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March 11, 2014
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No matter how enticingly viral it may sound, you really shouldn't tweet a picture of your dog doing a keg stand: Two college students in upstate New York were charged with torturing and injuring an animal after they tweeted a photo of themselves holding a black Labrador Retriever upside down to make it appear that it was doing a keg stand.

Police say Shane Oliver held the dog to make it look like the pooch was allegedly drinking beer while Robert Yates took the picture and posted it online during an off-campus event at the College at Brockport, near Rochester. The police got wind of the incident after they spotted the photo on a SUNY Party Stories Twitter account. The puppy's owner reportedly wasn't home when the incident occurred, and the dog was taken to the local animal shelter in good condition.

The students will appear in court April 2 and will face disciplinary actions from the college. Jordan Valinsky

10:30 a.m. ET

Is Time secretly trolling Donald Trump with its Person of the Year cover? Some people think so. After the magazine announced the designation for the president-elect early Wednesday morning, Twitter users began to notice sneaky design choices that draw not-so-flattering comparisons:

Then there is that other person of the year:

And while we're at it, doesn't the triangle formed by the space between the arms of the "Y" in "year" looks suspiciously like an inverted Illuminati pyramid? The truth is out there, people. Jeva Lange

10:24 a.m. ET
EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images

America's longest-serving governor is reportedly leaving his post to become U.S. ambassador to China. Multiple sources have reported that President-elect Donald Trump has offered Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) the position, and that Branstad has accepted.

Already, Trump has ruffled feathers in China by speaking over the phone last week to the president of Taiwan. Beijing considers Taiwan to be a province of the mainland, and the U.S. has long avoided officially recognizing Taiwan as independent of China. The president-elect was also critical of China throughout the presidential election, and he continued his critique Sunday on Twitter, prompting several Chinese state media outlets to publish disapproving editorials.

Branstad's appointment, however, may "help to ease trade tensions between" the U.S. and China, Reuters reported. Branstad has called Chinese President Xi Jinping a "long-time friend," and Xi has paid a visit to Iowa. When rumors of Branstad's appointment surfaced Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang called Branstad an "old friend" of the country and said China would "welcome him to play a greater role in advancing the development of China-U.S. relations," Bloomberg reported.

Branstad spokesman Ben Hammes has not confirmed reports, which he called "premature." If Branstad were to leave his post as governor after six terms, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds would likely assume the role, becoming Iowa's first female governor. Becca Stanek

9:43 a.m. ET
MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images

While two-thirds of Americans think President-elect Donald Trump needs to draw a clear line between his business and his presidential duties, most don't think he needs to resort to selling his business to do so. A Bloomberg Politics poll released Wednesday revealed that 69 percent of Americans "believe it goes too far to force him and his family to sell their business empire to avoid conflicts of interest." Only 26 percent think Trump should sell his business.

Many experts, however, think Trump needs to do more than just hand his business over to his children if he wants to steer clear of potential conflicts of interest. In an editorial published last month, The Wall Street Journal argued Trump's should "liquidate his stake" in the Trump organization, otherwise "political damage to a new administration could be extensive." Bloomberg View editor Tim O'Brien also made the case for why Trump should sell his business — a move O'Brien argued would be surprisingly easy to make.

At this point, 51 percent of Americans say they're confident Trump will "put the nation's best interests ahead of his family's finances when he deals with foreign leaders." Trump is planning a Dec. 15 news conference to discuss the topic, and he's already indicated on Twitter that he'll be leaving his "great business in total" to focus on being commander-in-chief, though selling doesn't seem to be part of the plan.

The Bloomberg poll was conducted among 999 Americans from Dec. 2-5. Its margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points. Becca Stanek

9:27 a.m. ET

Reporter Asma Khalid covered the intersection of demographics and politics for NPR during the 2016 presidential campaign, a job that became increasingly difficult as an identifiably Muslim woman. "Through tears, I told [my editor] that if I had known my sheer existence — just the idea of being Muslim — would be a debatable issue in the 2016 election, I would never have signed up to do this job," Khalid writes in a powerful essay describing her experience on the campaign trail.

Khalid, who grew up in Indiana, goes on to explain that her ability "to [make] white folks feel comfortable" was one of the most valuable tools for her work:

So, for example, whenever the Pledge of Allegiance was recited at a GOP event, regardless of whether I was balancing a laptop on my knees, a notebook in one hand and a microphone in the other, I instinctively stood up.

I noticed — sometimes — my fellow journalists didn't stand; they would finish the email they were writing. But I also knew I couldn't afford to give the people in the room any more reason to doubt me.

Later, with some of these same voters, I would share stories about how the pledge was recited every week in my school. And they would trust me a little bit more than before. [NPR]

But while "I always tried to understand their fears," Khalid writes, "so many times, this empathy felt like a one-way street." Read her entire essay, including the incident that made her realize empathy isn't always reciprocated, at NPR. Jeva Lange

8:33 a.m. ET

When Donald Trump was given the designation of being Time's Person of the Year on Wednesday morning, he gushed about the "great honor," saying, "I've been lucky enough to be on the cover [of Time] many times this year, and last year."

As it turns out, Time's Trump covers tell their own sort of story — one that reflects Trump's unexpected victory on Nov. 8 and the about-face many critics have had to execute in order to take the former reality show host seriously as the next president of the United States.

It only takes three covers of Time to get the picture. Jeva Lange

8:12 a.m. ET

Pakistan International Airlines reports that one of its planes "disappeared" after it took off Wednesday afternoon from the northern city of Chitral on its way to Islamabad. The plane had more than 40 people on board and lost contact with the civil aviation authority around 4:30 p.m. local time, The Independent reports.

Local media reports that the plane crashed near a village and that rescuers are attempting to make their way to the site. Pakistan's interior ministry has reportedly dispatched a team of forensic experts who work with DNA to identify bodies. Jeva Lange

7:56 a.m. ET

Today show host Matt Lauer put the heat on Donald Trump during the president-elect's Time Person of the Year interview Wednesday morning. Lauer pressed Trump on everything from why he reportedly sold his stock holdings last June to questioning why Trump just can't seem to stop watching Saturday Night Live.

"You seem to understand that perhaps having fights on Twitter would not be appropriate for the president," Lauer said at one point. "I have not seen you backing off fights on Twitter. In the time since you were elected, you've targeted the cast of Hamilton, The New York Times, China, Boeing, the media, and SNL."

Trump was on the defensive throughout — perhaps even a little unexpectedly, as he had started the interview off by calling the Time designation a "great honor." Watch Lauer keep Trump on his toes, below. Jeva Lange

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