- Colbert Nationalism 5:27am ET
This is what we are learning about Stephen Colbert's departure from The Colbert Report, the show he has hosted, in character, for nine years: It will be a long farewell, and the character Stephen Colbert is already being written out of the script for the real Colbert's next act, hosting CBS Late Night.
On Wednesday night's Daily Show — the vehicle that shot Colbert to fame — character Stephen came to announce to Jon Stewart that he is ending his show, because he's already "won television" and now he's "just running up the score." Everybody has trouble keeping a straight face as Colbert talks about the "fat guy" who beat him out for the Letterman gig and his plans to ride the rails with a pet mouse and one-eyed prostitute. Colbert even brought his own Daily Show highlight reel. Watch below. --Peter Weber
- The Daily Showdown 5:04am ET
On Thursday night's Daily Show, Jon Stewart admitted that he is, in fact, a bit obsessed with Fox News host Sean Hannity, as Hannity had suggested on his show Tuesday night. But obsession isn't pretty, and Stewart didn't mean it in a nice way. On The Daily Show, calling someone "the Arby's of news" isn't a compliment.
This brewing spat started on Monday night, when Stewart mocked Hannity for supporting Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy in his battle against the federal BLM. Hannity hit back on Tuesday night. On Wednesday's show, Stewart walked through Hannity's criticisms and showed why the Fox News star is tossing his verbal stones from a glass house.
Stay with it until the end, though. That's when Stewart moves from his typical clip juxtaposition and satiric gymnastics to a timely history lesson about the founding fathers and the rule of law. Hannity's colleague Bill O'Reilly has a long-running, largely friendly, mutually beneficial feud going with Stewart, but Hannity just walked into a trap: Stewart's simply better at this game, and his writers do their homework. --Peter Weber
- $$$$$ 3:57am ET
For $1,000, you could either buy 200 cartons of Ben & Jerry's, 300 bottles of sprinkles, and a few cases of chocolate syrup, or you could indulge in the Mauboussin Mega Sundae.
The world's most luxurious dessert will be available beginning May 1 at the Bagatelle NY restaurant. According to Forbes, the concoction is made of homemade vanilla ice cream and macaroons, chocolate truffles, sorbet made from Dom Pérignon rosé champagne, gold leaves, dark chocolate brownies gilded in edible gold, and whipped cream. It's served in an oversized martini glass and smothered in chocolate vodka sauce. There's also an added bonus: The sundae comes with a black steel, white gold, and diamond ring from the jeweler Mauboussin.
If you want the bling but not the ice cream, you can buy the ring (named "Moi non plus/Toi non plus") separately for $590 — a true steal when you realize you are saving $410 by not ordering dessert.
- That's not nice 3:31am ET
Friends of George Clooney, take note: Your pal has your back.
In Las Vegas earlier this month, Clooney defended President Obama after casino mogul Steve Wynn called him an "asshole." During a dinner at the swanky Botero restaurant inside of Wynn's Encore hotel, reports Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Norm Clarke, the topic of conversation turned to the Affordable Care Act. Since wanting everyone to have health care without going bankrupt is such a jerk move, it made sense that Wynn would use the moment to call Obama the A-word.
"There were nine people at that table... so you can ask them.... Steve likes to go on rants.... He called the president an asshole.... That is a fact," Clooney said in a statement released to The Hollywood Reporter by his publicist. "I said that the president was my longtime friend and then he said 'your friend is an asshole'.... At that point, I told Steve that he was an asshole and that I wasn't going to sit as his table while he was being a jackass, and I walked out.... Those are all the facts. It had nothing to do with politics and everything to do with character."
"He sat down and started talking about the Affordable Care Act, and that's when I spoke up," Wynn continued. "He didn't like that either. I think my discussion about the Affordable Care Act was the straw that broke the camel's back. When he's drinking, he considers himself a close personal buddy of the president."
- Late Night Antics 3:10am ET
The (white) Los Angeles newscaster who haplessly mixed up Samuel L. Jackson and Laurence Fishburn is the gift that keeps on giving. It's certainly where comedian David Alan Grier starts in this PSA for white people on Jimmy Kimmel Live:
There's only one good response to such an airtight argument: Well said, Keegan-Michael Key. --Peter Weber
- Foreign affairs 3:01am ET
On Wednesday, rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah announced that after two days of talks in Gaza, they have agreed to begin working together again for the first time in seven years. Fatah spokesman Fayez Abu Eitta said that an interim government could be finalized in five weeks.
As CNN reports, the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza have been run separately since the mid-2000s, with Fatah governing in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza. The split began in 2006, after Hamas won a majority in the Palestinian parliament, and was further fractured when Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007. The new talks began earlier in the week, after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sent a delegation of Fatah members to meet with Hamas representatives.
After the news broke, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office canceled peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority that were set to take place Wednesday night. In a statement, Netanyahu said that Abbas "needs to choose between peace with Israel and an agreement with Hamas.... Whoever chooses Hamas does not want peace." Israel does not recognize Hamas, and considers it to be a terrorist organization (as does the U.S.).
There are still many questions that need to be answered about the reconciliation of Fatah and Hamas, including who would lead this new united government and when new elections could be held.
- New name 1:50am ET
On Wednesday, a judge in Kansas granted a legal name change to Bradley Manning, the former Army soldier who in 2013 was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to Wikileaks. Manning is now Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, and will soon be issued a new birth certificate.
During her sentencing last August, Manning announced that she is now living as a woman. However, according to The Associated Press, the name change "does not compel the military to treat the soldier previously known as Bradley Edward Manning as a woman." Manning will not be moved to a women's unit from the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Ft. Leavenworth, nor will she be given the gender counseling or hormone treatments she has requested.
In a statement, Manning said, "Hopefully today's name change, while so meaningful to me personally, can also raise awareness of the fact that we (transgender) people exist everywhere in America today, and that we must jump through hurdles every day just for being who we are."
- Discoveries 1:06am ET
More than 125 years after the City of Chester passenger steamer collided with another ship off of San Francisco, the wreckage has been discovered — for the second time.
It was originally found just two years after the incident, but authorities at the time decided not to bring the ship to shore. On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced that the shipwreck had once again been tracked down near the Golden Gate Bridge, although there are still no plans to move it from its current state: encased in mud, 216 feet under the sea. Instead, NOAA is setting up a waterfront exhibit in San Francisco, at the headquarters of the Gulf of Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, to tell the ship's tale.
The City of Chester had just left San Francisco with 90 passengers on Aug. 28, 1888, when it hit the steamer Oceanic, coming in from Asia. Sixteen people died. Following the incident, the Chinese crew of the Oceanic was blamed for the accident, until word spread that the crew had rescued several of the City of Chester's passengers.
"Discoveries like this remind us that the waters off our shores are museums that speak to powerful events, in this case not only that tragic wreck, but to a time when racism and anger were set aside by the heroism of a crew who acted in the best traditions of the sea," James Delgado, director of maritime heritage for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, told the Los Angeles Times.
- The Vapers 12:29am ET
The Food and Drug Administration is proposing to regulate e-cigarettes, putting the increasingly popular vapor-fueled smoking devices in the same regulatory bucket as traditional cigarettes. If finalized, after a public comment period, the FDA's new authority would allow it to ban selling e-cigs to minors, restrict e-cigarette vending machines, slap warning labels on e-cigarette packaging, and — probably most helpful to consumers — make e-cig makers disclose what they are putting in their products.
"It's a huge change," FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told reporters on Wednesday, before the agency unveiled its proposal. "We will have the authority as a science-based regulatory agency to take critical actions to promote and protect the health of the public."
"If it takes more than a year to finalize this rule, the FDA isn't doing its job," Matthew Myers, president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, tells The New York Times.
The FDA has tried to regulate e-cigarettes before, but was blocked in court. These new proposed regulations don't go as far as anti-smoking advocates would like. They do, however, require FDA approval for new e-cigarette products. Not a "vaper"? The rules still might affect you: The FDA is also proposing to regulate cigars, hookahs, pipe tobacco, and nicotine gels.
- IRS April 23
A new government report states that more than 1,100 Internal Revenue Service employees who failed to pay their taxes were collectively rewarded with more than $1 million in cash bonuses and over 10,000 hours in paid vacation.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's report, released Tuesday, even showed that at least five employees who received performance awards wound up with the money even after being disciplined for intentionally paying taxes late and underreporting income and tax liabilities for multiple years. In total, from Oct. 1, 2010, to Dec. 31, 2012, $2.8 million in bonuses were handed out to employees who had been cited for everything from drug use to misusing government credit cards.
"While not specifically prohibited by IRS policies, providing awards to employees with conduct issues, especially the failure to pay taxes owed to the federal government, appears to be in conflict with the IRS's charge of ensuring the integrity of the system of tax administration," the report said. "In addition, awards provided to these employees could be put to better use by providing employees who are compliant additional opportunities for awards."
According to The Washington Post, the IRS is now looking into linking conduct to performance awards, a change that would be subject to union approval.
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