you're fired
July 17, 2014

Talk about burying the lead.

In a rambling, 1,100-word memo, Microsoft's Executive Vice President of Devices & Services Stephen Elop announced that 12,500 of his employees would be laid off. Or at least, we're pretty sure that's what he says — the absurdly long email is riddled with corporate jargon and takes 11 paragraphs to get to the point, as Kevin Roose at New York points out. The move is part of a larger round of 18,000 layoffs announced today, but Elop's division was hardest hit.

Elop's epistle (which, oddly, begins with a casual introduction of "Hello there") is a master class in how to use business speak to utterly confuse everyone. Amid mentions of "appropriate financial envelopes," "local market dynamics," and "right-siz[ing] manufacturing operations," are fun and easy-to-understand paragraphs like this one:

As part of the effort, we plan to select the appropriate business model approach for our sales markets while continuing to offer our products in all markets with a strong focus on maintaining business continuity. We will determine each market approach based on local market dynamics, our ability to profitably deliver local variants, current Lumia momentum and the strategic importance of the market to Microsoft. This will all be balanced with our overall capability to invest. [Microsoft]

I'd guess that employees who had to wade through all this would have preferred The Donald's signature directness.

This just in
6:57 p.m. ET
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In a press conference Wednesday evening, Ferguson Mayor James Knowles announced that one of the Ferguson Police Department officers involved in sending racist emails has been terminated, and two are still under investigation.

"This type of behavior will not be tolerated in the Ferguson Police Department or any department in Ferguson," Knowles said. "These actions taken by these individuals are in no way representative of the employees of the city of Ferguson." Knowles said that several new initiatives are already taking place in the city, including the hiring of an African-American woman as a correctional officer and the creation of an explorer program with local children and a civilian oversight board. He also said that all officers have completed mandatory diversity training. Knowles did not take any questions from the media.

This just in
6:28 p.m. ET

The U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Mark Lippert was seriously injured Thursday morning after an armed assailant attacked him on his way to a lecture in central Seoul, the Yonhap News Agency reports.

Lippert was bleeding heavily after the attack and was rushed to the hospital. Sources told the Yonhap News Agency that the suspect was immediately arrested, although their identity is not yet known. CNN is reporting that a razor blade was used, and there is no known motive for the attack.

Lawmakers are just like us!
5:17 p.m. ET

Yep, even your elected legislators are artfully ducking calls from Fannie Mae. It’s news that’s sure to either make you smile with vengeful glee or depress the hell out of you.

According to new stats released from, which tracks money in politics, the number of lawmakers saddled with student debt increased from 41 members in 2012 to 47 in 2013. Most of the debtors are House members and only three are in the Senate.

The average amount of debt these legislators owe is about $68,500, but at least six owe more than twice that. And curiously, more Republicans (28) have student debt than Democrats (19). So, I guess not all government programs are frowned upon, eh, GOP?

5:06 p.m. ET
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A House committee investigating the 2012 Benghazi embassy attack plans to subpoena Hillary Clinton's personal emails following the revelation that the former secretary of state exclusively used a private email account to conduct government business, according to The Washington Post.

"The American people have a right to a full accounting of all the former Secretary's emails, and the committee is committed to working to uncover all the facts," Jamal Ware, a spokesperson for the House Select Committee on Benghazi, said.

The committee plans to request all emails from concerning the attack, which left four Americans dead. A two-year investigation by the House Intelligence Committee cleared the Obama administration of wrongdoing in its handling of the attack.

The issues
4:16 p.m. ET
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Gov. Scott Walker (R-Wis.) has a long history of opposing abortion, but he hasn't always been as open in discussing his opposition as he is now.

In 2014, during a particularly tough re-election campaign, Walker said of a ban on abortions after 20 weeks, "Those are things that we'll have to talk about in the next legislative session if it comes up."

Today, however, the likely 2016 presidential contender finally comes out and confirms that he will support such legislation:

"As the Wisconsin legislature moves forward in the coming session, further protections for mother and child are likely to come to my desk in the form of a bill to prohibit abortions after 20 weeks. I will sign that bill when it gets to my desk and support similar legislation on the federal level.

I was raised to believe in the sanctity of life and I will always fight to protect it." [Friends of Scott Walker]

Watch this
3:44 p.m. ET

In this week's video from our sister site, Mental Floss, Mike Rugnetta fills in as host of the List Show. This week's topic? Thirty very, very weird apps that actually exist.

It's probably TMI, but there is, in fact, an app called "Bowel Mover," which allows you to track your bowel movements, along with your food and water intake for the day. And there are two separate games that consist of little more than holding your finger on your iPhone's screen for an extended amount of time.

If you love fruit, perhaps "Melon Meter" may be somewhat useful — you can use your phone's microphone to knock on the outside of a watermelon and determine whether it's ready to eat.

Check out all 30 weird apps in the video below. —Meghan DeMaria

2:56 p.m. ET
Ron Sachs/CNP/AdMedia/AdMedia/Corbis

In the event that the Supreme Court rules against the Affordable Care Act in the King v. Burwell case, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has plans for a health care law to replace it.

"The administration has done absolutely nothing to prepare for an upcoming Supreme Court decision that could leave millions of Americans unable to afford insurance thanks to this failed law," Cruz said, so he and many fellow Republicans plan to repeal "every last word of ObamaCare."

The "Cruzcare" bill, called the "Health Care Choices Act," would come close, The Hill reports, by voiding the mandate that requires everyone to buy insurance and by getting rid of major subsidies. The legislation would also allow people to purchase health insurance across state lines.

Cruz's bill is the most detailed of many proposals offered by the GOP, and it's possible that Republicans may ultimately approve a plan that combines aspects of various bills.

So far, Cruz's bill has five co-sponsors, including Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). The Supreme Court is expected to reach a decision on the King v. Burwell case by June.

This just in
2:55 p.m. ET
Jay Mallin/ZUMA Press/Corbis

Senate Republicans on Wednesday failed to cobble together enough votes to override President Obama's veto of legislation approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The override attempt failed by a 62-37 vote; it needed 67 votes to pass. Nine Democrats voted with Republicans to approve the bill, the same number who voted for the legislation in January.

2:24 p.m. ET
Ian Waldie/Getty Images

You probably don't want a poisonous spider in your home, but spider venom could actually be the key to pain treatment.

A new study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that seven compounds found in spider venom blocked a protein that transmits pain sensation between nerves and the brain. "The hunt for a medicine based on just one of these compounds, which would open up a new class of potent painkillers, is now a step closer," the study authors said in a statement.

Researchers from the University of Queensland, Australia, found that spider venom could create an "off switch" that could help chronic pain sufferers, AFP reports. The scientists studied venom from 206 species of spider to find the seven compounds, which could help block channels that cause pain.

According to the study authors, 15 percent of adults are affected by chronic pain, and treating chronic pain costs the U.S. $600 billion a year.

Coming Soon
1:36 p.m. ET

With less than two months left until the premiere of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel has unveiled one ominous final look at the superhero drama:

The final trailer echoes many of the beats from previous trailers — including a creepy version of Pinocchio's "I've Got No Strings" — while focusing on the dire situation faced by the Avengers. "We have no place in the world," frets Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as the villainous Ultron unleashes his attack.

Avengers: Age of Ultron hits theaters on May 1.

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