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March 19, 2016

Instagram just got a little bit holier. Pope Francis joined Saturday, a month after meeting with co-founder Kevin Systrom. Here's his first post:

A photo posted by Pope Francis (@franciscus) on

Let's hope he doesn't start 'gramming all of his meals. Julie Kliegman

December 8, 2016
Rob Kim/Getty Images

When The New Celebrity Apprentice, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, debuts early next year, President-elect Donald Trump's name will appear in the credits as executive producer, right after series creator Mark Burnett. Trump will get more than just credit: He will also receive a fee for every episode that's "likely to be in the low five-figures, at minimum," Variety reports, noting that MGM, not NBC, will be paying Trump — MGM, Burnett's company, produces the reality TV show, and NBC licenses and broadcasts it.

"Mr. Trump has a big stake in the show and conceived of it with Mark Burnett," Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said Thursday, confirming that she was referring to a financial stake but giving no details about the arrangement. MGM and NBC declined comment when contacted by several news organizations. NBC had said it was "ending its business relationship" with Trump in July 2015, after he launched his presidential campaign by calling many Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. In May 2016, Trump signaled that he was still invested in the show. "You know I have a big chunk of that show, going forever," he said. "Mark and I did it together. We were 50-50 partners."

President Obama received royalties for books he wrote before taking office, but "the fact that a sitting president will be on the payroll of a current TV show is another example of the thicket of potential conflicts of interest raised by Trump's segue from private businessman and TV star to commander-in-chief," Variety says. Ethics experts, already dismayed that Trump appears unwilling to divest himself of his business, threw up their hands at the reality TV deal. "We need him to be president — full time — and not to have other contractual commitments elsewhere," Richard Painter, ethics counsel to former president George W. Bush, told The Washington Post. "He's testing the limits on everything."

Still, reality TV is a big part of Trump's story — The Apprentice saved his business career in many ways — and the skills he mastered in the medium have served him well in politics, The Washington Post notes: "Even his transition has been marked by the kind of drama that, while abnormal for the practice of building a government, is familiar to fans of the show. Just as Apprentice contestants had to battle for Trump's approval, potential Cabinet picks are publicly competing with each other and paraded before cameras at Trump Tower." Peter Weber

December 8, 2016
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Sen. Harry Reid's (D-Nev.) Senate farewell Thursday was filled with moments both heartfelt and humorous, as the Senate minority leader prepares to retire after 30 years in Congress.

Hillary Clinton made her first appearance on Capitol Hill since losing the presidential election to deliver a farewell — and a joke about the recent unexpected turn of events. "This is not exactly the speech at the Capitol I hoped to be giving after the election," Clinton said, after receiving a standing ovation. "But after a few weeks of taking selfies in the woods, I though it would be a good idea to come out." Clinton proceeded to praise Reid's work passing "landmark legislation that made life better for American families, specifically mentioning his role in making the Affordable Care Act law.

Vice President Joe Biden started his tribute by saying, "My name is Joe Biden and I work for Harry Reid." He proceeded to reminisce on Reid's habit of ending phone calls abruptly, saying, "Every time I hear a dial tone, I think of Harry." But Biden — who worked alongside Reid in the Senate for 25 years — put the jokes aside to honor his friend and colleague. "I love you, pal," Biden said. "I know that embarrasses you, but I do."

Reid's incoming replacement as Senate minority leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), also delivered a tribute, as did Reid's Republican counterpart, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), and his Democratic counterpart in the House, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Reid's portrait will be unveiled and hung on Capitol Hill later Thursday. Becca Stanek

December 8, 2016
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Reince Priebus, the Republican National Committee chairman picked by President-elect Donald Trump to be White House chief of staff, once reportedly tried to talk Trump out of seeing his campaign through to Election Day. Citing "a person briefed on the conversation," New York's Gabriel Sherman reported Thursday that Priebus told Trump he should drop out of the race after the Access Hollywood tape of Trump making lewd comments about women was leaked in early October.

Priebus reportedly said that if Trump did not cut his losses then, he would "go down with a worse election loss than Barry Goldwater's." In the 1964 presidential election, the Republican presidential candidate lost to then-Democratic candidate Lyndon B. Johnson, winning just 52 electoral votes while Johnson won 486.

As we all know now, Priebus ended up being dead wrong about Trump's prospects. Trump, unlike Goldwater, won 306 electoral votes to Hillary Clinton's 232. While Priebus' nomination as chief of staff would indicate both he and Trump have moved past the incident, Sherman reported that not everyone on Trump's team has. Some, Sherman wrote, are "dismayed by Priebus' influence because they question the Washington insider's loyalty to the president-elect."

Read more about the power struggle that has allegedly created over at New York. Becca Stanek

December 8, 2016

Former Ohio senator, astronaut, and aviator John Glenn died Thursday at the age of 95, The Columbus Dispatch reports. Glenn was hospitalized a week ago at the James Cancer Hospital at Ohio State University, although his specific condition was unknown and was not necessarily cancer.

Glenn achieved many "firsts" in his lifetime, including being the first American to orbit Earth, breaking the transcontinental flight speed record, and becoming the oldest person in space.

"John Glenn is, and always will be, Ohio's ultimate hometown hero, and his passing today is an occasion for all of us to grieve," Ohio Gov. John Kasich said. "As we bow our heads and share our grief with his beloved wife, Annie, we must also turn to the skies, to salute his remarkable journeys and his long years of service to our state and nation. Though he soared deep into space and to the heights of Capitol Hill, his heart never strayed from his steadfast Ohio roots. Godspeed, John Glenn!" Jeva Lange

December 8, 2016
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Only 51 percent of 30-year-old Americans make more money than their parents did at the same age, economists and sociologists from Stanford, Harvard, and the University of California have learned. The results of their study reflect a shocking decline from four decades prior, when 92 percent of American 30-year-olds in 1970 earned more than their parents did at a similar age.

"My parents thought that one thing about America is that their kids could do better than they were able to do," Raj Chetty, an economist on the research team who emigrated from India at age 9, told The Wall Street Journal. "That was important in my parents' decision to come here."

It isn't immediately clear why Americans aren't earning as much, but economic growth and the widening income gap are likely causes. Regardless, reversing the trend is a daunting task: "If income distribution remains as tilted toward the wealthy as it is now, [the researchers] calculate, it would take sustained growth of more than 6 percent a year, adjusted for inflation, to return to an era where nearly all children outearned their parents," The Wall Street Journal notes. "Since World War II, the U.S. hasn't experienced anything near that level of growth for a lengthy period of time." Jeva Lange

December 8, 2016

While at an amber market in Myanmar, Chinese paleontologist Lida Xing stumbled upon an extraordinary clue about the appearance of dinosaurs. Enclosed in a chunk of amber for sale, Xing spotted what turned out to be the perfectly preserved tail of a dinosaur that roamed the Earth some 99 million years ago. Her discovery marked the first time a mummified dinosaur skeleton has ever been found, and a paper on it was just published in the journal Current Biology.

Interestingly, the tail was neither big nor scaly. Instead, it measures about 3.7 centimeters in length and it is covered in feathers that appear to be chestnut-colored. The tail's vertebrae aren't fused like that of a bird's tail, suggesting the dinosaur could've moved the appendage in a "whip-like" fashion. Scientists believe the tail came from a young coelurosaur "about the size of a sparrow," BBC reported. At full size, NPR says the dinosaur likely would've been "a little smaller than an ostrich."

Different as this tiny, feathered dino may sound from the mammoth creatures featured in films, scientists say coelurosaurs are actually closely related to both the Tyrannosaurus rex and the velociraptor. Moreover, this newly discovered tail has more and more scientists thinking this feathery creature might be a more accurate portrait of dinosaurs than the ferocious beasts of Jurassic Park. "The more we see these feathered dinosaurs and how widespread the feathers are, things like a scaly velociraptor seem less and less likely and they've become a lot more bird-like," said Ryan McKellar, a paleontologist who co-authored the paper. "They're not quite the Godzilla-style scaly monsters we once thought." Becca Stanek

December 8, 2016
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The reality TV producer best known for his work on The Apprentice will play a role in orchestrating Donald Trump's Inauguration Day festivities, The New York Times reports. Mark Burnett, who is also the executive producer of The Voice, Survivor, and Shark Tank, is reportedly huddling with Trump to plan the events of Jan. 20, 2017:

Despite the modest nature of the events under consideration, [Thomas Barrack Jr., who is leading the presidential inauguration committee], said Mr. Burnett was actively involved in producing the inauguration week festivities. He will have a large team to work with, as the committee's staff in Washington is expected to swell to more than 300 people by Inauguration Day.

"Mark is a genius, and the president-elect loves him," Mr. Barrack said. [The New York Times]

The Inauguration Day events are expected to be completed by Monday, although some details, including two balls, a candlelit dinner, and a "victory reception," are already known. "The president-elect wants this to be simple," Barrack said. "He wants this to be about the people." Jeva Lange

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