Super-powers at the movies now playing, in non political but political stories


Welcome to The Daily 202! Tell your friends to sign up here. On this day in 1789, Fletcher Christian led the mutiny on H.M.S. the Bounty.

Superpowers at the movies. A participation trophy fight. Facial recognition. Rural airport crisis. Your nonpolitical but political stories.

Movie theaters go big, so you don’t go home. North Carolina lawmakers want to ban participation trophies. Ohio facial-recognition use draws controversy. Rural airports are in crisis. These are your weekly nonpolitical yet political stories.

The Daily 202 generally focuses on national politics and foreign policy. But as passionate believers in local news, and in redefining “politics” as something that hits closer to home than Beltway “Senator X Hates Senator Y” stories, we try to bring you a weekly mix of pieces with significant local, national or international importance.

Please keep sending your links to news coverage of political stories that are getting overlooked. They don’t have to be from this week! The submission link is right under this column. Make sure to say whether I can use your first name, last initial and location. Anonymous is okay, too, as long as you give a location.

Multiplex? More like Googleplex!

Facing competition from home setups featuring large, high-definition TVs paired with top-shelf sound systems, to say nothing with consumers’ ability to pause the show, movie theaters are piling on the features in an effort to put people in seats, Dawn Chmielewski and Lisa Richwine report for Reuters.

“The growing appeal of giant screens, room-pulsing audio, moving seats and simulated environmental effects, such as rain or the scent of pine forests, offer a glimpse of how theaters aim to thrive in the streaming era. Researcher Comscore predicts the formats will account for 16.7% of 2023 domestic ticket sales, up from 9.2% in 2019,” they wrote.

  • U.S. and Canadian ticket sales in 2023 are off 16 percent from 2019.
  • But 35 percent of the $204.6 million “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” has made domestically “came from enhanced formats, including oversized screens and 3D projection,” they wrote.

The politics: This is a big shift in economics, and in culture, which both have political dimensions. And of course the recovery from the closures at the height of the pandemic is in part a story of policy choices in economics and public health.

For some North Carolina state lawmakers, it’s not how kids play the game, it’s whether they win or lose, Matthew Gault noted earlier this month at Vice. Three local senators have introduced legislation to ban all government-run sports organizations from giving participation trophies.

As Gault reported, this has been a conservative bugbear for a while.

“An op-ed in an Ohio newspaper from 1922 decried the practice of handing out trophies to anyone who showed up to play in a high school basketball tournament. Since then, comedians have mocked the practice, pundits have bemoaned how it is weakening the youth, and now a group of politicians in North Carolina are trying to ban the practice.”

The politics: After Mr. Potato Head, the green M&M and Bud Light, it’s pretty hard *not* to see the politics of the culture wars.

Ohio really likes the look of your face

For more than a year, the Ohio attorney general’s office paused its use of facial-recognition software because of civil-liberties concerns. But not only is it using it again, it has turned to Clearview AI, “a private vendor that has faced multiple lawsuits over claims it stockpiles massive amounts of photos without permission,” Jeremy Pelzer reported for

  • The searches can run through “the company’s database, which includes billions of photos obtained from publicly available sources such as news media, mugshots, and public social media accounts,” Pelzer wrote.
  • “Clearview AI has been repeatedly accused in court of getting those photos without the consent of the people portrayed in them.”

The politics: Nothing more informs The Daily 202’s half-joking prediction that “the coming dystopia will be a robust public-private partnership” than facial-recognition policies, which all too often don’t have explicit buy-in from voters.

A new take on fly-over country

Caroline flagged this one. Over at Politico, Liz Crampton reported on a true crisis for rural America: the catastrophic speed and scale of airport closures. As someone born in a rural state, The Daily 202 can easily imagine the damage.

“Since January 2020, at least 324 airports have seen service cuts, losing an average of 30 percent of their flights, according to the Regional Airline Association. More than 14 airports have lost commercial service completely, including places such as Mobile, Ala.; Ogden, Utah; Stowe, Vt., and Williamsport, Penn. — a pace whose breadth and speed are almost unheard of,” Crampton wrote.

The politics: This is an obvious hardship for Americans who have to drive several hours to get on a plane, and of course threatens many rural or small city economies. Look for lawmakers to push for federal resources to prop up service where major airlines no longer go.

See an important political story that doesn’t quite fit traditional politics coverage? Flag it for us here.

Fed says it must strengthen banking rules after SVB’s collapse

“In a scathing report, the Federal Reserve on Friday outlined a series of disastrous decisions that led to the downfall of Silicon Valley Bank — including failures by the central bank’s own supervisors to ward off last month’s crisis,” Rachel Siegel reports.

Senate investigation into Brett Kavanaugh assault claims contained serious omissions

The 28-page report was released by the Republican senator Chuck Grassley, the then chairman of the Senate judiciary committee. It prominently included an unfounded and unverified claim that one of Kavanaugh’s accusers – a fellow Yale graduate named Deborah Ramirez – was ‘likely’ mistaken when she alleged that Kavanaugh exposed himself to her at a dormitory party because another Yale student was allegedly known for such acts,” the Guardian’s Stephanie Kirchgaessner reports.

BBC chairman resigns over million-dollar Boris Johnson loan deal

The chairman of the BBC, Richard Sharp, announced his resignation on Friday following the release of an independent report that found he breached government rules by failing to declare his role in helping then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson get a personal loan,” William Booth reports.

Lunchtime reads from The Post

This is what it took for Arizona Republicans to expel an election denier

“In the two and a half years since Donald Trump falsely claimed victory in the 2020 election, Republican officeholders have rarely held their fellow party members accountable for originating or spreading misinformation about the electoral system,” Yvonne Wingett Sanchez reports.

  • But the case of the Arizona legislator who helped perpetuate the groundless belief that the Sinaloa drug cartel was orchestrating election fraud ended this month with an unusual twist: She was expelled from office by her colleagues, Republicans included.”

A second firm hired by Trump campaign found no evidence of election fraud

Former president Trump’s campaign quietly commissioned a second firm to study election fraud claims in the weeks after the 2020 election, and the founder of the firm was recently questioned by the Justice Department about his work disproving the claims,” Josh Dawsey reports.

  • Ken Block, founder of the firm Simpatico Software Systems, studied more than a dozen voter fraud theories and allegations for Trump’s campaign in late 2020 and found they were ‘all false,’ he said in an interview with The Washington Post.”

What to know about Bluesky, as Dril and AOC join the new Twitter alternative

“Musk took over Twitter in October, and in the months since, it has been riddled with glitches and changes, frustrating users who say the site now has a different feel. Many apps have tried to fill the gap — Mastodon being the most successful so far — but Bluesky seems to be the first to come close to striking Twitter’s offbeat tone. As more Twitter users flocked to Bluesky on Thursday, one account likened them to a group of people who ‘miraculously survived a plane crash together,’” Kelsey Ables reports.

Denied a gun license over school threat, accused leaker Jack Teixeira later got top-secret clearance

“As a high-school student, the Air National Guardsman charged with leaking classified intelligence documents admitted he made violent threats that prevented him from getting a firearms license. Two years later, however, he secured a top-secret security clearance,” the Wall Street Journal’s Nancy A. Youssef and Sadie Gurman report.

  • The episode, which was reported to local police, was one of several that Airman First Class Jack Teixeira of the Massachusetts Air National Guard admitted had been problematic — to authorities weighing his application for a gun license, to investigators who ultimately granted him a security clearance, and to fellow online gamers with whom he allegedly offered to share classified documents, according to documents prosecutors filed in federal court late Wednesday.”

Think Manchin has coal connections? Meet his rival.

West Virginia voters may swap one coal boss for an even bigger one. Republican Gov. Jim Justice jumped into the race Thursday to challenge Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, setting up a potential collision between two politicians with deep connections to the state’s coal industry,” Politico’s Scott Waldman reports.

  • Justice, who was included on Forbes’ billionaires list as recently as 2020, has profited from family businesses in the fossil fuel industry across Appalachia. Recent polling shows he is the strongest candidate vying for the Republican nomination to challenge Manchin.”

White House reiterates refusal to negotiate on debt limit as pressure mounts

“The White House on Thursday slammed a newly passed House GOP bill that would slash federal spending while raising the debt limit for about a year, aiming to head off the Republican message that the ball is now in President Biden’s court to stave off a catastrophic default,” Toluse Olorunnipa, Liz Goodwin and Marianna Sotomayor report.

Biden gets bipartisan blowback on getting U.S. tanks to Ukraine faster

Senators on both sides of the aisle are frustrated with the Pentagon’s monthslong timeline for sending U.S. tanks to Ukraine, saying Kyiv needs the capability now,” Politico’s Connor O’Brien reports.

  • “Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee gave an earful to top military commanders at a hearing Thursday on the need to speed up delivery of Abrams tanks as Ukraine prepares for a counteroffensive to retake territory from Russia.”

DOJ challenges Tennessee over ban on gender-affirming care for minors

“The Department of Justice filed a motion Wednesday to join a lawsuit three Tennessee families filed against their state last week alleging a new law banning care for transgender minors is unconstitutional,” María Luisa Paúl reports.

Mexico’s massive beer exports, visualized

“The United States is the world’s largest beer importer, accounting for almost 2 out of every 5 cross-border beer dollars. About 80 percent of that money goes to Mexico. That’s up from a paltry 17 percent in the early 1990s. For Mexico, the United States has become the only market that matters. In a recent 12-month span, 97 percent of Mexican beer exports flowed north across the border,” Andrew Van Dam explains.

Conservative dissenters block abortion limits in Nebraska, South Carolina

“The failure of strict new abortion laws to advance in two conservative-dominated legislatures on the same day this week signaled a mounting fear among some Republicans that abortion bans could lead to political backlash,” Brittany Shammas, Dan Rosenzweig-Ziff, Rachel Roubein and Caroline Kitchener report.

  • “A near-total ban on abortion failed Thursday in South Carolina, just hours before a six-week ban fizzled in Nebraska. Abortion remains legal in both states until 22 weeks of pregnancy.”

CNN’s Scott Jennings goes after Randi Weingarten for role in school closures

“CNN’s Scott Jennings confronted American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten on Thursday’s edition of CNN Tonight, accusing the labor leader of not only working to keep schools closed during the coronavirus pandemic but lying about it,” Mediaite’s Isaac Schorr reports.

“After host Alisyn Camerota turned to Jennings, he launched into an impassioned monologue:”

At 2:30 p.m., Biden will present the Commander-in-Chief trophy to the Air Force Falcons.

The Bidens will leave the White House for the Salamander D.C. hotel at 4:50 p.m., where they will attend a private reception for the Democratic National Committee.

The golden age of the White House correspondents’ dinner (yes, there was one)

“The pageantry is all just a pantomime at this point, a costumed reenactment paying homage to a golden age of Beltway excess and aspiration, defined by an unbroken quarter-century succession of (we’re just going to come out and say it) cute presidents. Clinton. Bush. Obama,” Amy Argetsinger and Roxanne Roberts report.

  • Love them or hate them, it cannot be denied that this was a unique era in both Washington and popular culture, when the nation happened to be led by suave, quippy young boomers with low resting heart rates and fully intact natural hairlines, and who all looked great in a tux. And that era produced some pretty memorable parties.”

Thanks for reading. See you next week.


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