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April 3, 2014

As The New Yorker prepares to move to 1 World Trade Center, the magazine's photo department is digging through its archives and sharing interesting finds online. The photo archivists didn't disappoint when they recently posted images of Taliban soldiers that looked like they were taken in 1993 at a Glamour Shots in the local mall.

The New Yorker's Thea Traff explains that in 2001, Magnum photographer Thomas Dworzak traveled to Kandahar, where photographs and art featuring the human image were forbidden. Pictures were necessary for passports, however, so Taliban leader Mullah Omar bent the rules and selected a few businesses in Kandahar that could take the photos.

One of the photographers, Said Kamal, told Dworzak that the men were secretly brought into the back of his studio, where they posed with everything from plastic flowers to guns. Kamal was a master of retouching photos, and in post-production he would add rainbows and other things that don't exactly remind you of the Taliban. The final product was a vibrant photograph that contrasted greatly with the hardened fighter.

Dworzak wanted to leave the city with some of the pictures, and the photographers were more than willing to sell. He remembers one of them telling him, "Most of them are dead anyway." The photos are featured in Dworzak's book Taliban. A sample of them is below, and more can be seen on The New Yorker website. --Catherine Garcia

6:28 a.m. ET
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Edgar Welch, arrested on Sunday after firing a military-style rifle inside the Washington, D.C., pizzeria Comet Ping Pong, told The New York Times via video chat on Wednesday that he drove up from North Carolina to get a "closer look" at the restaurant at the center of the false "Pizzagate" conspiracy theory and had no intention of firing a shot. "I regret how I handled the situation," he said. "I just wanted to do some good and went about it the wrong way." Internet articles led him to believe that the pizzeria was the center of a child sex ring run by associates of Hillary Clinton, but "the intel on this wasn't 100 percent," he said, adding that just because there were no children "inside that dwelling," it doesn't mean there is no Pizzagate pedophile ring.

Welch, a 28-year-old father of two, says he doesn't believe in conspiracy theories, but listens to Alex Jones, who regularly spreads conspiracy theories on his radio show and websites. Jones is "a bit eccentric," he said. "He touches on some issues that are viable but goes off the deep end on some things." The Pizzagate myth, built through creative interpretations of emails hacked from John Podesta and released by WikiLeaks to harm Clinton's presidential campaign, is spreading outside of D.C., roping in not just late-night comedian Stephen Colbert but also the Austin pizzeria East Side Pies.

The owners of East Side Pies became aware of Pizzagate through some strange comments on the restaurant's Facebook page, then were pointed to Reddit threads linking their pizzeria to the fake story. The Austin American-Statesman's Matthew Odam runs down a few of the red herrings:

The online posts have made wild and baseless accusations about East Side Pies. They interpreted the restaurant's logo as a symbol of the "Illuminati," questioned the meaning of photos of pizza-eating children on East Side Pies' Facebook account, inferred that a picture of staffers with former Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell was proof of nefarious political ties, and claimed co-owner Michael Freid, an alumnus of the Culinary Institute of America, had "connections to the CIA." [Austin American-Statesman]

Owen Shroyer, who makes videos for Alex Jones' Infowars and hosts his own podcast, posted a 2.5-hour video detailing his own nutty investigation of East Side Pies on Saturday. Austin police and the FBI are investigating the threats and vandalism of a pizza delivery truck. Peter Weber

4:51 a.m. ET

On Wednesday morning, Time named Donald Trump its 2016 Person of the Year — not like there was much suspense — though its cover photo left some people wondering if Time made its pick grudgingly. Wednesday's Late Show took the idea and ran with it, imagining the editorial meeting where Time officially decided on Trump. "I think we all know who it has to be, so if someone will just come out and say it, we can move on," the editor-in-chief said at 9 a.m. You can probably imagine where this is going (think Lord of the Flies), and you can watch below. Peter Weber

4:22 a.m. ET

"We have a lot of fun here at The Late Show every night, talking about the news of the day," Stephen Colbert said on Wednesday's show, "but I really hope you don't get your news from me. Because news flash: This isn't news. This is entertainment." If you want news, read a newspaper or watch network news, he said, but don't trust social media, "because a lot of the news on social media is a lie." There is so much fake news sloshing around that Pope Francis even weighed in on Wednesday, comparing fake-news purveyors to people with "a morbid fascination with excrement." "If the pope's talking poop, you know we're in deep doo-doo," Colbert said.

"The craziest fake news of all is something called #Pizzagate," he said. "People actually believe a conspiracy theory that Hillary Clinton and her former campaign manager, John Podesta, ran a child sex ring at a pizzeria in D.C. This is a lie." If you're not familiar with this conspiracy theory, Colbert explained: "According to the folks with the spider eggs hatching in their brains, Clinton and Podesta have a series of smuggling tunnels that connect to the basement of this pizzeria, but police refuse to investigate the basement crime scene on the flimsy excuse that the pizzeria does not have a basement."

Among the "uniformed, gullible people" who fell for this crazy conspiracy, Colbert said, was Michael Flynn, Donald Trump's choice for national security adviser, who promoted the "MUST READ!" story on Twitter with the introduction "U decide." "Okay, then I decide a guy who spreads this bullshit shouldn't be in charge of national security," he said. This is partly personal for Colbert, he said, "because according to some folks on Reddit, I'm in on Pizzagate," and Clinton's payroll. ("She can't afford me," he said.)

"This is insane," Colbert said, and after explaining how talk shows work, he teasingly prepared to read the pre-interview he did with Trump — twice — before shredding it, because it's private. "Here's what these conspiracy theorists don't get," he said. "There's a difference between a conspiracy and an agreement. A conspiracy is what villains do. An agreement is what adults do. Look around the country — wouldn't you agree we need some more adults? So WikiLeaks, Alex Jones, and the sub-Reddit sub-geniuses — and I mean this in the nicest way possible — grow the f—k up." Watch below. Peter Weber

3:33 a.m. ET

Megyn Kelly is promoting her new book, and on Wednesday, the BBC's Katty Kay — like most interviewers — asked Kelly about her year of harassment from President-elect Donald Trump, starting when she asked him a question about his insults to women at the first Republican presidential debate. The "online nastiness" from Trump and his supporters was immediate and overwhelming, Kelly said, and "he really relentlessly kept it up for nine months, which led to a serious security situation in my life and that of my family, that was ongoing."

Kelly had her theories about why Trump behaved that way. "I think in a way, Donald Trump felt hurt," she said. "I think he thought we had a good relationship, he thought he had a good relationship with me, with Fox News, with the anchors and the management there — all of which was true — and he felt betrayed that I would ask him a question like that and that I would then go on to cover him skeptically when he deserved it."

Kay asked Kelly if she feels she was "treated differently" because she's "a powerful woman," and Kelly said she's "given a lot of thought to that." "I think it was a combination of the fact that I'm a woman with power," she said. "You know, it wasn't just the fact that I'm a woman, but it was that I'm a woman with power who happens to be on Donald Trump's favorite channel — you know, the Fox News Channel, which he watches every night, and did throughout this entire year. One of the most interesting things he said to me in the sit-down I had with him in May was despite his demands, repeated demands that people boycott The Kelly File, he never did. He was watching it night after night — which I knew, because he was tweeting about it as soon as the show would end."

Back in the Cold War, the U.S. had "Kremlinologists" trying to figure out what was going on inside the highest tiers of the Soviet government. If you want to know where Trump is getting his information, you can apparently just fire up Twitter and flip back and forth between CNN and Fox News. Peter Weber

2:52 a.m. ET

Madonna has been publicly, provocatively pushing boundaries for about 35 years, but on Wednesday's Late Late Show, she insisted that, at least at this point in her life, it's just an act. "My work is rebellious, but my lifestyle isn't rebellious," she told James Corden in his newest Carpool Karaoke production. "I don't smoke, I don't drink, I don't party. I'm quite square." She added that she wanted to be a nun growing up, but that now the Vatican has excommunicated her three times.

Square or not, Madonna doesn't seem to have much use for seatbelt laws. Driving through Manhattan, she unbuckled to stick her leg on the ceiling as she and Corden vogued to "Vogue," then she twerked along to "Bitch I'm Madonna." "That's the first in-car twerk I've ever seen," Corden said. "Really?" Madonna asked. "Really? I'm shocked." They car-danced along to other Madonna hits, sang "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina" from Evita, and chatted — about marriage, Corden's red flannel shirt (Madonna wasn't a fan), and Michael Jackson.

"So you want me to kiss and tell, then, don't you?" Madonna asked coyly when Corden brought up the late King of Pop. "Did you kiss?" he asked. "Of course," she said. "You and Michael Jackson?" Corden asked. "I mean, baby, I've been around," she answered. This is apparently news, and according to Madonna, she made the first move and had to loosen Jackson up with a glass of chardonnay because he was "a little bit shy." You can watch the twerking and the talking below. Peter Weber

2:00 a.m. ET
Jeff Kowalsky/AFP/Getty Images

On Wednesday evening, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith effectively ended Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein's recount of Michigan's presidential vote, ruling that with about 1 percent of the vote, Stein had no chance to win the state and therefore has no standing as an "aggrieved" candidate. The recount had begun Tuesday, and more than 20 of 83 counties had already begun counting ballots, recording minor changes to the vote totals. Donald Trump won Michigan and its 16 electoral votes by 0.2 percentage points, or about 10,700 votes over Hillary Clinton.

Earlier in the day, the Michigan elections board had voted 3-1 to end the recount if Goldsmith lifted his earlier order allowing it to begin. Republicans celebrated Goldsmith's ruling, which seals Trump's victory in the state. Peter Weber

12:59 a.m. ET

President-elect Donald Trump tweeted out some criticism of United Steelworkers Local 1999 president Chuck Jones less than a minute after Jones, who represents Carrier factory workers in Indianapolis, appeared on CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront to talk about how Trump had inflated the number of jobs being retained in Indiana. The chyron underneath him referenced a quote Jones gave to The Washington Post: "Trump 'lied his a** off'"

After Trump tweeted out that Jones "has done a terrible job," Burnett got Jones back on the phone. "That wasn't very damned nice, but with Donald Trump saying that, that must mean I'm doing a good job," he said, noting that Trump has tried to keep unions out of his hotels and casinos. "I don't put a whole hell of a lot of faith in whatever he says, because I just don't pay a hell of a lot of attention to him."

Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich was on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 an hour later, and he wasn't just being cute when he alluded to Donald Trump's steady diet of cable news: "Because Donald Trump is probably watching right now, let me just say, with all due respect, Mr. Trump, you are president-elect of the United States. You are looking and acting as if you are mean and petty, thin-skinned, and vindictive. Stop this. This is not a fireside chat, this is not what FDR did, this isn't lifting people up. This is actually penalizing people for speaking their minds."

Reich brought up not just the Jones tweet but also Trump's tweet-criticizing Boeing (right after its CEO said Trump was wrong about foreign trade), SNL, and individual journalists. "What you would like, Mr. Trump, is for no one — not a CEO, nobody on television, no journalist, nobody — to criticize you," he said — which to be fair, is probably a pretty universal sentiment. But Reich also noted the Trump-specific stakes: "Well, you are going to be president very shortly. You are going to have at your command not just Twitter but also the CIA, the IRS, the FBI. If you have this kind of thin-skinned vindictiveness attitude toward anybody who criticizes you, we are in very deep trouble, and sir, so are you." Watch below. Peter Weber

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