June 19, 2017
Good Monday morning — two days until the official start of summer.
As I read the list of seven sleeping sailors who died in flooded berths of the U.S. Navy destroyer that collided with a container ship off Japan, I realized that these names, ages and hometowns give a glimpse of the men and women who serve us around the world: "Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, of Palmyra, Va.; Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, of San Diego; Ngoc T. Truong Huynh, 25, of Oakville, Conn.; Noe Hernandez, 26, of Weslaco, Tex.; Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, of Chula Vista, Calif.; Xavier Alec Martin, 24, of Halethorpe, Md.; and Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, of Elyria, Ohio."
1 big thing: Danger in the Valley
As tech royalty converges on the White House today for an American Technology Council meeting, the darlings of Silicon Valley are in danger of becoming the devils of Trumpism's nationalist wing.
This won't happen overnight, but danger signs are everywhere. Axios Tech Editor Kim Hart wrote last week that the giants, with their "enormous concentrations of wealth and data," are "drawing the attention of economists and academics who warn they're growing too powerful."
Turns out it's government, too.
The Bannon wing of the White House would like to take on the lords of the Valley now over outsourcing, the concentration of wealth and their control over our data and lives. But this fight is on hold for a later date, officials tell us.
The bigger problem for tech is that many Americans are rethinking their romantic views of the hottest and biggest companies of the new economy. As people look for villains to blame, tech might get its turn:
- Some shine has come off Facebook (though not in user data, Dan Primack points out: People still love the service), as executives fend off grievances about fake news, live violence and the filter bubble.
- Silicon Valley makes itself a juicy target with its male dominance, concentration of wealth (in both people and places), and reliance on foreign workers.
- Robots will soon be eating lots of jobs, with working-class, blue collar workers — an engine of the Trump coalition — at the most immediate risk. Many think this will be the story of the next 10 years.
- Anyone familiar with military intelligence will tell you cyber-risk is much greater than most people realize. Russians used cyber tools to try to throw the 2016, and electronic attack is perhaps the greatest U.S vulnerability to an international power.
People increasingly distrust technology, and the companies will increasingly be in the crosshairs. Richard Edelman — president and CEO of the global communications firm — wrote in introducing Edelman's 2017 Trust Barometer: "[O]ngoing globalization and technological change are now further weakening people's trust in global institutions, which they believe have failed to protect them from the negative effects of these forces.Be smart: Tech executives are very aware of the public's unsettled mood and fearful that if they completely disengage with Trump the White House will turn on their companies. That's why many are here today!Dive deeper: "What Apple's Tim Cook will tell Trump" (CEOs come with their own agendas: He'll raise topics the White House hadn't planned)
Off embargo at 6 a.m.: "Silicon Valley's elite comes to Trump's Washington."
2. London mayor: A new "horrific terrorist attack"
Another horrible van attack in London overnight — this time outside a well-known mosque, with worshippers marking Ramadan ...
- Reuters: "A van plowed into worshippers leaving a London mosque on Monday, injuring 10 people in what witnesses said was a deliberate attack on Muslims."
- "The incident was being treated as a potential terrorist attack said Prime Minister Theresa May, which if confirmed would make it the fourth since March in Britain and the third to involve a vehicle deliberately driven at pedestrians."
- "Police said the suspected van driver, aged 48, had been detained by members of the public before being arrested on suspicion of attempted murder."
Why it matters: This is another incident in a frightening season, foreign and domestic — from the shooting of a congressman to repeated terrorist attacks. "Rage Is All the Rage," columnist Peggy Noonan wrote in The Wall Street Journal this weekend.
That tower fire in London (death toll at 58 and likely to rise, perhaps to 70) is another totem, with fury over official neglect that helped cause it, and the halting response that followed it. A New York Times Op-Ed from London warned of "An Inferno Of Public Trust."
3. Stat du jour
More people were forced from their homes by conflict last year than any time since World War II:
"The relentless civil war in Syria and a surge of South Sudanese fleeing the collapse of peace efforts in their country helped propel the global population of displaced people to a record in 2016, [per] the United Nations refugee agency": 65.6 million — 300,000 higher than in 2015, which had been the highest since World War II. (N.Y. Times' Rick Gladstone)
- "[T]he number of refugees worldwide reached 22.5 million, the most ever."
- Why it matters: "The ... report was issued at a time when governments in Europe and the United States have become increasingly resistant to accepting more refugees."
4. Jared's next mission
"Jared Kushner ... plans to travel to the Middle East this week to try to advance U.S. efforts to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal," the Wall Street Journal's Carol Lee writes. "Kushner plans to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem and travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas."
"He is scheduled to arrive in Israel on Wednesday. Jason Greenblatt, Mr. Trump's top representative on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, plans to arrive in the region two days earlier."
P.S. N.Y. Times p. A12, "Kushner's Legal Team In Election Investigation May Be Reconfigured": "Representatives of Jared Kushner ... have quietly contacted high-powered criminal lawyers about potentially representing him in the wide-ranging investigation into Russia's influence on the 2016 election."
"Some of Mr. Kushner's allies have raised questions about the link between his current lawyer, Jamie S. Gorelick, and Robert S. Mueller III ... Before the Justice Department named him to the special counsel post, Mr. Mueller was a law partner with Ms. Gorelick at the Washington firm of WilmerHale."
A huge question from New Yorker Editor David Remnick: "Who in the White House will turn against Donald Trump?"
"Washington's season of anger," by Steve Coll — lead "Talk of the Town" item in the new New Yorker: "A shooting and investigations at a political moment that appears to be as volatile as the Watergate era. ... a disquieting political season of hatred and anger."
"The Constitution does appear to be alive and well: prosecutors and the F.B.I. have vigorously defended their independence; judges appointed by Presidents of both major parties have blocked the Administration's discriminatory travel ban; and a robust and well-sourced Washington press corps is keeping the public apprised of the Administration's activities."
"Trump defiant as pressure grows," by CNN's Stephen Collinson: "America is edging ever closer to a new long, national nightmare ... [T]the sense of chaos around the White House is deepening."
N.Y. Times Quote of the Day — in front-pager, "President Cedes Afghan Strategy To the Pentagon" ... Richard Kohn, a military historian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who advised National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on his doctoral thesis: "The president doesn't have the time or interest to make these decisions, so they want to leave the decision making to [SecDef Jim] Mattis."
6. 45 years ago today ...
... the first Watergate story by Woodward and Bernstein — on June 19, 1972. Richard Milhous Nixon announced his resignation 780 days later.
The burglars had been surprised at DNC HQ in the early morning hours of June 17, 1972.
The Post's first Watergate story, on June 18 ("5 Held in Plot to Bug Democrats' Office Here"), was by The Post's legendary police reporter, Al Lewis, who had 15,000 bylines in 50 years.
The story was above the fold, but not the lead. That was: "Both Sides Claim Victory in N. Vietnam Offensive."
7. Get smart fast: The shrinking Islamic State
8. Covering the future: Musk's Mars manifesto
"Elon Musk thinks he can make getting to Mars cheaper than going to college," by Recode's Tess Townsend:
- "Sending people to live on Mars may sound outlandish, but SpaceX [and Tesla] CEO Elon Musk is adamant about his plan. ... Space technology journal New Space published [a 16-page] article ... outlining his plans."
- "Musk estimates the cost of getting 12 people to Mars to start a colony is about $10 billion per person at this point. ... He thinks they might be able to get the cost down to less than $100,000."
- Musk: "If we can get the cost of moving to Mars to be roughly equivalent to a median house price in the United States, which is around $200,000, then I think the probability of establishing a self-sustaining civilization is very high ... I think it would almost certainly occur.'"
- "You need a really powerful rocket to do this."
- "The paper shows a timeline ... for flights to Mars starting at ... 2023" — six years from now.
9. "The Worst Problem on Earth"
This Atlantic cover story (online soon) by Mark Bowden, author of "Black Hawk Down" and the new "Huế 1968," gave me some new baseline thoughts about the dilemma North Korea poses for the U.S.:
- "Thirty minutes. That's how long it would take a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launched from North Korea to reach Los Angeles."
- "Even failed tests move North Korea closer to its goal possessing nuclear weapons capable of hitting U.S. cities."
- "Kim [Jong-un] may end up trapped in the circular logic of his strategy. He seeks to avoid destruction by building a weapon that, if used, assures his destruction."
- "Every option the United State has for dealing with North Korea is bad."
- "An American first strike would likely trigger one of the worst mass killings in human history."
- "Would the U.S. sacrifice Los Angeles to save Seoul?"
P.S. "Why I can't stop thinking about Otto Warmbier," by WashPost Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt: "We don't know whether North Korean guards beat Warmbier into a coma or whether his abuse ... came in some other form."
"Thousands — no, hundreds of thousands — of Koreans have been subjected to similar criminal abuse as Otto Warmbier suffered at the hands of North Korea's Stalinist regime."
10. 1 noisy thing
"Hamptons Buzz: Aircraft Noise —Residents' complaints on the rise as more people helicopter in; 'it vibrates the house,'" by Joseph De Avila on the Wall Street Journal's "Greater New York" page (online "Summer in the Hamptons: Oysters, Rosé, and Helicopter Noise?"):
"According to the town, there are about 25,000 takeoffs and landings a year and more than 8,000 helicopter landings and departures at East Hampton Airport. Commercial airlines can't use the airport, which opened in the 1930s and sits about 5 miles west from town hall, but private jets can. ...
"The noise complaints started mounting a few years ago after ride-share apps made it easier to catch a helicopter ride, primarily from New York City ... Helicopter landings and departures increased to nearly 8,400 in 2014, up 47% from the previous year, according to court papers filed by the town."