March 28, 2014

If you want to know how safe hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — is, here are two options: You can read the reports put out by the companies that use (and profit mightily from) the controversial technique to extract natural gas from hard-to-reach places, or you can talk to the people who live near and above fracking sites. The Daily Show's Aasif Mandvi does both. They report, you decide, right? --Peter Weber

4:09 p.m. ET

There is one Obama that Donald Trump, Sarah Palin, and their supporters can all find nice words about: Malik Obama, the estranged Trump-supporting half brother of the better-known Barack. And in a Facebook post Friday, Palin made as if to praise President Obama, writing, "It was nice to shake Obama's hand the other night and whisper a belated 'thank you' for the courage and love of country he shows in this most important time." Only then Palin "apologizes" halfway through to clarify "oh sorry … not THAT Obama — this one — Barack's brother Malik …" A real knee-slapper.

There is also a picture included in Palin's Facebook post. In it, Palin is not in fact meeting Malik Obama. She is not talking to Malik Obama. She is not even looking at Malik Obama, who is a ghostly out-of-focus blur in the far left of the frame, with his face turned away from the camera. Sarah Palin is talking to a very-in-focus, but otherwise basically completely irrelevant, Ben Carson.

"This pic shows Malik Obama and Dr. Ben Carson as we exited the debate's surreal hearing of the oft repeated, unrefuted, untruthful sound bites uttered on stage on behalf of the globalist agenda," Palin explains in her post. As Jezebel writes: "If you just look at the … screenshot, it appears that Palin is not only praising President Barack Obama, but she is also smiling at someone who is not Barack Obama, but who is Ben Carson." Which raises the question: Was Palin trying to dupe everyone into thinking Carson was Obama for her "trick?"

And also, really, more to the point: Why isn't the picture just actually of her talking to Malik Obama? Jeva Lange

4:04 p.m. ET
Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is making her operatic debut next month — but she won't be doing any singing. The Washington National Opera announced Friday that Ginsburg will make an appearance for one night in its November production of The Daughter of the Regiment, an 1840 opera by the Italian composer Gaetano Donizetti.

Ginsburg will be playing the part of the Duchess of Krakenthorp, though her portrayal has been amended to be a speaking role rather than a singing role. And that's not the only change that's being made to the role for Ginsburg — NPR reported some of her lines will reference her daytime job at the Supreme Court:

At one point, for example, after the duchess observes that the best leaders of the House of Krakenthorp have been "persons with open but not empty minds, individuals willing to listen and learn," she looks at the audience meaningfully, and asks, "Is it any wonder that the most valorous members ... have been women?"

She goes on to list the qualifications for admission to the House of Krakenthorp, some of which sound suspiciously like the qualifications for being a Supreme Court justice — i.e., "must possess the fortitude to undergo intense scrutiny," and have a "character beyond reproach." [NPR]

Instead of her usual robe and decorative collars, though, Ginsburg will be wearing an extravagant, feathered hat.

Ginsburg has long been a fan of opera and has even appeared as an extra in three productions, but the fact that she lacks singing chops has prevented her from taking on a role of her own. You can catch Ginsburg at the opera on Nov. 12, at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Becca Stanek

3:32 p.m. ET

Donald Trump's posts on Facebook were flagged by users and employees for qualifying as hate speech, employees told The Wall Street Journal. In an article published Friday, it was revealed Facebook employees wanted the Republican candidate's posts pulled from the site, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg ultimately ruled against their removal, saying it would send the wrong message to censor a presidential candidate.

The discussion began when Trump posted a link on Dec. 7, 2015, to a campaign statement that called for "preventing Muslim immigration." Zuckerberg ruled later that month not to remove the post, even as some employees complained that the decision amounted to a special exception for Trump:

Users flagged the December content as hate speech, a move that triggered a review by Facebook's community-operations team, with hundreds of employees in several offices world-wide. Some Facebook employees said in internal chat rooms that the post broke Facebook's rules on hate speech as detailed in its internal guidelines, according to people familiar with the matter.

Content reviewers were asked by their managers not to remove the post, according to some of the people familiar. Facebook's head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, later explained in an internal post that the company wouldn't take down any of Mr. Trump's posts because it strives to be impartial in the election season, according to people who saw the post. [The Wall Street Journal]

"Banning a U.S. presidential candidate is not something you do lightly," a person familiar with the discussion said. Facebook has struggled to appear nonpartisan during the campaign, and has faced accusations of manipulating its Trending topics news module. Jeva Lange

3:28 p.m. ET

While campaigning in Fletcher, North Carolina, on Friday, Donald Trump justified his attacks on Hillary Clinton's husband's infidelities by claiming first lady Michelle Obama leveled them first. "Wasn't [Obama] the one that originally started the statement, if you can't take care of your home ... you can't take care of the White House or the country?" Trump asked the assembled crowd, referencing a remark Obama first made in 2007.

Trump has recently suggested former President Bill Clinton's infidelities are evidence Hillary Clinton isn't able to handle the obligations of being president, but what he failed to note at his Friday rally is that the full context of Obama's statement indicates she was talking about balancing childcare with presidential obligations. At the 2007 event where she made that comment, Obama followed her remark with an explanation that she and husband President Barack Obama have "adjusted our schedules to make sure that our girls are first, so while he's traveling around, I do day trips." Both the first lady and President Obama have also outright denied suggestions her remark had anything to do with Clinton, who was facing then-Sen. Obama for the Democratic nomination.

Still, Trump took the first lady's comment and ran with it. "She's the one that started that. I said, 'We can't say that, it's too vicious.' Can you believe it? I said that," Trump said. "They said, 'Well, Michelle Obama said it.' I said, 'She did?' Now she said that, but we don't hear about that." Becca Stanek

3:17 p.m. ET

The so-called "gig economy" is growing, and its participants seem pretty chipper: Between 20 and 30 percent of the working-age population in the U.S. and Europe — about 162 million people — are independent workers, according to a recent study from McKinsey. When asked to rank their career satisfaction across a range of metrics, these people reported being happier and more satisfied professionally than workers in traditional jobs "by every measure."

"They like being their own boss, they like the independence and the flexibility and the creativity," one of the study co-authors told The Wall Street Journal.

Research shows that 18 percent of full-time independent workers make more than $100,000 a year — which does sound quite satisfying indeed. Kelly Gonsalves

2:17 p.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

You never know where Bill Murray is going to pop up. There is as good a chance as any you'll run into him at your favorite bar, your karaoke night, or, you know, while shooting your engagement photos.

Indeed, where Murray may wander has no limits. On Friday, decked in Chicago Cubs gear, the actor popped into the briefing room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue just after White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest had finished his daily briefing. When asked for an explanation by The Hill, a spokesperson confirmed Murray will be receiving the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor on Sunday from President Obama, which is why he was lurking around the White House in the first place.

Joe Biden, Michelle Obama — stay on your toes. Jeva Lange

1:59 p.m. ET

Oprah Winfrey thinks it's totally irrelevant whether voters actually like Hillary Clinton. "She's not coming over to your house! You don't have to like her," Winfrey, who endorsed Clinton in June, said in a clip from an interview with Dallas pastor T.D. Jakes that's set to air next Thursday.

Winfrey admitted she is totally fed up with undecided voters saying, "I just don't know if I like her." That, Winfrey argued, isn't at all what matters in this election — not when so much is at stake. "There really is no choice, people," Winfrey said.

Winfrey encouraged people to consider their feelings for America instead of their affection for Clinton. "Do you like freedom and liberty?" she said. "Do you like this country? Okay. Do you like democracy or do you want a demagogue? Okay, there you go."

Watch Winfrey make her case, below. Becca Stanek

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