GOP tax plan, Twitter’s character assassination, and eight other stories you might have missed

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is all smiles over the new GOP tax plan.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is all smiles over the new GOP tax plan.
Image: Reuters/ Kevin Lamarque
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1. I need a drink

Today in San Francisco, I got an emergency alert on my iPhone warning me about high temps in the area, and encouraging me to drink water and check on my neighbors. It’s 80 degrees. Maybe it was a system bug. Maybe my iPhone is overly cautious. Either way, the alert (along with the twenty or so phone notifications I’ve gotten since) serves as reminder that our lives are increasingly dominated by software. In addition to being pretty irritating, that can be pretty dangerous. From James Somers in The Atlantic: The coming software apocalypse: “It’s been said that software is ‘eating the world.’ More and more, critical systems that were once controlled mechanically, or by people, are coming to depend on code. This was perhaps never clearer than in the summer of 2015, when on a single day, United Airlines grounded its fleet because of a problem with its departure-management system; trading was suspended on the New York Stock Exchange after an upgrade; the front page of The Wall Street Journal’s website crashed; and Seattle’s 911 system went down again, this time because a different router failed. The simultaneous failure of so many software systems smelled at first of a coordinated cyberattack. Almost more frightening was the realization, late in the day, that it was just a coincidence.” Checking on your router is the new checking on your neighbor.

2. Fly by night regulations

“The United States remains an easy mark for drug dealers, terrorists, and others who prize anonymity when registering aircraft or getting licensed to fly. So much for the lessons of 9/11.” A two-part investigation from Spotlight that begins with a plane crashing into a house: Secrets in the sky.

3. Bad P.R.

“This is a big S.O.S. for anybody out there.” How bad is it in Puerto Rico? San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz does a pretty good job explaining in this NBC News interview.

+ Vox: “3.4 million US citizens live in Puerto Rico, and they are entitled to the same government response as any state. But half of Americans don’t even know that.” What every American needs to know about Puerto Rico’s hurricane disaster.

+ “The Jones Act limits shipping between coasts to US flagged vessels. However, in the wake of brutal storms, the government has occasionally issued temporary waivers to allow the use of cheaper, tax free or more readily available foreign-flagged ships.” So why isn’t the Trump administration waiving it?

+ “I can live without power. But I can’t live without water.” NPR: With bottles And buckets, Puerto Ricans seek the water to survive.

+ WaPo on one town suffering almost complete isolation: There was once a bridge here.

4. Tax persuasion

Seven tax brackets will be reduced to three. The corporate tax will drop to 20%. The estate tax gets abolished. Those are few of the big ideas (framework now, details later) of the GOP tax plan. Here’s a good overview of what’s in the framework. You can read the entire framework for yourself here.

5. Down on doubling

“280 moves you away from everyone can do it and towards, this is a great place for English majors. And trust me, as an English major, that’s not a path that leads to an increased stock market valuation.” For a brief interlude yesterday, people on Twitter stopped talking about politics and went back to tweeting about what was, until recently, the most popular topic on the service: Twitter. The company is running a test that allows people to use double the number of characters. I don’t want them to do it. But I’m not asking for myself. It’s for my kids. Read on… Twitter’s character assassination.

+ Let’s segue from Twitter’s echo chamber to Amazon’s Echo. During a surprise event, Amazon debuted a bunch of new Echo products. Basically, Alexa is going to be everywhere and work with everything, even future versions of Big Mouth Billy Bass.

6. Moore of the same

“Moore has the unique history of being removed from the state Supreme Court not once but twice: first, over his refusal to remove a monument to the Ten Commandments on public land despite a federal court order; and second, when he refused to enforce federal rulings on marriage equality. He’s also become known over the years for his complaints that the United States has ‘legalized sodomy’ and for suggesting that 9/11 might have been a punishment for turning away from Christianity.” And last night, he won the Alabama senate primary, even though Trump backed his opponent. After the votes were tallied, Trump went back and deleted a bunch of his tweets that supported Moore’s opponent. (No, really…) Here are a few Moore quotes to give you an idea of what a defeat this was for the GOP establishment.

+ The NYT on the resignation of the acting head of the DEA. “The acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration will resign at the end of the week, according to law enforcement officials, who said he had become convinced that President Trump had little respect for the law.”

+ Health and Human Services secretary Tom Price’s private plane controversy is getting worse (his trips included visits with colleagues, lunch with son). Will Trump fire him? “We’ll see.”

+ Price’s plane travel marks the day’s biggest story about a cabinet member. But not the weirdest. From WaPo: EPA spending almost $25,000 to install a soundproof phone booth for Scott Pruitt. (The swamp hasn’t been drained. But at least you can’t hear it anymore.)

7. Cheech and wrong

“Marijuana possession remains one of the single largest arrest categories in the United States, accounting for over 5 percent of all arrests last year. More than one in 20 arrests involved a marijuana possession charge, amounting to more than one marijuana possession arrest every minute.” From WaPo: More people were arrested last year over pot than for murder, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery—combined

+ “Forty-three percent of legal-marijuana users ate at a McDonald’s restaurant in the past four weeks, the survey found. Eighteen percent ate at Taco Bell, while 17.8 percent went to Wendy’s. Those results were significantly higher than among respondents who hadn’t visited a dispensary.” Legalized cannabis may be a windfall for McDonald’s and Taco Bell.

8. Still idling

“The ruling will not go into effect until June, 2018. Women may have to get the permission of their male ‘guardians’ to drive, as they do for many major activities in their life. The biggest issue may be winning the approval of Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi clerics, the most conservative of the Islamic faith. The decree stipulated that new regulations must ‘apply and adhere to the necessary Sharia standards,’ a reference to Islamic law. What that means was left unanswered.” Robin Wright on why Saudi women driving is a small step forward, not a great one. (And they need a lot of great ones…)

9. Born to Run lines

“Heading home from Washington, Mr. Springsteen and his wife, Patti Scialfa, and his manager, Jon Landau, thought more people should experience a performance like that. ‘The way he combines the spoken words with the songs he’s chosen to do sounds like a very simple thing,’ Mr. Landau said. ‘But it’s a real piece of performance art.'” From the NYT: The Boss on Broadway: Bruce Springsteen on his ‘First Real Job’. (I’m basically linking to this article because I’m still on the ticket waiting list and I know one of you out there can get me in. This is your moment.)

10. Bottom of the news

Before we blow out the virtual birthday candles, ReCode shares 19 random facts about Google on its 19th anniversary. I can’t believe Google is already 19. That’s almost too old to be hired by a tech company.

+ You love nature photographs. And I love you. So here.

+ Jared Kushner once registered to vote as a woman. (Jared is really, really bad at filling out forms…)

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