October 21, 2019

President Trump did what?

In a Cabinet meeting Monday, Trump addressed the ongoing withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, again referring to the Kurds, the U.S. allies who largely fought America's campaign against ISIS, as "not angels." He then went all-in on claiming he "captured" ISIS all by himself.

"ISIS was all over the place," Trump said Monday of the time before he got involved in Syria, per a pool report. "It was me ... who captured them. I'm the one who did the capturing. I'm the one who knows more about it than you people or the fake pundits," Trump then told the gathered reporters. It's reminiscent of his false claim last week that, even though his then-Secretary of Defense James Mattis said it would take two years to defeat ISIS, Trump did it in one month.

With his infamous bone spurs, age, and the general busyness of being the president, it seems safe to say that Trump did not, in fact, fight with thousands of U.S. troops and even more Kurds to defeat ISIS fighters in Syria. Trump did, however, order America's troops out of the area earlier this month and leave the Kurds to face the ISIS threat and a Turkish incursion on their own. Kathryn Krawczyk

8:50 p.m.

Next week, eight witnesses are expected to testify publicly in the House impeachment inquiry, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, House Democrats announced Tuesday.

The witnesses will appear before the House Intelligence Committee. Two hearings are set for Nov. 19, two more on Nov. 20, and one on Nov. 21. Jennifer Williams, an aide in Vice President Mike Pence's office, and Vindman, the top Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, will testify Tuesday morning, followed by Kurt Volker, the former U.S. special representative for Ukraine, and Tim Morrison, a Russia adviser on the NSC, on Tuesday afternoon. Sondland will appear Wednesday morning, with Pentagon official Laura Cooper and top State Department diplomat David Hale scheduled for the afternoon. Fiona Hill, former Russia policy official on the NSC, will be the sole witness testifying on Thursday.

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State George Kent and acting U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bill Taylor will be the first witnesses to testify publicly on Wednesday. Both testified behind closed doors to House investigators that they were concerned over Rudy Giuliani's perceived attempts to pressure Ukraine into launching investigations into President Trump's political rivals. Catherine Garcia

5:49 p.m.

Allergic to peanuts? Google may already know that.

Google has amassed personal health data from millions of Americans in 21 states and has reportedly been doing so in secret, The Wall Street Journal reports. The project is titled "Nightingale."

The tech giant is collaborating with health giant Ascension, one of the nation's largest nonprofit health systems, to gather patient records and transfer them over to a Google Cloud platform. According to Forbes, data has already ben uploaded.

The data amounts to a complete patient history, including a patient’s date of birth, allergies, immunizations, family medical history, hospitalizations, lab results, and doctor diagnoses. The project has already accrued a wealth of privacy issues, and Ascension staffers themselves are among those who have expressed concerns, noted Forbes.

Both Google and Ascension say the collaboration is purely aimed at improving the experience of patients and providers. The driving concept is to create a tool called Patient Search, says Forbes, that would allow Ascension health providers to search a patient's complete medical history instantly.

Google published a blog post detailing the project after the Journal's report. In it, Google Cloud president, Tariq Shaukat stated that it was “standard practice in health care” as patient data is most often stored in electronic systems. He also noted that despite the project's potential privacy concerns, the end goal is "improving patient outcomes and saving lives." Brielle Diskin

5:30 p.m.

President Trump's Mueller testimony may not have been all it was written up to be.

The trial of Roger Stone, a Trump associate indicted under Special Counsel Robert Mueller, continued Tuesday with testimony from also indicted ex-Trump campaign official Rick Gates. Gates testified he'd heard Stone tell Trump about the WikiLeaks release of hacked DNC emails before the dump happened — a direct contradiction of what Trump told Mueller in his written testimony, The Washington Post reports.

Gates has cooperated with the Mueller probe's legal fallouts since pleading guilty to conspiracy and lying to the FBI in 2018, and Stone is currently facing trial regarding his ties to WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign. In his Tuesday testimony, Gates described how he'd seen Trump get a phone call from Stone in summer 2016, and after Trump hung up, told Gates "more information would coming" regarding WikiLeaks, per CNBC. In his written testimony for Mueller's probe last year, Trump contradictorily said he didn't recall hearing about the WikiLeaks dumps in advance or even discussing WikiLeaks with Stone, and that he wasn't aware of anyone on his staff knowing about them either.

Gates testified he didn't hear exactly what was said on the call, but said Trump campaign officials still held "brainstorming sessions" on what they'd do with a favorable WikiLeaks dump, The Wall Street Journal reports from the trial. And after the emails came out, Gates said Trump campaign officials were "in disbelief" and saw it as "a gift." That was apparently enough for government prosecutors, who rested their case after Gates' testimony without Stone ever appearing on the stand. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:58 p.m.

With a shelf full of Emmys and Golden Globes for shows like The Handmaid's Tale and Top of the Lake, Elisabeth Moss is one of TV's most sought-after actresses. But it sounds like the actress is ready to take a detour from her typically grim output to star in one of the 800 or so Christmas-themed movies that air on the Hallmark Channel every year.

"I'm into it, I want to do it. People who write should definitely write one for me," says Moss. But where will we find a picturesque Christmas village populated by quirky-but-lovable neighbors and a handsome gingerbread baker with a heart of gold? Read more at CNN. Scott Meslow

4:49 p.m.

As Ben Franklin once said, three things in life are certain: Death, taxes, and The Days of Our Lives.

The iconic soap opera has been on the air since 1965, but those days might finally be running out, because the show's entire cast has reportedly been released from their contracts. Though Day of Our Lives has already filmed enough unaired episodes to keep things rolling through the summer of 2020 — seriously, they shoot these things really fast — it's kind of hard to imagine how they'll continue without a single actor on the payroll, leaving the future of Days of Our Lives in question. Maybe their evil twins are available? Read more at TV Line. Scott Meslow

3:27 p.m.

Conservatives' Supreme Court dominance is working exactly as they planned.

Right-wing leaders have spent decades filling federal courts with judges who would seemingly side with their constitutional philosophies, culminating in today's conservative majority Supreme Court. And now, that seems to be paying off, with publications speculating across the board that the Supreme Court will let President Trump end DACA based on Tuesday arguments.

Trump has repeatedly moved to end the Deferred Action for Children Arrivals program, which protects immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before they turned 16 from deportation and allows them to work legally. That decision was in question during oral arguments at the Supreme Court on Tuesday, and as The New York Times put it, "liberal justices probed the administration's justifications for ending the program" and "expressed skepticism" regarding the choice. The conservatives, on the other hand, "indicated that they would not second-guess the administration’s reasoning," the Times continued.

The Washington Post similarly mentioned the liberals seemed "highly skeptical" of the Trump administration's reasoning behind ending DACA. Justice Sonia Sotomayor discussed how Trump had once told Dreamers they were "safe under him," only to abruptly upend the program. Chief Justice John Roberts meanwhile said it was unlikely the government could actually deport DACA recipients en masse, and suggested their work authorizations were the bigger concern.

Regardless of their ideologies, Justice Neil Gorsuch said he spoke for the whole court in recognizing the "sympathetic facts" of the case, namely how DACA recipients had often lived in the U.S. since they were very young and had their entire lives here. Either way, a SCOTUS decision on DACA won't come for another few months. Kathryn Krawczyk

2:55 p.m.


Disney+ officially launched Tuesday with every single episode of The Simpsons now available to stream in all their glory. But there was one problem: many seasons aren't in the right aspect ratio.

The Simpsons was produced for pre-widescreen televisions all the way until 2009, giving most episodes a square shape. Usually, when watching these older episodes on a modern widescreen television, viewers see black bars on the left and right of the screen; this keeps the entire frame visible, even if it doesn't completely fill the television.

But the version of The Simpsons that's on Disney+ cuts off portions of the image so that it can fill a widescreen TV. That's a major problem for a show with so much visual humor throughout. In just one example below, those watching The Simpsons on Disney+ would miss a key joke because the top of the frame isn't displayed. Rest assured, subscribers were on the internet within minutes, registering their disgust throughout the world.

This actually isn't the first time this issue has come up. Back in 2014, FXX aired a Simpsons marathon, but early episodes were also presented in the wrong aspect ratio, once again leaving out visual gags and provoking Twitter scorn. FX's Simpsons World app allowed users to switch between the two aspect ratio options, ScreenCrush notes, so it's possible Disney+ will add this feature in light of the criticism. But if not, fans may be forced to declare it the Worst. Streaming service. Ever. Brendan Morrow

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