March 12, 2014 of Cards

I enjoyed watching both seasons of House of Cards, Netflix's shadowy and Shakespearean political comedy/tragedy/farce portraying the rise of the ruthless politician Frank Underwood. But I tried not to take it too seriously. After all, Washington's political elite might be out of touch with the rest of the country — as shown by years of awful Congressional approval ratings — but House of Cards is a work of fiction, and a dark, murderous, and cynical one at that.

Cui Tiankai, China's Ambassador to the United States, on the other hand, thinks House of Cards faithfully mirrors real life:

"I have seen both seasons of House of Cards, which I think embodies some of the characteristics and corruption that is present in American politics," said Cui Tiankai, speaking as a participant on a televised People’s Daily panel coinciding with the Chinese People’s Political Consultive Conference.

The Chinese diplomat, who previously studied in Washington, DC — the setting of House of Cards' intricate political machinations — added that the show's story of bipartisan competition and corruption largely mirrored recent affairs. [South China Morning Post]

Of course, some Chinese people disagreed with the ambassador. While America's political system might be bad, they reasoned, it can't be as bad as China's one-party dictatorship:

Members of China's online microblogging community offered an alternate voice, and several criticized Cui for his comments.

"Americans are such that they do not hide their drawbacks, and through debate, constantly compromise to improve their government," one Sina Weibo commentator wrote. "They see the problems of their [government], and also recognize their own shortcomings."

"Of course there are issues with a two party system," mused another blogger. "But a one party dictatorship can really harm people." [South China Morning Post]

These critics are right. According to Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index, while the United States is the 19th least corrupt nation in the world, China ranks a lowly 80th. John Aziz

12:46 p.m. ET

The father of Captain Humayun Khan, a 27-year-old Muslim American soldier killed in Iraq in 2004, is the voice of Hillary Clinton's powerful new campaign ad. Donald Trump was widely criticized for attacking the soldier's parents, Khizr and Ghazala Khan, over the speech they delivered at the Democratic National Convention in July, when they challenged Trump to re-read the American constitution before proposing his infamous Muslim ban — with Khizr even going so far as to offer Trump his pocket-sized version from the convention stage.

In the minute-long spot, Khan's father Khizr recalled the sacrifice his son made in 2004. "He saw a suicide bomber approaching his camp," he said. "My son moved forward to stop the bomber when the bomb exploded. He saved everyone in his unit."

With tears in his eyes, Khizr asked Trump: "Would my son have a place in your America?" Watch it, below. Becca Stanek

12:34 p.m. ET
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Hillary Clinton will meet with Black Lives Matter activists in Cleveland on Friday, including DeRay Mckesson and Brittany Packnett. An aide told The Associated Press that Clinton and the activists will discuss how to "advance equity and opportunity in the African-American community."

Clinton sat with Black Lives Matter protesters around this same time last year for a conversation that Mckesson described as "tough," but "in the end I felt heard." Clinton has been met with suspicion by critics of former President Bill Clinton's 1994 crime bill, which contributed to high incarceration rates of black people for nonviolent crimes. Jeva Lange

12:18 p.m. ET
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David Duke, the former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, has earned enough support in the Louisiana Senate race to make it onto the debate stage, The Acadiana Advocate reports. The debate is to be held at Dillard University, a historically black university, on Nov. 2.

When Duke, 66, learned he would be invited to participate, he said it was "amazing" but that he is concerned about his safety: "Dillard is pretty supportive of Black Lives Matter, and I've been pretty critical of them," Duke said.

The debate cutoff was 5 percent in the polls; Duke eked in with 5.1 percent. Leading the race are Republican state treasurer John Kennedy with 24.2 percent and Democrat Foster Campbell, with 18.9 percent. In Louisiana, the top two candidates in the Nov. 8 primary will advance to a Dec. 10 runoff, regardless of their party affiliation.

Duke identifies as a Republican, and has endorsed Donald Trump — who has repeatedly disavowed him. Jeva Lange

12:17 p.m. ET

Powerful men are still not sold on the whole "workplace diversity" thing, apparently. Despite data showing that companies with a high percentage of female board directors routinely outperform male-dominated boards, a recent PwC survey found that just 24 percent of male directors believe board diversity improves a company's performance, compared to 89 percent of female directors. Similarly, only 38 percent of men think diversity improves board effectiveness, compared to 92 percent of women, the Washington Post reports.

Female directors currently hold just 20 percent of all board positions at S&P 500 companies. Kelly Gonsalves

12:01 p.m. ET

Young people apparently think cursing at work is effing cool. About two-thirds of millennial employees swear at work, according to a new survey of 1,500 American workers, and more than 40 percent said they prefer working in an environment where colleagues swear. About a third of millennials said cursing can even help strengthen a team, Bloomberg reports. To be fair, 58 percent of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers also admitted to dropping the occasional F-bomb while on the clock, but they were much more likely to report feeling guilty about "the taboo against bad language."

Another noteworthy finding from the study: Millennial women were the most likely demographic to let bad words slip (75 percent admitted to swearing in the workplace), and they were less bothered by foul mouths in the office than millennial men were. The Week Staff

11:44 a.m. ET
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A secret Nazi military base abandoned more than 70 years ago was recently rediscovered by Russian scientists, The Independent reported. The base, located in the Arctic island of Alexandra Land, served as a "tactical weather station" for the Nazis during World War II, when knowledge of the weather was vital to determining when to move troops, equipment, and ships. Because of the base's name — "Schatzgraber" or "Treasure Hunter" — some also think it was used for "the pursuit of ancient relics," The Independent reported.

The base is believed to have been built in 1942, the year after Adolf Hitler invaded Russia. However, the Nazis stationed there were forced to abandon the post in 1944 after they were poisoned by eating contaminated polar bear meat.

A German U-boat rescued the base's ill inhabitants, but left many supplies behind. Scientists have discovered bullets, shells, gas cans, and documents, all of which have been preserved well by the Arctic's frigid temperatures. Becca Stanek

11:09 a.m. ET
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After waiting five days to even acknowledge his Nobel Prize, Bob Dylan is already over it. The singer appears to have deleted the single sentence on his official website that stated he was a "winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature," which had marked Dylan's only public acknowledgement of the award since he was announced the winner last Thursday.

The sentence initially appeared in all caps atop a page promoting his new book of lyrics, The Lyrics: 1961-2012. Now, the nod is nowhere to be seen.

No reason was given for the blurb's removal, though perhaps its disappearance isn't so surprising given Dylan's silence on the award so far. Though Dylan performed a concert on the very day he was announced the winner, he didn't say anything about the prize. The Swedish Academy announced Monday it had given up trying to contact Dylan after numerous unsuccessful attempts to confirm his attendance at its banquet honoring the Nobel winners in December.

Dylan is the first songwriter to win the Nobel for literature, "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." Becca Stanek

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