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April 14, 2014
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Less than two years after heading off into retirement, Michael Phelps is ready to dive back into his old career. The most decorated Olympian ever, Phelps is slated to compete in the Arena Grand Prix in Mesa, Ariz., later this month, according to a press release from the U.S. swim team.

Phelps hung up his Speedo after winning a record-setting 22nd medal at the 2012 London Olympics. But he reentered the drug testing pool last year, meaning he could begin competing again this spring as he's now expected to do.

Though Phelps isn't the same untouchable swimmer who won a record eight gold medals at the 2008 Games, he may still be one of the best in the world. He won six medals in London two years ago, and he's been training since November with his old coach. If all goes well, it's not unthinkable he could appear in his fifth Olympics in 2016. Jon Terbush

9:10 a.m. ET

The front page of Thursday's San Diego Union-Tribune is a powerful testament to the United States we live in now:

(San Diego Union-Tribune/Kiosko.net)

The front page photograph, taken by the Union Tribune's Hayne Palmour IV, captures protester Ebonay Lee as she "holds up her fist toward a line of Sheriff's deputies as she and other people protesting Tuesday's police shooting of a black man confront the deputies under the Highway 67 bridge on Broadway in El Cajon on Wednesday." Alfred Olango, an unarmed, mentally ill black man, was fatally shot by police in El Cajon on Tuesday afternoon, sparking two nights of protests. Olango's death comes on the heels of the police shootings of two other black men in separate incidents in Oklahoma and North Carolina this month.

You can read the Union Tribune's reporting here, and browse a gallery of the protests here. Jeva Lange

8:52 a.m. ET

Stephen Colbert began his Late Show monologue on Wednesday with another look at Monday night's debate, focusing on Donald Trump's spat with ex-Miss Universe Alicia Machado and continued insistence he won despite the evidence, and ended it with a look at a British sperm-bank app. But he spent the middle part on Elon Musk's newly unveiled plan to transport humans to Mars by 2022 — or "halfway through Mike Pence's second term," Colbert joked, since President Trump would quit on Day 3 — at a cost of $10 billion a head.

"Finally, a plan to shoot billionaires into space," Colbert said. "I believe we have gotten a photo of the project managers," he added, throwing to a photo of Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in lab coats by a rocket. "The question is, why would it be $10 billion?" Colbert asked. "Where have I heard that number before? Wait a second, how much does Donald Trump say he has?" You know that answer. "Aha! Elon Musk wants Donald Trump off the planet!" Colbert said. "I tell you what, if Donald won't pony up, I say we pass around the hat — maybe this one?" And hey, MMGA has a certain ring to it? Watch below. Peter Weber

8:28 a.m. ET
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Multiple managers and directors at California's Trump National Golf Club in Rancho Palos Verdes complained under oath that they were pressured to fire overweight women and only hire attractive employees, The Los Angeles Times reports. "I had witnessed Donald Trump tell managers many times while he was visiting the club that restaurant hostesses were 'not pretty enough' and that they should be fired and replaced with more attractive women," said the former director of catering at the club, Hayley Strozier, in a 2008 court filing.

In an effort to please Trump, Strozier recalled that managers would only have their most attractive women working when the big boss showed up at the club.

"Donald Trump always wanted good looking women working at the club," agreed former restaurant manager Sue Kwiatkowski in a 2009 court declaration. "I know this because one time he took me aside and said, 'I want you to get some good looking hostesses here. People like to see good looking people when they come in.'"

It was hardly a one-time occurrence, The Los Angeles Times reports:

Strozier, the former catering director, said Vincent Stellio — a former Trump bodyguard who had risen to become a Trump Organization vice president — approached her in 2003 about an employee that Strozier thought was talented.

Stellio wanted the employee fired because she was overweight, Strozier said in her legal filing.

"Mr. Stellio told me to do this because 'Mr. Trump doesn't like fat people' and that he would not like seeing [the employee] when he was on the premises,” wrote Strozier, who said she refused the request. (Stellio died in 2010.) [The Los Angeles Times]

There are many other examples, as The Los Angeles Times reports — and they come at a sensitive time, as Trump's comments about women have come under particular scrutiny in the wake of revelations about his treatment of a former Miss Universe. Read The Los Angeles Times' full story, here. Jeva Lange

7:49 a.m. ET
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There is little doubt in the U.S. intelligence community that Russia was behind the Democratic National Committee hacks, although Russia has denied such allegations. Republican nominee Donald Trump has also dismissed any certainty that Russia was trying to toggle with the U.S. election: "I don't think anybody knows it was Russia that broke into the DNC," he said at the presidential debate Monday. "[Clinton is] saying Russia, Russia, Russia, but I don't — maybe it was. I mean, it could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people. It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds, OK?"

It is a curious deflection, especially since Trump might know even more about the hack than he is letting on:

[The] U.S. intelligence community has "high confidence" that Russian intelligence services were in fact responsible, multiple intelligence and national security officials tell Time. Trump was informed of that assessment during a recent classified intelligence briefing, a U.S. official familiar with the matter tells Time. "I do not comment on information I receive in intelligence briefings, however, nobody knows with definitive certainty that this was in fact Russia," Trump told Time in a statement. "It may be, but it may also be China, another country or individual." [Time]

President Barack Obama, for his part, has not been shy about sharing that he believes Russia is behind the cyberattack. "Experts have attributed this to the Russians," he said without any uncertainty or disclaimers in July.

Read more about the hack, and the shady group, Fancy Bear, that seems to be tied up in it, at Time. Jeva Lange

4:38 a.m. ET

"Are there any fans of big banks tonight?" Stephen Colbert asked on Wednesday's Late Show. "All right," he said when the crowd remained silent, "then this is the story for you." The story was the massive fraud at Wells Fargo, where employees were pressured to open up to 2 million accounts without informing the customers. "That's right," Colbert said, "not even a customary form letter that said 'Congratulations! You are pre-approved to get totally screwed!'"

CEO John Stumpf "stepped up and took personal responsibility by firing 5,300 low-level employees he blamed for the problem," Colbert said with mock solemnity. "It takes true leadership to stand up and say the buck stops 5,300 other places." Stumpf made $200 million as his bank ruined thousands of credit ratings, he added, so "I think I speak for a lot of people when I say: Go Stumpf yourself." Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) essentially did that when she "dragged Stumpf in front of the Senate and tore him a new Stumpf-hole," Colbert said.

After ripping the CEO a Stumpf-hole of his own, Colbert rolled his eyes over the $41 million Stumpf will forfeit in stock and the ouster of retail banking head Carrie Tolstedt — months before her planned retirement — and said if you're worried about Stumpf and Tolstedt (nobody was), fear not: She will likely walk away with $77 million in stock options, and him, $200 million in cash. "That's how you teach white collar crime doesn't pay," Colbert said. "It's like when a cop catches a burglar in the act of robbing your house and says, 'Put down that TV, buddy, now here's $200 million.'" Watch below. Peter Weber

3:46 a.m. ET

President Obama answered questions from a military audience Wednesday night in a town hall in Fort Lee, Virginia, hosted by CNN and moderated by Jake Tapper. The audience — military veterans, families, and service members — asked searing, often personal questions, and Obama did his best to answer them. The questions ranged from delays at Veterans Administration hospitals to PTSD stigmatization to why Obama doesn't use the term "radical Islamic terrorism" to what he thinks about 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick not standing for the national anthem before games, plus broader questions about U.S. military involvement in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan.

Obama said the critique of him not using "radical Islamic terrorist" is a "sort of manufactured" issue, and not helpful. "These are people who've killed children, killed Muslims, take sex slaves, there's no religious rational that would justify in any way any of the things that they do," he said. "When you start calling these organizations Islamic terrorists, the way it is heard, the way it is received by our friends and allies around the world, is that somehow Islam is terroristic.... If you had an organization that was going around killing and blowing people up and said, 'We're on the vanguard of Christianity,' as a Christian, I'm not going to let them claim my religion and say, 'you're killing for Christ.' I would say, that's ridiculous.... Call these folks what they are, which is killers and terrorists."

At another point, Obama told Tapper, "There hasn't been probably a week that has gone by in which I haven't examined some of the underlying premises around how we are dealing with this situation in Syria." As "heartbreaking" as it is to watch the carnage, he added, "there is not a scenario in which, absent us deploying large numbers of troops, we can stop a civil war in which both sides are deeply dug in." When an audience member asked Obama what he would do if daughters Sasha and Malia wanted to enlist in the armed forces, Obama replied, "I'd say, go for it," though he would "be lying if I said I wouldn't sometimes get nervous about possible deployments. Your kids are your kids and you want to keep them tucked in in their pajamas for the rest of your lives if you had the chance." You can watch a 2-minute recap of the town hall below. Peter Weber

2:23 a.m. ET

On Wednesday's Kelly File, Megyn Kelly aired an unbroadcast clip of her Tuesday interview with former Miss Universe Alicia Machado, whom Hillary Clinton name-checked during Monday's debate and Donald Trump keeps calling fat. "You tell me whether this is good or bad that here we are on Wednesday and the country's still talking about it," Kelly asked Dana Perino, former White House press secretary under George. W Bush. "I would say that it is not good," Perino said. "It's not good for the country, and I don't think it's good for either campaign."

Hillary Clinton had obviously set a trap for Trump, Perino said, "and he had warning this was going to come. You can't plan for everything in your life," especially past things you've said, she added, but "dealing with how he's treated women in the past should not come as a surprise in the campaign against Hillary Clinton." "No, no, it should not have," Kelly said, "and I'll give you Exhibit A... in our case for the reason why Donald Trump should not have been surprised that the women issue was going to come at him." Exhibit A was Kelly's eerily similar question to Trump in a famous August 2015 GOP primary debate. "I tried to warn you," Kelly said after the clip. (To be fair to Trump, though, watch the 2015 audience's reaction to his disparagement of Rosie O'Donnell.)

Perino compared Clinton's surfacing of Machado to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry in 2004, then said that Clinton "is narrow-casting as well. It's not just women writ large that she's talking to but also Latina women in particular." "That's right, and even tonight, as the Trump campaign clearly wants to move beyond this, Newt Gingrich is out there, bringing it up again," Kelly sighed, "saying you can't gain a bunch of weight when you become Miss Universe." "Stop talking about women's weight all together," Perino said. "Stop." "You know what, if you want to increase your numbers with women, yeah, just stop telling us how fat we are?" Kelly said. "Because that, it turns out, doesn't make us feel very good. Especially when you have been classified as overweight, and we just don't want to hear it." Peter Weber

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