Former Iraqi parliament speaker Osama al-Nujaifi, a key rival of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said late Thursday that he would bow out and not seek another term to make it easier for Shiite parties to settle on a replacement for Maliki. Shiite politicians have been deadlocked on the leadership question despite pressure from the U.S., Iran, and the United Nations to unite the nation against a Sunni extremist insurgency by forming a new government sharing more power with the other main ethnic blocs, Sunnis and Kurds. Read more at Reuters. Harold Maass
Over the weekend, The New York Times ran an article on the "overwhelmingly white, rich, older, and male" millionaires and billionaires financing the 2016 presidential race — just 158 families have contributed $176 million in the first phase of the campaign, or half of all money donated. On Monday's Late Night, Seth Meyers took a closer look at what that means for the election and democracy.
One effect is that campaigns last a lot longer than they used to in the era before the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling. These days, Meyers said, "candidates with little or no support can keep running because at any point, a super PAC could revive their campaign" — which, he added, explains Bobby Jindal's continued run. Another side effect, Meyers said, is that "candidates have to do increasingly ridiculous things to curry favor with the wealthy donors." The most pernicious effect, though, is that when the winning candidate takes office, he or she is indebted to a handful of very wealthy people, and that affects the laws that are passed. He ended with some examples and a quote from Charles Koch that, Meyers aid, sounds "like every Batman villain right before they get caught." Watch below. Peter Weber
Kirsten Dunst was on Monday night's Jimmy Kimmel Live to talks about Season 2 of Fargo, the FX drama in which she has a starring role. Jimmy Kimmel said the show is great and Dunst agreed: "It's nice to promote something and not have to lie about it." Kimmel asked her to elaborate about which projects she's lied about, and she wisely declined. Dunst put on weight for Fargo, Kimmel noted, then asked, "Is it a nightmare or is it a fun thing to have to gain weight for a role?" Dunst chose option C.
"Well, listen: I was in Calgary," she said. "It was cold, and so I ordered in a lot of pizza, a lot of Thai... I just had different cheeses and breads together, and now I'm like, 'Yeah, I gained weight for this role.' But really I just sat in my bed, watched Friday Night Lights, and, like, ate." Kimmel pivoted to Friday Night Lights, and for fans of the show, Dunst's Fargo costar and boyfriend were in the show and original movie, respectively, and she has a lot of juicy gossip she won't tell you. Enjoy the tease below. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert mocks CNN for its bizarre 'fan fiction' about Joe Biden showing up at Tuesday's debate
Monday's Late Show audience was pumped about Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate. "You just made the people at CNN turgid," Stephen Colbert said after their cheers. He introduced Tuesday night's lineup — well, at least two of the five candidates — then noted that CNN is really hoping for a sixth: Vice President Joe Biden. "They've got an extra podium, just in case Biden drops by, like you do," Colbert said. "You know, this year's presidential debates are basically an open-mic night — could be Biden, could be Carrot Top."
But CNN isn't just hoping Biden will drop by — reporter Jim Acosta spun a pretty elaborate fantasy involving Biden, aviator glasses, and a yellow Corvette. As long as "we're reporting breaking, up-to-the-minute fan fiction," Colbert said, why stop at Biden making a surprise appearance? For the next minute or so, Colbert poked fun at Acosta and one-upped him, unveiling his own podium for Biden and fantasizing about who else might show up at the Democratic debate. The "bizarro world" Donald Trump might give you nightmares. Watch below. Peter Weber
Early Tuesday, SABMiller agreed to a sweetened takeover offer from larger rival Anheuser-Busch InBev, in a deal that values No. 2 global brewer SABMiller at $104.5 billion. SABMiller's board agreed to unanimously recommend the deal to shareholders after rejecting four previous offers in recent weeks. If the merger passes regulatory scrutiny, the combined company will sell more than 30 percent of the world's beer, combining brands like AB InBev's Budweiser, Corona, and Stella Artois with SABMiller's Pilsener Urquell, Miller, Coors, Grolsch, and Peroni, plus lots of smaller and local brands. If AB InBev can't get regulatory clearance or its shareholders reject the terms, it has to pay SABMiller $3 billion. Peter Weber
A very special guest didn't RSVP to Brian and Stephanie Tobe's nuptials but showed up anyway: Barack Obama.
On Sunday morning, as they were getting ready for their wedding at The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California, Brian and Stephanie first heard that the president was playing golf in the area. Eventually, they received word that he was at the golf course at their venue, and soon they were "stacked up against the window, looking out as we see him coming down across the green," Stephanie told NBC Los Angeles. Their wedding photographers, Jeff and Erin Youngren, were on the course snapping photos, and when Erin saw a brief opening for the couple to come down and meet the president, she let them know it was now or never. Dressed in their wedding attire, the pair booked it.
So THIS happened at yesterday's wedding... The President (OMGOMGOMGOMG) was in San Diego this weekend at the venue where we were photographing a gorgeous wedding, and we CAUGHT.IT.ALL. I'm writing the full story on the blog right now, but wanted to get this posted ASAP. Stay tuned!!!!! #POTUS #kindafreakinoutrightnow #eeeeeeee! -E #theyoungrens @lodgetorreypines @mintweddings
"I picked up my wedding dress and just started running down the hall," Stephanie said. She darted ahead, leaving her groom in the dust, but "I didn't care," she said. "I just had to get there." She was cleared by security, and the crowd parted as she made her way toward Obama. "I was in a state of complete shock," Stephanie said, and she started to cry. Stephanie and Brian both shook hands with the president, and Obama told Brian "specifically not to step on my dress," Stephanie said. "It was just really nice, totally unexpected. I never thought we'd have a chance in the world to meet him." After all the photos were taken and the president left, the wedding was only delayed by about an hour. Stephanie says she is still in disbelief. "Honestly, I'm normally a pretty shy person, but man, yesterday, for the wedding day and in that moment, I didn't care about anything," she said. Catherine Garcia
Hillary Clinton said that she's "always in favor of women running" for president, and does not think Carly Fiorina should be judged differently because she is the only woman in the Republican race.
"People need to hold women's policies up to light and determine what their answers to problems would be before deciding to support them," she told Time. "I'm willing to subject myself to that process and try to earn every vote; I assume any woman running would do the same." Clinton stopped short of saying that Fiorina was being treated differently by her fellow Republican candidates. "She will have to speak for herself," she said.
Clinton also said she took issue with Fiorina's criticism of Planned Parenthood, and Fiorina's description of a video she claimed to have watched that was filmed during the aftermath of an abortion. "Obviously, I disagree fundamentally with a number of positions that she's put forward," Clinton said. "I think that her full-throated, inaccurate attack on Planned Parenthood was really ill-advised and inflammatory." Catherine Garcia
Craft brewers are accusing multinational beer giant Anheuser-Busch InBev of trying to crush them by buying up distributors then cutting off their access to store shelves, and the U.S. Justice Department is looking into those claims, Reuters reports, citing "three people familiar with the matter." In many states, breweries can't sell to the public without going through distributors.
AB InBev has purchased five distributors in three states over the past few months, and the fast-growing craft brewing industry says that once the world's largest beer company is in charge, the smaller breweries start losing access to stores and their sales stagnate. The antitrust investigation, still in its early stages, is also examining claims that AB InBev pressures independent distributors to end their deals with craft brewers. Two of the company's recent purchases were in California, and California regulators are also looking into the allegations, Reuters said.
AB InBev confirmed to Reuters that it is talking to regulators: "Anheuser-Busch has been in communication with the Department of Justice and California attorney general's office about the transactions. We are working cooperatively to address any questions they have." Peter Weber