Jon Stewart started out Monday night's Daily Show with a brief ensemble interpretive enactment of why it's so hard to discuss Israel's most recent battle with Hamas — the bit involves a lot of shouting — but he spent most of the show talking about Malaysia Flight 17. And he began by pooh-poohing Russia's hand-washing of any responsibility for destroying the civilian flight, apparently shot down by confused pro-Moscow Ukrainian separatists using Russia-supplied missiles.
The stakes here are high, because whoever shot down the plane will face a stream of global anger, Stewart explained. "And right now it looks like it's Russia's fault — because it's Russia's fault." But Moscow is doing everything it can to evade blame, including re-editing Wikipedia pages on the crash and pushing stories like one flying around Russia's state-controlled media that Flight 17, which took off from Amsterdam, was filled with corpses and run on autopilot then crashed to make Russia look bad. Yes, Stewart deadpanned, "the country that gave us windmills, pot brownies, and a bed sheet oven powered by farts now gives us the unprovoked flying zombie plane — that's so like the Dutch."
After mocking Russia's reaction to the tragic incident, Stewart looked at how Republicans are talking about Flight 17. One main theme, he said, is that President Obama isn't reacting forcefully enough, and ought to act more like Ronald Reagan did when Soviet Russia shot down a Korean Air passenger jet in 1983. There's only one problem, Stewart said: Reagan's quick, vigorous "response to that catastrophe was so special, so remarkable, it was enough to make us forget what actually happened." And to show what actually happened back in the 1980s, he draws on the recollection of Fox News' Chris Wallace, and Reagan's own diary. --Peter Weber
On Friday, President Obama will become the first American president to visit Hiroshima, one of two Japanese cities against which the U.S. waged nuclear war during World War II. Obama, who entered office in 2009 vowing to scale back global nuclear power, spoke on his nuclear record as commander in chief Thursday during the G7 summit in Asia. He defended his administration's work but acknowledged "we're not where we need to be yet," citing last year's controversial Iran nuclear deal as evidence of progress but conceding the legitimate threat of terrorist organizations obtaining nuclear arms.
"Part of the reason I'm going [to Hiroshima] is because I want to ... underscore the very real risks that are out there and the sense of urgency that we all should have," the president said. In 2009, just months after his first inauguration, Obama won a Nobel Peace Prize for his "extraordinary efforts" toward international peace, and specifically his vision for a "nuclear-free world." Kimberly Alters
Egypt's state-run news agency announced Thursday that aircraft manufacturer Airbus had detected locator signals from EgyptAir Flight 804, which crashed May 19 in the Mediterranean Sea. While debris from the plane, an Airbus A320, has been recovered in early search operations, the craft's fuselage, flight data, and cockpit recorders have yet to be found.
The pings detected by Airbus are not coming from the plane's black boxes, which record crucial flight information, but instead from "emergency locator transmitters" that are located throughout the aircraft. One such transmitter is usually located in the tail of the aircraft, CNN notes, which is also where flight data recorders are stored; if that transmitter is the one that has been detected, that could lead investigators to recover important flight data as well.
The discovery of the signals also means the massive search area will shrink to just a 3.1-mile radius as officials try to recover the main segment of the plane. The cause of the crash is yet to be determined, though authorities have strongly suggested it was an act of terrorism. Kimberly Alters
On Thursday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R) announced his intent to join the lawsuit filed by several states against the Obama administration's transgender bathroom directive, Reuters reports. Officials from 11 states filed a suit Wednesday in Texas against the administration over its stipulation that transgender students be allowed to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity rather than biological sex. "Our office has talked to the Texas attorney general's office and I intend, as soon as possible, to join the lawsuit against this latest example of federal overreach," Bryant said in a statement. Mississippi's Democratic attorney general Jim Hood has decided not to participate in the lawsuit, Reuters notes.
The lawsuit, filed in Wichita, Texas, specifically accuses the Obama administration of trying to "turn workplace and educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment." The states that have currently signed on to Texas' lawsuit are Oklahoma, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, West Virginia, Utah, and Wisconsin, as well as Arizona's Department of Education and Maine's governor. Becca Stanek
Vince Foster's sister is none too pleased about the rumors that Donald Trump is resurfacing about her brother, a former White House deputy counsel during the Clinton administration. In an op-ed published Thursday in The Washington Post, Sheila Foster Anthony railed against Trump for suggesting that her brother's death was not a suicide, but rather a murder, and for saying that Hillary Clinton may have been involved in said murder because Foster "knew everything that was going on."
She then set the record straight in what marks the first time she's publicly spoken out about the tragedy:
This is scurrilous enough coming from right-wing political operatives who have peddled conspiracy theories about Vince's death for more than two decades. How could this be coming from the presumptive Republican nominee for president?
Five investigations, including by independent counsels Robert B. Fiske Jr. and Kenneth Starr, concluded that Vince suffered from severe depression that caused him to be unable to sleep, unable to work, unable to think straight, and finally to take his own life.
I know this to be true. [Sheila Foster Anthony, via The Washington Post]
Anthony wrote that while she "did not see a suicide coming," when she heard that her brother had died she "knew" that he'd committed suicide. "Never for a minute have I doubted that was what happened," she wrote. Because of that certainty, she said, she cannot let "such craven behavior" as Trump's "pass without a response."
Chinese developers might have just single-handedly solved both the country's traffic and air pollution problems with their latest invention. The country's state news agency, Xinhua, reported Thursday that developers have come up with a bus called the Transit Explore Bus, which is elevated off the ground so that cars can drive underneath it. The bus would glide along on rails straddling two lanes of traffic, offer enough space for cars less than two meters high to pass underneath it, and be able to travel at speeds up to about 37 miles per hour.
While the bus is still in the planning stages, developers say it could cut down big time on traffic and, subsequently, the country's increasingly worrisome air pollution problem. One of the project's lead engineers, Song Youzhou, estimates this project would cost just 16 percent of the theoretical cost of an entirely new subway, and that construction of the bus would be much quicker than other alternatives. Youzhou says the bus would be powered by electricity and could replace as many as 40 regular buses, thanks to its carrying capacity of up to 1,400 passengers.
The first bus is set to be tested at the end of July or in August outside of China's Qinhuangdao City. Becca Stanek
In case there was any question that this is Trump's world and we're just living in it:
All 3 major cable news networks currently airing footage of Trump's podium while Clinton gives big Union speech pic.twitter.com/bJnJY09jyx
— Emily Atkin (@emorwee) May 26, 2016
Ultraconservative Saudi cleric Saleh bin Fawzan al-Fawzan was recently shocked to learn that people take pictures with their cats, The Washington Post reports. Fawzan was then forced to clarify for his audience that, according to hard-line Islamic codes, cat selfies are strictly forbidden.
A member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, Fawzan appeared on a television program in April that was recently translated into English by the Middle East Media Research Center. At one point in the appearance, someone off-screen tells the cleric that "taking pictures with cats has been spreading among people who want to be like the Westerners."
The cleric apparently can't believe his ears. "They are taking pictures with them," the person is forced to repeat.
Fawzan then stresses that such selfies are "prohibited," although "the cats here don't matter."
"Taking pictures is prohibited if not for a necessity, not with cats, not with dogs, not with wolves, not with anything," Fawzan says, citing a view held by some hard-line Islamic scholars who believe photos violate rules against depicting human or animal images.
However, it is not a view held by many in Saudi Arabia — in fact, ordinary Saudis take cat selfies a-plenty, just like anyone elsewhere. Jeva Lange