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March 17, 2014
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On Sunday, the Westboro Baptist Church — which is almost universally reviled for picketing the funerals of U.S. soldiers and celebrities — confirmed that founder and longtime pastor Fred Phelps Sr. has some "health problems" and is in a care facility. Late Saturday, estranged son Nathan Phelps said on Facebook that his father is "on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka, Kansas."

Nathan Phelps also informed the world outside of the insular church that his father "was ex-communicated from the 'church' back in August of 2013," adding in an email to The Topeka Capital-Journal that after his father was voted out of Westboro Baptist and moved from his residence above the church, he stopped eating and drinking. A second estranged son, Mark Phelps, confirmed the news from brother Nathan.

Westboro spokesman Steve Drain said that Nathan Phelps was "ill informed," denied that Fred Phelps is near death, and said that "we don't owe any talk to you about" internal church matters. Star Trek alumnus and social-media celebrity George Takei urged his 6.4 million Facebook followers to take the high road with Phelps' impending death: Don't "dance upon his grave, nor stand vigil at his funeral holding 'God Hates Freds' signs, tempting as it may be." Westboro is most infamous for its "God Hates Fags" signs, and for suggesting that U.S. troops are dying because of America's tolerance for gays and lesbians. Peter Weber

1:57 p.m. ET

Sen. Bernie Sanders' chances at winning the Democratic presidential nomination are slimmer than ever, according to The Washington Post's math. Despite the Vermont senator's surprising win in the Indiana primary Tuesday, Sanders still lags far behind Hillary Clinton with only 1,400 delegates to the frontrunner's 2,202.

To make up the ever-growing gap — and to stop Clinton, who is just 181 delegates away from tying down the requisite 2,383 delegates needed to clinch the nomination — The Washington Post says Sanders would need to do all of the below:

  • Snag 65 percent of the remaining delegates in the Democratic primary.
  • Hold onto the 39 superdelegates he currently has.
  • Win over the remaining 160 undecided superdelegates.
  • Convince 161 of the superdelegates currently pledged to Clinton to switch allegiances.

Suffice it to say, the odds aren't looking so good. Read the full rundown on Sanders' chances, along with Sanders' chief strategist's take on it all, over at The Washington Post. Becca Stanek

1:34 p.m. ET
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Even if Donald Trump were to improve by a margin of five points in every single state, he would still lose a general election against Hillary Clinton, The New York Times reports. If the votes were cast today, as polling stands right now, Clinton would win all the same states as President Obama did in 2012 plus North Carolina.

But if Trump were to improve his margin by five points, Clinton would lose Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida — and still beat Trump with 285 electoral college votes to 253. Only by improving his polling margin by 10 points in each state — and thereby also winning Colorado, Virginia, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire — would Trump manage to clinch the presidency.

Coming back from a 10 point defect is extremely hard, but not impossible: The Times reports that in 1980, Jimmy Carter was ahead of Ronald Reagan in many polls by 10 points at this same time of year.

See for yourself what the different electoral college maps would look like over at The New York Times. Jeva Lange

12:42 p.m. ET
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Donald Trump expects to have a vice presidential pick ready to reveal in July, before the Republican National Convention, and he announced Wednesday that Dr. Ben Carson will be helping him to reach a decision on that running mate, The New York Times reports.

Trump also said he is leaning toward picking "a political person" for his VP since "I have business very much covered." Trump plans to use a committee to decide on his vice presidential pick, and that's where Ben Carson comes in: "I think on the committee I'll have Dr. Ben Carson and some other folks," Trump said. The other folks have yet to be announced.

Carson, who ended his presidential bid in March, has struggled to promote Trump in any convincing way despite having endorsed him. Jeva Lange

12:17 p.m. ET
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Ohio Gov. John Kasich will announce at a Wednesday evening press conference in his hometown of Columbus, Ohio, that he is suspending his bid for the Republican presidential nomination, The Associated Press reports. Kasich was initially scheduled to do a press conference at the Dulles airport in Virginia, but announced Wednesday morning that he would not be leaving Ohio after all. If the governor does drop out, that would leave Donald Trump as the only remaining Republican presidential candidate. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) dropped out of the race Tuesday night after Trump's win in Indiana all but ensured the mogul would win the nomination. Becca Stanek

11:18 a.m. ET

In a video about as nerdy as the "May the 4th be with you" joke, John Kasich celebrated Star Wars Day on Tuesday by depicting himself as "the only hope" for the Empire…er, America.

Written in the classic scrolling yellow font of the Star Wars films, the trailer describes a dystopian future in which Hillary Clinton beats Donald Trump in "the largest landslide since Reagan" and is busy preparing to name her Supreme Court nominee, Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

"Only one candidate can defeat Hillary Clinton in the fall," the trailer warns at the end (you'll never guess who). Watch below. Jeva Lange

11:07 a.m. ET
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Donald Trump, the Republican Party's presumptive nominee, doesn't seem to know exactly how long he'd be in office if he's elected president. In an interview Wednesday morning on MSNBC's Morning Joe, he told all the Trump haters in the GOP that they're going to have to wait "16 years" — exactly eight years over a U.S. president's term limit — before they rejoin the party.

"I don't think it's imperative that the entire party come together," Trump said, brushing off Republicans who refuse to embrace him as their nominee. "I don't want everybody. I don't even want certain people who were extraordinarily nasty. Let them wait eight years. Or let them wait 16 years or whatever."

We're still waiting on Trump's explanation for why those "certain people" would have to wait not the maximum two terms, but four. Becca Stanek

10:59 a.m. ET
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Beyoncé's recently released "visual" album Lemonade dished on her marital drama with husband Jay Z — and now the "Empire State of Mind" rapper has decided to tell his side of the story, sources told US Weekly.

Beyoncé and Jay Z have been married for eight years and allegedly went through a rough patch in 2014, which publicly culminated in leaked video footage showing Beyoncé's sister attacking Jay Z in an elevator while Beyoncé stood by. But on Lemonade, Beyoncé tellingly describes the pain of being cheated on and watching her husband slip away to be with "Becky with the good hair."

"Jay is working on an album telling his side of things," the source told US Weekly.

However, Beyoncé's father and former manager has said that Lemonade is not autobiographical. "People want to make it about her," Matthew Knowles said. "Maybe she dug deep and made it about something we all could relate to." Jeva Lange

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