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April 21, 2017

The marketing people at Starbucks have apparently decided that no publicity is bad publicity, judging by the product they rolled out Wednesday. "Starbucks has introduced a new drink called the Unicorn Frappuccino," Stephen Colbert said on Thursday's Late Show, "because the name Sugary Affront to God was taken." The colorful new concoction is made with pink powder, mango syrup, and a sour blue drizzle, and it changes color and flavor as you mix it around. It also seems tailor-made for mockery.

"This was Starbucks' attempt to take over social media, they say, with a drink that's made to be Instagrammed," Colbert said. "Well, I wanted to know how it actually tastes, so we went and got one." He brought it on stage. "Mmmm, oh, I wish I was dead," he said. "Tastes like I French kissed Tinkerbell." There was nothing wrong with kissing Tinkerbell, he assured everyone, though maybe that was the Frappuccino talking.

On Thursday's Jimmy Kimmel Live, Kimmel called the drink an "abomination" and "the first Frappuccino that looks like a windbreaker from the '80s." But he did more than just spitball. "It's only available through April 23, or until someone dies from drinking it, whichever comes first," he said. "And if the Unicorn Frappuccino doesn't strike your fancy — and you would think it would — Starbucks has another new item designed specifically to suit our troubled time." After watching his fake Starbucks ad, a rainbow of fruit flavors may not sound so bad. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:37 p.m. ET

As the Senate convened Tuesday to vote on a motion to proceed to debating the House-passed health-care bill, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) fired off a caustic criticism of Senate Republicans' hasty and secretive process. As Sanders underscored in a retweet of Vox's Dylan Scott, the vote Tuesday happened in spite of the fact there was "no final text," " no final CBO score," and "no public hearings."

Sanders deemed the process not just "insulting" — but "undemocratic":

Just as the vote began Tuesday, several uncertain Republican senators came out in support of the motion to proceed. Becca Stanek

1:48 p.m. ET
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Of the 111 brains of deceased NFL players examined in a study published Tuesday in The Journal of the American Medical Association, all but one of the brains showed signs of the neurodegenerative brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). The disease, found in 110 of 111 NFL players' brains donated for scientific research, is "linked to repeated blows to the head," The New York Times reported. Symptoms of CTE, which can only be diagnosed with an autopsy, include memory loss, confusion, and depression.

The players whose brains were examined spanned every position, from quarterbacks to running backs to linemen. Some players, such as Hall of Famer Ken Stabler, were particularly famous, while others were lesser known. In addition, high school and college players' brains were examined; CTE was found in three of 14 high school players' brains and 48 of 53 college players'.

Neuropathologist Ann McKee warned that there's "a tremendous selection bias" in the study's sampling of brains because the families that donated the brains oftentimes did so because they suspected symptoms of CTE. However, McKee noted the "fact that we were able to gather this many cases" in just the past eight years suggests the disease is "much more common than we previously realized."

McKee acknowledged that it's still not clear "what the incidence is in the general population or in the general population of football players," but she said one thing is clear: "It is no longer debatable whether or not there is a problem in football — there is a problem." Becca Stanek

12:15 p.m. ET

A hot mic captured Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and an unidentified male senator talking smack about Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) as a subcommittee hearing wrapped up Tuesday. In an interview last week with a local Texas radio station, Farenthold blamed female GOP senators like Collins for the health-care impasse and suggested he'd "settle this Aaron Burr-style" if they were men.

"Did you see the one who challenged me to a duel?" Collins says. "You could beat the sh-- out of him," the man responds.

At another point, Collins calls Farenthold "huge " and "so unattractive, it's unbelievable." She also mentions an old photo of Farenthold wearing rubber duckie pajamas and standing next to a woman in lingerie. "Did you see the picture of him in the pajamas?" she says.

Listen below. Becca Stanek

11:28 a.m. ET

President Trump's public shaming of Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn't going over well with Republican lawmakers. After Trump took to Twitter on Tuesday to accuse Sessions of taking "a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes," a handful of Republicans fired off some criticisms of their own.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) suggested that Trump "maybe just try a meeting" instead of publicly calling out his own Cabinet members:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) released a statement declaring that Trump's suggestion that Sessions "pursue prosecution of a former political rival is highly inappropriate." "Prosecutorial decisions should be based on applying facts to the law without hint of political motivation," Graham said. He also defended Sessions as "one of the most decent people I've ever met in my political life."

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) also posted a defense of Sessions' character. He called Sessions "a man of integrity, loyalty, and extraordinary character" and pledged his "deep respect and unwavering support":

Trump is reportedly seriously considering replacing Sessions, as he's upset Sessions recused himself from the investigation into the Trump team's alleged collusion with Russia. Becca Stanek

10:58 a.m. ET
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Freshly minted White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci on Tuesday told Politico that he intends to fire Assistant Press Secretary Michael Short. Scaramucci's announcement, it seemed, was the first that Short had heard of his own impending firing. "No one has told me anything and the entire premise is false," Short said, shortly after Scaramucci spoke to Politico.

It's not yet clear when Scaramucci would ax Short. Apparently Short's role in the White House was a surprise to many, as he'd previously abruptly quit the Trump campaign. Politico reported that Short was "closely aligned" with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who recently submitted his resignation over Scaramucci's appointment to the team.

Short's possible dismissal could be the first in a long line of ousters from the communications team. Scaramucci is on a mission to rid the Trump communications and press shop of leakers, and he's made clear that he'll be ruthless if necessary. "I'm committed to taking the comms shop down to Sarah [Huckabee Sanders] and me, if I can't get the leaks to stop," Scaramucci told Politico.

Scaramucci revealed that he dedicated his first day on the job to warning the communications team about leaks. "I offered amnesty in the meeting, but that decision is above my rank," Scaramucci said.

Read more on the story at Politico. Becca Stanek

Update 12:53 p.m. ET: Early Tuesday afternoon, Short announced his firing.

10:44 a.m. ET

The Senate Judiciary Committee has issued a subpoena for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to publicly testify at Wednesday's hearing on the ongoing Russia probe. Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) confirmed Tuesday that they requested Manafort's participation after they were "unable to reach an agreement for a voluntary transcribed interview with the Judiciary Committee."

Manafort has agreed to a single interview with the Senate Intelligence Committee about his participation in the June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower with a Kremlin-connected Russian lawyer, but his notes and comments would be unavailable to the Judiciary Committee. Grassley and Feinstein said they may excuse Manafort from the hearing if he agrees to an interview.

Read the Senate Judiciary Committee's entire statement below. Becca Stanek

10:26 a.m. ET
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Arizona residents perusing their state's official driver's license manual will find new information on how to interact with law enforcement roadside — or, in the words of state Rep. Reginald Bolding (D), who helped add the language to the handbook, how to avoid getting shot by the cops.

"When you look at what's taken place across the country, you have seen a majority of individuals who are people of color that have had higher incidence of interactions with law-enforcement officers, particularly in shootings," Bolding, who is black, explains. "Hopefully we can get to a place where that's not the reality."

The idea to add this update to the manual was particularly inspired by the death of Philando Castile, the black motorist in Minnesota who was fatally shot by police during a traffic stop in front of his girlfriend and her young daughter. Bolding consulted with eight Arizona police departments and said he received eight different sets of conflicting advice. He ended up working with his state's departments of transportation and public safety to come up with something more consistent.

"I recognize this won't solve all officer-involved shootings," Bolding concedes. "I do hope that this could potentially save a life by giving a recommendation of what to do." You can read the resultant guidance beginning on page 56 of this PDF version of the manual. Bonnie Kristian

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