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May 14, 2014

Scientists have discovered the oldest fossilized sperm on the geological record, according to a new study published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. And not just any old sperm: gargantuan sperm.

A team of paleontologists in Australia came across a pristinely preserved specimen of sperm from an ostracod, a kind of shrimp, in a bat cave in Queensland. The sperm, which scientists suspect was preserved in bat feces, is 17 million years old, and when unwound can reach 10 times longer than the shrimp itself.

"It's staggering," Michael Archer, a leader of the team, told The Washington Post. Ryu Spaeth

4:26 a.m. ET

"Our long national nightmare is ... different," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's Late Show, "because after weeks of tearing families apart at the border, and then falsely insisting that only Congress could solve the problem," President Trump realized he didn't like how the policy made him feel and took a stab at ending it. He ribbed Trump for insisting this couldn't be done through an executive order, and then signing an executive order to do it. But "here's the thing," Colbert said. "Trump made it a big signing ceremony to make it look like he did something good instead of admitting he was just ending the evil thing he started."

Yes, Trump is "reuniting families — in prison," maybe, "but even if this was the perfect plan — and it's not," Colbert said, "none of these folks in the administration or anyone who defended them are off the moral meathook here. Because they didn't change this policy because they thought they were wrong — they changed it because it made 70 percent of Americans sick to their stomach. And make no mistake: Trump folded. He folded like an origami Trump casino." That's a first, he added, and the final straw was probably the "tender age" shelters for seized babies and toddlers. And caging babies "was hurting the most vulnerable," Colbert deadpanned: "Members of the Trump administration."

The Late Show imagined Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen's interrupted Mexican dinner out as a very bad first date.

Colbert also spared a thought for Corey Lewandowsky, "hung out to dry by Trump's ethical backpedal" for going "all in on the evil" and attaching his name forever to mocking disabled children in cages with the sad-trombone sound. "For those of you keeping track of Trump's three campaign mangers," he said, "one was 'womp womp' right there, the other guy's in jail now, and the third is Steve Bannon, the nice one?" Watch below. Peter Weber

3:18 a.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson struck down Kansas' voter registration ID requirement and ordered Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach to stop enforcing the law, which he had championed and personally defended in court, and take six hours of continuing legal education on "civil rules of procedure or evidence." In April, Robison, a George W. Bush appointee, had ruled Kobach in contempt of court for ignoring earlier decisions. And because of this "well-documented history of avoiding this court's orders," she wrote Monday, Kobach had to immediately tell county election officials to comply with her ruling.

It wasn't until Wednesday afternoon that Bryan Caskey, Kobach's elections director, instructed county clerks to stop asking for proof of citizenship and activate all voter registrations canceled or suspended under the law, affecting 25,175 voting records. On Tuesday, Caskey had told county election officials to keep enforcing the law, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports. As Kobach spokeswoman Danedri Herbert explained, "I think 'immediately' is kind of open to interpretation."

Caskey's emailed instructions Wednesday also told county officials to flag on registration records if a voter voluntarily submitted proof of citizenship, "for tracking purposes only," though he also noted the Kobach is appealing Robinson's ruling. Mark Johnson, an attorney in one of the two lawsuits against Kobach, protested that caveat, telling The Wichita Eagle: "They have no business maintaining that information. I don't like the idea that it will be used for tracking purposes only. Tracking what?"

"For Kobach, the trial should've been a moment of glory," Jessica Huseman writes at ProPublica. "He's been arguing for a decade that voter fraud is a national calamity. ... If anybody ever had time to marshal facts and arguments before a trial, it was Kobach." Instead, Robinson and his own witnesses dealt him "an unalloyed defeat." You can read Huseman's report on the trial at verdict at ProPublica. Peter Weber

1:27 a.m. ET

Martha Leach is turning 103 on July 6, but the celebration is already underway in Holly Springs, North Carolina.

On Wednesday, friends drove Leach to the town fire station, where she was given a tour and a helmet. She hopped aboard Fire Engine #1, and was driven around town. People lined the streets, holding up signs and balloons, while Leach activated the siren. "It's the good Lord's plan for me to be here," she told WNCN.

Firefighter Adam Godfrey drove Leach around, and asked her for some advice during the ride. "She said live a stress-free life, and enjoy your home and family," he said. "Always be loved by someone." Born in 1915 in Wagram, North Carolina, Leach moved to Holly Springs in 1948, and said she enjoys spending time relaxing on her front porch, just "sitting and looking." Catherine Garcia

1:22 a.m. ET

President Trump's policy of separating families at the border "has rightfully outraged almost every decent human being, and Ted Cruz," Trevor Noah joked on Wednesday Daily Show, "and now it looks like even the man who made the policy is tired of the backlash." Noah wasn't completely impressed with Trump's executive band-aid, nor was he completely surprised Trump caved, giving the increasingly bad headlines. "Sweet Lord, 'tender age' shelters?" he asked. "That's a helluva fancy way to pronounce 'baby jail.'" The widespread only grew after Corey Lewandowski "headed south of the decency border" about a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome separated from her mother and caged, Noah said. "Yeah, he did just say 'womp womp,' which is funny because that's what he's going to hear in the afterlife. 'Wait, I'm in hell?' 'Yes, you are. Womp womp.'"

It's a relief that Trump might be ending this, but we're still left with the horror that "people were trying to defend this practice," Noah said. Still, Trump's defenders were "just dusting off xenophobia" from earlier eras. "Look, today's situation isn't the same but the excuses sure sound familiar," he explained. "In fact, they're as old as America itself — which, unfortunately, makes them too old to be locked up in a tender-age shelter."

At The Opposition, Jordan Klepper said Trump was being "too humble" in giving credit to Congress for his policy of "caging children as a bargaining tool for passing anti-immigrant laws," and argued that Lewandowski "wasn't being dismissive" when he said "womp womp" about the caged disabled girl, "those are just two of the 10 words he knows." Kobi Libii took it a step further, saying Lewandowski set "a new high" for political discourse. "Debaters have long known it's very hard to win an argument when you are on the pro-children-in-cages side," he said. "But this new mocking-noises tactic changes the game." Watch him and Klepper demonstrate below. Peter Weber

12:45 a.m. ET

Rodney Smith Jr. is making a difference, one lawn at a time.

Smith, a 28-year-old native of Bermuda, had just earned his master's degree in social work when he spotted an elderly man in Huntsville, Alabama, having a hard time mowing his lawn. Smith stopped to help, and "that night, I decided to mow lawns for the elderly, disabled, single moms, and veterans," he told CNN. His first goal was to mow 40 lawns for free, then bumped it up to 100. He soon started the Raising Men Lawn Care Service, a foundation that finds people who need their lawns mowed and also inspires kids to give back. "This is what I believe my purpose is in life," he said.

Last summer, he set off on a journey across the U.S. and mowed lawns in all 50 states. He's doing it again this year, and has challenged kids to join him by mowing 50 lawns, free of charge, in their hometowns. So far, 12 kids have hit that goal. Smith, who wants to go to every continent next year, also teaches kids about lawn mower safety as he encourages them to engage in community service. "It's about letting them know that no matter how young they are, how old they are, they can make a difference, and it doesn't have to be with a lawnmower," he said. Catherine Garcia

June 20, 2018

On Wednesday, President Trump signed a temporary stopgap measure to keep migrant families detained together — indefinitely, if the courts or Congress do as he requests — but the Health and Human Services Department says it has no plans to reunite the 2,300 children already being detained apart from their parents. The New York Daily News had a message for Trump on Thursday's front page:

Sadly, that may be harder than it sounds. Peter Weber

June 20, 2018
Gabriella Demczuk/Getty Images

Under District of Columbia law, only people of "good character" can hold a liquor license, and a group of religious leaders and former judges argue that the license issued to the Trump International Hotel should be revoked because President Trump "is not a person of good character."

The District of Columbia Alcoholic Beverage Control Board received a complaint about the hotel from several rabbis, pastors, and retired judges who live in D.C. "The board owes it to the public to investigate the owner's lack of good character now," the complaint said, noting that "good character investigations typically occur at the time of license application or renewal," but Trump has engaged in "egregious conduct."

The complaint asks the alcohol licensing board to focus on Trump's "long history of lies," as well as "his involvement in relevant fraudulent and other activity demonstrating his lack of integrity, and his refusal to abide by the law or to stop associating with known criminals." He's been accused of sexual assault by several women, and fleeced people out of money through Trump University, the complaint continues, and the hotel should be ordered to "show cause why its license should not be revoked." Read the entire complaint here. Catherine Garcia

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