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March 27, 2014

With cactus plants, orchids, sunflowers, butterfly gardens, koi ponds, and a tall indoor slide, Singapore's Changi Airport sounds more like a resort than a transportation hub. It's no wonder Changi earned the title of Best Airport at the World Airport Awards, held in Barcelona. "Changi Airport Singapore is showing itself to be much more than an airport," says Edward Plaisted, CEO of Skytrax, which sponsors the awards. "Changi Airport offers a travel experience in itself and continues to develop its quality standards to be named the world's favorite airport again."

The awards are based on input from more than 12.5 million customers who took a survey asking about the ease of check-in, transfers, immigration, and other key travel experiences. Incheon International in South Korea came in second, while Munich Airport placed third and Hong Kong International fourth. No U.S. airports were able to crack the Top 10 (though to be fair, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport ranked No. 4 in the domestic airport category). --Catherine Garcia

(Changi Airport Group)

5:58 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have "not spoken to each other in weeks," The New York Times reported Tuesday. The Republican president and the top Senate Republican have apparently entered a "political cold war," the Times said, made all the more fraught by the fact that the GOP faces a tough legislative battle in the fall, as well as the presence of Elaine Chao — McConnell's wife — in Trump's Cabinet as transportation secretary.

The resentment and mutual hostility is so grave, apparently, that McConnell has reportedly taken to privately confessing that he's not sure the Trump administration can be saved:

Mr. McConnell has fumed over Mr. Trump's regular threats against fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Mr. Trump's understanding of the presidency in a public speech. Mr. McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Mr. Trump as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.

In offhand remarks, Mr. McConnell has expressed a sense of bewilderment about where Mr. Trump's presidency may be headed, and has mused about whether Mr. Trump will be in a position to lead the Republican Party into next year's elections and beyond, according to people who have spoken to him directly. [The New York Times]

Earlier this month, Trump repeatedly attacked McConnell on Twitter, spurring the majority leader's Senate colleagues to rally around him. Trump has also attacked Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R), calling him "toxic" and endorsing his primary challenger, Kelli Ward; Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), whose refusal to vote for her party's health-care proposal prompted Trump to say she "really let the Republicans, and our country, down"; and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), whose critical comments about Trump's controversial response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, prompted the president to label him "publicity-seeking."

Trump needs McConnell as an ally to rally those same Republicans around his agenda, but "angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict," the Times wrote. Read more at The New York Times. Kimberly Alters

5:31 p.m. ET

A Trump-branded Scion hotel is coming to the Mississippi Delta, and details of the project are already raising some eyebrows:

At the Trump family's suggestion, the Cleveland, Mississippi, hotel is "changing course mid-construction" in order to install "a resort-caliber pool, place decorative balconies on the main building, and construct a hill for another building — a faux Southern mansion," Bloomberg reports. "The property's 17 acres will have a spa, bars, and a meeting hall styled as a cotton gin."

The romanticization of a "replica Southern plantation" sounded some alarm bells. "The Onion might as well just go out of business now," one Twitter user wrote, while another responded: "Tone. Deaf."

Attn: has reported on antebellum nostalgia, especially as it pertains to the wedding industry, and explains that "the word 'plantation' has been normalized despite its racist history" and that "a Southern plantation is a large estate that was historically used to grow crops with African slave labor before the Civil War." Liz Susong, the editor-in-chief Catalyst Wedding Co., told Attn:, "I think a lot of the history of properties has been really white-washed."

President Trump, while no longer the head of the Trump Organization, defended monuments to the Confederacy last week. "Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments," he tweeted. "You can't change history, but you can learn from it." Jeva Lange

1:40 p.m. ET

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley had a "personal conversation" with President Trump about how he handled the aftermath of Charlottesville, Politico reports.

Both Republicans and Democrats skewered the president for blaming "both sides" for the violence that erupted out of a neo-Confederate, white nationalist rally. Haley told CNN on Tuesday that afterward, she "had a personal conversation with the president about Charlottesville, and I will leave it at that." She added to Good Morning America that the conversation "was taken very well."

Haley was serving as governor of South Carolina in 2015 when a gunman killed nine people at a historically black church in Charleston. Five days later, she called for the removal of the Confederate flag from the Capitol in a speech that acknowledged that "people were driving by and [feeling] hurt and pain. No one should feel pain.”

Trump, however, has defended Confederate monuments, claiming: "This week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week, and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really have to ask yourself, where does it stop?"

Haley says Trump has "clarified" his stance "so that no one can question that he's opposed to bigotry and hate in this country." Jeva Lange

12:40 p.m. ET

The highly anticipated fight between undefeated boxing world champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. and the current UFC lightweight champion, Conor McGregor, could hit a snag if McGregor doesn't lose 10 pounds by Saturday, Mayweather warned FightHype.com on Tuesday. The limit for the light middleweight class is 154 pounds.

"Conor McGregor is extremely heavy right now, extremely heavy," Mayweather said. "I think he's like 164. So he's still got 10 pounds to go." It's unclear whether Mayweather knows definitively that McGregor is overweight or is just adding fuel to the publicity fire.

Mayweather added that McGregor "better get them extra millions ready or somebody's going to pay a fine. You gotta get that weight down. A true champion is disciplined and very responsible." He said that if McGregor didn't make weight, there'd still be a fight, "but it's going to be a heavy fine. Give me that money." Jeva Lange

12:15 p.m. ET
Peter Foley - Pool/Getty Images)

George and Amal Clooney's Clooney Foundation for Justice has donated $1 million to fight hate groups in the U.S. after violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reports. The Clooneys joined forces with the Southern Poverty Law Center to "increase the capacity of the SPLC to combat hate groups in the United States."

"Amal and I wanted to add our voice (and financial assistance) to the ongoing fight for equality," said actor George Clooney in a statement. "There are no two sides to bigotry and hate." The couple added: "What happened in Charlottesville, and what is happening in communities across our country, demands our collective engagement to stand up to hate."

The SPLC follows more than 1,600 extremist groups across the country, including the neo-Nazi, white nationalist, and neo-Confederate groups that rallied in Charlottesville. Jeva Lange

11:50 a.m. ET
Sara D. Davis/Getty Images

President Trump is holding a campaign-style rally in Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday night, where he is expected to focus on immigration, border security, and national unity. Trump will meet with border patrol officers ahead of the event and could possibly visit the border as well, The New York Times reports.

The rally comes amid a push within the White House for Trump to "strike an ambitious deal with Congress that offers [children of immigrants shielded by the DREAM Act] protection in exchange for legislation that pays for a border wall and more detention facilities, curbs legal immigration, and implements E-verify, an online system that allows businesses to check immigration status," McClatchy writes.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) asked Trump last week to postpone the rally, especially if he plans to pardon Joe Arpaio, the former Maricopa County sheriff recently convicted of criminal contempt after he disregarded a federal judge's order to stop arresting immigrants based solely on the suspicion that they had entered the country illegally. Jeva Lange

11:12 a.m. ET

No one can quite figure out why the family of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson keeps hanging out around HUD, New York and ProPublica report. Carson's wife, Candy, has "been spending far more time inside the department's headquarters at L'Enfant Plaza than anyone could recall a secretary's spouse doing in the past," with Candy confusing things even more when she slipped an awkward "we" into a speech about the work Carson's department would be doing.

In addition to "the omnipresent Mrs. Carson," there are also the unexpected contributions of Carson's second-oldest son:

Ben Carson Jr., who goes by B.J. and co-founded an investment firm in Columbia, Maryland, that specializes in infrastructure, health care, and workforce development, was showing up on email chains within the department and appearing often at headquarters. One day, he was seen leaving the tenth-floor office of David Eagles, the new COO, who was crafting a HUD reorganization to accompany the cuts. [New York/ProPublica]

When asked about his "active role," Ben Jr. told reporter Alec MacGillis, "With anything where we can be helpful, if Dad asks us to come along and help out, we'll always do that. We're here to offer support, whatever we can do." When pressed, Ben Jr. added puzzlingly: "If you're a concerned citizen and you're not spending time in D.C. trying to actually make sure the right things are happening, then you probably could do more. You should have access to your public officials, and if that's not allowed, then there's a big problem with how the representatives are handling their relationship with citizens." Read the full report at New York. Jeva Lange

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