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June 26, 2014
The Interview

North Korea is fiercely denouncing the upcoming Seth Rogen and James Franco movie, The Interview, in which the two actors play a pair of talk-show hosts who get sent on a secret mission to assassinate the country's dictator, Kim Jong-un. On Wednesday, the totalitarian regime's Foreign Ministry issued a sharply worded attack on the film — albeit one that was written in a somewhat broken English — making the accusation that the movie is a plot by the U.S. government.

"The U.S. has gone reckless in such provocative hysteria as bribing a rogue movie maker to dare hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK," said the statement, issued through the official state-run Korean Central News Agency. "This act of not fearing any punishment from Heaven is touching off the towering hatred and wrath of the service personnel and people of the DPRK."

The statement went on to call the movie itself an act of war: "Absolutely intolerable is the distribution of such film in the U.S. as it is the most undisguised terrorism and a war action to deprive the service personnel and people of the DPRK of their mental mainstay and bring down its social system."

It concluded with a grim ultimatum:

Those who defamed our supreme leadership and committed the hostile acts against the DPRK can never escape the stern punishment to be meted out according to a law wherever they might be in the world. If the U.S. administration connives at and patronizes the screening of the film, it will invite a strong and merciless countermeasure. [KCNA] Eric Kleefeld

10:31 p.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Just a few days before he was fired after refusing to resign, former US Attorney Preet Bharara wrote a memo sharing his concerns about a phone call he received from the White House, BuzzFeed News reports.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, BuzzFeed was able to get an email on Thursday that Bharara sent on March 9 to then-deputy Attorney Joon Kim and Bharara's chief counsel, Joan Loughnane, in order to "memorialize certain events of the day." Bharara said he received a voicemail from Trump's secretary, Madeline Westerhout, asking him to call her back. He checked with Kim about the "propriety of returning the call," and reviewed copies of memos related to communications with the White House. He also spoke with Attorney General Jeff Sessions' chief of staff, Jody Hunt, to discuss the request. Bharara decided it was inappropriate to speak with Trump and called Westerhout to tell her this. The next day, he was asked to resign, and after refusing, was fired on March 11.

Parts of the email were redacted, specifically the sections that revealed details pertaining to "intra-agency communications," BuzzFeed reports. In an interview on This Week earlier this month, Bharara said it appeared Trump was "trying to cultivate some kind of relationship," and it is a "very weird and peculiar thing for a one-on-one conversation without the attorney general, without warning between the president and me or any United States attorney who has been asked to investigate various things and is in a position hypothetically to investigate business interests and associates of the president." Catherine Garcia

9:11 p.m. ET

After being told they weren't allowed to wear shorts to school, about 30 teenage boys attending ISCA Academy in Exeter, England, showed up wearing skirts instead.

As part of their dress code, boys have to wear pants and girls can wear either pants or skirts, but when temperatures shot up, the boys asked school officials if they could wear shorts. They were told no, and a teacher sarcastically suggested they wear skirts. That's exactly what the boys did, borrowing regulation skirts from their classmates.

The school's head teacher told the BBC she "recognizes that the last few days have been exceptionally hot," but she didn't want to change the rules without "consulting both students and their families." One parent said she did approach the school to ask about her son wearing shorts, and she was "shot down." The protesting teens are supported by their fellow students, and most of the parents are proud of them for taking a stand. "Good on 'em," one mother told the BBC. Catherine Garcia

8:10 p.m. ET

An Ohio-based coal company and its CEO are suing Last Week Tonight host John Oliver, HBO, and Time Warner for defamation, claiming on his June 18 show, Oliver executed a "maliciously planned attempt to assassinate the character and reputation" of Robert Murray and Murray Energy.

In a suit filed Wednesday in West Virginia, the company accused Oliver and HBO of a "callous, vicious, and false" attack on the coal industry as part of their "most recent attempt to advance their biases against the coal industry and their disdain for the coal-related policies of the Trump administration." During the segment, Oliver discussed ways "people conflate coal, coal miners, and coal companies and imply that when you help one, you help them all. But they are not all in the same boat." Oliver mentioned Murray and his company fighting against safety regulations in the coal industry, and at one point called Murray a "geriatric Dr. Evil."

The suit says Murray, 77, needs a lung transplant, thinks he won't live long enough to see this case reach a conclusion, and believes the segment incited people to "do harm to Mr. Murray and his companies." He is asking for financial damages and a court order preventing the segment from being aired ever again. During the segment, Oliver noted that when the show contacted Murray Energy for comment, they responded with a letter threatening legal action if Last Week Tonight did not "cease and desist from any effort to defame, harass, or otherwise injure Mr. Murray or Murray Energy." A representative for HBO told USA Today the company has "confidence in the staff of Last Week Tonight" and doesn't believe "anything in the show this week violated Mr. Murray or Murray energy's rights." Watch the segment causing all of this hullabaloo below. Catherine Garcia

7:57 p.m. ET
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers selected University of Washington guard Markelle Fultz as the first overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. The Sixers traded with the Boston Celtics to get the top spot. UCLA's Lonzo Ball was chosen second by the Los Angeles Lakers, while the Celtics, drafting third, picked Duke's Jayson Tatum. The draft is taking place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn; follow along live on ESPN. Catherine Garcia

6:55 p.m. ET
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) isn't bothered by some members of her party criticizing her, following Jon Ossoff's loss Tuesday in Georgia's 6th Congressional district special election.

His opponent, Karen Handel, ran more of an anti-Ossoff campaign than pro-Handel, and ran ads linking Ossoff to Pelosi, a liberal from California. This isn't a new GOP tactic, Pelosi said during a press conference Thursday, "and usually, they go after the most effective leader." Two-thirds of the caucus backed Pelosi last year when she was challenged by Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), and she feels "very confident" about the support she has. "I think I'm worth the trouble, quite frankly," she said. "I love the fray." She didn't hesitate to stand up for herself, saying, "You want me to sing my praises? Well, I'm a master legislator. I am a strategic, politically astute leader. My leadership is recognized by many around the country, and that is why I'm able to attract the support that I do."

Pelosi said the party is "paving a way for a new generation of leadership, and I respect any opinion that my my members have," but the "decision about how long I stay is not up to them." Looking ahead to 2018, "history is on our side," she added, as the president typically loses House seats during their first midterm election. Catherine Garcia

4:51 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Republicans unveiled their health-care proposal Thursday, the upper chamber's version of the GOP-backed American Health Care Act that passed the House early last month. The Senate bill, titled the "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017," allows states to apply for waivers to certain insurance regulations intended to protect the sick and the poor, proposes steep and lasting cuts to Medicaid, and rolls back taxes and subsidies levied under the Affordable Care Act.

Former President Barack Obama, of course, signed the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. ObamaCare into law just over seven years ago. On Thursday, he took to his Facebook page to offer his thoughts on the Senate's proposed replacement for his signature legislative achievement, slamming the bill's "fundamental meanness":

The Senate bill, unveiled today, is not a health-care bill. It's a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America. It hands enormous tax cuts to the rich and to the drug and insurance industries, paid for by cutting health care for everybody else. [...]

Simply put, if there's a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family — this bill will do you harm. And small tweaks over the course of the next couple weeks, under the guise of making these bills easier to stomach, cannot change the fundamental meanness at the core of this legislation. [Barack Obama]

Senators are expected to vote on their bill next week. You can read Obama's entire statement here. Kimberly Alters

3:57 p.m. ET

An awkward linguistic loophole in a Republican bill in the New Hampshire state Senate would have, in theory, allowed pregnant women to legally get away with committing murder, Slate reports. Senate Bill 66 defined fetuses past 20 weeks old as "people" for cases of murder or manslaughter, such as when unborn babies are killed in reckless driving accidents. But in order to avoid convicting pregnant mothers of murder if they sought abortions, the bill included an unintentionally hilarious work-around:

The bill's original language stated that "any act committed by the pregnant woman" or a doctor acting in his professional capacity wouldn't apply in cases of second-degree murder, manslaughter, or negligent homicide. Unfortunately, "any act" implied, well, any act. The bill "allows a pregnant woman to commit homicide without consequences," Republican representative J.R. Hoell told the Concord Monitor. "Although that was never the intent, that is the clear reading of the language." *blooper sound effect* [Slate]

The bill initalliy passed both the state's House and Senate without lawmakers realizing the loophole, Slate adds. But unfortunately for anyone with Purge-esque visions of bloodthirty mothers-to-be, the House passed an amendment Thursday "to make sure pregnant women don't go around killing people." Read the full details of the case at Slate. Jeva Lange

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