March 19, 2014

Single-serving coffee pods like Keurig's K-Cups are having a moment. Nearly one in five adults makes a single-cup-brewed coffee every day, and the industry is now worth several billion dollars. The industry's popularity shouldn't come as a surprise, since coffee pods are simple to make and easy to clean. But, as Mother Jones reports, the cost of convenience might not outweigh the toll the cups are taking on the environment.

The magazine writes that since each pod is individualized and easy to trash, "you must also exponentially increase the packaging — packaging that ultimately ends up in landfills." And the pieces "aren't that easy to recycle either," it adds.

Mother Jones estimated that the 8.3 billion K-Cups produced by Green Mountain are enough to wrap around the equator 10.5 times — and that's just in 2013. More alarmingly, since only five percent of the cups are recyclable, the rest of the pieces end up in landfills. Read the rest of the story at Mother Jones. Jordan Valinsky

The Daily Showdown
4:01 a.m. ET

Despite all the Sturm und Drang about the NSA's bulk telephone metadata collection authority expiring Sunday night, "it doesn't really seem like the country has crumbled into chaotic violence-based terror-ocracy," Jon Stewart said on Monday's Daily Show. In fact, he noted, as far as we know, that hoovering up of phone records hasn't prevented any terrorist attacks, including the few that have hit the U.S. since the NSA started its surveillance vacuum.

Stewart didn't exactly dance on the Patriot Act's grave, but he did question the need for the NSA program, the use of the phrase "lone wolf," Sen. John McCain's comedic judgment, and Sen. Rand Paul's request for a "money bomb" tied to his blocking of NSA surveillance. And, since the NSA is no longer keeping tabs, Stewart felt free to prank-call his old friend John Oliver. Correspondent Jordan Klepper, meanwhile, lamented the NSA's waning powers, but for his own reasons. Watch below, but be warned, some of the language is mildly NSWF. Peter Weber

last night on late night
3:51 a.m. ET

Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West are expecting their second child — "which means this will be the second time Kim has participated in any kind of real labor," Jimmy Kimmel joked on Monday night's Kimmel Live. But what everyone really wants to know is what the Wests will name their new child, after giving their daughter the novelty name North. Kimmel offered to help, picking a name through a special game of bingo. You've probably thought of some of the dozen names Kimmel's staff selected for the game (Mid, Wicked Witch Of The), but there are some random entries, and they are all funnier because Guillermo is reading them. Watch below — and Batman fans, hope that Guillermo got this one right. Peter Weber

2:18 a.m. ET

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) thinks the USA Freedom Act is better than the Patriot Act, but he's still voting against it, he told Seth Meyers on Tuesday's Late Night. There are better, most constitutional ways to combat terrorism, the 2016 Democratic presidential contender said. "We can't go around telling people we're a free country when either the government or the corporate world knows every damn thing about you — that's not really freedom."

Then Meyers started pitching softballs. Sanders looked a little nervous when Meyers started bringing up an essay Sanders published in 1972 that touches on rape and fantasy, but relaxed when Meyers turned it into a question about 50 Shades of Grey. "I think I could make a good president, but I write fiction pretty poorly," Sanders said. Also, that folk album he talked-sang on in the 1980s wasn't a great idea, he said, when Meyers broached the subject. "I almost feel like you should say, 'Vote for me or I'll put out another album'," Meyers quipped. There are probably worse campaign slogans. Listen to Sanders orate about liberty (and sing) below. Peter Weber

fixing a hole
1:33 a.m. ET
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

The Transportation Security Administration's poor track record with airport security, highlighted in a report on Monday, did not go unnoticed by the TSA's parent agency, the Department of Homeland Security.

DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson replaced the TSA's acting administrator, Melvin Carraway, with its acting deputy director, Mark Hatfield, until a permanent replacement is installed — President Obama nominated Coast Guard Vice Adm. Pete Neffenger in April, but the Senate hasn't confirmed him. Carraway was reassigned to another post at DHS.

Johnson said that the numbers reported from the classified DHS inspector general's report — TSA agents failed to detect fake bombs and other weapons in 67 of 70 covert tests — "never look good out of context, but they are a critical element in the continual evolution of our aviation security." He announced several steps meant to improve airport security, including new screening procedures, training for all TSA officers and especially supervisors, and re-evaluating current screening systems. Undercover, randomly timed security tests will continue.

Despite the bad report, "TSA screened a record number of passengers at airports in the United States," Johnson said, and "seized a record number of prohibited items." Still, he added, he is taking the reports findings "very seriously." Peter Weber

last night on late night
12:25 a.m. ET

If you're a fan of The Cardigans' angelic cover of Black Sabbath's "Iron Man," or of English singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran, Jimmy Fallon has a bit for you. "That's right, pop music's cherub-faced troubadour sings 25 of the darkest, most skull-crushing songs ever written," Fallon, in character, said in a faux late-night commercial on Monday's Tonight Show. And Sheeran was on hand to provide a taste of a few of those songs.

He kept up a straight face, mostly, through Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills" and Limp Bizkit's "Break Stuff," but he cracked up a bit during his track from the bonus album, Ed Sheeran Sings Hardcore Rap, probably because it's even funnier, and more improbable, hearing Ed Sheeran sing Ty Dolla $ign than Iron Maiden. Watch below. Peter Weber

June 1, 2015

Late Monday, a chartered cruise ship carrying 458 passengers and crew up China's Yangtze River capsized in a storm, and as of Tuesday morning, only between 10 and 20 have been rescued, according to Chinese media. Rescue efforts were hampered at first by strong wind and rains, and then darkness. But by daylight Tuesday, hundreds of police officers, military personnel, and divers were on hand for the rescue and recovery operation.

According to the English language version of Chinese state news site Xinhua, the captain and chief engineer were among those rescued, and "both claimed the ship sank quickly after being caught in a cyclone." Search crews reported hearing noises from within the upturned boat 12 hours after it capsized, China's CCTV reports, and are trying to determine if the sounds are coming from people trapped inside. The four-deck boat, built in 1994, sank in a part of the river about 50 feet deep. For more information, watch the Reuters report below. Peter Weber

High Hopes
June 1, 2015

Joel McHale and Conan O'Brien have more in common than their freakishly tall stature, they discovered on Monday night's Conan. His show, Community, was "canceled by NBC," McHale noted, adding, "I don't know if you have any experience with that." After a round of boos from the audience, Conan deadpanned: "Nothing but smooth sailing with that gang." But both shows got second lives, Conan on TBS and Community on Yahoo.

After a great season on Yahoo, McHale said, he didn't know what the future held for Community. Yahoo said it is interested in more, though "I don't think we are, unless they pay me a lot of money." But fear not Community community. "I think we will do a movie, if Dan [Harmon, Community's creator,] will write the script," McHale added. You can watch the tease below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads