Thursday, May 4th, 2017


House Call

House Republicans narrowly passed a new health care bill. After years of promising to repeal and replace Obamacare, the majority party hastily moved the newest version of the bill to a vote, getting it done without leaving any time for numbers from the Congressional Budget office, town halls, or much public debate.

+ The LA Times published a side-by-side comparison of Obamacare and the GOP's replacement plan.

+ Vox: How the health care bill could change the health care system.

+ One of the most contested issues: What does the new law mean for those with preexisting conditions?

+ NYT: The major provisions of the House health care bill.

+ Following the vote, House Dems (convinced that the GOP vote would result in many lost seats) erupted into a chorus of Na na na na, na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye! (Interesting. When I first heard to the news I bent over and started to sing, "Moon River.")

+ Sidenote: It's worth noting how CNN (and many outlets) covers politics like a sport, instead of focusing on the impact of the policies. That lays the framework for our current state of political discourse. Example: CNN's headline following the health care vote: At Last, a Victory Lap for Trump. Again, this a coverage problem regardless of your side of the aisle. CNN covered the health care debate like a sport when the Dems had the momentum too.


Cat Chance

As you might imagine, the news sites and the rest of the internet are obsessively focused on the health care issue. So take a quick break and look at this unexpected piece of news from the NYT: Empirical Evidence: Cats Love People. This is clearly untrue. Your cat hates you, as mine hates me. And I'm not just saying that because of the kitty headlock depicted in the photo that accompanies the piece. But, even if it's fake news, we needed the digression.


Church and “Great”

The health care bill wasn't the only news out of DC. President Trump also signed an executive order that promises "to relax enforcement of rules barring tax-exempt churches from participating in politics as part of a much-anticipated executive order on religious liberties." From Trump: "For too long the federal government has used the state as a weapon against people of faith ... you're now in a position to say what you want to say … No one should be censoring sermons or targeting pastors." The order went less far than earlier drafts, but you can still expect court battles ahead.

+ "Our task is not to dictate to others how to live, but to build a coalition of friends and partners who share the goal of fighting terrorism and bringing safety, opportunity and stability to the Middle East." The Trump administration has set the itinerary for the president's first trip abroad. Stops will include Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the Vatican.


1-Click Ponies

"In the video, Lore presents a plan to bet Wal-Mart's future not on e-commerce standbys such as books, electronics, and toys, but on product areas only now becoming popular online, including apparel, fresh food, and 'everyday essentials' like drugstore items. 'We'll need to take the offensive, swim upstream ... As Sam Walton said, ‘Opportunity lies in the opposite direction.'" One of the most amazing things about the Internet era is how quickly its evolving storyline can turn massive, all-powerful juggernauts into scrappy underdogs. From Bloomberg: Can Wal-Mart's Expensive New E-Commerce Operation Compete With Amazon?

+ Why science thinks you don't return your shopping cart to its proper area.


Chinese Delivery

"Today, if you take the red-eye flight from Shanghai to Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, chances are you'll be seated among Chinese workers heading to a construction site in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, a cotton-processing plant in Mozambique, a telecom project in Nigeria. China's trade with African nations has increased fortyfold in the past 20 years." America's rapidly changing views on foreign policy make this NYT Magazine look at China in Africa all the more interesting. Is China the World's New Colonial Power?


The Retiree Formerly Known as Prince

"'I'm sorry to hear you're standing down', one man told him at a royal lunch on Thursday. 'Well, I can't stand up much," the duke quipped." Buckingham Palace has announced that Prince Philip, approaching his 96th birthday, plans to step down from his royal duties in the Fall. You can't blame the guy for wanting a break. To date, the duke has "carried out 22,191 solo engagements, taken part in 637 solo overseas visits, given 5,493 speeches,
and authored 14 books." He's had his Phil...


Come Fly With Me

"But that famous blue-and-white Boeing 747 is just the most visible symbol of presidential travel. There's much more that unfolds behind the scenes. A presidential trip involves hundreds of military and government personnel and often requires dozens of flights, including a backup for Air Force One and transport planes that move the motorcade, helicopters and communications gear." Politico with a look at what it takes to move a president: The President's Secret Air Force.

+ LAX Terminal for VIPs Finally Opens -- and stars may demand it in their contracts.


No Peaking

At what age do you reach peak language? Well, if you're reading this, your time has come and gone. In fact, according to this list, I'm over-the-hill for just about every peak other than potentially winning the Nobel prize.


Hoop Themes

"The million-dollar question: How? How does a guy who's 5-foot-9, who nearly averaged 29 points per game during the regular season, continue to wreck defenses so mightily in a playoff setting when defenses are hellbent on neutralizing him?" From FiveThirtyEight: How Isaiah Thomas, The Shortest Guy In The NBA, Became Unstoppable.

+ Ethan Sherwood Strauss: The inside story of how Kevin Durant's arrival in Golden State began the marginalization of the team's -- and NBA's -- best player.


Bottom of the News

"Up until recently, Michael and Heather Martin played elaborate pranks on their children under the username 'DaddyOFive' on YouTube, earning them over 760,000 subscribers and millions of views. Their videos provoked outrage after online sleuths highlighted footage of the kids crying while their parents screamed at them, which some saw as child abuse. Now, a judge has temporarily taken custody of two of their children away." A social media classic: A YouTube family accused of child abuse has hired a crisis PR firm.

+ That YouTube story actually makes me feel less bad about my own iParenthood adventure earlier this week. (Unlike the shortsighted parents above, I keep a crisis PR firm on retainer...)

+ Why do students get summers off?