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Smart takes
March 17, 2014
Facebook/The Veronica Mars Movie

This weekend, Veronica Mars fans were delighted by the release of the long-awaited film sequel, which was partially funded through a Kickstarter campaign to the tune of $5.7 million last year. But now that the excitement of a new Veronica Mars adventure has worn off, critics can start evaluating the content of the film — and NPR's Linda Holmes has a particularly thoughtful critique of the movie's troubling philosophy on relationships. (Spoilers for the Veronica Mars movie to follow.)

The Veronica Mars movie offers a textbook example of what Holmes dubs "The Bad Caterpillar Theory": The idea that a "mean, jealous, possessive, violent, angry, emotionally unavailable," guy will evolve into a noble, trustworthy, good-hearted man if the female protagonist simply waits long enough. In this case, Veronica's boyfriend of nearly a decade is pushed aside in favor of Logan Echolls, a bad boy with a heart of gold:

By the time the movie starts, Logan has emerged as the Butterfly to a degree that's almost comical. He no longer has any flaws whatsoever; he shows up in Navy whites that weirdly look like they're too big for him, but the message is clear: he's all grown up. There's effectively no edge left to the character at all, and although the movie co-opts the language of addiction and recovery to have Veronica talk about the relationship as an addiction, there's no indication that any of it is actually bad for her or that she's even legitimately conflicted about it. He's transparently innocent of the crime she's trying to get him off the hook for, he's in the Navy ... he's basically been transformed into a cartoon prince.

At last, her patience, her faith, her unwillingness to give up has paid off. The Butterfly has arrived.

So of course she has to dump her nice, generous, supportive, unexciting boyfriend. Of course she does. [NPR]

Read the rest of this thoughtful article at NPR. Scott Meslow

emojional
1:46 p.m. ET
Olga Maltseva/AFP/Getty Images

Russian Sen. Mikhail Marchenko has had it with emoji depicting same-sex relationships. He alleged the same-sex parenting and kissing emojing violate Russia's 2013 law against gay propaganda, according to translations of a Russian newspaper report from Quartz and BBC News.

Mikhail reportedly said the emoji "promoted non-traditional sexual relationships" and "denied family values." His complaint prompted a state media investigation into the emoji that could lead to them being banned from social media in Russia. Pro-gay emoji have been available on iPhones since 2012.

The Russian law allows for blocking pro-gay websites and fining individuals and businesses that publicly support gay rights. Julie Kliegman

Around the world
12:54 p.m. ET
Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with his Egyptian counterpart Sunday, marking the first time in six years the two nations have held strategic talks, Newsweek reports. Talks were suspended during the Middle East's Arab Spring uprising, where protests in Egypt forced the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

"Egypt remains vital ... to engagement and stability in the region as a whole," Kerry said.

The U.S. has given Egypt eight F-16 fighter jets, and will continue providing more support for the Egyptian military as they fight insurgents in the Sinai Peninsula. Kerry also emphasized the U.S. would continue to press Cairo on human rights issues, like jailing journalists.

Kerry will travel to Qatar next for meetings about fighting ISIS and enforcing the Iran nuclear deal. Julie Kliegman

lions
12:10 p.m. ET
Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

The head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force apologized Sunday for sharing false news Saturday of another notable lion's death, ABC News reports. The group initially reported that Jericho, a companion of Cecil, the lion who was reportedly shot and killed by an American dentist in early July, had also been killed.

"I have now discovered that he is alive and well," Johnny Rodrigues said. "The cubs are also doing well."

Cecil and Jericho were not brothers, as has been reported, but they did oversee two prides together. Zimbabwe has asked the U.S. to extradite Cecil's alleged hunter. Julie Kliegman

torture
11:29 a.m. ET
Jeff J. Mitchell/Getty Images

If Donald Trump becomes president, he might bring back waterboarding as an interrogation tactic, he said Sunday on ABC's This Week.

"When you see the other side chopping off heads, waterboarding doesn't sound very severe," he told Jonathan Karl.

Presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush have both issued bans on using enhanced interrogation tactics on detainees, most notably at Guantánamo Bay.

In his interview, Trump also criticized Obama for not doing enough for African-Americans during his presidency. And at Thursday's GOP primary debate, he said doesn't plan on attacking his opponents. Place your bets now on how many minutes that promise might last. Julie Kliegman

Climate change
10:19 a.m. ET

The White House released a video Saturday night previewing President Obama's Monday announcement of a proposal to limit carbon pollution released by the nation's power plants.

BREAKING: On Monday, President Obama will release the final version of America's Clean Power Plan—the biggest, most important step we've ever taken to combat climate change. If you agree that we can't condemn our kids and grandkids to a planet that's beyond fixing, share this video with your friends and family. It's time to #ActOnClimate.

Posted by The White House on Saturday, August 1, 2015

The regulations proposed, tougher than those in a previous draft, will require 32 percent decreases from 2005 levels of carbon emissions by 2030. And at least 28 percent of a plant's generating power must come from renewable energy sources, NPR reports.

"Climate change is not a problem for another generation," Obama said. "Not anymore." Julie Kliegman

music to my ears
9:25 a.m. ET
Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images

Dr. Dre announced on his radio show Saturday he will release his first new album in 15 years, Rolling Stone reports. Compton: A Soundtrack, which he's releasing exclusively on iTunes and Apple Music Aug. 7, will feature artists including Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and the Game.

"I kept it under wraps, and now the album is finished," he said. "It's bananas. It's an 'inspired by' album. It's inspired by Straight Outta Compton."

Dre called the album his "grand finale." Julie Kliegman

$$$$$
9:13 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Puerto Rico defaulted Saturday, missing a $58 million debt payment on Public Finance Corporation bonds. Victor Suarez, the governor's chief of staff, said Friday the island only has enough money to operate until November if nothing is done to increase cash flow, Reuters reports.

Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla announced in June that Puerto Rico would need restructuring on an unpayable $72 billion in debt. The White House has said the U.S. will not bail out the territory. Julie Kliegman

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