February 13, 2018
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Credit to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue for thinking outside the box — or, rather, thinking up a new box. Nestled in President Trump's 2019 budget proposal is a plan to transform the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) food stamp program into an "America's Harvest Box" full of government-picked nonperishable items. The boxes would be distributed to the roughly 16 million U.S. households getting at least $90 a month in food stamps. Perdue called his Harvest Box idea "a bold, innovative approach" that would give low-income families the "same level of food value as SNAP" at considerably lower costs.

"Secretary Perdue wanted to give it a chance," White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney said Monday. "We thought it was a tremendous idea." Apparently unimpressed with the "America's Harvest Box" branding and enticing pitches like "same level of food value," however, Mulvaney called the idea a "Blue Apron-type program" — which, Politico notes, compares Perdue's boxes to the "high-end meal kit delivery company that had one of the worst stock debuts in 2017 and has struggled to hold onto customers."

The Blue Apron comparison has other problems, too. Blue Apron specializes in delivering fresh fruit, meat, and produce to customers' doors. The Harvest Boxes would include staples like shelf-stable milk, peanut butter, pasta, cereals, beans, canned meat and fish, and canned fruit and vegetables — in other words, nothing fresh. And USDA spokesman Tim Murtaugh said states would have "flexibility" in how they got the boxes to SNAP recipients, adding, "The projected savings does not include shipping door-to-door for all recipients."

The plan has already gathered an unusual coalition of detractors — advocates for the poor, Walmart, rural mom-and-pop markets — and it faces long odds in Congress, which would have to approve the program. SNAP recipients would still get half of their monthly disbursement on a special debit card, like under the current system. Peter Weber

1:01 p.m. ET
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NBA legend Dirk Nowitzki, a 13-time All-Star, has signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Mavericks, the team announced Monday. The move sets Nowitzki up for a record-setting 21st consecutive season with the team, allowing him to surpass the mark set by Kobe Bryant, whose 20 straight seasons with the Los Angeles Lakers was previously the longest continuous stint with one team.

The deal is reportedly worth $5 million. Nowitzki, who turned 40 last month, has reportedly informed the team that he knows the upcoming season could be his last, and has additionally reportedly indicated a willingness to come off the bench behind newly signed center DeAndre Jordan. Kimberly Alters

11:53 a.m. ET
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Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D) is hoping to mobilize an untapped fountain of political power: yoga lovers.

The Democrat has been telling people that he is planning to run for president in 2020, The Intercept reported Monday, and he thinks he can capitalize on a growing base of voters who want to bring mindfulness into the Oval Office.

"The so-called yoga voters are the kind of folks who realize that while they grew up with their mom saying, 'pay attention,' nobody trained them in how to pay attention and use their mind to focus on what's important,” Mindful Magazine publisher James Gimian told The Intercept. “That's a growing population — it's no longer just Lululemon yoga women."

Ryan, who launched a "Quiet Time Caucus" in Congress and is an avid fan of meditation, has reportedly already begun to assemble a team for a 2020 bid. He has spoken with political consultants and is planning his future campaign while still in office as the representative for Ohio's 13th District, a majority-white working class area.

While the pool of potential Democratic presidential candidates is still a crowded one, Ryan has told friends he's not deterred by his liberal competition. "I'm gonna win," he reportedly told a friend. Read more at The Intercept. Summer Meza

11:14 a.m. ET
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North Korean leaders think they have done enough to uphold their end of the denuclearization bargain, and want President Trump to take the next "bold move."

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un wants a permanent peace plan from the U.S. before he is willing to move forward in denuclearization talks, an official told CNN on Monday. Until Trump replaces the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War, Kim doesn't want to continue negotiating the denuclearization process that began when he met with Trump in Singapore last month.

The official said that North Korea thinks it has already done "so much," like halting nuclear missile testing and destroying one nuclear testing site. Before moving on to any further steps, Kim wants to ensure that his regime will stay in place. Any peace treaty would require a two-thirds approving vote from the Senate, reports CNN.

Kim additionally wants Trump to lift economic sanctions, but Trump has said that he is in no rush to appease North Korea. "We have no time limit. We have no speed limit," he said last week. "We're just going through the process. But the relationships are very good." Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has also said that he doesn't want to give in to North Korea's demands, but has insisted that the vague agreement that Kim and Trump signed in Singapore will lead to denuclearization in North Korea. Trump on Monday pushed back against claims that he is frustrated with the speed of negotiations with Kim, tweeting that "all of Asia is happy" and that he specifically is "very happy!" Read more at CNN. Summer Meza

10:50 a.m. ET

Cuba's communist government has long kept a tight grip on its citizens' limited web access, but now — 22 years after mobile internet became commercially available and 11 years after the first iPhone was released — some Cubans are being allowed to have the internet on their phones.

Select users are already connected, Reuters reports, and Havana aims to roll out nationwide mobile internet by 2019. Among those permitted early access are reporters at state-run media outlets who can use the connectivity for work purposes. "It's been a radical change," said one such journalist, Yuris Norido. "I can now update on the news from wherever I am, including where the news is taking place."

Unfortunately, even once mobile internet access is more widely available, it will remain unaffordable for most. Hotspot use costs $1 per hour, a hefty price in a nation with an average state monthly wage of $30.

Cuba's new President Miguel Diaz-Canel has endorsed expanding internet access as a means of spreading his regime's ideology abroad. "We need to be able to put the content of the revolution online," he said last year as vice president, arguing that Cubans, once online, will "counter the avalanche of pseudo-cultural, banal, and vulgar content" from which the internet now suffers. Bonnie Kristian

10:29 a.m. ET

Fox & Friends First thought it had booked a rare guest: Ann Kirkpatrick, a pro-ICE Democrat running for Congress in Arizona. It could not have been more wrong.

On Monday's show, Fox & Friends First host Jillian Mele introduced "the only Democrat on stage to support ICE, Ann Kirkpatrick," and asked her to "tell us why you do support ICE." The so-called Kirkpatrick then declared she was on the show to "speak directly to Donald Trump" — who's known to watch the Fox morning show — because she's "a mother of four" and believe(s) that separating kids from their parents is illegal and inhumane."

A strong statement against Trump's family separation policy isn't what you'd expect from a Democrat who was booed Thursday for backing ICE. But then the guest dropped a bombshell: She was actually Barbara L'Italien, a Massachusetts state senator who's running for U.S. Congress. She "represent[s] a large immigrant community" and implored Trump to "stop abducting children and ripping them from their parents' arms."

Host Rob Schmitt stepped in, but still didn't quite understand what was happening. "That practice has stopped at this point, Ms. Kirkpatrick, right?" Schmitt asked. L'Italien calmly confirmed her identity and continued her statement, but Schmitt still asked "Who is this?" again before L'Italien's video feed was cut off.

In the words of Schmitt: "That didn't go as planned." Kathryn Krawczyk

Update 12:41 p.m. ET: Desiree Dunne, the executive producer of Fox & Friends First, said in a statement that L'Italien "did not identify herself as anything other than [Ann] Kirkpatrick until she was live on air." Dunne explained that the show contacted Kirkpatrick "through her press contact on file, Joe Katz, who accepted the invitation on Kirkpatrick’s behalf. Katz followed with an email confirming the segment, which also included background information and a campaign logo for Ann Kirkpatrick." Watch the hosts' on-air correction here.

10:28 a.m. ET

Quiz: If you're doing something hypocritical, does it make things any better to note you've been a hypocrite for a long time? I would say no, but Pastor Robert Jeffress, an adviser to President Trump and one of his most rhetorically gymnastic supporters, says yes.

"Nobody has sold his soul to support President Trump," Jeffress said in a new Fox News interview when presented with the contrast between Trump's behavior and the evangelical ethics Jeffress touts. "Back in 1980, evangelicals chose to support a twice-married Hollywood actor who was a known womanizer in Hollywood," he said. "His name was Ronald Reagan. They chose to support him over Jimmy Carter, a born-again Baptist Sunday school teacher who had been married faithfully to one woman."

"The reason we supported President Reagan was not because we supported womanizing or divorce," he continued. "We supported his policies, and that's true" with Trump, too.

Read more on whether character matters to conservatives in the age of Trump here at The Week, and see Jeffress' comments in context below. Bonnie Kristian

9:55 a.m. ET

"I think it's an overstatement to say we're at the brink of war," Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.) said Monday on CNN's New Day of President Trump's late-night Twitter threat against Iran. But, Himes added, there is real cause for concern.

"If you look back at a bunch of Trump's tweets before he was president," the representative said, "he criticized several times Barack Obama and said, 'You just wait, he's going to start a war with Iran if it feels like he's on the political ropes.' And so that's in his head; that's what worries me."

After reviewing a few of the Trump tweets in question, Himes argued that we "need to be sensitive to the fact that this president, who doesn't have a very sophisticated sense of international relations, regards a war as a way to solve political problems — and that's a scary thought." Watch Himes' comments and see the tweets for yourself below. Bonnie Kristian

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