FOLLOW THE WEEK ON FACEBOOK
May 8, 2014

On Wednesday, doctors in Israel performed unprecedented surgery on a Syrian brown bear named Mango. The 19-year-old bear suffered from a slipped disc, which had left his back legs paralyzed, the Daily Mail reported.

(REUTERS/Nir Elias)

Veterinarians will monitor Mango's recovery in the coming weeks, but the photograph of this 550-pound animal, with a shaved back and an IV line and a blood-pressure cuff, is a reminder that even the most ferocious-looking creatures sometimes need a hand from their docs. Below, several more exotic patients. --Sarah Eberspacher

August 7, 2012: Fafa, an 18-year-old lioness, undergoes a CT scan in Brazil. | (REUTERS/Ueslei Marcelino)

September 10, 2011: Veterinarians give a male baboon a dental treatment in Medellin, Colombia. | (REUTERS/Albeiro Lopera)

September 15, 2011: Male lion Tyson receives dental work at a veterinary clinic in Medellin, Colombia. | (REUTERS/Albeiro Lopera)

8:30 a.m. ET

Former House Speaker John Boehner is confident that his party won't repeal and replace ObamaCare. "Here we are, seven months into this year, and yet they've not passed this bill. Now, they're never — they're not going to repeal and replace Obamacare," Boehner said at a private event last week in Las Vegas, of which The Washington Post obtained video footage.

Boehner explained "the American people have gotten accustomed to" ObamaCare at this point, so he suggested that Republicans' best bet at rolling back the health-care law is just to chip away at its tax provisions and regulations. "When it's all said and done, you're not going to have an employer mandate anymore, you're not going to have the individual mandate," Boehner said. "The Medicaid expansion will be there. The governors will have more control over their Medicaid populations and how to get them care, and a lot of ObamaCare taxes will probably go."

Boehner readily acknowledged that Republican leadership might not appreciate his candid commentary, especially as they're poised to vote Tuesday afternoon on health care. Boehner recalled the last time he made waves, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) texted him, "Gee, thanks."

Read more of Boehner's insights —including his advice to President Trump — over at The Washington Post. Becca Stanek

8:16 a.m. ET
Faridullah Ahmadzai/AFP/Getty Images

In April, top U.S. military commanders strongly suggested that Russia has been arming the Afghan Taliban, whom the U.S. has been battling since 2001. On Tuesday, CNN presented footage it says backs up those claims. In the videos, two different Taliban factions show off weapons they claim were donated by Russia, in one case to a rival Taliban faction. The weapons — sniper rifles, heavy machine guns, and variant of the Kalashnikov — have been scrubbed of any identifying marks. Russia has denied earlier reports that it is arming the Taliban.

In one video, a Taliban splinter group near Harat, in western Afghanistan, says the weapons it is displaying were seized from a mainstream Taliban group that attacked it. "These weapons were given to the fighters of Mullah Haibatullah by the Russians via Iran," said the faction's deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Manan Niazi. "The Russians are giving them these weapons to fight ISIS in Afghanistan, but they are using them against us too." The second Taliban group, near Kabul, said they were given the weapons at no cost across the border with Tajikistan, probably from "the Russians."

CNN asked weapons experts from the Small Arms Survey to examine the videos, and the experts said there was nothing concrete to tie the arms to Moscow, though the lack of any identifying marks in itself was a little suspect. "The Russians have said that they maintain contact with the Taliban, we have lots of other reports from other people they are arming the Taliban," Afghan government spokesman Sediq Sediqi tells CNN. "There is no smoke without fire." You can watch the videos and read more about the weapons at CNN. Peter Weber

7:56 a.m. ET

Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski suggested Tuesday that President Trump's recent treatment of Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn't all that different from Trump's treatment of one of his greatest mortal enemies. "It feels like he's treating Sessions and many others along the way in this administration like Rosie O'Donnell," Brzezinski said.

Now, Trump has not called Sessions "crude, rude, obnoxious, and dumb" — all among the words he's used to describe O'Donnell in their decade-long insult battle. On Tuesday, however, Trump did call Sessions out on Twitter for his "VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes." The day before, Trump labeled Sessions "beleaguered."

Morning Joe co-host Joe Scarborough contended that Trump's tweets indicate he's "still in that mindset" of his old days battling O'Donnell and "insulting each other back and forth." "It was just a media spectacle," Scarborough said. "He doesn't understand that when he's in Washington, D.C. and he is fighting his Attorney General and he is fighting Bob Mueller and he is fighting James Comey that this isn't a media game."

When you're president you don't just "boost your ratings up," Scarborough quipped. "Even Rosie O'Donnell would say that — it's not a game," he added.

Watch it below. The O'Donnell comparison comes in around the 6:36 mark. Becca Stanek

6:39 a.m. ET

President Trump was up early on Tuesday, and he took to Twitter to complain, again, about his attorney general, Jeff Sessions. This time, Trump suggested he was moved to pick up his smartphone by a segment on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, and he was evidently stewing about Hilary Clinton and what he said was Ukraine's attempts to help her in the 2016 election. "So where is the investigation A.G.," Trump tweeted. He sent another tweet nine minutes later:

Trump followed that up with some confusing allegations against acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe. Trump has been increasingly critical of Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia, and he and his aides are reportedly considering either firing the attorney general or pressuring him to resign. Tuesday morning's tweetstorm could be read either way. Peter Weber

5:51 a.m. ET
Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images

The Federal Reserve listed potential workers failing drug tests as a problem for the U.S. economy in its April, May, and July Beige Book economic surveys, and Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen told Congress this month that opioid abuse is one of the factors hampering labor participation for prime-age workers. But the abuse of prescription opioids and growing use of marijuana is being felt especially in the manufacturing sector, where up to half of applicants for good-paying factory jobs in the upper-Midwest rust belt fail their drug tests, The New York Times reports. Untold others don't apply because they know they will fail.

"We are talking to employers every day, and they tell us they are having more and more trouble finding people who can pass a drug test," says Edmond C. O'Neal at Northeast Indiana Works, an education and skills-training nonprofit. "I've heard kids say pot isn't a drug. It may not be, but pot will prevent you from getting a job." This isn't because of moral strictures among manufacturers or legal niceties, he adds. "Relaxing drug policies isn't an option for manufacturers in terms of insurance and liability."

As Michael J. Sherwin, CEO of the 123-year-old Ohio metal fabricator Columbiana Boiler in Youngstown explains, "The lightest product we make is 1,500 pounds, and they go up to 250,000 pounds," so "if something goes wrong, it won't hurt our workers. It'll kill them — and that's why we can't take any risks with drugs." That's a problem for his company, which is losing business to overseas rivals because of labor shortages, he adds. "We are always looking for people and have standard ads at all times, but at least 25 percent fail the drug tests." You can read more about the knotty problem of drugs and jobs, and the special concerns about shifting marijuana laws, at The New York Times. Peter Weber

4:58 a.m. ET
Clemens Bilan/Getty Images for GQ

On Tuesday, fashion brand Michael Kors said it has agreed to buy upscale shoemaker Jimmy Choo for $1.17 billion in cash, in a bid to shore up its narrowing profits amid slow growth in its core handbag business. Jimmy Choo has been up for sale since April, when European firm JAB Holding put it on the market. Michael Kors and other fashion brands are trying to come up with strategies to get U.S. consumers to pay full price for luxury handbags, as customers become accustomed to steep discounts and women are switching to smaller purses. In May, when Michael Kors unveiled a turnaround plan, rival Coach agreed to buy Kate Spade for $2.4 billion. The Michael Kors-Jimmy Choo deal requires shareholder approval. Peter Weber

4:32 a.m. ET

On Monday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert said his goodbyes to former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer — "He wanted to spend more time not answering his family's questions," he joked — and hello to the man who drove Spicer to resign, new White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, whom he introduced with a little Bohemian Rhapsody riff. "I think this is not a good sign for the Trump administration, when six months in, they're already running out of story lines so they started adding crazy new characters," Colbert said. "Scaramucci's like adding Scrappy-Doo, or Chachi to Happy Days. He even has an adorable nickname."

Still, "The Mooch" hit the ground running, Colbert said, giving a classy sendoff to Spicer and offering some unsolicited hair and makeup advice to Spicer's replacement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. "He's gonna fit into the Trump administration just fine," Colbert said. He trotted out his Scaramucci impersonation, which looked like something out of a bad Goodfellas remake, and played some of the highlights of Scaramucci's inaugural TV interviews as Trump's communications chief. One in particular, with CNN's Jake Tapper, was particularly puzzling, Colbert said, recapping: "So the president is the one who told you that the president's not in trouble, and you're not going to tell us because it's an anonymous source but then we ask and you tell us anyway? Why are we wasting this guy on communications? He should be the head of national security."

Later in the show, Colbert pointed out the obvious hole in Jared Kushner's new explanation for his meeting with a Kremlin-tied Russian lawyer peddling dirt on Hillary Clinton, then deconstructed Trump's tweet seemingly acknowledging his discussions about pardoning his aides and maybe even himself. "Reminds of the passage in the New Testament when the apostle Judas said, 'Surely, I will not betray you, my Lord, but if I did you'd have to forgive me, right? That's like your whole deal. Also, are you a cop? You have to tell me if you're a cop.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads