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?
Merriam-Webster adds 'jeggings,' 'photobomb,' 'NSFW,' and more new words to its Unabridged dictionary
Bad news, world: Jeggings are here to stay.
At least for now, the "legging that is designed to resemble a tight-fitting pair of denim jeans" has been defined and included in the new edition of the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, The Washington Post reports.
Also among the more than 1,700 new entries are "photobomb" ("to move into the frame of a photograph as it is being taken as a joke or prank") and "NSFW" ("not safe for work; used to warn someone that a website, email attachment, etc., is not suitable for viewing at most places of employment"). Other additions include tech-y terms such as "clickbait," "meme," and "emoji," and, a bit more randomly, "colossal squid."
It's a question that has bedeviled moguls for millennia: Where do you put your solid gold bucket brimming with weed and coke? If you were a nomadic warlord from the 4th century B.C., you'd hide it in your secret treasure room, of course.
Archaeologists have found just such a room, containing two such objects, hidden beneath an ancient burial mound in southern Russia. The researchers dated the treasure horde to 2,400 years ago and believe it once belonged to the Scythians, a ferocious group of nomads who were contemporaries of the ancient Greeks. All in all, the room contains nearly seven pounds worth of gold artifacts like cups, rings, bracelets, and chokers. Those buckets, though, stole the show.
National Geographic reports:
[Head archaeologist] Belinski asked criminologists in nearby Stavropol to analyze a black residue inside the vessels. The results came back positive for opium and cannabis, confirming a practice first reported by Herodotus. The Greek historian claimed that the Scythians used a plant to produce smoke "that no Grecian vapour-bath can surpass … transported by the vapor, [they] shout aloud."
Because the sticky residue was found on the inside of the vessels, Belinski and Gass think they were used to brew and drink a strong opium concoction, while cannabis was burning nearby. "That both drugs were being used simultaneously is beyond doubt," Gass says. [National Geographic]
In a Morning Joe interview Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blamed Republican "hawks" like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for ISIS' rise and growth.
"ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS," Paul told Joe Scarborough. "These hawks also wanted to bomb Assad, which would have made ISIS' job even easier. They've created these people."
Paul also said that ISIS is "all over Libya" because Republicans "loved Hillary Clinton's war" and "wanted more of it." He also said that both Libya and Iraq are "failed states." Meghan DeMaria
For the first time in 10 years, military regulations at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, will prevent lawyers from bringing food to inmates during legal meetings.
Lawyers often bring treats, such as McDonald's Big Mac sandwiches or chocolate chip cookies, with them to legal conferences at the facility.
Prison officials have defended the new regulations, which go into effect Wednesday, for health and safety reasons. But critics say the food helps prisoners cooperate with their lawyers, such as when attorneys got prisoner Abu Wa’el Dhiab to drink juice during a hunger strike.
"It's actually quite tragic for the clients," Alka Pradhan, an attorney, told The Miami Herald. "Sometimes the food we bring is the only thing from the outside world they've seen in months, and they really look forward to it." Meghan DeMaria
Nine top officials of soccer's governing organization FIFA were arrested today in Switzerland and will be extradited to the U.S. to face corruption charges. If you're just getting up to speed on the news, let John Oliver walk you through the inner workings of this "comically grotesque" and "cartoonishly evil" organization — from its kangaroo courts to its shady deals and hilariously megalomaniacal boardrooms. The video is from last year, but the takeaway is all too relevant. --Nico Lauricella
Israeli fighter jets launched four airstrikes in the Gaza Strip early Wednesday, the first since a cease-fire between Gaza militants and Israel went into effect last summer following a 50-day war.
Israeli Defense Minster Moshe Yaalon told The Associated Press that the Israeli airstrikes were aimed at the Islamic Jihad, a Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip, as well as at Hamas sites, in retaliation for a rocket fired at southern Israel Tuesday night. No Palestinian group, however, claimed responsibility for the rocket attack.
Israeli Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told AP the airstrikes targeted "four terror infrastructures" in the Gaza Strip. "The reality that Hamas' territory is used as a staging ground to attack Israel is unacceptable and intolerable and will bear consequences," Lerner told AP. "Israelis cannot be expected to live in the perpetual fear of rocket attacks. The IDF will continue to operate in order to seek out those that wish to undermine Israeli sovereignty with acts of terrorism."
No casualties were reported in the Israeli airstrikes. Meghan DeMaria
Sen. Rand Paul's (R-Ky.) interview with Jon Stewart started out amicably on Tuesday's Daily Show, with some jokes about filibusters and urination and broad agreement that Republicans are inconsistent when it comes to liberty and NSA mass surveillance. Paul ably dodged a comparison between terrorism and school shootings, pivoting to murder in Baltimore, and then Stewart brought up "this religious liberty" hullaballoo. "I'm really fascinated by the idea of religious persecution in this country," he said. "The depth of feeling seems real," but what are conservatives talking about?
"Some people are afraid in our country that their personal religious opinions will no longer be allowed, even in their church," Paul said, bringing up the idea that tax deductions for church donations are a back door to government regulation. "I think there's a difference between acceptance and neutrality of the law, and trying to force your opinion on someone, even in their church, or even in their expression."
When Stewart objected, Paul walked back to safer ground, bringing up a Christian T-shirt shop that refused to make liberal or pro-gay marriage shirts:
That does sound a little bit to me like a freedom issue, and you can go down the street to get someone else to make it. And I'm not one who is intolerant — I'm one who believes in letting people live life the way they want to live it, but also I would include Christians in that, too. [Rand Paul]
Stewart had a good point about how these protesting businesses seem to be fine selling cake to other types of sinners. But in the end, Paul circled the square and got a befuddled Stewart to toast with him their agreement about the Patriot Act. You can try to follow along below. —Peter Weber