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June 25, 2014

Game of Thrones' fourth season finale was pretty eventful — but anyone who read George R.R. Martin's books was surprised by the one thing that didn't happen. And while some fans were holding out hope that the twist was being saved for next season, a recent interview seems to confirm that the story has been cut altogether.

[If you haven't read the books, MASSIVE Game of Thrones spoilers to follow]

To recap: in the books, Catelyn Stark's corpse is pulled from the river after the Red Wedding and resurrected as "Lady Stoneheart" — a pale, silent, deathless woman who wanders the countryside, seeking revenge on anyone she believes betrayed her family.

It's a major, major twist that has serious (and ongoing) ramifications in the books — but it's a story those who stick to the TV show will never get to see. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Michelle Fairley, who played Catelyn on the HBO series, confirmed that there are no plans for Lady Stoneheart to appear in Game of Thrones.

"Yeah, the character's dead. She's dead," said Fairley. "You respect the writers' decision. I knew the arc, and that was it. They can't stick to the books 100 percent. It's impossible — they only have 10 hours per season. They have got to keep it dramatic and exciting, and extraneous stuff along the way gets lost in order to maintain the quality of brilliant show." Scott Meslow

1:51 p.m. ET
iStock

About half of all Americans are in agreement: The U.S. hasn't done enough for gender equality. But there's a big difference between how Democrats and Republicans feel about the issue.

A new survey from Pew Research Center found that 69 percent of Democrats think the country hasn't gone far enough when it comes to giving women equal rights with men. Only 26 percent of Republicans feel the same. What's more, 18 percent of Republicans believe the country has gone too far to address gender inequality.

In the same survey, Pew found that 43 percent of women surveyed said they'd experienced gender discrimination. Less than half as many men — 18 percent — said the same thing.

The survey of 4,573 U.S. adults was conducted Aug. 8-21 and Sept. 14-28. It has a margin of error of 2.4 percentage points. You can read more on the study on Pew's website. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:48 p.m. ET

Speaking in New York City on Thursday, former President George W. Bush made sharply pointed comments about the state of America without referencing President Trump by name, Politico reports. "We've seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty," Bush told attendees of a Bush Institute forum entitled "The Spirit of Liberty: At Home, In the World."

"At times it can seem like the forces pulling us apart are stronger than the forces binding us together," Bush said. "Argument turns too easily into animosity. Disagreement escalates into dehumanization."

"Bigotry seems emboldened," Bush went on. "Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication."

Bush "has said very little publicly about the current president, or about American politics at all," Politico observed. "Thursday's speech, in which he detailed what he sees as the causes for democratic collapse, the path forward, and what were obvious references to Trump … was a major departure in a speech that called on a renewal of American spirit and institutions."

A spokesman for Bush told The Hill the speech was "long-planned" and not a critique of Trump. "This was a long-planned speech on liberty and democracy as a part of the Bush Institute's Human Freedom Initiative. The themes President Bush spoke about today are really the same themes he has spoken about for the last two decades," the spokesman said.

Watch more of Bush's remarks below. Jeva Lange

1:25 p.m. ET

On Thursday, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) introduced their bipartisan health-care bill, flanked by 11 more Democratic co-sponsors plus 11 more Republican co-sponsors. "I think I might want to get a bipartisan interim deal," Alexander quoted President Trump as saying last weekend; the president and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had come out against the bill Wednesday.

The legislation seeks to stabilize health insurance markets by extending for two years government subsidy payments that insurance companies use to lower costs for poorer customers. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a co-sponsor of a previous GOP health-care bill, said Thursday that he thinks Trump can be convinced to come around, while Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) — who authored the previous bill with Graham — said he would be a co-sponsor on the bipartisan Alexander-Murray bill.

Axios writes that "the story of the Alexander-Murray bill likely won't be over until December, when Congress has to take care of several must-pass bills, in negotiations where Democrats have a lot of leverage." An initial tally on Thursday, assuming all Democrats would support the measure, indicated the bill could garner the 60 votes it needs to pass the Senate. Jeva Lange

12:10 p.m. ET

The old Christian Bale can't come to the phone right now:

Photos leaked Thursday show Bale's full body commitment to the character of Dick Cheney, whom Bale is portraying in Adam McKay's forthcoming (and yet untitled) biopic about the former vice president. The film will reportedly cover Cheney's "time serving as a Wyoming congressman up through his time in D.C. — with a few stops for hunting trips (and accidents) along the way," Vulture reports.

For reference, only a short time ago, Bale looked like this:

The film also stars Amy Adams as Dick Cheney's wife, Lynne Cheney:

Not too shabby! Jeva Lange

Embed from Getty Images

11:57 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) will introduce a bipartisan bill Thursday intended to force digital companies to be more transparent about their advertising sales. McCain signed on to the Democrats' bill Wednesday.

The effort was sparked by the revelation that Facebook sold more than $100,000 worth of ads to a Kremlin-linked Russian company during the 2016 election; Google later revealed it had sold $4,700 worth of similar ads. Both companies were able to avoid disclosure rules mandated by the Federal Election Commission because political activity on the internet has been largely exempt from the regulations placed on traditional media advertising since 2006, as part of the so-called internet exemption rule.

The senators' bill would require internet companies to disclose information about ad purchasers to the FEC. But the tech companies are not thrilled with the move, and are roping in lawyers and lobbyists in an effort to shape the regulations to be more company-friendly. "In a two-front war, tech companies are targeting an election commission rule-making process that was restarted last month and a legislative effort in the Senate," The New York Times wrote.

In a statement, the senators said the opacity of online ad sources left U.S. elections susceptible to foreign threats, like Russia's meddling in 2016. The bill would "prevent foreign actors from influencing our elections," Klobuchar and Warner wrote, "by ensuring that political ads sold online are covered by the same rules as ads sold on TV, radio, and satellite." Kimberly Alters

10:55 a.m. ET
HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP/Getty Images

A New Jersey survivalist who spent decades preparing for the apocalypse is donating all of his goods to Puerto Rico, in honor of his late wife. Joseph and Phyllis Badame shared a passion for prepping, custom-building their home with bunk beds and stocking up on dried food.

When Badame's wife passed away and their house went into foreclosure, he decided to pay their survivalist skills forward to victims in hurricane-hit Puerto Rico. The 74-year-old has donated 80 barrels of goods to the U.S. ­territory — enough to sustain two villages for months. "Those people are starving," he told The Washington Post. "I just can't sit by." Christina Colizza

10:42 a.m. ET
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

There is controversy brewing in the last frontier. One of the top 20 finishers in the 2017 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race possibly gave their team the banned opioid pain reliever Tramadol, Alaska Dispatch News reports. It is the first time dogs have tested positive for an illegal substance in the history of the nearly 1,000-mile race.

While the president of the Iditarod Officials Finishers Club, Wade Marrs, did not name the musher in question (he or she is referred to only as "Musher X"), the positive test for Tramadol was reportedly isolated to a single top-finishing dog team.

"Race officials have refused to provide the musher's name, citing 'legal concerns,' the Dispatch News writes. "They have said they cannot prove the musher's intent, so they cannot penalize the musher under the 2017 race rules, which they have since revised." Musher X denied administering the drug and "repeatedly offered to submit to a polygraph and complied fully with all requests," Marrs' statement said.

"It's not a good situation," Iditarod Board member Aaron Burmeister told The Associated Press. "I'm hoping that we can turn a positive light on it and the musher steps forward." Jeva Lange

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