September 8, 2016

Seeking to prevent criticism of its oppressive policies and totalitarian leader, North Korea has reportedly banned all sarcastic comments about its government and Kim Jong Un himself. The ban was announced at large meetings called by officials around the country at the end of August.

"One state security official personally organized a meeting to alert local residents to potential 'hostile actions' by internal rebellious elements," an unnamed person from Jagang province told Radio Free Asia. "The main point of the lecture was 'keep your mouths shut.'"

Among the phrases specifically prohibited is "A fool who cannot see the outside world," a phrase circulating among North Koreans as a mocking critique of their not-so-Dear Leader. Also banned is "This is all America's fault" — apparently the North Korean equivalent of "Thanks, Obama." Bonnie Kristian

4:27 a.m.

At this point in the 2020 presidential race, you'd probably rather be Democratic nominee Joe Biden than President Trump. "Polls are getting worse and worse for Trump," showing him tied in Texas and drowning in must-win Pennsylvania, John Harris and Daniel Lippman write at Politico. "Still, journalists just can't bring themselves to count him out." That's one reason Trump's advisers still see "gleams of hope," Annie Karni reports at The New York Times.

Trump's "internal numbers over the past three weeks have stabilized after the double whammy of the first presidential debate" and his "subsequent hospitalization for the coronavirus," Karni reports. And Biden isn't "breaking decisively into a double-digit lead" in places like Wisconsin and Arizona, "leaving open the possibility that the race will tighten on Election Day, when in-person ballots come in." Thursday's debate also gives Trump one last chance to reset the race. And, of course, Trump proved everyone wrong in 2016.

Despite Trump's constant feuding with the press, including individuals like CBS's Lesley Stahl and Thursday's moderator Kristen Welker, "by historical standards, Trump's press coverage is actually favorable," Politico's Harris and Lippman argue. Thanks to the ghosts of 2016, self-doubting journalists and political professionals are "giving generous allowance for the possibility that things aren't as bad as they seem for the incumbent, and that he may yet have another surprise in store for anyone who thinks that conventional dynamics of politics apply to him."

That's a big gift, says veteran GOP election lawyer Ben Ginsberg. It "helps Trump because he can hold out a sliver of hope for his supporters so they don't give up the ship. Nobody likes a loser; you're not going to admit you're a loser."

A comeback isn't impossible, "but if Trump loses, the biggest factor won't be COVID-19 or the economic meltdown or the social unrest," Tim Alberta argues at Politico Magazine. "It will be his unlikability." Pollsters and journalists have long "fixated on the question of which candidate voters would rather have a beer with — a window into how personality translates into political success," he explains. But Trump is "like the drunk at the bar, he won't shut up. Whatever appeal his unfiltered thoughts once held has now worn off. Americans are tired of having beers with Trump. His own supporters are tired of having beers with Trump," and it's probably too late to change that. Peter Weber

2:51 a.m.

President Trump's performance in the first presidential debate with Democratic nominee Joe Biden was described as an "avalanche of lying." But not everybody saw that as a negative. To preview Thursday's final Trump-Biden debate, The Daily Show's Michael Kosta held an online panel discussion with three professional liars: Brett Johnson, a con man once on the FBI's most-wanted list; hypnotist Timon Kruase; and Alexis Conran, a magician and deception expert.

"In the first debate, I thought Trump was a mess," Kosta said on Wednesday's show. "But these guys liked his aggressive style." Some of Trump's voters evidently agree, and they might not care if he's being straight with them. "We have this perception that the people that are followers of Donald Trump or that fall for scams are idiots or stupid or ignorant," Johnson said. "They're not. It's just that they're looking to make sense out of something that doesn't make sense." Watch below to see a card trick gone bad, find out about "prison debates," and learn if any of these con men were impressed enough by Trump's moves they would vote for him themselves. Peter Weber

1:58 a.m.

The Supreme Court late Wednesday lifted an injunction put in place by a federal judge, allowing Alabama to ban curbside voting in counties that wanted to allow it this election. The court's five conservative justices did not give a reason for their decision, but Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained in a dissent she would have left the injunction in place to allow people with disabilities or other risk factors to vote from their cars during the COVID-19 pandemic. The court's two other liberal justices signed on to her dissent.

"The Alabama dispute is the latest in a flurry of election-related fights to reach the justices in recent weeks," including a 4-4 deadlocked decision Monday that allowed Pennsylvania to count mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day for three days after the election, Politico reports. "The series of decisions suggests the high court, in its current configuration after the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last month, is poised to block election-related changes ordered by federal courts, while allowing state officials to make adjustments even without clear buy-in from the state legislature."

Democrats lost another voting rights battle on Wednesday when the Iowa Supreme Court upheld a state law that makes it harder for county officials to process absentee ballot requests with information missing, Reuters notes. "Opinion polls suggest a larger share of Democrats will cast absentee ballots — which include those returned by mail — than will Republicans." Peter Weber

1:13 a.m.

Before President Trump abruptly ended an interview with Lesley Stahl of 60 Minutes on Tuesday, his aides handed the veteran CBS journalist a large hardcover book that White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said contained Trump's health care accomplishments.

When Trump tweeted out more photos of Stahl and the book, what was "supposed to be a cheeky illustration of an administration hard at work" turned into "a tidal wave of online snark," Rob Crilly writes at The Washington Examiner. That's mostly because the book appeared to be full of blank pages.

Well, "The Washington Examiner has obtained a PDF of the contents, which shows its 512 pages contain 13 executive orders and 11 other pieces of health care legislation enacted under Trump," Crilly writes. The legislation includes the part of Trump's 2017 tax overhaul that reduced the Affordable Care Act's individual mandate to zero, several executive orders, and "pages of another document, entitled 'America First Healthcare Plan.'" Is this the long-promised, never-delivered Trump health care plan? Crilly doesn't say.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said on MSNBC Wednesday night that the bigger point for him is that the American people want "a president who is not going to create hysteria every single day, not gonna be firing people, not gonna be attacking people, not going to be arguing with Lesley Stahl or with Dr. Fauci," but rather "would focus on their needs: How do we get health care for all? How do we deal with the pandemic?" Peter Weber

12:25 a.m.

"President Trump and his advisers have repeatedly discussed whether to fire FBI Director Christopher A. Wray after Election Day," less than four years into his 10-year term, The Washington Post reports. "Trump often complains about members of his Cabinet and contemplates dismissing them, without doing so," the Post concedes, but he is "increasingly frustrated" that "federal law enforcement has not delivered his campaign the kind of last-minute boost that the FBI provided in 2016."

Specifically, the Post says, Trump is agitated that neither Wray nor Attorney General William Barr has announced that "Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, his son Hunter Biden, or other Biden associates are under investigation," as then-FBI Director James Comey did with Hillary Clinton 11 days before the last presidential election, sending Clinton's poll numbers sliding.

Comey's decision to publicly disclose a reopened, ultimately fruitless investigation of Clinton's emails so close to the election was sharply criticized by Democrats and the Justice Department inspector general. It was also the official reason Trump fired Comey four years into his 10-year term.

Trump hasn't exactly kept his feelings secret. As his poll numbers remain dire weeks before Election Day, Trump "has intensified public calls for jailing his challenger, much as he did for Hillary Clinton," the Post notes. "Trump has called Biden a 'criminal' without articulating what laws he believes the former vice president has broken."

"Trump considers Wray one of his worst personnel picks," the Post reports, and many of his top aides and conservative media allies are similarly critical. Trump has also publicly floated the idea of firing Attorney General Barr, citing the lack of a pre-election report on the Russian investigation from U.S. Attorney John Durham.

"Trump was so focused on the Durham report that he would turn up the television volume when segments would air about it," the Post reports. "Trump has told allies that he once believed Barr would deliver 'scalps' in the form of Durham's findings, according to an adviser who recently spoke to Trump about it. 'But they aren't doing s---,' the president said, according to this person." Read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

October 21, 2020

Vivian "Millie" Bailey has had a lot of adventures during her 102 years of life, and over the weekend, she made another memory when she fulfilled her dream of going skydiving.

Bailey said said was inspired by former President George H.W. Bush, who celebrated his 75th, 80th, 85th, and 90th birthdays by jumping out of a plane. "I just always thought it would be a thrill," Bailey told WJZ.

The Howard County, Maryland, resident is a World War II veteran; in 1942, she joined the U.S. Women's Army Auxiliary. Bailey received the American Theater Medal, Women's Army Corps Medal, and World War II Victory Medal, and after being honorably discharged in 1946 as a first lieutenant, she worked for nearly three decades with Veterans Affairs and the Social Security Administration.

Bailey has spent her retirement giving back — since the Vietnam War, she has sent care packages to troops, and she raises on average $10,000 a year to donate to local schools. "I try every day to do something for someone else," Bailey said. In 2018, the Howard County Police Department celebrated her 100th birthday by renaming its annual Making a Difference Award in her honor.

"There are a lot of things that I can look back on," Bailey told WJZ. "I am thoroughly happy and feel blessed that I've been able to do whatever I've been able to do." There's still one more thing she wants to cross off her bucket list: meeting former first lady Michelle Obama. Catherine Garcia

October 21, 2020

Former President Barack Obama on Wednesday said dealing with the coronavirus pandemic "would have been challenging for any president, but this idea that somehow this White House has done anything but completely screw this up is just not true."

Obama made his remarks in Philadelphia during a drive-up rally for Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden. Obama said that South Korea recorded its first COVID-19 case at the same time as the United States, "and its per capita death toll is just 1.3 percent of what ours is. Canada is just 39 percent of what ours is. Other countries are struggling with the pandemic, but they're not doing as bad as we are because they've got a government that's actually been paying attention."

Comparing Biden to President Trump, Obama declared that "Joe's not going to screw up testing, he's not going to call scientists idiots, he's not going to host a superspreader event at the White House." The United States is eight months into the pandemic, and cases are again on the rise across the country, but "Donald Trump isn't suddenly going to protect all of us," Obama said. "He can't even take the basic steps to protect himself."

Trump can't say Obama didn't try to warn him — before leaving office, his administration passed along a 70-page document on how to fight pandemics, the former president stated, with information included on novel coronaviruses. "We literally left this White House a pandemic playbook," Obama said. "They probably used it to prop up a wobbly table somewhere."

Obama didn't just focus on the pandemic. He also made the pitch for Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), promising voters they "are going to fight for you every day. They care about you and they care about this democracy. ... They believe that no one, especially the president, is above the law. They understand that protests on behalf of social justice isn't un-American, that's the most American thing there is. That's how this country was founded: protesting injustice." Catherine Garcia

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