×
FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
February 23, 2018

Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) announced Friday that the age to buy firearms in the Sunshine State will be raised to 21. The minimum age was previously 18.

Scott said active and reserve military members as well as law enforcement officers will be granted an exemption from the new rules. His remarks came during a press conference where he also proposed various other reforms to prevent mass shootings like the one that happened last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

ABC News reports that Scott also wants to put law enforcement officers in every Florida public school, ban the sale and purchase of modified bump stocks that allow semiautomatic rifles to fire faster, and implement a "Violent Threat Restraining Order," which would legally "prohibit a violent or mentally ill person from purchasing or possessing a firearm."

Scott declared: "Keeping guns away from dangerous people and people with mental issues is what we need to do." Kelly O'Meara Morales

5:59 a.m. ET

Democrats have opened up a 12 percentage point lead in voter preference for which party controls Congress, a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds. That's up from 8 points in August and 6 points the month before that. And there are some bad numbers for Republicans in the survey: Moderates and independents favor Democrats by more than 30 points, women 50 and older by almost 20 points, and voters in competitive congressional districts by 12 points, 53 percent to 43 percent. Fifty-nine percent of voters want to see "a great deal" or "quite a bit" of change.

But there are some warning signs for Democrats, too, the poll finds. First, Republicans have nearly caught up in interest about the midterms, with 61 percent rating their interest a 9 or a 10 on a 10-points scale, versus 65 percent of Democrats. That 4-point lead for Democrats is down from 16 points in July. Also, 73 percent of senior citizens — who tend to vote, and vote more for the GOP — are very interested in the midterms versus just 35 percent of voters age 18 to 34. Younger voters tend to vote more Democratic, when they vote, which isn't often, as Daniel Nichanian notes:

Men are also more interested than women, 60 percent to 56 percent, and white voters (61 percent) more interested than black (53 percent) and Latino voters (49 percent). When NBC/WSJ winnowed the overall congressional preference down to likely voters, the Democrats' 12-point lead shrank to 8 points. The poll was conducted Sept. 16-19 among 900 voters and it has an overall margin of error of ±3.3 percentage points, or ±4 points for likely voters. Peter Weber

4:57 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the woman who is accusing him of attempted rape at a house party in the early 1980s, Christine Blasey Ford, are both scheduled to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday — or at least that was the plan before The New Yorker published a second allegation of sexual misconduct against Kavanaugh, this one from freshman year at Yale. In any case, Kavanaugh plans to give the Judiciary Committee calendars he kept in the summer of 1982, The New York Times reports, citing someone working for his confirmation.

The calendars "do not show a party consistent with the description of his accuser," the Times reports, but they also "do not disprove Dr. Blasey's allegations, Judge Kavanaugh's team acknowledged. He could have attended a party that he did not list." The calendars from June, July, and August show he was at the beach or with his parents many weekends, went to the movies, and did other teen activities, the Times says.

In 1982, Kavanaug was 17 and Ford 15. "Unusual for a teenager, Judge Kavanaugh seemed to keep track of his days even during summer vacation," the Times says. Some observers were confused that someone who kept such fastidious notes and held on to them for 36 years had such a poor memory and records about so many topics in his confirmation hearing. Lisa Birnbach, author of The Official Preppy Handbook, had a different problem with this new wrinkle:

"Sensitive to the potential backlash over questioning the credibility of a woman alleging sexual misconduct," the Times says, Kavanaugh "will not challenge her account of being assaulted but will argue that it was not him." Peter Weber

3:51 a.m. ET

"Facebook has been in the news a lot recently over concerns about everything, from privacy to fake news to Russian trolls, but tonight we're actually going to go in a different direction," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight: Facebook's "behavior overseas." More than half of Facebook's revenue and 80 percent of its users now come from outside the U.S.

Facebook and its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, have aggressively pushed the "utopian" idea that connecting billions of people around the world is an unvarnished good, Oliver noted, but "it's important to remember that when it comes to the internet, a certain number of those people are then going to say 'Jews control sharks who did 9/11!' and you really have to think that through. Unfortunately, thinking things through has never really been Facebook's strong point." In fact, he said, Facebook "has made some hugely consequential mistakes overseas, and that's what tonight's story is about."

Oliver pointed to a few examples but focused mostly on Myanmar, where Facebook is ubiquitous on smartphones — and the company has been very slow in policing its posts for violence-inciting posts against the minority Muslim Rohingya community by military leaders, politicians, and especially a Buddhist monk so hateful he's been called the "Burmese bin Laden." One teacher in Myanmar compared Facebook to a toilet, but Oliver said that's unfair, because "there is a purity and integrity to toilets that Facebook seriously lacks."

Until Facebook fixes this, he said, "it is painfully obvious everyone should be treating everything on their site with extreme skepticism and see Facebook for what it actually is: A fetid swamp of mistruths and outright lies interspersed with the occasional reminder of a dead pet. That's it." While his audience gasped, Oliver played his own version of a Facebook commercial. There is NSFW language throughout, plus mildly disturbing verbal imagery about Care Bears and sex. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:50 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Judge Brett Kavanaugh's Supreme Court nominator wasn't very popular before Christine Blasey Ford's allegation that he tried to rape her in high school in the early 1980s. Now, half of all voters oppose his confirmation while only 40 percent want him elevated to the highest court, according to a new Fox News poll. (In the previous Fox News poll, Aug. 19-21, voters were split, 46 percent opposing, 45 percent in favor.) The 50 percent opposition is the worst number for a Supreme Court nominee in Fox News polling dating back to 2005.

More voters believe Ford, 36 percent, than Kavanaugh, 30 percent, with 34 percent unsure who to believe, the poll found. There is a significant gender gap: Women believe Ford over Kavanaugh by 10 percentage points, and suburban women by 17 points, but men also believe Ford over Kavanaugh by a narrow 1 point. There's also a predictable partisan split, and a stark divide by education level: Voters with college educations believe Ford by a 14-point margin and those without a degree believe Kavanaugh by 17 points.

Support for Kavanaugh has dropped across the board, Fox News' pollsters found: 12 points among independents, 11 points among suburban women, 5 points among men, 4 points among Republicans, 10 points among voters under 45, and 11 points among voters in counties where the 2016 margin between President Trump and Hillary Clinton was 10 points or less.

Democratic polling firm Anderson Robbins Research and GOP pollsters Shaw & Company Research jointly conducted the Fox News poll Sept. 16-19, contacting 1,003 registered voters by phone. The poll has an overall margin of sampling error of ±3 points, and ±4 points for items related to Ford's allegations, polled Sept. 17-19. Peter Weber

2:00 a.m. ET
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

Scrabble just got a little easier, with the addition of 300 new words to the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.

Merriam-Webster is releasing the sixth edition of the dictionary on Monday, with emoji, facepalm, ew, OK, twerk, sheeple, sriracha, and yowza among the new words. Peter Sokolowski, editor-at-large at Merriam-Webster, told The Guardian "OK is something Scrabble players have been waiting for, for a long time. Basically two- and three-letter words are the lifeblood of the game."

Another game-changer is qapik, a unit of currency in Azerbaijan. "Every time there's a word with q and no u, it's a big deal," Sokolowski said. "Most of these are obscure." Merriam-Webster updates the official dictionary every four to eight years, and this time, the lexiconographers checked with the North American Scrabble Players Association on the words they thought should be included. Catherine Garcia

1:56 a.m. ET
Kelly West/AFP/Getty Images

Cody Wilson, whose controversial company sells blueprints for 3D-printed firearms, was booked into Harris County Jail in Houston on Sunday and is being held on $150,000 bond on charges that he had sex with a 16-year-old girl in Austin, the U.S. Marshals Service says. Police in Austin say Wilson, 30, fled to Taiwan after being tipped off by a friend of the girl that police were investigating the incident. He was arrested in Taiwan on Friday. "We are glad that Cody is back in Texas again where we can work with him on his case," Wilson's lawyer Samy Khalil said Sunday night. "That’s our focus right now."

Police say Wilson paid the underage girl $500 for sex after meeting her on the website SugarDaddyMeet. If convicted of sexual assault, Wilson would, among other things, be barred from possessing firearms. Peter Weber

1:04 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

They don't call Bob Williams of Long Grove, Iowa, the "Candy Man" for nothing.

Every day, the 94-year-old retired high school teacher and World War II veteran passes out Hershey's chocolate bars to people he meets around town. He got the idea 15 years ago, after reading in the newspaper about random acts of kindness and paying it forward. He has always eaten half a chocolate bar every day, and started buying a few extra to hand out to people he comes across during the day. Over the last 15 years, Williams has given out more than 6,000 candy bars. "You'd think I'd given them keys to a new car," he told the Des Moines Register. "Honest to God, these people were thunderstruck."

Williams keeps his refrigerator stocked with the candy bars and also buys two cases a week. His wife of 69 years, Mary Elizabeth, died six years ago, and he visits her memorial bench every day, where he always hands out a chocolate. Over the years, just three people have declined his gift, he told the Register. "One was a little girl in the store with her dad," he said. "On the way out, I complimented her father for training her right — to suspect old men." Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads