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September 22, 2017

Late Thursday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un responded to President Trump's threat on Tuesday to "totally destroy North Korea" with a very rare personal statement saying Trump's "unprecedented rude nonsense" has "convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last." The statement, released by the official Korean Central News Agency, is full of colorful phrases — Kim calls Trump "a rogue and a gangster fond of playing with fire," for example — and ends with Kim's own threat to "surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged U. S. dotard with fire."

Hours after the statement was released, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters at the United Nations that Pyongyang is considering testing a hydrogen bomb. "It could be the most powerful detonation of an H-bomb in the Pacific," Ri said, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency. "We have no idea about what actions could be taken as it will be ordered by leader Kim Jong Un." Earlier on Thursday, Ri had mocked Trump as a "dog barking" and laughed off his "Rocket Man" nickname for Kim, and Trump had signed new financial penalties for North Korea.

If you are wondering what "dotard" means, you're not alone — "searches for 'dotard' are high as a kite," Merriam-Webster tweeted Thursday night, defining the word as someone in "a state or period of senile decay marked by decline of mental poise and alertness"; according to the Oxford English Dictionary, "dotard" now means "an old person, especially one who has become weak or senile," after earlier referring to an "imbecile." (You can read a longer history of the word at The Washington Post.) Peter Weber

4:21p.m.

As President Trump and Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) continue to float baseless allegations of voter fraud in Florida as ballots are recounted, officials are pushing back on their claims.

Federal Circuit Chief Judge Jack Tuter, who was appointed by former Gov. Jeb Bush, said Monday that he has seen no evidence of illegal activity in Broward County, the center of many of the fraud allegations. President Trump has tweeted about the county multiple times and said without evidence Monday that ballots are "massively infected" in the state, where gubernatorial and Senate elections currently have Republicans ahead by razor thin margins. Scott, who leads in the Senate race, has also accused incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) of attempting to steal the election.

But Tuter wants everyone to "ramp down the rhetoric," saying Monday that "we have to be careful about what we say," reports the Tampa Bay Times. The judge denied Scott's request to impound Broward County voting machines while they're not being used to recount ballots, but he did agree to allow three sheriffs to help oversee the recount there. "There needs to be an additional layer of confidence," Tuter explained. The Florida Department of State has also said there has been no evidence of criminal activity, reports Politico.

Nelson, meanwhile, wants to count ballots whose signatures did not match the one on the voter's registration, and he's suing to count mail-in ballots postmarked before Election Day but not delivered until after polls closed, per The Associated Press. Nelson is additionally calling on Scott to recuse himself from overseeing the recount. As this drama escalates, a Thursday deadline to complete a machine recount looms. Brendan Morrow

3:48p.m.

A photo of nearly every boy in a Wisconsin high school's class of 2019 giving a Nazi salute was posted on Twitter on Sunday. It's now under investigation by the school district and local police.

The photo seems to have been taken before Baraboo High School's junior prom this past spring, the Baraboo News Republic reports. It was tweeted from the @GoBaraboo account, captioned: "We even got the black kid to throw it up #BarabooProud," reports Madison365. Not all the boys in the photo are giving the salute, but one is flashing the "okay" sign, which some far-right trolls have rebranded as a white power symbol.

The photo was originally posted on local motorcycle photographer Peter Gust's website, but was taken down after Young Turks contributor Jules Suzdaltsev tweeted the photo Monday morning, reports Madison365. After posting the photo, Suzdaltsev began receiving messages from current and former Baraboo students who said racism was a pervasive problem in the school. One student said the photographer told the boys to throw up the Nazi salute.

Students are now on a "soft hold" at the high school and can't leave without parental and office permission while local officials investigate the issue, reports the News Republic. The Baraboo School District, several local and state officials, and even the Auschwitz Memorial Museum have condemned the photo. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:34p.m.

Stan Lee, the legendary Marvel Comics writer and editor who helped revolutionize the comic book industry and created dozens of iconic superheroes, has died at age 95, The Hollywood Reporter and NBC News report.

The cause of death is still unknown, but TMZ reports that Lee was rushed to the hospital in Los Angeles on Monday morning. Earlier this year, he was forced to cancel numerous appearances due to a battle with pneumonia, telling fans in a video at the time, "I want you to know that I still love you all.”

Born in 1922, Lee was hired in 1939 as an assistant at Timely Publications, which eventually became Marvel Comics. Alongside artist Jack Kirby and others, Lee went on to create countless heroes like the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Thor, the Incredible Hulk, the X-Men, and Black Panther. Lee created notably flawed and relatable characters, in contrast with the godlike heroes like Superman found in the pages of other comics.

Decades later, many of Lee's characters were brought to life on film, and Lee had a cameo in virtually every single movie adaptation, including every Marvel Cinematic Universe movie from Iron Man to this year's Ant-Man and the Wasp. Lee generally filmed several of his cameos at once, and per Screen Rant, it appears he had already shot his role in next year's Avengers 4 prior to his death. Brendan Morrow

2:15p.m.

Alex Trebek has some thoughts about the #MeToo movement. Not that anyone asked.

In a Vulture interview published Monday, the longtime Jeopardy! host was asked about how he manages to come across as an expert on every topic the show covers. But contrary to what viewers might think, Trebek said he's "not a nerdy person who spends all his time researching information that might come in handy on Jeopardy!" Then, totally unprompted, Trebek decided to share how he talked about the #MeToo movement with the Jeopardy! staff.

I said, "My gosh, this has got to be a scary time for men." I'm fortunate that I've never been in a position of power where I might be able to lord it over somebody sexually. I said, "But there are guys out there — young guys are stupid in their teens." There's nothing stupider than a teenage boy. They're operating on testosterone.

The conversation then turned back to some standard questions. Trebek said his dream celebrity contestant would be "Kevin Spacey ... but now you can't say that." He declared "there isn't enough humor" in politics today. And he suggested President Trump "might not agree that any of the correct responses are correct" if he appeared on Jeopardy!.

Things wrapped up with talk of the 78-year-old's likely retirement in 2020. And as for a replacement? "We're in the #MeToo movement now ... so I suspect that the producers might give serious consideration to having a woman host," Trebek said. His money is on Betty White. Read more of Trebek's wide-ranging interview at Vulture. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:51p.m.

When news hit last year that Ryan Reynolds of Deadpool fame would be voicing Pikachu in a live-action Pokémon movie, the news sounded too crazy to be true. But now, a trailer is here to prove that this upcoming movie is definitely very, very real.

The first trailer for Detective Pikachu, released Monday, takes place in a Blade Runner-esque city, in which humans and realistic-looking animated Pokémon live side by side. The main character is 21-year-old Tim, the son of a detective who has gone missing. In an attempt to locate his father, Tim receives help from none other than Pikachu, voiced by Reynolds, who is speaking English and sounding very much like Reynolds. As is soon explained, everyone else within the universe only hears Pikachu's normal high-pitched squealing of his own name, but for whatever reason, Tim can hear Pikachu speaking in clear full sentences.

Per the film's synopsis, this crime-solving Pikachu will join Tim on a quest to unravel a mystery and eventually "uncover a shocking plot that could destroy this peaceful co-existence and threaten the whole Pokémon universe," ScreenCrush reports. From director Rob Letterman (Goosebumps), this movie is the first time the Pokémon franchise has ever been adapted into a live-action film. It will hit theaters in May 2019. Watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

1:21p.m.

The United States, Russia, and China are not taking part in a new French-led push to crack down on cybercrime with new regulations.

On Monday, 50 governments and 150 tech companies pledged to do more to fight criminal activity on the internet, including election interference, hate speech, censorship, and the theft of trade secrets, The Associated Press reports. The countries taking part include many European nations, as well as Japan and Canada. Even though the U.S. is sitting out for now, U.S. tech companies like Facebook, Google, and Microsoft have signed on.

CNBC reports that "talks are continuing" with France to determine whether the U.S. will become a signatory, but either way, a French official says that "the U.S. will be involved under other forms."

The effort, spearheaded by France, is referred to as the "Paris call for trust and security in cyberspace." It calls for action to "improve trust, security and stability in cyberspace," but the Trump administration has generally steered clear of such international regulatory efforts, writes CNBC. The office of French President Emmanuel Macron said Monday that "now that that half of humanity is online, we need to find new ways to organize the internet" to keep it "free, open, and secure." A similar effort advocating for internet regulations during U.N. negotiations failed in 2017, Reuters notes. Brendan Morrow

12:08p.m.

Add Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) to the list of once-reluctant Democrats now considering a presidential run.

The senator, who just handily won re-election in a state that went for President Trump in 2016 and elected Republicans to nearly every other statewide office this year, has repeatedly said he's not considering a 2020 run. That is, until interviews with Cleveland.com and The Columbus Dispatch were published Monday.

In the Cleveland.com interview, Brown said an "overwhelming" number of people have recently told him to consider a presidential campaign. After all, Brown says, his "message clearly appeals to Democrats, Republicans, and independents," seeing as he won his Senate seat by 6.4 points in a state that otherwise went for Republicans in the midterms. Brown says he's listening to those calls and intends to discuss a presidential run with his family over the holidays.

Brown went on to give a similar message to The Columbus Dispatch, saying a "sort of a crescendo" of voices urging him to run have left him "thinking about it for the first time seriously." Brown's wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Connie Schultz, shared the Dispatch article in a Monday tweet and Facebook post, saying that "we are considering this because so many are urging us to."

In October, Brown told Cleveland.com he doesn't "really want the job" of president, and in September, he told the Cincinnati Enquirer he wasn't "actively considering" a run. But regardless of his decision, Brown told Morning Joe on Monday that a 2020 Democrat can learn from how he won over workers in the Midwest. Read more about the case for Brown's candidacy here at The Week. Kathryn Krawczyk

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