In other news...

A new flag, a new name, a lot of drugs, a few others, and 7 other things worth your time.

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It’s a weird time for someone who writes a daily email newsletter that isn’t partisan, when the election is pretty much the main thing on almost everyone’s mind actoss the world.

But, besides the race for president and other races for political offices, there were at least 129 statewide ballot measures across the country this week. Let’s go through all of them in detail.

On second thought, let’s just highlight a few that are interesting. (Ballotpedia has the full list, although you have to click through to each one to see if it passed.)

A few that I found interesting…

In Mississippi, they replaced the state flag, getting rid of one that had a Confederate-themed design in favor for one showcasing a magnolia.

Marijuana is now legal, at least partially and at the state level, in one-third of the United States. New additions: New Jersey (almost 67% approval), Arizona (almost 60%), Montana (57%), and South Dakota (53%). Also, Mississippi voters allowed marijuana for medical reasons.

In Oregon, voters took things ever further, and approved the idea of decriminalizing small amounts of harder drugs, like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. 

Massachusetts passed “right of repair,” which basically means that car manufacturers have to give vehicle owners and independent repair shops “access to to the same vehicle diagnostic and repair information made available to the manufacturers' Massachusetts dealers and authorized repair facilities.”

In Puerto Rico, there was a big question on the ballot: “Should Puerto Rico be immediately admitted into the Union as a state?” Voters said “yes,” 52% to 48%. Of course, Puerto Rico can’t just say it wants to be admitted; that would take an act of Congress, which seems unlikely at the moment.

California always has some big ballot measures, so it gets its own section. This year they included:

  • Proposition 16, to let public employers, universities, etc. use affirmative action. It failed.

  • Proposition 22, which classified ride share drives and other gig economy workers as contractors, not employees. It passed.

  • Proposition 24, an online privacy law, which passed. It lets people tell businesses not to use certain categories of sensitive information, including race, health, religion, location, sexual orientation, and biometrics.

Finally, the state where I grew up, Rhode Island changed its name. No joke; for centuries, first as a colony and then as a state, it was officially called: “State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.” Voters shortened it down to just, “State of Rhode Island.”

I know there are lots of others. If there’s one that was on the ballot where you live, please feel free to add them in the comments.

7 other things worth your time

  • Covid is still a thing, and the United States had its worst day so far in terms of new diagnoses: 100,000 new cases in a single day. Meanwhile, Londoners hit the town one last time last night, before the UK’s new four-week lockdown (Buzzfeed News, Reuters)

  • Win or lose, President Trump is not exactly the type to go gently into that good night. He’s reportedly told colleagues, “sometimes joking, sometimes not,” that if he comes up short, he might immediately announce a plan to run for reelection in 2024. (NYT)

  • Elon Musk says Tesla came within a month of going bankrupt in 2019, when it was struggling to bring its best-selling vehicle, the Model 3 sedan, to market. (CNN Business)

  • Scientists tracked a cosmic radio burst to “a weird type of star called a magnetar that’s 32,000 light-years from Earth,” according to four studies in Wednesday’s journal Nature. (AP)

  • Retailers worry that a tight election race might dampen consumer spending during the holiday season. (CNBC)

  • A study of 871 students between ages 10 and 17 finds something not surprising, but disturbing anyway: kids who endure bullying in school are more likely to develop violent and antisocial behavior later in their lives. (Universidad de Cordoba)

  • On Tuesday, whoever is in control of a Bitcoin wallet with about $964 million worth of crypto transferred all its contents. The wallet was “1HQ3Go3ggs8pFnXuHVHRytPCq5fGG8Hbhx,” it had been dormant for a long time, and it’s been the subject of hack attempts and speculation. Now, by definition, we’ll almost certainly never know anything more about it. (Vice)

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