1. The magical mystery cure
A group of Senators spent weeks quietly working on an Obamacare replacement, and on Thursday, the secret draft was finally released to the public. Full disclosure: I haven’t read the 142-page draft of the bill, because like most Americans, I’ve been too busy debating its contents on social media. A few big bullet points: It’s neither a full repeal of Obamacare, nor a wild departure from the House bill; taxes for the wealthy would be cut, and so would Medicaid; the employer and individual mandates would be eliminated. From The Atlantic: What’s in the Senate Republican Health-Care Bill.
+ WaPo with a solid guide to what the Senate bill changes about Obamacare.
+ Vox: The Senate health bill, explained.
+ The bill is already receiving pushback. From other Senate Republicans.
+ WaPo has a page with all the details and the latest reactions.
2. Tapes of wrath
The contents of the Senate health bill wasn’t the only mystery solved on Thursday. President Trump indicated he has no tapes of his conversations with James Comey (now, the search is on to find out who suggested such a thing in the first place). From the president’s Twitter: “I did not make, and do not have, any such recordings.” (Great, now what am I gonna listen to while I’m searching for the Obama birth certificate?)
+ Seven weeks after hinting he had them, President Trump’s admission that there are no tapes surprised no one (and I’m rounding up). But the suggestion that such tapes existed actually had a pretty big political downside at home, and perhaps and even bigger impact abroad. David Frum with some advice to all future presidents: Never bluff.
3. Tort(ure) reform
“I think any normal, conscionable man would have to consider carefully doing something like this. I deliberated with great, soulful torment about this, and obviously I concluded that it could be done safely or I wouldn’t have done it.” The NYT on what a lawsuit brought by former prisoners reveals about the CIA’s interrogation techniques that may have amounted to torture. Psychologists Open a Window on Brutal CIA Interrogations.
+ While the testimony in the lawsuit described above deals with past indiscretions, the topic of America’s relationship to torture and terrorism still very current. From AP: In Yemen’s secret prisons, UAE tortures and US interrogates.
4. Supply side epidemics
Any time we discuss the drug problem in the US (including the opiate epidemic), it’s important to remember that our consumption almost always results in a lot of body bags in Mexico. From Vice: Mexico On Course To Replace Syria As World’s Most Violent Country.
5. Sex ed
“Among adolescent females aged 15 to 19, 42 percent report having sex at least once. For males, that number was 44 percent. The numbers have gradually dropped since 1988, when 51 percent of female and 60 percent of male teens reported having had sex.” New numbers from the CDC can’t help but lead to this question: Are today’s teens more responsible about sex? I’m guessing that, like their parents, they’re just too distracted by the Internet to focus on anything else. My wife has been telling me to come upstairs and go to bed since 1999.
6. Help, I need somebody
“Kosciusko is only one of 73 counties in the United States with unemployment rates of 2 percent or lower, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many are in energy-rich counties in the Midwest and Colorado, where the fracking and natural gas booms have vacuumed up the workforce. They also include communities that defy the heartland stereotype of industrial decay—like Warsaw, in northern Indiana, and Columbus, about three hours south.” WaPo with a very interesting look at a problem you might not know existed. In this part of the Midwest, the problem isn’t China. It’s too many jobs. (It turns out that having too many jobs available can be as dangerous over the long term as having too few.)
7. Why you love hate relationships
“It’s been said, ‘There are two kinds of people in the world: those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t.’ In reality, there’s lots more of the former. And it can be vastly consequential when people are divided into Us and Them, ingroup and outgroup, ‘the people’ (i.e., our kind) and the Others.” A primatologist tries to explain why your brain hates other people. (In fairness to your brain, other people sort of had it coming…)
8. So, you want to be a sexual predator?
An American celebrity is offering his services as a spokesperson to warn young people about the risk of sexual assault. Not the victims, the perpetrators. Bill Cosby is planning a sex assault education tour. According to one of his spokespeople: “Laws are changing. The statutes of limitations for victims of sexual assault are being extended. This is why people need to be educated on, a brush against the shoulder. Anything at this point can be considered sexual assault. It’s a good thing to be educated about the laws.” One can only hope that, someday, this monster will be delivering his lectures from a prison cell.
9. Let them eat fake
“Camila and Akahi—who have a five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter together—have survived on little else besides a piece of fruit or vegetable broth just 3 times per week since 2008.” Last week, you may have read the story about a couple that doesn’t eat, but instead survives on the energy created by the universe. It was obviously fake (although it sort of looks like Jonah Hill tried that diet). But it still spread. From Digg: How an obviously fake story about a couple who never eat went viral.
10. Bottom of the news
“Despite his enthusiasm for fixing me, I was skeptical. Who the hell peddles (real) medicine out of a kiosk? Brain surgeons and oncologists aren’t at the mall trying to drum up new business from vulnerable passersby.” The Outline’s Yvette d’Entremont is not fan of chiropractors.
+ The Internet took a rare day off from cats and celebrated the year’s best dog photographs.