Friday News Bites: Bowe Bergdahl, Amazon vs. Hachette, Political Facepalms + More

Happy Friday, friends. We have a grab-bag of politicians making some … questionable decisions, LEGO being awesome, and the Amazon Overlords being rather Overlord-y. Let’s get started.

Three years after their Arab Spring, Libya now has two rival governments, and the country is headed back into war after mediation efforts were not successful.

In other independence-related news: As Scotland considers whether or not they will leave the United Kingdom, President Obama recently urged them to stay. To the surprise of no one, this has something to do with the U.S.-owned Trident nuclear submarines residing there.

Five years ago, Private First Class Bowe Bergdahl walked away from his post in Afghanistan and later became a Taliban prisoner-of-war. Last Friday, President Obama arranged for his release in exchange for five Taliban fighters who were being held at Guantanamo. Some are questioning his decision, and members of his platoon have written about how Bergdahl’s desertion cost other soldiers’ lives.

I don’t know enough about the Bergdahl situation to offer much opinion about it, so let us move on to more ludicrous political maneuvers.

Pam Bondi, Florida’s twice-divorced Attorney General, is arguing in favor of keeping the state’s same-sex marriage ban because she thinks same-sex couples don’t have “stable and enduring family units.” Uh-huh. Right.

Aspiring Arizona politician Scott Fistler recently decided to change his party affiliation from Republican to Democrat… Oh, and change his name to Cesar Chavez. He’s running for a spot in the predominantly Hispanic 7th Congressional District. I just… I just don’t even know what to say.

And speaking of labor issues, “Walmart moms” have begun staging protests against the company’s wages and work conditions.

The majority of mothers working at Walmart, which drew a $16bn profit last year, earn less than $25,000 a year. […] The protesters, who include current Walmart workers as well as members of the allegiance Our Walmart, are demanding annual wages of at least $25,000, more full-time openings and an end to retaliation against workers who speak out against their conditions.

Walmart is also in the news for stepping into the Amazon vs. Hachette battle. If you hadn’t already heard, Amazon is not stocking some books from the publisher and is carrying limited stock of the other titles after a contract dispute between the two companies. When Amazon suggested that people buy, —for example, J.K. Rowling’s next book, The Silkworm — from one of their competitors instead, Walmart said, “Like us.” They began offering Hachette titles for up to 40% off their cover price.

And now Stephen Colbert is stepping in with his thoughts on the matter.

After squashing our dreams for a “Random Penguin House” or “Random House Penguin” name, the newly-merged Penguin Random House has revealed how they will incorporate existing imprint logos in with their new one. It’s fine, I guess.

I don’t know why I keep coming back to stories like this, but we’ve got ourselves another human skin book cover. Harvard scientists have determined that the book by French author Arsène Houssaye had it covered in skin from the back of a woman, “an unclaimed body of a female mental patient who died of a stroke.”

Clearly, we need to end on a story that’s not so Hannibal.

LEGO has finally heeded the call from girls and their parents for better female characters. The company is introducing new playsets that give LEGO ladies science-related jobs, and my daughter and son looked up long enough from their Harry Potter-themed LEGOS to say that the sets look pretty awesome.

It’s a start! We’ll see you next week, Unicorns.

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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