×
December 7, 2017

A high-end British retailer is offering its customers an unusual and perhaps unnecessary luxury: seedless avocados. The Guardian reported Thursday that the retailer Marks & Spencer believes that the seedless "cocktail avocado" will reduce the risk of people hurting themselves while cutting open the fruits.

Scoff if you must, but apparently "avocado hand" is such a prevalent problem in the U.K. that the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons thinks that the avocados need safety labels. One plastic surgeon even told the BBC that he treats about four patients a week at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital for avocado-related mishaps, most of which occur when hapless knife-wielders attempt to remove the fruit's pit.

The cocktail avocado grows in Spain and is something of a luxury fruit, which is why it is only being offered in Marks & Spencer stores for the month of December. While smaller than other traditional avocado varieties, a huge part of the cocktail avocado's appeal is that it is nearly impossible to wound oneself while cutting it open, given it has no pit and possesses an edible skin, meaning it can be eaten whole.

Marks & Spencer has previously sold miniature, giant, and pre-sliced avocados, but Charlotte Curtis, a food technology specialist for the retailer, said the cocktail version is "the holy grail of avocados." If you happen to be an avocado-lover in need, you can get your pack of knife-safe avocados for less than $3 at Marks & Spencer — which, in this writer's opinion, is far more impressive than the fact that the fruits will be seedless. Kelly O'Meara Morales

1:23a.m.

"With the midterms bearing down on us like an angry buffalo, yesterday the president had an important message," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, indulging in a little wistful sleight of hand. But President Trump had some stuff to say, too. "Our wicked step-president also held a rally yesterday," Colbert joked. "He was in Houston to support Sen. Ted Cruz, so of course he talked about himself."

Specifically, Trump claimed the title "nationalist" for himself. There are lots of historical reasons to avoid adopting that term, but Colbert had a Trump-specific one: "You know why you're not supposed to use that word? Because it's the second half of 'white nationalist.' Chopping off the first word doesn't change what it means in our minds. 'Oh, look, look, I'm a Klux Klan, I have no idea which one!'" Trump also trotted out his definition of "globalism," and Colbert had some questions: "He does realize America is on the globe, right?" he asked, imitating Trump asking people to wake him up "when it's America warming," not the global variety.

"The president did lend a tiny hand at a rally for Ted Cruz," but "that had to be the saddest phone call Ted Cruz ever had to make," Jimmy Kimmel said on Monday's Kimmel Live. "I mean, imagine if your neighbor insulted your wife's face, and then you had to ask him to loan you a weed-whacker. That's Ted Cruz's life right now. Look at them — he's bowing his head. It's like the devil making a deal with the devil." To rub it in, Kimmel Live created an unkind new campaign commercial for Cruz.

On Tuesday's Late Night, Seth Meyers turned a Trump press conference into an opportunity to ask his own questions — not all of which are appropriate for work — and get his own answers. Watch below. Peter Weber

1:22a.m.

For more than three decades, Albert Lexie shined shoes at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's Children's Hospital, and every single tip that he received went straight to the kids.

Lexie charged $2 to $5 for a shoeshine, earning about $10,000 annually, and while he could have used those tips, he instead donated them to the hospital. By the time he retired in December 2013, he had given the hospital $202,000, with the money going to the Free Care Fund, which covers medical treatment for kids in the Pittsburgh area who either don't have insurance or are under-insured.

During his time at the hospital, Lexie worked Tuesdays and Thursdays, traveling 90 minutes on three buses to get to there. He died on Oct. 16 at age 76, but because of his selflessness, he won't soon be forgotten. "His kindness and generosity were and continue to be an inspiration for all of us," Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh President Christopher Gessner said in a statement. Catherine Garcia

12:33a.m.

A fundraiser in Florida featuring President Trump's former strategist Stephen Bannon is now a free event for anyone who wants to attend.

The Hillsborough County Republican Party invited Bannon to speak at its Trump Anniversary Dinner this Friday. It's a fundraiser held in honor of Trump's election two years ago, and the Tampa Bay Times says that initially, it was a pricey affair — $20,000 secured 10 seats at a table with Bannon, while VIP tickets were going for $1,000 each and general admission was $125. Those prices were then slashed last week to $5,000 for the Bannon table, $300 for a VIP ticket, and $50 general admission. Now, all tickets are a steal at $0.00.

The Tampa Bay Times reports that the party's vice chairman, Jeff Lukens, sent an email to members saying admission on Friday will be "COMPLIMENTARY TO ALL. We have a donor who will cover our expenses." Lukens did not respond to an email from the paper asking who the donor is and how much they donated. Bannon appears to be having trouble drawing an audience, even in red areas — only 38 people attended the screening of his new documentary Monday night on New York's Staten Island. Catherine Garcia

12:23a.m.

"The great election-eve middle-class tax cut began not as a factual proposal, but as a false promise," say Philip Rucker and Ashley Parker in The Washington Post. "Yet Washington's bureaucratic machinery whirred into action nonetheless — working to produce a policy that could be seen as supporting Trump's whim."

But "the mystery tax cut is only the latest instance of the federal government scrambling to reverse-engineer policies to meet Trump's sudden public promises — or to search for evidence buttressing his conspiracy theories and falsehoods," the Post adds. "Just this week, Vice President Pence, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House all rushed to try to back up Trump's unsupported claim that 'unknown Middle Easterners' were part of a migrant caravan in Central America — only to have the president admit late Tuesday that there was no proof at all."

What the American president says doesn't just steer policy, it makes news. And Trump's flurry of untruths before the midterms has created a dilemma for news organizations. Here are some headlines in major newspapers, tackling Trump's overall campaign mendacity or specific lies:

Los Angeles Times: "Trump tries to spur Republicans to vote with false claims and dystopian warnings of Democratic 'mob' rule"

The Washington Post: "'In the service of whim': Officials scramble to make Trump's false assertions real"

The Associated Press: "'Boogeyman' Trump stokes fears in election closing arguments"

The Daily Beast: "Trump's own team knows his caravan claims are bulls--t"

The New York Times: "Trump and GOP candidates escalate race and fear as election ploys"

Politico: "Trump's mystery tax cut puzzles Washington"

The Wall Street Journal: "GOP latches onto vague Trump tax statement as campaign nears end"

Repetition can distort reality, Daniel Effron, an expert on the psychology of lies at London Business School, tells the Post. "When falsehoods feel familiar, one concern is you don't actually know what's true and what's false." But the truth is out there. Peter Weber

October 23, 2018

The Campbell Soup Company is distancing itself from an mmm, mmm dumb tweet made by the company's vice president of government affairs.

On Monday, Kelly Johnston tweeted a conspiracy theory about George Soros' Open Society Foundation, claiming the organization that works to promote democracy is behind the migrant caravan now traveling through Mexico. He retweeted a photo of the migrants, along with the caption: "See those vans on the right? What you don't see are the troop carriers and the rail cars taking them north. @OpenSociety planned and is executing this, including where they defecate. And they have an army of American immigration lawyers waiting at the border."

Open Society tweeted that "neither Mr. Soros nor Open Society is funding this effort. We are surprised to see a Campbell Soup executive spreading false stories." A spokesperson for Campbell's released a statement Tuesday saying the "opinions Mr. Johnston expresses on Twitter are his individual views and do not represent the position of Campbell Soup Company." Johnston has since deleted his Twitter account. Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2018

During an interview Tuesday with The Wall Street Journal, President Trump said that while the Federal Reserve has its independence when it comes to setting economic policy, he would like Chairman Jerome Powell to know that he wants interest rates lowered.

"Every time we do something great, he raises the interest rates," Trump said. Powell, he added, "almost looks like he's happy raising interest rates." Powell's four-year term started in February, and when asked if he regrets nominating Powell to the post, Trump responded, "too early to say, but maybe." He also said he believes the Fed is "the biggest risk" to the economy, because "I think interest rates are being raised too quickly." The Fed has been slowly raising rates this year to protect against higher inflation or financial bubbles.

When asked why he thought interest rates were going up, Trump continued to take jabs at Powell, saying he was "supposed to be a low-interest-rate guy. It's turned out he's not." Trump also talked about tariffs, claiming that although the United States has recently imposed tariffs on steel, solar panels, washers, and aluminum, plus $250 billion in Chinese imports, "we don't even have tariffs. I'm using tariffs to negotiate." The steel and aluminum tariffs are "small," he said, before asking, "Where do we have tariffs? We don't have tariffs anywhere." Catherine Garcia

October 23, 2018

Target's coming for you, Amazon and Walmart.

This holiday season, the company is offering free two-day shipping for online orders, covering hundreds of thousands of items, with no minimum purchase. It's a way to undercut competitors like Amazon and Walmart, The Wall Street Journal reports, with Walmart offering free two-day shipping on orders of $35 or more and Amazon providing the same service for Prime members. The promotion will run from Nov. 1 to Dec. 22.

Target CEO Brian Cornell said the company has been converting stores to distribution centers, which cuts shipping costs and enables "our digital growth and strategy." He said about half of all online orders are now fulfilled at stores, and the plan is to fulfill more than 90 percent of all two-day orders from stores. Even with free shipping, Cornell said Target stores will still be filled with customers, as "over 80 percent of all holiday shopping is going to happen in the store." Catherine Garcia

See More Speed Reads