August 16, 2019

Stephen Colbert began Thursday's Late Show monologue with "a fun story" for his audience. "There is a petition currently circulating here in New York City to rename the stretch of Fifth Avenue between 56th and 57th Streets 'President Barack Obama Avenue,'" he said. "To make the honor complete, whenever a car tries to turn left it will be blocked by Mitch McConnell." That stretch of Fifth Avenue, not coincidentally, contains Trump Tower, and if the petition is successful, President Trump's home address will be 725 President Barack H. Obama Ave.

"This is the difference between trolls on the left and trolls on the right," Colbert said. "One harasses Chris Cuomo at dinner, the other is like, 'We are submitting a formal request through the proper channels at City Council, we'll see you in 14 months — you've been petish'd!'"

But the big story this week is the economy, the stock market currently "swinging like a tetherball in a typhoon" due to fears of a recession, Colbert said. Trump is already blaming "the news media" for trying to "crash the economy," he noted, laughing at the idea that "this is all a plot by those masters of economic strategy: newspapers!"

"Trump's economic policies have only benefited the elite few to begin with, and now that a recession seems like it might be on the horizon, he's freaking out," Seth Meyers said at Late Night. "Because for two years, he's be able to coast on the economic tide left by Obama while ignoring the growing wealth gap, massive inequality, or the shuttering factories in states he promised to rescue." Trump loves to brag about the stock market, which is actually underperforming versus Obama, he said, but "more importantly, the stock market is not the whole economy. In fact, most working people aren't really invested in the stock market; it's mostly just a sign of how the wealthy few are faring." Watch below. Peter Weber

5:44 p.m.

White House adviser and President Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner had some strong words for Palestinians on Tuesday.

Kushner, who played a central role in devising the Trump administration's Middle East peace plan unveiled earlier in the day, said during an interview with CNN's Christiane Amanpour that the proposal offers Palestinians the best chance for a "better life," suggesting it'd be a mistake for them not to accept the offer. If they don't, he said — while placing much of the blame on Palestinian leadership — they'll "screw up" yet another opportunity like they've always done.

Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas already said he "categorically rejects" the plan, and protests broke out in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday, so Kushner's harsh comments don't seem like the best bet to defuse tensions at the moment. Still, he went on to defend the plan elsewhere, telling Bloomberg if Palestinians "truly want a state," they should "come to the table."

It's not just Palestinians who were disappointed in the White House's solution, though. Neighboring Jordan wasn't a fan, and several analysts felt it did little to curb Israeli settlement and annexation in the West Bank in the long run. Kushner, though, argued securing a four year freeze on Israeli settlements was the deal's biggest accomplishment. Tim O'Donnell

5:31 p.m.

Apple might just be getting over its iPhone slump.

In its first quarterly report of the fiscal year, Apple reported a total revenue of $91.82 billion, a big step over estimates of $88.43 billion. That largely comes thanks to the debut of the iPhone 11 late last year, which propelled iPhone revenue to $56 billion in the quarter, CNBC reports via the Tuesday report.

This quarter is the first since the Apple's iPhone 11 debut, which gave Q1 a $23 billion jump from the previous Q4. The $56 billion is also an 8 percent increase year over year.

Before the iPhone 11 debut, Apple had seen quarter after quarter of weak iPhone sales, prompting suggestions that service revenue would be the future of the company. Apple did bring in a service revenue of $12.7 billion in this first quarterly report since the premiere of the company's Apple TV+ service, but it paled in comparison to the company's $79.1 billion product revenue, per TechCrunch. Kathryn Krawczyk

5:24 p.m.

The Fast & Furious franchise somehow keeps finding new ways to baffle the world with its inconsistent titling.

The first footage for the series' ninth installment dropped Tuesday, revealing that the title isn't Fast & Furious 9, but just F9. To clear up any confusion, Universal confirmed to io9's Germain Lussier that yes, F9 is the official name of the movie, although the teaser and the poster throw in "The Fast Saga" for good measure.

This title joins a franchise that started as The Fast and the Furious, only to release a completely different movie called Fast & Furious, only to drop the furious with Fast Five, drop the fast with Furious 7, and that's not even to mention the unforgettably bonkers 2 Fast 2 Furious. Actor Griffin Newman, though, expressed bewilderment that this newfound minimalist approach utilized for F9 wasn't used for the eighth movie, since, as Newman points out, "F8" actually "phonetically sounds like a real word." F9? Not so much.

On the other hand, no doubt previewing the opening line of every review should F9 turn out to be mediocre, author Adam Lance Garcia joked we can go ahead and call this one "'fine' for short."

With a tenth installment already confirmed, what insane naming shenanigans might remain up this franchise's sleeve? Whatever it might be, expect Vin Diesel and the family's tradition of nonsensical titles to continue come 2021. Brendan Morrow

5:06 p.m.

Not long after Jeff Bezos' phone was allegedly hacked via a link sent by a WhatsApp account believed to belong to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, a New York Times journalist was reportedly targeted by Saudi-linked spyware.

Ben Hubbard, who has covered the kingdom extensively, wrote Tuesday that he received a "fishy" looking link in June 2018, which researchers from Citizen Lab determined contained software sold by the Israeli NSO Group and deployed by Saudi hackers. NSO Group denied its technology was responsible, and the Saudi government didn't provide comment, but Riyadh has denied any involvement in the alleged Bezos infiltration.

Hubbard didn't click on the link, which proved to be the right call, since it appears his phone wasn't compromised. But the mere fact that he received a harmful link is another example of Saudi's possible targeting of journalists and dissidents, which has been magnified since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Per Hubbard, human rights experts think hacking technologies have reached the point where they require enhanced government regulation. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

4:21 p.m.

A tsunami threat message was issued Tuesday after a 7.7 magnitude earthquake struck near Jamaica and Cuba, CNN reports.

The International Tsunami Information Center said Tuesday "hazardous tsunami waves are forecast for some coasts," per Reuters, and CNN writes there was a "threat of tsunami waves reaching 0.3 to 1 meter (about 1 to 3 feet) above tide level for the coasts of Jamaica, Belize, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico and the Cayman Islands."

The earthquake, which struck shortly after 2:00 p.m. Eastern, was felt in Miami and caused "very strong to severe shaking in far western Jamaica," The Weather Channel reports, citing the U.S. Geological Survey. The Associated Press also reports it could be felt "strongly" in Santiago, where a witness said, "We were all sitting and we felt the chairs move. We heard the noise of everything moving around."

There have not been reports of any casualties, and according to the National Tsunami Warning Center, there is no tsunami threat for the eastern United States or the Gulf of Mexico. The Washington Post reports, though, this "appeared to be one of the biggest [earthquakes] on record in the Caribbean, and the largest since 1946." Brendan Morrow

4:19 p.m.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks, but Michael Bloomberg is gonna need some work on "shake."

Appearing at a campaign event in Burlington, Vermont, on Monday, the former New York City mayor had no problem remembering the proper form when greeting humans: firm grip, eye contact, friendly smile. But when approached by a dog, everything clearly went out the window:

Well, there goes the canine vote. Jeva Lange

3:30 p.m.

As anticipated, Palestine does not appear ready to sign on to President Trump's Middle East plan, which he presented Tuesday alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The plan was not considered to be a game-changer after it was revealed. Some experts predict it could even escalate tensions between Israel and Palestine because it does not curb Israeli settlements in the West Bank despite creating a Palestinian state in the region. So it's not a surprise to learn that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas resoundingly rejected what he described as a "nonsense" proposal.

Abbas said Palestine wouldn't "surrender," specifying Palestinians would resist the plan through "peaceful, popular means."

Protests reportedly broke out in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday, and a senior official for the militant group also rejected Trump's plan. Abbas reportedly met with leaders of other Palestinian factions, including Hamas, to come up with a response to the proposal. Read more at The Associated Press. Tim O'Donnell

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