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It’s Friday, May 24. In today’s issue: Mayday for May, rolling back ACA protections, and Burger King versus student debt.
With no real Brexit deal, Theresa May announces her resignation.
The embattled British prime minister is finally giving up. She announced on Friday, her voice breaking for a moment, that she would step down as leader of the Conservative Party on June 7, and sit in the prime minister’s seat until the party chooses the next leader. It’s hard to imagine that just three years ago, May—the “new Iron Lady”—took over from David Cameron, with a parliamentary majority behind her and favorable polls for her party.
Though initially not a supporter of the referendum result to pull out of the European Union, May kicked off the formal process (triggering Article 50) and has been back and forth between London and Brussels a dizzying number of times to make Brexit happen (it still hasn’t happened; the deadline has been extended). Now the process to replace her begins, and the new prime minister could be more of a Brexit hard-liner.
The Trump administration will begin to roll back two types of Affordable Care Act protections.
The ACA had offered legal protections for discrimination based on gender identity and based on termination of a pregnancy—an expansive view of what sex discrimination means. Progressive activists saw the provisions as a win for women and LGBTQ rights; conservatives saw them as evidence of executive-branch overreach. Now, writes Emma Green, “this culture-war fight is being played out in the courts and agencies, where officials are left to decide just how far interpretations of the law should go when it comes to protecting minority rights.”
Burger King wades into the student-debt crisis with a marketing stunt.
“Whopper Loans” is the burger chain’s entry into the Venn diagram of social-media anxiety and student-loan anxiety. Burger King sent a mystifying tweet this week, asking followers to reply with how much they had in student loans and their username for Cash App, a mobile payments app. Turns out it was a promotion for a two-week contest Burger King is running: Participants are eligible for 150 prizes of up to $500 in debt relief, with a grand-prize potential of $100,000 in debt relief.
Can things get any more dystopian? But, as Adam Harris notes, Burger King putting some money against student debt fits right in with a world in which game-show contestants compete for a student-debt-free life and, yes, a world in which one billionaire wipes the collective debt of one graduating class.
Test your assumptions: the answers follow directly after the third item.
The Scandal Beyond Operation Varsity Blues
The college-cheating scandal, unraveled in March, had it all: bribes, fake SAT scores, Hollywood actors. But there’s another education scandal that, while understated, might be even bigger: the disparity between how many rich kids enroll in college relative to poor kids. Nearly 80 percent of kids in the wealthiest 20 percent of families attend college, compared with this percent of kids in the lowest income quintile.
The kitchen table is thought of as the quintessential gathering place for family dinners. Maybe not anymore. According to one recent study, this percent of Americans say their primary eating location is either their bedroom or couch.
Baby Shark, doo doo doo doo doo doo
Barfed-up bird feathers, doo doo doo doo doo doo. A researcher who followed around some tiger sharks for eight years and studied their stomach contents found something funky: Out of 105 sharks, this many had bird feathers inside of them. (It’s the result of migrating birds traveling southward over the Gulf of Mexico, but who never make it to their final destination.)
- The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo, is narrated by a Dominican American teenager. Acevedo is a recently minted National Book Award winner, whose exceptionally written work is a rarity in young-adult fiction.
- Some of the most interesting characters in literature are villains, or the generally unlikable ones. Here are a few books that do bad people well.
- Fleabag: The second—and final—season of the Amazon Prime series offers a rare depiction of sisterhood, Hannah Giorgis writes, with moments tender and cruel. It’s “an almost annoyingly perfect show about the inseparable agony and ecstasy of being alive,” according to Sophie Gilbert.
- Booksmart: The Generation Z coming-of-age comedy film, directed by Olivia Wilde, about high-school best friends and “good” girls setting out to experience that one crazy night, “seems destined for instant cult status,” David Sims writes.
- If you must, and if you can stomach “technological progress gone too far,” Disney’s live-action remake of Aladdin … exists.
In honor of Ralph Waldo Emerson’s birthday this weekend (he turns 216), an excerpt from his poem “Boston,” from our February 1876 issue:
The sea returning day by day
Restores the world-wide mart;
So let each dweller on the Bay
Fold Boston in his heart,
Till these echoes be choked with snows,
Or over the town blue ocean flows.
Looking for our daily mini crossword? Try your hand at it here.