Before last week, the world had pretty much forgotten about popular music parodist Weird Al Yankovic. But after the mastermind behind songs like "Another One Rides the Bus" and "Amish Paradise" re-emerged with a viral video campaign designed to take the internet by storm, he's finally hit his biggest career milestone yet.
Yankovic's 14th studio effort, Mandatory Fun, which was released July 15, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts this week, marking the first time in Yankovic's nearly four-decade career that he's topped the charts (Yankovic has landed two albums in the Top 10 before, 2006's Straight Outta Lynwood and 2011's Apocalypse, but neither ever ascended to No. 1).
Mandatory Fun's chart success also marks the first time a comedy album has debuted at No. 1 since 1960, BuzzFeed notes, a pretty impressive feat considering the way we consume comedy in 2014. Yankovic announced his achievement on Twitter with humble surprise:
It’s official. MANDATORY FUN enters the Billboard album chart this week at #1. Wow. WOW.
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) July 23, 2014
If you’d told me 30 years ago this would happen, I never would’ve believed it. If you’d told me 2 WEEKS ago, I never would’ve believed it.
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) July 23, 2014
I’m so pleased everybody is enjoying the album, and I’m enormously grateful for everyone’s support. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU.
— Al Yankovic (@alyankovic) July 23, 2014
Swedish DJ Avicii, 28, was found dead in Oman on Friday, his publicist confirmed. "It is with profound sorrow that we announce the loss of Tim Bergling, also known as Avicii," the publicist, Diana Baron, said in a statement.
Avicii had retired from performing in 2016 after suffering "very public health problems for the past few years, including acute pancreatitis, in part due to excessive drinking," The Hollywood Reporter writes. In the interview, Avicii told The Hollywood Reporter "I took on board too much negative energy" touring and that since quitting, "I'm happier than I have been in a very, very long time. Stress-free more than I have been in a very long time. I can't say I'm never going to have a show again. I just don't think I'm going to go back to the touring life."
Avicii's hits include "Levels," which went platinum in the U.S., and "Wake Me Up," which hit #4 on the Hot 100, Rolling Stone writes. "Devastating news about Avicii, a beautiful soul, passionate and extremely talented, with so much more to do," tweeted fellow DJ Calvin Harris. "My heart goes out to his family." Jeva Lange
President Trump allegedly pressured his attorney general and FBI director to find "derogatory information within the FBI's files" about Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, two senior FBI officials who exchanged disparaging text messages about the president, in order to discredit and fire them, Vox writes. The meeting between Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and FBI Director Christopher Wray reportedly took place at the White House on Jan. 22, and in it Trump allegedly expressed his ire that Strzok and Page still have their jobs.
Both Strzok and Page were briefly a part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia. They also badmouthed Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, although Trump and his allies have pointed to Strzok and Page's anti-Trump texts as proof that FBI agents are biased against the president.
Several months before his meeting with Sessions and Wray, Trump had been told by his then-defense attorney John Dowd that Page was "a likely witness against him in [Mueller's] investigation into whether Trump obstructed justice," Vox writes. "That Trump knew that Page might be a potential witness against him has not been previously reported or publicly known."
Trump has been known to demand loyalty, allegedly telling former FBI Director James Comey, "I need loyalty, I expect loyalty," in a conversation last year. Comey described the president's words as "very concerning, given the FBI's role as an independent investigative agency." Jeva Lange
The Justice Department is stalling on recommended civil rights charges against the police officer who killed Eric Garner in 2014, The New York Times reported Friday. Federal prosecutors have recommended bringing charges against Staten Island police officer Daniel Pantaleo, whose use of a chokehold while subduing Garner on a sidewalk led to Garner's death and sparked the rallying cry, "I can't breathe."
The prosecutors assert that Pantaleo's actions constituted a clear excessive use of force. But the Justice Department is wary of acting on the recommendation because it fears a case against Pantaleo may be lost at trial, the Times explains, as "juries frequently give great deference to police officers for actions carried out under pressure." Pantaleo has said he was trying to execute a different maneuver to subdue Garner — one that would not have put pressure on Garner's neck, like the chokehold did — but that his posture was adjusted in the struggle as he "feared he would be pushed through a storefront window behind him," per the Times.
The department's decision under Attorney General Jeff Sessions is sure to spark backlash, given Sessions' spotty history with race relations as well as the overall posture of the Trump administration. But both Loretta Lynch and Eric Holder, who served as attorneys general under former President Barack Obama, had reservations about the case as well, the Times notes; while Holder was convinced the evidence supported an indictment for Pantaleo, he conceded that prosecutors might lose at trial, and Lynch vacillated for months as to whether charges were truly warranted at all.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has "convened several meetings" as to whether to approve the charges, the Times reports, which have "revealed divisions within the Justice Department." One source told the Times that Rosenstein would likely eventually decline to pursue the case. Read more at The New York Times. Kimberly Alters
The Democratic National Committee is suing the Trump campaign, Russian government, and WikiLeaks for millions of dollars in relation to the 2016 hack of DNC emails and the subsequent election of President Trump, The Washington Post reports. "This constituted an act of unprecedented treachery: the campaign of a nominee for president of the United States in league with a hostile foreign power to bolster its own chance to win the presidency," said DNC chairman Tom Perez in a statement.
The DNC claims that high-level Trump campaign officials worked with Russia to hurt Hillary Clinton's chances by stealing Democratic emails and disseminating them via WikiLeaks. The lawsuit is similar to one filed by the party in 1972 over the Nixon re-election campaign's break-in at the Democratic headquarters, The Washington Post reports, which ultimately ended in President Richard Nixon's resignation.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller is still conducting his own investigation into whether or not Trump's team colluded with Russia to swing the election. The House Intelligence Committee, which is controlled by Republicans, previously concluded that there is no evidence of such collusion.
Trump is not personally named as a defendant in the DNC lawsuit, although his son Donald Trump Jr., his son-in-law Jared Kushner, and his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort are. Russia's GRU military intelligence service is also named as a defendant, as is WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Jeva Lange
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D), a chill dude, formally introduced his bill to legalize marijuana Friday.
Schumer outlined his support for decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level in a Medium post, being careful to stipulate that he still believes individual states should be able to regulate the drug's consumption and sale as they wish. His proposal "will allow each state to ultimately decide how they will treat marijuana," Schumer wrote.
The senator acknowledged that his proposal reflected a change in his thinking. He attributed his attitudinal shift to, in large part, the evolving perceptions of the public: "When I first came to Congress in 1981, only 1 in 4 Americans believed marijuana should be made legal," he wrote. He also spelled out the skewed legal ramifications of criminalized marijuana:
When looking at the support for legalization that clearly exists across wide swaths of the American population, it is difficult to make sense of our existing laws. Under current federal law, marijuana is treated as though it's as dangerous as heroin and more dangerous than cocaine.
A staggering number of American citizens, a disproportionate number of whom are African-American and Latino, continue to be arrested every day for something that most Americans agree should not be a crime. Meanwhile, those who are entering into the marijuana market in states that have legalized are set to make a fortune. [Chuck Schumer, via Medium]
Schumer's bill will also "inject real dollars into minority and women-owned businesses" to try to offset the racialized nature of marijuana arrests, he said.
The senator spoke to Vice News about his proposal, in an interview that aired late Thursday, where he also signed a bong. Read more about Schumer's proposal — a proposal he released on April 20 — at Medium. Kimberly Alters
Students are back in the streets protesting gun violence for the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting
Thousands of students are expected to walk out of their classrooms in protest of gun violence Friday, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre that left 13 people dead in 1999. It is the second major national school walkout in response to gun violence since a shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school earlier this year.
Walkouts are planned at 2,000 schools around the nation, with at least one in every U.S. state, The New York Times reports. The demonstrations also include 13 seconds of silence, for each of the Columbine victims, or 19 minutes, for the years passed since the shooting:
Students in Tampa, Florida walk out of class as part of more than 2,000 events nationwide aiming to pressure lawmakers over gun reform. https://t.co/3aibt03fs5 #NationalSchoolWalkout pic.twitter.com/6UytoVWwR0
— ABC News (@ABC) April 20, 2018
— Alejandro Alvarez (@aletweetsnews) April 20, 2018
— ABC News (@ABC) April 20, 2018
#NOW: Students from Niskayuna High School walked out and made their way to the town hall next door for a rally. A bus of Schenctady students will join them. #NationalSchoolWalkout pic.twitter.com/xXmZoQaodg
— Leanne DeRosa (@CBS6Leanne) April 20, 2018
Walkouts will continue across the country Friday beginning at 10 a.m. local time. Jeva Lange
Have trumpets gone the way of typewriters, rotary phones, and brick-and-mortar movie rental stores? That was the opening question of the 8 a.m. hour Friday on Fox & Friends as Brian Kilmeade asked his co-hosts over the sounds of Jason Derulo's "Trumpets" whether "you can play the trumpet these days through the organ."
"You mean like push the button and you can hear the … ? I'm sure they have that on fancy keyboards," Ainsley Earhardt replied. An offended Steve Doocy jumped in to ask "why would you want to?" He suggested that if you want to hear trumpet noises, you should "just have somebody play the trumpet, hello!"
"It's hard to find a trumpet player," Kilmeade protested.
As ThinkProgress' Aaron Rupar points out on Twitter, the hosts don't appear aware that the "electronic keyboard was invented decades ago." Watch the amusing debate below. Jeva Lange
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 20, 2018