That’s So Meta

Happy Monday! We have to commend rapper Eminem for his keen entrepreneurial spirit after he launched a new pasta sauce, called “Mom’s Spaghetti,” in homage to the iconic first lines of his 2002 hit “Lose Yourself”: “There’s vomit on his sweater already, mom’s spaghetti.” Yum.

Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Saturday the beginning of “the second stage of the war” against Hamas, as Israeli forces began making narrowly targeted incursions into the northern part of the Gaza Strip. The limited ground campaign, which coincided with intense shelling and airstrikes and targeted Hamas’ boobytraps and tunnels, differed from the full-scale ground offensive U.S. defense officials initially expected. On Sunday, Netanyahu apologized for a now-deleted post on X which directed blame at Israel’s security establishment for his government’s failure to prevent Hamas’ October 7 attack that killed 1,400 Israelis. “Under no circumstances and at no stage was Prime Minister Netanyahu warned of war intentions on the part of Hamas,” the post read. “On the contrary, the assessment of the entire security echelon, including the head of military intelligence and the head of Shin Bet [the Israeli security agency], was that Hamas was deterred and was seeking an arrangement.”
  • Thousands of Gazans broke into several United Nations food storage facilities on Sunday to steal grain and other food stuff, in what the U.N. said was a sign that “civil order is starting to break down” in Gaza. Aid has entered the war-torn area through its border with Egypt, but the U.N. says the flow has so far been insufficient to meet the overwhelming need of civilians there—though the New York Times reported last week that Hamas has stockpiled enough food and fuel for itself to fight for four months without a need to resupply. 
  • Hundreds of rioters, carrying Palestinian flags and shouting antisemitic slogans and “Allahu Akbar,” stormed the main airport in the Dagestan region of Russia on Sunday evening in search of Jewish passengers on a commercial flight arriving from Tel Aviv, Israel. Russian authorities in the majority-Muslim area in the Caucasus diverted flights and closed the airport as they cleared the mob. Reuters reported 20 people were injured, two of whom are in critical condition—though the identities of those hurt were not immediately made clear. 
  • At least three people died and 50 more were injured in southern India on Sunday after an explosion, later determined by authorities to have been caused by an improvised explosive device, tore through a Jehovah’s Witness convention. A man who allegedly posted that Jehovah’s Witness teachings are “dangerous to the country” has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack and is being held by police.
  • The Sudanese army and the rival Rapid Support Force paramilitary force, which have waged war for control of the country since April, returned to U.S- and Saudi-brokered negotiations in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, over the weekend. The talks will aim to strike a ceasefire in the civil war that has killed 9,000 people and displaced 5.6 million more.
  • Former Vice President Mike Pence unexpectedly dropped out of the Republican presidential primary race on Saturday, becoming the first big-name candidate to do so after his campaign had struggled to raise the money needed to continue. “Traveling over the country over the past six months, I came here to say it’s become clear to me: This is not my time,” he told attendees of the Republican Jewish Coalition conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, over the weekend. “So after much prayer and deliberation, I have decided to suspend my campaign for president effective today.” Pence had been polling in the low single digits both nationally and in Iowa.
  • U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan reinstated a gag order against former President Donald Trump on Sunday as part of the federal case involving Trump’s efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Chutkan had paused the gag order, initially put in effect on October 20, to allow the defense to appeal the decision. Due to an outage of the court’s computer system, further details of the ruling were not immediately available—though that did not stop Trump from decrying the decision as “NOT CONSTITUTIONAL!” on Truth Social and promising to appeal.
  • The United Auto Workers union struck a tentative contract deal on Saturday with Stellantis, the parent company of Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Ram, ending a six-week strike against the company. The contract—which, like a similar deal made last week with Ford—must be ratified by the union members, and would include a 25 percent pay raise over the course of the contract, as well as regular cost of living adjustments relative to inflation. The UAW on Saturday expanded its strike against General Motors, the only major automaker with which the union has not yet come to a contract agreement.
  • After a 48-hour search, the 40-year-old man allegedly responsible for last week’s mass shootings in Lewiston, Maine, was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday, according to the Maine Department of Public Safety. The shootings earlier in the week killed 18 people and wounded more than a dozen others. 
  • Matthew Perry, best known for his role as Chandler Bing on the hit 1990s sitcom “Friends,” died Saturday at the age of 54. The actor, who struggled with drugs and alcohol throughout his life, was reportedly found unresponsive in the hot tub at his home in Los Angeles, though a cause of death is yet unknown. 

Social Ills

The Meta logo is displayed during the Viva Technology conference at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on June 14, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)
The Meta logo is displayed during the Viva Technology conference at Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles on June 14, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images)

In response to a 2017 60 Minutes profile of an ex-Google design ethicist, late-night talk show host Bill Maher sounded the alarm on the addictive nature of social media platforms. “Checking your likes is the new smoking,” he said. “Philip Morris just wanted your lungs. The app store wants your soul.”

A bipartisan group of 33 state attorneys general (AGs) launched a lawsuit last week against Meta—Facebook and Instagram’s parent company—making essentially the same argument. The suit alleges that Meta, similar to tobacco companies and opioid manufacturers, knew that its products were addictive and harmful for younger users and misled the public about the dangers. The sprawling lawsuit relies largely on state consumer protection laws and marks one of the broadest legal challenges brought against Meta, but the prosecutors could face an uphill legal battle to prove their claims in court. (Disclosure: The Dispatch is a participant in Facebook’s fact-checking program.) 

The social media giant “has profoundly altered the psychological and social realities of a generation of young Americans,” the AGs alleged in a 233-page lawsuit. “Meta has harnessed powerful and unprecedented technologies to entice, engage, and ultimately ensnare youth and teens.” The lawsuit argues that the company schemed to create “a business model focused on maximizing young users’ time and attention spent on” its platforms, designed “psychologically manipulative” features to induce young people to use their products compulsively, and knowingly misled people about the harms while continuing to downplay their consequences. Eight additional states and the District of Columbia filed similar lawsuits last week.

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