The Idea Factory
March 9, 2014

There's nothing worse than settling in for a movie with a bowl of popcorn and biting down onto an unpopped kernel, said Colin Lecher at PopSci. Now a "more careful microwave" may prevent such mishaps. Whirlpool's new, 1.9-cubic-foot microwave features a specialized "AccuPop cycle," which lets users more precisely cook popcorn. The microwave uses a sound sensor to monitor that adjusts your popcorn's cooking time as it listens to the rate that the kernels are popping. The device retails for $569 and features built-in steaming technology for cooking vegetables, fish, and rice. The Week Staff

This just in
1:05 p.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The Senate on Tuesday voted 83-14 to advance the USA Freedom Act, a bill that would revise the U.S. government's surveillance powers. The cloture vote came after key provisions of the USA Patriot Act temporarily expired at midnight on Sunday.

The USA Freedom Act has already passed in the House, and it would end the National Security Agency's bulk data collection from phone calls. Under the new bill, phone data would stay private, but the government could search records under court orders.

The Senate's final passage of the bill is expected later Tuesday, and it could be signed into law as early as Tuesday evening. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), however, wants to propose amendments to the House-passed bill, which would send it back to the House and delay its passage. McConnell's proposed amendments would "give further assurances" that the government could still search private phone data when necessary, The Washington Post reports. Meghan DeMaria

Coming Soon
12:52 p.m. ET

What if the asteroid that smashed into the earth and killed the dinosaurs had missed? That's the intriguing, parallel-universe question behind The Good Dinosaur, a Pixar movie slated for release later this year — and a new teaser elegantly lays out the basic premise while showing off some impressive animation:

The Good Dinosaur has had an unusually bumpy path to the box-office. The film was originally slated for release in 2014, before creative problems led to the replacement of the original director and producer. The film seems to be back on track — but we won't get to see how much the original concept has evolved until The Good Dinosaur hits theaters in November. Scott Meslow

This just in
12:50 p.m. ET
Alessandro Della Bella/Getty Images

FIFA President Sepp Blatter on Tuesday announced that he would step down from his post following the election of a new leader at an "extraordinary congress" of the organization. He said the congress is to be convened "as rapidly as possible."

The announcement, made at a press conference in Zurich, was a surprise, coming just days after Blatter won re-election to a fifth term amidst allegations that top FIFA officials had engaged in a massive, decades-long bribery ring.

FIFA official Domenico Scala said the extraordinary congress to select Blatter's successor could be held as early as December. He said profound structural reforms, including of the executive committee that is stuffed with Blatter's allies, would also be on the table.

Just yesterday, The New York Times reported that Blatter's top lieutenant was involved in a $10 million transfer to one of the FIFA officials accused of taking kickbacks, suggesting there was evidence that Blatter's inner circle was involved in the bribery ring as well. Ryu Spaeth

men of a certain age
11:20 a.m. ET

In real life, most of us would raise an eyebrow at the nearly triple-decade age difference between a couple whose ages were 25 and 53. But in last year's Magic in the Moonlight, this actual age difference between Emma Stone and love interest Colin Firth was hardly taboo.

In Hollywood, it's basically standard practice to pair young female stars with much older love interests (sometimes, the men are even old enough to be their fathers). Vulture looked deeper at this trend by creating graphs that compare the ages of three young actresses (Emma Stone, now 26; Jennifer Lawrence, now 25; and Scarlett Johansson, now 30) with that of their male love interests. Here's Stone's graph:


In case that graph doesn't make a strong enough point about the rampant ageism and sexism in Hollywood, consider this: 37-year-old Maggie Gyllenhaal has said she was denied a role in a movie because she was considered her "too old" to play the love interest of a 55-year-old man. Samantha Rollins

2016 Watch
11:16 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In this week's issue of New York magazine, Jennifer Senior delves into 2016 presidential hopeful Jeb Bush's plans to win over Hispanic voters.

When describing Bush's passion for immigration and love of Hispanic culture, Senior writes that "as strange as it is to say, Jeb may be the true black sheep of the family, not W." According to one Miami Democrat and former Congressman, Joe Garcia, Bush's father described his mixed-race grandchildren as "the little brown ones." But Senior also notes that if Jeb Bush hadn't lost his first gubernatorial race in 1994, he may have been the GOP's presidential nominee in 2000, not his brother.

Senior goes on to describe how, despite his own ethnicity, Bush could still win Hispanic voters away from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another presidential hopeful:

Rubio, for better or for worse, is still affiliated with the anti-immigrant tea party. Plenty of non-Cuban Latinos remember his comment from 2009 — "Nothing against immigrants, but my parents were exiles" — and hold it against him, because it implied that those who came here seeking economic opportunity deserved less. (It has since come out that Rubio's parents came here for economic opportunity themselves, rather than fleeing from Castro.) Ironically, it also turns out to be important that Jeb is not Latino... A gringo agitating on behalf of immigration rights — what could be more powerful than that? [New York]

Senior's article also includes details about Bush's tenure as the governor of Florida, a position he held from 1999 to 2007. Read the full story over at New York magazine. Meghan DeMaria

11:15 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Former CIA official Henry "Hank" Crumpton believes the Obama administration is doing a "lousy job" fighting ISIS, as he told The Hill in a recent interview.

Crumpton, who led a covert operation in Afghanistan after 9/11 and served as deputy director of the CIA Counterterrorism Center from 1999 to 2001, advocates a field-based approach to fighting the terrorist group, which would entail getting more intelligence agents entrenched in the field and empowering local Iraqi communities as well as overseas U.S. officials. The risk-averse, Washington-centric strategy currently pursued by the Obama administration, however, "does not reflect reality on the ground," according to Crumpton.

"They're waging the war they want to fight but not the one that will lead to success," he said. Read more at The Hill. Stephanie Talmadge

11:04 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Pork-loving Chipotle fans, fear not: The beloved fast-casual Mexican chain is looking for ways to supplement its carnitas shortage. Starting today in Kansas City, Missouri, Chipotle is testing chorizo on its menus as the lack of pork that meets its standard of "responsibly raised" has rendered many locations unable to offer carnitas.

"I've been beating the drum for five years," Chipotle corporate chef Nate Appleman told the Kansas City Star of adding chorizo to the menus. Appleman's chorizo combines pork and chicken to lighten up the sausage and cut down the grease, but he assures eaters: "This is a full-flavored chorizo."

As of now, chorizo will only grace the menus of the 33 Chipotle locations in Kansas City as the company tests how it is received. But if you find yourself in northwestern Missouri today with $7 to spare, head over for a burrito and help make history. Kimberly Alters

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