Jon Stewart kicked off Tuesday night's Daily Show by noting that presidents have been promising to modernize the Department of Veterans Affairs since at least the Truman administration. That effort has apparently progressed in fits and starts. Congress has been holding late-night hearings on the VA's scandalously long wait times at hospitals, Stewart noted, almost approvingly, but a lot of the hearings devolve into ping-ponging responsibility back and forth between the VA bureaucracy and Congress.
Stewart hit his stride when a zombie-like VA bureaucrat (to be fair, it was an overnight hearing) informed Congress that the department's scheduling software was last significantly updated in 1985. "You're running OS... Tandy 1000?" Stewart gaped. "Your system can't process claims, but it can print an all-text picture of Snoopy." He didn't really have a solution, but he offered this suggestion: "Can't we figure out some way to use that death-drone NSA technology for administrative purposes at the VA?" And that's Stewart's sensible solution. His dream scenario is more entertaining. --Peter Weber
Conservative commentator and writer S.E. Cupp really, really wanted to root for the Republican nominee. But "after … witnessing some real progress in our outreach to women in the ensuing years, I did not expect an egomaniacal arsonist to come along and set all that ablaze," she writes in a new op-ed for The New York Times, "The Lonely Life of a Republican Woman."
Cupp decries the fact that Donald Trump has taken her party "back to the Dark Ages — or at least the 1950s," claiming that it is increasingly difficult for women Republicans to justify remaining with the right, even when it might be in their best interest in the long run:
Democrats' lofty language about empowering women sounds great (and way better than Mr. Trump's), but President Obama's economy has done just the opposite. By many metrics, women (and men) are worse off. The poverty rate is higher than it was in 2007. Real median household income is down. More Americans are dependent on the government for assistance. Homeownership is down. Student debt has skyrocketed, along with the national debt. We now know that Obamacare is becoming unaffordable.
None of this is empowering, not for working women, mothers, small-business owners or students. Whether you're a veteran or a millennial, it's hard to argue that big government has solved your problems efficiently, if at all.
But before we can make that case to women, Republicans will have to earn the right to be heard at all. That will require emptying the party of Mr. Trump's enablers. Who knows how long that will take, but in the meantime, women would frankly have to have been lobotomized to believe anything the Republican Party tells them. [The New York Times]
Paleontologists have uncovered countless dinosaur bones, but what they have yet to find is a dinosaur brain — that is, until now. Researchers recently realized what they thought was a run-of-the-mill skull fossil actually may contain a chunk of fossilized dinosaur brain tissue. Scientists think the brain tissue came from a "large leaf-eating dinosaur, possibly from a species similar to the iguanodon," which roamed the Earth some 130 million years ago, Mashable reports.
The brain tissue, which looks like a nondescript brown rock at first glance, was found by an amateur fossil hunter in Sussex in 2004. Scientists believe the dinosaur's head fell into a swamp when it died, which prevented the brain tissue from decaying like soft tissue usually does. Instead, The Independent explained, the brain was essentially "pickled by the highly acidic and low-oxygen water."
Still, some scientists aren't convinced this is the real deal. Lawrence Witmer, a paleontologist from Ohio University, stressed that brain tissue is "one of the first things that decomposes after an animal dies." He told NPR he thinks what researchers have discovered is "part of the protective outer covering of the brain."
However, researchers insist they've spotted what appear to be blood vessels, which, Vox noted, is "the tell-tale sign this was indeed part of a brain." "They're incontrovertible, they can't be anything else," said Alexander Liu, a co-author of the research. "They have the right diameters, they branch in the right way, they're hollow, and they are in the right places." Becca Stanek
Apple on Thursday revealed its thinnest and lightest MacBook Pros ever, previewing two versions of the laptop computer at its October 2016 keynote. The smaller version will feature a 13-inch screen and weigh 3 pounds, while the larger version will measure 15 inches and weigh 4 pounds.
The machines will come with an updated keyboard with a "touch bar," which will feature a Retina display that responds to taps and adapts to whatever software is being used; if Safari is running, for example, the bar will display browser bookmarks and search and back buttons. Apple's voice control app, Siri, will also have a dedicated key. The computers ship with four Thunderbolt 3 ports that support USB-C, and any of the ports can double as a charging port.
"The Mac is more than a product to us," CEO Tim Cook said. "It's a testament to everything we do and everything that created Apple." The laptops start at $1,499 for a 13-inch and from $2,399 for a 15-inch. Pre-orders start today, with shipping beginning in two to three weeks. The Verge has all the specs and details on their live blog, which you can visit here. Jeva Lange
Twitter announced Thursday that it will be discontinuing the mobile app for Vine, its short-form video-sharing service that has existed since 2013. The announcement follows reports earlier Thursday that Twitter would be reducing its global workforce by 9 percent, even as the troubled company's third-quarter earnings exceeded analysts' expectations.
"Nothing is happening to the apps, website, or your Vines today," the company said in a statement posted to Medium. "We value you, your Vines, and are going to do this the right way. You'll be able to access and download your Vines. We'll be keeping the website online because we think it's important to still be able to watch all the incredible Vines that have been made. You will be notified before we make any changes to the app or website." Vine has over 200 million monthly users and 1.5 billion "loops." Jeva Lange
Donald Trump thinks he could teach the secretary of defense 'a couple things' about military strategy
In further evidence Donald Trump is a self-proclaimed expert on every topic under the sun, the GOP nominee offered Wednesday to give Defense Secretary Ash Carter some advice on how to best defend the nation. During an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos, the host reminded Trump that Carter had said Trump doesn't "know a damn thing about military strategy." Trump's response? "I'll teach him a couple of things."
Trump then launched into an explanation of how the military offensive to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State should've been handled. "I've been hearing about Mosul now for three months. 'We're going to attack, we're going to attack,'" Trump said. "Why do they have to talk about it?"
Instead, the businessman advised, the military should have prioritized secrecy. "Don't talk about it," Trump said. "Element of surprise. General George Patton."
Though first lady Michelle Obama has already stumped for Hillary Clinton many a time, the two women will appear on the same stage for the first time this campaign Thursday at a rally Thursday in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Clinton campaign has already hailed Obama as its "not-so-secret weapon," and the speeches the first lady has made so far have been some of the most memorable of this election, dating back to her address at the summer's Democratic National Convention.
"She has exceeded our expectations in terms of how many events she has been able to do, willing to do. Her team keeps surprising us with additional availability and we can't, from our vantage point, we can't get her out there enough. She's been an absolute rock star," Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon said earlier this week.
On Thursday, Obama will "get the drum beating on early voting," a Clinton spokesperson said. President Obama lost North Carolina in 2012; Clinton is an average of 5.4 points ahead in the four-way matchup, with just 12 days to go until Election Day. Donald Trump's campaign has also been active this week in the state, which, aside from the 2008 election, has historically voted Republican. Becca Stanek
Archaeologists and restorers working in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in the Old City of Jerusalem have pulled back the marble cover on what is traditionally considered to be the tomb of Jesus Christ, National Geographic reports. By removing the covering, which is believed to have been placed on the tomb around 1555 A.D. or earlier, scientists have exposed the "burial bed," where Christ is believed to have been laid after being crucified in A.D. 30 or 33.
"The marble covering of the tomb has been pulled back, and we were surprised by the amount of fill material beneath it," Fredrik Hiebert, the archaeologist-in-residence at the National Geographic Society, said. "It will be a long scientific analysis, but we will finally be able to see the original rock surface on which, according to tradition, the body of Christ was laid."
Researchers plan to study the surface in order to better understand the original shape of the tomb. "The techniques we're using to document this unique monument will enable the world to study our findings as if they themselves were in the tomb of Christ," Chief Scientific Supervisor Professor Antonia Moropoulou said.