×
May 26, 2018

The Trump administration on Friday announced it has made a deal to help a Chinese telecom, ZTE, shuttered by a U.S. Commerce Department export ban. ZTE obtains about one quarter of its manufacturing components from American businesses, and it suspended operations earlier this month after the administration imposed sanctions as a penalty for violating U.S. sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

On Twitter Friday evening, Trump used the deal as an avenue to criticize Democrats:

Trump's plan to get ZTE "back into business, fast," as he put it in an initial tweet on the subject earlier this month, has produced widespread confusion given his adversarial stance toward foreign manufacturers on the campaign trail. Some members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have suggested they may attempt to block the new arrangement on national security grounds. Bonnie Kristian

3:50 p.m.

The definition of fake news has hit Washington, D.C.

"UNPRESIDENTED," the front page of The Washington Post screamed Wednesday, featuring a story that claimed President Trump had resigned. Except it wasn't The Washington Post, and it definitely didn't happen.

An activist group spent Wednesday morning handing out the fake Post copies around the capital, dated May 1, 2019 and suggesting Trump would resign with a note written on a napkin, the real Washington Post reports. It was full of anti-Trump stories that also appeared on a Post lookalike website, which has since been taken down.

The Post's PR team quickly tweeted that the paper and website were "not Post products." Anti-Trump activist L.A. Kauffman later said she, along with author Onnesha Roychoudhuri and the activist pranksters known as the Yes Men, created the fake paper, per NPR. As Politico report Ian Kullgren tweeted, "this is problematic" and definitely not helping their cause, but whoever was handing out the papers "wasn't having it" when he told her as much, he said.

The now-defunct fake Post website contained just a story called "A look at the 64 bills." The real Post published a real version of it, which you can read here. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:04 p.m.

Don't expect Disney's live-action remaking spree to slow down anytime soon.

A live-action version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame is now in the works, The Hollywood Reporter said Wednesday. While no director is attached to the new Disney project, playwright David Henry Hwang is reportedly on board to pen the script, and Alan Menken and Stephen Schwartz will return to do the music after working on the original movie. Menken previously returned to score 2017's Beauty and the Beast after also scoring the 1991 original. The remake will reportedly be based both on the original movie and on the novel by Victor Hugo.

Josh Gad will serve as producer on the project, and Deadline reports he might also star as Quasimodo after previously playing LeFou in the live-action Beauty and the Beast. No release date is set, as the Reporter notes that while The Hunchback of Notre Dame is in development, it's "not currently a priority for the studio."

After already having remade Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Pete's Dragon, and Beauty and the Beast, Disney has three new versions of their classic animated films slated for 2019: Dumbo, Aladdin, and The Lion King. After that, a remake of Mulan is also set to release in 2020, and new versions of Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, Lilo & Stitch, Peter Pan, Lady and the Tramp, and The Sword in The Stone are on the way as well. Additionally, a live-action film about Cruella de Vil from One Hundred and One Dalmatians is in development, and a sequel to Maleficent, the live-action film about the Sleeping Beauty villain that grossed more than $750 million in 2014, will release in 2020. Brendan Morrow

2:56 p.m.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has survived a confidence vote in her leadership, but a much bigger challenge is just getting started.

May's plan for a slow British exit from the European Union was historically denied Tuesday, 432-202. Opposition party leader Jeremy Corbyn scheduled a confidence vote in May's leadership for Wednesday, and she narrowly survived it, with 306 MPs voting no confidence and 325 voting with her, CNN notes. She'll now have until Monday to formulate a new Brexit plan.

Tuesday's vote to deny May's Brexit deal was expected, with even members of May's Conservative Party rallying against her. It set a record for the harshest defeat a government has received in Parliament. Still, May's leadership was predicted to be upheld in Wednesday's confidence vote. The country is slated to leave the E.U. in 72 days, and will either have to agree on another deal, leave with no deal, or hold a second referendum on the decision. Following the confidence vote, Corbyn said the government should remove the prospect of a no-deal Brexit from consideration, which May declined to do. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:09 p.m.

Maine, we have a problem.

It appears that the moon has somehow crashed into the northern state's Presumpscot River. It's a lot smaller than we previously thought, and also it's a flat circle made of ice.

An practically perfect ice disk is floating on the river's surface, slowly and mesmerizingly spinning away, the Portland Press Herald describes. The disk was first spotted Monday and has since grown to a massive 100 yards across — and it's also sparking some serious alien talk.

This giant disk isn't a portal to the underworld, but rather a naturally occurring phenomenon. Scientists aren't entirely sure how the disks get so big, but they assume little bits of ice originally stick together and keep piling on as the floe rotates, a physics professor tells Maine Public Radio.

Admirers aren't encouraged to stand on the disk, but wildfowl certainly are. Rob Mitchell, who first spotted the circle, told the Press Herald there were "ducks sitting on ... this big Lazy Susan," adding that it "was a big duck-go-round." Check out more footage of the beautiful duck carousel below. Kathryn Krawczyk

Kathryn Krawczyk

1:56 p.m.

Steve Carell and the creator of The Office are reuniting for a new comedy series, and they have President Trump to thank for the idea.

Carell will star in Netflix's Space Force, which comes from The Office's Greg Daniels, according to The Hollywood Reporter. It's being described as a workplace comedy, and as you might glean from the title, it was inspired by Trump's announcement last June that he would be ordering the creation of a sixth military branch that has been dubbed Space Force.

A teaser trailer released by Netflix Wednesday ties itself directly to that news, mocking the 2018 announcement while not directly mentioning Trump's name and saying that the show is the story of the "men and women who have to figure [the creation of Space Force] out." Howard Klein, a producer on The Office, will also serve as producer on this show, which has received a straight-to-series order. Carell, the Reporter notes, will receive a hefty payday for the series, possibly more than $1 million per episode.

This is the second show Carell has boarded after spending years focused on feature films. In October, he signed on to a new Apple original series about morning news, although that's a drama, so Space Force will be his first regular starring role in a comedy series since he left The Office in 2011.

Watch the announcement of Space Force below. Brendan Morrow

1:30 p.m.

At least two Netflix originals appear to have featured footage from an actual disaster that left 47 people dead.

The mayor of Canada's Lac-Mégantic, Julie Morin, earlier this week accused Netflix's Travelers of using real footage from a rail disaster that occurred in the Quebec town in 2013, CBC reports. The president of Peacock Alley Entertainment, which produces the science-fiction series, subsequently apologized and said that when they obtained the footage, they "weren't aware of its specific source." Peacock Alley also promised to remove the clip from the show, and Netflix soon confirmed the video would be replaced.

But things didn't end there, as Morin then accused Netflix of also using footage from the same tragedy in the Sandra Bullock film Bird Box. Netflix hasn't responded to this or confirmed the footage was used on a second project, but video shown during an early scene when Bullock's character is watching the news looks quite similar to the 2013 incident, although it's likely Netflix got it from a stock footage library, notes The Washington Post. Netflix told CBC it's looking into whether the footage was used in Bird Box.

This is not the first instance of real footage from a tragedy being controversially used on TV, as in 2017, Fox came under fire when video from an actual shooting in Kenya that left 67 people dead turned up in 24: Legacy, BBC News reported at the time. The show's producers said they "apologize for any pain caused to the victims and their families and are deeply sorry." Brendan Morrow

1:25 p.m.

Acting Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler told senators Wednesday that "the biggest issue with wildfires is forest management ... not drought," Axios reports. He made the claim during his confirmation hearing to become the agency's permanent head.

A federal climate report released late last year outlined the effects of climate change on wildfires, and found with medium confidence that human-caused climate change has contributed to forest fires in Alaska. The report also predicted a continued increase in the number of forest fires due to climate change.

California saw its deadliest wildfire in history last year, and the 2018 wildfire season was the state's worst, Axios reports. July of 2018 was California's hottest month on record. President Trump, like Wheeler, blamed the disasters on poor forest management, and threatened to end federal relief payments to California unless the state changed its forest management techniques. Experts say forest management is a factor, but not the sole cause of wildfires, especially in non-forested areas of California that burned last year.

Rising temperatures also contribute to the lengthening of the wildfire season, in part by worsening droughts. Read more at Axios, and more about climate change's role in California's fires here at The Week. Marianne Dodson

See More Speed Reads