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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

2:25 p.m. ET

Jazz musician turned Schoolhouse Rock! composer Bob Dorough died Monday at 94, WNEP reported.

And he was more than just a Bill … er, Bob.

Dorough kicked off his career in 1956 with an album titled Devil May Care. Miles Davis rerecorded the title track and turned it into a jazz standard, per NPR.

Despite that success, Dorough still had a day job at an advertising agency with a boss whose kids couldn't remember multiplication tables. Dorough's boss asked Dorough to set the math to music, and Schoolhouse Rock! was born.

After penning Three is a Magic Number and other multiplication hits, Schoolhouse Rock! was sold to ABC and Dorough stayed on to continue writing educational jams. He didn't love creating grammar songs, per NPR, but Conjunction Junction still became one of his most well-known tunes.

Celebrate Dorough's legacy with this live performance of Conjunction Junction in 2014. Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn Krawczyk

2:07 p.m. ET

When news broke that French President Emmanuel Macron was coming to visit President Trump at the White House, there was really only one question on everybody's minds:

Macron and Trump have a history of weirdly aggressive handshakes. Sure enough, this trip hasn't disappointed:

Enjoy a visual history of Trump's most awkward handshakes here. Jeva Lange

1:41 p.m. ET
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If the idea of Amazon opening your front door to deliver a package is a little uncomfortable, just let them pop your car trunk instead.

The company is launching a new version of its Amazon Key, which gives Amazon delivery drivers a special internet-connected key to open customers' front doors, Reuters reported Tuesday. Now, with an app on compatible cars, deliverers can unlock trunks and leave packages there.

Customers in 37 U.S. cities will soon get to try the new Key, per Reuters. It can hook up to GM's OnStar and other car services, and it's free for Prime customers — unlike the $220 version for in-home deliveries.

Porch thieves, your days are numbered. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:17 p.m. ET
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Attorney General Jeff Sessions will not recuse himself from the ongoing investigation into President Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, Bloomberg reports. Last year, Sessions announced he would recuse himself from Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, and while the Cohen probe was sparked by a tip from Mueller's team, it is being carried out by the Southern District of New York.

Sessions will consider recusal specifically on a "matter-by-matter basis as may be needed," the Justice Department said. "To the extent a matter comes to the attention of his office that may warrant consideration of recusal, the attorney general would review the issue and consult with the appropriate Department ethics experts." Otherwise, Sessions is "entitled to briefings on the status of the investigation," Bloomberg writes, which "could put [him] in the position of being asked by Trump … to divulge information about the Cohen investigation."

FBI agents raided Cohen's office earlier this month, reportedly looking for evidence of possible bank and wire fraud and campaign finance violations, as well as documents related to the $130,000 payment Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels right before the 2016 presidential election. Trump called the raid a "whole new level of unfairness." Jeva Lange

1:03 p.m. ET

A few months ago, Kim Jong Un was "little rocket man" and a "sick puppy" to President Trump.

Now, he's "very honorable."

Trump discussed his impending meeting with the leader of North Korea amid Tuesday's White House visit with French President Emmanuel Macron. There's no set date for the summit yet, but Trump said he and Kim agreed to meet "as soon as possible."

Kim has been "very open" and the two men have had "very good discussions" prior to the meeting, Trump effused, though he did clarify that he's still not sure if the meeting will be "wonderful" and is prepared to walk out if it's not. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:33 p.m. ET
PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA/AFP/Getty Images

The next census is getting another update.

Aside from the addition of a controversial citizenship question, the 2020 census will also count same-sex couples for the first time in U.S. history, the Census Bureau recently announced.

Previously, the census gathered data about coupled households with two options: "husband or wife" or "unmarried partner." Now, people will able to check "opposite-sex husband/wife/spouse," "same-sex husband/wife/spouse," "opposite-sex unmarried partner," or "same-sex unmarried partner."

The Census Bureau told NBC News that the 2015 Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage on a federal level made the change necessary. The number of same-sex couples has previously been estimated by cross-checking spouses' answers to the form's gender question.

Census data, collected once a decade, helps determine how to allocate federal funding to state and local governments, as well as assists in assigning the number of seats in the House of Representatives for each state. Many advocacy groups have pushed for the census to include a question about same-sex couples, NBC News reports. Summer Meza

11:12 a.m. ET

Friends don't let friends get up in front of the world with a bit of dandruff on their shoulder, but friends also do not announce the dandruff situation to the multinational press, either. President Trump apparently only got the first part of the memo Tuesday when he praised his "very special relationship" with French President Emmanuel Macron before declaring, "I'll get that little piece of dandruff off [you]." The president of the United States then proceeded to brush the president of France's shoulder to remedy the problem.

As if to explain himself, Trump then said, "We have to make him perfect, he is perfect," while Macron laughed like an extremely good sport. Still — next time, a pointed look or a wordless brush disguised as a pat on the shoulder will do! Watch the awkward moment below. Jeva Lange

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