March 22, 2014
AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

Fighting a corruption scandal and mounting frustrations from his citizens, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan went on the offensive with a statement denouncing Twitter on Saturday.

The Turkish government blocked the social media site on Thursday, prompting outcry from the international community and rebellious workarounds from Turkish citizens. As Twitter and international groups called Turkey out for limiting free speech and human rights, Erdogan’s office responded with a statement claiming the block had been implemented as a “protection measure:”

Twitter has been used as a means to carry out systematic character assassinations by circulating illegally acquired recordings, fake and fabricated records of wiretapping…It is difficult to comprehend Twitter's indifference and its biased and prejudiced stance. We believe that this attitude is damaging to the brand image of the company in question and creates an unfair and inaccurate impression of our country. [Reuters]

So, to recap: Turkey wants Twitter to respect its brand, because otherwise countries might get the wrong impression and assume Turkey's citizens are dissatisfied with the current government. Or something like that. Sarah Eberspacher

Ancient artifacts: Pig Edition
1:31 p.m. ET

A group of Scottish pigs discovered the earliest evidence of a population of 12,000-year-old hunter gatherers on Isle of Islay, Discovery News reports. While certainly archaeologists can come in all shapes, sizes, and species, the pigs weren't actually looking for Ice Age stone tools but were munching on bracken when they unwittingly dug up the artifacts. Their sharp-eyed gamekeeper reported the find.

"Previously, the earliest evidence [of humans at Islay] dated to 9,000 years ago, after the end of the Ice Age," Steven Mithen, one of the archaeologists to study the site, told Discovery News. "The new discovery puts people on Islay before the Ice Age had come to an end at 12,000 years ago."

Other discoveries made at the site included animal bones, antlers, and crystal quartz tools dating from a number of different time periods. The craftsmanship of the tools hinted that the ancient people originated from the region that is now northern Germany, back when Britain used to be connected to Europe by a landmass called "Doggerland."

The pigs had no comment on the find. Jeva Lange

desperate measures
12:59 p.m. ET

Donald Trump is certainly able to dish it out, but, as Vanity Fair's Graydon Carter tells it, The Donald isn't so good at taking it. In the November Vanity Fair editor's letter, Carter reveals what happened after he referred to Trump as a "short-fingered vulgarian" in Spy magazine "more than a quarter of a century ago."

Turns out, Carter writes, for a man who is concerned with power and wealth and anything "oversize," the notion of having fingers that didn't measure up was one that Trump simply could not put to rest:

To this day, I receive the occasional envelope from Trump. There is always a photo of him — generally a tear sheet from a magazine. On all of them he has circled his hand in gold Sharpie in a valiant effort to highlight the length of his fingers. I almost feel sorry for the poor fellow because, to me, the fingers still look abnormally stubby. The most recent offering arrived earlier this year, before his decision to go after the Republican presidential nomination. Like the other packages, this one included a circled hand and the words, also written in gold Sharpie: "See, not so short!" I sent the picture back by return mail with a note attached, saying, "Actually, quite short." [Vanity Fair]

Read the full editor's letter over at Vanity Fair. Becca Stanek

The nightmare that was all too real
12:05 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

As John Boehner prepares to make his exit at the end of the month, Republican infighting could once again trip him up. The Hill reports that the House speaker, who is poised to retire Oct. 30, told his friend Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) just last week: "I had this terrible nightmare last night that I was trying to get out and I couldn't get out."

Based on doubts that Republicans can get the requisite 218 votes to elect party favorite Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) as speaker — and the rule that a speaker's resignation cannot take effect until there is a new speaker — it's looking like Boehner's worst nightmare could very well become a reality.

McCarthy's status as favorite was called into question after he implied last week on Fox News that the Benghazi committee was created to take down Hillary Clinton. And at least one of his two competitors, Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) — the other contender is Rep. Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) — is seizing on these doubts. "Nobody has disagreed that the current majority leader is short of 218," Chaffetz told reporters. "It's just the reality."

If McCarthy doesn't win 218 votes in the formal floor vote, there will be additional rounds of voting. If those rounds don't produce a GOP candidate for speaker that has 218 votes, Boehner will not, in fact, be able to get out. Becca Stanek

11:29 a.m. ET
Mike Coppola/Getty Images for Clear Channel

Nicki Minaj is known for calling people out — despite the press blitz that arises whenever she picks a fight with her fellow pop stars. But while Minaj goes ahead and clarifies why she went after Miley Cyrus at the VMAs in her latest interview with The New York Times Magazine, a much more revealing feud — one that says a lot about the state of entertainment media today — arises.

Here's how it unfolds: the Times' Vanessa Grigoridis is struggling to get Minaj to answer questions when she dips into asking about a beef between Minaj's boyfriend, Meek Mill, and Drake, Lil' Wayne, and Bryan Williams. Minaj replies: "They're men, grown-ass men, it's between them."

Grigoridis asks, "Is there a part of you that thrives on drama, or is it no, just pain and unpleasantness—"

That's the end of the interview:

"What do the four men you just named have to do with me thriving off drama?" she asked. "Why would you even say that? That's so peculiar. Four grown-ass men are having issues between themselves, and you're asking me do I thrive off drama?"

She pointed my way, her extended arm all I could see other than the diamonds glinting in her ears. This wasn't over yet. "That's the typical thing that women do. What did you putting me down right there do for you?" she asked. "Women blame women for things that have nothing to do with them. I really want to know why — as a matter of fact, I don't. Can we move on, do you have anything else to ask?" [The New York Times]

"To put down a woman for something that men do, as if they're children and I'm responsible, has nothing to do with you asking stupid questions, because you know that's not just a stupid question. That's a premeditated thing you just did," Minaj added. She finished by telling Grigoridis, "I don't care to speak to you anymore."

Another feud, or a fair point about how women are covered in the media? Read it all in The New York Times Magazine. Jeva Lange

one state, two state, red state, blue state
11:14 a.m. ET

If it feels like American politics have become more polarized in recent years, that's because they have. A new study from researchers at Princeton, Georgetown, and the University of Oregon finds that red states have been getting redder and blue states bluer over the past two decades:

(Washington Post)

At the state level, Republicans are moving to the right and Democrats to the left, but of the two trends the leftward swing has been more significant. Meanwhile, voters have tended to replace moderate Democrats with Republicans in recent elections, meaning state legislatures have shifted slightly right on balance while hosting Democratic representatives who more fiercely oppose that consensus.

The researchers connected increased polarization with greater income inequality, finding that moderate Democrats were most likely to be ousted in favor of Republicans in places where income inequality is rising most quickly. Bonnie Kristian

war crime?
10:54 a.m. ET
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Charging that the American bombing of its hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan was a war crime, humanitarian aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF) is calling for an independent probe of the attack to determine whether it will file criminal charges. "If we let this go, we are basically giving a blank check to any countries at war," explained Doctors Without Borders International President Dr. Joanne Liu.

"The facts and circumstances of this attack must be investigated independently and impartially, particularly given the inconsistencies in the U.S. and Afghan accounts of what happened over recent days," Liu said in a statement published Wednesday. "It is unacceptable that the bombing of a hospital and the killing of staff and patients can be dismissed as collateral damage or brushed aside as a mistake."

At least 22 people were killed in the strike, including three children, and another 37 or more were injured. Doctors Without Borders has announced it will not reopen the hospital, which was the only facility in the area capable of treating serious injuries, after the bombing. Bonnie Kristian

2016 election
10:36 a.m. ET
Andrew Burton/Getty Images

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio quietly met with Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders in September, The Wall Street Journal reports, the latest reminder that the liberal mayor has yet to endorse a candidate in his party's primary. The Journal also reports that de Blasio wants to preside over a candidates' forum in Iowa in 2016, a sign that his ambition to become a national leader on progressive issues has not abated despite criticism that de Blasio is ignoring problems at home.

Mr. de Blasio's forum will focus on income inequality and other issues he wants to be a part of the presidential campaign. The mayor's camp has zeroed in on early December as a likely time and Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa, near Des Moines, as a likely venue.

The mayor wants politicians of both parties to attend. Representatives for Mr. Sanders, an independent running for the Democratic nomination, and Democratic former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley have expressed interest in attending. [The Wall Street Journal]

No word yet on whether Hillary Clinton will sign up. De Blasio pointedly did not even attend the official launch of Clinton's campaign in New York in June, despite the fact that de Blasio ran her successful 2000 Senate campaign.

Will he or won't he eventually endorse the Democratic frontrunner? And will it sway Democratic primary voters who are on the fence? Only time will tell. Ryu Spaeth

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