Monday, April 2nd, 2018


Steam Punks

"We do not want kids using our products. Our product is not only not for kids, it's not for non-nicotine users." So says Ashley Gould, the chief administrative officer of Juul, a popular e-cigarette. Their website makes the same claim. But at schools around the country, that brand of vapes has "become so ubiquitous students have turned Juul into a verb. Tasting like fruit or mint, these devices produce little telltale plume, making it possible for some students to vape even in class." So one would forgive school administrators for accusing Juul and other flavored e-cigarette vendors of blowing smoke up their assemblies. Will the growing problem be a passing fad that's little more than a nuisance or will it become full-fledged public health crisis? The products are still so new, researchers can't be sure. From the NYT, I Can't Stop: Schools Struggle With Vaping Explosion.


News at Eleven

Since the election, we've been understandably obsessed with the role of social media, and the potential for that medium to leave us vulnerable to manipulation. But we shouldn't forget that Fox News played a greater role in the election and the network remains a driver of many of the president's public statements, new hires, and even policies. As influential as Fox has been, Sinclair media may ultimately have an even bigger impact (and Trump has already tweeted his support). Deadspin: How America's Largest Local TV Owner Turned Its News Anchors Into Soldiers In Trump's War On The Media. (Don't miss the video...)

+ For a little more background on Sinclair, see this December piece in Politico. Kushner: We struck deal with Sinclair for straighter coverage.

+ We know about the dinners with Hannity and Geraldo, and many journalists have tracked the connection between what we see on Fox News and what we see in the president's Twitter stream. But when it comes to anchor Lou Dobbs, the relationship is even closer. "Trump will ask Dobbs for his opinion before and after his senior aides or Cabinet members have spoken. Occasionally, he will cut off an official so the Fox Business host can jump in." The Daily Beast: Trump Puts Lou Dobbs on Speakerphone in Oval Office Meetings. (It's not just that the revolution will be televised. It's that the television is the revolution.)


Scree is Risen

To celebrate Easter, President Trump resurrected his Tweeting habit: "With a trio of temperamental tweets on Easter Sunday and three follow-ups this morning, Trump announced there will be no deal to save the 700,000 'dreamers' whose futures he put in peril by ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program ... The president then falsely claimed that there are 'big flows of people' who are sneaking into the United States 'because they want to take advantage of DACA.'" From WaPo: Donald Trump is either woefully uninformed or intentionally misleading the American people. (Editor's note: Why not both?)

+ "For five days now hundreds of Central Americans — children, women, and men, most of them from Honduras — have boldly crossed immigration checkpoints, military bases, and police in a desperate, sometimes chaotic march toward the United States. Despite their being in Mexico without authorization, no one has made any effort to stop them." Buzzfeed on the huge caravan of Central Americans headed for the US.


Teachers’ Bet

"I'm 54 years old and my paycheck is $1,980 [a month]. I can't afford f****** health insurance." We've seen a lot of coverage of student walkouts this Spring. But teachers are walking out too. And they're not always waiting for their unions to set the pace. From NPR: Teachers Are Marching Ahead Of Their Unions, From Oklahoma To Arizona.

+ CNN with some live updates: Teachers walk out in Oklahoma and Kentucky.


This Little Bigly Went to Market

"The Chinese government plans to immediately impose tariffs on 128 U.S. products, including pork and certain fruits, a direct response to President Trump's recent moves to pursue numerous trade restrictions against Beijing." China responds to Trump's steel tariffs.

+ "The deepening rout in once high-flying technology shares sent U.S. stocks tumbling to start the second quarter, as renewed presidential criticism of and retaliatory tariffs from China rattled markets." In other words, the market is ugly.


Replace Two Joints in the Morning

"Taking advantage of improved artificial joints and surgical methods, aging Americans are getting so many new hips, knees, shoulders, and ankles that orthopedic surgeons are having trouble handling demand." Boston Globe: Boomers line up for joint replacements, and their expectations are high. (This is just one more unwelcome reminder to both of us that my fingertips can't last forever...)

+ Related: When 26.2 miles just isn't enough – the phenomenal rise of the ultramarathon.


Betray For Effort

"If Henry is killed, his death can be traced to a quiet moment in the fall of 2016, when he sat slouched in his usual seat by the door in 11th-grade English class. A skinny kid with a shaggy haircut, he had been thinking a lot about his life and about how it might end. His notebook was open, its pages blank. So he pulled his hoodie over his earphones, cranked up a Spanish ballad and started to write." ProPublica on a Betrayal: The teenager told police all about his gang, MS-13. In return, he was slated for deportation and marked for death.


Mandela Effect

The NYT with an obituary lead as complicated as the life it recalls: "Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, whose hallowed place in the pantheon of South Africa's liberators was eroded by scandal over corruption, kidnapping, murder and the implosion of her fabled marriage to Nelson Mandela, died early Monday in Johannesburg. She was 81."


Be Careful Out There

"We'll do this pilot for you on the condition that you leave us completely alone to do whatever we want." In today's TV landscape, such a demand by a TV writer-producer wouldn't seem that outlandish. But when Steven Bochco made the demand about Hill Street Blues, it was unthinkable. Lucky for viewers - and the future of TV - NBC gave him what he wanted. Steven Bochco, creative force behind Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law and NYPD Blue, dies at 74. (Sidenote: Hill Street Blues is now available on Hulu.)

+ The Wrap: Hollywood Pays Tribute to One of a Kind TV Innovator.


Bottom of the News

Most of the March Madness excitement is usually focused on the men's division. But this year (no matter what happens in tonight's men's final), March - and one day in April - was totally owned by Arike Ogunbowale. Her winning shot led Notre Dame to a win over UConn in the final four. And then she did it again, only better, with a ridiculous last-second 3-pointer to take home the title. ESPN: Irish's Arike Ogunbowale hits shot of a lifetime ... again.

+ We were all spared by the onslaught of pranks since the 1st landed on a Sunday. That's a relief, because the competition for great April Fools stories was won way back in 1985, with The Curious Case Of Sidd Finch.

+ "It can carry nearly 9,000 people and contains more than 40 restaurants and bars; 23 pools, jacuzzis and water slides; two West End-sized theatres; an ice rink; a surf simulator; two climbing walls; a zip line; a fairground carousel; a mini-golf course; a ten-storey fun slide; laser tag; a spa; a gym; a casino; plus dozens more shopping and entertainment opportunities. To put it another way, Symphony of the Seas might be the most ludicrously entertaining luxury hotel in history. It just also happens to float."