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October 20, 2012

A Georgia pit bull (not pictured) who attacked a 5-year-old child has been given its own court-appointed lawyer. Judge William Woodrum Jr. ordered an attorney to represent the interests of the dog at a hearing to decide if it should be euthanized. "All I can tell you is that the judge appointed me," said lawyer Claude Kicklighter. "I really don't know what the issues are." 

  The Week Staff

6:26 p.m. ET
David Livingston/Getty Images

Happy Days star Erin Moran, who was found dead Saturday inside her Indiana home, "likely succumbed to complications of stage 4 cancer," the Harrison County sheriff and coroner said in a statement Monday.

They did not say what kind of cancer the actress, 56, had. Born in Burbank, California, in 1960, Moran first started playing Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days in 1974. After word spread of her death, she was remembered by many of her former co-stars, including Henry Winkler, who said she "will finally have the peace you wanted so badly here on Earth," and Ron Howard, who will always recall "you on our show making scenes better, getting laughs, and lighting up TV screens." Catherine Garcia

5:54 p.m. ET

If success is measured by whether or not you have an obscure animal species named after you, the British rock band Radiohead has officially made it. Following the likes of Bono, who has a spider named after him, and Lady Gaga, who has a family of ferns named after her, Radiohead has inspired the name of a newly discovered species of "fungus-farming ant," Mashable reported.

The ant, found in Venezuela's portion of the Amazon rainforest, has been christened Sericomyrmex radioheadi. And these Radiohead ants aren't your average ants: Part of the genus of "silky ants," the ant species can "grow its own food and is covered with a filamentous layer of white crystals," Live Science reported.

Scientists said they picked the name to honor Radiohead's music and the band's activism work. "[W]e wanted to acknowledge the conservation efforts of the band members, especially in raising climate change awareness," said Ana Ješovnik, the study's lead author. Becca Stanek

5:32 p.m. ET
JAY DIRECTO/AFP/Getty Images

New portions of President Trump's budget blueprint obtained by Foreign Policy have revealed what exactly could get the ax if Trump's plan to slash funding for foreign aid were to get the stamp of approval from Congress. Apparently, Trump is eyeing merging USAID — an agency that focuses on issues like "disease prevention and food security" — with the larger State Department.

The change is pegged as a part of the administration's effort to put "America first" and "pursue greater efficiencies through reorganization and consolidation," but Foreign Policy noted the move could prove "polarizing." Andrew Natsios, the former USAID administrator under former President George W. Bush, warned folding USAID into the State Department "will end the technical expertise of USAID" and "be an unmitigated disaster for the longer term."

"What you're basically doing is eviscerating the most important tool of American influence in the developing world, which is our development program," Natsios said.

USAID isn't the only program at risk of elimination. The budget plan also proposes slashing global health funding in 41 countries. The Bureau for Food Security could lose as much as 68 percent of its funding, and the State Department's Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs could say goodbye to nearly its entire budget.

The results could prove disastrous, experts warn. Some caution the cuts could curb U.S. influence abroad, put Americans "at risk in the event of a major epidemic," and even "pose concrete risks to U.S. security interests," Foreign Policy reported. "I've seen firsthand how U.S. development money saves millions of lives," said Tom Kenyon, CEO of the global health nonprofit Project Hope. "There's just no question people would die from this."

Read more on the specifics of Trump's plans at Foreign Policy. Becca Stanek

3:04 p.m. ET

And you thought American politics were the wild west. Meet Daniel Delomez, the mayor of the town of Annezin in northern France. Delomez is so mad that 38 percent of his local electorate voted for far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in Sunday's presidential election that he says he might step down, he told French publication L'Avenir de l'Artois.

"It is catastrophic," Delomez said. "It's possible that I will step down as I do not want to dedicate my life to assholes."

Delomez belongs to the Socialist Party; far-left candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon received the second highest amount of votes in Annezin, after Le Pen. Le Pen will face centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron in a two-way run-off election in May.

"Well done," one person applauded Delomez, as reported by The Independent. "He makes me feel better about humanity." Jeva Lange

2:43 p.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The United States embassy in the U.K. is apparently promoting President Trump's "winter White House" on its official webpage, sparking renewed concerns about Trump's potential conflicts of interest. "Trump is not the first president to have access to Mar-a-Lago as a Florida retreat, but he is the first one to use it," reads the article, which was originally published on ShareAmerica, the Department of State's "platform for sharing compelling stories and images that spark discussion and debate on important topics like democracy, freedom of expression, innovation, entrepreneurship, education, and the role of civil society."

"By visiting this 'winter White House,' Trump is belatedly fulfilling the dream of Mar-a-Lago's original owner and designer," the article goes on, claiming its builder, Marjorie Merriweather Post, "willed the estate to the U.S. government, intending it to be used as a winter White House for the U.S. president to entertain visiting foreign dignitaries."

Hillary Clinton's former national spokesman, Josh Schwerin, criticized the webpage on Twitter: "The State Department is spending money to promote Mar-a-Lago," he tweeted. "Can we really continue to ask a coal miner in [West Virginia] or a single mom in Detroit to pay for promoting Mar-a-Lago?"

The Mar-a-Lago club's initiation fee doubled to $200,000 after Trump was elected, and Trump's frequent visits have been criticized as a potential conflict of interest by many observers. "Trump has an incentive to host an event at Mar-a-Lago (personal financial gain) that runs directly counter to what would be best for the country's security (hosting the event at the White House or an otherwise secure location)," writes The Atlantic. "Not only that, part of the appeal of Mar-a-Lago is that guests will have a front-row ticket to see Trump at work." Jeva Lange

2:00 p.m. ET
NICOLAS MAETERLINCK/AFP/Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin announced at Monday's White House press briefing that the U.S. has issued new economic sanctions against Syria in response to the deadly chemical attack there earlier this month. The sanctions will be imposed on 271 individuals who work for the Syrian Scientific Studies and Research Center, the Syrian government agency that is believed to be responsible for developing chemical weapons.

Many of the individuals facing sanctions are "experts in chemistry and related fields" or people who have worked "in support of the center's 'chemical weapons program' since at least 2012, or both," Reuters reported. "We intend to hold the Assad regime accountable for its unacceptable behavior," Mnuchin said, noting the new sanctions send a "strong message."

The April 4 attack, which the Trump administration has blamed on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, killed nearly 100 people, including children. The U.S. responded days later with a missile strike. Becca Stanek

1:59 p.m. ET
Win McNamee/Getty Images

In the beginning, there was Hollywood. Long before Stephen Bannon ever joined President Trump in the White House as chief strategist, the conservative firebrand navigated the glitz and glam of Southern California no less conspiratorially than he did his later tenure at the helm of Breitbart.

Bannon's films weren't exactly Finding Dory; think more along the lines of documentaries about eugenics, Hitler, and clones. But in 2005, he seemed "emblematic of a new wave in Hollywood, a group that intends to clean those media pipes with pictures that promote godliness, Pax Americana, and its own view of family values," The New York Times' James Ulmer wrote in a profile of Bannon.

Looking back at those conversations now, though, Ulmer admitted to The New Yorker that Bannon was a little strange:

In the Times article, Ulmer said that Bannon had told him, "We're the peasants with the pitchforks storming the lord's manor." Ulmer recalled, "He was always making these grand, hyperbolic analogies between good and evil, the culture of life versus the scourge of death that, in his view, Hollywood had become. Hollywood was the great Satan."

Ulmer met with Bannon at his Santa Monica office, where Bannon had written the names of some recent movie releases on a whiteboard. Ulmer reported that Bannon had said, "On Ash Wednesday, The Passion of the Christ is released theatrically, and on Sunday, Lord of the Rings — a great Christian allegory — wins 11 Academy Awards. So here you have Sodom and Gomorrah bowing to the great Christian God." Ulmer recalled, "I was watching him draw all these configurations and connecting lines about the Beast and Satan, and half of my brain was saying, 'This guy's a comic stitch,' and the other, 'He's really off the deep end.'" [The New Yorker]

Read the full report of Bannon's time in Hollywood at The New Yorker. Jeva Lange

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