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July 10, 2018

Is it a miracle, or is it science? That was the question posed by the Thai Navy SEAL team after the completed rescue of all 12 Thai youth soccer players and their 25-year-old coach on Tuesday. The boys became trapped in the Tham Luang cave on June 23 while exploring the cave system, as rising waters forced them deeper and deeper into the cavern. The boys were finally located, miraculously alive, after nine days of searching — and then the rescue efforts began. Here are 7 facts about the rescue. Jeva Lange

1. Many of the boys did not know how to swim and were given anti-anxiety medications before being helped out by divers. [The New York Times, The Telegraph]

2. It took 11 hours for a diver to make the five-mile roundtrip to reach the boys. [ITV]

3. All the while, hundreds of gallons of water were being pumped out of the cave — the equivalent of 48 Olympic-sized swimming pools in a 75-hour period. In an effort to stop the flooding, authorities also dammed streams that flowed into the caves. Natural shafts that dumped water into the caves were also plugged. [Sky, Reuters]

4. Divers used "Heyphones," a 20-year-old technology, to communicate with the rescue base. The ultra-low frequency transmitters are able to penetrate through rock and send divers' locations and messages. [Wired]

5. Approximately 90 divers were involved in the rescue. About 50 were foreigners. [AFP]

6. After being in the dark for two weeks, the boys have to wear dark sunglasses after they emerge, until their eyes adjust. [NYT]

7. After being removed from the cave, the boys went straight to the hospital — and into quarantine. Doctors are worried about diseases that might have been in the cave waters or spread by animals. All the boys have been treated with antibiotics and received vaccinations for tetanus and rabies. Two boys might have pneumonia, but the doctor called all of the first eight rescued "in good health, with no fever, and in a good mood." [NYT]

July 9, 2018

Dan Rather, the formidable former anchor of CBS Evening News and current host of The News with Dan Rather on The Young Turks Network, has become a frequent target of far-right media in recent years. Breitbart has mocked Rather's "great sadness" about the future with President Trump, and The Western Journal dismissed his declaration that the president is "mean as a wolverine" (their argument: "Not only is 'Wolverine' one of the coolest superheroes in the Marvel Comics universe, the animal itself is best known as being absolutely fearless and ferocious if the need arises"). The 86-year-old news veteran certainly has not been shy in calling the state of America bleak, but as he told Columbia Journalism Review in an interview published Monday, "I'm an optimist by nature and by experience, and I do think we'll get through it."

Rather goes on to explain why he thinks the future could be bright yet:

We need to stop, think, work, particularly those of us in journalism. You used the word "bleak." I think, seen from one perspective, that at least in the short- to medium-term, it could get pretty bleak.

Right now, there's very little check on Trump. The modern presidency has tremendous power, if whoever leads it chooses to use that power, to discredit and cripple the press. Trump is demonstrating right now that he has no inhibitions about using the full power of the presidency for his own partisan political advantage. So short- to medium-term, yeah, I think it could get pretty bleak. […] I do think we'll get through it and come out the other end. Maybe with a better and stronger understanding of and commitment to what the value of quality journalism can be in a society such as ours. [Columbia Journalism Review]

Read the full interview, and why Rather believes Trump's hatred of the media is distinctly different than former President Richard Nixon's, at CJR. Jeva Lange

June 21, 2018

There are plenty of people who would find it extremely difficult to muster up any pity for Donald Trump Jr., the eldest child of the president. Still, the GQ profile of Junior published Thursday makes a pretty compelling case — from his birth through his engagement through the end of his marriage. "Maybe he's not an intellectual, but he tried to be useful for his family," was how one insider gently put it. "I feel bad for him, honestly."

Here are four of the most depressing details in the profile, which you can read in full here. Jeva Lange

His parents dashed off to other engagements as soon as he was born.

That evening he was born, little Don was left by his parents to the care of the hospital's nursery. His father headed home to celebrate New Year's Eve, while Ivana put a boa and a mink over her hospital gown and went to visit a girlfriend recovering from back surgery on another floor of the hospital. [GQ]

His father didn't want to give him his name.

“You can't do that!" Trump is quoted as saying in Ivana's memoir, Raising Trump. "What if he's a loser?" [GQ]

When his parents were getting divorced, they had a spat over who had to raise him.

... [Donald] Trump, looking for some leverage by announcing that he was going to keep Don and raise him alone.

"Okay, keep him," Ivana said she told him. "I have two other kids to raise."

A few minutes later — his bluff out-bluffed — Trump ordered his boy to be taken back upstairs. [GQ]

He had the most unromantic engagement ever to Vanessa Haydon.

Despite his father's hand in their coupling, Don earned a scolding from his dad over the way he proposed — a Trumpian publicity stunt in which he scored a free engagement ring by popping the question in a jewelry store at the Short Hills mall in New Jersey. [GQ]

June 20, 2018

The U.S. government continues to house migrant children in private facilities that have a history of facing disturbing allegations of sexual and physical abuse, as well as neglect and poor medical supervision, The Texas Tribune has learned. The children housed in such facilities include the thousands of minors who have been separated from their parents at the border under the Trump administration's new "zero tolerance" policy.

At a Southwest Key Programs facility in San Benito, Texas, inspectors found some 246 violations, including an employee who showed up to work drunk, and shampoo dispensers filled with hand sanitizer; the same company operates a converted Walmart in Brownsville that holds more than 1,000 children. Another shelter, the Shiloh Treatment Center, has been awarded $26 million from the Office of Refugee Resettlement since 2013, although Maribel Bernardez claims it administered psychotropic drugs to her 9-year-old son without her consent and despite her protests. At a temporary facility in Florida, an employee asked a 15-year-old boy for a pornographic video of himself; although that specific shelter was shut down in 2017, it reopened in February, being awarded $30 million after its population doubled to 1,000 children.

There are apparently hundreds of such stories:

In Texas, where the resettlement agency awarded the majority of the grants, state inspectors have cited homes with more than 400 deficiencies, about one-third of them serious.

Allegations included staff members' failure to seek medical attention for children. One had a burn, another a broken wrist, a third a sexually transmitted disease. In another shelter, staff gave a child medicine to which she was allergic, despite a warning on her medical bracelet. Inspectors also cited homes for "inappropriate contact" between children and staff, including a case in which a staff member gave children a pornographic magazine. [The Texas Tribune]

Read the full investigation at The Texas Tribune. Jeva Lange

June 15, 2018

Actress and cosplay show host Chloe Dykstra has written an essay in which she accuses an ex-boyfriend, assumed to be Chris Hardwick, of emotional and sexual abuse. "In my early twenties, I was a vibrant, goofy kid who loved video games, Doctor Who, dressing up in cosplay with my friends, and karaoke nights," Dykstra writes, saying that her life changed when she "met someone at a convention and ended up falling for a man almost 20 years my senior." Dykstra claims that within weeks the man had established rules for her, including that she not go out at night, drink alcohol, have male friends, or speak in public places where they might be overheard.

Dykstra also describes the man sexually assaulting her: "Every night, I laid there for him, occasionally in tears," she writes.

Heavy.com writes that a number of details in Dykstra's post corroborate the belief that the man being referenced is Hardwick, a TV personality and the founder of Nerdist Industries. Dykstra writes that she eventually left him "after three years of being snapped/yelled at constantly, very rarely being shown any affection." She claims that after the breakup, the man "made calls to several companies I received regular work from to get me fired by threatening to never work with them. He succeeded. I was blacklisted."

In her conclusion, Dykstra writes: "One of my favorite quotes comes from Bojack Horseman: 'You know, it's funny; when you look at someone through rose-colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags.' Please, please, keep an eye out for those red flags." Read her entire post at Medium here. Jeva Lange

May 21, 2018

When management of Panama City's Trump International Hotel was wrested from the Trump Organization and its silver name chiseled off the signage earlier this year, observers noted the bruising blow to the president. The sail-shaped building had been Trump's only hotel in Panama and, at 70 stories, it was the tallest tower in the country.

This last point was of particular pride to Trump, who has been known to fudge the numbers to make his buildings appear taller than they really are. Former Ambassador to Panama John Feeley recounted the story to The New Yorker:

As [Feeley] took a seat, Trump asked, "So tell me — what do we get from Panama? What's in it for us?" Feeley presented a litany of benefits: help with counter-narcotics work and migration control, commercial efforts linked to the Panama Canal, a close relationship with the current President, Juan Carlos Varela. When he finished, Trump chuckled and said, "Who knew?" He then turned the conversation to the Trump International Hotel and Tower, in Panama City. "How about the hotel?" he said. "We still have the tallest building on the skyline down there?" [The New Yorker]

Trump's ownership of the hotel has raised red flags for ethics watchdogs, and the Trump Organization reportedly asked Panama's president to get involved when its grip on the hotel started to slip. Read the full report at The New Yorker. Jeva Lange

May 21, 2018

It has been two years since Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) shook up the Democratic Party with his grassroots movement, but there is growing concern that his "revolution" no longer has the legs to impart real political change, Politico reports in a dissection of Our Revolution.

While the organization does not have formal ties to Sanders, the senator's supporters and operatives formed Our Revolution after he lost the primary to Hillary Clinton as a way to keep up the momentum of the progressive movement. Yet with a leadership crisis — some say the president, Nina Turner, is using the group as a vehicle to get her own exposure ahead of a 2020 presidential run — and a shaky record of transparency and successful endorsements, some believe that Our Revolution is so weak that it could even hurt Sanders by mere association.

Sanders did personally have a significant win recently in Pennsylvania, where he endorsed Braddock Mayor John Fetterman in the lieutenant governor's race. Our Revolution, however, did not back Fetterman, nor did it back the progressive Nebraska candidate Kara Eastman, who won her race against centrist Rep. Brad Ashford (D).

Sanders' 2016 campaign manager, Jeff Weaver, defended Our Revolution, telling Politico that the group "is doing a phenomenal job around the country, helping energize the grassroots, and helping to democratize the Democratic Party." Read more of the criticism of the group, and how it could potentially drag Sanders down, at Politico. Jeva Lange

May 18, 2018

Canadian psychology professor and popular men's rights activist Jordan Peterson blames violent attacks by men on the fact that they do not have wives, The New York Times writes in a profile of Peterson published Friday. Peterson made the comment while explaining the actions of 25-year-old Alex Minassian last month, who drove a van down a crowded sidewalk in Toronto, killing 10 and injuring 16.

"He was angry at God because women were rejecting him," Peterson told the Times' Nellie Bowles. Minassian was a self-proclaimed "involuntary celibate," or "incel," and Peterson added that "the cure" for male-perpetrated violence "is enforced monogamy. That's actually why monogamy emerges."

Bowles writes:

Mr. Peterson does not pause when he says this. Enforced monogamy is, to him, simply a rational solution. Otherwise women will all only go for the most high-status men, he explains, and that couldn't make either gender happy in the end. [The New York Times]

Peterson additionally defended the "existence" of witches when Bowles told him they don't actually exist. "Yeah, they do. They do exist," he said. "They just don't exist the way you think they exist. They certainly exist. You may say well dragons don't exist … You say, 'Well, there's no such thing as witches.' Yeah, I know what you mean, but that isn't what you think when you go see a movie about them." Read the full mind-boggling profile at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

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