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September 19, 2018

A recent essay in the New York Review of Books was so controversial that it has resulted in the editor's departure before even hitting newsstands.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that Ian Buruma has left as editor of the Review of Books. This comes days after the erudite magazine published a piece by former radio host Jian Ghomeshi, who has been accused of sexual assault by over 20 women. He was acquitted of five charges in 2016, per The Guardian. In a piece titled "Reflections from a Hashtag," Ghomeshi talks about the #MeToo movement and the experience of living as an outcast after facing sexual misconduct allegations.

The essay is to appear in the magazine's Oct. 11 edition, but it was published online on Sept. 14. A backlash swiftly followed, with critics arguing that Ghomeshi should not have been given a platform to paint himself as a victim and that the magazine allowed him to mischaracterize the allegations against him. Buruma defended the decision to publish the article in an interview with Slate last week, arguing that it wasn't "a defense of what he may have done" but was an "angle on an issue that is clearly very important." While noting that Ghomeshi was acquitted, Buruma also argued, "The exact nature of his behavior — how much consent was involved — I have no idea, nor is it really my concern."

It's not clear at this time whether Buruma was fired or resigned. Read more at The New York Times. Brendan Morrow

12:02 p.m.

Most Democratic voters want to hear less about North Korea and more about climate change in this week's Democratic primary debates, a new Morning Consult/Politico poll finds.

The Democratic voters said it was "very important" that the candidates discuss climate change, gun policy, and abortion, while U.S. tensions with Iran and North Korea, and trade issues concerning China and Mexico, take a back seat. Of those foreign policy issues, Iran leads the charge, but it still fails to reach the 50 percent threshold, coming in at 47 percent. North Korea, China, and Mexico all hovered in the thirties.

Meanwhile, climate change — which many voters want to serve as the sole topic for a single debate — led the field with 63 percent, followed by gun policy at 62, and the wave of recent restrictive abortion bills at 60.

All in all, it seems, Democratic voters don't want President Trump to take over the debate stage, at least not entirely — 44 percent of those polled said they think it's "very important" that he comes up as a topic of discussion.

The poll was conducted online between June 21-24 among a sample of 1,991 registered voters across the United States. The margin of error was two percentage points. Read more at Morning Consult. Tim O'Donnell

11:07 a.m.

Joe Biden is a candidate of habit.

When Biden was in the Senate, he was often its poorest member — a designation he's proudly touted even on the 2020 campaign trail. Yet Biden turned his finances around after his time as vice president, and seemingly hasn't figured out a creative way to use his fortune.

Since leaving office, the 2020 frontrunner has pulled in "millions of dollars largely from book deals and speaking fees that ranged to as much as $200,000 per speech," The Washington Post reports via public documents. And at every one of those events, Biden has maintained one very major demand: Pasta. Contracts required that his speech hosts serve him "angel hair pomodoro, a caprese salad, topped off with raspberry sorbet with biscotti," the Post reports. He'd wash it down with "Coke Zero, Regular Coke, Orange Gatorade and black coffee," all of which had to be in his dressing room, the Post continues.

Those requests only applied to Biden's paid speaking gigs, but his 2020 campaign stops have so far come with similar perks. Sponsors have so far picked up the tab for "VIP hotel suites, town cars and professional drivers, chartered flights and travel expense reimbursements," the Post reports.

Biden's campaign declined to comment to the Post on this story, or on why he's replaced his signature ice cream with a much more lavish dessert. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:02 a.m.

It's always nice to appreciate yourself and all your hard work, especially when nobody else does.

President Trump makes sure to do that when he can. In a Tuesday morning tweet, Trump boasted about the stock market's success in June. And who else was there to thank for such good fortune, but himself?

This is not the first self-congratulatory tweet Trump has posted about the stock market. The president sent out a nearly identical tweet on Saturday.

He has similarly deemed himself everyone's "favorite president" on multiple occasions. The presidency is a tough gig, after all, so a little self-esteem boost is warranted from time to time. Tim O'Donnell

10:34 a.m.

Boris Johnson is the heavy favorite to take over as the United Kingdom's next Prime Minister, and, what with Brexit and all, he probably won't have much time to relax.

For Johnson, the former Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London, that means he won't get to ... paint as many buses as he'd like. Johnson revealed in an interview with the U.K.'s Talkradio that he blows off steam by taking wooden crates and transforming them into a wholesome scene — as he puts it, he paints passengers "enjoying themselves on the wonderful bus." Johnson seemed slightly reticent to divulge this personal information when first asked, but he gradually increased his enthusiasm while discussing the subject.

Johnson's buses would apparently get some brownie points from environmental activists, as well; he's eager to point out that he models them off the low-carbon buses on the streets of London. Tim O'Donnell

10:25 a.m.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly still has his eye on a run for Senate — and the White House.

At a private dinner this spring, when asked if he has considered running for president, Pompeo said "I have," Politico reports. Pompeo attended this event with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), who Pompeo reportedly pointed to and said, "And I might be running against that guy."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has reportedly lobbied Pompeo to run for Senate in Kansas next year to replace Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), who is retiring. Pompeo in February said of this potential Senate run, "It's ruled out. I'm here. I'm loving it."

But Politico cites Pompeo's confidants as saying that's actually not true; the run reportedly isn't ruled out at all, and Pompeo is still "quietly evaluating the next steps in his political career," with this 2020 Senate bid potentially being a step toward a White House run. McConnell himself remains enthusiastic about Pompeo running for Senate, telling Politico, "he’s still my first choice" although "I doubt the president would agree with that."

Still, some Republicans are urging Pompeo to stay where he is at the State Department, with Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) telling Politico, "We need to see stability." Brendan Morrow

9:56 a.m.

Ethics issues continue to shroud the Trump family, The New York Times reports.

The Trump administration has worked to reverse course on the Obama administration's efforts to protect the Boundary Waters, a pristine wilderness area in Minnesota, from a copper mining project near the area. But the renewed leases are being scrutinized after the revelation of a personal connection between Andrónico Luksic, a Chilean billionaire whose family controls the mining conglomerate attempting to renew leases for its operations in Minnesota, and Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

Shortly before President Trump entered the Oval Office, Luksic purchased a $5.5 million house in Washington, D.C. to add to his personal investment portfolio. Within a week, Kushner and Ivanka Trump had reportedly worked out an arrangement to rent the home. The Wall Street Journal first reported about the home in 2017, while Twin Metals, a subsidiary of Luksic's conglomerate that is seeking the leases in Minnesota, was suing the federal government. Twin Metals has since increased its lobbying efforts. That's raised ethics concerns, both from environmental groups seeking to protect the Boundary Waters and Democrats in Congress, the Times reports.

For example, Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.), the chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, argued in a letter that the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture both "blatantly ignored scientific and economic evidence," while also mentioning the "interesting coincidence" surrounding the rental agreement.

Rodrigo Terré, chair of Luksic's family investment office, said the arrangement is nothing more than a simple real estate transaction, unrelated to the Minnesota mine. A spokeswoman for the Department of the Interior also said Kushner and Ivanka Trump have not been involved in discussions. That hasn't helped alleviate everyone's concerns, though.

"There may be nothing wrong," Arthur Andrew Lopez, a former federal government ethics official, said. "But it doesn't look good." Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

9:49 a.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) plans are starting to pay off.

Just a day ahead of her headlining spot in the first Democratic debate, Warren topped a primary poll of members of the progressive group MoveOn, released Tuesday. She earned 37.8 percent support among MoveOn members, putting her 21 points above the second-place challenger Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), NBC News reports.

With Sanders in the pool, Warren's rise is a bit surprising. The progressive MoveOn members chose Sanders over Hillary Clinton in 2016, and he came in third behind "undecided" and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke in a 2020 poll conducted in December. Now, just two percent of MoveOn members say they're undecided on their first choice for a Democratic contender.

While the MoveOn poll is bad news for Sanders, it's even worse for former Vice President Joe Biden. He got 14.9 percent support from MoveOn members — a far cry from his usual top billing. He'll face off against Sanders on Thursday night's NBC debate of 10 Democratic candidates. Meanwhile, Warren will be the undisputed leader in her Wednesday night appearance, with O'Rourke her closest competitor.

The online poll was emailed to MoveOn members, who responded from June 17 to 21. No margin of error was reported. Kathryn Krawczyk

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