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July 19, 2019

The New York Times' Thomas Friedman seems to have hit a nerve with President Trump.

After the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist in a Tuesday article labeled Trump a racist following his attacks on four minority congresswomen, Trump on Friday dedicated not one but three tweets to blasting Friedman as a "weak" and "pathetic sort of guy," giving him the nickname "Thomas 'the Chin' Friedman," and mocking him for playing golf.

Trump also claimed he spoke to Friedman over the phone recently and he, as Trump puts it, "kissed my a.."

This was one of several tweets Trump fired off on Friday amid widespread criticism both over his racist tweets and over a "send her back" chant shouted at his rally. He wrote that "I am not" a racist and declared the media "crazed" for its reaction to the chants, even after saying on Thursday he disavows them. "I was not happy with it," Trump said. Brendan Morrow

2:38 p.m.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) released another plan on Tuesday. This time around she's focusing on criminal justice reform, in the wake of several of her competitors unveiling similar proposals in recent weeks.

Like the other Democrats, Warren touched on several different topics in the plan, which is determined to reduce mass incarceration and curb recidivism from the ground-up by focusing on the education system, mental health services, and addiction treatment. "It is a false choice choice to suggest a tradeoff between safety and mass incarceration," the plan reads. "By spending our budgets not on imprisonment but on community services that lift people up, we'll decarcerate and make our communities safer."

The proposal takes an indirect shot at former Vice President Joe Biden by calling for the repeal of the 1994 crime bill, which the then-senator backed. Warren argues that the bill "exacerbated" incarceration rates by punishing people severely for minor crimes. The proposal also specifies that the bill's mandatory minimums and "truth-in-sentencing" provisions should be reduced or eliminated, allowing judges more flexibility when making sentencing decisions.

While Warren wants to ax most of the bill, she does concede that certain aspects, such as its section relating to domestic violence, ought to remain in place. Read the full plan here. Tim O'Donnell

1:27 p.m.

Harry Reid has some thoughts on the leftward tilt the Democratic party has made since his retirement in 2017.

In a Tuesday interview with Vice News, the former Nevada senator and Democratic Senate majority leader offered his opinions on some 2020 candidates' platforms, and how he thinks they can beat President Trump.

First things first: stop supporting Medicare-for-all. "How are you going to get it passed?" he asked, suggesting that candidates instead "focus on improving ObamaCare," legislation which he helped pass in 2010. A recent poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 74 percent of Americans favor some form of a Medicare-for-all plan, and another found only 46 percent of Americans feel the same way about the Affordable Care Act. The single-payer health care plan, which Reid called "much harder to sell," has been adopted by some presidential candidates, most notably Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.).

Reid also placed himself firmly on one side of another liberal wedge issue: immigration reform.

"There are so many more important things to do. Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list," he said, adding that he thought support for lenient immigration laws would hurt candidates in the general election.

Reid declined to endorse a candidate before February's Nevada caucus, but weighed in on the frontrunners. He said he thought "the world" of former Vice President Joe Biden, who aligns with Reid on immigration and healthcare. And despite diametric opposition to her health care and immigration plans, Reid also added that "everyone has to be impressed" with Warren, his former Senate colleague.

While some Democrats already agree with most of Reid's policy ideas, it's not too late for them to also echo his calls for more government research into UFO sightings. Reid 2020: The truth is out there. Steven Orlofsky

12:51 p.m.

There was no time for Shatterhand after all.

The next James Bond movie on Tuesday was finally given an official title, and it's not the rumored and widely-mocked Shatterhand. Instead, as is revealed in an extremely dramatic Twitter video, it's actually No Time to Die.

As to whether Shatterhand was ever actually intended to be the name of the movie, or whether it was just a working title, isn't exactly clear. Still, despite all those Twitter jokes, it did make some degree of sense, seeing as Shatterhand is the alias used by Ernst Blofeld in You Only Live Twice, and Christoph Waltz is returning as Blofeld in the movie. Instead, while that old title certainly turned a few heads, this one is reminiscent enough of classic Bond names that fans should probably get used to it in no time.

MGM on Tuesday also released an official plot synopsis of the film, which will see Bond "enjoying a tranquil life in Jamaica" when Felix Leiter asks him for help. "The mission to rescue a kidnapped scientist turns out to be far more treacherous than expected, leading Bond onto the trail of a mysterious villain armed with dangerous new technology," the plot synopsis reads, per The Hollywood Reporter.

This 25th Bond movie sees Daniel Craig returning as the character after saying he'd rather "slash my wrists" than do so, although this one is expected to be his swan song. With "time" in the title, could the film be going the Avengers: Endgame route with a time travel adventure back into Bond's history? Could that "new technology" be time travel related? Almost certainly not, but let the terrible fan theories commence until No Time to Die hits theaters in April 2020. Brendan Morrow

12:13 p.m.

The fracturing of Italy's governing coalition resulted in the resignation of Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Tuesday.

Italy's League Party, known for its anti-immigrant position, and the anti-establishment Five Star Movement joined forces in 2018 after an unlikely power-sharing agreement that saw Conte, a law professor without previous political experience, step in as an independent prime minister. But that alliance has disintegrated following disagreements over key policies, concerns that the League secretly sought funding from Russia, and what The New York Times described as a "mutinous power play" by Italy's Interior Minister and League Party leader Matteo Salvini.

In an hour-long speech, Conte said Salvini's decision to call for an early election was "irresponsible" and accused him of putting personal and party interests above national ones by way of initiating a government crisis. Salvini spoke after Conte and maintained he would repeat his actions all over again if he had the chance. "I am a free man," he said. "I am not afraid of the judgment of Italians."

Five Star party leader Luigi Di Maio said "the League will have to answer for its faults" one day and that working with Conte "was an honor."

Italy's President Sergio Mattarella will oversee the country's next steps. He could call for early elections, which is what Salvini wants, or he could announce discussions with party leaders on forming a new coalition government, BBC reports. Five Star leaders are reportedly considering entering a power-share with the Democratic Party, a center-left opposition party. Tim O'Donnell

11:10 a.m.

NASA has confirmed plans to send a spacecraft to "the most promising place to look for life beyond Earth" — Jupiter's icy moon, Europa.

The Europa Clipper mission will work to advance understanding of both our cosmic origin and life outside of Earth, said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA in a press release. The Europa Clipper will be ready for launch sometime between 2023 and 2025.

The decision to move forward with the mission brings NASA "one key step closer to unlocking the mysteries of this ocean world," Zurbuchen says.

Scientists think Europa's ocean, which is beneath a 10-to-15-mile ice shell, may contain twice as much water as Earth's oceans combined. If some form of life is discovered on Jupiter's moon, that would confirm life exists in at least two places that orbit the same star — the sun. Then, it would be "reasonable to suspect that life springs up in the universe fairly easily," according to NASA.

Maybe we won't need to storm Area 51 to find some alien comrades after all. Taylor Watson

10:55 a.m.

Enough with the worrying, former Vice President Joe Biden's brain surgeon says.

As some voters murmur that the gaffe-prone Democratic presidential candidate's age is cause for extra concern this campaign cycle, Dr. Neal Kassell — the man who performed surgery on Biden three decades ago following two brain aneurysms — came out swinging for his former patient.

Kassell dismissed fears about the 76-year-old Biden's mental faculties, noting that he's "as sharp as he was 31 years ago" and assuring people that the hemorrhage and subsequent operations did not result in any brain damage. "I am going to vote for the candidate who I am absolutely certain has a brain that is functioning," Kassell told Politico. "And that narrows it down to exactly one."

Biden's physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, backed up Kassell. "Vice President Biden is in excellent physical condition," he said. "He is more than capable of handling the rigors of the campaign and the office for which he is running."

In fact, several experts told Politico that voters are placing too great an emphasis on the age of several candidates, particularly the five septuagenarians who are running, including Democratic candidates Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), 70, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 77, as well as 73-year-old President Trump and his lone Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, who is 74.

"They have prospects for survival that extend well beyond the four-year term of the office," said Dr. Jay Olshansky, who led an American Federation of Aging Research study last month that sought to determine how likely it is that a candidate would die while in office. "The bottom line is their chronological age does not matter at all." Read more at Politico. Tim O'Donnell

10:37 a.m.

Apple is getting ready to overload consumers with subscription services, and without a bundle, signing up for all of them won't be cheap.

The company is set to launch its Netflix competitor, Apple TV+, this fall, and a new report from Bloomberg suggests a $9.99 per month price point is being targeted. This is just one of a number of monthly services Apple is set to offer or already is, including one for music, one for news, and one for games, plus a monthly subscription for more iCloud space.

To put the ever-expanding collection of monthly services in perspective, a person signing up for Apple's music, news, TV and movies, and game services, as well as the 200GB iCloud storage option, would currently be spending about $38 a month, or $455 a year, although there is also a cheaper iCloud option. For comparison, you can get an iPhone 7 from Apple for $449 or a trade-in deal for an iPhone XR for $479.

Then again, Apple's "grand plan," NBC News notes, is to bundle these services together and "sell consumers on a full package," although details of this potential package haven't been revealed. Bloomberg speculates one version of this could be Apple tying its subscription services to its iPhone upgrade program.

These, of course, are just Apple's subscription services. For those who want to keep up on all the latest in TV and movies, the streaming market is about to be totally flooded with new streaming platforms from Disney, NBCUniversal, and WarnerMedia on the way. It seems inevitable that bundles will have to emerge for those consumers who can't possibly sign up for all of this, bringing them right back to the world of cable subscriptions they were trying so hard to escape in the first place. Brendan Morrow

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