July 31, 2014

After Russell Brand mocked Sean Hannity's coverage of the Israel-Palestine conflict, claiming that Hannity "sounds like a terrorist," Hannity has fired back.

Brand skewered Hannity in his YouTube show The Trews on Tuesday, saying Hannity's show didn't include a real debate about the conflict because the host's biases were clear. Brand also noted that Hannity looks "a bit like the Ken doll from the Toy Story 3 film." Brand claimed that Hannity is "not interested in truth" and only wants to promote "a particular perspective."

On his Fox News show Wednesday night, Hannity responded to Brand's accusations and called Brand to tell him his remarks were "not funny." "I need to educate you, 'cause you're kind of dumb and ignorant," Hannity said. Hannity claimed that Brand "can't get it through his thick head" what's really happening in Gaza. Check out Hannity's response to Brand in the video below. --Meghan DeMaria

And here's Brand's original video, for reference:

8:33 a.m. ET

Donald Trump has made the expulsion of undocumented immigrants a major part of his campaign, but just four short years ago he had a radically different opinion on the matter, CNN has discovered.

Trump explained that he didn't believe in deporting immigrants in a June 2012 interview with CNBC's Squawk Box: "You have people in this country for 20 years, they've done a great job, they've done wonderfully, they've gone to school, they've gotten good marks, they're productive — now we're supposed to send them out of the country, I don't believe in that, Michelle, and you understand that. I don't believe in a lot things that are being said," Trump said.

The comments don't do much to clarify how Trump actually does feel — by June 2015 he was claiming Mexicans were "rapists." "And some, I assume, are good people," Trump added. Compare the dramatic flip-flop, below. Jeva Lange

8:07 a.m. ET

French authorities have begun the process of clearing the massive refugee camp in Calais known as "the Jungle," with demolishment set to begin Tuesday. The camp has poor sanitation and makeshift living quarters, and the French government said it is being destroyed on humanitarian grounds; still, the Jungle was believed to have held more than 7,000 people, and bulldozing the camp requires their relocation to other camps across France. More than 1,200 police have been dispatched to prepare for those who still want to try to get to Britain and may refuse to leave. "Our dream is over," one Sudanese man told the BBC. Migrants will be allowed to seek asylum and if they do not, they could face deportation. Jeva Lange

7:25 a.m. ET

The Justice Department will be severely limited in how it is able to address concerns of voter intimidation in the upcoming presidential election thanks to a three-year-old Supreme Court ruling, The New York Times reports:

Since 1965, federal officials have sent about 32,000 observers to jurisdictions with histories of harassing minority voters or even outright denying them access to the ballot. But officials say their hands are now tied by a 2013 Supreme Court decision that gutted the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

As a result of that decision, in Shelby County v. Holder, the Justice Department will send observers only to jurisdictions where it already has court approval. That encompasses seven counties or jurisdictions in Alaska, California, Louisiana and New York. [The New York Times]

By comparison, in 2012 observers were sent to jurisdictions across 13 states. "We do not want to be in the position we're in," said Vanita Gupta, the top civil rights official at the Justice Department. Election monitors will still be posted outside polling places in 25 states, but they will not be the experts normally allowed inside.

Fears of voter intimidation have spiked after Donald Trump called for his supporters to "go out and watch" the polls. "I'll look for ... well, it's called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can't speak American," one Trump supporter recently told The Boston Globe. Jeva Lange

6:25 a.m. ET
Halil Al-Murshidi/AFP/Getty Images

On Saturday night, Iraq's parliament passed a ban on the sale, consumption, and production of alcohol in the country, a surprise move by Shiite lawmakers as much of the country and world's attention is focused on the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State. Anyone caught violating the ban is subject to a fine of up to 25 million Iraqi dinars ($21,000). Iraq is majority Muslim, and Islam prohibits drinking alcohol, but alcohol is widely available in Iraq's larger cities, sold in shops mostly run by Christians, and Iraq is home to Farida beer and the anise liquor Asyria arak, among other alcohol producers.

The law will be difficult to enforce is Iraq's Kurdish region, home to many of the country's remaining Christians, and Christian lawmakers vowed to challenge the law in court. "This ban is unconstitutional, as the constitution acknowledges the rights of non-Muslim minorities and ethnic groups who live alongside Muslims in Iraq," said Christian MP Joseph Slaiwa. Mahmoud al-Hassan, the Shiite lawmaker from the dominant State of Law coalition who introduced the measure as a surprise amendment to a law on municipal governance, says it comports with the Constitution's provision that "no law that contradicts the established provisions of Islam may be established."

Some other Muslim countries have laws restricting the sale and consumption of alcohol, but only Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and a few others have forcibly banned it outright. ISIS also strictly bans alcohol in territory it controls, plus cigarettes and other drugs. Peter Weber

5:34 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Donald Trump's sagging poll numbers appear to be dragging down down-ballot Republicans, too, to the point where some GOP super PACs are openly pleading with voters to keep Republicans in office as a check on President Hillary Clinton. Clinton over the weekend lashed vulnerable Republican Sens. Pat Toomey (Pa.) and Richard Burr (N.C.) to Trump, urging voters in each state to repudiate Trump by electing the women challenging each incumbent. Thanks to polling shifts up and down the ballot, "Democrats now have a 73 percent chance of winning the Senate," says Harry Enten at FiveThirtyEight, based on the site's "polls plus" forecast.

"Control of the Senate is coming down to six key states, with Democrats needing to gain four seats to win a majority if Clinton wins the White House," Enten explains. The Democratic challenger will likely win in Wisconsin and Illinois, he said, so they have to hold the open seat in Nevada and win two more of the five remaining tossups — Indiana, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Carolina and Pennsylvania — and momentum appears to be shifting in the Democrats' direction.

But even if the Democrats do win control, Chris Cillizza notes at The Washington Post, "it could be a blink before they are back in the minority." The 2018 map is "remarkably bad" for Democrats — they will be defending 25 seats, versus just eight for Republicans. "That's as lopsided an election cycle as you will ever see," Cillizza says, and it gets worse: 20 of the Democratic seats are in states Mitt Romney won in 2012, and the election will likely be in the first midterm of Hillary Clinton's presidency, a time when the White House party usually loses seats. That means, he said, "a President Hillary Clinton will have two years to work with a friendly Senate before things get much, much tougher for her in Congress." So there's some good news for Republicans. Peter Weber

4:23 a.m. ET

The Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals somehow managed to end their game in Glendale on Sunday night in a 6-6 tie, after each team missed potentially game-winning field goals in overtime. It was only the 21st tie in NFL history, or at least since current overtime rules were put in place in 1974, and the lowest-scoring tie on the books, the NFL says. Each team had 3 points and lots of failed plays going into overtime, and each kicked a field goal. The wheels seriously started coming off the bus when Cardinals kicker Chandler Catanzaro managed to bounce a second overtime field goal attempt off the left upright.

The Seahawks' Stephen Hauschka returned the favor, missing a 28-yard field goal attempt entirely, and the game ended with a Hail Mary pass by Carson Palmer. "Two hundred games, including playoffs," Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald said after the game, "I have never played in a game as crazy as this one before." Peter Weber

3:36 a.m. ET
Ralph Freso/Getty Images

Michelle Obama will appear with Hillary Clinton for the first time this campaign during an event Thursday in North Carolina.

Clinton's campaign made the announcement Sunday, with press secretary Brian Fallon calling the first lady Clinton's "not-so-secret" weapon. Obama has hit the trail for Clinton six times since July, when she made an electrifying speech at the Democratic National Convention. "She's been an absolute rock star," Fallon said.

Without ever saying his name, Obama has carefully crafted a message to voters that Donald Trump is not the right person to lead the United States, saying earlier this month that they cannot dismiss his remarks about women as "just another day's headline." The first lady is "one of the most admired people in America, period," Fallon said. "And I think it's exceptional to have the opportunity to have a strong woman like the first lady attest to another strong woman like Hillary Clinton who is running for president." Catherine Garcia

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