This week, New Yorkers emerged from their darkened studio apartments, blinking and stretching, to greet their first 70-degree day since October. But as the cotton dresses and sandals are resurrected from storage, so too are the eye drops and bottles of Allegra. “Although spring is off to a slow start, now we are starting to see catch up when it comes to a massive pollen surge, the ‘double whammy’ that combines tree and grass pollen, peaking over mid spring and beyond,” said allergist Dr. Clifford Bassett, who noted “this year’s season will be one of the toughest in years.”
It was carrying nearly 14 million honeybees, which were returning from a job pollinating an apple orchard. Although they stayed in their boxes for a while, busy making honey, they began to swarm around the highway, covering the reporters on the scene and the suited-up beekeepers trying to rescue the cargo.
Each week, Daily Intelligencer will assemble a selection of the most amusing or simply bizarre details about the campaign season that are entirely lacking in news value. This week's crop of less-than-important election news — which stood apart in a week during which the internet spent an inordinate amount of time discussing lunch and logos — includes mentions of Nicki Minaj, Iowa-themed T-shirts, and a shirtless Marco Rubio.
New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen introduced legislation on Wednesday that would recommend that the Treasury Secretary "convene a panel of citizens" who would debate which woman could replace Andrew Jackson on the $20.
A grassroots campaign, Women on 20s, has earned major buzz for pushing this idea — hundreds of thousands of people have voted on the group's website for which woman they would like to see on U.S. currency (Eleanor Roosevelt, Harriet Tubman, and Rosa Parks are favorites). “Our paper currency is an important part of our everyday lives and reflects our values, traditions and history as Americans,” Shaheen said in a statement. “It’s long overdue for that reflection to include the contributions of women."
Susan Ades Stone, executive director of Women on 20s, told the Associated Press this week that she was "not under any illusions that the person who comes out of our polling will be the person who ends up on a bill because there is a process and that process usually involves empaneling a group of experts to make certain design choices." However, the group does plan to reach out to the White House and show off the support for their idea soon.
Daily Intelligencer wrote about the political difficulties of changing currency in late March. “There’s an inherent conservatism when it comes to money here,” Matthew Wittmann, assistant curator of American coins and currency at the American Numismatic Society, said, explaining why the faces on dollar bills hadn't changed since 1929.
State Representatives Jean O'Sullivan and Christopher Pearson are tired of waiting for the Vermont state legislature to consider marijuana-legalization legislation. They decided the best way to get everyone's attention back on the issue was by sponsoring a bill that would ban booze. If the bill were passed, anyone found with alcohol could face 30 years in prison, and up to $1 million in fines.
Don't worry, however, residents of Vermont.
O'Sullivan and Pearson have no intention of letting this bill pass. O'Sullivan told the Huffington Post that "the object was to basically embarrass leadership." Pearson told the Associated Press, “Whereas prohibiting the sale and possession of alcohol is a laughable suggestion, the commonsense reaction against this idea should be the same logic we use to consider the continued prohibition of marijuana."
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch is trading in his airy triplex near Madison Square Park for a townhouse downtown, according to The Wall Street Journal. The 7,600-square-foot apartment features five bedrooms, five bathrooms, and panoramic views of the city, and is listed for the bargain price of $72 million.
Williamsburg residents interested in venturing to Manhattan this weekend will be disappointed to learn that they're basically trapped inside their trendy-people utopia for the foreseeable future. Starting at 11:45 p.m. Friday, there will be no L train service between 8th Avenue and Lorimer Street while the MTA performs maintenance through early Monday morning, effectively trapping all of the hipsters in one borough for the next five weekends. Is the L train fucked? Yes, forever.
All things told, Bill Shuster couldn’t have picked a better week for his relationship with a lobbyist to become news. On Thursday, Politico reported that Shuster, a Republican congressman from Pennsylvania who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, was having what he described as a “private and personal relationship” with a top lobbyist at a major airline trade association, Airlines for America. This comes at a time when the group is lobbying heavily for a major bill overhauling the Federal Aviation Administration. Coming after a week in which a man landed a flying bicycle on the Capitol lawn, Marco Rubio defied his mentor to announce a run for president, and Hillary Clinton ordered a burrito bowl, Shuster’s relationship will hardly be the biggest news of the week — and for that, he’s lucky. Lawmaker-sleeps-with-lobbyist stories are media catnip because they seem to confirm the very worst of what everyone already knows about Washington: that big-moneyed interests and their relationships with lawmakers are way too cozy and close.
President Obama’s approval ratings are hovering a few points below 50 percent, and his party is seeking a third straight term in the White House. Most analysts see this as a toss-up scenario. I see it as a highly favorable situation for the Democrats that would require a major event, like an economic downturn, to change. What accounts for the difference? At the bottom, it is about whether American presidential politics are following the same basic rules they have for decades, or whether the game has changed. I believe the game has changed, and the thing that’s changed is polarization.