paper trail

Helen Oyeyemi wins PEN Open Book Award; Sam Biddle on Peter Thiel's NSA connections

Helen Oyeyemi. Photo: Tom Pilston

PEN America has announced most of their 2017 Literary Award winners. Helen Oyeyemi’s What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours won the Open Book Award, and Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City won for nonfiction. Winners of the other prizes will be announced at the end of March.

The Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists were announced yesterday. Nominees include Zadie Smith’s Swing Time, Emma Cline’s The Girls, Garth Greenwell’s What Belongs To You, and Frances Wilson’s Guilty Thing.

The Daily Beast has hired conservative journalist Lachlan Markay as White House reporter. Markay was most recently a writer at the Washington Free Beacon, and will focus on “Trump’s intermingling of business and political interests” in his new job.

CNN reports that Trump spokesperson Kellyanne Conway has been kept away from cameras for the last week after giving false information about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation. Conway denied that the White House was keeping her from television appearances. “I’ve been invited on shows every day,” she said. “I’m trying to focus on other pieces of my portfolio.” White House officials have since denied the report, saying that Conway has been “deeply involved with the joint session speech this week taking up a lot of her time.”

At The Intercept, Sam Biddle investigates the relationship between Peter Thiel’s company, Palantir, and the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs. Biddle writes that although Thiel only became a mainstream political figure after the last election, his company “has worked for years to boost the global dragnet of the NSA and its international partners, and was in fact co-created with American spies.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry has launched a website to combat fake news stories that they claim are being spread by Western media. Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova noted that the website won’t be able to post every instance of fake news, because then they would “have to upload 90% of the internet.” The first round of articles, including a Bloomberg story about Russian hackers possibly interfering with the French election and a New York Times piece on a secretly-launched Russian cruise missile, are accompanied not by a breakdown of false information in each piece, but by one line: “This article puts forward information that does not correspond to reality.”