberman explains, “devised a plan to ‘hang out’ on the WH complex with pay for six months, then retire early from the Coast Guard with the help of a legislative move to allow such retirements.”
“I Am the Woman Trump Hates” is the title of Michael Kruse’s piece in Politico in which he invited us to Meet Sherrod Brown’s Louder Half. Elena Schneider explained, “Connie Schultz, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and Sen. Sherrod Brown’s wife, weighs in.” Emily Stephenson shared the rest of that epic quote: “I never measure myself against what Donald Trump would think of me. But if I am exactly what he hates, and I think I am, it makes me feel all the more necessary.”
Also, the government might shut down
Describing it as “My latest on the cascade of news with the best of the best,” Philip Rucker published “A tailspin”: Under siege, Trump propels the government and markets into crisis with help from Robert Costa and Josh Dawsey at the Washington Post.
Stories you’ll inevitably discuss over the holiday
In her Perspective in the Washington Post, Julia Ioffe requests Please don’t wish me “Merry Christmas.” John Podhoretz pointed out, “Please note that being pleasant to Julia Ioffe makes her feel alienated and weird, and act accordingly henceforth.” Leon H. Wolf added, “Set aside for a minute what this piece says about the author. You know what is not a good idea? Telling an entire internet full of trolls that an easily replicated action annoys you.” And Byron Tau reacted with: “I disagree with the contention here that Christmas isn’t, or can’t be, a secular holiday. Christmas is a Christian iteration of ancient midwinter festivals that people of Europe and the Middle East have been celebrating long before Jesus Christ.”
Russian Agents Sought Secret US Treasury Records On Clinton Backers During The 2016 Campaign, per Anthony Cormier and Jason Leopold’s reporting at BuzzFeed News. “Attention please!! US Treasury officials used a *secret Gmail backchannel* to talk with Russian agents who were seeking sensitive financial information on **Kremlin enemies and Clinton allies**, including US citizens,” Ariel Kaminer made sure we all knew this. While Leopold tweeted simply, “Merry Christmas from @a_cormier_ and me 🎤”
Sarah Boseley reported at The Guardian that in Europe, measles cases are at their highest in 20 years, as the anti-vaccine movement grows. Jim Waterson had a thought: “I wonder if we'd be here if Private Eye hadn't repeatedly covered Andrew Wakefield's theories about MMR (they even published a special edition dedicated to it), helping to push them mainstream and laying the groundwork for the modern anti-vaxx movement..”
For a look at How Fortnite Triggered an Unwinnable War Between Parents and Their Boys, read Betsy Morris in the Wall Street Journal. Brian Fitzgerald wondered, “The war between kids and parents over gaming is old. Is Fortnite any more disruptive?”
And The New York Times published a piece about Planned Parenthood Being Accused of Mistreating Pregnant Employees and written by Natalie Kitroeff and Jessica Silver-Greenberg. “The vast majority of Planned Parenthood offices do not provide paid maternity leave. And many employees have accused Planned Parenthood of denying pregnant workers rest breaks, sidelining them or pushing them out,” Kitroeff explained.
Good stories to read on your travels home
What Is Glitter? is Caity Weaver’s formidable piece in the New York Times that answers that question quietly plaguing us all, pretty much throughout the year but especially at the holidays. “In honor of Christmas, I tried to figure out what glitter is and where it comes from,” Weaver offered.
Katherine Rosman told us about The Itsy-Bitsy, Teenie-Weenie, Very Litigious Bikini in the New York Times. She also shared her behind-the-scenes peek at how the article came together on Twitter: “After 5 months of work and a reporting trip to Brazil, I'm proud to share this story. It may be the most intense, suspenseful, OMG-inducing article you will ever read about a bikini.” Johanna Barr agreed, “This story is CRAZY.” And Lauren Katzenberg added, “Great read, incredible kicker.”
At The Wrap, Tim Baysinger explained How Streaming Raided Top TV Talent in 2018 From Ryan Murphy to Shonda Rhimes. But the reason we know about this story is that Shonda Rhimes herself responded to the article with: “Why do reporters always say writers were ‘lured’? Like we're children following a trail of candy. I created a $2B+ revenue stream for a major Corp with my imagination. I do not follow trails of candy. I am the candy.”
Oh yeah, and Brexit
Sam Coates at the Times of London reported that Britons were told to change their diet in order to cope with food delays after a no-deal Brexit. “Whitehall predicts that some sources of fresh food from European Union countries would be cut off,” Andrew Gregory tweeted. Annabel Mullin had another take: “🤔people called the police when KFC ran out of chicken but sure there will no problem with this in 3 months…”
Meanwhile, For Farage and Brexit Pollster, it’s a World of Gamblers and Gambling, Cam Simpson, Kit Chellel, and Gavin Finch wrote at Bloomberg. “Hedge funds buying secret exit polls weren't alone in cleaning up after Nigel Farage helped drive the pound to its highest mark all year ahead of the biggest crash in history. Two of his closest aides, by his side all night, traded the same way,” Simpson shared on Twitter.