Happy Wednesday. Burger King’s new “Frequent Fry’er” program lets customers who order through the fast-food chain’s app add free fries of any size to an order once a week through the rest of the year. Those are a lot of restrictions, but the fries are still free. (They’re also Burger King fries, but nothing’s perfect.)
🇸🇮 It looks like Slovenia’s pro-Trump Prime Minister Janez Janša lost out to the newly-formed Freedom Movement party in the national election Sunday. The environmentalist Freedom Movement, led by former businessman Robert Golob, was formed less than a year ago.
🌴 Bad news for that rainforest-killing palm oil! Indonesia plans to ban exports of the world’s most-used vegetable oil starting tomorrow. You can find palm oil in all kinds of processed foods, from Nutella to Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.
💊 An aspirin a day won’t keep the doctor away. The US Preventive Service Task Force has updated guidelines to remove the recommendation that people over 60 take a daily aspirin to prevent heart problems. And they’re not so sure about people 40-59, either. For healthy people, the risks outweigh the benefits.
Coronavirus Update 😷:
The White House announced a new push to increase U.S. use of Paxlovid, Pfizer’s antiviral drug that fights Covid. The government’s aim is for the drug to show up in pharmacies throughout the country. They also want to increase test-to-treat sites and raise general awareness about the drug.
Beijing has rolled out mass testing for almost 20,000 residents after 29 cases were confirmed in 24 hours as of Monday afternoon. Shanghai-style lockdown fears are high.
In an effort to reduce chemical pollution, the E.U. published a proposal Monday that could potentially ban up to 12,000 different toxic substances using existing laws. According to The Guardian, chemical pollution “is thought to be pushing whale species to the brink of extinction and has been blamed for declining human fertility rates, and 2 million deaths a year.”
Enter: the E.U.’s new “restrictions roadmap,” which proposes a rolling list of entire classes of chemicals (flame retardants, PVC plastics, etc.). The list will regularly be considered for regulation by the European Chemicals Agency.
Unsurprisingly, the industry is not happy about this, arguing that wide classifications could mean products are banned in which the chemicals allegedly don’t cause harm, like paint and fragrance. But the choice to categorize the chemicals like this could force sneaky industry types from using “regrettable substitution” to sneak their still-harmful substance through regulations.
Perhaps the E.U. has learned from the U.S.’s big oil manipulation story. If the U.S. had blocked out oil executives from shaping climate policy, things might be different today. Stay strong, E.U.!
Fidelity Investments announced that people will soon be able to add a little bitcoin to their retirement accounts. As much as 20%.
Later this year, the 23,000 U.S. employers who use Fidelity can choose to offer a bitcoin option to their employees. Will they do it? Maybe.
Why Employers Might
This is a big win for crypto, with a huge endorsement from an investment giant, the first in the retirement-plan provider space to make the leap. And it might be the right time for crypto to catch on. “There is a need for a diverse set of products and investment solutions for our investors,” said Dave Gray, head of workplace retirement offerings and platforms at Fidelity. “We fully expect that cryptocurrency is going to shape the way future generations think about investing for the near term and long term.”
While Fidelity is starting with bitcoin, other options are expected to be available in the future. This is good news for individual investors in the country, who are all about the crypto: 80 million U.S. individual investors own or have invested in digital currencies, according to Fidelity estimates.
Why They Might Not
The U.S. Department of Labor regulates employer-sponsored retirement accounts, so they’re the parents in this situation. In March, they sat employers down for a talk with guidance that warned them to “exercise extreme care before they consider adding a cryptocurrency option to a 401(k) plan’s investment menu.”
With this guidance and elsewhere, DOL officials have expressed “serious concerns,” which means the legal hurdles could be big.
Most retirement funds involve at least a little risk. Crypto is a new risk, so people are hesitant, but this move from Fidelity makes me think it’s only a matter of time before crypto is just another part of any old 401(k).
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The U.S. Supreme Court is evaluating the place of prayer in public schools.
The high court heard oral arguments Monday in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, a case involving a high school football coach who was put on leave for praying on the 50-yard line after games.
There is debate over whether this act was private religious expression (protected), or if Kennedy was leading a service that some players interpreted as required (not). “No one doubts that public school employees can have quiet prayers by themselves at work even if students can see,” said the school district’s lawyer Richard Katskee. “But that wasn’t good enough for Mr. Kennedy. He insisted on audible prayers at the 50-yard line with students. He announced in the press that those prayers are how he helps these kids be better people.”
This isn’t just about football prayer. Depending on which facts the Justices buy, this case could change the regulation of prayer in public schools. There has already been mention of the Lemon test, from the 1971 case Lemon v. Kurtzman. In that case, SCOTUS created a test for church-state separation that conservatives don’t like. Kennedy’s case could throw the Lemon away.
Religious expression is a First Amendment right in the U.S., but when it becomes less personal and more public, it can become coercion, violating others’ First Amendment rights. An atheist student thought he might lose playing time if he didn’t join Kennedy’s prayer. That doesn’t sound like private religious expression to me.
Most of us know that one of the ways we can keep the earth from crumbling around us is to eat less meat. A new study reveals that people in North America and Europe need to chop out at least 75% of their meat eats to keep the planet alive.
Researchers at the University of Oxford’s Livestock, Environment and People program conducted a trial to show that the same self-regulation techniques used to lose weight can work to lose meat, too. (Which, then, might also help you lose weight and help save animals, so win-win-win.)
The Optimise meat tracker allowed one group of study participants to pick a method to reduce meat intake each day and then report back, along with a record of how much meat they consumed.
The trial found that the group who used the app reduced their meat intake by 57% after the first month. But the control group who also had to track their meat for a few weeks to participate in the study, saw a 47% reduction in meat intake
“It looks like the requirement for them to track their meat intake during the baseline and follow-up weeks, combined with the information we gave them at the start of the study, acted as an intervention itself,” said Dr. Cristina Stewart, who headed up the study.
We get by in life through selective attention. Most of us don’t have to think about breathing, blinking, or walking. If we thought about everything, we wouldn’t be able to live. But when we force our attention to something, many people use the information they become aware of to change. Maybe that can save the planet.
News By The Numbers
855. That is how many vehicles New York City is planning to cut from its fleet of 31,079 in an attempt to reduce emissions from municipal workers. Mayor Adams hopes it will set an example for the rest of the city. Hard hats didn’t catch on, but maybe alternative transportation will.
560. That is the number of disasters the world will experience per year by 2030, according to a U.N. report released Monday, up from 400 a year in 2015.
1,247-2,822 feet. That is how big an incoming asteroid will be. It will be closest to Earth on May 9 and comes on the heels of a 1,150- to 2,560-foot asteroid coming even closer to us on Thursday.
Cary Elwes is trending because a rattlesnake bit the English actor of “Princess Bride” fame. He’s “recovering well” and made a Rodents of Unusual Size joke in a tweet Monday. (Warning: there’s a picture.) That was all everyone needed to make the same “Princess Bride” joke. As you wish.
Wicked is trending. It looks like the adaptation of the musical will be split into two films, one on December 25, 2024, and one on December 25, 2025.