On Sunday's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, the host dedicated a segment to discussing the prison system in the United States, which he believes is "fundamentally broken." Oliver noted that so many people are incarcerated it has become something Sesame Street has to explain to kids. "Think about that, we now need adorable singing puppets to explain prison to children in the same way they explain the number seven and what the moon is," he said.
Oliver touched on everything from maggot-infested food being served to inmates to the way cost-cutting compromises health care; in one clip, a former prisoner from Arizona shared that after having a C-section in jail, doctors poured sugar into her incision and covered it with gauze, a remedy that was used in the early 1900s, pre-antibiotics. It's hard to take all of the statistics in, but luckily Oliver had some special fuzzy guests on hand to help us make sense of things. Watch the entire video below. --Catherine Garcia
On Tuesday, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) guerrilla group officially disarmed, handing over the last of its 7,132 weapons to United Nations officials overseeing the peace deal FARC leaders signed with President Juan Manuel Santos last year, and giving the U.N. the coordinates to 900 weapons caches hidden around Colombia. Santos attended the demilitarization ceremony in the rural town of Mesetas, as did FARC commander Rodrigo Londono, or Timochenko, and 2,000 other former FARC guerrillas, local officials, and supporters of the controversial peace accord.
The FARC has "exchanged arms for words," and "peace is irreversible," Santos told the crowd. "Now we are just one people, just one nation. Long live peace." Londono focused on his movement's transition from paramilitary to political group, guaranteed 10 seats in Congress for two terms, starting in 2018. "Today doesn't end the existence of the FARC, it merely replaces the armed struggle with exclusively legal means," Londono said, explaining that the group's goal is the same — attaining power — even if its methods were different.
Such a disarmament by FARC rebels and beginning of a transition to civil society "once seemed unimaginable," the Los Angeles Times notes. Still, "although violence has decreased, Colombia is not yet tranquil." About 250 FARC guerrillas won't disarm, and the 1,000-member National Liberation Army (ELN) is still at war with Colombia, as are drug cartels. Also, Santos' political rivals are vowing to amend or undo the peace deal, and lots of things could still go awry. Tuesday's ceremony was a "day of joy" and a clear step toward a "more inclusive and peaceful Colombia," says Lisa Haugaar at the U.S. human rights group Latin America Working Group. "But everyone must play their part to have real peace, or this chance will be lost for another generation." Peter Weber
If Republicans actually pass their health-care bill and more than 20 million people no longer have health care, "folks are going to have to look for alternative medical treatment like prayer, or being rich, or praying to become rich," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. "Well, in these dark days of doubt, thank goodness for Gwyneth Paltrow and her lifestyle brand, Goop." The product he focused on is Body Vibes stickers, which Goop describes as "wearable stickers that promote healing," promising such benefits as curing hangovers, promoting mental focus, and even hydration. "Man, I'm so thirsty I need a big tall box of stickers," Colbert joked.
"Previously, if you wanted wearable stickers that promote healing, you had to buy a box of band-aids," Colbert deadpanned. But for a 10-pack of Body Vibes stickers, you'll have to fork over $60. "For that price, you're going to want to pick up their anti-anxiety sticker for the panic attack you'll get when you realize you spent your rent money on stuff they give children free at the dentist," he said. He entertained himself and his audience by digging into the claims, including that the stickers use a NASA technology that NASA scientists say doesn't exist and call "BS," and something about cells vibrating like forks. "Yes, Goop has apparently consulted with top fork scientists to create these stickers," Colbert said, "so what Goop is saying is, Buy these stickers and go fork yourself."
"Well, as you know, I, too, have a celebrity lifestyle brand, Covetton House," Colbert said, "and Goop has inspired us to expand our own product line." That's when the mockery really begins. Watch below. Peter Weber
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had pledged that Republicans would pass a bill to repeal and replace much of ObamaCare before the July 4 break, "and they have got to, because McConnell knows if they do not pass it now, there's a serious danger that someone might read it," Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show. But on Tuesday, he abruptly delayed the vote. "There are a lot of good reasons not to have the vote this week," Colbert said, finding just one: "McConnell would have lost, and that's it."
Republican senators started running for the exit after the Congressional Budget Office released its analysis of the bill on Monday, finding it would lead to 22 million fewer insured Americans. "Now to put that number into perspective, if you laid 22 million people end to end, it would reach Canada, where they could get health care," Colbert said. He played a clip of Kellyanne Conway arguing on Sunday that the bill's $800 billion in Medicaid cuts weren't actually cuts. "Yes, they're not cuts, it's just returning Medicaid to its original intention," he repeated. "It's like an arsonist saying, 'I didn't burn the house down, I just took the ground back to pre-house levels.'"
He went on to make an obvious joke about Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), poke fun at Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and explain to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) why not having health insurance isn't "freedom," using Oreos as an example.
Next, Colbert noted that while CNN was retracting a story about President Trump and Russia, and three reporters resigned, the network said the article wasn't necessarily wrong. "Yes, it's a fine story, they just forgot to call it 'Breaking News' and have a countdown clock," he joked. But while the subject of the retracted article, Anthony Scaramucci, has moved on, Trump has not, unloading on CNN in a series of "FAKE NEWS" tweets. Colbert read them gleefully. "There is one person who is guilty of fake news out there — it's Donald Trump," he said, noting the fake Time magazine cover of Trump that Trump has framed and put on the wall of at least five Trump resorts, including Mar-a-Lago. "Trump made his own Time magazine cover?" he asked in mock horror. "Oh my God, you know what that means? That can only mean he's acquired mall kiosk technology!" Watch below. Peter Weber
At a Senate Republican meeting at the White House on Tuesday, President Trump got an earful about a brutal ad campaign an allied super PAC, America First Policies, has been running against Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), who is up for re-election next year in a state carried by Hillary Clinton, The New York Times reports, citing a senator and another person present at the meeting. Heller was one of the first Republicans to say he couldn't support the Senate GOP health-care bill as written. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had already complained about the ads, reportedly telling White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus they were "beyond stupid."
"The move against Mr. Heller had the blessing of the White House, according to an official with America First, because Mr. Trump's allies were furious that the senator would side with Nevada's governor, Brian Sandoval, a Republican who accepted the Medicaid expansion under the health law and opposes the Republican overhaul, in criticizing the bill," the Times reports. "According to the senator, the president laughed good-naturedly at the complaint and signaled that he had received the message." After the meeting, America First said it was pulling its promised seven-figure attack campaign against Heller, congratulating Heller for coming "back to the table."
On Tuesday evening, Heller held an event with constituents over the telephone. Jon Ralston, editor of The Nevada Independent, live-tweeted it. Heller praised Sandoval's decision to accept ObamaCare's expansion of Medicaid in the state, argued that former President Ronald Reagan wouldn't have supported the Senate GOP health-care bill, said McConnell couldn't count on his vote for the bill after the July 4 break, then dropped this reference to The Godfather, according to Ralston: "It's going to be very difficult to get me to a yes ... have to make us an offer we can't refuse, me and the governor."
— Alex Burns (@alexburnsNYT) June 28, 2017
If Trump comes after Heller again, maybe he can drop the talk of severed horse heads and draw inspiration from Michael Corleone's conversation with a fictional Nevada senator, Pat Geary, in The Godfather Part II, though presumably with a less bloody enforcement mechanism.
Shortly before reversing pending ban on a pesticide, EPA chief met with CEO of chemical company selling it
Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt met with Dow Chemical CEO Andrew Liveris on March 9, and 20 days later, he reversed the EPA's decision to ban the spraying of food with a Dow chemical that studies show can interfere with the development of children's brains, The Associated Press reports.
AP received Pruitt's schedule through a Freedom of Information Act request. Pruitt and Liveris were both speaking at an energy industry conference in Houston when the 30-minute private meeting occurred. EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told AP that the pair did not discuss chlorpyrifos, the chemical in question, and were just "briefly introduced." Liveris leads a White House manufacturing working group, and Dow Chemical gave $1 million to help underwrite President Trump's inauguration.
EPA scientists have reviewed the chemical, and found that ingesting even the smallest amount can harm the brains of fetuses, infants, and children. The American Academy of Pediatrics is calling on Pruitt to take the chemical off the market, saying in a statement: "There is a wealth of science demonstrating the detrimental effects of chlorpyrifos exposure to developing fetuses, infants, children, and pregnant women. The risk to infant and children's health and development is unambiguous."
Chlorpyrifos is similar to a chemical developed during World War II as a weapon, AP says, and traces of it are often found in drinking water. Dow sells about five million pounds of the chemical in the U.S. annually, and in 2015, the Obama administration proposed banning its use on food. In April, AP reported that Dow was urging the Trump administration to "set aside" findings made by federal scientists that organophosphate pesticides like chlorpyrifos are harmful to threatened and endangered species. Catherine Garcia
At least one GOP senator is pretty sure Trump doesn't understand the basics of the GOP health-care bill
When President Trump, a month after effusively praising a House Republican health-care bill, dismissed it as too "mean" last week, some people began to suspect that Trump was more interested in getting a legislative victory than in the policy details of the victorious legislation. "I don't know that he ever understood exactly what the provisions of ObamaCare were, or what we're trying to accomplish in our health system today for more affordable quality care," Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said on MSNBC Tuesday, after Nicole Wallace asked what specific ObamaCare policies Trump actually opposed.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 27, 2017
Before he delayed a vote on the Senate GOP plan to replace ObamaCare Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked Trump to invite all 52 Senate Republicans to the White House for a meeting on the legislation. When reporters asked McConnell outside the West Wing if he believed Trump had command of the details of the health-care negotiations, "McConnell ignored the question and smiled blandly," The New York Times reports. Trump has been pretty hands-off in the Senate health-care talks, at McConnell's request, so only a few senators had interacted with Trump on the legislation before Tuesday's meeting, the Times says, setting up this anecdote:
A senator who supports the bill left the meeting at the White House with a sense that the president did not have a grasp of some basic elements of the Senate plan — and seemed especially confused when a moderate Republican complained that opponents of the bill would cast it as a massive tax break for the wealthy, according to an aide who received a detailed readout of the exchange. Mr. Trump said he planned to tackle tax reform later. [The New York Times]
About 45 percent of the tax benefits from the Senate bill would go to the top 1 percent of U.S. households by income — those earning $875,000 a year and upwards would get a $45,500 annual tax cut, and the top 0.1 percent would pocket an average tax cut of $250,000 by 2026 — according to an analysis by the Tax Policy Center. The middle class would get a 0.4 percent raise in after-tax income, the analysis found, versus a 2 percent bump for the top 1 percent. You can read how the Senate GOP bill stacks up to Trump's health-care promises at The Week. Peter Weber
Cristina Penton boarded her Spirit Airlines flight to Dallas 36 weeks pregnant, and disembarked with a 7-pound baby boy in her arms.
The Phoenix resident was 30 minutes into her flight from Ft. Lauderdale a few days ago when she notified the flight attendants that she wasn't feeling well. Once she realized the baby was coming, the flight was diverted to New Orleans, and two of her fellow passengers — a pediatrician and a nurse — jumped up to help. Before the plane could land, Christoph Lezcano made his debut.
Penton and Christoph were taken to a local hospital to be checked out, and are both doing great. Spirit Airlines representatives visited them in their room, and showered the baby with presents, including one that's perfect for the tiny traveler — free flights for Christoph and a guest to anywhere Spirit Airlines goes, every year on his birthday for the rest of his life. Catherine Garcia