A frontrunner for the oddest, most poorly received joke of the Oscars came early when Chris Rock brought out Stacey Dash — best known for her supporting role in 1995's Clueless — for a surprise cameo. "I cannot wait to help my people out," said the giggling Dash. "Happy Black History Month!"
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) February 29, 2016
The crowd was baffled. You might be baffled too. So here's the backstory. In addition to the occasional acting role, Dash regularly appears as a conservative commentator on Fox News. Last month, she drew controversy for a blog in which she called for the abolishment of Black History Month.
"Our accomplishments cannot be limited to 28 days," she wrote. "Do not listen to liberals who try to limit you, to put you into a box, to tell you that you MUST believe one way or another, that you cannot think for yourselves, and that the government can 'give' you a 'special month.' No. I am sick of settling for breadcrumbs."
Was Dash's Oscar cameo a retraction of her original statement, or just a weird gag that fell flat? Either way, the crowd wasn't into it. Scott Meslow
Leave it to Boris Johnson to do the unthinkable and make British politics even crazier and more dramatic than America's 2016 presidential race. Johnson, a Conservative former London mayor, was the frontrunner to replace Prime Minister David Cameron, who announced his resignation after losing the Brexit vote — thanks in no small part to Johnson, a former ally turned leading Brexit proponent. On Thursday morning, a few hours before Johnson was to announce his candidacy, close pro-Brexit ally Michael Gove jumped into the race, saying "Boris cannot provide the leadership or build the team for the task ahead." Johnson dropped out of the race, quoting Julius Caesar, Shakespeare's masterwork on betrayal.
Johnson's father, Stanley Johnson, was reading from the same script. "'Et tu, Brute' is my comment on that," he told BBC News when asked about Gove, who, like Johnson, has been close with Cameron since their days at Oxford. Gove had been tipped to be Johnson's campaign manager. The Washington Post compared the Tory leadership grudge match to "a binge-watching session of House of Cards," and Tory MP Nigel Evans told the BBC "it makes the House of Cards look like Teletubbies." At The New York Times, the Tory turmoil "seems derived from Game of Thrones, itself drawn from centuries of English history." The newspaper Metro agreed about the Westeros connection:
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) July 1, 2016
Other British newspaper front pages, as rounded up by the BBC, say that Johnson was "Brexecuted" in the "Tory bloodbath" (The Sun), called his derailing "the most spectacular political assassination in a generation (The Daily Telegraph) and the "Westminster revolution" (The Times), and declared, "Et Tu, Gove?" (i). On the other hand, the Daily Mirror declared of Johnson's downfall: "Justice! The shaming of Boris, the man who betrayed Britain." Gove, the 48-year-old justice secretary who had frequently said he was unsuited and unqualified to be prime minister, is expected to lose out to Home Secretary Theresa May, 59, though who knows what bloody betrayals lie ahead. (George R.R. Martin, perhaps?) Peter Weber
Late Thursday night, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves blocked a Mississippi law set to take effect Friday that would have carved out religious exemptions for people and businesses opposed to same-sex marriage, homosexuality, and transgender people. "The state has put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others," Reeves wrote, calling the bill "the state's attempt to put LGBT citizens back in their place" after the Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex couples have the right to get married. On Monday, Reeves had struck down the part of HB 1523 that would have let the state's circuit clerks refuse to issue same-sex marriage certificates due to religious objections. The law also sought to offer protection to businesses that refuse to serve LGBT people and would have affected adoption and foster care as well as bathroom policies at schools and businesses.
After he signed the law in April, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) told the Family Research Council that the "secular, progressive world had decided they were going to pour their anger and their frustration" at him because of the legislation. Reeves said that Mississippi was the entity acting out of frustration, stomping on religious freedoms in the process. "HB 1523 favors Southern Baptist over Unitarian doctrine, Catholic over Episcopalian doctrine, and Orthodox Judaism over Reform Judaism doctrine, to list just a few examples," he wrote. "In physics, every action has its equal and opposite reaction. In politics, every action has its predictable overreaction." Peter Weber
Donald Trump isn't really advertising in battleground states. Hillary Clinton is buying ad time in Nebraska.
On Thursday, Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign added Nebraska to the list of states where it is running ads, including the traditional swing states of Ohio, Virginia, Florida, Iowa, and Colorado, plus North Carolina. The ad buy is aimed not at the entire heavily Republican state but at the one congressional district President Obama won in 2008 — Nebraska awards two of its five electoral votes to the statewide winner and one each to the winner of its three congressional districts. Donald Trump, says The Washington Post's John Wagner, "has not started a concerted TV ad campaign in any battleground states."
In another sign that Clinton, buoyed by Trump missteps and sliding poll numbers, is working to expand the electoral map, she moved the site of her first joint campaign appearance with Obama from Wisconsin to Charlotte, North Carolina. Pro-Clinton super PAC Priorities USA Action is also advertising in North Carolina, which Obama lost in 2012 but won four years earlier. Currently, Politico notes, North Carolina is the only swing state where Trump leads in a RealClearPolitics polling average, and he's up by only 1 percentage point. Peter Weber
Police in Bangladesh say a Hindu temple worker was hacked to death on Friday by three assailants on a motorcycle.
— AJE News (@AJENews) July 1, 2016
Shaymanonda Das was getting ready for morning prayers in the district of Jhenaidah when he was hacked on the neck with machetes, the BBC reports. Police say the motive isn't clear, but a similar attack took place in the same district last month, with the victim a 70-year-old Hindu priest hacked to death in a rice paddy field.
Since February 2013, more than 40 people in Bangladesh, including academics, secular bloggers, and gay rights activists, have been killed in similar attacks pinned on Islamic militants. The Islamic State has claimed credit for some of the deaths, but the government says ISIS does not have a presence in the country, and local militant groups are responsible, the BBC reports. To combat such terrorist organizations, the government says it has arrested thousands of people. Catherine Garcia
For someone who loves The Smiths, British Prime Minister David Cameron sure has a hard time getting their lyrics right.
During Wednesday's Parliamentary sitting, Labour's Kerry McCarthy brought up the song "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," saying it's her party's favorite track. Cameron responded by telling her the song "actually involves a double suicide," adding, "I think the lyrics are, 'If a double decker bus crashes into us, there's no finer way than by your side.' I think." Actually, as anyone who was a mopey teenager in 1986 could tell him, the lyrics are, "And if a double decker bus crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die."
Earlier, Cameron intentionally got other lyrics wrong, NME reports, as he tried to get a jab in against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Cameron told Corbyn he's "never seen an opposition leader with less support and he's staying. As someone about to enter the political graveyard perhaps I could misquote my favorite man and say, 'Let's meet at the cemetery gates.'" At least he was closer that time — the lyrics, from 1986's "Cemetry Gates," are "So I meet you at the cemetery gates."
Cameron has proclaimed his adoration for The Smiths several times, much to the dismay of The Smiths (guitarist Johnny Marr tweeted in 2010, "David Cameron, stop saying that you like The Smiths, no you don't. I forbid you to like it."). It might behoove the resigning prime minister, once he finds himself with more free time, to brush up on his favorite band's lyrics, but really, what difference does it make? Catherine Garcia
Noted author and journalist Gay Talese says he was duped by the main subject of his new book, The Voyeur's Motel, and he will not promote the work once it is published on July 12.
The Voyeur's Motel tells the tale of Gerald Foos, who allegedly spied on the guests staying at his Manor House motel in Aurora, Colorado, from the late 1960s to mid-1990s. One problem: Property records show Foos sold the Manor House in 1980 and didn't reacquire it until 1988, The Washington Post reports. Talese said he is now second-guessing everything Foos told him. "I should not have believed a word he said," Talese told The Post. "I'm not going to promote this book. How dare I promote it when its credibility is down the toilet?"
Most of the material came from journals that Foos, now 82, kept while running the motel. He claimed to have built special walkways above the rooms, and watched everything that took place — including a murder. (Foos told The Post he has "never purposely told a lie" and "everything I said in that book is the truth.") Talese noted in the book that he did find some discrepancies in Foos' story, and he told The Post he dealt with a "certifiably unreliable" source who is "totally dishonorable." The movie rights to the book have already been bought by Steven Spielberg, and an excerpt ran in The New Yorker in April; the publication is known for its thorough fact checking, and editor David Remnick told The Post he will look into how it was vetted. Catherine Garcia
In 2014, Apple bought Beats, the headphones and music service owned by Dr. Dre and music mogul Jimmy Iovine. Now, the company is in talks to buy Jay Z's music streaming service, Tidal, The Wall Street Journal reports, citing "people familiar with the matter." The deal would unite "East Coast and West Coast rap under a single business interest," The Journal notes, but it would also expand Apple's growing Apple Music empire and potentially give the consumer electronics giant access to Tidal's roster of top artists. A Tidal spokesman said no company executives have met with Apple.
Tidal, which doesn't offer a free service, says it has 4.2 million paying subscribers, while Apple Music reports 15 million paying subscribers. Spotify, in contrast, has some 30 million paying and 70 million free users. Tidal's subscription numbers have grown in the past year due to exclusive online access to music by musicians like Beyoncé, Kanye West, Rihanna, and Prince. "I would be surprised if this doesn't happen," music industry analyst Bob Lefsetz tells USA Today. Apple is "at war with Spotify," and Tidal has "very limited options," he added. "Jay Z bought it to sell it and who's going to buy it? Amazon is the only other option and it's going in a different direction." Peter Weber