Fresh Intelligence: Zika Spreads Through Sex, Amazon’s Non-Digital Bookstores, and More

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INDIA-HEALTH-ZIKA
Not the only culprit. Photo: NOAH SEELAM

Good morning and welcome to Fresh Intelligence, our roundup of the stories, ideas, and memes you’ll be talking about today. In this edition, the CDC urges condom use after Zika is transmitted through sex, Amazon tries something old, and Mississippi makes jury duty a total pleasure. Here’s the rundown for Wednesday, February 3.

WEATHER
A massive winter storm continues to wreak havoc across the West and Midwest with 100 miles of highway closed in Nebraska, along with every highway in southern Minnesota, and 41 inches of snow dropped in Colorado. Alabama and Mississippi were both hit by multiple tornadoes with more expected in the southern states. Everything’s quite nice in New York today all things considered: a bit of rain but temperatures rising to nearly 60 degrees. [Weather.com]

FRONT PAGE
Zika Virus Transmitted Through Sex, CDC Says Use Protection
For the first time an American has contracted the Zika virus in the United States. The Dallas resident became infected through sexual contact, meaning hopes that the U.S. might avoid widespread mosquito-driven Zika infection have been misplaced. Though sexual transmission is rare, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending condom use, especially when having sex with anyone has has traveled to a Zika infection zone. This news comes just two days after the World Health Organization declared Zika a global emergency. [WaPo]

EARLY AND OFTEN
Nothing Creepy About This
It turns out Ted Cruz has a sure-fire way to decompress and help cope with the stresses of the campaign trail: calling up his long-suffering wife and singing her show tunes. Heidi refused to reveal her husband’s favorite song. Something from Rent, probably. [NYT]

Donald Trump Stays in Character
Donald Trump reacted to his surprise defeat by Ted Cruz with dignity and grace, for about a second. After congratulating his opponent, Trump took to Twitter and did what he does best: Talk about his wealth, claim he was actually successful, and blame the media. But here we are still writing about him, so joke’s on us.

Women Eligible for Europe Trip
Big changes for the biggest military on Earth. The White House announced yesterday that it would endeavor to increase military spending in Europe by 400 percent to counter an increasingly belligerent Russia. The same day, two high-ranking military officials called for all women to register for the draft following the Defense Department’s decision to open all combat roles to women. [CNN]

Your Government at Work
The branches of the U.S. government were hard at work yesterday canceling each other out and making sure nothing got done. First, the House failed to out-vote a presidential veto of a bill that would dismantle Obamacare. Then, the House passed a bill hamstringing the president’s ability to lift Iran sanctions, which the president promised he will veto. We’ll keep you posted when the House fails to get the votes to overturn that veto. [Reuters]

THE STREET, THE VALLEY
Uber Decides It Hasn’t Pissed Off Enough People Yet
Ensuring no one will ever find their Uber app again, the global chauffeuring service changed its logo from a recognizable “U” to something they call an atom and bit — what now? — but that looks kind of like an ancient Chinese coin on a basketball court or something. Oh! Maybe it’s the hole in the heart of taxi drivers everywhere? [CNN]

Barbie Earns That Dream House
Barbie is back. Mattel’s stock jumped 14 percent yesterday after the toy company reported its first holiday-sales increase in four years. The success is at least partially to blame on a new line of Barbies that look, well, human. [WSJ]

Future Amazon Will Force Itself Out of Business
After announcing disappointing earnings, it looks like Amazon is trying something not-new-at-all. The General Growth Properties CEO let slip in a conference call that the online retail giant is planning on opening up to 400 brick-and-mortar bookstores. It’s a pretty good plan: Thanks to years of Amazon existing, they’re not likely to face much competition. [Bloomberg]

Defunct Keyboard a Front for Microsoft AI Purchase
Microsoft will reportedly buy the popular mobile keyboard SwiftKey for $250 million. Why fork over a quarter billion for an app whose best features most people already have for free? The answer is very John Grisham-y: It seems SwiftKey is involved in some exciting artificial-intelligence research that Microsoft wants to get its hands on.  [FT]

MEDIA BUBBLE
You’re About to Have Even More Movie-Binging Options
Online Modern Family archive Hulu is making moves to purchase films screened at the Sundance Film Festival, following in the footsteps of Amazon and Netflix, streaming services that also buy and distribute original films. Hulu would probably show the films on their service while also releasing them in theaters. [Bloomberg]

Harper’s Editor Fired After Three Issues, Not a Bad Run These Days
Christopher Cox, the extremely short-lived but apparently well-liked editor of Harper’s, has been fired after editing only three issues. No official explanation — aside from “editorial differences” — has been forthcoming. Rumor has it Cox supported a plan to update the 175-year-old magazine’s cover design, read: basically ruin everything. [Gawker]

ExIntercept Reporter in Plagiarism Scandal
Juan Thompson has been exposed as having falsified quotes, made up sources, and misrepresented himself while working as a staff reporter at the Intercept. It appears that even Thompson’s bio on the website was full of lies. He has since responded to allegations with a series of emails that are at turns enraging, befuddling, embarrassing, and sad. [The Intercept]

PHOTO OP
Looks Like All That ’70s New York Nostalgia Is Paying Off
Everyone’s favorite red-bonneted vigilantes are back. The Guardian Angels have begun patrolling subway cars for the first time in decades in response to a growing freak-out over a recent spate of slashings.

Image
Photo: Robert Nickelsberg/2005 Robert Nickelsberg

MORNING MEME
Imitation Crab
Some suspect this video of a Welsh vlogger getting hit in the face with a fish while reporting on a recent storm is fake, but for now can’t we just enjoy it?

OTHER LOCAL NEWS
Jury Duty: The Dirtiest Privilege
In what we’re almost positive was a ploy to get citizens more civilly engaged, 350 people in Mississippi received jury summons that directed them to call a sex hotline. Callers were apparently greeted by a voice saying: “For hot girls, press 1. For hot guys, press 2.” Says Jackson County circuit clerk Randy Carney, “Hopefully no one did that.” But, we’re pretty sure everyone did. [WLBT]

Drug Dealer Cuts Out Middle Man
A not-too-bright Pittsburgh entrepreneur discovered the flaw in his plan of selling drugs to people as they left court when he was arrested by a few of the many officers on duty. [Yahoo]

HAPPENING TODAY
Today Is the Day Some Lucky High Schoolers Give Up on Their Dreams of Being a Doctor
It’s national signing day, the day when high-school seniors can sign a binding agreement with college-football programs. College-ball fans will be watching the outcome closely. [ESPN]