The true story behind Arlo Guthrie’s Thanksgiving staple, “Alice’s Restaurant”

Thanksgiving is here: a time for family, friends, gravy, and Arlo Guthrie talk-singing his way through an 18-minute-long anti-war song about littering. A natural fit, no?

That’s what various rock radio stations around the country seem to have concluded, because most major cities in America now have at least one station that makes a point of playing Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant” every Thanksgiving. In my own hometown of Philadelphia, WXPN’s Helen Leicht plays it every year at noon, and my family gathers around the radio like we’re in an old-timey Norman Rockwell painting, ripping apart bread for the stuffing and singing, …

Congress is on track to avoid a government shutdown — as long as Trump doesn’t get involved

On the weekend before Thanksgiving, Congress, surprisingly, seemed to beat a deadline.

This past Saturday, negotiators in the House and Senate came to an agreement on top-line numbers for 12 spending bills, the Washington Post reported. These spending bills, which had been stalled, will keep agencies across the government funded through next September.

While neither chamber has passed the updated legislation yet, the agreement in the House and Senate bodes well for their approval ahead of an upcoming December 20 cutoff. Earlier this month, Congress had passed yet another short-term measure aimed at giving lawmakers until that mid-December deadline …

The alarming trend of beached whales filled with plastic, explained

Our oceans are filling with plastic, which in turn is filling up the bellies of the creatures in the sea.

Recently, researchers examined seven beluga whales harvested by Inuvialuit hunters in Canada. This month they reported that they’d found microplastics in the digestive systems of every whale.

“Our observation that that microplastics were present in every individual beluga we sampled underscores the global nature of this emerging pollutant, and the vulnerability of remote regions to contamination,” researchers wrote in a paper published in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.

Microplastics aren’t the only concern; this year we’ve seen several whales wash …

Vox Sentences: When Trump knew

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Trump reportedly knew about whistleblower before aid release

  • More is known about President Donald Trump freezing nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine thanks to the impeachment inquiry testimony of White House Office of Budget and Management (OMB) official Mark Sandy, which was released this week. [NPR / Elena Moore]
  • Sandy told lawmakers Trump voiced concerns about the aid in

TikTok is accused of censoring anti-Chinese government content, again

A US teenage TikTok user’s attempt to spread awareness about China’s oppression of its Uighur Muslim population has renewed questions about censorship on the China-based social media company’s platform.

Earlier this week, 17-year-old Feroza Aziz, who lives in New Jersey, posted on TikTok what was presented as a threepart tutorial on how to get longer eyelashes but quickly switched to a call-out about China’s treatment of its Muslim population. Several human rights groups have accused China of putting 1 million Muslims, mostly from the Uighur ethnic group, into concentration camps and shutting down or destroying mosques. China’s government …