T-shirt opinions
June 9, 2011

Amid alarming reports of government spending ($20 billion on air conditioning?), why not spend $23 to express your outrage? This cheerful "Obama National Debt" T-shirt subtly blames the debt crisis on the president by visually referencing his 2008 campaign logo, linking Obama to the economic torture of future generations: "National Debt: It's for the children." The Week Staff

lost and found
July 2, 2015
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The prequel to Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is set to be released on July 14. But controversy about its history — and if Lee, 88, really wants it published at all — has grown thicker already. While the official story holds that Tonja B. Carter, Lee's lawyer, was reviewing an old typescript of To Kill a Mockingbird and happened upon the manuscript for its prequel, Go Set a Watchman, The New York Times has dug up a second, conflicting narrative.

According to the new story, Carter might actually have found the book in 2011, when viewing the contents of Lee's safe-deposit box during a Sotheby's auction house rare books appraisal. In the box, Carter — along with Justin Caldwell, a rare books expert, and Alice Lee, Harper's sister — are said to have discovered a typescript story that looked suspiciously like To Kill a Mockingbird, but clearly wasn't the same.

The other was a typescript of a story that, like Mockingbird, was set in the fictional town of Maycomb and inhabited by the same people. But Mr. Caldwell noticed that the characters were older, and the action set many years later, the person said. After reading about 20 pages and comparing passages to a published copy of Mockingbird for nearly an hour, Mr. Caldwell is said to have realized the differences and told the others in the room that it seemed to be an early version of the novel. [The New York Times]

However, Carter said she had to leave the room and denied she had ever heard of a different manuscript being found that day.

The implications of the second narrative could be hefty, though. While Go Set a Watchman has already rocketed to being the bestselling preorder in the publisher's history, some think that Harper Lee, despite assurances otherwise, might not actually want Mockingbird's prequel published. Adding to the suspicion is the fact that Alice Lee might not have approved of Carter or anyone else publishing the novel. Go Set a Watchman was announced to be released three months after Alice's death. Jeva Lange

medical alert
July 2, 2015
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U.S. health officials revealed Thursday that a Washington woman's recent death from measles marks the first time someone has died from the disease in the country since 2003. While measles is known to be a highly contagious disease, health officials say it is extremely rare to die from it. Though officials are not saying whether the deceased woman was vaccinated, they did say she that her immune system was compromised due to medications she was taking.

Over the last year, measles cases have soared to an all-time high of 644 since the U.S. was declared to be measles-free in 2000. In Washington state alone, there have been 11 reported cases of measles this year — six of which were in a single county. The spike in measles outbreaks, coupled with this recent death, have further sparked debate over the necessity of the MMR (measles, mumps rubella) vaccine, which some believe — without concrete scientific evidence — causes autism in children. Becca Stanek

Boko Haram
July 2, 2015
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Boko Haram extremists disrupted a peaceful night of prayer on Wednesday when they gunned down nearly 100 Muslims in mosques in the northeastern Nigerian town of Kukawa. A government official and a self-defense fighter reported that 97 people, most of whom were men, were killed in the Wednesday night incident as they prayed ahead of breaking fast for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

While it remains unclear exactly how many mosques were attacked, a senior government official told The Associated Press that the attacks affected several of the town's mosques. Spokesmen are also reporting that the militants broke into homes, killing women and children. Boko Haram attacks on mosques are unfortunately not all that uncommon, as the extremist group considers mosque-goers to be too moderate. Becca Stanek

Here we go again
July 2, 2015
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Today's presidential bid announcement comes from former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, who's decided to try his luck against Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O'Malley in seeking the Democratic nomination for president.

"Our country needs a fresh approach to solving the problems that confront us and too often unnecessarily divide us," Webb wrote in the full announcement on his website. A Vietnam veteran who also served as navy secretary under President Reagan, Webb's views can be unpredictable. After the allegedly racially motivated shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, for example, he defended the Confederate flag, instructing his followers on Facebook that they ought to "remember that honorable Americans fought on both sides of the Civil War."

Webb does, however, offer the most progressive stance on drug policies among his peers, having hinted at radical drug reforms when he spoke at the National Sheriffs' Association Conference in Baltimore on Tuesday. Jeva Lange

right to die
July 2, 2015

A 24-year-old woman in Belgium who suffers from depression has been granted the right to end her own life, The Independent reports. The woman — whose name is only given as "Laura" in her extensive interview with a Belgian newspaper — has suffered from depression since she was a child, and was committed to a psychiatric facility at 21.

"Death feels to me not as a choice. If I had a choice, I would choose a bearable life, but I have done everything and that was unsuccessful," Laura told De Morgen.

Belgium legalized euthanasia in 2002; assisted suicides have since spiked to over 1,800 a year. In 2013, Belgium agreed that terminally ill children, too, have a right to die.

In the U.S., "Death with Dignity" laws only exist fully in three states — Washington, Oregon, and Vermont — and the laws are strictly limited to cases in which the individual has a terminal illness. Jeva Lange

To pay or not to pay
July 2, 2015

Fox Searchlight Pictures Inc. and The Hearst Corporation may have just gotten off the hook for not paying their interns. A lower court previously ruled that the companies had broken the law by not paying interns, but a U.S. appeals court in Manhattan backpedaled on that decision on Thursday, saying that as long as interns gained knowledge in a particular career field in an internship, payment is not necessary. "The purpose of a bona‐fide internship is to integrate classroom learning with practical skill development in a real-world setting," Circuit Judge John Walker wrote.

Though the ruling offers some clarification as to what constitutes appropriate intern work and what does not, the cases will now be sent back to U.S. judges in Manhattan, who will decide if the Fox and Hearst internships were primarily educational. Becca Stanek

Only in America
July 2, 2015
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Another Fourth of July, another hot-dog eating contest. America's beloved — if utterly vomit-worthy — tradition of devouring frankfurters for sport will happen again this Saturday, with eight-year reigning champion Joey Chestnut making a bid for a ninth victory. Last year, Chestnut ate 61 hot dogs in order to be crowned winner, and he holds the record for the most dogs eaten, too: In 2013, he housed a whopping 69.

For those who are morbidly curious, Time has done the dirty work and drawn up a graph of all 1,377 wieners ever eaten by Nathan's Famous hot dog champs since the Coney Island stand started keeping official records in 1972. And ah, how times have changed — Jason Schechter, the 1972 winner, only ate a mere 14 dogs.

See the entire 33-year history over at Time. Jeva Lange

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