By Walt Hickey
Thanks for the well-wishes, I’m on the mend.
The weed-killer Roundup is an enormous business for manufacturer Bayer and agribusiness as a whole, but concerns about the health effects of glyphosate-based herbicides — or, more specifically, class action litigation concerning the health effects of the weed killers — is causing jeopardy for the companies that make them. While the specific type of herbicide is a $5 billion industry, Bayer makes more than $9 billion annually on seeds that have been genetically engineered to withstand it. An increasingly large share of scientific research has been funded by corporate sources rather than government or academia. Government support of scientific research has stayed flat since 2007 at about $38 billion per year, while corporate money doubled over that period of time to $27 billion.
Shazam! made $53.5 million domestically this past weekend, and here’s the wild thing. Apparently, a majority of viewers of this movie about a comic book character for children were under the age of 25, and one in three was under the age of 17. And while that number wouldn’t be great for other gazillion dollar superhero movies, Shazam! was made on a downright reasonable budget of $98 million.
Washington State has become the ninth state in the U.S. to raise the age at which someone can purchase tobacco products like cigarettes, cigars or vapes to 21. Hawaii was the first to enact the change in 2016, and by the end of 2018 five more states followed suit. This year, six state legislatures have passed laws hiking the smoking age to meet the drinking age — an attempt to cut one last pathway for tobacco to get into high schools — but in three of those states the governor has yet to sign.
Canada, a nation notoriously on thin ice when it comes to what they get away with calling football, has taken an ambitious step forward when it comes to youth safety in the leagues. A new rule that takes effect in 2022 will discontinue 12-on-12 tackle football for kids under the age of 12. Already kids under eight are forbidden from tackle football, and children 10 or younger are allowed to play either flag football or six-on-six. The number of Canadian kids playing football of any kind fell from 170,000 in 2010 to 100,000 today.
In 2018, the Supreme Court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME that people who were not members of public sector unions but still benefited from the collective bargaining were no longer on the hook for agency fees, which come in at about 75 to 85 percent of full union dues. Based on the last year, that’s had a massive effect: AFSCME and SEIU lost almost 210,000 agency fee payers combined in 2018, losing 98 percent and 94 percent of them respectively. There wasn’t a discernible shift in overall union membership.
In a landmark study cat owners will never hear the end of, 36 percent of people in households who own dogs identified as “very happy,” which is considerably higher than the 18 percent of cat households who said the same. Mixed households that have both dogs and cats come in smack-dab in the middle, with 28 percent saying they were very happy. Meanwhile, the rest of us who live in Security Deposit-landia and who have no pets are basically doing just fine, with 32 percent saying they’re very happy. I have all the downsides of a cat household — the distressing sounds of feline mating rituals in a Queens alleyway — and all the upsides of a dog household, in that I live here and I am loud and in constant need of attention.
A Noble Attempt To Make Baseball Interesting
Police are investigating an incident that may have caused an estimated $50,000 in damages, when someone dumped 25 gallons of gasoline on a baseball infield in an attempt to make it dry faster. The actions of the baseball fan — or, dare I say, baseball enemy? — took place in front of a rapt audience of 75 to 100 Ridgefield, Connecticut fans, who instead of watching the town’s high school team host Amity saw a Universal Studios Field of Dreams stunt show go terribly wrong.
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