Crime and punishment
March 29, 2014

Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman: You have some competition.

With last year’s film version of Les Miserables still the current measuring stick for the classic musical’s songs, asking Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel to perform an impromptu duet of "The Confrontation" was a pretty brave request. It was one that a member of the audience at an Inside the Actor’s Studio episode made of the How I Met Your Mother stars, nevertheless.

"Since Les Mis is coming back to Broadway, I thought maybe Jason and Neil might give us a little bit of 'The Confrontation'?" he asked, as the actors began laughing.

It takes musical master NPH all of eight seconds to launch into Javert’s role, and Jason Segel (who really does make a pretty good Jean Valjean) gamely jumps in, too:

How I Met Your Mother may have lost its spark over the last few seasons, but the true fun and chemistry between its stars is a welcome reminder of why so many people started watching in the first place. Bravo. Sarah Eberspacher

This just in
3:01 p.m. ET
Olivier Douliery/Getty Images

Iraq and Iran are rejecting Defense Secretary Ash Carter's claim on Sunday that "Iraqi forces just showed no will to fight" against ISIS, which allowed the terrorist group to overtake Ramadi.

"Carter was likely given incorrect information because the situation on ground is different," Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesman for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, told The Associated Press. "We should not judge the whole army based on one incident."

Iran's Gen. Qassim Soleimani, meanwhile, told Iran's Javan that America didn't help stop ISIS from advancing on Ramadi.

Carter made the comments on ISIS during a CNN interview. "They were not outnumbered. In fact, they vastly outnumbered the opposing force," Carter said in the interview, which aired Sunday. "That says to me, and I think to most of us, that we have an issue with the will of the Iraqis to fight ISIL and defend themselves." Meghan DeMaria

Rest in peace
2:04 p.m. ET

President Obama and Defense Secretary Ash Carter honored America's late soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday. In his speech, Obama noted that it is the first Memorial Day in more than 10 years that the U.S. "is not engaged in a major ground war."

"We do know what your sacrifice means to us, to this nation, and to a world that still depends so much on American men and women in uniform for its security," Carter said of fallen soldiers at the event. He also noted that almost 200,000 American service members are overseas.

Obama laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, adding that "our men and women in uniform still stand watch, still serve, still sacrifice, around the world." —Meghan DeMaria

This just in
1:43 p.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

An unnamed source with "direct knowledge" of the deal told The New York Times on Monday that Charter Communications is close to finalizing an agreement to buy Time Warner Cable for about $55.1 billion in cash and stock.

If the deal is approved, Charter would pay about $195 a share, which is about 14 percent higher than Time Warner Cable's closing stock price on Friday. And as the Times notes, it's also 47 percent higher than Charter's bid to buy Time Warner Cable last year.

If Charter acquires Time Warner Cable, its main investor, billionaire John Malone, would "break into the top tier of the American broadband industry," the Times reports.

Sources "familiar with the matter" told Bloomberg the deal could be announced as early as Tuesday. Meghan DeMaria

Your tax dollars at work
12:42 p.m. ET
Facebook.com/Turner Construction

A building project of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is already $1 billion over budget — but it's about to get another $100 million in tax dollars to keep it going.

The VA hospital in question, the Denver Replacement Medical Center, has been labeled the "biggest construction failure" in the agency's history with a current price tag of $1.73 billion (and rapidly counting). The original cost estimate was less than $400 million.

Also catastrophically mismanaged is the hospital's construction timeline: The hospital was supposed to be completed more than a year ago, but now, it is not expected to be completed in 2015. The $100 million bailout will fund only three extra weeks of work.

This debacle is the latest in a long line of scandals surrounding the VA for the past several years. The department has been caught providing slow and inadequate service to veterans, using faulty medical equipment, engaging in corrupt and irresponsible activities with minimal consequences, and fudging the numbers on veteran suicides. Bonnie Kristian

Really?
12:19 p.m. ET
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Deep in an article focused on Republican candidate Jeb Bush's new house in Kennebunkport, the Boston Globe reports that former President George W. Bush once offered to officiate a same-sex wedding ceremony for family friends:

Some mornings, [Jeb] Bush drops into H.B. Provisions, a cozy general store owned by Bonnie Clement and her wife, Helen Thorgalsen (George H.W. Bush made international headlines when he attended their wedding in 2013; George W. Bush offered to perform the ceremony but had a scheduling conflict). [Boston Globe]

As others have noted, this tidbit is intriguing given W's complicated history with gay marriage: In 2004, he supported a constitutional ban on gay marriage, basing his arguments in religious and legal traditions — but he also backed civil unions, which was then a controversial position in the GOP. And when Bush Sr. attended Clement and Thorgalsen's wedding, W's camp refused to comment. In recent years, however, George W. Bush has moderated his rhetoric about gay marriage, repeatedly quoting a passage from the Sermon on the Mount, which prohibits judging others. Bonnie Kristian

This is incredible
11:33 a.m. ET
iStock

Here's a heartwarming story this holiday weekend: A man stolen as a baby has finally been reunited with his mother.

Travis Tolliver, who was kidnapped in Chile more than 41 years ago, just hours after his birth, has reunited at last with his mother, Nelly Reyes, in Santiago.

Reyes, 61, told CNN that hospital employees told her the baby had died after being born with a heart condition, but she was never given a certificate of death for her son. It turned out he wasn't dead at all, though Tolliver and Reyes still aren't clear who took him from her that day.

Prosecutor Mario Carroza investigated Gerardo Joannon, a priest who was accused of stealing minors and acting as a liaison between Chilean families and adoptive parents. The 1970s scheme also involved medical staff, including doctors and nurses. But Carroza told CNN the statute of limitations in Joannon's case is expired, so he can't be prosecuted.

Tolliver's adoptive parents in Tacoma, Washington, meanwhile, had no knowledge of his tragic past. He told CNN that his parents believed he was an abandoned baby. Tolliver eventually found his biological mother through DNA testing.

"I'm going to hug him every day. I love him so much," Reyes told CNN. Meghan DeMaria

This just in
11:01 a.m. ET

Andrzej Duda, representing Poland's opposition Law and Justice party, won as much as 53 percent of the vote in Poland's presidential elections on Sunday, according to exit polls. Bronislaw Komorowski, who had been Poland's president since 2010, conceded defeat in the tight election. Duda promised to increase tax benefits for families and to tax banks and retailers. The election suggests that the Polish parliament's current ruling Civic Platform, a center right party, could be unseated in the fall's parliamentary elections, or at least forced to change its policies. —Meghan DeMaria

See More Speed Reads