President Obama isn't the only one making a visit to Alaska this week, according to a new report from Pentagon officials. The U.S. military has spotted five Chinese navy ships off the coast of Alaska in the Bering Sea, heading in the direction of the Aleutian Islands. The presence of the Chinese ships, including three combat ships, a replenishment vessel, and an amphibious ship, marks the first time that the U.S. military has reported seeing "any such activity in the area," The Wall Street Journal reports.
Although China's defense ministry could not be reached by the Journal for comment, the presence of Chinese warships close to U.S. territory is likely connected to China's efforts to ramp up its military activity as its economic power expands. "I don't think we'd characterize anything they're doing as threatening," one defense official told The Wall Street Journal.
Other officials theorized that the ships' presence could be due to China's growing interest in using the Northern Sea Route to transport goods, since that route between Asia and the West can be up to several days faster than the Suez Canal route. "It's difficult to tell exactly, but it indicates some interest in the Arctic region," one Pentagon official said. "It's different." Becca Stanek
While driving toward a tornado Tuesday afternoon near Lubbock, Texas, three storm chasers were killed when their SUV ran a stop sign and hit another car.
Texas Department of Public Safety Sergeant John Gonzalez told CBS Dallas the storm had nothing to do with the accident; the vehicle collided with a Jeep, and all three storm chasers were pronounced dead at the scene. "We would encourage anyone driving down these remote roads to slow down and pay attention to traffic signs, especially in inclement weather," Gonzalez said. "It can become dangerous for all involved." Catherine Garcia
The House voted Tuesday 215-205 for a measure that repeals new Federal Communications Commission regulations that would have required high-speed Internet service providers get customers approval before sharing and using such personal information as their browsing history and app usage.
The rules were approved by the FCC in October, on a 3-2 party line vote. The broadband companies and Republicans argued that websites and social networks that collect information on customers and use it to place targeted ads are not subject to strict rules, while supporters — including Democrats and privacy advocates — said they are worried about what data the internet service providers will collect without permission. The Senate voted to repeal the measure last week, and President Trump is expected to sign it. Catherine Garcia
On Tuesday, Wells Fargo announced it has reached a $110 million settlement, covering dozens of lawsuits across the United States, in connection with employees setting up more than 2 million unauthorized accounts for customers.
The deal must be approved by a federal judge, and comes six months after the company agreed to pay $185 million in fines and penalties as part of a settlement with the Los Angeles city attorney's office and federal regulators. Wells Fargo has ended its system of having employees hit sales targets, as regulators said that it was caused workers to create the fake deposit and credit card accounts in order to make more money. Catherine Garcia
Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has requested all DNC staffers submit their letters of resignation by April 15, NBC News reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the organization. While turnover isn't unusual when a new chair takes over, Perez's complete house-cleaning signals how drastically he plans to reorganize the Democratic Party.
Perez was elected in late February to replace interim chair Donna Brazile, who filled the position after former chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (Fla.) stepped down just before the Democratic National Convention last summer. NBC News reported the "top-to-bottom review process" is intended to discern "how the party should be structured in the future," after it was pummeled in the 2016 elections.
Actor Alec Baldwin has hosted Saturday Night Live a record 17 times, but if you ask him, he doesn't think he's funny. In an excerpt adapted from his upcoming book, Nevertheless: A Memoir, published Tuesday in Vanity Fair, Baldwin said his first stint on Saturday Night Live in 1990 made him realize what it really takes to be funny:
Whenever anyone told me I was funny, I was reminded of when people in high school tell someone that he can hit a fastball or shoot a basketball well. Then he gets to college and everyone is big and fast and strong. After that, if he turns professional, everyone around him seems inhuman. They're the biggest, fastest, and strongest. That's what Saturday Night Live was like for me. The worst idea the writers there came up with was funnier than the best thing I could think up. My definition of funny changed while working with them. If people think I can say a line in a way that gets a laugh, I'll take it. But I'm not funny. The SNL writers are funny. Tina Fey is funny. Conan O'Brien is funny. You're only funny if you can write the material. What I do is acting. [Alec Baldwin, via Vanity Fair]
Baldwin admitted Fey's funniness swept him off his feet the first time he laid eyes on her. "When I first met Tina Fey — beautiful and brunette, smart and funny, by turns smug and diffident and completely uninterested in me or anything I had to say — I had the same reaction that I'm sure many men and women have: I fell in love," Baldwin wrote.
MSNBC just celebrated the biggest quarter in its 21-year history, and leading the charge is Rachel Maddow, whose Rachel Maddow Show ranked as the top cable news program among adults between the ages of 25 and 54 in March. As TVNewser observes, "Maddow, the dominant voice for progressives on cable news, may be benefiting the most from the Trump administration's first 100 days."
Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight is the usual winner in Maddow's time slot. MSNBC has never before earned a 9 p.m. win over Fox News in the coveted 25-54 demographic. Maddow's show also celebrated its biggest audience ever in March when Maddow teased a scoop about President Trump's tax returns.
Other shows on MSNBC are also doing well, including Morning Joe, which celebrated its most-watched quarter ever and ranked second in total viewers among all cable news programs in the time period. MSNBC is now the fastest growing cable news network, TVNewser reports. Jeva Lange
The creators of the popular true crime podcast Serial released the highly-anticipated seven-episode audio documentary S-Town on Tuesday. Hosted by This American Life's Brian Reed and Serial's Sarah Koenig, the podcast follows Reed as he befriends a man who claims to have information about an unsolved murder in a rural Alabama town. "While [S-Town] boasts the seamless audio production of Serial, it's tonally a very different beast — equal parts Twin Peaks-style quirky-small-town portraiture and the unsettling Southern Gothic of Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood," writes Quartz.
As the podcast's executive producer, Julie Snyder, told Wired: "With Serial, we were experimenting with using television as a model. With this one, we looked to novels. In a novel, you're entering into a hermetic world. That's what we were trying to do, that we hadn't yet done with a podcast: where you can enter their specific world, and you don't know really know what it's about or where it's going, but hopefully you're compelled to stay in it the whole time."