Russian spies, Russian lies, and the horrors of British champagne.
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We have a really lovely but also mildly terrifying article up this week about a beleaguered American football team in southeastern Ukraine. This group of young men taught themselves the rules of the game while watching translated YouTube videos of NFL games. There’s also a scene that revolves around sugar packets. Less whimsical is the fact that their games are an escape from the war-torn realities of their town, which was heavily shelled during fighting between Russian separatists and Ukrainian forces beginning in 2014. In case you were wondering what disinformation—a word, I should add, that is believed to be taken directly from the KGB—can do to a population, check out this preview:
“I really like history,” he says. “I found a source that says the U.S. owes Russia $12 trillion. So Americans started this war in Ukraine against Russia, so that the documents proving this will be burned. It says the Americans want to start a third world war to find these documents and burn them.” Being in the epicenter of a reality-bending information war between Ukraine and Russia, Dima, like most in Mariupol, has no idea what to believe. Half the time, people don’t even know who the combatants are. Some think the shelling from the rebels was actually the Russians, some the Americans. Some believe the Ukrainian army shelled itself in order to blame the rebels. What is beginning in the U.S. has been ongoing for years in Ukraine. Disinformation has split a country into brutal civil strife.
God, we are all Ukrainians now, aren’t we? This week, we learned the entirely unsurprising yet also completely shocking news that Trump associates were in touch with senior Russian intelligence officials throughout the U.S. presidential campaign; also, National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned after it was revealed that he lied about conversations with the Russian ambassador. Really, the most surprising part of all this chaos is that lying is a fireable offense in the Trump administration. Remember when America’s Russian Apologist in Chief said that Russia would not move militarily against Ukraine, after Putin had annexed Crimea? He sure doesn’t! Whatever, it’s Obama’s fault. As the Washington Post noted, “To call this past weekend in the Trump administration a garbage fire would be a disservice to garbage fires, which at least shed light and get rid of garbage.”
In other news, Washington, D.C. is gearing up for a Day Without Immigrants protest today, in which immigrants are skipping work to protest Trump’s immigration policies. Here are the restaurants that will be closed. Here’s José Andrés, chef extraordinaire and beloved friend of R&K, on why he’s participating. (And here he is on what it was like voting in the U.S. presidential election for the first time this year.) Although the inchoate policies of the current administration lend a sort of whack-a-mole element to resistance, a DREAMer in Seattle has already been detained, so these concerns have real urgency. Here’s how restaurant workers could be affected by the current administration.
In other food news, turns out that fortune cookie fortunes are written by a human being. This is a great article on school lunch, something you don’t get to say very often. The New York Times Cooking section is getting fancy with the new products. (It’s all part of the plan.) Is the E.U. about to get hit by a flood of British champagne? (Says our resident European: “British champagne. Ew.”) Here are the James Beard semi-finalists. Here’s a postcard from an insane wine auction. A comprehensive guide to getting drunk at Disney World.
Moving on: Kim Jong Un’s estranged half-brother was assassinated in Malaysia this week, in what is a truly weird story. On the front lines of Syria with the young American radicals fighting ISIS. Why is everything that happens lately the plot of a John le Carré novel? It’s weird, and I’d like it to stop. Why America’s airports suck. (My favorite line: “Either carbo-loaded passengers are more docile in a truculent plane takeoff line or Auntie Anne is a legit rainmaker.”) Why is India obsessed with crimes committed by coders? Snapshots from Athens. What rights do you have if a border agent wants to search your phone? (Short answer: not many.) A guide to “tu” or “vous.” Churchill on aliens. And finally, Iceland’s Keeping Up With the Kattarshians, in which the characters are cats. Good luck doing anything but staring at that today.
That’s it for this week! Tweet me the stories you want to see here @caraparks.