April 2, 2014
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Back in October, it seemed as though Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had little to gain and everything to lose when he led Republicans into shutting down the government in a doomed attempt to stop ObamaCare. Not so: The Tea Party favorite just inked a massive deal with HarperCollins to publish a memoir about his time in Washington, according to the Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard.

Cruz will reportedly receive an advance check of around $1.5 million, trumping the $1.25 million advance Palin got for her 2009 opus, Going Rogue. And that figure easily tops the $800,000 advance Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) got for his 2012 book.

Of course a mammoth book deal doesn't necessarily foretell a successful presidential campaign. Just look at Palin, who made millions and then opted not to even run in 2012. Jon Terbush

3:49 p.m. ET
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Those of us still recovering from the Google Reader massacre might want to sit down to read this one. Starting in June, Google will kill off yet another of its most beloved products — this time, the instant messaging app Google Talk, better known as "GChat," New York Magazine reports.

GChat first launched in 2005 as hip alternative to AIM and it persisted due to its simplicity and ease of use. Google will still offer its other instant messaging platform called Hangouts, and Gchat users who haven't already transitioned will seamlessly be rolled over to the service when Gchat pings its last ping on June 26. Hangouts is actually not a new service; it has been around for about four years, and is a glitzier messaging app (you can doodle in it, for example).

As New York Magazine writes in its eulogy to the platform, "Giving somebody your personal Gmail account to message was an offering of friendship, an invitation to gossip freely away from the potentially prying eyes of company-owned Slack channels and Campfire rooms. If somebody wanted to Gchat, you knew to expect some good dish about your boss, or your ex, or your boss's ex."

RIP GChat. You will live on in our hearts. Jeva Lange

3:42 p.m. ET

President Trump reportedly spoke to Paul Ryan around 3 p.m. ET on Friday and requested the House speaker pull the health-care bill, a leadership aide told Politico. The vote was originally scheduled for Thursday afternoon before being pushed back to Friday.

Many organizations counting "no" votes found as many as 34 Republicans said they would oppose the bill ahead of the planned vote; if the legislation lost more than 22 Republican votes, the proposal would not have passed the lower chamber. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had indicated in his early afternoon news conference that the vote was going to go ahead anyway, despite apparently not having enough support to pass, but refused to reveal the president's "strategy."

Trump had issued an ultimatum to House Republicans on Thursday night: Pass the American Health Care Act on Friday, or lose the opportunity to repeal ObamaCare once and for all. Despite two days of tense negotiations — mostly with the far-right House Freedom Caucus, members of which oppose the bill for retaining too much of ObamaCare — it appears Ryan failed to get enough votes. Jeva Lange

2:53 p.m. ET
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President Donald Trump may have handed control of his business empire over to his sons, but he'll apparently still be getting regular updates on his family business' profitability. In an interview with Forbes published Friday, Eric Trump said he was "deadly serious" about maintaining a clear separation between business and government to avoid any conflicts of interest — only to admit minutes later that he will be keeping his father in the loop on business matters. "Yeah, on the bottom line, profitability reports, and stuff like that, but you know, that's about it," Eric said, noting the updates would likely be "quarterly."

President Trump previously indicated he would not talk to his sons about the business at all, but Eric was singing a different tune in his interview with Forbes. "My father and I are very close," Eric said. "I talk to him a lot. We're pretty inseparable."

For ethics experts already skeptical of President Trump's plans to pass his business off to his kids instead of a blind trust, Eric's comments further call into question just how separate the president will actually remain from his business empire. "He is breaking down one of the few barriers he claimed to be establishing between him and his businesses, and those barriers themselves were weak to begin with," said Larry Noble, general counsel of Campaign Legal Center and former chief ethics officer at the Federal Election Commission. "But if he is now going to get reports from his son about the businesses, then he really isn't separate in any real way." Becca Stanek

2:52 p.m. ET

Former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid's one-time deputy chief of staff, Adam Jentleson, skewered House Speaker Paul Ryan on Friday for only having "demonstrated talent for two things: slickly rebranding GOP policies that help the rich and hurt working people [and] integrating himself with powerful and influential people."

Jentleson, who now works as a senior strategic adviser for the progressive public policy group, the Center for American Progress, went on:

Because [integrating himself with powerful and influential people] includes the press, [Ryan's] credentials for speaker were widely accepted as a given. Few asked whether he really had the skills. That's a generalization — in private, many reporters questioned whether Ryan was up to the job. But there was little public questioning. In the hierarchy of skills for a successful Hill leader, public salesman ranks relatively low. For Ryan, it was a main selling point. Many of the stories about why Ryan would be a good speaker cited the fact that he would go on TV a lot. That should have been a red flag. A leader's most valuable resource is time, and TV is time-consuming. It's less time spent listening to members, organizing, planning [...] Ryan's appeal for a VERY HARD job was always based on fluff and glitz, not a record of leadership or accomplishment or requisite skills. [Twitter]

Ryan is reportedly the focus of the White House's frustration over the GOP health-care bill failing to get the support of moderate Republicans as well as the conservative House Freedom Caucus members. While the White House still expects to force a do-or-die vote Friday afternoon, many keeping track of "no" votes have found the Republicans do not have sufficient support just yet, although there is still time for that to change.

As for Jentleson: He's kicking back to watch what happens. Jeva Lange

2:34 p.m. ET
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Maybe you've tried to stay strong, but "there's nothing shameful" in admitting you wish you had a robot to clean out your cat's litter box, says The Litter Robot III Open Air ($449) is easily the most praised of today's self-cleaning options. As sci-fi in its looks as in its concept, the Litter Robot waits until your cat has exited, then rotates its spherical chamber so that clumps are screened out and fall into the closed drawer below. An "extremely durable" machine, it "does wonders for reducing waste odor," and it even has a night-light to aid older cats with ­vision problems. The Week Staff

1:50 p.m. ET
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A group of fourth-graders was told to "go back to Mexico" after winning a robotics competition in Indianapolis. It was the Pleasant Run Elementary School team's first time competing at the science fair; the low-income school had just been given a grant to develop a robotics program for the first time a few months ago, USA Today reports. After the team was awarded first place, they were reportedly showered with racist slurs by rivals and parents. The team consists of three Latino and two black students.

"I'm not surprised," said the team's 10-year-old captain, Elijah Goodwin, " because I'm used to this type of behavior." The Week Staff

1:27 p.m. ET
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With conservative support for the GOP health-care bill dwindling in the short hours before the legislation is scheduled to go to a vote, the White House is reportedly keeping tabs on who is friend and foe. Multiple Trump administration officials told The Daily Beast that chief strategist Stephen Bannon has told Trump to keep a "s--- list" of the Republicans who act disloyal to the White House.

"[Bannon] has told the president to keep a s--- list on this," one official said. "He wants a running tally of [the Republicans] who want to sink this … Not sure if I'd call it an 'enemies list,' per se, but I wouldn't want to be on it."

Another aide called it a "hit list" and two others noted Trump and Bannon's "you're either with us or against us" worldview.

The health-care bill has most notably lost the support of two dozen or so Freedom Caucus members, who claim the Paul Ryan-backed bill does not go far enough in its repeal of ObamaCare. The Freedom Caucus is not exactly quaking from Trump's threats, though. When asked by The Daily Beast about being on Trump and Bannon's "hit list," one member simply said: "Meh." Jeva Lange

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