July 7, 2014
CC by: Nick Richards

Flying used to be so much easier: Not too many decades ago, you'd just walk up to the gate with your ticket, board the plane, take your seat, light up your cigarette, and wait for the stewardess to bring you a complimentary cocktail, a deck of cards, and hot meal.*

On Sunday, the TSA added yet another layer of annoyance for U.S.-bound air travelers from certain foreign airports: Before boarding the plane, you may now have to turn on your electronic mobile devices, presumably to prove they aren't covert explosive devices. Watched too much battery-draining World Cup action on your iPhone while waiting in the long security line? Too bad. "Powerless devices will not be permitted onboard the aircraft," the TSA said in its statement, adding that "the traveler may also undergo additional screening."

U.S. officials say they aren't responding to a specific threat, but ABC News reported last week that terrorists in Syria and Yemen are working on "creative" new bomb designs to take down a U.S.- or Europe-bound airliner, presumably using U.S. or European nationals who have joined the civil war in Syria. The new bombs may be housed inside toothpaste tubes, shoes, and cosmetics packages, ABC News reported. This fear isn't exactly new, as this 2005 Slate article explains:

No one worried too much about electronic devices in carry-on baggage until the 1989 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. The device that destroyed that plane — and killed 270 people — turned out to have been hidden inside a boom box. After this incident, Congress briefly considered banning electronic devices in the cabin. Instead, the FAA asked airlines and airports to exercise more scrutiny over cell phones, radios, alarm clocks, computers, and other electronics. As a result, many travelers were asked to turn on their laptop computers at screening checkpoints, to prove that they functioned normally. [Slate]

The laptop power-up rule isn't that common now, after a big uptick following the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. No word on how long or how widespread the smartphone rule will be in effect. --Peter Weber

*Air travel was also much more expensive, and who misses cigarette smoke in the cabin?

1:57 p.m. ET

Chris Martin majorly owes Beyoncé, and not just because she and Bruno Mars salvaged Coldplay's impressively sub-par halftime show. Bey, who collaborated with Martin on Coldplay's 2015 song "Hymn for the Weekend," apparently wasn't always so eager to work with him.

When Martin played her a prospective collaboration song, "Hook Up," she had some pretty blunt feedback for him, he told Rolling Stone. The "Formation" singer turned Martin down "in the sweetest possible way: She told me, 'I really like you — but this is awful."

It's not hard to laugh at Martin, but who among us doesn't envy that he has been in the presence of Beyoncé? Julie Kliegman

1:22 p.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The White House announced a plan Monday to expand the federal government's ability to investigate and discipline colleges accused of fraud, The Wall Street Journal reports. President Obama seeks $13.6 million from Congress, which would factor into the fiscal year 2017 budget.

Under the plan, the Education Department is forming a Student Aid Enforcement Unit to broaden the types of investigations the federal government already does. It's considered part of the administration's promise to aid Americans grappling with student debt.

Both public and private schools will be subject to investigations for deceiving students with false promises. Julie Kliegman

1:05 p.m. ET
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

Jeb Bush has a fighting chance of making an important second-place finish in New Hampshire's primary on Tuesday — a comeback that some believe can be pinned on his decision to embrace his inner bewildered goof. Writing for Slate, Franklin Foer argues that Bush has gone from being kicked-while-he's-down to emerging as a true contender in the Granite State thanks to his uncensored authenticity. "Bush may be the most authentic of the pack — patrician, goofy, a little flummoxed," Foer claims.

Strangely, it's Trump who has helped Bush find himself. When Trump started belittling him, Jeb reverted to Bush form. He couldn't understand how anyone could question his noble pursuit of public service. In the face of Trump's attacks, he looked hurt and stunned. But Bush has embraced Trump-bashing as a moral calling. He gets quite braggadocious when describing how he, and he alone, has the backbone to stand up to the bully. And his attacks on Trump do have a certain swagger now. "I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, but the guy needs therapy," he blared on Saturday. [Slate]

Of course, now the ultimate test remains: If being an authentic joyful tortoise is truly the way to voters' hearts. Read the argument in Slate. Jeva Lange

12:58 p.m. ET

Remember that weird file you opened decades ago that deleted all your stuff and destroyed your computer's ability to function? You can now relive that trauma, thanks to The Malware Museum.

The Internet Archive has catalogued dozens of examples of old malware for your viewing pleasure. And don't worry — the modified versions are safe and won't actually cause you any trouble.

As Wired notes, the first-ever virus, Brain.A, isn't available, but plenty of other taunting viruses should keep you plenty busy. Julie Kliegman

12:13 p.m. ET

Days after Ted Cruz used a questionable campaign tactic in a bid for Iowa caucus support, potential voters are now calling one of the Texas senator's fundraising strategies into question.

Registered Democrats, Republicans, and independents alike say they've been getting envelopes from Cruz that read "check enclosed," The Huffington Post reports. But lo and behold, the mail is actually asking people for money, not giving it to them. There technically is a check inside, but it's a fake one Cruz wrote to himself.

Huffington Post readers in New Jersey, Arizona, Oklahoma, Texas, Maine, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, New Hampshire, and other states have said they received the mailing. The campaign's tactic sounds not unlike a tactic used by sketchy televangelists John Oliver exposed in 2015. Julie Kliegman

11:42 a.m. ET

Suspects who have been tased by police while being taken into custody are more likely to waive their Miranda rights and provide false confessions, according to new research (PDF) published in the Criminology & Public Policy journal.

That's because a Taser's 50,000-volt shock temporarily impairs brain function, so "TASER-exposed participants resembled patients with mild cognitive impairment," the study says. "Thus, part of our findings implicates a suspect's ability to issue a valid waiver [of Miranda rights], whereas another part implicates the accuracy of information he or she might give investigators during a custodial interrogation."

Even innocent suspects are at greater risk of self-incrimination after being tased. "They may waive their Miranda rights and make incriminating statements to police without the benefit of counsel," and then find those comments difficult to explain once their mental function has recovered later on.

The study notes that American police have tased 2.37 million people in the last decade, an average of 904 tasings per day, or one every two minutes. Bonnie Kristian

11:19 a.m. ET
Darren McCollester/Getty Images

The 100 biggest political donors in the 2016 election cycle have spent a combined $195 million, Politico reports. That's $40 million more than the smallest 2 million donors have contributed.

Of the top six donors, four support Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), including the top-ranked Wilks family, which has spent $15 million so far. Politico's analysis includes all super PAC donations through the end of 2015 that were disclosed to the Federal Election Commission. Julie Kliegman

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