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BuzzFeed Has Itself a Serial Plagiarist

In the first major ethics scandal of the Serious BuzzFeed era, the work of viral politics editor Benny Johnson — best known for posts like “The Story of Egypt’s Revolution in ‘Jurassic Park’ Gifs” — is currently under review after numerous examples of plagiarism were highlighted by pseudonymous bloggers. Following the first three examples from @blippoblappo and @crushingbort demonstrating, at best, very sloppy sourcing (of Yahoo Answers, no less), the articles in question were “updated with proper attribution,” and BuzzFeed editor Ben Smith told Gawker, Benny Johnson is one of the web’s deeply original writers, as is clear from his body of work.”

But with another batch of examples pointed out this morning, Smith changed his tone and said in a statement, “There are three serious instances of plagiarism in this post. We're reviewing Benny's work.”


How Obama Both Has, and Has Not, Reduced Inequality

“Don’t think Obama has reduced inequality? These numbers prove that he has.”

It’s a catchy headline from the Washington Post, and a common-sense reading of it would suggest that President Obama has managed to narrow the once-yawning gap between the haves and the have-nots. But here comes the tricky bit: President Obama has reduced inequality, but inequality has not fallen during his presidency.


G Train to Cause More Trouble Than Usual for Greenpoint Residents

Residents of Greenpoint and Long Island City won't have to complain about the G train's slowness and crowdedness for the next five weeks — because it won't be stopping in their neighborhoods at all. (Cue the Joni Mitchell.) From 10:30 p.m. on Friday until September 2, G service will be shut down between Nassau Avenue in Brooklyn and Court Square in Queens so the MTA can finally repair some lingering damage from Hurricane Sandy. Service between Church Avenue and Nassau Avenue will operate with the same semi-regularity riders have come to expect from the city's most maligned subway line.


Sex, Lies, and Cooperstown: How a Juicy Tell-All Novel Traumatized America’s Baseball Mecca

I first heard about The Sex Cure in 1991 when I was 13 years old and my family had recently moved from Dallas to the picturesque, upstate village of Cooperstown, New York. Older adults there would make occasional, hesitant reference to a novel, published decades earlier, that revealed the town's secrets under a thin fictional veil, but refused to say more. I got the sense that it had disrupted a lot of lives and caused a lot of pain — but that there was also a very interesting story there. The problem was figuring out what it was. It took me until 2005 to track down a copy of The Sex Cure — if you can find one on eBay now, expect to pay up to $500 for a paperback that once sold for 50 cents. Over the course of years, I pieced together the details of the scandal by talking to longtime residents, searching through microfilm and old lawsuits, and digging up newspaper clippings. Cooperstown, as all but a few people had forgotten, was once at the center of one of the best literary sex scandals of the 20th century.

"Some people named in the novel packed up and left town." »

Screen Names, Some DNA, and a Skateboard: The Brooklyn Bridge White Flag Investigation Is Inching Along

“Many of the city’s best and brightest investigators” — including detectives from homicide, counterterrorism, intelligence, transit, and four different precincts — have yet to crack the case of the crew who strung two bleached American flags atop the Brooklyn Bridge. While the stunt does not appear to have been terror-related, it could have been, so the NYPD is taking the breach pretty seriously. Which just makes it more sad that they haven’t caught anybody yet, considering the leads they do have point to some punk kids, not Ocean’s 11–style masterminds.


The Best Moments From the de Blasios’ Dreamy Trip to Italy

As the world continues to crumble and the week winds down, so does Bill de Blasio's break from it all, an eight-day trip across his ancestral homeland. But the mayor, his wife Chirlane, daughter Chiara, and teenage son Dante made the most of their visit to Italy, having spent the week waving from balconies in Rome (and pretty much anywhere else there was a balcony), boating off the coast, devouring pizza (by questionable means) in Naples, and soaking up the adoration of thousands who really, really love that final vowel in their last name.

Thanks to the hordes of reporters and photographers following their every move, it felt like we were with New York City's first family pretty much the whole time. The least we could do was make them a vacation photo album.


Annie Lowrey on Chris Hayes: Red States Could Lose Obamacare Benefits But Keep Paying for Them

This week a federal appeals court ruled that consumers are not be eligible for subsidies under the Affordable Care Act if they purchased insurance on the federally run exchange. On Thursday night, New York's Annie Lowrey appeared on All In With Chris Hayes to discuss the decision, and why it may hurt people in poorer states if it's upheld by the Supreme Court. States that opted out of the Medicaid expansion "are not getting the full benefits of the law, but they're still paying for it," Lowrey notes. Similarly, if people lose health insurance subsidies in the 36 states using the federal exchange, "you'd have a system where in states like New York and California that set up their own exchanges and accepted the Medicaid expansion, they're really benefiting," Lowrey says. "They could end up being pretty significantly subsidized by the poor red states where most of the residents who this law was intended to benefit are living."

Army War College Opens Official Inquiry Into John Walsh Plagiarism Case

More bad news for Montana senator and alleged plagiarist John Walsh. Not only have the accusations come out as the Democrat is facing an uphill battle to keep his Senate seat, but now the United States Army War College has opened an official inquiry into his case. Turns out, the senator might find himself part of yet another exclusive club — the college has only revoked degrees from eight other students since 1990.

Honduran Minors May Be Allowed to Apply to Enter the U.S. From Home

It doesn't look like Congress is going to solve the border crisis, or address President Obama's $3.7 billion emergency spending request, before lawmakers head out for a five-week recess at the end of next week, so the White House is floating another potential solution. The New York Times reports that the Obama administration is considering a plan to let children and young adults from Honduras apply to enter the United States as refugees before setting foot outside of their country. The idea is that if people can be screened inside Honduras, those who are rejected won't attempt the dangerous trek across the border ... we hope.


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