August 30th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

You're on the front line in the battle against cancer, a real president addresses Texas, and your assistants are talking...

The first shots have been fired in a new Civil War. In this case, it’s not a civil war within a country, but within your body. And this civil war is destined to save, not cost, lives. The FDA has approved the first cell-based therapy for cancer. From FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb: “We’re entering a new frontier in medical innovation with the ability to reprogram a patient’s own cells to attack a deadly cancer.”

+ From Stat: Pioneering cancer drug, just approved, to cost $475,000 — and analysts say it’s a bargain.

+ And more on the science, and business, related to this new type of medicine in which “cells are harvested from a patient, genetically programmed to fight their cancer and then reintroduced to the patient.” Gilead’s $11.9 billion purchase of a groundbreaking cancer therapy could drag it into a new debate on prices.


Talk is Cheap (Tweets are Free)

Following North Korea’s latest weapons test (which sent a missile over Japan), President Trump tweeted: “The U.S. has been talking to North Korea, and paying them extortion money, for 25 years. Talking is not the answer!” (I’m guessing tweeting is not the answer either…) According to Defense Sec James Mattis, “We are never out of diplomatic solutions.”

+ NBC News: “US forces shot down a medium-range ballistic missile off the coast of Hawaii Wednesday as part of a test conducted amid heightened regional tensions.”


Don’t Mess with Texas

President Trump doesn’t get to be graded on a curve. The Texas visit was a complete failure. No mention of the victims. No empathy for the survivors. More silly asides about crowd size and cable-TV fame. Once again, Trump proved that he will always be the “I” of the storm. Houston and Texas (and NextDraft readers in the path of the storm) deserved better remarks from their president. So I wrote them myself: A Real President Addresses Texas.

+ As the storm hits shore again, this time along the Texas, Louisiana border, we’re hearing more stories, both horrific and inspiring. Authorities made the grim discovery of the van that had been swept away with two adults and their four grandchildren. And Port Arthur’s mayor says his whole city’s under water. NPR has the story of school counselor rescuing his students and their families. And a doctor made it to a hospital (via canoe) in time for a scheduled surgery.

+ “When first responders reached them, police said, Sulcer was floating facedown in rising floodwaters. The toddler … was clinging to her mother’s back.”

+ “The impact of hurricanes on health is not captured in the mortality and morbidity numbers in the days after the rain. This is typified by the inglorious problem of mold.”

+ WaPo with an amazing, interactive look at some stories from the storm: Where are we supposed to go?

+ “It’s worth noting that Houston’s problem was in part a Washington problem, a slow-motion disaster that was easy to predict but politically impossible to prevent.” How Washington Made Harvey Worse.

+ And this lede from AP is not a good look for DC: “President Donald Trump is promising billions to help Texas rebuild from Hurricane Harvey, but his Republican allies in the House are looking at cutting almost $1 billion from disaster accounts to help finance the president’s border wall.” (In the end, the costs associated with Harvey will provide a way for Congress to reject any new spending for the wall. Call it Harvey Wall-banger.)


Don’t Tase Me

In some ways, tasers seems like the perfect law enforcement tool, providing a non-lethal way for police to deal with what they perceive as volatile and dangerous situations. But as Reuters found, the problem is that tasers aren’t always non-lethal. The mounting toll of stun guns.


Trans(fer) of Power

“Mattis did not ‘freeze’ the trans ban, and he is not buying time in some potentially insubordinate effort to buck Trump. In reality, the secretary is doing exactly what Trump directed him to do in a recent memo.” The military’s transgender ban is on hold, as President Trump comes up against the normal process for getting such things done.

+ Mattis isn’t directly blocking Trump. But the ban is by no means a sure thing. And it could be Trump’s own words that prove to be his biggest hurdle. (Prediction: The ban never happens.)


There’s a New Sheriff in Town (But an Old Constitution)

Philip Allen Lacovara in WaPo: “President Trump’s pardon of former Arizona sheriff and civil rights abuser Joe Arpaio raises the question of whether the president may act with impunity to pardon individuals caught up in special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of the Trump campaign’s dealings with Russia. Based on my experience studying the pardon power during the Watergate investigation, I believe the answer is no.” (Don’t look at the Arpaio pardon as just another one of the many acts that don’t seem normal during the Trump era. This is different. And it’s a really big deal.)

+ Vox: 10 legal experts on why Trump can’t pardon his way out of the Russia investigation.


Gerry Curl Command

“Sophisticated computer modeling has taken district manipulation to new extremes.
To fix this, courts might have to learn how to run the numbers themselves.” Emily Bazelon in the NYT Magazine: The New Front in the Gerrymandering Wars: Democracy vs. Math. (As a progressive Humanties major, both topics have been tricky for me recently.)

+ Wired’s Issie Lapowsky: What I Learned At Gerrymandering Summer Camp.


Head Shot

“I take full ownership of my alignment with the sport. I can just no longer be in that cheerleader’s spot.” From the NYT: ESPN Football Analyst Walks Away, Disturbed by Brain Trauma on Field.

+ “I think the best way I can say this is: I don’t understand what it’s like to be in that situation. What it is to be pulled over, or profiled, or any number of issues that have happened, that Colin was referencing — or any of my teammates have talked to me about … But I know it’s a real thing my black teammates have to deal with … I think [Kaepernick] should be on a roster right now. I think because of his protests, he’s not.” Aaron Rodgers on race, the NFL, and more: The Search For Aaron Rodgers.


Assistant to the Assistant Manager

Microsoft and Amazon are jumping through a few hoops so that Alexa and Cortana will be able to work together in an efficient manner. (They’ll probably spend most of their time gossiping about Siri.)


Bottom of the News

“After his death, fellow fantasy author Neil Gaiman, Pratchett’s close friend and collaborator [said] Pratchett had wanted ‘whatever he was working on at the time of his death to be taken out along with his computers, to be put in the middle of a road and for a steamroller to steamroll over them all.'” And so it was.

+ Mel: How Tony the Tiger became the most sexually objectified breakfast mascot. (Admit it. You were wondering.)

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