From the beginning of its first trailer, Justin Simien's Dear White People takes its satirical target head-on. "Dear white people: the minimum requirement of black friends needed to not seem racist has just been raised to two. Sorry, but your weed man Tyrone does not count," says a college radio DJ played by Tessa Thompson. "Dear white people: please stop touching my hair. Does this look like a petting zoo to you?"
Thompson's fiery broadcast sparks a campus-wide debate between black students and white students alike over the state of modern American race relations — and the issues are much thornier and more complex than most are eager to acknowledge.
Fortunately, Dear White People seems primed to kick-start a similar cultural discussion. It was a major hit with critics when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, and the rest of America will get the chance to check it out when it hits theaters on October 17. --Scott Meslow
On Monday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert asked his Fox News frenemy Bill O'Reilly what he thought about Tuesday's Indiana primary, and O'Reilly didn't stop talking for the next five minutes. He began by saying that the primaries have been over since Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton won their respective New York primaries, and Indiana doesn't really matter. "Feel the Bern all you want, but the Bern's going to be in the refrigerator and Clinton's going to be the nominee," he said. If Trump doesn't win Indiana, it will give Ted Cruz "a little thing to hang on to," O'Reilly added, "but it's still going to be Trump."
Colbert managed to ask O'Reilly if, since he has known Trump for years, he's "comforted" to think Trump will be one of two candidates in the general election. "I'm not arrogant enough to say that this person or that person isn't qualified," O'Reilly said. "The people in the Republican Party want Donald Trump for one reason: They want to blow the whole establishment up. That's why he's gotten where he's gotten." O'Reilly, it seems, shares that view. He said conservatives are upset because they believe progressives — "your crew," he told Colbert — have won the culture war. (The audience cheered). "They don't like what the country is becoming." When Colbert asked for an example, O'Reilly brought up the illegal immigrant who killed a woman in San Francisco.
You can watch below to hear O'Reilly's entire treatise on why Donald Trump is winning, or you can watch to see Colbert defang O'Reilly's bloviating just enough that the audience doesn't boo him until the very end. Either way, it's good television. Peter Weber
Larry Wilmore's edgy comedy routine at Saturday night's White House Correspondents' Dinner wasn't a big hit in the room, earning Wilmore comparisons to the 2006 WHCD speech by the man whose slot he took at Comedy Central, Stephen Colbert. Colbert stood up for his good friend on Monday's Late Show. "He stunned that room," Colbert said of Wilmore. "People in Washington aren't used to seeing two black man speaking at the same event." The he turned to an actual little controversy from the act.
At the end of his routine, Wilmore used the N-word in reference to President Obama, "and it was shocking," Colbert said, "but it did lay the groundwork for President Trump to say it next year." (Obama wasn't offended, the White House said Monday.) "I thought Larry gave a great speech that did not let the president or the press off the hook," he added, "and I am confident that Larry will receive the ultimate recognition for his work: Never being invited back." Colbert should know. Watch Colbert defend Wilmore, mock the TSA, discuss Bitcoin, and drop some interesting suggestions for the Ringling Bros. elephants now that they no longer have to perform in the circus. Peter Weber
On Monday, the Colorado Supreme Court said that local bans on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are illegal, striking down a 2012 ban on the gas-extraction process in Longmont and a 2013 moratorium in Fort Collins. The local measures "were preempted by state law and, therefore... invalid and unenforceable," the high court said in its long-awaited ruling. The ruling upholds decisions by two lower courts and is a victory for the Colorado Oil & Gas Association, which had sued Longmont and Fort Collins to overturn the bans. Environmental groups said they will redouble efforts to get a statewide fracking ban on the November ballot.
States have approached fracking regulations differently. In Ohio, as in Colorado, the Supreme Court limited local control over the controversial drilling technique, and the Texas legislature banned local control over a bunch of drilling practices. Pennsylvania, meanwhile, allows local control over fracking, and New York has banned it entirely. With oil and gas drilling in a nationwide slump, the Colorado high court rulings are expected to have little immediate effect, The New York Times notes, but when fracking becomes profitable again, the populous eastern foothills of the Rocky Mountains will likely see a lot of drilling activity. Peter Weber
Heath care is a big issue in the presidential campaign, and Seth Meyers had some fun to poke at Donald Trump's vague plan to replace ObamaCare with something "terrific." But mostly he looked a single-payer plan like that proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders. "Some Democrats, like Hillary Clinton, have questioned whether such a system would be feasible, but we may be about to get a real-life test case in Colorado," Meyers said on Monday's Late Night. If voters approve Amendment 69 in November, "the state that was one of the first to legalize weed in the U.S. could now also become the first to pass single-payer health care. Colorado doesn't care what the rest of the country thinks. Next they're going to change the state bird to the middle finger."
He cracked a slightly racy joke about Amendment 69 making sure everyone is taken care of, and how the current "clusterf--k" system is more one-sided, then looked at the pros and cons. The pros are that the current system is unfair, overly expensive, not user-friendly, and makes no sense — which is why every other rich nation went with single-payer. "The French spend less on health care than us, and they use cigarettes as pacifiers," he joked.
The downsides are it may be prohibitively expensive for a single state — Vermont scrapped a similar plan due to costs — and there will be a lot of resistance. "Scrapping our current system in favor of single-payer system would be a potentially revolutionary shift, which means it's not going to happen without tremendous pushback from the for-profit health care industry and their supporters, like the Koch brothers," Meyers noted, showing some of the ads the Koch-financed Americans for Prosperity is running in Colorado. Watch below, and giggle along with Meyers when the narrator ominously intones "Amendment 69" over and over. Peter Weber
Emma Watson made a statement on the Met Gala red carpet: Fashion can be both elegant and sustainable.
Watson was participating in the Green Carpet Challenge, and on Instagram, her stylist, Sarah Slutsky, explained that the five piece look crafted by Calvin Klein was created "from three fabrics woven from yarns all made from recycled plastic bottles. Plastic is one of the biggest pollutants — being able to turn this waste into a high quality material is a real success story."
Slutsky said the outfit was designed so it could be repurposed into several different ensembles — the pants can be worn on their own, and the train can be used again for another red carpet event. The zippers were made out of other recycled materials and the inner bustier was created using organic cotton, The Telegraph reports. Catherine Garcia
The politics were tough when President Obama wrapped up negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal between the U.S. and 11 other Pacific Rim nations last fall, and they have only gotten worse since. The two presidential frontrunners, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, both oppose the deal, as do Sen. Bernie Sanders and many other Democrats in Congress. Obama promoted the TPP in a Washington Post op-ed published late Monday, clearly aware of the anti-trade flavor of the presidential race.
The Asia-Pacific region "is on its way to becoming the most populous and lucrative market on the planet," Obama wrote. "Increasing trade in this area of the world would be a boon to American businesses and American workers, and it would give us a leg up on our economic competitors, including one we hear a lot about on the campaign trail these days: China." China knows that, which is why it is furiously trying to negotiate a competing trade deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, by the end of the year, Obama said, saying China's pact would "carve up some of the fastest-growing markets in the world at our expense, putting American jobs, businesses, and goods at risk."
TPP, on the other hand, "puts American workers first and makes sure we write the rules of the road for trade in the 21st century," Obama argued, listing some benefits, from eliminating tariffs for U.S.-made goods to strengthening America's national security. Then he returned to the 2016 campaign:
I understand the skepticism people have about trade agreements, particularly in communities where the effects of automation and globalization have hit workers and families the hardest. But building walls to isolate ourselves from the global economy would only isolate us from the incredible opportunities it provides. Instead, America should write the rules. America should call the shots. Other countries should play by the rules that America and our partners set, and not the other way around. [Obama, The Washington Post]
He ended acknowledging that another clock is ticking. "My administration is working closely with leaders in Congress to secure bipartisan approval for our trade agreement, mindful that the longer we wait, the harder it will be to pass the TPP," he wrote, concluding: "Let’s seize this opportunity, pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership and make sure America isn’t holding the bag, but holding the pen." You can read the whole op-ed at The Washington Post. Peter Weber
Deep below the ocean's surface, scientists last week discovered a glowing jellyfish believed to be an ambush predator.
The almost fake-looking jellyfish was spotted on the Enigma Seamount near the Mariana Trench, 2.3 miles underwater. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel Okeanos Explorer is collecting data from the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, two areas where little is known about the environment, and made the find.
Scientists believe the jellyfish, which glows red and yellow, belongs to the genus Crossota. After seeing the jellyfish stretch out its tentacles, they also think it is an ambush predator. For the next nine weeks, the Okeanos Explorer will continue to make its way around this mysterious part of the sea, looking for fish, sponges, coral, mud volcanoes, and hydrothermal vent sites. Catherine Garcia