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Foot, meet mouth
May 8, 2014
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Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has turned Charles and David Koch into his favorite punching bags this year, repeatedly dinging the billionaire brothers for bankrolling GOP interests. Yet in an interview with MSNBC's Chuck Todd Thursday, Reid offered a puzzling pronouncement: Sure the Kochs are bad, but Sheldon Adelson, another GOP mega-donor, is A-okay.

"I know Sheldon Adelson," Reid said. "He's not in this for money."

The Kochs, he explained, "are in it to make money" and to "add zeros to their billions," whereas Adelson is "in it because he has certain ideological views."

Adelson has donated millions of dollars as part of an effort to ban internet gambling, something that would directly threaten his bottom line. And there was much speculation in 2012 that Adelson — who dropped $90 million on the election — did so in hopes of putting business-friendly Republicans in Congress and the White House.

Adelson also happens to be from Reid's home state, so draw whatever conclusions you may want to from that. Jon Terbush

Iran nuclear deal
September 1, 2015
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On Tuesday, Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said they will support the Iran nuclear deal, putting the White House just one vote short of the 34 senators needed to sustain his veto of the Senate's probable disapproval resolution. Coons had expressed strong reservations about the deal as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but said in a speech early Tuesday that while it "is not the agreement I had hoped for," it is the best realistic option to constrain Iran.

The deal also got the endorsement of two prominent House Democrats on Tuesday, Rep. Adam Smith (Wash.), the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (N.Y.), who has close ties to pro-Israel advocacy groups. Congress will open debate on the binding disapproval resolution next week, but if another senator goes on record as being in favor of the deal, the next hurdle for the White House will be getting 41 senators to support a filibuster, sparing President Obama a veto entirely. Peter Weber

China Slumping
September 1, 2015

American politics still tends to think of China in terms of cheap and plentiful exports, and as the hoarder of the globe's manufacturing jobs. But that industrial boom required enormous raw materials, and it came with a rising middle class that wants stuff.

As Joseph P. Quinlan, a chief market strategist at Bank of America, demonstrated in a recent note to clients, that's made China a key source of global consumption as well — a title our politics tends to bestow on America itself. In fact, China recently overtook the U.S. in terms of how many countries rely on it to buy their exports:

(Graph courtesy of Business Insider)

If the recent slowdown in China does spread, this is the route by which it will happen: By depriving the world of the aggregate demand it needs to keep providing enough jobs and rising income to everyone around the globe.

This also clarifies what should worry us about China. Yes, its authoritarianism is wrong. And yes, it would probably be wise to liberalize its markets. But in many ways China faces the same problem as the already-democratic and already-liberalized U.S. and Europe: Whether its socioeconomic order can keep enough purchasing power in the hands of enough ordinary people to maintain aggregate demand. Jeff Spross

This just in
September 1, 2015
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If all you've ever wanted was an Egg McMuffin for dinner, you're finally in luck. McDonald's announced Tuesday that, following months of deliberation and testing, it will begin serving breakfast all day long on Oct. 6 in all 14,300 of its U.S. restaurants.

Under the current rules, McDonald's breakfast fans have to sacrifice precious beauty sleep to snag a hash brown before the cutoff at 10:30 a.m., when the chain switches from heating up eggs to heating up Big Macs.

After years of customer complaints, McDonald's USA President Mike Andres said the company had finally decided to give the people what they wanted. "This is the consumers' idea," Andres told The Wall Street Journal. Since the fast-food chain's sales have been in a slump, Andres and McDonald's franchisees are hopeful that all-day breakfast sales could offer the boost they've been looking for, even if preparing two kinds of meals at once does introduce some additional costs and complexities.

Mark your calendars. Becca Stanek

marijuana vs. tobacco
September 1, 2015
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Today's college students prefer lighting up a joint to sparking up a cigarette, a new study released Tuesday revealed. The number of U.S. university students using pot a on near-daily basis has reached a 35-year high, supplanting cigarettes as the most popular smokeable substance.

Nearly six percent of college students smoke pot "either every day or at least 20 times in the previous 30 days," A 2014 University of Michigan survey of full-time college students found.

But, parents, your kids still aren't as big potheads as you were back in the day. While the latest pot-smoking stats are dramatically up from just four years ago in 2007, when just 3.5 percent of students reported using pot on a near-daily basis, kids today still haven't reached the 7.2 percent high of 1980.

Meanwhile, cigarette smoking's popularity has seen a drop that's more dramatic than marijuana's rise. While 19 percent of college students identified as "heavy cigarette smokers" back in 1999, only 5 percent of students do now. Becca Stanek

too good to be true
September 1, 2015
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Google's self-driving cars are really, really good at following traffic safety rules. But they still get into crashes — because human drivers are so bad at following the rules.

Since 2009, Google's driverless cars have been in 16 car crashes, with every single case being the fault of a human driver. The company was responsible for a crash only once — when a human employee, and not the computer, was controlling the self-driving car. Indeed, when Google's driverless cars follow the rules to the T, they actually get into trouble:

One Google car, in a test in 2009, couldn't get through a four-way stop because its sensors kept waiting for other (human) drivers to stop completely and let it go. The human drivers kept inching forward, looking for the advantage — paralyzing Google's robot. [The New York Times]

"The real problem is that the car is too safe," one expert explained. "They have to learn to be aggressive in the right amount, and the right amount depends on the culture."

Consider:

[Google's car] leaves what is considered the safe distance between itself and the car ahead. This also happens to be enough space for a car in an adjoining lane to squeeze into, and, [Nationwide Insurance safety expert Bill] Windsor said, they often tried. [The New York Times]

Dmitri Dolgov, the head of Google's Self-Driving Car Project, was blunt about the solution: For driverless cars to work the way they're supposed to, human drivers simply need to be "less idiotic." Jeva Lange

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
September 1, 2015

Change is hard and Google, which has used the same recognizable four-color wordmark since 1999, is shaking things up with the introduction of a spiffy new sans-serif logo. Comfort yourself with this, at least: The new logo isn't here just to shake things up — it's actually got a real, functional purpose.

Losing the little "tails," or serifs, on the letters makes the font more legible when it's written in tiny sizes. Fast Company points out that if you're reading off of a 2.5-inch Android Wear watch, or a cell phone, the new font will now be just as readable as if it were projected on a 50-inch TV. The new logo is also animated, morphing into small dots that playfully circle each other on screen — which matches the playful look of the new wordmark, too.

And of course there's the fact that it's consistent. Now that Google belongs to the parent company Alphabet, which itself uses a sleek, modern, sans-serif look, the new logo keeps it all in the same (font) family. Jeva Lange

taste the rainbow
September 1, 2015

It's finally September, which means the real NFL action is just over a week away. But if the Sept. 10 season opener still seems out of reach, here's a treat to fill the football-shaped void: Marshawn Lynch appeared on a TV shopping network to hawk — what else? — Skittles.

Yes, the man behind "Beast Mode" took to the small screen Tuesday morning to espouse the myriad merits of his much-beloved candy. When EVINE Live hostess Allison Waggoner asked Lynch about the nature of his relationship with Skittles, the star running back was not shy:

Lynch's Seattle Seahawks open the season against the St. Louis Rams in Missouri on Sunday, Sept. 13. Don't forget to buy Skittles for your watch party. Kimberly Alters

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