October 5, 2012

In Colorado Springs, Colo., artist Jason Baalman poses in front of portraits of President Obama and Mitt Romney that he made entirely of Cheetos — more than 2,000 of them. The portraits were commissioned by the chip purveyor, and voters are being asked to weigh in on Facebook in a rather cheesy contest called "You decide: Who will be America's next 'big cheese'?" The Week Staff

2:29 p.m. ET

Starting in early 2018, Manhattan's usual gridlock traffic will have something new to contend with: self-driving cars. A fleet of Chevy Bolts will be led by Cruise Automation, the self-driving unit of General Motors, within a 5-mile area in New York City — a major change from the Empire State's previously strict regulations on autonomous vehicles.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced that the testing will happen in a geofenced area, and that each car will drive with engineers in both the driver's and passenger's seats. The Verge reports that there are still plenty of rules in place for the tests; GM is required to pay for a police escort for each self-driving car the company sends onto the roads. The timeframe is short, too, as the one-year pilot program that Cuomo announced in May expires April 1, 2018.

"Testing in New York will accelerate the timeline to deploying self-driving cars at scale," said Kyle Vogt, CEO of Cruise Automation. Vogt explained the choice in a statement from Cuomo's office, describing Manhattan as a place that "provides new opportunities to expose our software to unusual situations, which means we can improve our software at a much faster rate."

New York's street congestion, which includes everything from aggressive pedestrians to speeding cabs, is sure to be a challenge for GM, but current testing in San Francisco means that the vehicles have had some practice in cramped, urban environments. Summer Meza

2:23 p.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) have reached a bipartisan deal to stabilize the Affordable Care Act, The New York Times reports. Alexander said Tuesday that the deal would "extend federal subsidies for two years and provide states with flexibility," Reuters writes.

The subsidies lower costs for low-income customers; President Trump decided last week to end the payments, although he signaled approval of the Alexander-Murray deal Tuesday. "This is a short-term solution," Trump said. "It will get us over this intermediate hump."

Conservatives are wary of "bailing out" insurers, though, and while Alexander has the support of some Senate Republicans, it is not clear if the plan would pass the House. Jeva Lange

2:05 p.m. ET
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The San Antonio Stars are headed to Las Vegas, thanks to MGM Resorts. The hospitality company purchased the WNBA team, which will play home games at the Mandalay Bay Events Center beginning in May 2018, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.

"Mandalay Bay is a smaller, more intimate arena with about 12,000 seats," said the chief experience and marketing officer for MGM Resorts, Lilian Tomovich. "We feel it's the absolute right size arena for the fans to have that intimate experience to come watch basketball."

While the Stars have had the league's worst record the last three seasons, Tomovich added that MGM is "very optimistic about the success of this franchise."

"Bringing a WNBA team here to Las Vegas just seemed like a natural evolution for us," she said.

Las Vegas acquired its first pro team this year with the addition of the NHL's Golden Knights. The Oakland Raiders NFL team will be relocated to the city in 2020. There are no major league women's teams in the city. Jeva Lange

1:38 p.m. ET
David Ryder/Getty Images

When Amazon announced that it was looking for a second city to call home, officials across the country immediately jumped at the chance to snag the new headquarters, dubbed HQ2.

But while the wooing has hit a fever pitch in cities from Boston to Phoenix, some groups are asking their cities to slow things down and make some demands of their own. Leaders of 73 civic groups across the U.S. submitted a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday, asking for transparency in how the tech giant will fit into their new city.

The letter lists some of the concerns that community organizers have, asking that Amazon pledge to maintain standards for diversity, wages, and investment in local infrastructure. It also asks that the company pay its fair share of taxes and support affordable housing in the city. Fortune reports that Amazon is interested to see which city can provide tax incentives and grants for the new facility, a preference that has drawn some side-eye from those worried that the company might not be such a boon to the local community.

"We love jobs, we love technology, and we love convenience — but what you're looking for will impact every part of our cities," reads the letter. "We built these cities, and we want to make sure they remain ours."

Cities have been working on proposals for Amazon since last month. The final deadline is Thursday. Summer Meza

1:07 p.m. ET

Aside from the occasional bodega cat, you don't typically get to see much wildlife living in New York City. Brooklynites minding their own business Tuesday afternoon, however, got a special treat in the form of an inexplicably loose cow:

It was unclear where the cow came from, or how it ended up on a soccer field. For his (her?) part, the cow did not seem too concerned about the situation as it moseyed around Prospect Park, observed by curious onlookers, an ABC 7 New York helicopter, and New York's finest, who clearly had no idea what to do when called in to respond to a rogue cow.

Realizing that all good things are wild and free, the internet rooted for the cow, just as it did for the llamas, bobcat, and blimp before it:

Hopefully this story ends better than it did for Lefty the deer; at the time of publication, the cow appeared trapped in a dugout. Watch the Park Slope cow live via ABC 7 New York. Jeva Lange

12:50 p.m. ET

Ajit Pai, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, rejected President Trump's claim that the FCC could shut down a network that broadcasts "fake news."

"Under the law, the FCC does not have the authority to revoke a license of a broadcast station based on the content," Pai said at an AT&T forum Tuesday. "The FCC under my leadership will stand for the First Amendment."

Trump tweeted criticism of NBC on Wednesday, after the network reported that he had called for a tenfold increase of the nation's nuclear stockpile and that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had called Trump a "moron." Reuters reports that Democrats had been pressuring Pai to make a statement against Trump's threats.

Pai's silence drew criticism, but at Tuesday's event, he opposed the president's suggestion in no uncertain terms. Pai, who was appointed by Trump, was sure to point out that it's "not within the FCC's jurisdiction to handle fake news."

Politico notes that Pai did not mention Trump by name, focusing his response on his role as chairman, rather than specifically denouncing the president's Twitter tirade. Summer Meza

12:00 p.m. ET

More than two million U.S. retailers will accept Venmo payments online starting this week. Shoppers will be able to use Venmo, the mobile app that makes person-to-person payments, to pay for purchases made on participating retailers' mobile websites. The funds can be deducted from either their existing app balance or linked bank accounts and credit cards.

PayPal Holdings, Inc., which acquired Venmo in 2013, is hoping the move will capitalize on the app's younger demographic, enticing retailers with the chance to get to know shoppers over the embedded social feed where users may share information about their transactions.

PayPal wants retailers to see Venmo as an "entirely new way for merchants to increase awareness and open new purchase opportunities," the company said in a statement. "Merchants can reach a new audience of shoppers, many of whom skew millennial and engage with Venmo multiple times throughout the day."

Any mobile site that accepts PayPal is now open for business through Venmo, meaning that retailers from Lululemon Athletica to Foot Locker to Forever 21 can now be paid with the typically emoji-laden transactions.

Venmo processed $8 billion in payments in the second quarter of 2017, and the company thinks its app's ease-of-use has the potential to boost sales for retailers. Venmo will be charging merchants fees for processing its payments, and CNBC reports retail purchases will be covered by PayPal's purchase protection scheme, allowing users to receive refunds in case of any mistakes in an order. Summer Meza

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