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Know Your News Source: The Baffler

The Baffler, founded in 1988 by Thomas Frank and Keith White, is a cultural, political, and analytical magazine. Per their website, The Baffler is, “America’s leading voice of interesting and unexpected left-wing political criticism, cultural analysis, short stories, poems, and art.” They publish four print issues each year, but they also produce daily online content. Print issues are available in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

The Baffler’s first motto was: “the journal that blunts the cutting edge.” This is illustrative of the publication and tone; the journal is known for its hard-hitting critiques of business culture and neoliberalism, exposing the inner workings of various industries. One of The Baffler’s most famous articles, “The Problem with Music,” written by producer Steve Albini, sought to expose the hypocrisy within the music industry during the heyday of indie, garage, and punk rock.

Though The Baffler relies heavily on social and political analysis and critique, their weekly online stories cover current and breaking news events. Their regular subjects include: “Silicon Valley snake-oil, the deadening weight of consumer capitalism, our faithless media, and the redemptive promise of people claiming control of their own lives.” The journal is, as noted above, heavily left-leaning in its coverage and analysis.

For those who like to listen to their news and cultural commentary, The Baffler has an answer. They produce two podcasts: “Whale Vomit,” by Amber A’Lee Frost and Sam Kriss, and “News From Nowhere” by Corey Pein. The magazine also organizes literary events and debates with current and former contributing editors.

Donald Trump Congratulates Putin on Election Victory

On March 18th, 2018, incumbent Vladimir Putin won his reelection campaign as the President of Russia. He won with 77% of the popular vote, beating out Pavel Grudinin, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, Ksenia Sobchak, Grigory Yavlinsky, and Boris Titov. Events, deaths, and arrests leading up to the election have provoked suspicion that this election was not entirely democratic. China was, reportedly, the first country to react to the election news, sending its congratulations to Putin. This message was followed by similar congratulatory phone calls from Azerbaijan, Armenia, Egypt, Cuba, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, and—finally—the United States.

News sources report that both President Trump and select aids were “furious” after the leak of sensitive notes for briefing the president before a call with Vladimir Putin. The leak was designed to embarrass Trump for congratulating, rather than confronting, Putin—he went against the note’s recommendation. Public knowledge of this story means that someone leaked the president’s briefing papers, and offense which is, according to a White House official, “likely illegal.”

According to a fact-checking resource, former U.S. President Barack Obama congratulated Putin on his 2012 win. According to an official summary, “President Obama called Russian President-elect and Prime Minister Putin to congratulate hi on his recent victory in the Russian Presidential election.” International observers raised doubts about the legitimacy of Putin’s 2012 win; Obama’s State Department noted concerns about the conditions under which the campaign was conducted. Previously, in 2008, President George W. Bush called Dmitry Medvedev following his successful presidential bid.

Commentators are pushing back on the notion that Trump’s outreach is akin to that of his predecessors, noting Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. The countries are experiencing strained diplomatic relations, and the recent nerve gas attack in the United Kingdom (allegedly by Russian operatives) has put further pressure on the already weakened ties.

Sources: The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PolitiFact

Austin Bomber Identified

On the early morning of Wednesday, March 21st, Mark Anthony Conditt—the primary suspect in the wave of bombings terrorizing Austin, Texas—killed himself. Police at the scene described his death as occurring from an explosion inside Conditt’s car, mildly injuring at least one officer. This bomb was detonated just before dawn on the side of Interstate 35 in Round Rock, Texas, just north of Austin.

Police believe that Mark Anthony Conditt was responsible for five explosions, killing two people and injuring another five in and around Austin, Texas beginning on March 2nd. Austin police and the FBI tracked Conditt to a hotel parking lot in Round Rock; they found him inside his vehicle, but wanted to wait for tactical units to arrive before engaging the suspect. Conditt began to drive away, eventually stopping on the side of Interstate 35. As Austin SWAT officers approached, he detonated a bomb within the care, killing himself and knocking one officer backward.

Shortly after this explosion, a SWAT officer fired at the suspect, who died inside the vehicle. Currently, it is unclear whether the suspect died from explosion or gunfire; Interim Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said that the suspect sustained “significant” injuries in the blast. Conditt was identified using receipts, internet searches, witness sketches, and surveillance video of an area FedEx store.

Though Conditt’s death may assuage the fears of many Austin residents, there is no information regarding how the suspect spent his last 24 hours. Police do not yet understand the suspect’s motivations for the bombings, though an investigation is still underway. Additional bombs may exist throughout the Austin metropolitan area, and it is advised that all residents remain on high-alert. If you see a suspicious package, please contact the authorities.

Sources: CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post

Know Your News Source: The New Republic

Founded in 1914, The New Republic was created as a progressive opinion journal. They promote novel solutions for modern critical issues, providing breaking news coverage, opinion pieces, and facilitating news-related and political debates. The New Republic, since the publication’s outset, has attempted to achieve a balance between humanitarian progressivism and intellectual scientism; the magazine has undergone several political shifts, ultimately landing on a left-leaning liberal voice.

Within America, The New Republic takes a largely modern liberal stance on both fiscal and social issues. According to Franklin Foer, a former editor, the publication invented the modern usage of the term, “liberal,” and one of the magazine’s greatest contributions is the facilitating of an ongoing conversation of what it means to be liberal. In recent decades, the magazine has covered a range of important social and political developments—everything from the Earned Income Tax Credit program to universal health care. Editors and writers have, historically, fought verbally against ideas such as supply-side economics and neoliberalism.

The New Republic, however, does not only cover issues traditionally viewed as liberal. Editors of the publication understand the need for ongoing dialogue, believing strongly in the power of dialectic inquiry. To that end, the magazine staffs several conservative writers in an attempt to localize political debate and social conversation.

The New Republic utilizes ambitious journalism, trenchant argument, and innovative storytelling to inspire the next generation of decision makers through conversations in print and online. Notable contributors have existed throughout the publication’s existence. They include: W.E.B. Du Bois, Thomas Mann, Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, Philip Roth, Camille Paglia, Hanna Rosin, James Wood, and Joseph Stiglitz, among others.