March 26, 2014

The first two seasons of Veep are enough to make anyone seriously skeptical of U.S. politics, but star Tony Hale says the show's material doesn't make him less hopeful about the country's future.

In a recent interview with Daniel D'Addario at Salon, Hale explains his political optimism:

It doesn't make me cynical at all. I have massive respect for whoever wants to step into that position. The decisions you're making have huge consequences. My hope is that the motivation is to make change, is to bring about positive things. A lot of people want power — anyone that actually wants to make a difference, my hat goes off to her. [Salon]

Hale also describes his character, Gary, as "a little close to a serial killer" in his obsession with Vice President Selina Meyer (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus). Read the full interview over at Salon — for someone who rose to fame as the childlike Buster Bluth, Hale has certainly come a long way. Meghan DeMaria

please leave a message after the beep
10:49 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

It's 2015 and most of us have long been tired of checking our voicemail — what kind of monster even leaves one instead of sending a text, anyway? Good thing Apple employees are apparently testing a major upgrade to Siri that would let her field your calls and transcribe your messages, unnamed sources told Business Insider on Monday.

The new iCloud Voicemail system could mean Apple does away with the cell phone carrier's traditional voicemail system. Apple's system reportedly may even be able to provide the caller with information about why you can't pick up the phone (you're too busy watching Netflix, obviously).

Apple Insider reports the company first filed a patent for such a voicemail system back in 2012, and Business Insider says the new feature could be unveiled as early as 2016, as part of iOS 10. Julie Kliegman

Ongoing investigation
10:38 a.m. ET
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Leaked data from the results of 12,000 blood tests taken between 2001 and 2012 from 5,000 athletes allegedly reveal the "extraordinary extent of cheating" occurring at some of the world's top sporting events, according to a report released by The Sunday Times and the German broadcaster ARD/WDR. The Sunday Times and ARD/WRD allegedly obtained access to the files belonging to the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) "without consent," and proceeded to use two of the world's "foremost anti-doping experts" to analyze the data, revealing some potentially shocking findings.

The experts say at least one in seven athletes in the files had blood test results that were "highly suggestive of doping or at least very abnormal." Doping was found to be particularly prevalent among endurance athletes. The BBC reports that "a third of medals (146, including 55 golds) in endurance events at the Olympics and World Championships between 2001 and 2012 were won by athletes who have recorded suspicious tests."

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) is creating an independent commission to further investigate these claims. Since the information was leaked, the International Olympic Committee announced it would punish any athletes found guilty of doping in WADA's investigation. Becca Stanek

10:12 a.m. ET

The ricotta was not really ricotta, if you catch my drift.

The BBC reports that 11 men were arrested in Italy for their connections to the fugitive head of the Sicilian mafia, Matteo Messina Denaro. Denaro, who has been on the run since 1993 and is the successor of two jailed godfathers, once boasted he could "fill a cemetery" with his victims.

As much as this sounds like a scene from The Godfather, one detail was, well, less Hollywood-ready than the others: The mafia boss reportedly communicated with his henchmen using sheep-related codes. By leaving scraps of paper on a farm in western Sicily, Denaro transmitted messages to his followers such as, "the sheep need shearing," or "the hay is ready," or "I've put the ricotta cheese aside for you, will you come by later?"

The BBC reports that "officers do not believe that the alleged criminals were really discussing agricultural matters." Jeva Lange

10:11 a.m. ET

Triple Crown winner American Pharoah got plenty of cheers at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, as a crowd of more than 60,000 celebrated his latest triumph at the 2015 Haskell Invitational race. Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was on site to present the trophy in the winner's circle, received no such warm welcome.

As Christie came into view, he was met with long, loud booing from the tens of thousands of New Jerseyans in the audience. Booing subsided as others took the mic, only to resume once Christie's name was brought up again.

A June poll found that Christie's approval rating is at a dismal 30 percent in his home state, a figure the governor says will improve after he wins the presidency. Bonnie Kristian

10:02 a.m. ET
St. Louis County Prosecutor's Office/Getty Images

Darren Wilson, the former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black man, in August 2014, believes systemic racism is a thing of the past. Wilson, who has been cleared of wrongdoing in Michael Brown's death, gave The New Yorker a rare interview in a profile published Monday:

"I am really simple in the way that I look at life. What happened to my great-grandfather is not happening to me. I can't base my actions off what happened to him. We can't fix in 30 minutes what happened 30 years ago. We have to fix what's happening now. That's my job as a police officer. I’m not going to delve into people's life-long history and figure out why they're feeling a certain way, in a certain moment." [The New Yorker]

Wilson also admitted that he hasn't read the Justice Department's report on systemic racism in the Ferguson police department because he doesn't want to "keep living in the past."

Another striking detail from The New Yorker profile: Mike McCarthy, a field-training officer who helped guide Wilson in a previous job, conceded that the escalation of Wilson's confrontation with Brown probably could have been avoided. Check out the whole profile here. Julie Kliegman

injustice system
9:25 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As the investigation into the mysterious circumstances surrounding Sandra Bland's death in a Texas jail cell continues, a Department of Justice report (PDF) on jail deaths in America provides shocking broader context: Some 73 percent (698 out of 958 total deaths in 2012) of prisoners who die in jail have not been convicted of anything.

Exorbitant bail rates for relatively minor crimes, an issue brought into sharp relief by the 2015 suicide of Kalief Browder, is a primary reason for often lengthy pre-trial detentions during which these deaths occurred. Deaths were most common among older inmates, particularly in the 45-54 age group, and 29 percent of people who died in jail were black, more than twice the national population ratio of African-Americans.

For more on this topic, read The Week's Ryan Cooper on "the national horror of jail suicides," which accounted for 31.3 percent of jail deaths in 2012. Bonnie Kristian

Poll Watch
9:24 a.m. ET
Frederic J. Brown/AFP/Getty Images

Despite suggesting the vast majority of Mexican immigrants are drug dealers and rapists in a June campaign kickoff speech, Donald Trump has remained confident Latinos will back his bid for the Republican nomination.

"I think I will win the Hispanic vote," Trump told ABC's Jonathan Karl on Sunday. "And if you see the recent polls that came out, Jon, you'll see that because I'm leading in the Hispanic vote."

That turned out to be awkward timing for Trump. An NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Univision poll released Monday shows 75 percent of Latinos view him unfavorably, and only 13 percent think positively of the billionaire. More than half called his June comments offensive and racist.

Additional proof Trump isn't doing so hot with Latinos: Piñatas bearing his likeness are being sold in Mexico. Julie Kliegman

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