March 4, 2013

Second-grader Josh Welch's creative eye may have gotten the best of him. On March 1, the 7-year-old Baltimore student was trying to sculpt his morning Pop-Tart into a mountain using his teeth marks, but when he was done, he said the pastry "turned out to be a gun kinda." When a nearby teacher heard the boy say "bang bang" and reported him to authorities, Welch was immediately sent home, his Pop-Tart confiscated, and he was suspended for two days. Officially, the school says the boy was suspended for using food "to make inappropriate gestures."  Lauren Hansen

8:07 a.m. ET

There is actually a red button on the president's Oval Office desk, but contrary to any Cold War movie you've ever seen, it does not immediately launch America's arsenal of nukes. In fact, President Trump presses it all the time — whenever he wants a Coke.

A man accustomed to wealth and its trappings, Trump has embraced life in the Executive Mansion, often regaling guests with trivia about the historic decor. With the push of a red button placed on the Resolute Desk that presidents have used for decades, a White House butler soon arrived with a Coke for the president. [The Associated Press]

Bloomberg Businessweek's Joshua Green points out that this is, at least, more polite than the alternative:

Besides being a big fan of Coke (but not diet Coke!), Trump has a few similarities with the bubbly beverage himself. Read about how Trump could wind up the "New Coke" of presidents here at The Week. Jeva Lange

7:27 a.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

The White House released a blistering statement Tuesday in response to a federal judge's decision to temporarily block President Trump's executive order that threatens to cut off government funding for sanctuary cities. "Today, the rule of law suffered another blow, as an unelected judge unilaterally rewrote immigration policy for our nation," it began.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco ruled that the plaintiffs, San Francisco and Santa Clara County, would likely be able to prove Trump's order unconstitutional. Orrick wrote in the preliminary injunction that the president "has no authority to attach new conditions to federal immigration spending."

The White House doesn't see it that way, though. Arguing the illegality of cities refusing to send relevant information to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, the statement claimed "these cities are engaged in the dangerous and unlawful nullification of federal law in an attempt to erase our borders."

Aware of his looming 100-day symbolic deadline, President Trump is now facing his second bruising defeat by a federal judge as his immigration ban on several majority-Muslim countries was also repeatedly blocked for being unconstitutional. The president responded by lashing out at the order on Twitter, going as far as to criticize the U.S. legal system as "messy." "First the Ninth Circuit rules against the ban [and] now it hits again on sanctuary cities — both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!" he said. Orrick does not sit on the 9th circuit.

The White House added: "San Francisco, and cities like it, are putting the well-being of criminal aliens before the safety of our citizens, and those city officials who authored these policies have the blood of dead Americans on their hands. This San Francisco judge's erroneous ruling is a gift to the criminal gang and cartel element in our country, empowering the worst kind of human trafficking and sex trafficking, and putting thousands of innocent lives at risk." Read the full statement at BuzzFeed News. Jeva Lange

7:24 a.m. ET

Amid U.S.-North Korean tensions so high that defense analysts warn one misstep could lead to war, all 100 senators are meeting at the White House Wednesday afternoon for a special, unusual briefing on North Korea from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, intelligence chief Dan Coats, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It isn't clear if President Trump will attend at all, though a senior administration official told CNN "if he attends — which is not determined — it will just be a brief drop-by."

The briefing was arranged by the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and several senators seem unclear why they are traveling down the street on a fleet of busses instead of meeting at the Capitol. "That meeting is a Senate meeting led by Leader McConnell, just utilizing our space," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday. "We're not there to talk strategy." A McConnell spokesman said President Trump offered the auditorium at the Eisenhower Office Building when McConnell requested a briefing. "I, frankly, don't understand why it's not easier to bring four people here than it is to take 100 there," said Sen. Angus King (I-Maine).

A U.S. nuclear submarine docked in South Korea on Tuesday, the same day North Korea conducted its largest-ever live-fire military exercises to mark the anniversary of its military founding. The USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group is headed toward the Korean peninsula, and on Wednesday, the U.S. began setting up the U.S. Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system in South Korea, and is conducting a previous scheduled Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile test from California. "The real question now is somebody going to make a stupid mistake, because some kind of minor escalation could get out of hand," Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation, told CNN. You can watch part of the North Korean exercises and a live report from CNN's Will Ripley in Pyongyang below. Peter Weber

6:16 a.m. ET
Clemens Bilan - Pool /Getty Images

A day before Ivanka Trump flew to Berlin to talk about empowering women economically, the Fair Labor Association apparel industry monitoring group released an audit of a Chinese clothing factory used by the exclusive maker of Trump's clothing line. The report found that the factory's 80 workers were regularly required to work 57 hours a week, earning between $63 and $70 a week to knit clothes for Trump's contractor, G-III Apparel Group. That wages are low and overtime requirements too high for Chinese law. The audit also found 24 violations of international labor standards at the factory. G-III has held the exclusive license to make Trump's clothes — $158 dresses, $79 blouses — since 1992, The Washington Post reports.

An independent monitoring group, SMT-Global, conducted the two-day audit of the unidentified Chinese G-III factory in October, and the report did not say if the factory was making Ivanka Trump clothes at the time; G-III also makes apparel for Tommy Hilfinger, Cavlin Klein, and other brands, at factories throughout Asia and South America. Most of Ivanka Trump's clothes are made in China. Since October, G-III factories have shipped more than 110 tons of Ivanka-brand clothes to the U.S. Trump — who has "sought to cast herself as both a champion of workplace issues and a defender of her father's 'buy American, hire American' agenda," The Washington Post says — gave up management in her company but retains sole ownership. Peter Weber

5:18 a.m. ET

The Late Show doesn't always cover global events, "but you see the news, it's a dangerous world," Stephen Colbert said Tuesday night. "Every day, tensions are rising between the United States and our sworn enemy, Canada: Cold Mexico, the Great White North Korea." On Monday night, Trump announced that he was slapping a 20 percent tariff on Canadian softwood lumber. "As far as I know, this is the first time anyone has rejected Justin Trudeau's wood," Colbert joked, noting Canada's relatively fiery response. "For those keeping score at home, Trump is now a friend of Putin and an enemy of poutine."

"That's Donald Trump on the international stage — rare, because since becoming president, Donald Trump has not left the country; he's barely left the country club," Colbert said. But he did send daughter Ivanka to Berlin on Tuesday to attend a women's conference, "making her the first Trump to attend a women's conference that didn't include a swimsuit competition." She was not greeted warmly, at least when she mentioned her father. But things aren't going great for Ivanka back home, either, he said. "They've had trouble moving Ivanka's line of clothing, so they secretly relabeled it as Adrianne Vittadini. That's how unpopular the Trump name is right now: her clothing has been put in the witness protection program." He suggested the entire Trump White House could undergo a similar rebranding. Meet President Enrico Vittadini below. Peter Weber

4:32 a.m. ET
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

President Trump's White House is a flurry of activity as it pushes to chalk up tangible achievements before Trump hits 100 days in office on Saturday, and on Wednesday, Trump will sign executive orders on education and public lands. One of the orders will instigate an Interior Department review of all national monuments designated by his predecessors since 1996, with a perceived goal of opening more protected public lands to drilling, logging, and mining; the other will order Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to study how the federal government "has unlawfully overstepped state and local control," a White House official tells The Washington Post.

On Friday, Trump will sign yet another executive order, this one seeking to lift bans on offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans put in place by former President Barack Obama, The New York Times reports. It will order Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to study an Obama mandate to block offshore drilling in those waters through 2022, and call for a repeal of a permanent ban on drilling in Arctic and Atlantic areas Obama enacted in December 2016, using a provision of the 1953 Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act. It isn't clear how much any of Trump's orders will accomplish.

DeVos already has the necessary authority to reverse Obama-era guidance to public schools and universities on a range of issues, as she has already done by pulling back protections for transgender students. Likewise, Trump is able to cancel Obama's temporary ban on drilling in the Arctic and southern Atlantic Coast, pending litigation. But since Teddy Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act, no president has reversed the designation of a national monument. "The Antiquities Act language does not include any authority for presidents to rescind or modify a national monument created by predecessors," Mark Squillace, an expert on natural resources law at the University of Colorado Law School, tells The New York Times. "That authority is limited to Congress." And Trump faces similarly uncharted waters with Obama's permanent ban on drilling.

The eventual outcomes may not be the most important thing to Trump this week, The Washington Post suggests. "In many ways, Trump, more than any modern president before him, runs his White House like a television drama, believing that sometimes projecting an image of energy and progress is as important, if not more so, than the reality," and this week, "doing something, anything, is better than the perception of stagnation." Peter Weber

3:59 a.m. ET

The Late Show has been following the custody battle between Alex Jones and his ex-wife in an Austin courtroom, and on Tuesday's show, Stephen Colbert caught viewers up on the latest developments. But the battle for his children isn't the only fight Jones is waging. "Alex Jones' brand of fact-free truth-telling has been making him some enemies, like the powerful cabal known as Chobani yogurt," which is suing Jones for claiming that their plant in Idaho has been spreading "crime and tuberculosis" in Twin Falls, Colbert noted. "To be fair, Crime & Tuberculosis is one of Chobani's least favorite flavors — still better than pomegranate."

Jones is angry about the suit, and threatened Chobani on-air. "Take note, Alex Jones listeners — he just volunteered for you to fistfight a yogurt factory," Colbert said. But still, he feigned sympathy for Jones, due to his similar right-wing radio persona, Tuck Buckford, having faced some of the same problems. He played a clip, and The Late Show writers have been doing their homework. "George Soros doesn't want you to know the real value of yogurt, okay?" Tuck Buckford yelled. "That it's a natural protein-rich gamma ray shield to keep the Clinton Foundation from reading your dreams." Then things got messy: "You can't get in here, John Podesta, okay? You can't put yogurt on a pizza." Watch below. Peter Weber

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