Stephen Bannon secretly met with "the second most powerful Chinese Communist Party official" last week, The Financial Times reports. The 90-minute huddle with Wang Qishan in Beijing followed Bannon's speech in Hong Kong calling for stricter U.S. policy on China at a conference hosted by a state-owned brokerage and investment group.
Wang, 69, serves as the head of the Communist Party's anti-corruption campaign but is "expected to step down during the Communist Party's five-yearly congress next month, in line with informal retirement rules," the South China Morning Post reports. Nevertheless, there is some speculation he might stay on anyway.
Wang reportedly had questions for Bannon involving topics like "economic nationalism" and "populist movement," the South China Morning Post adds. "[Wang] must have had a reason to meet Bannon, and the topic doesn't seem relevant to his current job," said Zhang Lifan, a Chinese political commentator. "It's possible his political career will be extended, though maybe in a different area."
Bannon has claimed that America is in an "economic war with China" and he is a subscriber to the "Thucydides Trap" theory, which suggests that historical indicators show the U.S. is on an unavoidable path to war with China. "A hundred years from now, this is what they'll remember — what we did to confront China on its rise to world domination," Bannon said in a recent interview with The New York Times. Jeva Lange
"Does anybody here use Facebook? Still?" Stephen Colbert asked on Tuesday's Late Show, noting that the world's biggest social network is in hot water over the unauthorized harvesting of the private information of 50 million American users by Cambridge Analytica, President Trump's campaign contractor — and also "the scientific name for John Oliver."
"Now, people are blaming Facebook for this because they handed over all your data willingly," Colbert said. "It's less like they're a bank that got robbed at gunpoint and more like a bank that just gave bank robbers your money because that's their business model — but now you can't quit the bank because your whole family is at the bank, and also the bank is where you get to see if your high school friends got fat." Now seems to be a good time for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to weigh in with some damage control, he added, but so far, crickets.
But Cambridge Analytica is in hot water, too, especially as Britain's Channel 4 released the second part of its undercover report on Tuesday, focusing on their central role in electing Trump. "Wow, so it was their meticulous data and analytics that informed Trump's strategy of 'wear hat, yell about wall,'" Colbert said skeptically — and then in disbelief: "Wait, they made up 'Crooked Hillary'? Coming up with demeaning nicknames was the one skill we knew Trump had!" He also had some fun with Cambridge Analytica's assertion that the candidates they serve are always the "puppet," presumably including Trump: "Since he's a puppet, no wonder he has to use two hands to pick up a glass of water." Watch below. Peter Weber
Trevor Noah is skeptical of Trump's opioids plan. Jordan Klepper jokes 'bad' PSAs and killing drug dealers might just work.
President Trump went to New Hampshire on Monday to roll out his plan to fight the opioid crisis, and he couldn't quite agree with himself on whether America was ready for his proposal to kill drug dealers, Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. "One of my favorite things about Trump is that he has inner monologues out loud — it's like America elected Gollum as president."
Sill, killing drug dealers won't solve America's opioid crisis, Noah said. "Do you also kill doctors who overprescribe painkillers? Do you kill family members who buy opioids for their addicted loved ones?" And Trump's vintage '80s idea of making "very, very bad commercials" to scare teens from taking drugs only makes sense if you are Trump. "I mean, if the president of the United States believes everything he sees on TV, then why wouldn't teenagers?" he asked, noting that they don't.
"I believe that the president sincerely wants to keep young people away from drugs, which is why here at The Daily Show, we've decided to help," Noah said. "What Trump needs is a way to make drugs seem really uncool for young people — and for once I believe he's the right man for the job."
Trump's plan is more than just commercials and executing drug dealers — historically, it also involves cutting funding for drug treatment, prevention, and research, Jordan Klepper noted at The Opposition. "You see, drug addiction is so tragic that usually, Trump can't bear to think about, let alone address it!"
Besides, "we shouldn't give Trump all the credit here: He actually crowdsourced this 'kill drug dealers' idea from some of his newest friends," Klepper said. "Trump visited the Philippines, and they do not have a drug problem there at all. They also don't have a journalist problem, or a due process problem, or a 'not getting murdered in your sleep by state police' problem." Watch below. Peter Weber
It will take more than 500 workers a combined 450,000 hours to complete what Silversea Cruises says is a first-of-its-kind project: The lengthening of a luxury cruise ship.
The 642-foot-long Silver Spirit, which first set sail in 2009, was cut in half earlier this month while in a dry dock in Palermo, Sicily. A new 49-foot segment is being built for the ship's midsection, which will include a large pool area, restaurants, spa, and more cabins. It will take 846 tons of steels, 360,892 feet of cabling, and 26,247 feet of piping to complete the addition, which increases the Silver Spirit's passenger capacity by about 12 percent to 608, USA Today reports.
This massive undertaking is expected to be completed in early May, and the longer ship will make its debut as it sails out of Civitavecchia, Italy. Catherine Garcia
After customer Danny Cadra drove away from a Chick-fil-A in Lubbock, Texas, without his $3 in change, cashier Marcus Henderson stuffed it into an envelope, knowing the regular would be back sometime soon.
For three weeks, Henderson carried the envelope in his back pocket while at work, never knowing if that would be the day he saw Cadra. He could have put it back in the cash register, but Henderson wanted to ensure Cadra received what was rightfully his. When Cadra came back to the restaurant last week, Henderson handed him the envelope, much to his surprise — he said he didn't even realize he left the change behind.
"What a breath of fresh air," Cadra told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. "It meant that much to him, it meant even that much more to me." He said he thought it was "the coolest thing" for Henderson to hold onto his change, and that the cashier is a "great American." Catherine Garcia
Tuesday's House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Housing and Urban Development Department's budget ended up largely being about HUD Secretary Ben Carson's office furniture budget — specifically, the $31,000 mahogany dining set Caron's office ordered for his office. Carson "offered a rambling, at times contradictory, explanation of the purchase of the table, chairs, and hutch," The New York Times notes, pinning the blame variously on safety considerations; his wife, Candy Carson; and staff members.
In his telling, Carson was blameless and ignorant of the cost, despite emails showing that his top aides were aware of the price tag and discussed how to get around the $5,000 office redecoration cap. "It's my understanding that the facilities people felt that the dining room table was actually dangerous," Carson said. "People are being stuck by nails, a chair collapsed with somebody sitting in it, it's 50 years old." It wasn't clear when those things happened, or if Carson was even being literal.
Claiming he's "not big into redecorating," Carson said he "invited my wife to come and help" pick out the new furniture he was told he was entitled to. "I left it to my wife, you know, to choose something. I dismissed myself from the issues," Carson said, and his wife "selected the color and style ... with the caveat that we were both not happy about the price." Candy Carson, he added, is "the most frugal person in the world," and "if anybody knew my wife, they would realize how ridiculous this was."
American Oversight, the watchdog group that requested the emails linking the Carsons to the purchase, found Carson's explanation a little ridiculous. "Setting aside the issue of whether it is appropriate for Secretary Carson to delegate decisions regarding the use of taxpayer funds to his wife, this is now at least the third version of Carson's story about the furniture," said American Oversight's Clark Pettig. HUD says Carson has tried to cancel the order. Peter Weber
Airplane window seats: They let you curl up a little easier, avoid getting hit by the beverage cart, keep an eye out for gremlins on the wing, and apparently cut your risk of catching the flu.
In a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by Vicki Hertzberg of Emory University wrote about the model they put together, called "Fantasy Flights," that showed how pathogens spread through airplanes. The team put together different simulations of how passengers move around the cabin during a transcontinental flight lasting three to five hours. They would make one person ill, and then see the probability of another passenger coming into contact with them.
Hertzberg told NPR that passengers overall had the greatest chance of getting ill when they sat next to or in the row in front of or behind the sick person. The window seats were safest because those passengers come in contact with fewer people, leave their seats less often, and are farther away from people walking in the aisle. "I have always chosen window seats," Hertzberg said. "But after this study, I have stopped moving around as much on flights." Germs are also on surfaces like the armrest or headrest, so wherever you're sitting on a plane, doctors advise using a hand sanitizer with 60 percent alcohol throughout the duration of a flight. Catherine Garcia
After running unopposed in Tuesday's Republican primary, it's now official: Arthur Jones, a Holocaust denier, is the GOP nominee for a House race in Illinois' 3rd congressional district.
The Anti-Defamation League says Jones has been involved with anti-Semitic and racist organizations for several decades, and he has a section on his campaign website called "Holocaust?" where a document called "The Holocaust Racket" is posted. Earlier this year, the Illinois Republican Party said it "strongly" opposed Jones' "racist views and his candidacy for any public office," and there is "no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones" in the party or country. The district represents sections of Chicago and nearby suburbs, and Jones will face off against the winner of the Democratic primary: either incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski or anti-bullying advocate Marie Newman. Catherine Garcia