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Foreign affairs
March 14, 2014

On Thursday, former Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik confirmed the authenticity of a leaked audiotape of him dismissing upcoming presidential elections as a "fraud" and foregone win for military leader Field Marshal Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi. Shafik, a former general and runner-up in the 2012 presidential race, "had not planned on making his opinion quite so public," deadpans David D. Kirkpatrick at The New York Times. "But these days in Egypt, conversations are often not as private as they seem."

In confirming his private comments, Shafik didn't exactly endorse them: "My confidence that the armed forces will ensure a transparent democratic and electoral process is complete and unquestionable." He also insisted: "I say in public what I say in private." Well, here's what he said in private, according to Al Jazeera:

I know very well they will fix all the ballot boxes. I have taken myself out of this loop because the election is going to be a farce.... Of course whether other candidates withdraw will depend on the nomination of Sisi. I said if he's going to run in the presidential election I will not run but I will get my papers ready (and) if he is going to run I will not submit them.... They will fix everything for him… this is going to be a comedy show. [Al Jazeera]

The comments are especially unusual because "Shafik comes from the same military elite as Field Marshal Sisi," Kirkpatrick notes. "Questioning the field marshal's candidacy is almost heretical in the pro-military and anti-Islamist circles both officers represent." Plenty in Egypt agree with Shafik's cynical assessment of Egyptian democracy. If Shafik hadn't taken himself out of the running, it would be interesting to know if his comments would hurt him or help his presidential candidacy. Peter Weber

last night on late night
4:34 a.m. ET

Jimmy Kimmel's "pedestrian question" on Tuesday's Kimmel Live was whether the random people his crew stopped on the street had any nude pictures of themselves on their phones. The game involves stopping the interview right before the pedestrian answers and having the audience guess yes or no. There's not a lot to go on — first name and where he or she is from, and of course, what they look like — and there's some sizable element of the audience that seems to pick its response based mostly on what they want the answer to be. What to guess about an attractive young woman from Canada, for example? Or an older, bearded man from Australia? You can play along below. Peter Weber

The Daily Showdown
4:01 a.m. ET

All those questions you wanted Jon Stewart to answer (and many you never considered) about The Daily Show? On Tuesday, he said he was happy to answer them — but he's kind of a joker, so it took a bit of duress for him to come out with the truth.

The heavy hand was administered by correspondents Hasan Minhaj and Jordan Klepper, using their bad-cop, bad-cop routine. And the forms of torture are for the Daily Show fans. First comes the New York pizza cut with a knife and fork, then a short reel of Jon Stewart's acting career, bad Springsteen improv, and then the coup de grace, which really is disgusting. Watch below and learn what Stewart draws on those blue pads, who his favorite guests have been, and what finally makes Minhaj and Klepper end the interrogation with cries of "TMI." Peter Weber

Quotables
3:24 a.m. ET
G.N. Miller–Pool/Getty Images

New York prison worker Joyce Mitchell confessed to helping inmates Richard Matt and David Sweat escape from the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, NBC News reports, drawing from documents obtained through a freedom of information act. Her confessions, made June 7, 8, and 10, contain some pretty lurid details.

Mitchell told state and federal investigators that she had smuggled Matt and Sweat in contraband and agreed to pick them up after their escape "because I was caught up in the fantasy." She knew, she said, that after the escape, Matt was going to kill her husband, Lyle, whom the inmates called "the glitch." She sent sexually explicit photos of herself to Sweat, she said, but only had sexual contact with Matt.

That started in April, Mitchell said, when she and Matt were alone in the prison tailor shop, where both Mitchell and her husband worked. "It startled me, she said. "He kissed me with an open mouth kiss. I didn't say anything because I was scared for my husband, who also works for the facility."

At Matt's request, she later performed oral sex on the inmate and "also groped his genitals in several instances, using a large prison coat to disguise their activities," The New York Times summarizes, citing the same statements from Mitchell. NBC News provides more detail: "Matt would come to her desk wearing a big coat in which he had cut a hole so that Mitchell could touch his genitals."

Mitchell told investigators that she "enjoyed the attention, the feeling both of them gave me and the thought of a different life," but got ill from worry as the escape neared, ultimately going to the hospital instead of picking Matt and Sweat up in her Jeep with supplies, as planned. Matt was later killed, Sweat captured. "I know I had agreed to help them escape and run away with them, but I panicked and couldn't follow through with the rest of the plan," Mitchell said. "I really do love my husband and he's the reason." Peter Weber

The Daily Pre-Showdown
2:15 a.m. ET

Sometimes at the beginning of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart obliquely brings up some conversation he had with the audience before the show. And now that Stewart's long run is ending, Comedy Central is pulling back the curtain a bit, posting a short highlight reel of Stewart's warm-up banter before the show begins. In the Q&A sessions featured in the video below, Stewart fields questions about his New Jersey game reserve, hummus, and whether he will return to stand-up comedy after he leaves The Daily Show (it sounds like 'yes').

And then somebody asked him about his "worst or funniest mistakes as a rookie on one of your first shows." Stewart started out philosophically, insisting that he never considers any flubs mistakes, but then he told this story:

We did do, my second week of doing a talk show at Paramount, we did a Hitler sketch.... We thought this would be really funny... that Hitler had just been in hiding, and was now coming out to do the talk show circuit. So I just said, "Ladies and gentlemen, unbelievable guest tonight, you know, I can't believe it: Adolf Hitler." And he comes out dressed as Hitler, with the mustache, and he does this [Nazi salute] to the crowd, and you can imagine, the crowd is like, "Booooooo! Boo Hitler! We don't like Hitler!" So we throw to commercial — two seconds later, the stage managers goes, 'There's a phone call for you.' Paramount executives in Los Angeles had been watching it and, like, literally said, "We will cancel you tonight if you don't pull that." [Stewart, Daily Show]

If you've never seen a taping of The Daily Show, this is probably the closest you're going to get, at least in the Jon Stewart era. Watch below. Peter Weber

Revolting
1:06 a.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Late Tuesday, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) filed a "motion to vacate the chair," a parliamentary measure seeking to unseat House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). In his motion, Meadows accused Boehner of having "endeavored to consolidate power and centralize decision-making" and using "the power of the office to punish Members who vote according to their conscience instead of the will of the Speaker."

Meadows should know — he was briefly stripped of his chairmanship of a House subcommittee after voting against a measure Boehner backed, being reinstated only after fellow House conservatives caused a ruckus. But he says he isn't sure he will ever try to bring his motion to a vote, intending it more as the "impetus to have a discussion, a family discussion," among House Republicans about "how we can make sure that every voice, every vote matters."

The move is extremely rare but not unprecedented. In March 1910, Rep. George Norris (R-Neb.) tried to oust Speaker Joe Cannon (R-Ill.), but failed after a two-day marathon session that ended with Cannon himself moving to declare his chair vacant and winning the vote when it failed to pass. Cannon was reputedly much more domineering than Boehner, but the failed coup did succeed in greatly curbing his power in the House. As Meadows is surely aware. Peter Weber

last night on late night
12:20 a.m. ET

Harry Potter, the fictional boy wizard, turns 35 on July 31. To wish him an early happy birthday, and scar any Harry Potter fans watching The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon had Simon Pegg on to imagine the mess that would be a 35-year-old inebriated Ron Weasley. "Drunk Ron Weasley" draws pretty heavily from the Dudley Moore school of drunk Britons, but Pegg's "10 points for Gryffindor!" ad-lib is pretty good. Watch the debauchery and shattered childhood dreams below. Peter Weber

election 2016
July 28, 2015
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The top 10 Republican presidential candidates, as determined by Fox News polling, will still appear on stage for the prime-time Aug. 6 debate in Cleveland. But thanks to a modification to its rules announced Tuesday evening, Fox News will allow all of the second-tier candidates to participate in the happy hour debate earlier that evening, at 5 p.m. ET. Previously, only candidates polling at 1 percent or greater were allowed in the 5 p.m. debate.

The change in requirements means that you can watch former HP chief executive Carly Fiorina, ex-New York Gov. George Pataki, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) face off against Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Rick Santorum, and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, according to Politico's tally. The nine Republicans competing for air time with Donald Trump from 9 to 11 p.m. are Jeb Bush, Gov. Scott Walker (Wis.), Gov. Chris Christie (N.J.), Rick Perry, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Sens. Marco Rubio (Fla.), Ted Cruz (Texas), and Rand Paul (Ky.)

The "kid's table" debate will also be moderated by lower-profile moderators, Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum. The later one will feature Megyn Kelly, Bret Baier, and Chris Wallace. Peter Weber

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