Sent as an email newsletter December 20, 2020. Not a Newley’s Notes subscriber yet? Get it here.
👋 Hi friends,
Welcome to the latest edition of Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter containing my recent Wall Street Journal stories, must-read links on tech and life, and funny dog videos.
🎅 Photo of the week, above: Happy holidays from Hong Kong! (And yes, Ginger is wearing a holiday-themed hoodie.)
🚨 Administrative note: There will be no NN for the next couple of weeks. I’ll be back in 2021. I hope you have a restful and restorative end to what has been, quite simply, a year for the history books.
On to this week’s NN…
Here are ten items worth your time this week:
1) 🗞 My newest story, an exclusive with my colleague Jeff Horwitz, ran earlier this week. The headline: In India, Facebook Fears Crackdown on Hate Groups Could Backfire on Its Staff. And the sub-hed: “Social media giant’s security team cites possible attacks if extremist Hindu groups are kicked off platform.”
This is the most recent of several stories we’ve written about Facebook in India, you may recall. You can find links to our previous pieces at the bottom of this post.
2) 👏 Covid–19 vaccine update: the first Pfizer/BioNTech doses were administered in the U.S., my colleagues Peter Loftus and Melanie Grayce West reported, “kicking off the most urgent mass immunization campaign since polio shots were rolled out in the 1950s.” The first recipient: Sandra Lindsay, a critical care nurse at a hospital in the Queens.
3) 💻 Big cyber espionage news: “Multiple federal government agencies, including the U.S. Treasury and Commerce departments, have had some of their computer systems breached as part of a widespread global cyber espionage campaign believed to be the work of the Russian government, according to officials and people familiar with the matter,” my colleague Dustin Volz reports.
4) 👉 NPR: ‘New York Times’ Retracts Core Of Hit Podcast Series ‘Caliphate’ On ISIS. “The newspaper has reassigned its star terrorism reporter, Rukmini Callimachi, who hosted the series,” David Folkenflick reports. And: “On multiple occasions prior to the release of the podcast, Chaudhry had told Canadian news outlets that he had traveled to Syria in 2014 and joined ISIS. But he had denied playing any role in killings. To Callimachi and the Times, however, he claimed he had conducted executions.”
5) 🌐 Alphabet’s Google, Gmail, Google Docs, YouTube and additional services went down around the world Monday for about an hour. It was due to a problem with how users log into their accounts, the company said.
6) 🏆 2020 best of lists are here. Check out the 10 Best Books of 2020 (WSJ); the best long-form writing of 2020 (Longform); the best television series of 2020 (Economist); the best albums of 2020 (New York Times); the best films of 2020 (AV Club); and the art world’s most important moments in 2020 (New York Times).
7) 📚 Author John le Carré died at age 89. He “raised the spy novel to a new level of seriousness and respect,” Eric Homberger writes in The Guardian.
8) 🌃 New York magazine’s Curbed on an interesting photography project: This Artist Posed As a Hungarian Billionaire Buyer to Get Into 25 New York Penthouses.
9) 🚴♂️ BBC travel has a story on an epic bike trail in the works: “The Great American Rail-Trail is the most ambitious biking initiative the country has ever seen. Stretching an extraordinary 3,700 miles from the nation’s capital across 12 states to the Pacific Ocean, west of Seattle, it’s an idea that’s been ruminating for 50 years.” Here’s the trail’s website, and the official route.
10) ⛪ File under: nativity scenes, 2020 edition. “It’s hideous…Why do they have that one with the horns?…What is that? A turkey?”
🐕 Dog-related video of the week: Fearless Terrier Sends Bear Scampering Back Into the Woods.
📕 What I’m Reading
I’m almost finished with Nina Teicholz’s meticulously researched, eye-opening 2014 book, “The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.” It it astoundingly good: alarming, maddening, fascinating. A must-read if you care about health, nutrition, policymaking, or how science is conducted.
💡 Quote of the week:
“Email is a wonderful thing for people whose role in life is to be on top of things. But not for me; my role is to be on the bottom of things.” – Renowned Stanford University computer science professor Donald E. Knuth.
👊 Fist bump from Hong Kong,