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Stories You Might Have Missed This Week

Puerto Rico deals with cuts to food stamps, LBGT support wanes among young Republicans, and the mystery behind sea-borne Garfield phones is solved.
Spare parts of plastic Garfield phones littering a beach in western France.

Spare parts of plastic Garfield phones littering a beach in western France.

This week at Pacific Standard, we brought you stories on Elizabeth Warren's plan to dismantle big tech, NASA's difficulty outfitting female astronauts, and what the plight of the sage grouse has to do with the oil and gas industry.

But there have been plenty of other news stories to follow this week. Here are a few more we've been watching.

Puerto Rico Grapples With Food-Stamp Cuts

The United States territory had been receiving extra food stamps in the wake of Hurricane Maria, but this month, Congress missed a deadline to reauthorize that aid, the Washington Post reports. If Puerto Rico were a state, Congress would not need to play a role, the Post explains: Such programs for states are automatically funded by the federal government, whereas the block grant that funds Puerto Rico's programs has to be renewed frequently.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump this week told Republican lawmakers at a luncheon that the territory had received too much aid, the Guardian reports; Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said Trump told the group the aid was "way out of proportion" to what states like Texas and Florida have received.

Support for LGBT Rights Among Young Republicans Has Dropped

According to a Public Religion Research Institute report released Tuesday, while Americans "remain widely supportive of broad nondiscrimination protections" for LGBT individuals, support among Republicans has fallen five percentage points in recent years (from 61 percent in 2015 to 56 percent in 2018). The drop was even bigger among Republicans between the ages of 18 and 29: from 74 percent down to 63 percent.

"It was one of the largest and most significant drops that we saw," Robert P. Jones, the institute's chief executive, told the New York Times.

Garfield Phones Have Been Washing Up on French Beaches for Decades. Now We Know Why.

Telephones in the shape of everyone's favorite orange cartoon cat, first produced in the early 1980s, began appearing on the shores of northwestern France more than 30 years ago. Claire Simonin-Le Meur, president of the environmental group Ar Viltansoù, told the Washington Post that she's been trying to solve the mystery of the phones' provenance for years. Many believed they came from a lost shipping container, as was the case with close to 30,000 rubber duckies that roamed the world's oceans for years. But where was the container?

A local farmer, René Morvan, showed Simonin-Le Meur the answer: a shipping container wedged into a cave among cliffs. The two had wanted to stop the plastic objects from continuing to scatter, but found that the container was mostly empty, Simonin-Le Meur told the Post.

It's not the ideal end to the mystery. Still, it's fitting for such news to break on a Friday, since Garfield notoriously hates Mondays.