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May 20, 2014

Jon Stewart is mad as hell, and he's not going to take it. On Monday night's Daily Show, Stewart turned to the growing scandal at the Veterans Affairs Department over VA hospitals reportedly manipulating their waiting lists to hide long delays in treating military veterans. The long waits at the VA is one of Stewart's causes, and he let loose on VA Secretary Eric Shinseki, President Obama, and everyone in the previous administration for half-heartedly expressing their outrage over various delays while failing to solve this festering problem.

"Here's what disgusts me," Stewart said. "We as a country were able to ship 300,000 troops halfway across the world in just a few months to fight a war that cost us $2 trillion" in under-the-table cash, but "it takes longer than that to get someone hurt in that war needed medical care or reimbursement." Stewart's broader case isn't airtight — is the problem really that politicians and bureaucrats aren't acting like angry feral cats? — but this charge is a really good one with no great answer. --Peter Weber

3:14 p.m. ET

Comedian Jerry Lewis died Sunday morning, his agent announced that afternoon, at home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 91.

Perhaps best known for his comedy partnership with Dean Martin, Lewis' slapstick career spanned more than half a century and media including film, television, radio, and stage. He starred in movies like 1960's The Bellboy and 1963'sThe Nutty Professor, and also worked as a singer, screenwriter, director, and producer.

Offscreen, Lewis was a prominent supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, headline its annual fundraising telethon for decades and raising some $2.6 billion for the cause. Lewis is survived by his second wife, SanDee Pitnick, and six children.

Lewis was widely mourned by Hollywood when news of his death broke; see a few of those tributes below. Bonnie Kristian

1:07 p.m. ET

The terrorist cell responsible for the vehicle attack in Barcelona that killed 13, including one American, on Thursday originally intended to target the city's iconic Sagrada Familia cathedral, Spain's El Español reported Saturday, citing police sources. The church was reportedly chosen for its religious symbolism as well as its busy flow of tourists, but the plan was ultimately abandoned after the terrorists apparently mishandled their own explosives stockpile.

The cathedral instead became the site for a memorial service for the victims' families Sunday.

Authorities believe the terror cell had 12 members and collected 120 gas cannisters to use in vehicle attacks. Five cell members were fatally shot by police; four were arrested; and three — including Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, believed to be the driver in the Barcelona attack — remain at large.

The manhunt for the final suspects continued Sunday, though two sets of unidentified remains could account for two of the three missing men. The remains are from an explosion at a house in Alcanar, Spain, on Wednesday, the incident thought to have canceled the cathedral plan. Abouyaaqoub fled the scene of the Barcelona attack on foot and may have crossed the border into France. Bonnie Kristian

12:18 p.m. ET

"I don't have any plans" to primary President Trump in 2020, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said Sunday in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. "I'm rooting for him to get it together. We all are. I mean, we're only like seven months into this presidency," he added.

Kasich decried a political discourse in which "all we're doing is questioning [Trump's] motives" and "fighting back and forth," averring that America doesn't "do well when all we do is fight."

He also weighed in on Trump's much-criticized responses to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week. Asked by Tapper whether he believes Trump is "concerned about alienating bigots because they might be a part of his base," Kasich praised Trump's Saturday remarks on the related demonstrations in Boston. "It's all about ... explaining to [Trump] we've got to bring the country together," the governor continued, "and, you know, blaming one side or another when we're talking about the KKK or white supremacists — there is no comparison between these hate groups and everybody else."

Watch Kasich's full interview below. Bonnie Kristian

11:48 a.m. ET

GOP Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the Senate's only black Republican, did not mince words in his assessment of the Trump administration during an interview on Face the Nation Sunday.

"As we look to the future, it's going to be very difficult for this president to lead if in fact his moral authority remains compromised," Scott told CBS host John Dickerson. "Sometimes you have positional authority, and that is very helpful," Scott continued, "but the reality of it is this nation responds to moral authority, when we believe that our president has the entire nation's best interest at heart."

Trump's "comments on Tuesday," in which he said there were some "very fine people" marching on the white nationalist side in Charlottesville, Virginia, "erased his positive comments on Monday," Scott added. The senator recommended Trump meet with Civil Rights movement leaders "who endured the pain of the '60s ... the humiliation of the '50s and the '60s" to better understand "the painful history of racism and bigotry of this country."

Watch an excerpt of Scott's comments below. Bonnie Kristian

11:34 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

A group of alumni of Liberty University are returning their diplomas to their alma mater with a letter protesting the close association between the school's chancellor and president, Jerry Falwell Jr., and President Trump.

The letter's focus is Trump's response to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week. While some evangelical leaders joined a broad array of voices criticizing the president's "on many sides" equivocation and "very fine people" remark, Falwell remained among Trump's staunchest defenders. The alumni letter asks Falwell to reverse his position:

"While this state of affairs has been in place for many months, the Chancellor's recent comments on the attack upon our neighbors in Charlottesville have brought our outrage and our sorrow to a boiling point. During the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, white supremacists, nationalists, and neo-Nazis perpetrated brutal violence against anti-racist protesters, murdering one woman and injuring many. Instead of condemning racist and white nationalist ideologies, Mr. Trump provided equivocal and contradictory comments. The Chancellor then characterized Mr. Trump's remarks, which included the claim that some of the persons marching as white nationalists and white supremacists at the rally were 'very fine people,' as 'bold' and 'truthful.' This is incompatible with Liberty University's stated values, and incompatible with a Christian witness." [via NPR]

"I'm sending my diploma back because the president of the United States is defending Nazis and white supremacists," said one Liberty alumnus who signed the letter, former student government president Chris Gaumer. "And in defending the president's comments, Jerry Falwell Jr. is making himself and, it seems to me, the university he represents, complicit." Bonnie Kristian

11:10 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Ousted White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon expressed little optimism for a united, productive GOP in the near future while speaking to The Washington Post for an article published Saturday evening.

"If the Republican Party on Capitol Hill gets behind the president on his plans and not theirs, it will all be sweetness and light, be one big happy family," Bannon told the Post, adding that this is not an outcome he expects in the foreseeable future, because no "administration in history has been so divided among itself about the direction about where it should go."

That assessment contributed to the Post's conclusion that Bannon's exit to resume his erstwhile position at Breitbart News will not end the Trump White House's internal division and apparently endless controversy. (Read The Week's Ryan Cooper on why Bannon's departure won't change much here.)

"I think it raises the morale of staffers and brings more of a sense of normalcy to the White House on a day-to-day basis," said an unnamed Republican strategist with access to the administration. "What it does not do is remove the person who's creating the most drama in the White House, and that's Donald Trump."

What Bannon will do at Breitbart remains to be seen. Some of his post-firing remarks and comments from those near him suggest he will use the outlet to attack the Trump administration, or at least figures within it who oppose his "economic nationalist" agenda. However, Bannon himself told Bloomberg News he is "going to war for Trump against his opponents — on Capitol Hill, in the media, and in corporate America." Bonnie Kristian

9:32 a.m. ET
AFP/Getty Images

A train derailment in the north Indian state of Uttar Pradesh Saturday evening killed at least 23 people and injured 120 more, local authorities reported, and the death toll is expected to continue to rise as search and rescue efforts proceed.

"Twelve coaches of the train derailed, with some crashing into a residential area nearby, damaging a few houses," said a statement from Arvind Kumar, the Uttar Pradesh home secretary. "Passengers in eight other coaches escaped unhurt."

A team from the state's anti-terrorism squad is involved in investigating the crash, which is the fourth large-scale derailment in India this year. Such accidents are tragically common because of poor infrastructure conditions, so the train network is undergoing a $130 billion improvement program. Bonnie Kristian

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