1. Moore’s law
“Seven years ago, Mike Moore stepped from the 2 am darkness into the light of a small home off Lakeland Drive in Jackson, Miss., to find his nephew close to death. The 250-pound 30-year-old was slumped on the living room couch, his face pale, breath shallow, and chest wet with vomit. It was his fiancée who’d called Moore, waking him in a panic. Now they were both screaming in the man’s ears, dousing him with ice cubes and water, and pinching him as his respiratory system began to collapse…Moore’s nephew had been wearing a fentanyl patch on his arm and sucking on another. ‘An ordinary horse would have been dead,’ Moore recalls in his Mississippi drawl.” Sadly, Mike Moore’s story makes for a common lede in today’s news. But Moore is no ordinary leading man. He’s the lawyer who went after big tobacco and negotiated “the largest corporate legal settlement in U.S. history: a 50-state, $246 billion agreement that funds smoking cessation and prevention programs to this day.” And now, as Bloomberg reports, The lawyer who beat big tobacco is taking on the opioid industry.
2. The space between
“Sixty-five percent of Republicans say they would rather live in communities where ‘houses are larger and farther apart’ and ‘schools, stores, and restaurants are several miles away.’ In contrast, 61 percent of Democrats said they would prefer to live in a place where the homes are smaller and more densely packed into neighborhoods, and stores, schools, and restaurants are in walking distance.” Is that alone a big deal? Not really. The big deal is what it represents. We know we’re divided by our politics. But, now more than ever, those political divides extend to just about everything in our lives. The divide grew during the Obama years, and it’s exploded in the first year of Trump.
+ Here’s the full Pew Report: The partisan divide on political values grows even wider.
“President Trump plans to announce next week that he will ‘decertify’ the international nuclear deal with Iran, saying it is not in the national interest of the United States and kicking the issue to a reluctant Congress.” From WaPo: Trump plans to declare that Iran nuclear deal is not in the national interest. If the Iran deal goes, what chance is there to negotiate a deal with North Korea?
+ Jimmy Carter: What I’ve learned from North Korea’s leaders.
4. Things that go bump on the right
According to many gun rights advocates, it’s too soon after Vegas to be talking about gun control. But apparently it’s not too soon to be talking about accessories. The GOP is set to introduce a bill to ban the sale of bump stocks, “an accessory that can allow semi-automatic firearms to rapidly increase their rate of firing rounds, similar to that of an automatic weapon.” Even the NRA is calling for additional regulation on bump stocks. (They already ban the use of the item at their own shooting ranges…)
+ Here’s some background on the vet who invented the bump stock. And here are some more of the Vegas shooter’s accessories.
+ “In the 1970s about half of Americans had a gun, and it was almost always just a gun, one on average. Today only about a quarter of Americans own guns—but the average owner has three or four. Fewer than 8 million people, only 3 percent of all American adults, own roughly half the guns. Members of that tiny minority of superenthusiasts own an average of 17 guns apiece…Let me put a finer point on what I’m saying. Very, very few of the guns in America are used for hunting. Americans who own guns today keep arsenals in a way people did not 40 years ago. It seems plain to me that that’s because they—not all, but many—have given themselves over to fantasies.” Kurt Andersen on America’s gun fantasy.—This is a book excerpt from Anderson’s highly acclaimed book that predicted almost everything we’ve seen in the past year: Fantasyland: how America went haywire.
5. Hazed and confused
“At about 3 pm on Friday, February 3, Tim Piazza, a sophomore at Penn State University, arrived at Hershey Medical Center by helicopter. Eighteen hours earlier, he had been in the kind of raging good health that only teenagers enjoy. He was a handsome, redheaded kid with a shy smile, a hometown girlfriend, and a family who loved him very much. Now he had a lacerated spleen, an abdomen full of blood, and multiple traumatic brain injuries. He had fallen down a flight of stairs during a hazing event at his fraternity, Beta Theta Pi, but the members had waited nearly 12 hours before calling 911, relenting only when their pledge ‘looked f*cking dead.’ Tim underwent surgery shortly after arriving at Hershey, but it was too late. He died early the next morning.” The Atlantic’s Caitlin Flanagan on a Death at a Penn State fraternity. It’s a far too common story. But as Flanagan explains: “This time the dead student left a final testimony, a vivid, horrifying, and inescapable account of what happened to him and why.”
6. The backyardigans
“The birthplace of the yimby movement, the San Francisco Bay Area, has among the highest rents in America. It added 307,000 jobs between 2010 and 2013, but built fewer than 40,000 new housing units, according to state of California estimates. ‘It’s clear that this is a housing shortage—and the answer is to build housing,” says Laura Foote Clark, who heads San Francisco-based Yimby Action. ‘You generate policy by yelling about things.'” From The Guardian: They see themselves as progressive housing activists. Critics call them stooges for luxury developers. Meet the new band of millennials who are priced out of cities and shouting: Yes in my back yard.
7. Everyday he wrote the book
Kazuo Ishiguro described the award as “flabbergastingly flattering.” That’s a little choppy for a guy known for tight, restrained writing. But we’ll cut him some slack since he had just won the 2017 Nobel Prize for Literature for his work in books such as The Remains of the Day and The Buried Giant.
+ Kazuo Ishiguro: how I wrote The Remains of the Day in four weeks. (I once spent four and a half weeks honing a headline pun.)
8. Harvey allbanger
“Two decades ago, the Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein invited Ashley Judd to the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel for what the young actress expected to be a business breakfast meeting. Instead, he had her sent up to his room, where he appeared in a bathrobe and asked if he could give her a massage or she could watch him shower, she recalled in an interview. ‘How do I get out of the room as fast as possible without alienating Harvey Weinstein?’ Ms. Judd said she remembers thinking.” In a report that Weinstein has been anticipating and is now suing over, the NYT has chronicled decades of sexual harassment accusations against Harvey Weinstein. I’m not sure if the details will surprise many in Hollywood, but the publishing of the story about one of its leading characters will certainly rock the company town.
9. Murphy’s flaw
Pennsylvania Congressman Tim Murphy has announced plans to retire after the staunchly anti-abortion politician was caught urging his mistress to get an abortion. Give Murphy some credit. It’s almost impossible for one’s hypocrisy to stand out in Washington DC.
10. Bottom of the news
“Even if you’ve never been to the Olive Garden before, you’re supposed to feel like you have. You know the next song that’s going to play. You know how the chairs roll against the carpet. You know where the bathrooms are. Its product is nominally pasta and wine, but what Olive Garden is actually selling is Olive Garden, a room of comfort and familiarity, a place to return to over and over.” From Helen Rosner in Eater: Christ in the garden of endless breadsticks.
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