August 12, 2019

First things first for Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii).

The 2020 presidential candidate is stepping away from her campaign for two weeks on Monday and will set out for Indonesia, where she's reporting for active duty with the Hawaii Army National Guard. There she'll participate in a joint training exercise with the Indonesian army.

Gabbard said some people have suggested to her that the timing is poor, as she seeks to hit the polling threshold required for qualification for the third Democratic debate in September. Currently, Gabbard has only hit the mark in one DNC-recognized poll, though four are required. She says she has hit the donor threshold, however.

Regardless, the congresswoman brushed off those concerns, emphasizing that she did not think of finding a way out of reporting for duty. "You know that's not what this is about," Gabbard said.

Gabbard has been in the Hawaii Army National Guard since 2003 and served in Iraq from 2004 to 2005. Tim O'Donnell

7:17 p.m.

The Republican Party is at a turning point, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) writes in an opinion article published in The Washington Post on Wednesday evening, and members must "decide whether we are going to choose truth and fidelity to the Constitution."

Cheney is receiving backlash from the GOP for voting to impeach former President Donald Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, as well as pushing back against his false claims of election fraud. Trump, she writes, is "seeking to unravel critical elements of our constitutional structure that makes democracy work — confidence in the result of elections and the rule of law. No other American president has ever done this."

Cheney, the No. 3 House Republican, called herself a "conservative Republican," and said the "most conservative of conservative values is reverence for the rule of law." The Electoral College "has spoken," she added, and "more than 60 state and federal courts have rejected the former president's arguments, and refused to overturn election results. That is the rule of law; that is our constitutional system for resolving claims of election fraud."

Republicans now have to decide whether to join "Trump's crusade to delegitimize and undo the legal outcome of the 2020 election, with all the consequences that might have," Cheney said. He has "never expressed remorse or regret for the attack of Jan. 6 and now suggests that our elections, and our legal and constitutional system, cannot be trusted to do the will of the people," she continued. "This is immensely harmful, especially as we now compete on the world stage against Communist China and its claims that democracy is a failed system."

The path forward is clear, Cheney said. Republicans need to back the Justice Department's criminal investigations of the Jan. 6 attack, support a bipartisan review by a commission with subpoena power, and "stand for genuinely conservative principles, and steer away from the dangerous and anti-democratic Trump cult of personality." Trump is trying to "undermine the foundation of our democracy," Cheney said, and with history and our children watching, "we must be brave enough to defend the basic principles that underpin and protect our freedom and our democratic process." Read more at The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

4:48 p.m.

The United States will advocate for waiving COVID-19 vaccine patent protections in discussions with the World Trade Organization, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced Wednesday.

The Biden administration "believes strongly in intellectual property protections," Tai said in a statement, but the White House will back the waiver given the "extraordinary circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic." The administration has faced pressure to support the measure, which is aimed at increasing vaccinations around the world — especially in countries experiencing a surge in infections, like India — without having to rely solely on exports.

Proponents were pleased with the news, but shortly after Tai's announcement, stocks of pharmaceutical companies that have produced vaccines, including Moderna and Pfizer, plummeted.

It remains unclear if the protections will actually be waived since all 164 members of the WTO will need to agree on the matter, but backing from the U.S. should certainly move the needle. Tim O'Donnell

4:32 p.m.

Your favorite pandemic hate watch is back for season two.

The first time around, Netflix's Emily in Paris was met with disdain for the titular character, confusion around the title itself, and a real-life scandal involving the Golden Globes and an alleged trip to Paris for Hollywood Foreign Press Association members. The show's creator, Darren Star, claims season one was not a faux pas, but the first step in character development. In season two, "Emily will embrace the city a little bit more," Star told Variety. "I think she will be more assimilated, in terms of living in Paris and stepping up to the challenges of learning the language," he said.

Whether viewers are ready or not, Emily in Paris is back — filming began Monday in France. À bientôt! Taylor Watson

4:31 p.m.

This is a case for the FBI: The government wants Kim Kardashian to forfeit an ancient Roman sculpture that was smuggled out of Italy, but she claims innocence.

Fragment of Myron's Samian Athena, a limestone statue from the 1st or 2nd century, was purchased in Kardashian's name and detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection in 2016, and is still in their custody, reports ArtNet. In 2018, Italy's Ministry of Cultural Heritage determined the statue was "looted, smuggled, and illegally exported from Italy."

A civil forfeiture complaint was filed Friday, but a Kardashian rep told Page Six she did not purchase the sculpture and this is the first time she's heard of it (though it definitely matches her decor). It might be time for Kim to put her law school skills to the test.

Read more at Page Six and ArtNet. Taylor Watson

4:25 p.m.

The cast of Succession's next season just keeps getting better.

Adrien Brody has joined the HBO show's third season, The Hollywood Reporter revealed on Wednesday. The Oscar-winning actor will reportedly have a recurring guest role as Josh Aaronson, a billionaire activist investor "who becomes pivotal in the battle for the ownership of Waystar," the Reporter says.

Brody's casting comes just days after it was reported that Alexander Skarsgård is also joining the new season of Succession. Skarsgård, according to Variety, will be playing a "successful, confrontational tech founder and CEO."

The third season of Succession, which follows the Murdoch-esque Roy family and has been off the air since 2019 thanks to COVID-19 delays, is set to involve "a bitter corporate battle" that "threatens to turn into a family civil war," HBO says. The show picked up a whopping 18 nominations at the 2020 Emmys, scoring the top prize of Outstanding Drama Series — and based on the casting unveiled in the last two days alone, it may have an even stronger showing next time. Brendan Morrow

3:52 p.m.

Federal Judge Dabney Friedrich, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2017, struck down the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's pandemic-related national eviction moratorium, but housing experts are confident Wednesday's decision won't have far-reaching consequences.

Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, noted it isn't the first court ruling aimed at striking down the moratorium and like those before it, Friedrich's ruling will likely be limited in scope, affecting only the plaintiffs or, perhaps, renters in the district court's jurisdiction.

Either way, the Justice Department has filed an appeal to the D.C. Circuit and is seeking a stay on the decision, which means there will be no immediate change to the situation. Read more at CNBC. Tim O'Donnell

3:22 p.m.

Twitter is launching some new prompts it hopes might convince users to think before they tweet.

The platform said Wednesday it's rolling out prompts asking users to "pause and reconsider a potentially harmful or offensive reply before they hit send."

"People come to Twitter to talk about what's happening, and sometimes conversations about things we care about can get intense and people say things in the moment they might regret later," Twitter said.

In an example provided by Twitter, a prompt informs a user that they're about to send a "mean tweet" and that it "might need to be reviewed." They're given the options to edit the tweet to remove the potentially offensive language, delete the tweet, or send it anyway.

Twitter previously tested these prompts in 2020, and said it's made some improvements based on feedback from the tests. Now, Twitter said it's taking into consideration the "nature of the relationship between the author and replier," keeping in mind that, for example, two accounts that follow and reply to each other probably have a "better understanding of preferred tone of communication." During the early tests, there were sometimes issues with differentiating between possibly offensive tweets and "sarcasm" or "friendly banter," Twitter said.

But Twitter said that during these tests, 34 percent of people who got the prompt decided to revise their reply or not send it, and after getting one prompt, they "composed, on average, 11 percent fewer offensive replies in the future." The "improved" prompts are set to start rolling out Wednesday on Twitter for iOS and Android. Brendan Morrow

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