×
August 16, 2019

When planning his trip home from Kabul, Afghanistan, to Charleston, West Virginia, Sgt. Seth Craven had no idea storms in Philadelphia would almost keep him from his son's birth.

Craven's wife, Julie, was scheduled to have a caesarian section last Friday. Craven, who serves in the West Virginia National Guard, gave himself three days to make his way to Charleston. After flying from Kabul to Kuwait to Philadelphia, Craven was in the home stretch last Wednesday, until storms in Pennsylvania canceled his flight. He scored a seat on a flight out Thursday morning, but right before takeoff, a maintenance issue was detected, and everyone had to deplane.

After several more delays, passengers were told they would have to wait until Friday morning to catch a flight to Charleston. Craven realized he wouldn't make it in time for the C-section, but his other option, driving, wouldn't work because the storms caused a run on rental cars. He told his story to a few people, and one woman, Charlene Vickers, approached. Along with two colleagues, Vickers was headed to Charleston for a program that started Friday at noon, and she couldn't be late.

Her car was nearby, and Vickers was prepared to drive eight hours to Charleston. "I'm going to West Virginia tonight, come hell or high water," she told Craven. "So are you willing to join this crazy party of ours?" They jumped into her SUV and headed to West Virginia, with Vickers dropping Craven off at home around midnight — several hours before his son, Cooper, was delivered. "If it wasn't for Charlene, I never would have made it," Craven told Metro News. "All she wanted in return was pictures of the baby." Catherine Garcia

9:19 a.m.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang offered to give away free money at last week's Democratic debate, and his email list grew many sizes that day.

Yang during his opening statement at the third Democratic debate announced he would give $1,000 a month for a full year to 10 randomly-selected families who entered a raffle on his website. An email address is required to enter the contest, which is meant to showcase his 2020 proposal to give every American adult $1,000 a month in what he calls a Freedom Dividend.

Now, the Yang campaign says more than 450,000 people have entered the contest, Politico reports. More than 90 percent of the email addresses collected were new, the campaign said. The Yang campaign also said it raised $1 million in the 72 hours after the debate, a significant haul considering it only raised $2.8 million in the entire last quarter.

This announcement comes as Yang himself is swearing that his contest is actually legal, something experts immediately called into question. Although Yang has already been giving $1,000 a month away to some families, he was doing that with his own money, whereas this contest uses campaign funds; an expert with the Campaign Legal Center told Politico the stunt is of "dubious legality, at best."

Yang swears it's fine, though, in a Sunday interview describing it as "perfectly legal" and saying the campaign has "an army of lawyers who signed off on it." Assuming he gets away with it, after this success, don't be surprised to see the businessman double down on these game show-esque raffles for the next Democratic debate in October. Brendan Morrow

8:24 a.m.

Is one of the top categories at the 2019 Emmys headed for an upset?

After the weekend's Creative Arts Emmy Awards, at which the first set of trophies are handed out prior to the main Primetime Emmy Awards, Game of Thrones' victory in the Outstanding Drama Series category is looking more and more like a guarantee; it lead with 10 wins. The winner of Outstanding Comedy Series, however, isn't quite so certain.

The show with the best shot certainly seems to be Veep, which has consistently won for the past three seasons that it's been eligible for. Like Game of Thrones, this was also Veep's final season, which should give it a boost. If Veep were to come up short, most pundits say the next most likely winners would be The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which won last year, or Barry.

But the stage is set for Fleabag to come in with a surprise victory. At the Creative Arts Emmys, the award for Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series went to Fleabag over Veep, Mrs. Maisel, and Barry, and The New York Times points out the last four winners in that category have also won the Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series. Veep didn't win any awards at the Creative Arts Emmys.

Prior to the Creative Arts Emmys, Variety forecast this might be the case, writing that the comedy series award is likely still down to Veep and Mrs. Maisel but that Fleabag has serious spoiler potential.

Of course, this victory would make sense considering critics have lavished praised onto Fleabag, with many naming it the best show of 2019, but Emmys prediction lists have typically placed it into the "won't win, but should" category. It's still no guarantee, but like Phoebe Waller-Bridge glaring at the camera, the series' possible victory is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

The Primetime Emmy Awards will air Sept. 22. Brendan Morrow

7:03 a.m.

California's pioneering Consumer Privacy Act, which gives Californians new and robust digital privacy rights, is set to take effect Jan. 1, and the tech industry is lobbying to narrow its scope before it goes into force. California Assemblywoman Jacqui Irwin (D) is behind legislation seeking to exempt certain types of "personal information" from the law, Politico reports, and she's also married to the chief operating officer of Ring, the home video surveillance doorbell company purchased by Amazon last year for $1 billion.

Ring, which has partnered with police forces across the country, has a definite stake in the Privacy Act, consumer privacy advocates say, and Irwin's prominent involvement in the efforts to push changes backed by the industry could pose a conflict of interest.

Irwin disputes this idea, telling Politico that she is trying to find "reasonable compromise" on the legislation that will make it a model for other states to follow, and her work in the Assembly "is independent of any job or role my husband may have." Irwin is a former mayor and co-chairs a national cybersecurity task force, and she told Politico her "education and professional background as a systems engineer provides me distinct qualifications in the Legislature to weigh in on matters related to technology." The suggestion that she is trying to help her husband's "smart" doorbell company is "a little bit offensive," Irwin added.

Not everyone thinks Irwin's role is appropriate. "Look, if your spouse has a financial interest in a company and you are voting on or are proposing legislation that would affect that company, I think there is an enormously good argument to be made that it could be a conflict of interest under the Political Reform Act," Jessica Levinson, an ethics and campaign-finance expert at Loyola Law School, told Politico. Read more about the law and the efforts to shape it at Politico. Peter Weber

5:23 a.m.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called President Trump on Sunday morning to urge him to support a House-passed bill that would expand background checks on firearm purchases. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) says he won't allow a vote on any gun measure Trump hasn't committed to signing, and Trump has gone back and forth on background checks.

Pelosi and Schumer said in a statement Sunday afternoon that they "made it clear to the president that any proposal he endorses that does not include the House-passed universal background checks legislation will not get the job done." To sweeten the deal, they promised if Trump "endorses this legislation and gets Sen. McConnell to act on what the House has passed, we would both join him for a historic signing ceremony at the Rose Garden."

The 11-minute call took place while Trump was at his golf course in Northern Virginia, a Democratic aide tells The Washington Post, and the Rose Garden gambit was Schumer's idea. White House Deputy Press Secretary Judd Deere said Trump "made no commitments" on specific gun measures in the "cordial" phone conversation but is interested in "working to find a bipartisan legislative solution on appropriate responses to the issue of mass gun violence."

A historic Rose Garden signing ceremony was also reportedly daughter/adviser Ivanka Trump's pitch to get her father to support universal background checks. The National Rifle Association appeared to have talked Trump out of the idea, and Pelosi and Schumer resurrecting it "was a bit of public posturing," The New York Times reports. They know it's unlikely Trump will embrace a measure opposed by the NRA, even though polls show that roughly 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks. Peter Weber

4:02 a.m.

"Immigration is the subject that [President] Trump campaigned on the hardest, and as president, his tone hasn't exactly softened," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. But Trump "and his political allies will tell you they love" legal immigration, and that's a large category, he said. About 13 percent of the people in the U.S. are immigrants, and 77 percent of those are here legally.

"So tonight let's talk about our legal immigration system, because there are a lot of misconceptions about a process that, to be fair, most Americans have never experienced," Oliver said. "And a key misconception is captured in a phrase you hear all the time, both from politicians and from ordinary voters": Get in line. "The truth is, for those who want to come here, there is no one 'line' to get in, the lines that do exist can be prohibitively long or have sudden dead ends, and for many people — and this is really important — there simply isn't a line at all."

There are essentially four paths to a green card or U.S. citizenship now, Oliver explained: Family, employment, good luck — you won the visa lottery — or bad luck, meaning you're a refugee or seeking asylum. He ran through all of them and described the extremely complicated, stressful, and expensive path he took to permanent resident status. First lady Melania Trump's parents had it considerably easier, he added, with a disturbing side note about the president's mother-in-law.

"The point here," Oliver said, is that "for all of their talk about how fine they are with legal immigration, this administration has worked hard to reduce it as much as possible across the board," including slashing refugee numbers and tweaking the system to gum it up or put other bricks in Trump's "invisible wall." "If you are going to say 'Get in line' to people, you should at least make sure they actually have a line to stand in," he added. Because "for many people there is literally no way to come in 'the right way.'" Parts of the video are NSFW. Watch below. Peter Weber

2:34 a.m.

Dr. David Fajgenbaum couldn't wait for someone else to come up with a treatment for Castleman disease, the rare autoimmune disorder he was diagnosed with during his third year in medical school.

Fajgenbaum, 34, was hospitalized four times due to the disease, which caused his immune system to attack his organs. He had to go through chemotherapy in order to survive, and he came so close to death that a doctor once told him to write down his living will. "You learn a lot by almost dying," he told CNN.

Fajgenbaum's mother died of cancer while he was in college, and wanting to find a treatment in her honor, he studied at Oxford so he could learn how to conduct scientific research. Upon enrolling in medical school at the University of Pennsylvania, he decided he would become an oncologist. That changed after Fajgenbaum's diagnosis and his most harrowing hospitalization, six years ago. At the time, he noticed there were red spots on his skin, and when he questioned his doctors, they said they were nothing.

Once he recovered and graduated from med school, he formed the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network, inviting the best doctors and researchers to work with him. They needed to come up with some sort of a treatment, he decided, and fast. While looking at his medical charts, Fajgenbaum saw that a protein known as VEGF spiked every time he had a flareup of his disease. This protein controls the growth of blood vessels and gets the immune system going, and he wondered if this was linked to the red spots once on his skin. He asked his doctor to prescribe an immunosuppressant, and that did the trick — he's been in remission for five years. Now married, a new father, and a medical professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Fajgenbaum is thrilled to see the treatment working on other patients. Catherine Garcia

2:09 a.m.

"The Fake News is saying that I am willing to meet with Iran, 'No Conditions,'" President Trump tweeted Sunday night. "That is an incorrect statement (as usual!)." Where would the news media get such an idea?

Here, for example, are Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saying Trump is willing to meet with Iran with no preconditions just last week.

Well, maybe Pompeo and Mnuchin just misunderstood Trump? Here's Trump in June.

And last year:

Assuming there isn't some esoteric difference between "no conditions" and "no preconditions," it appears that the "incorrect statement" came from the president himself. Add any parenthetical accentuation you see fit. Peter Weber

See More Speed Reads