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October 5, 2017
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A closed Q&A between Marvel Comics and comic book retailers erupted at the New York Comic Con on Thursday after one retailer became vocally critical of the publisher's decision to change the ethnicity, gender, and sexuality of some of the classic characters, Bleeding Cool reports.

The tensions began when an unnamed seller "specifically [expressed] his distaste for Iceman 'kissing other men,' and Thor 'becoming a woman,'" Newsarama writes. "The retailer's complaints sparked an outcry among the other retailers present in the room, some echoing his frustration, with multiple attendees raising their voices to speak over each other."

As Marvel editor Nick Lowe attempted to calm tensions, the original retailer further complained that comic fans leave his store "when they see that Thor is a woman and Captain America is a black man," and called for Marvel "creating new characters and not messing with the old guys. The old guys are solid."

"The words 'black,' 'homo,' and 'freaking females' were used multiple times," Bleeding Cool adds.

Marvel has been heavily criticized for a lack of diversity, although the publisher has experimented with a black, female Iron Man; a biracial Spiderman; a female Thor; and a Muslim Ms. Marvel. Still, the company's vice president of sales, David Gabriel, recently blamed poor sales on the fact that "people didn't want any more diversity. They didn't want female characters out there."

Many fans have dismissed such excuses, including comic book author G. Willow Wilson. "Who wants a legacy if the legacy is s---ty?" she wrote. "Let's scrap the word diversity entirely and replace it with authenticity and realism. This is not a new world. This is the world." Jeva Lange

Editor's note: This story originally mischaracterized a DC character as a Marvel character. The mention has since been removed. We regret the error.

5:00 a.m. ET
Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images

By the end of Monday, Iraqi government forces and allied Shiite militias had taken control of Kirkuk, a city of 1 million in northern Iraq, and oil fields around it from the Kurdish authorities who have controlled it since 2014, when Iraqi troops fled and Kurdish peshmerga fighters stepped in amid an assault by the Islamic State. After an early morning skirmish south of Kirkuk, the Iraqi troops faced little resistance under a deal secretly negotiated with Kurdish forces aligned with an opposition party to Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani. The peshmerga and Iraqi troops, both sides trained and armed by the U.S., had fought ISIS together as recently as two weeks ago.

The Kurdish governor of Kirkuk fled to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, on Monday along with thousands of Kurdish residents, while Arab and Turkmen residents celebrated the arrival of Iraqi troops. Kurdish troops also withdrew from Sinjar early Tuesday, leaving the town to Shiite militias. Iraq mounted its assault after Kurds voted for independence last month in a referendum called by Barzani and opposed by Baghdad, the U.S., Iran, and Turkey. Analysts now call that referendum a mistake that led to lost territory and oil revenue. "They may have made a miscalculation of historic proportions by proceeding with the referendum over the objections of just about everyone who counts," said Joost Hiltermann at the International Crisis Group. Peter Weber

4:16 a.m. ET
American Cancer Society/Getty Images

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are fighting to make breast cancer diagnosis more efficient — and they've turned to artificial intelligence to do so.

Traditionally, women undergo regular mammograms, which provide images of the breasts that doctors use to identify any lesions. But while mammograms can categorize lesions as "high risk," they cannot do so with foolproof accuracy, and a needle biopsy must be performed to determine whether the tissue is in fact cancerous. Ninety percent of these lesions are determined to be non-cancerous, MIT notes, but only after the invasive procedure has been performed.

That's where the AI comes in. Researchers at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), together with Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, developed a groundbreaking new model that uses machine learning to evaluate high-risk lesions before surgery. The model, known as a "random-forest classifier," is armed with information about more than 600 existing cases, and it uses that information to identify patterns across different data points, including demographics and medical history, to more accurately predict whether lesions will become cancerous without performing the biopsy.

Additionally, some doctors perform surgery in all cases of high-risk lesions, while others look only for specific types of lesions that are known to have a higher chance of becoming cancerous before operating. The team's model yielded more accurate diagnoses despite screening for more cancers, correctly diagnosing 97 percent of cancers, MIT said, as opposed to just 79 percent via surgery on traditional high-risk lesions.

Because the traditional diagnostic tools, like mammograms, are "so inexact," doctors tend to over-screen for breast cancer, said MIT CSAIL professor Regina Barzilay, a lead author on the study and recent MacArthur "genius grant" winner. That leads to the unnecessary, expensive surgeries that find legions to be benign. "A model like this ... hopefully will enable us to start to go beyond a one-size-fits-all approach to medical diagnosis," Barzilay said. Kimberly Alters

3:40 a.m. ET

There are new developments in the "war on Trump," Jordan Klepper said Monday on The Opposition, his faux alt-right Daily Show spinoff. He began with the opposition to President Trump's move to decertify the Iran nuclear deal. "That's right, certification is for suckers," Klepper said, "a belief I hold to this day in spite of how many lifeguard jobs it cost me." But the pushback against Trump was coming from within, including from his top generals and Cabinet officials. "Now it's clear who Trump's biggest enemy is — friends," Klepper said. "Friends who are the enemies — let's call them 'frenemies,' a word I just made up."

Trump's frenemies treat him like a "chump," Klepper said, running through the Rex Tillerson "moron" flap, and "I'm sick of this. Trump has done everything for these people. He picked them, seemingly at random, for positions of great importance, and now they're calling Trump a moron? Then I'm calling moron a compliment! What, you think 'nasty women' are the only ones who can turn insults into a rallying cry?" Apparently not — and Klepper brought T-shirts to prove it. You can watch his impassioned rallying cry below. Peter Weber

2:59 a.m. ET

On Sunday night, 60 Minutes and The Washington Post reported that Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) had worked for two years to push through a bill promoted and apparently written by the pharmaceutical industry that stripped the Drug Enforcement Administration of its biggest tool to fight prescription opioids entering the black market. Marino is President Trump's nominee to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy. On Monday, Trump called Marino "a good man," a "great guy," and "a very early supporter of mine — the great state of Pennsylvania," but said that after Sunday's 60 Minutes, "we're going to look into the report. We're going to take it very seriously."

Trump did not say if he would withdraw Marino's name to be drug czar, but hinted that he might. "I have not spoken to him, but I will speak to him, and I'll make that determination," he told reporters in the Rose Garden. "And if I think it's 1 percent negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change, yes."

Democrats and a few Republicans backed repealing the law — which passed on voice votes with no objections — and some Democrats urged Trump to dump Marino. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said the drug czar "is supposed to be a watchdog, not a lap dog," and warned that if Trump pursues the nomination, "it will be ugly."

Trump also said he plans to declare the opioid crisis a national emergency next week, calling the epidemic a "massive problem" he wants to get "absolutely right." Democrats and a few Republicans said they were stunned by the report, insisting they had been assured by DEA officials that the bill would not hamper the fight against opioid addiction. You can learn more about the reaction in Washington in the CBS News report below. Peter Weber

1:37 a.m. ET

Trevor Noah began a weeklong "Daily Show Undesked" residency in Chicago on Monday by criticizing Chicago's "Windy City" nickname. But "there is another nickname for some people," Noah said, "and it's way worse than the Windy City — it's 'the murder capital.'" Chicago's violent reputation isn't just in the U.S., he noted, showing a clip from a South African cartoon of his youth, but in a new twist, the president of the United States is arguing that "Chicago is basically Syria, but with different pizza."

"This week we're in Chicago because we figured that Chicago is a microcosm for all the issues that the rest of the country faces," Noah said. And despite what President Trump says, it isn't really the most dangerous city in America. Chicago does have the most murders, he conceded, but it's also America's third-largest city; per capita, Memphis, St. Louis, Baltimore, and Cleveland are deadlier. "But no one's ever like, 'Oh, don't go to Cleveland!'" Noah said. "Well, I mean, they do, but not because of murder." So why are Trump and the right fixated on Chicago? "I get it," Noah said, after playing some Fox News clips featuring a certain former president. "When there's shootings, Obama's from Chicago; all the other times, he's from Kenya."

Murder and gun violence really are big problems in Chicago, Noah said, but Trump's imaginary crime-fighters and federalized police may not work as well as local community engagement. Correspondent Roy Wood Jr. walked around the South Side with a group called CeaseFire that tries to mediate conflicts before people turn to violence, with some success. Watch below. Peter Weber

12:33 a.m. ET

On Monday night in Philadelphia, the National Constitution Center awarded Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) the Liberty Medal "for his lifetime of sacrifice and service." Former Vice President Joe Biden presented McCain with the medal.

In his acceptance speech, a sometimes emotional McCain mixed self-deprecating humor with a strong endorsement of American leadership and participation in "the international order we helped build from the ashes of world war," in what was widely seen as a rebuke to President Trump, whom he did not mention. America has become more just and prosperous for having "shared its treasures and ideals and shed the blood of its finest patriots to help make another, better world," he said, adding pointedly:

To fear the world we have organized and led for three-quarters of a century, to abandon the ideals we have advanced around the globe, to refuse the obligations of international leadership and our duty to remain "the last best hope of earth" for the sake of some half-baked, spurious nationalism cooked up by people who would rather find scapegoats than solve problems, is as unpatriotic as an attachment to any other tired dogma of the past that Americans consigned to the ash heap of history. [John McCain]

McCain clearly wanted that line to stand out. He also unsubtly took a swipe at neo-Nazis and white nationalists, saying "we live in a land made of ideals, not blood and soil," and ended on the valedictory note of an elder statesman battling aggressive cancer. Former President Barack Obama tweeted his gratitude and congratulations to his 2008 presidential rival. You can read McCain's speech or watch the entire ceremony. Peter Weber

October 16, 2017

On Monday, President Trump told reporters that ObamaCare is dead, killed by his executive orders last week. Because he ended the cost-sharing reductions (CSRs) to insurance companies, used to subsidize health care for millions of low-income customers — 70 percent of whom live in states Trump won — "there is no such thing as ObamaCare anymore," Trump said. His action prompted Congress to start working on a short-term fix, he added, instead of "having lunch and enjoying themselves." A minute later, Trump blamed the purportedly dead law for insurers raising premiums:

Sadly, the Democrats can't join us on that which will be the long-term fix, but I do believe we will have a short-term fix because I think the Democrats will be blamed for the mess. This is an ObamaCare mess. When the premiums go up, that has nothing to do with anything other than the fact that we had poor care delivered poorly, written poorly, approved by the Democrats. [Trump]

The Congressional Budget Office predicted in August that ending the CSRs would raise premiums and the federal deficit, and on Monday, Pennsylvania's insurance commissioner announced that rates on ObamaCare exchanges will rise an average of 30.6 percent, rather than 7.6 percent, "due to President Trump's refusal to make cost-sharing reduction payments for 2018 and Congress' inaction to appropriate funds." Trump said he thinks Republicans will still "get the health care done," adding that while most GOP senators "are really, really great people ... a few people disappointed us. Really, really disappointed us. I can understand how Steve Bannon feels."

Over the weekend, incidentally, Bannon told the Values Voters Summit he feels that ending the CSRs will "blow up" the ObamaCare exchanges. Peter Weber

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