Hit List: January 22, 2019

  1. US Officials now say that there have been covert talks between the U.S. and North Korea for almost a decade. In 2012, then CIA deputy director Michael Morell headed a trip to Pyongyang to keep communications open despite tense relations between the countries.
  2. Travelers may be feeling longer delays at security checkpoints during the partial Government Shutdown, but they’re no less safe once on board the plane. Up in control towers, the staff on hand is doing just fine. Data suggests that “serious traffic-control deviations” — when planes fly too close to each other — are flat, and even down 4% year over year. Perhaps those up in the tower are all the more vigilant.
  3. The young pro-life activist who stared down a drum-banging opponent has won the PR battle. Over the weekend it appeared the kid was defiantly smirking at a Native American activist near the Lincoln Memorial, but longer form video shows quite the opposite — that the activist came up to the kid, who alongside his schoolmates, were plenty peaceful on their own.
  4. Viewership might be rebounding for the NFL — the AFC championship on CBS raked in 53.9 million viewers, the highest number for the conference title game in 5 years.
  5. New Orleans Saints owner Gayle Benson is rightly sour grapes over Sunday night’s botched call that stole a win from their grasp. In a statement posted on the team’s website, she said she’s been in touch with the NFL and will “aggressively pursue” changes in NFL policies.
  6. The French government is slapping Google with a $57 million fine for not adequately informing users it was collecting data on them . It’s one of the biggest fines of its kind … and about .0005% of Google’s 2018 revenue.
  7. Swipe right for God: The Pope unveiled an app called “Click to Pray,” through which the world’s 1.6 billion Catholics can see a list of the things the Holy Father is praying for, and click an icon to join him in that prayer. It rolled out ahead of World Youth Day in Panama, which kicks off today, as a way to connect with the young Faithful.
  8. California Senator Kamala Harris has formally announced she’ll run to be president in 2020.
  9. JC Penney may be the next once-great retailer to go belly up. Holiday sales were down 3.5%, despite aggregate spending increasing. Major senior executive positions remain unfilled.
  10. Excess use of cocaine in London is wigging out eels in the River Thames. Research done by King’s College London says concentrations of the drug is high in wastewater. Water treatment plants aren’t able to filter out the drug. Eels affected by the drug “appear hyperactive.”