If being nice makes us happier, why don’t more people do nice things?

SALT LAKE CITY — If you’ve put off writing a thank-you note because you want to get the words just right, stop dawdling. If you figure it won’t matter anyway, you’re wrong. And if you think you don’t have time, you might want to pencil a few minutes into your hectic schedule. That nice gesture yields dividends to everyone involved, according to a new study in the journal Psychological Science that finds people miscalculate the benefits of writing to someone to express gratitude. And they overvalue the importance of getting it exactly right. The researchers, from the University of Chicago and University of Texas at Austin, found those who write… Read More

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Will More Veterans in Politics Make Politics Better?

This week I wrote about With Honor, a non-partisan PAC that is supporting “young veterans” — generally people age 45 and below who have served in the post-9/11 “long wars” — as candidates for political office. The occasion for writing about them was a $10 million donation from Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos for this cycle’s Congressional elections. My argument in the piece was that this effort was worthwhile, because the U.S. “will be better off with a broader draw of future leaders who understand service-above-self as more than an abstraction.” You can read the full case here. For now, reader response, pro and con. First, on the relevance of John… Read More

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Mac Miller, who collaborated with rap royalty, dies at 26

LOS ANGELES — Mac Miller, the platinum hip-hop star whose rhymes vacillated from party raps to lyrics about depression and drug use, and earned kudos from the likes of Jay-Z and Chance the Rapper, died Friday at age 26. Police and paramedics found Miller unresponsive at his home in Los Angeles and declared him dead shortly before noon, coroner’s spokeswoman Sarah Ardalani said. An autopsy will be required to determine the cause of death. His death was first reported by celebrity website TMZ. “He was a bright light in this world for his family, friends and fans,” Miller’s family said in a statement. Miller also drew headlines for his two-year… Read More

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Minnesota is experiencing record-breaking chill. How long will it last?

SALT LAKE CITY — Salt Lake City might be sizzling, but there’s at least one state that isn’t … yet. Minnesota is experiencing a record-breaking chill wave in the early days of September, according to The Associated Press. The National Weather Service said Thursday that temperatures dropped below freezing in several spots. In International Falls, Minnesota, temperatures hovered at about 28 degrees, which broke the record of 31 degrees. Hibbing, Minnesota, saw temperatures fall to 29 degrees. In Robinson, Minnesota, temperatures dropped to 24 degrees. “It’s a little earlier than normal for these temperatures, but it’s been colder earlier in the year,” the Weather Service said, according to The Star… Read More

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NYC prosecutor’s plan could wipe out 20,000 pot convictions

NEW YORK — Tens of thousands of low-level marijuana convictions could be erased with the OK of Brooklyn’s top prosecutor, under a new plan for wiping records clean of offenses no longer being prosecuted in parts of the nation’s biggest city. District Attorney Eric Gonzalez announced Friday he is inviting people to request conviction dismissals. He expects prosecutors will consent in the great majority of a potential 20,000 cases since 1990 and an unknown number of older ones. To Gonzalez, whose office has stopped prosecuting most cases involving people accused of having small amounts of pot, it’s only right to nix convictions that wouldn’t be pursued now. “It’s a little… Read More

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Daphne Bramham: Decriminalization is no silver bullet, says Portugal’s drug czar

In the 1990s, Portugal was in the throes of a national crisis, averaging 360 drug overdose deaths a year in a country of 10 million. Today, it has one of Europe’s lowest rates of drug, alcohol and tobacco use and the number of overdose deaths in 2016 was 26. In a weeklong series from Portugal, Vancouver Sun columnist Daphne Bramham looks at the lessons to be learned from the country’s radical approach to addiction treatment. LISBON, Portugal — Almost every day, foreigners knock on João Goulão’s door seeking a solution to their countries’ drug addiction problems. Goulão is Portugal’s director-general of drug policy and the architect of its radical approach,… Read More

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Another day at Tesla: Execs depart, Musk invites controversy

Another executive departure, another controversy over the CEO’s behavior, another stock drop. Another typical day at Tesla. Although the details change, the pattern stays the same. This time, the executive departure is David Morton, chief accounting officer at Tesla Inc., who called it quits after just a month on the job. The controversy is over Elon Musk taking a hit off an apparent marijuana-tobacco joint during a podcast interview that made its rounds on YouTube. And the stock dropped more than 6 percent Friday to close at $263.24 a share — its lowest point since March of last year. All of it comes as the electric automaker continues to struggle… Read More

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Ex-Trump campaign adviser sentenced to 14 days in prison

WASHINGTON — George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign adviser who triggered the Russia investigation, was sentenced to 14 days in prison Friday by a judge who said he had placed his own interests above those of the country. Papadopoulos, the first campaign aide sentenced in special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation, said he was “deeply embarrassed and ashamed” for having lied to FBI agents during an interview last year and acknowledged that his actions could have hindered their work. “I made a dreadful mistake, but I am a good man who is eager for redemption,” Papadopoulos said. The punishment was far less than the maximum six-month sentence sought by the government… Read More

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Mexico rights agency: 696 found in mass graves since 2017

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission says the discovery of 166 bodies in a field in Veracruz state brings to 696 the total number of corpses found in mass graves since the beginning of 2017. The government rights agency says 163 clandestine burial pits have been found, mainly concentrated in states like Veracruz, Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Zacatecas and Jalisco. The commission said the existence of such burial pits shows the lack of effective law enforcement. The mass graves are often dug by drug and kidnapping gangs to dispose of the bodies of their victims or rivals. The pace of such discoveries does not appear to have slowed much since… Read More

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Wildfire closes key California highway through the weekend

SHASTA-TRINITY NATIONAL FOREST, Calif. — A stretch of a major highway near the California-Oregon border will remain closed through the weekend as crews try to tame a roaring wildfire burning on both sides of the north-south route, authorities announced Friday. The blaze that shut down Interstate 5 on Wednesday was still burning out of control, said Denise Yergenson, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation. “There is active fire close to the highway,” she said. “There is lots of damage, lots of emergency personnel. It’s just not a safe situation.” Officials on Sunday will reevaluate whether to reopen the route that traverses the entire West Coast from Mexico to… Read More

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