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The Mystery of Verrit Tops This Week's Internet News Roundup


Hey, everyone. First off, please click this link in order to see a real seal cuddling with a cute plushy seal. Adorable, right? Yes, it is. Enjoy that, because everything else that happened online last week is pretty grim. Don’t blame us. We just work here. Friends, hold your collective breath and jump in: This past seven days on the internet have been doozies, and it’s possible there’s a bunch of stuff you need to catch up on before moving forward. Start your cram session now.

When Harvey Met Irma

What Happened: Between floods, hurricanes, and wildfires, things got very bad in the US last week. It was so rough that the internet could barely keep up.

What Really Happened: America is currently experiencing a combination of some of the worst weather conditions in history. As Texas and Louisiana continued to recover from Hurricane Harvey and the East Coast braced for the arrival of Hurricane Irma—don’t worry, there are two other hurricanes out there waiting to strike, as well—the West Coast could, at least, take some comfort in the fact that it was escaping hurricane season. Not that it was safe, mind you, because this was happening:

With thousands evacuated from their homes, the La Tuna Canyon fire was the largest fire in Los Angeles history, and one that was finally mostly contained after five days. Meanwhile, further north…

The Eagle Creek fire crossed state lines, impacting Oregon and Washington State after apparently being started by a 15-year-old playing with fireworks. The fire threatened historic nature trails by the blaze and as of this writing, the fire is still less than 10 percent contained almost a week after it started. Two horrible fires in one week? What else could hap—

Yes, Montana is on fire as well. More than a million acres have burned there this summer, and the state has had 141 fires larger than 100 acres this year, all of them being fought during a dangerous drought that only hampers attempts to bring things under control. (If recent reports are true, though, rain is coming.) Even as fires are lessening in some areas, the likelihood of more grows elsewhere, keeping everyone on fire alert for some time.

The Takeaway: Why limit the ecological disasters to the US—especially considering the damage Irma has already inflicted in the Caribbean? After all, this week also saw a massive earthquake off the coast of Mexico, which raised tsunami warnings for New Zealand. Maybe it’s time to return to that vengeful god theory from days of yore. At least there was this:

In Verrit Veritas. Sort of.

What Happened: Meanwhile, as the information wars continued, a weary world wondered, “What is Verrit?”

What Really Happened: Verrit! It’s the word on the street! Verrit! It’s what everyone is talking about! Verrit! It’s… actually, what is it? Well, according to the site in question, it’s “media for the 65.8 million.” If that number sounds familiar, it’s because that’s the number of people who voted for Hillary Clinton in the last election. Yes, Verrit is intended to be a purposefully pro-Clinton source of information in a world that sees media become increasingly more and more partisan. To the surprise of few, the site—which launched last month—got its biggest publicity push this week when it was endorsed by Clinton herself on Twitter:

The people were… excited? No, wait, sorry. People were cynical.

The site almost immediately crashed from the attention it was getting. Well, that or it had been attacked by anti-Hillary forces, depending on who you believe. Paranoia runs rife in these here waters, but that’s kind of justified when you consider people had started sharing “Verrit-approved” facts, none of which were actually from Verrit.

Of course, things got weird(er):

As Verrit got more and more (unfavorable) attention, one of the highlights of the whole thing was the increasingly frantic response of its founder, Peter Daou (who loved the ferret, as it turned out).

Quick! Someone work out a simple rhyme to get us out of this!

The Takeaway: Let’s just take a moment to appreciate what a terrible name “Verrit” is, shall we?

Same.

Which Side Are You On, Boys?

What Happened: If you took some comfort in the predictability of party politics and knowing everyone always sticks to their own tribe, last week might have made you feel a little nervous, thanks to President Trump.

What Really Happened: Politics! It’s a crazy business, filled with the kinds of plot twists that come from terrible TV dramas, except with the added benefit of actually impacting the lives of many. For example, remember when President Trump told DACA recipients that they “shouldn’t be very worried”? Funny story, they should’ve been very worried all along. In a cosmic irony, the explanation that Trump “had” to end the program because states were planning to sue the government over the program was countered by the fact that 15 states are now suing over the ending of the program; but we digress.

One part of the political process is dealmaking. You remember dealmaking? It was supposed to be Trump’s unique selling point, despite reality demonstrating otherwise. Well, this week, political onlookers had a chance to witness a genuinely unexpected deal being made in order to save America from defaulting on its loans.

Here are some tweets from Donald Trump’s supporters early Wednesday, after Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer had called for political leaders to come together to deal with funding for Hurricane Harvey relief and extending the debt ceiling:

Wow, sure seems like they don’t like what Pelosi and Schumer have to offer, doesn’t it? We can only imagine what Trump himself—notoriously pugilistic in terms of rhetoric, and a man who once suggested that it was Schumer and Pelosi, not he, who was betraying America by working with the Russians—would think! Actually, we don’t have to wonder; here’s what happened when the president met with Pelosi, Schumer, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell:

Yes, he sided with them against his own party. As the news raised eyebrows amongst shocked onlookers, Republicans tried to come to terms with what had just happened.

Of course, some remained faithful that the president knew what he was doing, because… denial is a powerful drug, maybe?

If nothing else, Trump seems to enjoy being seen as a bipartisan dealmaker, going so far as to tweet out reassurance to Dreamers at Pelosi’s request. Has… has everything we knew about politics just flipped on its head?

The Takeaway: Actually, maybe this whole thing is less about siding with Democrats and more about score-settling with people Trump is grumpy with.

Phew! It’s all as we expected all along. That’s a relief.

Facebook Effects

What Happened: Finally confirming what many had suspected, Facebook announced last week that thousands of ads had been put on the social network from “inauthentic accounts” that are likely connected to Russia.

What Really Happened: Hey, remember when people suggested that maybe Facebook had been pushing Russian propaganda during the last election and Facebook said, “nah”? Guess what? Now Facebook says Russians might’ve bought ads after all. Twitter, are you surprised?

As the Senate digs into the subject, there’s still a lot that remains unknown. Like, for example, knowing what those ads actually said. (Facebook refuses to release the content.) If only we knew if there was someone working with the Russians on the Trump team…

Well, it’s not as if Jared Kushner has admitted to meeting with Russians or an—wait. Never mind.

The Takeaway: Is it possible that we’re all overlooking the most important part of this story?

Causing More Family Feuds Than Richard Dawson

What Happened: Just when you thought it was safe, Martin Shkreli is back with a new Wu-Tang-related news story. No, really.

What Really Happened: It’s been a while since we last checked in with cartoon supervillain Martin Shkreli. Sure, he was convicted of securities fraud last month, but what has he done lately?

Of course. Sure enough, there really is an eBay listing for the Wu-Tang album, which he bought in December 2015 for $2 million. Well, if he’s finished with it and has fully savored all its many trea—

—for real?!? Oh, come on, that’s just trolling people, like when he streamed parts of it on Periscope to mark Trump’s electoral victory last year. Still, as a way of drawing attention to himself, it’s definitely worked, with everyone taking notice. Even if they’re not exactly excited about the potential sale…

But what if he’s not actually selling the album?

Well, you’d have to be a real tool to do that. Actually, wait a minute…

OK, that’s not cool, either. Still, at least some people are getting into the spirit of things.

But why does he want the money, anyway?

Oh. Of course…? It turns out that he’s offered $5,000 for a lock of Hillary Clinton’s hair, which would be only creepy if it wasn’t for the fact that he might be jailed as a result, making it both creepy and funny. But back to the Wu-Tang Clan album. Hasn’t anyone got their eyes on the prize here?

Yeah, that’s what we want.

The Takeaway: Anyone want a double callback to memes from earlier this year? Because one is coming.



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