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In late August, news organizations are determined to observe their annual ritual of declaring the days to be slow, news-wise, that is. Sometimes, they’re right. Other times, they are being willful in their neglect of important stories.

But, while the FDA’s ruling about the morning after pill, or the one-year anniversary of the worst calamity in human rights in the U.S. since slavery may not quite break into our placid, late-summer news reading, some stories simply cannot be ignored.

News of interplanetary significance — news about our stars — is at the top of the list today. If you know the names of the planets, then you know Pluto. Well, planets, like stars, aren’t always able to hold their own against extreme popular pressure. So this week has seen two powerful demotions. Pluto is no longer a planet, and Tom Cruise is no longer a star.

On the Pluto front, the impact is huge. For instance, you have to adjust to the new list of planets, which doesn’t include Pluto anymore. But it goes beyond that. Some web pages will have to change. Even the trajectory of some spaceships might have to be reconsidered: For example, evidently some of the ashes of Pluto’s discoverer are bound for the former planet this very moment. Will they have to turn back?

Demotions are not the only news the media is all over this week, though. There are promotions to be reported, too. For example, Paris Hilton, a big ball of gas preparing to implode into a bright supernova, is being promoted to universal status. Also in the news, the United Kingdom has seen its population top 60 million. Thanks to an interesting but hard-to-understand loophole in the new definition of planets, that means that the UK is now a planet, taking the place of Pluto on maps around the world.

News of significance that doesn’t involve Pluto or Paris might include buying train tickets on cellphones (and in English), and Apple’s stunning imitation of Dell.

The fact is, slow news days or not, you didn’t see much this week about Spike Lee’s documentary on Hurricane Katrina. Wynton Marsalis might say that’s because it’s like looking in the mirror at your fat ass. Even after a year, though, Katrina and the poverty in New Orleans’ lower ninth ward are still the most compelling story any day of the week. Except, of course, any day this week.


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