December 26, 2016

The Republican National Committee's Christmas message on Sunday, issued in the name of chairman Reince Priebus and co-chairwoman Sharon Day, included this line, after a sentence clearly referring to the birth of Jesus: "Just as the three wise men did on that night, this Christmas heralds a time to celebrate the good news of a new King." The message did not mention Donald Trump, for whom Priebus will serve as White House chief of staff, but the sentence still brought out the theologians and liturgists on social media — who pointed out, among other things, that the three wise men did not herald Jesus' arrival on Christmas, the angels and shepherds did. (In the Western Christian tradition, the three wise men or kings arrive in Bethlehem on Jan. 6 to pay homage to Jesus.) The wording of "a new King" was maybe a wee bit ambivalent, too:

Also, CNN notes, "last year's Christmas message from Priebus made no reference to a 'King.'" In any case, Sean Spicer, Trump's incoming press secretary and director of communications, felt the need to clarify that Priebus wasn't hailing King Trump and scold everyone for spending Christmas on Twitter instead of spending it with their families, or something. Peter Weber

December 23, 2016
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images

Traditionally, presidents-elect don't try to make policy before taking office, because the United States has only one president at a time, and on Thursday, Donald Trump spokesman Jason Miller insisted that Trump wasn't trying to set new policy, either, when he tweeted earlier in the day that "the United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability until such time as the world comes to its senses regarding nukes." Instead, Miller said, "Trump was referring to the threat of nuclear proliferation and the critical need to prevent it — particularly to and among terrorist organizations and unstable and rogue regimes."

If those two statements — expanding nuclear capabilities and preventing nuclear proliferation — don't seem all that similar, Miller said that Trump "has also emphasized the need to improve and modernize our deterrent capability as a vital way to pursue peace through strength." Some nuclear proliferation experts expressed alarm at Trump's apparent call to start expanding the U.S. nuclear arsenal, after decades of scaling it down, but most analysts were just confused. "It is completely irresponsible for the president-elect or the president to make changes to U.S. nuclear policy in 140 characters and without understanding the implications of statements like 'expand the capacity,'" said Daryl Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association. "He must have leaders around the world trying to guess what he means," Kimball told Reuters. "This is bush league."

Robert Jervis, a nuclear weapons expert at Columbia University, told USA Today he didn't think Trump's tweet would spark a new arms race, as some other analysts fear. But if Trump is going to weigh in on complex issues, especially ones that could lead to massive loss of life, he should be more specific, Jervis said. Is Trump advocating breaking the 2011 New START treaty with Russia? Does he want to spend more than the $350 billion Obama has budgeted to upgrade America's aging nuclear weapons? Has Trump even thought this through? "Unless we're being fooled and he's done great thinking, these tweets are off the top of his head and are immediate responses," Jervis said. "If you try to dig deep there isn't anything there. There's a reason states don't communicate in 140 characters without serious staff work." Peter Weber

December 21, 2016

Some people hear the line in the Christmas standard "Baby, It's Cold Outside" about, "Hey, what's in this drink?" and can't help but think of Bill Cosby. Tucker Carlson hears playful flirtation. The song was written during World War II, he said on his Fox News show Tuesday, "but some people are now finding offense with some of those lyrics. The song has been characterized as 'rapey.'" Carlson justifiably rolled his eyes over a new, "bowdlerized" version of the song, then brought on Vox writer Emily Crockett to play counterpoint to his defense of a Christmas song about a man pressuring a woman to have sex.

"Now feminists, maybe unfairly, have had this reputation as humorless scolds," Carlson began, and "I'm not sure attacks on this song do much to fight that perception." Crockett said her article wasn't an "attack" on the song, explaining that when she listens to the song, she can hear both the "rapey" and "romantic" sides. When the song was written, she noted, women "had to play hard to get, or had to just allow themselves to be seduced," rather than say they were interested in sex. At the same time, "putting pressure on a woman to have sex is just not cool for a variety of reasons," she said. "There's a difference between a negotiation and, you know, a predation." In the original version of the song, the man's part is labeled "wolf" and the woman's part is labeled "mouse," she said, which is "kind of creepy." "Why is that creepy?" Carlson asked.

"This issue is that it's a debate over whether the song promotes problematic ideas of consent, right?" Crockett said. "Don't you think that's a debate that's completely confined to small groups of silly rich people?" Carlson asked. When she said no, Carlson said he was trying to take this seriously, then brought up female genital mutilation, saying he never hears feminists complain about that on Vox. (Doesn't he have a research department, or the internet?)

"Culture matters," Crockett said, trying to find common ground. "I know conservatives feel this way, too, about culture, right? Like, we worry about the signals we're sending our kids. And if the signal we're sending our young men is that it's okay to badger and badger and pressure and pressure, and not listen to a woman, not respect her when she says no...." "Well, I'm against that," Carlson said, then he tried to adopt the left's language. "Isn't maybe even a bigger threat to our country and our minds to politicize art relentlessly?" When she said no, he cut in again: "So there can be no safe space from politics?" Watch. Peter Weber

March 11, 2016
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The decision by Nabisco's parent company, Mondelez International, to move Oreo production from Chicago to Salinas, Mexico, has drawn sharp criticism from presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and especially Donald Trump, a former pitchman for Oreos. The company cites the $46 million it will save each year for the move to Salinas and the dismissal of 600 workers in Chicago, but Mondelez spokeswoman Laurie Guzzinati says at least half those workers would still have lost their jobs if Nabisco built its new cookie and cracker factory in the U.S.

"Even if the investment would have been made in Chicago, there would have been an impact to positions at that bakery," she told USA Today, explaining that the new factory lines and machines are more efficient than the ones Nabisco operates in Chicago.

Nate Zeff, a member of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers (BCTGM) International Union, isn't sympathetic, especially since Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld earned $21 million last year. "We're talking about 600 jobs," he said, and "600 families who are going to be deeply affected. That's millions of dollars that's going to be stripped away from the economy here." The Chicago plant will still have 600 workers, and while it won't be making Oreos, Nabisco's Oreo plants in Oregon, Virginia, and New Jersey will still make the cookies, along with bakeries in 16 other countries. Oreos earned Mondelez $2.5 billion in revenue in 2014. Peter Weber

February 16, 2016

It's probably fair to say that Donald Trump is not very popular in Europe right now, especially Britain, where Parliament vigorously debated barring him from the country. Perhaps that's why The Economist attempted to explain "Donald Trump's terrible appeal" in the video below. Trump looked like a loser after coming in second in the Iowa caucuses, but after winning the New Hampshire Republican primary by a wide margin, the unidentified British narrator says, "suddenly, this braggart tycoon actually had something to boast about."

That sets the tone for the rest of the video, which is filled with interviews in which New Hampshire voters profess their love and intention to vote for Trump. What's going on? "To many dispassionate observers, Mr. Trump is an egotistical blowhard with awful ideas for America," The Economist notes, dispassionately. The magazine did find one man at a Trump rally who, after watching him speak, changed from a big supporter to a critic who called Trump a "joke" who will never be president. The first part is right, The Economist said. "As a candidate for president, Mr. Trump is a bad joke. His thuggery and his willful ignorance defy parody. And yet Mr. Trump, on the back of his performance in New Hampshire, now has a strong chance of winning the Republican nomination." Watch The Economist's analysis — which includes finding "a feeling of reckless euphoria among some of Mr. Trump's supporters" — below. Peter Weber

September 1, 2015

If you missed Sunday night's Video Music Awards, or only watched snippets of it, or even watched the whole thing and didn't understand why Nicki Minaj was calling host Miley Cyrus a "bitch," Jimmy Kimmel provided a small public service on Monday's Kimmel Live. And rather than just explain what happened, he illustrated the tiff with emojis, like any grown man might. You can watch and learn below. Peter Weber

August 31, 2015

Europe is facing a lot of tough, complicated choices — and some very visible tragedies — as it deals with a huge influx of migrants from Africa, Afghanistan, and the Middle East. But as The Economist explains in the video below, the would-be refugees from the various areas have more or less settled on specific routes to Europe. If you want a better understanding of Europe's biggest current problem, this video will give you a good, helpful overview of what's going on in the European Union and the decisions it faces in the next months and years. Peter Weber

August 14, 2015

Uber is a company that lots of people love, and lots of others love to hate. The ride-sharing app/service touches on a lot of hot-button topics, like labor, technology, startup vs. incumbents, and what it means to be an employee. Alex Fitzpatrick at Time takes a look at the various controversies surrounding Uber, decides the company isn't "evil," exactly, but suggests that its ultimate, unfriendly goal is to get humans out of the driver's seat. Watch below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads