To understand why Sir Patrick Stewart — this year's Betty White — is affecting a Louisiana accent and trash-talking ObamaCare on Monday night's Colbert Report, first watch this lead-in from Stephen Colbert:
Having suggested that perhaps there are no real ObamaCare horror stories, Colbert brings on "actual Louisiana resident Chuck Duprey" to tell his own sob story:
The first part is perhaps more persuasive, but it's hard to beat Stewart at his clownish best. Peter Weber
Sea lions are adorable and entertaining until they pull small children into the harbor, millions of horrified viewers learned from a viral video this weekend. But Vancouver B.C. harbor officials don't blame the sea lion — instead, they're blasting the family of the girl who was dragged into the water Saturday for "reckless behavior," the Seattle Times reports.
Despite signs posted in the area warning visitors not to feed marine mammals, the little girl was feeding the sea lion bread when it grabbed her by her dress and pulled her into the water. The girl can be seen in the video being rescued by a man who dives in after her, and although shaken, she appears to walk away relatively unscathed. But Robert Kiesman, the chair of the Steveston Harbour Authority, expressed frustration over the incident. "You wouldn't go up to a grizzly bear in the bush and hand him a ham sandwich, so you shouldn't be handing a thousand-pound wild mammal in the water slices of bread," he said. "And you certainly shouldn't be letting your little girl sit on the edge of the dock with her dress hanging down after the sea lion has already snapped at her once. Just totally reckless behavior."
California sea lions might not quite weigh a thousand pounds, but they can get up to 860 pounds and "can do a lot of damage," Vancouver Aquarium marine mammal trainer Danielle Hyson said. "You saw [the sea lion] kind of initially lunge out of the water and give a little huff. That's what we would call an aggressive precursor," Hyson told The Vancouver Sun. "He's letting the people know that he's starting to get frustrated. And in that situation, the people should have backed off right away."
Hyson added a warning that many people are well aware of now: "They look like they're water dogs, but they absolutely are not." Jeva Lange
Trump interrupts mistake-free meeting with Netanyahu to declare he never mentioned 'the name Israel' to the Russians
President Trump on Monday landed in Israel and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has referred to Trump as a "true friend" of Israel.
Trump's friendship with the Jewish state is apparently so grounded, so pure, that he would never take its name in vain — or, say, mention it to Russian officials while disclosing classified intelligence that Israel had gathered. He interrupted his otherwise successful photo opportunity with Netanyahu to say so:
Trump: "Just so you understand, I never mentioned the word or the name Israel." https://t.co/Bkkh6us7Xr
— Daniella Diaz (@DaniellaMicaela) May 22, 2017
Trump had never been accused of revealing Israel by name as the source of the sensitive information; in fact, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster took to the White House lectern last week to defend Trump's disclosure by saying the president "wasn't even aware of where that information came from." Israeli officials had also declined to confirm that Israel had gathered the information Trump discussed with the Russians.
Rather, Trump was under fire for sharing the intelligence information in the first place — which, even if he did blab, he definitely didn't say the information was from Israel, who knows where it came from, and he decided to defend himself against that claim while standing next to the country's prime minister for some random and unrelated reason. Kimberly Alters
The Earth cracked open directly in front of Mar-a-Lago on Monday in Florida, but don't worry, the West Palm Beach Utilities distribution crews have secured the area. The 16-square-foot sinkhole is reportedly "in the vicinity of the newly installed water main."
This is not a picture of the actual sinkhole, but rather a prophetic cartoon rendering:
— Sur Plus (@otiose94) May 2, 2017
On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the gerrymandering of two North Carolina congressional district maps was done on racial grounds to yield a Republican advantage and was thus unconstitutional. The court ruled 8-0 to strike down the District 1 map and 5-3 to strike down the District 12 map, with Justices Samuel Alito, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justice Anthony Kennedy dissenting from the latter ruling, CNN reports. Justice Clarence Thomas joined the court's liberals on District 12 while Justice Neil Gorsuch did not participate, as the case was argued before he was confirmed to the court, Bloomberg reports.
Republicans have been accused of drawing districts to illegally concentrate black voters, who are typically liberal, and consequently make the surrounding districts more conservative, USA Today reports. The unconstitutional North Carolina congressional maps were used until the 2014 election, and the Supreme Court rulings uphold a new map that was ordered for 2016. Jeva Lange
When President Trump landed in Israel on Monday, he may have made history before even stepping off the plane. The Associated Press noted Monday that Trump's direct flight from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv may have been the first such trip ever made with no stops.
A spokesman for the Israel Airport Authority said he was not aware of any other direct flights from Saudi Arabia to Israel. The two nations do not have diplomatic relations, as Saudi Arabia does not recognize the Jewish state. While Trump, aboard Air Force One, made the trip without any layovers, even the plane carrying the White House press corps was required to make a technical stop in Cyprus before landing in Tel Aviv.
While neither Saudi Arabia nor Israel can explicitly weigh in on the president's travel plans, the direct flight "reflects the warming relationship between them," AP notes, adding that "the two countries have reportedly developed covert ties based on their shared concerns over Iran's growing regional influence."
President Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the Western Wall on Monday, spending a solemn moment in prayer before slipping a note inside.
American representatives had reportedly told Israeli officials not to join them at the wall: "This is in the West Bank. It is a private visit by the president, and it's not your business," Israeli TV reports a U.S. representative as saying. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not accompany Trump, first lady Melania Trump; his visibly moved daughter, Ivanka Trump; and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, joined the president on his visit.
The Western Wall, one of the holiest sites in both Judaism and Islam, is not officially recognized by the U.S. as being part of Israel. The Trump administration has refused to take a clear stance on the issue, with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster declining to take a position and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer saying the wall is "clearly in Jerusalem," a fact that is not in dispute. U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has said that while she doesn't know "the policy of the administration" she is a part of, "I believe the Western Wall is part of Israel."
Watch Trump's historic visit below. Jeva Lange
— ABC News (@ABC) May 22, 2017
The Trump administration has stymied a request from the Office of Government Ethics, moving to block its petition to reveal which federal employees are former lobbyists who were granted waivers to join the White House, The New York Times reported Monday. The request was made by Walter Shaub, the director of the Office of Government Ethics.
Shaub made his request on April 28, the Times reports, asking for a list of names of administration employees who'd received such a waiver, enabling them to accept a political appointment despite having worked as a lobbyist or private lawyer within the last two years. The rule against such appointments stems from an executive order President Trump signed in January to limit lobbyists joining government — similar to one signed by former President Barack Obama in 2009 — but the Trump administration has "hired them at a much higher rate than the previous administration," the Times notes.
On May 17, Shaub received a letter in response from White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, asking him to "stay the data call" and withdraw his request. Mulvaney questioned Shaub's legal standing to demand the information in the first place, writing, "This data call appears to raise legal questions regarding the scope of OGE's authorities." In a statement issued by the Office of Management and Budget on Sunday, the administration questioned Shaub's motives, saying the nature of his request "implies that the data being sought is not being collected to satisfy our mutual high standard of ethics."
While Trump, like Obama, reserves the right to issue the waivers, the Obama administration automatically made each waiver public and offered an explanation of why it was issued. "It is an extraordinary thing," Shaub told the Times of the White House's refusal to honor his request. "I have never seen anything like it." Read more at The New York Times. Kimberly Alters