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November 20, 2015

Stephen Colbert doesn't want to hear about the Islamic State anymore. "Here's the deal: If you want to live in the 7th century, you don't get to be on TV," he said on Thursday's Late Show. But he did want to talk about the fight over Syrian refugees. After ISIS's attack on Paris, "the question over whether to let Syrian refugees into this country has become the new political issue," he said, "completely overshadowing the old political issue: whether to let Mexicans into this country." It's all anyone is talking about in Washington and on the campaign trail, he added, "so let's wander blindly onto the news tarmac and get sucked into one of the fear engines."

He poked a little fun at President Obama for mocking the Republican presidential candidates' purported fear of orphans and 3-year-old refugees, noting that the Republicans are actually scared of the adults who accompany those toddlers, then adding: "Why shouldn't we be scared of 3-year-olds? You think you can't negotiate with terrorists? Try negotiating with a 3-year-old. They play hardball." But mostly he chided the Republicans for their selective opposition to accepting Syrian refugees.

Donald Trump suggested that the Syrians would prefer to live in a war-ravaged desert than frigid Minnesota, and Jeb Bush and Sen. Ted Cruz only want to let in Christian refugees — because, Colbert said, showing off his knowledge of world religions, Cruz and Bush "know they can relate to your average Syrian Christians — you know, like the Syriac Orthodox." Then he opened up the Good Book and slammed it on Bush, who said Thursday it's easy to prove you're a Christian. Colbert took him up on the challenge: "If you want to know if somebody is Christian, just ask them to complete this sentence: Jesus said, 'I was hungry, you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you....'" he said. "And if they don't say 'welcomed me in,' they are either a terrorist, or they are running for president." Peter Weber

10:54 a.m. ET
Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images

On Monday, President Trump offered his support to a bill introduced by Sens. John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) last November to improve federal background checks on gun purchases. "The president spoke to Sen. Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Sen. Murphy introduced," White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. "While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the president is supportive of efforts to improve the federal background check system."

Cornyn and Murphy introduced the legislation after the church shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, and Trump did not back it at the time. The bill would require all federal agencies to report criminal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and introduce financial incentives to encourage state and local agencies to enter such records into the federal gun background database, too. The National Rifle Association supports the bill, Talking Points Memo points out.

Trump is holding two gun-related events this week, after last week's mass school shooting n Parkland, Florida: a "listening session" with high school students and teachers, and a meeting with state and local officials on "school safety." Peter Weber

10:20 a.m. ET
REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

After meeting some victims of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida, on Friday, President Trump has passed the rest of President's Day weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort. "He spent much of the time watching cable news, venting to friends about the Russia investigation, and complaining that it has been driving so much press coverage," The Washington Post reports, citing people who spoke with the president. Trump "also surveyed Mar-a-Lago Club members about whether he ought to champion gun control measures in the wake of last week's school massacre in nearby Parkland, telling them that he was closely monitoring the media appearances by some of the surviving students."

With Trump at Mar-a-Lago were his sons Eric and Don Jr., Geraldo Rivera, and first lady Melania Trump, who "did not join her husband in the dining room" Saturday night, the Post reports. Starting Saturday night, Trump started tweeting angrily about the FBI, his national security adviser, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calf.), and Oprah Winfrey. Trump met Sunday with House Speaker Paul Ryan.

He did not golf on Saturday and Sunday, out of deference to the Parkland shooting — "his predecessor had been criticized for golfing too soon after tragic events," The New York Times notes — but he visited his golf club Sunday night, his motorcade passing a "gentlemen's club" advertising purported onetime paramour Stormy Daniels' Make America Horny Again appearance. Trump and the first lady return to the White House on Monday night. Peter Weber

9:41 a.m. ET
Jesse Grant/Getty Images for IMAX

The Disney-Marvel movie Black Panther smashed box office records over the weekend, instantly becoming the top-grossing film in history by a black director with global ticket sales estimated to reach $387 million by Monday after its debut weekend. Disney said the film brought in about $218 million in North America between Friday and Monday, with some theaters adding showings to meet demand. Analysts had projected an opening weekend take of $165 million in North America. The actual numbers were at a level previously unheard of for a February release, outside of the summer and holiday seasons usually reserved for the biggest blockbusters. The previous record for a February release was Deadpool's $159 million over Presidents' Day weekend in 2016. Harold Maass

8:17 a.m. ET
PBS Television/Courtesy of Getty Images

Monday marks the 50th anniversary of the PBS show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, and PBS and the U.S. are gearing up to celebrate the legacy of Fred Rogers, its creator and star. Next week, PBS will pair thematically similar episodes of Mister Rogers and its 2012 spinoff, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and on March 6, PBS will broadcast the star-filled retrospective Mister Rogers: It's You I Like. A Fred Rogers biopic starring Tom Hanks is in the works, and the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor? is coming to theaters after its well-received debut at Sundance. The U.S. Postal Service is rolling out a Forever stamp featuring Rogers and his puppet King Friday XIII on March 23.

Mister Rogers' Neighborhood debuted on Feb. 19, 1968, and officially ended its 31-year run (it was on hiatus from 1976 to 1979) on Aug. 31, 2001. Rogers died of stomach cancer at age 74 in 2003. "Mister Rogers is producing these programs bookended between the beginning of 1968 ... and just before the Sept. 11 attacks," says Robert Thompson at Syracuse University. "He took American childhood — and I think Americans in general — through some very turbulent and trying times." One Rogers quote in particular continues to make the rounds on social media after school shootings and other tragedies: "When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'"

"He's more relevant than ever right now," says Amy Franzini at Pennsylvania's Widener University. "He's a dependable figure we can fall back on that makes us feel safe. ... He's the good in the world." "This is the year of Fred," said David Newell, who played the "speedy deliver" post man Mr. McFeely. "The program has really resonated — it's very rewarding. People in their 50s now are the first generation that watched the Neighborhood, and it goes all the way down to teens." Peter Weber

7:12 a.m. ET

Last Week Tonight returned from its winter hiatus on Sunday night, and John Oliver's main topic was President Trump — again. "But tonight we'd like to do it from a slightly different angle," he said, "and that is focusing on his relationship with the world." It isn't good. Oliver did a brief survey of Trump insulting other countries, from his "shithole" slur on Africa, Haiti, and El Salvador, to his revealing excuse for retweeting anti-Islam videos from a British fringe group.

"That is exactly his attitude: If it wasn't big where I could see it, then it wasn't big," Oliver said. "So forget foreign affairs — Trump may not have mastered object permanence, which you really need to be a president, or even a good f---ing baby." But "the world continues to exist whether Trump acknowledges it or not," he said, focusing on a few "basic questions": "What is Donald Trump's foreign policy," "how is his approach to the world going," and "what are the consequences"? The short answers are "America First," horribly, and America is losing to China.

Oliver spent some time on Trump's promise that the world would stop laughing at America if he were elected. "If anything, the world is laughing harder than ever before," he said, showing Trump impersonators and world leaders making fun of Trump around the world. Still, there's nothing funny about the leadership vacuum America has left in the world.

"It seems like America's reputation overseas is under attack from its own president — which is just ridiculous," Oliver said. "Soft power is an act of salesmanship, it's selling your brand — it is the one thing that Trump is supposed to be good at, and he's f---ing blowing it. So as an immigrant who has fallen in love with this country, for what it's worth, please allow me to speak to the rest of the world in America's defense for a moment." There is some NSFW language throughout. Peter Weber

February 18, 2018

Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) on Sunday urged Congress and President Trump to take action on gun control in the wake of Wednesday's deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school.

"Of course the president can lead on this and should lead on this, and Mr. President, I ask you to do this," Kasich said on CNN's State of the Union. "You don't have to boil the ocean, but take some steps now," he continued. "I believe those who are Second Amendment advocates realize that common-sense, real reforms can happen in this country to answer the cries and the anguish of people all across this country who have lost loved ones."

Kasich specifically recommended more extensive background checks as well as "local law enforcement or the FBI" monitoring those believed to suffer from mental illness or emotional distress. Watch an excerpt of his CNN interview below. Bonnie Kristian

February 18, 2018

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in a mass shooting on Wednesday, on Sunday announced "March for Our Lives," a demonstration for new gun control legislation scheduled for Saturday, March 24, in Washington, D.C., and cities around the country.

"People are saying that it's not time to talk about gun control. And we can respect that," said Cameron Kasky, a Marjory Stoneman Douglas junior who explained the event on ABC's This Week. "Here's a time: March 24 in every single city. We are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives," Kasky continued. "At this point, you're either with us or against us."

Kasky and four fellow Stoneman Douglas students — Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Alex Wind, and Jaclyn Corin — made a similar appearance on Fox News Sunday. Watch a clip of that interview below. Bonnie Kristian

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