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February 4, 2016

Georgetown professor and MSNBC political analyst Michael Eric Dyson was on Wednesday's Late Show, and Stephen Colbert wanted to know about his contention, in his new book The Black Presidency, that "there is opposition to Barack Obama often that has a racist tinge to it," as Colbert summarized. "Opposition to Barack Obama doesn't mean you're a racist, though — you'll agree to that?" Colbert asked, and Dyson did. You can disagree with Obama and not be racist, he said, but "despite the ideological and political differences, there is an overlay of kind of racist reaction" to the first black president.

Dyson listed some instances where Obama was publicly disrespected, but Colbert seemed skeptical. "So rudeness equals racism in this equation?" he asked. "Because that's all rude, but you can't prove it's racist." Dyson listed some other indignities that he saw as unique to Obama, including the "birther" movement. "But now Donald Trump has moved on to accusing a white person of not being from America," Colbert said, in a nod to Sen. Ted Cruz. "Isn't that racial progress?" Dyson laughed and agreed, adding, "but real racial progress would be if a black man could say, 'If I stood in the middle of a street and shot somebody, I would still get votes.' That would be racial progress." Dyson and Colbert went on to discuss race in relation to Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, and you can watch the entire discussion below. Peter Weber

10:38 a.m. ET

Just hours after seemingly accepting Sen. Bernie Sanders' challenge for a debate, Donald Trump has already backed out, CBS News reports. On Thursday morning, Trump reportedly said he was just kidding when he agreed on Wednesday night's Jimmy Kimmel Live to face off against Sanders.

Trump initially seemed keen on the idea because "it would have such high ratings," and he figured Sanders "would be easier to beat" than Hillary Clinton. Sanders had already agreed to the debate, tweeting he "look[s] forward to debating Donald Trump in California before the June 7 primary." Becca Stanek

10:33 a.m. ET
iStock

The federal government is spending the great bulk of its technology budget maintaining old — indeed, sometimes wildly outdated — computer systems instead of staying up to date with current advances, finds a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

"Specifically, 5,233 of the government's approximately 7,000 IT investments are spending all of their funds" on running old systems, the GAO said, many of which are considered "moderate to high risk" or outright "obsolete."

Perhaps the most egregious example is the use of eight-inch floppy disks to control nukes. The Pentagon's Strategic Automated Command and Control System, which "coordinates the operational functions of the United States' nuclear forces, such as intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers, and tanker support aircrafts," operates on pre-1970s computers that still store data on giant floppy disks whose contents can be wiped with a magnet.

The Department of Defense says the floppy disks will be phased out by the end of 2017. Bonnie Kristian

10:28 a.m. ET
RINGO CHIU/AFP/Getty Images

Some politicians are painters. Others, the muses.

Bernie Sanders evidently falls in the latter category, as an entire pop-up installation of Sanders-themed media has temporarily taken over the famous vacant L.A. fixture, Johnie's Coffee Shop Restaurant:

"We view this as an art piece," said Howard Gold, who was busy on Wednesday afternoon painting and fixing at the former diner. It closed in 2000, but it is still available for film shoots.

The idea, said Mr. Gold, whose family owns the property, is to deck the place in Sanders murals, posters and diner-style logos — the Bernie Sanders chicken bucket faces Wilshire — then open on Thursday for a reception that is expected to draw artists, movie stars and Sanders supporters. [The New York Times]

Anticipated attendees include actresses Shailene Woodley and Frances Fisher, as well as film producer and real-life inspiration for The Big Lebowski, Jeff Dowd. Kii Arens, who has done art for The Who and Radiohead, among other bands, is one of the contributing artists as well as Donny Miller.

See more of the art at The Hollywood Reporter. Jeva Lange

10:22 a.m. ET
Mark Lyons/Getty Images

Donald Trump has reached the required 1,237 delegates to clinch the GOP nomination, according to a count by The Associated Press. Trump was pushed to victory by his win in the Washington state primary on Tuesday, and now has 1,238 delegates; other reports, such as one by CNN on Wednesday, have Trump just short of the required number. Unbound delegates exclusively told the AP they would support Trump, thereby tipping him to victory.

Trump became the presumptive nominee earlier this month after a major win in Indiana when his only remaining competitors chose to suspend their campaigns. Jeva Lange

10:15 a.m. ET
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has a vision for the future of the Republican Party, and he is describing it in language Marxists would recognize.

In an an interview with Bloomberg this week in which he commented that his "views are what everybody else’s views are," Trump answered a question about his plans for the GOP. "Five, 10 years from now — different party," he said. "You’re going to have a workers' party."

"Workers' Party" is a common name worldwide for political groups of a Marxist, socialist, communist, Leninist, Maoist, and/or Trotskyite persuasion. The single governing party of North Korea, for instance, is called the "Workers' Party of Korea." And here in the United States, the Communist Party USA was originally called the "Workers Party of America." Bonnie Kristian

9:19 a.m. ET
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

As Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders wrestle over the fate of the Democratic Party and their congratulatory calls to one another after primary victories fade to a thing of the past, it can be difficult to remember a time when the two actually liked each other.

Even as some say Sanders risks cleaving the party by staying in the race — with others murmuring that he is threatening to hand the White House to Donald Trump — it was not so long ago when the two candidates considered each other with admiration:

The pair had something of an intellectual rapport. In a photo signed "Hillary Rodham Clinton, 1993," she wrote to Sanders, "Thanks for your commitment to real healthcare access for all Americans." Television footage showed Sanders standing directly over Clinton's left shoulder as she spoke on the topic at Dartmouth College. Even after their campaigns started going in different directions last year, they remained amiable. They ran into each other in the Amtrak Acela waiting room in New York City's Penn Station in June. "Bernie!" Clinton shouted across the room as he walked over to greet her. Sanders said quietly to an aide as they walked away, "Maybe I shouldn't say this, but I like her." [Time]

Still, if Sanders in fact loses to Clinton at the Philadelphia convention, as it appears he likely will, the terms of his surrender could get ugly. "Let's all remember, there is far more that unites us than divides us," Clinton spokesman Jesse Ferguson told Time — but perhaps these days, that's only wishful thinking. Jeva Lange

9:17 a.m. ET

Elephants, it turns out, really do seem to have exceptionally good memories. So good, in fact, that one elephant at a zoo outside of Seoul, South Korea, is able to recall five of the words his Korean trainers say to him most often — and then repeat them. The 26-year-old elephant, named Koshik, can quite literally emulate human speech, and there's video footage to prove it:

In case you aren't fluent in Korean, Koshik was having a conversation with his trainer in Korean there:

Koshik: "choah" (good)

Trainer: "choah choah annyong" (good good hello) [YouTube]

Koshik is able to say the Korean words for hello, sit down, lie down, good, and no. He does it by putting his trunk inside of his mouth, which The New York Times explains he then uses to "modulate the tone and pitch of the sounds his voice makes, a bit like a person putting his fingers in his mouth to whistle." Korean native speakers say that Koshik's pronunciation is so good that they can "readily understand and transcribe the imitations." Becca Stanek

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