×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
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?

2:40 p.m. ET

Former President Bill Clinton's forthcoming political thriller, which he co-authored with bestselling author James Patterson, is headed to the small screen, Variety reported Friday. Showtime has acquired the television rights for The President Is Missing, which won't even be published until 2018.

"Bringing The President Is Missing to Showtime is a coup of the highest order," Showtime president and CEO David Nevins told Variety. "The pairing of President Clinton with fiction's most gripping storyteller promises a kinetic experience, one that the book world has salivated over for months and that now will dovetail perfectly into a politically relevant, character-based action series for our network."

The President Is Missing "will offer readers a unique amalgam of intrigue, suspense, and behind-the-scenes global drama from the highest corridors of power," according to the press release. "It will be informed by insider details that only a president can know." Learn more about the forthcoming TV show at Variety. Jeva Lange

2:24 p.m. ET

Mere minutes after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced he was a 'no' on the Graham-Cassidy bill, late-night comedian Jimmy Kimmel was tweeting his thanks. Kimmel's rapid response solidified just how invested he is in stopping the GOP health-care bill, which he has been tenaciously criticizing all week.

Though McCain hasn't technically completely killed Republicans' latest attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare, as he did in July when he cast the deciding vote, his opposition nudges the Graham-Cassidy bill that much closer to its demise. Already, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has announced his opposition, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Friday she's "leaning against" voting in favor of the bill.

Three 'no' votes would kill the bill, and make Kimmel's day. Becca Stanek

2:12 p.m. ET

In the words of one confused White House official to Politico, "no one is quite sure what [Tom Price] is doing." Trump's health and human services secretary has reportedly exceeded $300,000 in chartered flights since last May, including one befuddling charge of $25,000 for a 135-mile flight from Philadelphia to Washington, D.C., on a private jet.

Notably, President Trump campaigned as an enemy of wasteful government spending, even signing an order in March that required "a thorough examination of every executive department and agency, to see where money is being wasted, how services can be improved, and whether programs are truly serving American citizens," in the words of one White House official to the Washington Examiner.

Even more bewildering, Price himself has been an outspoken opponent of wasteful spending, as Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) pointed out Friday:

HHS spokesperson Charmaine Yoest defended Price's flights as necessary. "He has used charter aircraft for official business in order to accommodate his demanding schedule," she told Politico, characterizing his flights on Learjets as evidence of his focus "on hearing from Americans across the country." Jeva Lange

2:11 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

An estimated 21 million Americans would be uninsured by 2026 if the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill becomes law, the nonpartisan Brookings Institute said Friday. By 2027, 32 million Americans would be without insurance under the GOP's latest attempt to repeal and replace ObamaCare, as opposed to if ObamaCare were to remain law.

Brookings calculated a score in the absence of one from the Congressional Budget Office, which has announced it won't have its complete analysis ready until after Republicans' Sept. 30 deadline to pass the bill on a simple majority vote. Brookings noted its number "likely underestimates the reductions in insurance coverage," as it does not account for the challenges states may face as they set up their own health-care systems. "Some states might elect to begin the process of winding down their Medicaid expansion prior to 2020, which could also add to coverage losses during this period," the report said.

On Friday, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) joined Sen. Rand Paul in opposing the bill. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) also revealed Friday that she's "leaning against" the bill. Three 'no' votes would kill the bill. Becca Stanek

2:06 p.m. ET

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Friday that he will not vote for the Republican health-care bill, effectively killing the GOP's last chance at passing legislation to repeal and replace ObamaCare before their Sept. 30 deadline. McCain already stunned his colleagues in the Senate earlier this year when he torpedoed another Republican health-care bill with a tie-breaking no vote in July.

Named for sponsors Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the bill would convert ObamaCare's subsidies and Medicaid payments to block grants to states plus cut Medicaid sharply. "I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal," McCain said in a statement. "I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried."

The GOP can only lose three votes, and Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have also already come out against the bill. Jeva Lange

1:25 p.m. ET

CVS Pharmacy announced Friday that it will be limiting opioid prescriptions to seven days for certain patients, including those who are new to prescription pain medications, CNN reports. The pharmacy's decision comes as opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999 despite the fact that there has been no significant rise in conditions calling for such medications among American patients.

An estimated 900,000 Americans overdosed in 2015, with over 30,000 of those overdoses fatal and stemming from opioid drugs. Opioids are the leading cause of unintentional death in the United States. STAT estimated earlier this year that opioids could kill nearly 500,000 Americans in the next decade.

CVS pharmacists also plan to teach patients about the risk of addiction that comes with the pain medications, and insist on the importance of keeping the drugs somewhere secure. "With a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, we see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse," said CVS Health's president and CEO, Larry J. Merlo.

The pharmacy will roll out the changes beginning Feb. 1, 2018. Jeva Lange

1:17 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced Friday that she's "leaning against" voting for the Graham-Cassidy health-care bill. Collins said that as she's "reading the fine print" of the GOP's latest effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare, she's realizing that insurers "could charge sky-high rates to people with pre-existing conditions," The Portland Press Herald reported. "The premiums would be so high they would be unaffordable," Collins said.

Still, Collins said she'll wait on an analysis by the Congressional Budget Office before she makes her final call. However, the CBO has said its complete analysis likely won't be complete until after Sept. 30, Republicans' deadline to pass the bill by a majority vote.

Already, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has announced his opposition, and three 'no' votes would kill the bill. Republicans are angling for a vote next week. Becca Stanek

See More Speed Reads