November 28th – The Day’s Most Fascinating News

Why you're just hearing about cigarettes, the tax bill moves closer to passage, and you're being followed.

This blurb’s title may not come as much of a surprise to you. And neither will the ads (in the unlikely event you actually see one in the wild) being produced and paid for by tobacco companies — in which they admit that smoking is deadly and that they knowingly worked to make them more addictive. “In 1999, the US Department of Justice filed a racketeering lawsuit against tobacco companies. In 2006, US District Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that tobacco companies must pay for ads admitting wrongdoing. But tobacco companies held up the ruling through appeals, obtaining major concessions that, for example, let them avoid having to admit that they deliberately lied and manipulated in previous marketing campaigns for cigarettes.” After nearly two decades, the watered-down ads will finally run on network television (remember that?) and print newspapers (remember those?). Choosing this story as today’s lead may have been my crafty way of reminding you that big corporations tend to try to get away with exactly as much as they’re allowed to get away with; and that the self-regulation being touted as a panacea by some is probably a really bad way forward. But I won’t freely admit that. (Ask me again in a few decades…)


Maritime Served

Low-level drug smugglers are regularly arrested thousands of miles from the US and can be held on Coast Guard ships for months at a time before landing on America’s shores to be arraigned. “These fishermen-turned-smugglers are caught in international waters, or in foreign seas, and often have little or no understanding of where the drugs aboard their boats are ultimately bound. Yet nearly all of these boatmen are now carted from the Pacific and delivered to the United States to face criminal charges here, in what amounts to a vast extraterritorial exertion of American legal might.” From the NYT Magazine: The Coast Guard’s Floating Guantánamos.


Rock It, Man

“US defense and intelligence officials had been growing increasingly puzzled as to why North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had not tested a ballistic missile since September.” The wait is over. From CNN: North Korea launches ballistic missile.


American Coinage

The tax bill being pushed by the Senate GOP passed its first big test on Tuesday, as a few key Republican holdouts on the budget panel moved into the yes column. The party-line vote ended up being 12-11. “A full Senate vote could take place as early as Thursday.”

+ NYT Upshot: What the Tax Bill Would Look Like for 25,000 Middle-Class Families.

+ WaPo is keeping count of the potential yeas and nays. (Like the earlier battles, this one could end up with all eyes on John McCain…)


Been There, Done That

“The irony of the case before the court, Carpenter v. United States, is that it involves massive cellphone thefts and a string of armed robberies at Radio Shacks in Michigan and Ohio.” On Wednesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments on a key legal question of the digital age. Should “police have to get a search warrant in order to obtain cellphone location information that is routinely collected and stored by wireless providers?” From NPR: Can Police Track You Through Your Cellphone Without A Warrant? (Ripping off a Radio Shack? Talk about hitting a guy when he’s down…)

+ Here’s some interesting background on the case from Scientific American.

+ You’ll still have plenty of company even if the government stops tracking your location. The Intercept on the staggering variety of clandestine trackers found in popular android apps.


This is Gonna Sting

“The group’s efforts illustrate the lengths to which activists have gone to try to discredit media outlets for reporting on allegations from multiple women that Moore pursued them when they were teenagers and he was in his early 30s. Moore has denied that he did anything improper.” Long story short: It was someone’s job to attempt to trick a respected news service into printing false stories in an effort to discredit the victims of serial child predator. A woman approached The Post with dramatic — and false — tale about Roy Moore. She appears to be part of undercover sting operation


Social Media Blitz

“Schiano’s hiring had leaked before it was announced, and the decision was swiftly pilloried because Schiano had allegedly — and this is a whopper of an allegedly — failed to report sexual assault while an assistant coach at Penn State under Joe Paterno and alongside the convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky.” A coach was hired, and then unhired, in a matter of hours. Here’s the NYT on Tennessee, Greg Schiano and Moral Outrage in College Sports.


The (Tee) Pee Tape

Here’s a headline that wouldn’t even look believable if it appeared in The Onion: Trump makes Pocahontas joke at ceremony honoring Navajo veterans. (Consider how offensive a white man has to be to further offend Native Americans at this point…)

+ And surprise, Trump has a long history of clashes with Native Americans.


These Are Not Your Grammy’s Grammies

Jay-Z, Kendrick Lamar, and Bruno Mars chalked up the most Grammy nominations in a year when hip hops looks like it will dominate. There were, of course, snubs and surprises.

+ “In a small workshop here, John Billings and his team of three craftsmen cast, hammer, polish and assemble each of the little gold gramophones. There are no robots, no assembly lines. Just century-old hammers, files and endless patience.” LA Times: This is where the Grammys are born. (They should give awards for trophies…)

+ Rolling Stone: 50 best albums of 2017.


Bottom of the News

According to Economist, Parents now spend twice as much time with their children as 50 years ago: “One analysis of 11 rich countries estimates that the average mother spent 54 minutes a day caring for children in 1965 but 104 minutes in 2012. Men do less than women, but far more than men in the past: their child-caring time has jumped from 16 minutes a day to 59.” (Last night I spent 59 minutes trying to get my son to put down his iPad…)

+ “He says he has three daughters and a young son and clarifies that he does not hump mannequins.” Rick Scott consultant denies he used ice penis to hump mannequin. (Florida…)

+ FiveThirtyEight: The Complicated Legacy Of A Panda Who Was Really Good At Sex. (I don’t find anything particularly complicated about that legacy.)

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