Who doesn't love a good Rube Goldberg machine? Purdue University has been hosting a contest every year since 1983, and nationally since 1989, to see which collegiate team can build the best Goldberg-style contraption, defined as accomplishing a simple task in no fewer than 20 steps. This year, the task was zipping a zipper, and the home team won — Purdue's Rube Goldberg squad managed to contrive about 75 steps to complete the easiest of objectives.
Kudos to Jimmy Kimmel for having the team bring their Rube Goldberg machine on his show. The dumpster-diving engineers who designed and built it are as delightful as you'd expect, and their machine really is quite impressive — though if I were Guillermo, I'd have been pretty nervous near the end, too. There's probably a reason this is the first entry in more than 30 years to incorporate a human participant. --Peter Weber
With their union contract scheduled to expire on May 1, Writers Guild of America members voted on Monday to authorize a strike.
The guild said that 67.5 percent of eligible members voted, and 96.3 percent were in favor of the measure. On Tuesday, the union is expected to pick up negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the major Hollywood studios and broadcast networks. The writers are asking for pay increases, larger residuals for shows on streaming services like Netflix, and bigger employer contributions to the health plan.
The guild says that over the last two years, the average salary for a television writer-producer is down 23 percent, the Los Angeles Times reports. If negotiations fail and a strike is called, it will have a major impact on the television and film industry, cutting seasons short and affecting the fall season and possibly beyond; during the last strike in 2007, which lasted 100 days, the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers says writers lost more than $287 million in compensation and the walkout "hurt everyone." Catherine Garcia
"President Trump has been scrambling for literally any kind of positive achievement as he nears the end of his first 100 days in office," Seth Meyers said on Monday's Late Show. The 100-day mark, of course, "is traditionally when presidents get their first big report card on their performance so far, and this will shock you, most people think he's not doing great," Meyer said. None of Trump's promised actions by Day 100 are done. "If this were a movie, it would be called 100 Dayz and Confused," he said. And yet, "like every terrible student, Trump is trying to turn an F into an A."
Trump is kind of right that "the 100 Day report card is an arbitrary, meaningless political milestone that most people don't actually care about," Meyers said, but Trump obviously does, having pitched a laundry list of things he would accomplish by Day 100. He's accomplished none of them, leaving him to brag about TV ratings and his electoral victory. "How could things get any worse?" Meyers asked. A government shutdown, of course. But Meyers was concerned if the government does shut down, nobody would even notice: "Under Trump our federal government is staffed as well as a Duane Reade on a Sunday morning."
Still, whether or not the government is open come Saturday rests on whether Trump will veto a spending bill without funding for his border wall. Wasn't Mexico going to pay for that wall? On Twitter, Trump said it still will, somehow, at some point in the future. "Trump's tweets are starting to sound like the fine print on a contest to win a free cruise," Meyers said. And how much will the wall cost? "Even the biggest sucker at the used car lot" would walk away, given Trump's delightfully obtuse answer to The Associated Press.
Meyers actually gets a lot of mileage out of Trump's freewheeling AP interview, but his parting shot came from Trump's glowing platitudes about his first 100 days delivered on camera last week. "That's the president of the United States saying 'government is coming along really well,'" Meyer said. "That's like going home to your wife and saying, 'Hello, wife, our marriage is coming along really well.'" Watch below. Peter Weber
On Monday, Arkansas put to death two prisoners, Marcel Williams and Jack Jones, the first time a state has carried out a double execution in 17 years.
Jones, convicted of raping and murdering Mary Phillips in 1995, was put to death shortly after 7 p.m., and Williams' attorneys then asked for a stay, saying that Williams' obesity would make it too difficult for an IV to be placed and questioning if Jones' execution went according to plan. A judge temporarily blocked Williams' execution, but lifted the stay an hour later.
Williams was pronounced dead at 10:33 p.m., 17 minutes after the procedure began. He was convicted of the 1994 rape and murder of Stacy Errickson, a 22-year-old woman he kidnapped from a gas station. Arkansas is ramping up its executions, scheduling eight over 11 days, because its supply of one lethal injection drug will expire at the end of the month. At least three of the eight executions have been stayed by court order. Catherine Garcia
Just a few hours after Arkansas executed death row inmate Jack Jones, a federal judge issued and then lifted a court order that temporarily kept the state from putting to death a second prisoner, Marcel Williams.
Jones, convicted of the 1995 rape and murder of Mary Phillips, was pronounced dead at 7:20 p.m., 14 minutes after the procedure began. Attorneys for Williams said it took 45 minutes to get an IV into Jones and he was moving his lips and "gulping for air" after the first drug was administered. They argued that because Williams is obese, it would be difficult to place an IV and he would experience a "torturous death." The state attorney general's office called this description of the execution "inaccurate."
Earlier in the night, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an execution stay for Williams. It is unclear if his attorneys will continue to try to delay the execution; Williams' death warrant is set to expire at midnight. The last time a state executed two prisoners in the same night was in 2000. Arkansas has been moving to execute more prisoners before one of its lethal injection drugs expire at the end of the month. Catherine Garcia
Working together, several activist groups — Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, Action on Smoking and Health, and Public Citizen — are urging the CEOs of Pepsi, the Gap, and Disney to quit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
The coalition says the chamber, the largest lobbying group in the U.S. and biggest business organization in the world, is actively working to promote tobacco products and fight legislation that combats climate change. In a letter to Disney's Bob Iger, the coalition said that while his company has committed to reducing its net greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent by 2020, the Chamber of Commerce opposes the Paris climate agreement, is suing to block the implementation of the Clean Power Plan, regularly lobbies against legislation that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and spends millions on ads to elect candidates who support the fossil fuel industry, The Guardian reports.
In recent years, 13 of the biggest companies in the world — including Starbucks, Costco, Mattel, Mars, General Mills, Hewlett-Packard, and Unilever — have left the chamber, Public Citizen said. In 2015, CVS, the first major drugstore to stop selling tobacco products, quit the chamber once the company found out the organization was lobbying foreign governments to ease restrictions on tobacco sales. Dan Dudis of Public Citizen told The Guardian this is just the beginning of an effort to get members to exit the chamber, which is pushing "the interests of a minority." Catherine Garcia
On Wednesday, President Trump will announce his plan to overhaul the tax code, including a proposal to cut the corporate tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent, White House officials told The Washington Post on Monday.
Independent analysts have estimated a cut this severe could cost the federal government $2.4 trillion over 10 years, and it's a deeper cut than one House Republicans have proposed. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Monday that such a tax plan "will pay for itself with economic growth," but Edward Kleinbard, the former chief of staff for Congress' Joint Committee on Taxation, told The Post that if Trump's administration is "going to rely on the principle that tax cuts can pay for themselves, history has demonstrated that tax policies move the growth needle a bit but no more than that."
Most companies do not pay the 35 percent rate because of deductions, and these changes will have to be backed by Congress with bipartisan support in order to pass. During his speech, Trump is expected to discuss changes to personal income tax as well. Catherine Garcia
In his first podcast since being fired from Fox News last week, Bill O'Reilly said he misses being beamed into living rooms across the country, and teased that some major revelations will be made regarding his departure from the network amid multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
"I am sad that I'm not on television anymore," he said on Monday's No Spin News podcast. "I was very surprised how it all turned out. I can't say a lot, because there's much stuff going on right now. But I can tell you that I'm very confident the truth will come out, and when it does, I don't know if you're going to be surprised — but I think you're going to be shaken, as I am. There's a lot of stuff involved here." He was ousted last Wednesday, a few weeks after The New York Times reported that O'Reilly and Fox News paid $13 million to settle with five women who accused the host of sexual harassment and verbal abuse.
In his podcast, O'Reilly touched on a few headlines from the day, and explained how No Spin News will work; ultimately, it will become a "genuine news program," with guests and an extended version of the "Talking Points Memo" segment from his now-canceled show, The O'Reilly Factor. He used a good chunk of the podcast to tout his book tour and membership to his website; while free all this week, No Spin News will usually only be available to paid subscribers. Membership costs $4.95 a month, $15.95 for 90 days, or $49.95 for a year, and O'Reilly enticed listeners by announcing that with your annual membership, you'll receive one of 50 free gifts — options include one of his books, one of his books on CD, or a tie from the American Patriot Collection, which technically isn't free because it still has a supplemental cost of $25. Catherine Garcia