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March 2, 2014

In 2012, legendary American novelist Phillip Roth announced that, after publishing nearly three dozen books over his illustrious career, he would retire from writing fiction. And in a new interview with the Swedish newspaper Svenska Dagbladet — published Sunday in The New York Times — Roth reflected on his life's work, its place in the American zeitgeist, and his plans for life after writing.

In the interview, Roth confirmed he'd recently reread all of his works, and delivered a "verdict" on his his own writing:

When I decided to stop writing about five years ago I did, as you say, sit down to reread the 31 books I'd published between 1959 and 2010. I wanted to see whether I'd wasted my time. You never can be sure, you know.

My conclusion, after I'd finished, echoes the words spoken by an American boxing hero of mine, Joe Louis. He was world heavyweight champion from the time I was 4 until I was 16. He had been born in the Deep South, an impoverished black kid with no education to speak of, and even during the glory of the undefeated 12 years, when he defended his championship an astonishing 26 times, he stood aloof from language. So when he was asked upon his retirement about his long career, Joe sweetly summed it up in just 10 words. "I did the best I could with what I had." [New York Times]

Head over to the Times to read the entire fascinating conversation. Jon Terbush

6:32 a.m. ET

On Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel asked Donald Trump a question from Bernie Sanders — a Trump-Sanders debate may arise out of it, seriously — and on Thursday's show, Kimmel asked Sanders a Trump question: "Dear Crazy Bernie, will you run [as] a third-party communist against Hillary, or are you a coward and a loser?" That wasn't the actual question, but what Trump really proposed was essentialy the same. "Bernie, you have been treated very unfairly," Trump began. "Will you run as an independent when Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and the Democratic Party bosses steal this nomination away from you?"

"Well, I think there's a little self-service there for Donald Trump," Sanders said. And then he poured on the sarcasm, finally ending with his final answer: "Tell him what I hope will happen is that, in fact, I will run against him as the Democratic nominee for president of the United States, and if I do, we're going to beat him, and beat him bad. You can tell him that." "I don't think I'll see him again," Kimmel replied. But if the debate really happens — and I'd say it won't, but who knows with this election? — Sanders can tell Trump himself. Peter Weber

5:41 a.m. ET

In a speech at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, President Obama called for an end to nuclear weapons. On June 6, 1945, Obama said, "death fell from the sky and the world was changed." When the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, and then Nagasaki, killing about 210,000 people and effectively ending World War II, the bomb "demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself."

"We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell," Obama said, "We listen to a silent cry." He did not apologize, but said the memory of Hiroshima "must never fade." He ended his speech with a call for "a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are not known as the dawn of atomic warfare, but as the start of our own moral awakening."

Obama is the first sitting U.S. president to visit Hiroshima. Before speaking, Obama laid a wreath at the monument, and afterward he met with survivors of the bombing. Obama also signed the guest book, and this is what he wrote: "We have known the agony of war. Let us now find the courage, together, to spread peace, and pursue a world without nuclear weapons." Peter Weber

4:46 a.m. ET

On Friday, President Obama landed in Hiroshima, making him the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city destroyed by a U.S. atomic bomb at the end of World War II. Obama has said he won't apologize for the bombing, which killed 100,000 people, mostly civilians, but on Friday he laid a wreath at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and also visited the more controversial museum, which mostly portrays Japan as a victim. Security is tight at the memorial park, but hundreds of people are lined up along Peace Boulevard, waving for Obama, The New York Times reports, including bombing survivors, a Buddhist monk, and families and office workers.

"Even if all he does is come here, that is enough," said Jitsuo Mizuta, 84, who survived the Hiroshima bombing. "I am so happy. I don't need any apology or anything." Peter Weber

4:25 a.m. ET

On Thursday's Late Show, Stephen Colbert had a little announcement: "Just today, Donald Trump received his 1,237th delegate, clinching the Republican nomination." He let that sink in a bit. "So, that's it," he said. "It's official. The die is cast. Trump's the nominee." Colbert laid down on the floor. Then he explained what put Trump over the top: really unenthusiastic Republican delegates agreeing to back the now-really-presumptive nominee. Seriously, the quote he read from a Pennsylvania delegate is hilariously cold — and Colbert reluctantly got off the floor to offer some suggestions to spice it up.

"But wait, there's more," Colbert said, bringing up the tentative debate between Trump and Bernie Sanders. The audience cheered. "I don't know why you're applauding," he said. "That's going to be two angry New Yorkers shouting at each other. It'll be like the whole country is trapped in a subway car." Colbert also noted that Trump's condition is raising somewhere near $15 million for a charity — and Colbert had a guess at the one Trump would choose. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:55 a.m. ET

On Wednesday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel got Donald Trump to agree to a debate with Democratic contender Bernie Sanders. On Thursday's show, Kimmel asked Sanders if he saw what he did for the Vermont senator. "You made it possible for us to have a very interesting debate about two guys who look at the world very, very differently," Sanders said. The Trump camp has gone back and forth on the debate, asking for payment that would go toward some charity. But if it happens, "that would be some debate," Kimmel said. "I mean, I really think it might be one of the highest-rated events in televisions history." Sanders nodded and said "the goal would be to have it in some big stadium here in California"

Kimmel noted that Hillary Clinton had decided not to debate Sanders, and asked him if he understood the political logic of Clinton's decision. Sanders said no. Then Kimmel played a clip of Clinton telling CNN's Chris Cuomo that she was going to be the nominee, and Sanders got a little animated, saying, "Just a pinch of arrogance there, I think." He acknowledged that he has to win really big in California and the other five states voting June 7 to catch Clinton in pledged delegates, then criticized superdelegates and pointed to polls showing him doing better against Trump than Clinton. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:05 a.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

On Thursday night, the House voted down an energy and water spending bill, 305-112, after Republicans held a private meeting to air grievances about an amendment approved Wednesday night to protect LGBT employees of federal contractors. That amendment passed, with 43 Republicans joining 180 Democrats, but only six Democrats voted to support the overall bill on Thursday. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) blamed Democrats for thwarting the annual spending bill, telling reporters the minority party was "looking to sabotage the appropriations process."

Democrats noted that Republicans had also added objectionable amendments to the bill, including ones on Iran's nuclear program, LGBT students, and blocking the Obama administration from punishing North Carolina for its anti-transgender bathroom bill. The embarrassing failure of the energy bill points to conflicting goals of Ryan's speakership: returning to the normal order of passing individual spending bills, and allowing House members to propose amendments on the House floor.

Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.) said he would continue offering his LGBT anti-discrimination measure, which evidently has majority support in the House. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) warned that the failure to pass the energy appropriation bill points toward another standoff on spending, or even a government shutdown, in the fall. "It's a terrible way to govern," he told The New York Times. Peter Weber

2:31 a.m. ET

"Hillary Clinton's email scandal is the story that just won't die," Seth Meyers said on Thursday's Late Night — or to use the preferred cable news analogy, Wednesday's State Department inspector general's report is just the latest "drip, drip, drip" in the ongoing investigation. "You know, if you're wondering why so many Democrats are attracted to Bernie Sanders, this is kind of why," Meyers said. "Bernie doesn't have any drip-drip-drips — which for a 74-year-old man, is pretty remarkable."

Clinton never sought permission to use a private email server, the report said, and failed to turn over all department-related emails before she left office — a process that would have involved printing out and filing each email, Meyers noted. "Ugh, the only way this scandal could be more boring is if Wolf Blitzer talked about it. Here, I'll prove it." But he dug up some interesting tidbits from the IG report, like that Clinton's emails were going to the spam folders of State Department employees. Will this change anything? "For Hillary supporters, yesterday's report probably won't seem too scandalous, whereas it's a bombshell to Hillary detractors" who already see her as untrustworthy, Meyers said. And if you get to the point about U.S. nuclear weapons being run using 1970s-era floppy disks, well, there's a reason for that. You can get up to speed on the Clinton emails below. Peter Weber

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