panda-monium
July 29, 2014

Imagine you're a newspaper editor, and you get a phone call. From the president. And he wants to talk about pandas having sex.

That's what happened to Crosby Noyes, the foreign editor of the Washington Star in 1972, when President Richard Nixon called him to leak the news that pandas Ling-Ling and Hsing-Hsing — given as gifts after First Lady Pat Nixon spoke about admiring the adorable animals — were going to go to the National Zoo once they arrived from China.

Nixon made some more small talk about the pandas, but things got really interesting when he started discussing their mating habits. "The problem, however, with pandas is that they don't know how to mate," Nixon said. "The only way they learn how is to watch other pandas mate. You see?" Noyes did see, and Nixon continued, "And so, they're keeping them there for a little while — these are younger ones — to sort of learn, you know, how it's done."

Then came the big offer. "Now, if they don't learn it they'll get over here and nothing will happen, so I just thought you should just have your best reporter out there to see whether these pandas have learned," Nixon said. Noyes laughed, but didn't make any promises to send a crack reporter out to watch pandas possibly (and likely awkwardly) attempt to mate. Listen to the conversation, which is recounted by Douglas Brinkley and Luke A. Nichter in their new book The Nixon Tapes: 1971-1972, below. --Catherine Garcia

Quotables
April 24, 2015
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

If there's one person who's glad the Senate gridlock over Loretta Lynch's attorney general nomination is over, it's the man she's set to replace.

The Senate finally voted to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general yesterday, five months after President Obama named her his nominee. Eric Holder, the outgoing attorney general, had announced he would stay at the Justice Department until a successor was named when he resigned in September — but he probably didn't anticipate another half-year in Washington. As months passed and Holder's term dragged on, some of his staff started circulating black rubber wristbands with the message "Free Eric Holder" as a protest of Lynch's protracted nomination.

Now, seven months after announcing his resignation, Holder finally made his goodbye speech Friday. In it, he proclaimed: "I think we can officially say now that Eric Holder is free." He then reportedly took the "Free Eric Holder" wristbands off his wrist and threw them into the audience.

Consider Eric Holder's mic dropped. Kimberly Alters

This doesn't look good
April 24, 2015
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Robert Downey Jr. walked out of an interview with London's Channel 4 News earlier this week, and the rest of his Avengers: Age of Ultron press tour hasn't fared much better.

In an interview with The Guardian on Thursday, Downey was asked about a 2014 statement by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, who said that superhero films were a form of "cultural genocide" for promoting a right-wing agenda.

Downey's response? "Look, I respect the hell out of him, and I think for a man whose native tongue is Spanish to be able to put together a phrase like 'cultural genocide' just speaks to how bright he is," he told The Guardian.

Cosmopolitan for Latinas has deemed Downey's remarks "racist," and E! Online adds that the comment suggests "that native Spanish speakers couldn't be as smart as native English speakers." Downey isn't the only one struggling on this press junket, though: His co-stars Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner called Scarlett Johansson's Avengers character, Black Widow, a "slut" and a "whore" in an interview this week, for which they have since apologized. Meghan DeMaria

America the Beautiful
April 24, 2015
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It turns out the real threat to America's children is that they don't have enough deep-fried food.

Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R) wrote a letter to the editor of The Houston Chronicle on Thursday, calling for a 10-year ban on deep-fat fryers and soda machines in Texas public schools to be overturned. Miller wrote that the fight is "not about French fries, it's about freedom."

In response to arguments about childhood obesity and health, Miller stated that school districts, not the state, should have the freedom to make these decisions. "I will always support decision-making at the local level," Miller wrote.

Miller officially proposed reinstating deep fryers in public schools in March, and The Texas Tribune reports that he is expected to announce this summer whether the Texas Department of Agriculture will repeal the ban. Meghan DeMaria

Only in America
April 24, 2015

Ohio middle-school officials erased the word "feminist" from an eighth-grader's T-shirt in a class photo to "prevent any unintended controversies."

Sophie Thomas was shocked to see that her shirt had been photoshopped to erase the word, but the principal explained it might be "offensive" to some people. "I just want to spread equality," Thomas said. The Week Staff

Coming Soon
April 24, 2015
Twitter.com/SelmaMovie

American history teachers will soon have a powerful tool in their arsenal.

Paramount Pictures' Home Media Distribution division announced that it will provide a complimentary copy of Ava DuVernay's Selma to every public and private high school in the U.S. Selma chronicles the march that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led from Selma to Montgomery for equal voting rights.

"By providing DVDs to all of the high schools in the country, we hope to reach all 18 million high school students with the film's powerful and inspiring story," Megan Colligan, a Paramount executive, said in a statement. "With many of these students preparing to vote for the first time in next year's elections, it is especially fitting that they witness the bravery and fortitude of those who fought to establish the Voting Rights Act of 1965." Meghan DeMaria

This just in
April 24, 2015

An NYPD bomb squad arrived at the Statue of Liberty Friday after a canine unit apparently detected something suspicious in a staff locker area.

The Statue of Liberty, Liberty Island, and Ellis Island were evacuated when the U.S. Park Police received a phoned bomb threat. Officials are conducting a security sweep of Liberty Island, and the FBI is monitoring the situation.

"United States Park Police and New York Police Department are working to confirm a report of a suspicious package," the U.S. Park Police said in a statement. "Liberty Island has been evacuated as a precaution." Meghan DeMaria

For those who have everything
April 24, 2015

The Stromer ST2 ($6,990) offers plenty of impressive technology, beginning with a battery-powered pedal assist that has a 90-mile range and a top speed of 28 mph, writes Aaron Gulley at Outside Magazine. But sometimes its most critical high-tech feature is its connectivity: If the bike goes missing, the owner can use a smartphone to track its location and activate anti-theft measures. One San Francisco buyer recently recovered his Stromer in two hours, after police narrowed their search using GPS and then spotted the thief because lights on the bike were flashing as he rode by. The word "Theft" was blinking on the crossbar's digital display. The Week Staff

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