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March 30, 2014

A regional director for the National Labor Relations Board last week ruled that football players at Northwestern were "employees" and could therefore form a union. To some, the ruling was not a step toward a more equitable system, but a dangerous, unnecessary precedent.

To wit, Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins argued in a Sunday op-ed that the issue hinges on the "specious premise" that college athletes are "exploited and aggrieved" in the first place. Right from the outset then, her whole argument is total bunk.

You can quibble all you want about whether student athletes are exploited, but there is no question a bunch of them are "aggrieved." The mere fact that Northwestern players are pursuing the issue so stridently is proof of that. And then there's the class-action lawsuit filed by former UCLA hoops star Ed O'Bannon, who is challenging the NCAA's ban on compensating athletes. So yes, I'd say that settles the "aggrieved" question.

Yet you may not have even made it that far into the article after stumbling over its first, puzzling line:

It's hard to view Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter as the Che Guevara of college sports once you learn that he interned at Goldman Sachs. [Washington Post]

I don't even know where to begin. Is Jenkins arguing that financial internships preclude you from joining a union? Is she forgetting that Guevara was a medical student before he became a revolutionary? And is it really apt to liken literal revolution to college football?

To her credit, Jenkins raises many legitimate questions about student-athlete unionization, such as whether members would pay dues, and who all could join. But to simply throw up your hands and declare, "It's not looking out for college athletes to open the Pandora's box of employment and unionization," as Jenkins does, is a lazy attempt to ignore the problem. College athlete unionization will of course be problematic. It will of course raise thorny questions, experience hiccups, and need to be fine-tuned. But just because it will be a difficult process doesn't mean it isn't worth pursuing, especially since it would end an exploitative system that is at best cabalistic, and at worst racist.

It's not looking out for college athletes to dismiss their grievances simply because you don't know how to resolve them. Jon Terbush

10:15 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

As he delivered his State of the State speech Monday night in St. Paul, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) collapsed, hitting his forehead on the lectern.

Immediately, people rushed to help the 69-year-old, including Sen. Dan Schoen, a paramedic, CBS News reports. Schoen said within 20 minutes of the collapse, Dayton was acting normally and poking fun at himself. Dayton was about 40 minutes into his speech when his words slurred, he began to tremble, and he fell forward, witnesses said. The Legislature adjourned following his collapse.

Dayton's chief of staff, Jaime Tincher, released a statement saying Dayton "quickly recovered, walked out of the Capitol, and returned home. EMTs joined the Governor there, and performed a routine check. He is now spending time with his son and grandson." Tincher said Dayton still plans on presenting his 2017 budget on Tuesday morning, and thanks "the people of Minnesota for their outpouring of support and concern." Catherine Garcia

9:42 p.m. ET

Five days after an avalanche buried the Hotel Rigopiano in Farindola, Italy, rescuers found three sheepdog puppies alive in the rubble.

Firefighter Fabio Jerman told Agence France-Presse this signals there are still air pockets in the collapsed building. "[This is an] important sign of life, which gives us hope," he said. There are 22 people missing, and seven confirmed dead. On Friday, nine people were pulled out of the rubble alive, telling rescuers they survived by eating dirty snow. "It's a race against time, we know we need to go fast, but it's not an easy working environment," Luca Cari, a fire service spokesman, said.

Local investigators are looking into whether the hotel should have been built in the area and if guests should have been evacuated. The hotel did send an email to local authorities in the hours before the avalanche, which said people were worried because earthquakes were hitting the region and they were stuck in the snow. Catherine Garcia

8:23 p.m. ET
Riccardo S. Savi/Getty Images

Civil rights leader Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) received four American Library Association awards on Monday, honoring the third installment of his graphic memoir, March.

Written with Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell, March: Book Three won the Coretta Scott King Award for best African-American author; the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults; the Robert F. Silbert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children; and the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults. This is the first time an author has won so many ALA awards in a single year, NPR reports. March: Book Three also received a National Book Award in November. Catherine Garcia

7:44 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On Monday evening, the Senate voted 66-32 to confirm Mike Pompeo, a conservative congressman from Kansas, as the CIA director.

His responsibilities will include managing the global spy network and improving the contentious relationship between the agency and President Trump. As a Congressman, Pompeo was a Tea Party Republican who opposed the Obama administration's nuclear accord with Iran and called the attacks on U.S. compounds in Benghazi "worse in some ways" than Watergate, The Washington Post reports. Catherine Garcia

6:50 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

A federal judge on Monday blocked the proposed $34-billion merger of health insurance giants Aetna and Humana on antitrust grounds.

The Justice Department under the Obama administration sued to stop the deal. In his ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates said the deal would threaten competition, writing that "federal regulation would likely be insufficient to prevent the merged firm from raising prices or reducing benefits" and there is "valuable head-to-head competition between Aetna and Humana which the merger would eliminate."

Aetna and Humana said that by 2018, they expected to see $1.25 billion in annual cost savings, but Bates wrote "the Court is unpersuaded that the efficiencies generated by the merger will be sufficient to mitigate the anti-competitive effect for consumers" in markets the deal affects, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Justice Department also sued to block Anthem's proposed $48 billion purchase of Sigma Corp on antitrust reasons; another judge is hearing that case. Catherine Garcia

5:22 p.m. ET
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Stephen Colbert will host the 2017 Emmy Awards, CBS announced Monday. The host of The Late Show will be the fourth late-night host this year to emcee an awards ceremony, following Jimmy Fallon for the Golden Globes, Jimmy Kimmel for the Academy Awards, and James Corden for the Grammys.

"This will be the largest audience to witness an Emmys, period. Both in person and around the globe," said Colbert, taking a shot at President Trump and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer for their claims about the record attendance at Trump's inauguration.

This will be Colbert's biggest live hosting gig yet; he previously hosted the Annual Kennedy Center Honors on CBS. He has won nine Emmy awards for his writing and for his Comedy Central series, The Colbert Report, which he left in 2014.

The Emmys will air Sept. 17, with nominees to be announced July 13. Becca Stanek

4:06 p.m. ET
Courtesy image.

"For those plotting world domination from the comfort of their own living rooms, this is the ultimate armchair," says Margaret Abrams at New York Observer. A statement piece in any home, the Gold Skull Armchair ($500,000) from Harow, a Paris design studio, looks almost conventional when viewed head-on. From every other angle, it's "worthy of the next Game of Thrones season" — menacing, faceted like a diamond, and plated in 24-karat gold. You can also get the chair in black or chrome, but shiny gold "seems to be the newest (and oldest) trend when it comes to luxury items." The Week Staff

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