Really?
August 7, 2014
Facebook.com/USPostalService

Harry Potter and his ilk are cheapening the once-respected U.S. Postal Service's stamp program, according to Benjamin F. Bailar, a former postmaster general.

"The stamp program should celebrate the things that are great about the United States and serve as a medium to communicate those things to a world-wide audience," Bailar wrote in a letter to current Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. "To prostitute that goal in the pursuit of possibly illusory profits does not make sense to me."

Bailar's letter, obtained by The Washington Post, also acted as a resignation from the Citizens' Advisory Stamp Committee, an exclusive group of notable Americans that offer their advice on suitable faces and images to be used on postage stamps. Bailar, 80, is a well-known stamp collector whose resignation highlights "a rift within the stamp community over whether the cash-poor Postal Service should pursue commercial subjects... at the expense of traditional cultural images."

Committee members were reportedly especially miffed by last November's Harry Potter stamp series, on which they were not consulted beforehand.

"While (the stamps) may support a drive to 'sell the product' with abundance of pretty and popular culture subjects, the result is a program that lacks gravitas," Bailar's letter added.

Harry Potter, the boy wizard who must lead a life-or-death battle on which the world's fate rests, might argue that his seven-book series has some gravitas, but since he corresponds by owl, he probably hasn't even seen the offending stamps.

John Oliver protests
March 29, 2015

John Oliver does not like pranks, or any day encouraging them. "April Fools' Day is to comedy as St. Patrick's Day is to Irish culture," he said in this Last Week Tonight video posted Sunday night: "That is to say, it is a very mockery of the concept that usually ends in a fist fight." Pranks make people sad, he added, and "anyone who claims to be excited about April Fools' Day is probably a sociopath, because what they're really saying is, 'I cannot wait to hurt the people close to me.'" If you agree with Oliver at the end of his well-thought-out spiel, you can take his No-Prank Pledge. And, as this is HBO, some of the language is mildly NSFW. —Peter Weber

Watch this
March 29, 2015

If President Obama had The Rock's build, he would have a much easier time getting Republicans to do what he wants. Or, at least, he would have a much easier time tossing them out windows and ripping off their limbs when they made him angry, as was the case in this Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Dwayne Johnson as "The Rock Obama."

"Don't be alarmed," Johnson says after some maddening Republican subversion causes him to hulk out and rip through his suit. "The Rock Obama much like Barack Obama, only larger and more violent." —Jon Terbush

2016 Watch
March 29, 2015

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina on Sunday crept closer to a White House bid, saying in an interview with Fox News there is a "higher than 90 percent" chance she will run.

"As other potential candidates are doing, we need to make sure we have the right team in place, that we have the right support," she said, adding that an announcement would likely come in late April or early May.

A political neophyte, Fiorina ran for Senate in California in 2010 but lost by a 10-point margin. A CNN poll earlier this month found her with less than 1 percent of the vote in a hypothetical GOP primary. —Jon Terbush

2016 Watch
March 29, 2015

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) on Sunday took a none-too-subtle swipe at Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, the presumptive frontrunners for their parties' 2016 nominations.

"The presidency of the United States is not some crown to be passed between two families," O'Malley, himself a prospective White House candidate, said on ABC's This Week. "It is an awesome and sacred trust to be earned and exercised on behalf of the American people." —Jon Terbush


World News Videos | US News Videos

The hunters become the hunted
March 29, 2015

What would Bambi look like with bulging muscles and an entourage of woodland gunmen? That's the question Saturday Night Live answered with a Fast and the Furious–meets-Disney reboot staring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as the titular orphaned deer.

"When I was a boy, they took away my mother," Johnson says in the faux trailer. "Now it's time for them to pay — dearly." —Jon Terbush

Iran and the bomb
March 29, 2015
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday assailed the emerging details of a nuclear agreement intended to curb Iran's nuclear program.

"This agreement, as it appears, confirms all of our concerns and even more so," he said.

The U.S. and Iran have three days left before the deadline to reach a framework deal.

This just in
March 29, 2015
Alex Wong / Getty Images

Arab leaders on Sunday announced a tentative agreement to create a joint military force to combat violence and extremism in the region.

"We recognize the clear challenges in the Arab world and the need to take measures to combat them," Nabil al Araby, chairman of the Arab League, said on the final day of the group's summit in Egypt.

The announcement came days after a Saudi-led coalition began launching airstrikes in Yemen against the Houthi rebels who have overrun the country and forced President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi to flee.

See More Speed Reads