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July 1, 2014

On tour last year, They Might Be Giants recorded a live, song-by-song re-creation of their first album, a self-titled 1986 record known as the "pink album." They are calling the new album, creatively enough, First Album Live — and more to the point, they are giving it away. You can pick up a free copy by clicking the link below, or if that doesn't work, following the instructions at their website.

The band — John Flansburgh and John Linnell and their backup players — describe this as a "gift for our loyal audience," but also "an effort to introduce more people into the world of TMBG." They would really like you to download it — and if you're a fan, it's worth the small effort. The first album isn't as great as their sophomore record, 1988's Lincoln, or their breakthrough classic, Flood (1990), but it's clearly TMBG in all their quirky splendor, and there are some good songs (listen to "Number Three," for example).

They Might Be Giants "was met with raves from critics" in 1986, the band explains, but it "seemed destined to settle comfortably into the Miscellaneous T section within a number of months" — until they got some videos on MTV. And here's where the album came from, according to the Johns:

They Might Be Giants had been performing in downtown NYC clubs and had become a fixture on the East Village scene where performance art and music flowed together in a vivid late night club scene. In those earlier years, the band was making recordings for their Dial-A-Song service and their demos were actively passed around town. [TMBG]

Thanks to Boing Boing for the tip. Peter Weber

1:37 p.m. ET
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The U.K.'s Houses of Parliament were hit with a cyberattack Friday evening consisting of "unauthorized attempts to access parliamentary user accounts," a representative of Parliament said Saturday. Members of Parliament were informed of the situation Friday night when they had difficulty accessing their email accounts remotely.

"We are continuing to investigate this incident and take further measures to secure the computer network," the representative said. "We have systems in place to protect member and staff accounts and are taking the necessary steps to protect our systems."

It is unclear how many MPs were affected or who is responsible for the attack. Bonnie Kristian

1:19 p.m. ET
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Monday begins the Supreme Court's final week before its current term ends and summer break begins. SCOTUS is expected to hand down several major decisions in the next few days — among them its ruling on President Trump's stalled travel ban — but rumors are swirling that this Monday could see a retirement announcement from Justice Anthony Kennedy, too.

"Sources close to Kennedy say that he is seriously considering retirement," CNN reported Saturday, though "they are unclear if it could occur as early as this term." Kennedy's departure would give President Trump his second SCOTUS nomination after the successful appointment of Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia.

Kennedy has long served as a swing vote on the court, sometimes siding with the progressive wing — as in the landmark gay marriage case, 2015's Obergefell v. Hodges — but often joining the conservatives on issues like gun control and campaign finance. Kennedy will turn 81 in July and has served on the court since 1988 after being nominated by President Reagan. Bonnie Kristian

12:50 p.m. ET
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The tiny Gulf nation of Qatar has rejected a list of 13 demands issued by Saudi Arabia and other neighboring Arab states Thursday as a condition for restoring diplomatic ties. The Saudi-led group of countries isolating Qatar claims the country is supporting terrorism, an allegation Qatar denies.

Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said in a statement the demands should have been "reasonable and actionable" as well as "measured and realistic," quoting comments from top U.S. and U.K. diplomats. "This list does not satisfy that [sic] criteria," he added.

It was never very plausible Qatar would answer other than it did. The "extent and scale of the demands appear designed to induce a rejection by Qatar," notes The Atlantic, "and a possible justification for a continuation, if not escalation, of the crisis. The list, if accurate, represents an intrusion into the internal affairs of Qatar that would threaten its very sovereignty." Bonnie Kristian

12:11 p.m. ET

Former governor of California (and Terminator star) Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed up with new French President Emmanuel Macron to take a swipe at President Trump on environmental issues Friday.

"I'm here with President Macron. We are talking about the environmental issues and a green future," says Schwarzenegger in the clip posted to Facebook and Twitter. "And now we will deliberate together to make the planet great again," adds a grinning Macron with a transparent reference to Trump's "Make America great again" slogan.

These antics come in response to Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement, the international climate accord both Macron and Schwarzenegger support. Bonnie Kristian

11:55 a.m. ET
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The United States and China have reaffirmed their mutual commitment to "strive for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Chinese state media agency Xinhua reported Saturday.

The statement comes after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis hosted Chinese diplomats in Washington in an attempt to reach consensus on how to deal with increasing provocation from Pyongyang. Tillerson indicated earlier this week he is asking China, which is North Korea's primary trading partner, to increase its political and economic pressure on the Kim Jong Un regime. Bonnie Kristian

11:12 a.m. ET
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Russian interference in the 2016 election "is really the political equivalent of 9/11 — it is deadly, deadly serious," said former Undersecretary of Defense Michael Vickers, who served in the Obama administration, in an NBC News interview Saturday. "The Russians will definitely be back, given the success they had," he added. "I don't see much evidence of a response."

Vickers' comments come one day after The Washington Post's comprehensive report detailing former President Obama's inaction in response to Russian election interference in 2016. President Trump and congressional Democrats have also criticized the Obama administration's "inadequate" response.

Read The Week's analysis of how Russia weaponized the internet here. Bonnie Kristian

10:11 a.m. ET
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Builders misused a combustible cladding to cover the sides of London's Grenfell Tower, the apartment building where 79 people were killed in a massive fire last week, Reuters reported Saturday. The material was intended for buildings a maximum of 10 meters tall, about the height of firefighters' ladders; Grenfell was more than six times that height.

Email correspondence reveals the cladding manufacturer, Arconic, sold the siding knowing it would be used inappropriately. "While we publish general usage guidelines, regulations and codes vary by country and need to be determined by the local building code experts," Arconic said in a statement to Reuters pledging to "fully support the authorities as they investigate this tragedy."

British authorities are now reviewing other high-rises for combustible cladding, and at least four buildings have been evacuated. "I know it's difficult, but Grenfell changes everything and I just don't believe we can take any risk with our residents' safety," said Georgia Gould, leader of the Camden Council, which evacuated the four high-rises Friday. "I have to put them first." Bonnie Kristian

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