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March 27, 2014
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Finally, someone is speaking up for the hot dogs.

Laura Ustick of Wheeling, Ill., was so upset when she discovered that no hot dog emoji exists, she did what any reasonable person would do: She started a petition, begging President Barack Obama and early emoji creator Shigetaka Kurita to join forces to create one (there are nearly 300 signatories so far). "People are demanding a hot dog emoji," Ustick, the general manager of the Superdawg Drive-In, told The Wall Street Journal. "It's a slight against the hot dog community."

So Ustick is harnessing the power of social media to attempt to right this wrong, spreading memes like "May the #HotDogEmoji Be With You." She has the 25 other members of the Hot Dog Emoji Coalition standing behind her, in addition to her customers. "It kind of hurts your feelings that the hot dog emoji is not here," Tika Johnson told The Wall Street Journal. "You cannot have a real text without emoji." Who knew hot dog lovers were such a sensitive bunch?

#GiveThemWhatTheyWant #HotDogsForever #ActuallyIPreferCornDogs Catherine Garcia

8:13 a.m. ET

Last month, Felix Sater, a businessman with ties to the mafia and "loyalists of Russian President Vladimir Putin," paid Donald Trump a visit at Trump Tower for "confidential" reasons, Politico reported Friday. That same month, Sater gave the Trump campaign $5,400 — the maximum contribution allowed.

Sater and Trump's ties go way back; the two once co-developed a Trump project and Trump briefly hired Sater. However, Trump has long maintained that his relationship with Sater is "distant" and stated under oath that he "would not recognize Sater if the two were sitting in the same room," Politico reported.

Whether or not Trump recognizes Sater, the Russian-born businessman's reappearance in Trump's circle comes at an inconvenient time for his campaign, Politico says:

Around 1999, Sater joined Bayrock, a real estate firm that had offices in Trump Tower and pursued business ventures with Trump. Bayrock is now being rocked by allegations made in a lawsuit brought by a former executive of unexplained cash infusions from Russia and Kazakhstan and receiving financing from a firm used by Russians "in favor with" Putin. Around 2010, Sater went to work for Trump directly, carrying a Trump Organization business card that described him as a "senior advisor to Donald Trump."

The revelation of Sater's contribution and recent Trump Tower visit come at a time when Trump's pro-Russian stances, his relationship with former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, and his campaign's role in softening the Republican Party's support for Ukrainian resistance to Russian incursions in its territory have all brought the New York billionaire's ties to Russia under intense scrutiny. [Politico]

Sater maintained that — aside from the meeting — he hasn't seen Trump recently.

Head over to Politico for more on the story, including why Sater is confident Trump would make "the greatest president of this century." Becca Stanek

7:35 a.m. ET
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In 2006, President George W. Bush created a national marine sanctuary off the coast of Hawaii, and on Friday, President Obama is more than quadrupling its size, to 582,578 square miles, from 139,800, making the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument more than 50 times larger than the Hawaiian Islands themselves and the largest protected area on Earth. The expanded designation will put the biologically rich and diverse waters under protection of the Endangered Species Act, prohibiting commercial fishing and drilling, but allowing recreational fishing and traditional Hawaiian activity with a permit.

The area was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2010, and Matt Rand at the Pew Charitable Trusts says the Papahānaumokuākea (pronounced "Papa-ha-now-mow-koo-ah-kay-ah") marine sanctuary will "offer a glimpse of what our planet was like before the impacts of human activity, and it is critical that we preserve places in this way, both as a window to the past and for future generations.” Longline fishing businesses opposed the expansion, though federal officials put the amount of commercial fishing displaced by the new protections at just 5 percent.

Obama will visit the area next week, addressing Pacific Island leaders and conservation conferences in Hawaii then visiting the expanded monument at Midway Atoll, before heading off to China for a Group of 20 summit. Only Congress can create a national park, but presidents can unilaterally declare national monuments under the 1906 Antiquities Act, and and Obama has so designated more than 548 million acres of federal lands and water, more than double the amount protected by any of his predecessors. Peter Weber

6:38 a.m. ET

Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity disagree over whether Donald Trump is really "softening" his position on immigration — as Trump told Hannity on Wednesday — but on Fox News Thursday night they saved most of their anger for the Republican Party. Trump is getting about 75 percent of the GOP vote, and if he can get 15 percent of the black vote and more of the Latino vote, he'll be president, Hannity said. "But you have all these former candidates for the presidency that made pledges, then you've got Paul Ryan, and then you've got a bunch of wonks over at The Wall Street Journal, National Review that... are doing everything they can to sabotage him."

Coulter said that she thought America was in trouble when Mitt Romney lost in 2012, but "now we are at the tipping point, it's much father along. I mean, Democrats must be thinking: 'We thought it was gonna take 20 years to completely take over the country. The way Obama is flying in Central Americans and bringing in Muslim refugees, we can get this done in Hillary's first term.'" If Clinton "amnesties" all the illegal immigrants, she said — putting the number at "30 to 50, 60 million" — "it's over, Republicans never win another presidential election, we have nine Ruth Bader Ginsburgs on the Supreme Court." If Clinton wins, she added, "what you do, what I do, what Fox News does will be irrelevant because there won't be a fight anymore."

"I'm not going to be a nut and say I don't believe the polls," Coulter said, "but I do think the polls are going to change, I still think Donald Trump is more likely to win than not, I think people will get serious and realize, this is it. This is it for our country." "I think it's worse than that," Hannity said. "If Hillary wins, I am blaming them directly for their sabotage."

Coulter saved a bit of sorrow for Trump, though: "I think he made a mistake in the things that he said to you. He was using... all the Marco Rubio clichés used to push the Gang of 8 bill. Look, I don't think that's true — I think it's stupid, because all Trump is doing is demoralizing his base. The Never-Trumpers, the people who hate him still hate him, but now they can call him a flip-flopper. Way to go, whoever told Trump to say that." Trump has his flaws, but he has always been a great patriot, Coulter said. "If you are putting Americans first, you are not going to want to keep even the most law-abiding illegal alien.... This is burdening America. We're a generous people, but enough already!" Watch below. Peter Weber

5:20 a.m. ET

Stephen Colbert started out Thursday night with a preview of the first Clinton-Trump presidential debate in September, noting that The Late Show will go on live after each debate and that Hillary Clinton is having trouble finding someone to play Donald Trump in debate prep. "I don't see what the problem is — just put a jack-o-lantern on a drunken bear, and you're done," Colbert joked. Then he turned to Trump, starting with his Wednesday rally in Mississippi with British Brexit leader Nigel Farage — "Now, I don't what the folks in the Deep South have in common with angry white people who want to leave a union, but evidently, they liked him" — and a recap of Trump's line that Clinton is a "bigot."

But Colbert spent most of the monologue on Trump's evolving immigration policy. On Thursday night, Trump had been scheduled to give a major speech on immigration, but instead he was at a fundraiser in Aspen — "though to be fair," Colbert said, "a lot of people visiting Colorado immediately forget what they were supposed to do." Still, the GOP presidential candidate has been clear on one thing: "Trump has repeatedly sworn, from the beginning of his campaign, from Day 1, if elected he'll deport 11 million undocumented immigrants," Colbert said. "And if you disagree with him on that, well, now he does, too."

That was a reference to "the softening" in Trump's town hall Wednesday night with Sean Hannity. "This is crazy," Colbert said. "The one thing we thought we knew about Donald Trump was how he felt about immigrants. Whenever he spoke on the subject he was practically coherent." This new language "is like Smokey the Bear saying, 'I'm softening my position on forest fires — matches are cool,'" Colbert said, and he was baffled by Trump's focus-group polling of the audience to figure out his own immigration stance. Then it hit him. "Now, based on that town hall last night, I think I know what his decision will be: letting the American people decide which immigrants are allowed to stay, in a new reality show called So You Think You're One of the Good Ones. Let's play right now." He did. Juan won. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:17 a.m. ET

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) knew that he was Hillary Clinton's running mate for only about 12 minutes before the world found out, he told Stephen Colbert on Thursday's Late Show, in Kaine's late-night TV debut. And it's not clear how his wife felt when he told her the big news. Kaine said that joining a presidential campaign a few months before the election is the way to go, and when Colbert asked in mock-hushed tones about Clinton's health, Kaine said, "I think she could beat me in the New York marathon, if we entered."

"I'm gonna test you here," Colbert said. Clinton "said she wanted a running mate who was willing to disagree with her. So please your new boss, right now, and say something that you disagree with Hillary Clinton on." "You think I'm new at this?" Kaine said — they had just discussed his rise from Jesuit missionary to city councilman to governor and senator, and Kaine drew on that experience for a pretty good answer.

If Joe Biden is America's ebullient uncle, Tim Kaine would be its earnest step dad, as The Washington Post put it, or maybe its soccer dad, as Twitter opined. "Are you okay with not being cool?" Colbert asked. "I've been prepared for that for 26 years," Kaine said, "because I have three children who have been ripping on me and saying those things about me since they were born." So, in his late-night debut, we learned that Tim Kaine plays harmonica, is discreet, can talk policy, has memorized part of the New Testament, and is a very gentle attack dog. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:16 a.m. ET

What is the song "Oops!.... I Did It Again" really about? James Corden asked Britney Spears in Corden's latest Late Late Show "Carpool Karaoke" video. "I don't know," she said. "I really don't know. I think it's just a song." Corden said he thinks about the lyrics every time he orders a pizza from Dominos, and then they sang. Corden also peppered Spears with questions, and she dished. She wants three more kids, on top of her two virtual twins, 9 and 10, she said — "I have to find the right guy first" — though before you get excited, guys, she followed that up by saying she's "just done with men" and won't get married again. ("I don't believe in marriage anymore.")

If you watch, you'll learn that Spears' kids have seen her Vegas show, racy outfits and all — "I feel like they know that's mommy performing" — and that Corden is still scarred by a youthful look at his mother in her underwear. Spears was a good student who was paddled only once, and in between talking, she and Corden sang various Spears songs, like "Womanizer" and "Toxic." Corden is the more enthusiastic singer/dancer in his car, at least until they finally got to "...Baby One More Time" — though you may not be able to un-see James Corden in a sexy schoolgirl outfit. You've been warned. Peter Weber

2:32 a.m. ET

On Wednesday's Kelly File, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Megyn Kelly that his organization would release potentially "significant" information on Hillary Clinton before the November election, and on Thursday's show, Kelly played the part of the interview where Assange talks about Donald Trump. "You're clearly not rooting for Hillary, but are you rooting for Trump?" Kelly asked. "No, I mean, if we have good information on Trump, we publish that," Assange said.

"You know, some people have asked us, 'When will you release information on Donald Trump?'" Assange said later. "And of course we're very interested in all countries, to reveal the truth about any candidate, so people can understand, but actually it's really hard for us to release anything worse than what comes out of Donald Trump's mouth every second day. I mean, it's part of his charismatic appeal that he speaks off the cuff, but, you know, that's difficult for Donald Trump to overcome, a lot of those things, even with a lot of great material coming out by WikiLeaks and other publications."

If that sounds like WikiLeaks is trying to help Trump, remember, Assange says he isn't taking sides. And he doesn't want you to blame Russian hackers for the Democratic National Committee leaks or other Democratic Party cyber-infiltration, as the U.S. intelligence community does. "The allegations by the Clinton campaign that everyone is a Russian agent are really disturbing," Assange said. "Why is that? Well, bizarrely, Hillary Clinton, the Democrat, has become, has positioned herself now, as being the security candidate. She's palled up with the neocons responsible for the Iraq War and she's grabbed on to this sort of neo-McCarthyist hysteria about Russia, and is using that to demonize the Trump campaign."

Kelly also asked about WikiLeaks' interest in murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich, and Assange suggested that Rich was a WikiLeaks source but declined to accuse anyone of his murder. She also asked about an Associated Press report outlining private information on rape victims, gay Saudis, and other "collateral damage" in some of Assange's dumps. "Well, it's a nonsense reports," he said. "Its not by AP, it's not some big team at AP who put this together, it's by a single journalist... who has a conflict of interest — have a look at him on Twitter." You can watch the entire segment below. Peter Weber

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