The times they are a changin'
December 31, 2017

The U.S. military will accept openly transgender recruits beginning Monday, Jan. 1, after the Trump Department of Justice dropped its legal challenge to multiple court rulings against President Trump's surprise announcement on Twitter this past July that he would "not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity." Trump's tweets cited "tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail" and reversed an Obama-era schedule for recruitment.

A Pentagon representative said the new policy will proceed as "mandated by court order" and that all "applicants must meet all accession standards." However, the Justice Department also indicated Friday the Defense Department "will be releasing an independent study of these issues in the coming weeks," with the implication the court battle could potentially resume after the report is published. Bonnie Kristian

September 23, 2016

The Cincinnati Enquirer broke its longstanding conservative tradition by backing Hillary Clinton on Friday. "The Enquirer has supported Republicans for president for almost a century — a tradition this editorial board doesn't take lightly. But this is not a traditional race, and these are not traditional times," The Enquirer explained.

Presidential elections should be about who's the best candidate, not who's the least flawed. Unfortunately, that's not the case this year […] Trump is a clear and present danger to our country. He has no history of governance that should engender any confidence from voters. Trump has no foreign policy experience, and the fact that he doesn't recognize it — instead insisting that, "I know more about ISIS than the generals do" — is even more troubling. His wild threats to blow Iranian ships out of the water if they make rude gestures at U.S. ships is just the type of reckless, cowboy diplomacy Americans should fear from a Trump presidency. Clinton has been criticized for being overly cautious when it comes to sending our troops into battle, but there is a measured way to react to the world's problems. Do we really want someone in charge of our military and nuclear codes who has an impulse control problem? [The Cincinnati Enquirer]

"In these uncertain times," The Enquirer concludes, "America needs a brave leader, not bravado. Real solutions, not paper-thin promises. A clear eye toward the future, not a cynical appeal to the good old days." In the RealClearPolitics average, Trump leads Clinton in the battleground state of Ohio 45 percent to 43 percent in a two-way race and 42 percent to 40 percent when third-party candidates are considered.

Many other conservative papers have struggled this election season with whom to endorse; The Dallas Morning News, in backing Clinton earlier this month, endorsed its first Democrat in 75 years. Jeva Lange

May 24, 2016

As Donald Trump ramps up his attacks against his likely general election rival, Hillary Clinton, he is increasingly zeroing in on her husband, former President Bill Clinton, for his alleged sexual transgressions. "Is Hillary Clinton really protecting women?" Trump has blasted.

But now even one of Bill Clinton's biggest critics is backpedaling from that sort of talk. Kenneth W. Starr helped pursue the impeachment of Clinton in the 1990s, but in a startling about-face now praises him for being "the most gifted politician of the baby boomer generation," The New York Times reports.

"[Bill Clinton's] genuine empathy for human beings is absolutely clear. It is powerful, it is palpable and the folks of Arkansas really understood that about him — that he genuinely cared. The 'I feel your pain' is absolutely genuine," Starr said during a panel discussion at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. "There are certain tragic dimensions which we all lament," Starr added.

Starr also expressed concern about "the transnational emergence of almost radical populism, deep anger, a sense of dislocation" — an apparent reference to Trump, although none of the current presidential candidates were mentioned by name. Jeva Lange

April 19, 2016

Everybody knows that the way to differentiate between Diet Coke and full-sugar Coke is by looking at the color of the can — for as long as Diet Coke has been around, it has been branded with a signature silver design while the original Coca-Cola flavor has been sold in a classic all-red can.

Confusingly, that won't be true for much longer. In an effort to "use one visual identity system," Coca-Cola will be putting a large red circle on all of its cans beginning in May in Mexico and rolling out across the rest of the world throughout 2016 and 2017, BuzzFeed reports.

Diet Coke isn't the only can getting redesigned — Coke Zero, which normally comes in a black can, and the stevia-sweetened Coca-Cola Life, normally in a green can, will all be marked red with their original colors being relegated to accents. "We're extending the strong brand equity of Coca-Cola across the trademark to offer consumers more choice and to also better promote our great-tasting diet and light portfolio," Coca Cola CEO Muhtar Kent explained to BuzzFeed.

Change is hard!

UPDATE April 20: A spokesperson from Coca-Cola has clarified that, "Coca-Cola North America is exploring a variety of 'One Brand' packaging graphics for the Coca-Cola Trademark. Due to an already packed promotion and marketing calendar, there will not be any changes made in 2016. The results of testing in North America will inform our packaging considerations for the Coca-Cola Trademark in 2017 and beyond." Jeva Lange

September 3, 2014

An openly gay group will finally be allowed to march in New York City's century-old St. Patrick's Day Parade next year after organizers announced they were ending a controversial ban on their participation.

Parade organizers had in the past defended the ban by saying gays were free to march so long as they did so as part of other groups. But OUT@NBCUniversal, an LGBT group at the broadcasting network, will march under its own banner next year, the parade committee said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press.

The ban became a flashpoint political issue of late, with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio refusing to march this year, instead participating in a smaller, all-inclusive version of the parade in Queens. Jon Terbush

July 21, 2014

Last week was a kind of victory lap for "Weird Al" Yankovic, whose new album Mandatory Fun was greeted with a near-rapturous reception across the internet.

But while Yankovic is thrilled to have had "the best week of [his] life in terms of a response from people," it may also be a kind of swan song; despite the success of Mandatory Fun, Yankovic says he's ready to abandon the album format altogether.

"I hate to draw lines in the sand and say this is absolutely the last album, but it sure looks that way," he explained in an interview with Associated Press. "It's the end of my record deal. I've been under contract since 1982, and I just kind of feel like — especially with the kind of music that I do — the album format isn't the best way to deliver that music. It feels like I need to be more, you know, immediate. And that means, probably, singles."

As long as he keeps churning out hilarious music videos to go along with them, fans can probably live with that. --Scott Meslow

June 6, 2014

A new ABC News/Washington Post poll reveals that half of Americans see gay marriage as a constitutional right, versus 43 percent who don't. Public opinion has rapidly shifted on gay marriage in recent years, and 19 states and the District of Columbia now allow gay couples to legally wed.

Unsurprisingly, the poll shows that age and ideology are closely correlated with opinions on gay marriage. Seventy-seven percent of respondents younger than 30 support gay marriage, compared to 38 percent of seniors. Eighty-four percent of liberals back gay marriage, and 62 percent of moderates do, too. Among those who describe themselves as "somewhat conservative," gay marriage gets 37 percent support, compared to just 22 percent among people who are "very conservative."

Read the rest of the survey at ABC News. Jordan Valinsky

See More Speed Reads