Richard Bloom, a California lawmaker, is still so shaken from his viewing of the SeaWorld-shaming documentary Blackfish that the Democrat is proposing a bill that would outlaw whale shows at amusement parks. He said there is "no justification for the continued captive display of orcas for entertainment purposes," because the animals are too smart and too big to be forced to perform for the entirety of their lives.
The proposed bill, written by Bloom, contains three objectives: Prohibit the import and export of the animals, end captive breeding, and put a stop to the killer whale performances, which are SeaWorld's central attraction. Whales would still be allowed to be on display in aquariums where they aren't forced to amuse an audience.
Since Blackfish's debut on CNN, SeaWorld has been fighting allegations that it mistreats its killer whales, and calls the film nothing more than "propaganda." Jordan Valinsky
The New Yorker's dandy monocled mascot, "Eustace Tilley," got a makeover worthy of the Trump Era for the cover of next week's issue.
World, meet "Eustace Vladimirovich Tilley" — and you might need to brush up on your Russian while you're at it. Jeva Lange
— Lincoln Michel (@TheLincoln) February 24, 2017
President Trump is set to take the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. While Trump pulled out of speaking at the conference in 2016 at the last minute, he addressed the group in 2011, only to be booed for claiming Sen. Ron Paul could not get elected, and also spoke at the conference in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon teased Trump's speech to the crowd Thursday, hinting that the theme would be "appreciation," Fox News reports.
Others are looking to Trump's speech as a signpost of what to expect from his administration. "Trump may either accomplish more than Republican presidents did in terms of a conservative agenda, despite all the chaos and drama … or he will redefine conservatism," Rick Tyler, a GOP strategist, told NPR. "The movement is at a crossroads, and it remains a known unknown where it is going." Trump speaks at 10 a.m. and will be broadcast live on C-SPAN and cable news channels. Jeva Lange
Those Republicans who dutifully opted to meet with their constituents this week have gotten an earful from people angry about President Trump, his tax returns, the push to repeal ObamaCare and other issues. Many of these lawmakers, along with the Trump administration, explained the anger by claiming that the people packing town hall events are paid or otherwise organized leftist agitators from outside their districts.
Democrats tried a similar defense in 2009 when their town hall events were flooded with angry conservatives, and they paid a steep cost in the 2010 midterm elections. In 2017, many of the people filling up the Republican town halls are "first-timers who echo in passion, though not in politics, the people who emerged early in the Tea Party movement in 2009," The Wall Street Journal reports, based on interviews at town halls around he U.S. "Most said they had never participated in a town hall or any political activism and had only recently joined or started local groups."
Blaming outsiders has its appeal, though, and on Wednesday, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), told CNN that "a little bit less than one-third in the room" at her town hall on Tuesday were from her 7th congressional district. She repeated the claim on Thursday evening to CNN's Wolf Blitzer, who pressed her on how she'd arrived at that conclusion. Blackburn said she had been given the estimate by "people that were there that were watching the crowd and watching people come in," plus second-hand overheard line chatter and the number of cars in the parking lot with out-of-state plates. She seemed annoyed by the insistence on proof, accusing Blitzer of being "hung up on the percentages."
Blackburn's office similarly declined Thursday to identify for The Tennessean the officials who has purportedly given the congresswoman the one-third figure, and Fairview city officials said they did not check residency, just that the person had reserved a spot. When Mayor Patti Carroll took a poll at the beginning of the town hall, almost everyone said they lived in the district. A list of attendees obtained by annoyed Fairview residents shows at least a solid majority of Blackburn's audience lives in her district.
One attendee, Rusty Gordon, told Raw Story that only the media was allowed to park in the lot, explaining the out-of-state plates. He also said only people who could prove they lived in the district were allowed to register for the event, an account backed up by The New York Times' Trip Gabriel but disputed by city officials. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert began Thursday night's Late Show monologue with CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference taking place outside Washington. At CPAC on Thursday, White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus put on a buddy-comedy act to show that, "contrary to what we know to be true, Priebus and Bannon get along just fine," Colbert said. Priebus lauded Bannon's collars, and Bannon barely "caught himself before he went full Mussolini there. Now Bannon just has to resist talking about his kampf," Colbert said.
"Donald Trump said last night transgender students can't use the bathrooms they want to use," Colbert continued, noting that Trump's anti-transgender directive is weird because on the campaign trail, people believed that "when it came to stuff like this, Trump seemed to be cool with whatever." In any case, "according to the administration, this wasn't about persecuting any group, it was strictly a legal concern," Colbert said, though he found the administration's "states' rights" argument an unpersuasive cop-out — if, admittedly, a useful one. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly pushed hard for the transgender protection reversal, while Education Secretary Betsy DeVos initially balked because it could lead to violence against kids. "So Betsy DeVos knew it would harm children, and did it anyway to save her job," Colbert said, icily. "How does she sleep at night? I'll let the states decide."
Colbert had some fun with a Politico article in which Trump campaign aides explained how they kept Trump off of Twitter — by soothing him with positive news and praise, essentially, even getting friendly news outlets to write articles just to calm Trump's nerves. "So his staff would use Fox and Breitbart to plant news?" Colbert asked. "That is... fake... Gosh, I wish there was a term for that. Oh, I know what it is, I know what it is: It's prostitution."
"Of course, being in the entertainment business, I have no experience with using flattery to manipulate someone — and my staff says it is one of my best qualities," Colbert said. "I'm going to try to do my part to keep Trump off Twitter right now. So, White House staffers, the next time the president thinks he hasn't been getting enough praise, please show him this news clip." Watch below. Peter Weber
Caitlyn Jenner has a very public heart-to-heart with President Trump over his transgender 'disaster'
There are an estimated 149,750 transgender teenagers in the U.S. — or 1 out of every 137 kids age 13 to 17 — according to a new study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, and Caitlyn Jenner addressed them first in a video she posted online Thursday night. "You're winning," she told them, even though "it doesn't feel like it today, or any day." Next she addressed "the bullies," telling them, "you're sick," and because "you're weak, you pick on kids, you pick on women, or anyone else you think is vulnerable."
In this "bully" category, Jenner put Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who reportedly steamrolled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos into signing off on President Trump's reversal of former President Barack Obama's federal protections for transgender students, advising schools to let kids use the bathroom and locker room that matches their gender identitiy. "Apparently, even becoming the attorney general isn't enough to cure some people of their insecurities," Jenner said. Her final message was to Trump himself, "from one Republican to another. This is a disaster, and you can still fix it. You made a promise to protect the LGBTQ community. Call me."
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) February 24, 2017
Jenner, a former Olympian and Kardashian who is one of the most famous transgender women in the world, supported Trump in the presidential election — and, very publicly, used the women's bathroom in Trump Tower at his invitation — and people were very quick to remind her of that fact on social media. Stephen Colbert, who did not support Trump, had his own short message for Trump on transgender rights on Thursday night. You can watch it below. Peter Weber
On Thursday, prosecutors in Kansas charged Adam Purinton, 51, with one count of first-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder for the shooting of three people at a crowded bar in Olanthe, just outside Kansas City, on Wednesday night. A bartender at Austins Bar and Grill said Purinton used "racial slurs" before he allegedly shot Srinivas Kuchibhotla, 32, and Alok Madasani, 32, both aviation engineers at a local Garmin plant and both originally from India. At least one witness told The Kansas City Star that Purinton yelled for them to "get out of my country" before he pulled out a gun and began firing.
Kuchibhotla died in the hospital; Madasani and Ian Grillot, a 24-year-old Austins regular who stepped in to stop Purinton, are in stable condition. Purinton left the bar on foot and was arrested around midnight at an Applebees in Clinton, Missouri, some 70 miles away. He told an Applebees bartender that he needed a place to hide out because he had just killed two Middle Eastern men, The Star reports, and the bartender quietly called police, who arrested Purinton without incident. In court Thursday, he did not contest extradition to Kansas; bond was set at $2 million.
The FBI is working with Olanthe police to determine if this was a hate crime, but Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said investigators have not yet determined a motive for the shooting. "We're less than 24 hours in," he said at a news conference Thursday afternoon. "We want to be sure of the facts versus speculation." You can learn more about the victims at The Kansas City Star, and more about the case — which is reportedly being watched very closely in India — in the ABC News report below. Peter Weber
Ashley, a one-year-old pit bull, was found emaciated and living in squalor, but her spirit was never broken.
Erica Mahnken of the No More Pain dog rescue found Ashley in a Staten Island drug den, and asked friends working at a fire station on Manhattan's Lower East Side if they could keep Ashley for a few days while she found her a home. "As soon as we walked her in there everyone loved her," Mahnken told Inside Edition. "She was jumping on everyone and licking everybody."
The firefighters quickly decided they wanted her to stay with them permanently, and now a healthy and happy Ashley spends her days hanging out at the station with her new family. The firefighters document Ashley's life on her own Instagram account, and Mahnken says she is "just thankful they were able to take her, because God knows where she'd be." Catherine Garcia