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October 22, 2018

Caroll Spinney is retiring as the voice and actor behind beloved Sesame Street characters Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch. Since Spinney has given life to Big Bird since 1969, replacing him will be no small feat. The Late Show had some unconventional ideas for people who might be able to fill these oversize bird feet, and through the magic of television, you can watch these four prominent men try out for the role. The words that come out of Big Bird's mouth are actual audio clips from these very public figures, but they are probably not safe for Sesame Workshop.

Scott Meslow spoke with Spinney for The Week in 2015, and you can read that interview for more information about the man who breathed life into Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for 50 years. Peter Weber

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

11:14a.m.

Iran remains in compliance with 2015's Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran nuclear deal, The Associated Press reported Monday, citing a new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) assessment.

The United Nations nuclear watchdog said its inspectors had all necessary access to nuclear development sites in Iran and determined Tehran has not exceeded the deal's limits on heavy water and low-enriched uranium stockpiles. The IAEA conducts quarterly reports on Iranian compliance.

Whether that compliance would continue was thrown into doubt when President Trump withdrew the United States from the deal and re-imposed sanctions the agreement had suspended. However, Iran has continued to participate, as have China, Russia, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, the other remaining signatories. Bonnie Kristian

10:45a.m.

A new Axios/Survey Monkey poll finds Republicans and Democrats alike struggle to use positive descriptors of people in the other party.

A majority of Democrats say Republicans are racist, bigoted, sexist, and ignorant; while a majority of Republicans say Democrats are spiteful. Nearly half — 49 percent — of Republicans also said Democrats are ignorant, which is within the three-point margin of error of to be a majority statement as well.


(Axios)

Asked about positive descriptors, results were similarly bleak. Fewer than 5 percent of either party would characterize people in the other as fair, thoughtful, or kind. However, fewer than a quarter of each side were willing to make the leap to labeling their political opponents outright "evil." Bonnie Kristian

10:40a.m.

The midterms are over, and one Democrat is looking to put his losing congressional bid behind him — by announcing his campaign for president.

West Virginia state Sen. Richard Ojeda (D), an Army veteran who's been described as "JFK with tattoos," filed documents to run for president on Sunday, Politico reports. Ojeda confirmed his candidacy in an email to supporters on Sunday and in an interview with The Intercept.

During the 2016 presidential race, Ojeda announced he'd vote for President Trump because he saw Hillary Clinton as a Democratic elitist, he later told The Intercept. He later retracted that support over Trump's zero tolerance policy that separated migrant families, and opposed the president as he ran against Republican Carol Miller for a West Virginia congressional seat this year. The district backed Trump by a 49-point margin in 2016, but Ojeda lost the seat by just 13 points and polls showed him beating Miller at one point.

Ojeda will take a firmly populist approach to his presidential campaign, he told The Intercept, commenting that the Democratic Party "is supposed to be the party that fights for the working class." He'll focus on fighting corruption and uniting workers to build a base of support, branding himself as "a working-class person that basically can relate to the people on the ground," Ojeda said.

Ojeda is expected to expand on his presidential aspirations in a speech Monday at noon. Read more about his campaign at The Intercept. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:27a.m.

President Trump is once again baselessly claiming key Florida elections have been tainted by voter fraud, now also calling for election officials to stop counting votes and declare a Republican victory.

On Twitter Monday morning, Trump said that the gubernatorial and Senate races in Florida should be called for Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) and Gov. Rick Scott (R), respectively. Republicans lead in both races, though each is tight enough to have prompted a recount. But Trump doesn't want to wait for recounts; he says the vote count from Election Day should stand, without counting any of the ballots tallied since.

This is despite the fact that in Florida, voters who are overseas at the time of the election, including members of the military, have until Nov. 16 to have their votes counted as long as their ballots were postmarked by the day of the election, reports Mediaite. But Trump isn't accepting that the vote tally has changed since last Tuesday, claiming that ballots have "showed up out of nowhere" and taking this as evidence of a "massively infected" process, even though the Florida Department of State says it has seen "no evidence of criminal activity at this time," reports Politico. Brendan Morrow

10:21a.m.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is detaining an average of 44,631 people daily, The Daily Beast reported Sunday evening, citing information reported to Congress by the agency and confirmed by a congressional office. This figure is not classified but also has not been previously publicized.

The 44,631 daily average dates to Oct. 20, and is about 2,500 higher than the average daily detention rate ICE reported just over a month earlier, on Sept. 15. This time last year, the rate was 39,322 detentions daily. Congress has only funded daily detentions up to 40,520 people, declining the Trump administration's funding request for up to 51,000 detention spots.

"From a moral perspective, 44,000 is an astonishing number of people to be separated from their families and communities and held within a system that [the Department of Homeland Security's] own inspector general has criticized for abusive conditions," Mary Small of the Detention Watch Network, an immigration advocacy group, told The Daily Beast.

ICE detention rates skyrocketed in the final two years of the George W. Bush administration and reached then-record heights during former President Barack Obama's tenure. From about 20,000 daily detentions in the early 2000s, the number topped 30,000 in 2007 and has never slipped below it since. Bonnie Kristian

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