July 10, 2015

Soon the Diet Pepsi you purchase at the grocery store will be aspartame free. But you'll still be able to buy the old formula online.

On Thursday, Pepsi Co. Chief Executive Indra Nooyi said the company will sell the aspartame-filled version on the internet so fans can still get their fix. U.S. diet soda consumption fell 5.9 percent last year, Beverage Digest reports, as more and more Americans shun drinks with aspartame for health reasons. That's part of the reason why Pepsi kicked aspartame to the curb, replacing it with a different zero-calorie sweetener, sucralose. It's a "very, very good product," Nooyi said, and will hit shelves by late August.

Although soda is very expensive to ship due to its weight, Pepsi and Coca-Cola both recently decided to give the online market a try, and have been quietly peddling low-volume products that don't have huge followings, The Wall Street Journal reports. Catherine Garcia

10:58 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Lexington, Kentucky, is poised to be the next Charlottesville as white nationalists have announced plans to protest the removal of two Confederate statues from outside the former Fayette County Courthouse, the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. But protesters won't be acting with any approval from their senator, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.): "The white supremacist, KKK, and neo-Nazi groups who brought hatred and violence to Charlottesville are now planning a rally in Lexington," McConnell said in a statement Wednesday. "Their messages of hate and bigotry are not welcome in Kentucky and should not be welcome anywhere in America."

Throughout his career, McConnell has demonstrated a "longstanding commitment to civil rights legislation," The New York Times writes. McConnell was one of first Republican voices to call for the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the South Carolina capital in 2015, although he was more hesitant about removing monuments, claiming: "One thing I am not in favor of erasing is our history. The Civil War was a part of our history and there were actually good people on both sides of that war."

On Wednesday, though, he made himself clear. "We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred," McConnell said. "There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head." Jeva Lange

10:38 a.m. ET
Helen Sloan/courtesy of HBO

HBO accidentally posted the upcoming episode of Game of Thrones four days early. For "a brief time" Tuesday, the sixth episode of Season 7, slated to air Sunday, was available online in Spain and in Nordic countries, HBO acknowledged in a statement. Of course, the episode was promptly circulated on Reddit and posted on YouTube and other streaming services before HBO quickly took it down.

This time, the slip up was HBO's fault — not leakers'. In a statement, HBO said that the upcoming Game of Thrones episode was "accidentally posted" on the HBO Nordic and HBO España platforms. "The error appears to have originated with a third-party vendor and the episode was removed as soon as it was recognized. This is not connected to the recent cyber incident at HBO in the U.S.," HBO said.

HBO was referring to a recent breach in which hackers claim to have stolen 1.5 terabytes of information from the network, including, allegedly, unreleased TV series and proprietary files. On top of that leak, four people were arrested this week in India for leaking the fourth episode of Season 7 two days before its scheduled broadcast two weeks ago. Becca Stanek

10:13 a.m. ET

President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has black friends — lots of them! So many, in fact, that on Wednesday he decided to post a collage of photos with people like Omarosa Manigault and Diamond and Silk, just in case anyone thinks his association with Trump makes him "a racist."

New York's Olivia Nuzzi reached out to Cohen to confirm he had "seriously just [made] a collage of pictures of you with black people to prove you're not racist":

Pushed by Nuzzi, Cohen added: "I know President Trump and his heart. He is a good man and doesn't have a racist bone in his body. All morning I am receiving horrific comments about being anti-black, racist, etc … for supporting Trump. Wrong!"

After all, Trump has black friends too. Jeva Lange

9:44 a.m. ET

What Fox & Friends anchor Abby Huntsman seemingly envisioned as a debate between the right and the left over the removal of Confederate monuments instead became a teary-eyed condemnation of President Trump's remarks about the recent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Democratic political analyst Wendy Osefo spoke first on Wednesday's episode of Fox & Friends, and she refused to reduce the discussion to the debate over Confederate statues. "It's beyond a monument. This is about hatred. This is about white supremacy," Osefo said. She noted how unsettling it was to hear the president not directly condemn white nationalists, but instead blame "both sides" for the violence.

Huntsman turned to Republican political analyst Gianno Caldwell for his opinion, echoing Trump's argument that there are "good people on both sides" and wondering how we can learn from history "if we tear everything down." But Caldwell didn't take the bait. "You know, I come today with a very heavy heart. Last night I couldn't sleep at all because President Trump, our president, has literally betrayed the conscience of our country," Caldwell said. "The very moral fabric in which we've made progress when it comes to race relations in America, he's failed us."

Both Osefo and Caldwell teared up as Caldwell continued speaking. He specifically called out Trump's claim at his "disturbing" press conference Tuesday that there were "some very fine people" marching alongside the white nationalist protesters. "Mr. President, good people don't pal around with Nazis and white supremacists," Caldwell said. "Maybe they don't consider themselves white supremacists and Nazis, but certainly they hold those views."

Anyone who defends Trump's remarks, Caldwell concluded, is "completely lost" and potentially "morally bankrupt."

Watch the gripping segment below. Becca Stanek

9:17 a.m. ET
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The proposed removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee became the spark for the violent weekend protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, rallying opposition from the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacist and nationalist groups. Now Lee's direct descendants have spoken out to condemn any who use their ancestor's name as something to "hide behind," Newsweek reports.

Of the Charlottesville demonstrations, Lee's great-great-grandson, Robert E. Lee V, said: "We don't believe in that whatsoever … Our belief is that General Lee would not tolerate that sort of behavior either. His first thing to do after the Civil War was to bring the Union back together, so we could become a more unified country."

The Lee descendant added that he believes the statue of his great-great-grandfather could be moved to a museum instead, in order to give it the "proper historical context." "We look at the institution of slavery, and it's absolutely horrendous. Back then, times were just extremely different," said Lee, adding: "If you want to put statues of General Lee or other Confederate people in museums, that makes good sense."

Karen Finney, the "biracial daughter of Jim Finney, a black civil rights lawyer descended from enslaved Virginians, and Mildred Lee, a white social worker and the great-great-great-great niece of [Lee]," also weighed in at The Washington Post, writing that Lee is "my ancestor, and as far as I'm concerned, his statues can't come down soon enough."

Baltimore became the most recent city to remove a statue of the Confederate general in the dark of night between Tuesday and Wednesday. Jeva Lange

8:50 a.m. ET

President Trump has praised Rasmussen Reports for producing "the most accurate" polls, although the latest news from the polling company might not have him so thrilled. As of Tuesday, Rasmussen finds Trump's "strong" approval rating is a mere 26 percent, while 45 percent of people "strongly disapprove" of the job he is doing in office.

Trump's lowest rating on Rasmussen came August 3, when a mere 23 percent of voters strongly approved of him.

Rasmussen also records "total" approval of the president, with Trump at 42 percent approval and 57 percent disapproval Tuesday. This is higher than his marks in the Gallup Daily tracking poll, which recorded a new floor for the president Monday at just 34 percent approval.

The Rasmussen poll surveyed 1,500 likely voters on landlines and through the internet and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.5 percent. The full daily results can be found here. Jeva Lange

8:25 a.m. ET

President Trump's impromptu press conference on Tuesday made some waves, but so did Politico's transcript of his comments, which originally contained this line: "Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at us — excuse me — what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?" That seemed to suggest that Trump had made a Freudian slip, or perhaps a Kinsley gaffe, identifying himself as a member of the so-called alt-right. But Politico has since updated the transcript to the more accurate: "Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at [indiscernible]."

BuzzFeed's Claudia Koerner looked into what Trump really said, noting that the official White House transcript just reads "charging at — excuse me," while the one from the Federal News Service quotes Trump as saying, "charging at them," not us. You can listen for yourself, near the beginning of the CNN clip.

"BuzzFeed News reviewed video of the press conference, and though the audio is muffled, it does sound like Trump is saying 'them,'" Koerner concluded. So if you are going to be outraged by Trump's statements on the Charlottesville violence, you can channel your ire toward the idea that in 2017, we have to have a national conversation about whether Nazis and white supremacists hold defensible beliefs. CNN's Jake Tapper has your answer below. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads