February 17, 2017

This year’s PEN World Voices Festival will focus on “gender and power in the age of President Trump.” The festival usually highlights a country or continent, but PEN America executive director Suzanne Nossel said that the current political situation necessitated a topic change. “Amid visa bans and an America First foreign policy,” she said, “PEN World Voices is now an important antidote to an America at risk of only talking to itself, fanning baseless fears, and damaging relations with allies around the world.” The 2017 festival take place in New York during the first week of May.

Mark Zuckerberg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released an open letter yesterday detailing his thoughts on globalization, isolationism, and what role Faebook can play in creating a more connected world. When Facebook was founded, he writes, the idea of globalization as a positive force was not controversial. “Yet now,” Zuckerberg writes, “across the world there are people left behind by globalization, and movements for withdrawing from global connection.” Zuckerberg concludes with a commitment to continue increasing worldwide connections and stop the spread of misinformation. “Our job at Facebook is to help people make the greatest positive impact while mitigating areas where technology and social media can contribute to divisiveness and isolation,” he writes.

Citing multiple investigations of Russian interference in the election and current administration, Bloomberg reports that the Kremlin has told state-run media to publish fewer positive stories on President Trump. Konstantin von Eggert, a TV Rain commentator, said “They won’t pour buckets of criticism on Trump, they just won’t talk about him as much.”

Poynter analyzes Trump’s latest “anti-media meltdown,” in which he continued to spread the lie that his election was “the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan,” among other claims. Of the press conference, James Warren writes, “It constituted what at minimum is a quadrupling down—or might it be quintupling down?—on a transparent strategy to portray the press as an opposition party.”

At Axios, Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen write that “the media—often, but not always, with an assist from anti-Trump career government employees—is the new U.S. Oversight Committee.” Putting a more positive spin on Steve Bannon’s claim that the media is the opposition party, Allen and VandeHei write that the Democrats have dropped the ball, and the media has picked it up. “Trump and senior strategist Steve Bannon are clearly right about the media being the opposition,” they write. “What was once a useful foil for Trump is becoming a real danger to his ability to control the national conversation—and govern.”

London publisher John Blake claims to have an unpublished memoir by Mick Jagger, but says the rock star’s management won’t allow the book to be published—a claim that they also would neither confirm nor deny to the Times. The memoir, possibly written with the help of a ghostwriter, covers Jagger’s early years through 1980, and came into Blake’s possession through a friend. In his own essay at The Spectator, Blake writes that “the financial potential is almost J.K. Rowlingesque.” In an interview with the Times, he said, “It’s extraordinary. I compared it to, like, the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

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