The Supreme Court is deciding whether or not craft emporium Hobby Lobby and other private companies founded on religious principles can be compelled to offer their employees health care plans that cover contraception. After oral arguments this week, it appears a narrow majority of the court may well side with Hobby Lobby — and Jon Stewart has some questions.
The main one he asked on Wednesday night's Daily Show is why a for-profit corporation should be allowed to claim the religious rights of an individual, espeically based on scientifically faulty views about contraception and abortion. "Let me get this straight," he said. "Corporations aren't just people, they're ill-informed people whose factually incorrect beliefs must be upheld because they sincerely believe them anyway?"
The answer, as always, lies in the hands of Justice Anthony Kennedy. But in this case, the asking is all that matters — Stewart doesn't get a vote at the high court, and neither do you — and The Daily Show does a fine job of finding a lighter side to a thorny question. Certainly watch the part with Senior Legal Analyst Jordan Klepper; there's a nice little borrow from Annie Hall. --Peter Weber
The demilitarized zone (DMZ) that separates North and South Korea is less than 3 miles wide, and for decades, both sides have used that short distance to blast propaganda across the border. But to set the stage for a historic meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in later this week, South Korea on Monday turned off its speakers.
"The Ministry of National Defense halted the loudspeaker broadcasts against North Korea in the vicinity of the military demarcation line," Seoul said in a statement, with a goal of "reducing military tensions between the South and North and creating a mood for peaceful talks." In response, North Korea's weaker loudspeakers also began shutting down.
While Pyongyang tends to favor propaganda of a more traditional nature, South Korea in recent years has played peppy K-pop music, weather reports, and news that won't be reported under the Kim regime, like the survival of a North Korean soldier who was shot while he defected to the South. Bonnie Kristian
Neither Special Counsel Robert Mueller nor anyone on his team has been in touch with Natalia Veselnitskaya, she told The Associated Press for a report published Monday. Veselnitskaya is the Russian lawyer who in June 2016 met with Donald Trump Jr. and other Trump campaign officials who believed she had dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Veselnitskaya has spoken with investigators for the Senate Intelligence Committee's separate probe into Russian election meddling efforts. They interviewed her in a hotel in Berlin, Germany, for three hours in March. "That was essentially a monologue. They were not interrupting me," she said. "They listened very carefully. ... Their questions were very sharp, pin-pointed."
But the Mueller investigation, she says, has not contacted her despite her willingness to talk. "I'm ready to explain things that may seem odd to you or maybe you have suspicions," Veselnitskaya told Mueller via AP, suggesting that if he does not interview her, he "is not working to discover the truth." Bonnie Kristian
Former military officials are "deeply troubled" by President Trump's pick for CIA director, Gina Haspel.
More than 100 retired generals and officers wrote a letter Monday that urged senators to investigate Haspel more closely before voting on her nomination. Under the Bush administration, Haspel was involved in an "enhanced interrogation" program that included waterboarding, and she has been criticized by lawmakers for pushing to destroy tapes that held evidence of the torture.
"We do not accept efforts to excuse her actions relating to torture and other unlawful abuse of detainees by offering that she was 'just following orders,' or that shock from the 9/11 terrorist attacks should excuse illegal and unethical conduct," reads the letter, posted on Human Rights First. "We did not accept the 'just following orders' justification after World War II, and we should not accept it now."
Haspel, who is currently the deputy director of the CIA, will face a confirmation hearing next month. Trump tapped her to replace Mike Pompeo, who is facing his own confirmation fight to become the next secretary of state.
Lawmakers like Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) have vocally opposed Haspel's nomination, but CIA officials have backed her up: The Hill reports that the CIA released a memo Friday that said Haspel had "acted appropriately" in authorizing the destruction of the tapes. Summer Meza
National Security Adviser John Bolton is the former chairman of a sensationalist, anti-immigrant nonprofit
President Trump's new national security adviser, John Bolton, for years chaired the Gatestone Institute, a nonprofit advocacy group that published sensational and false anti-immigrant stories and fretted over a "great white death" in Europe, NBC News reports. Certain Islamophobic or anti-immigrant Gatestone stories were also picked up and circulated by Russian trolls, with Brookings Institution fellow Alina Polyakova explaining, "We see this kind of pattern emerge where a website puts up something, it looks like a news story, then bots and trolls amplify it."
Many articles published by Gatestone were intended to stoke fear, with one story claiming the German government was "confiscating homes to use for migrants" while in truth the city of Hamburg ordered the owner of six unused rental properties to renovate and list them. Tania Roettger, a journalist for Germany's Correctiv, emphasized the story as an example of how "Gatestone was known for disseminating false information."
While Bolton did not appear to personally write any of the concerning articles, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said the adviser's ties to Gatestone are "very disturbing" seeing as he is "in one of the most powerful positions on the planet." Read the entire investigation at NBC News. Jeva Lange
Republicans are hopeful about the chances of CIA Director Mike Pompeo getting confirmed as secretary of state later this week, although he does not appear likely to get a favorable recommendation from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when it votes Monday, NPR reports. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been a vocal "no," and no Democrats on the panel support Pompeo's nomination. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) can still push Pompeo's nomination to a full Senate vote, though it would be unprecedented.
In the full Senate vote, there is still a chance Pompeo might not get confirmed due to the narrow 51-49 Republican majority. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) remains on the fence, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is absent. As Axios notes: "If Paul and Flake vote no, [Republicans will] need two red state Democrats to vote yes." Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is already on board and Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) are expected to also potentially swing.
President Trump expressed his frustration Monday morning on Twitter, writing: "Hard to believe Obstructionists May vote against Mike Pompeo for Secretary of State. The Dems will not approve hundreds of good people, including the Ambassador to Germany. They are maxing out the time on approval process for all, never happened before. Need more Republicans!"
Pompeo was confirmed as CIA director last year by the Senate in a 66-32 vote. Jeva Lange
Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a baby boy Monday morning. The baby, the third child of the duchess and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, will be fifth in line to the British throne, behind his sister, 2-year-old Princess Charlotte; brother, 4-year-old Prince George; father, William; and grandfather, Prince Charles. The baby will nudge uncle Prince Harry back to sixth in line to the throne.
Her Royal Highness The Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at 1101hrs.
The baby weighs 8lbs 7oz.
The Duke of Cambridge was present for the birth.
Her Royal Highness and her child are both doing well.
— Kensington Palace (@KensingtonRoyal) April 23, 2018
While the baby's name has not yet been shared, bookmakers expect a traditional name like "Arthur," "Albert," or "Philip." As royal commentator Richard Fitzwilliams told the BBC, "You want a name that resonates, a name that's got family links, and is popular." Jeva Lange
The latest version of President Trump's travel ban faces a showdown in the Supreme Court this week. The justices will hear oral arguments on Wednesday in a challenge to the policy. The first two versions of the ban targeted people from only a handful of predominantly Muslim countries. The third version also includes restrictions on certain travelers from North Korea and Venezuela, although those restrictions were not challenged. The lead plaintiff, the state of Hawaii, argues that the policy still violates the Constitution by favoring people of other faiths over Muslims. The Supreme Court in December ruled that most of the ban could take effect while the legal challenge was working its way through the courts. Read more at Reuters. Harold Maass