August 14, 2018

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke believes if you're going to fault anyone for the wildfires raging across California, it should be the environmentalists.

Climate change has "nothing to do" with the blazes, Zinke told KCRA. There's no need to worry about drought conditions and high temperatures, because the real issue is limits on logging. "America is better than letting these radical groups control the dialogue about climate change," he said. "Extreme environmentalists have shut down public access. They talk about habitat and yet they are willing to burn it up."

This has been the state's most destructive fire season in recorded history, with more than 1,000 square miles burned so far and at least nine people dead. Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has said these fires, fueled by dry brush and extreme temperatures, are "the new normal." Kristina Dahl, senior climate scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told The Guardian that in the western United States, "we know that the wildfire activity in recent decades — at least half of it — is attributed to human-caused climate change. This is a reality that we have created and that we are living with, but this is an evolving situation."

In a USA Today op-ed last week, Zinke wrote that logging is a responsible way to manage a forest, and is good for the economy. Climate scientist Daniel Swain wrote in The Guardian last week that the current forest management strategies do leave forests dense and easier to burn, but the policies were enacted to protect the timber industry. Catherine Garcia

February 13, 2018

Fox News host Sean Hannity has claimed with no evidence whatsoever that former President Barack Obama was not born in the U.S., that he is in cahoots with the entire "liberal media," and that under his watch, a Democratic National Committee staffer was killed because he supposedly gave emails to WikiLeaks. Never one to miss something that definitely isn't there, Hannity's latest conspiracy involves "secret sperm cells" in Obama's official portrait. Yes, really.

Artist Kehinde Wiley's bold portrait of Barack Obama has been well received, with The Boston Globe calling the painting and its pair, Amy Sherald's portrait of Michelle Obama, "socio-cultural documents to surviving with grace and elegance." Obama praised Wiley's work at the unveiling Monday, saying: "What I was always struck by whenever I saw his portraits was the degree to which they challenged our conventional views of power and privilege."

Hannity sees, well, something else. "Controversy surrounding Kehinde Wiley's wildly non-traditional portrait of the commander-in-chief broke out within minutes of its unveiling," Hannity's website alleges, "with industry insiders claiming the artist secretly inserted his trademark technique — concealing images of sperm within his paintings."

Maybe not so much. Hannity got one thing right, anyway: It is nontraditional. Wiley's portrait of Obama "dismantles so much and creates new visions of masculinity that black men rarely have the public permission to explore," argues Teach for America's Brittany Packnett. Jeva Lange

Update 5:14 p.m. ET: Hannity later deleted the post from his site. In a statement, he said: "Earlier today my web staff posted content that was not reviewed by me before publication. It does not reflect my voice and message and, therefore, I had it taken down."

August 29, 2016

Children in Greensville, South Carolina, are claiming that a clown is trying to lure them into the forest, CBS News reports. "There has been several conversations and a lot of complaints to the office regarding a clown or person dressed in clown clothing … trying to lure children into the woods," the property manager of Fleetwood Manor wrote to residents in a letter, which requested that if the clown was spotted, residents immediately call the police.

Greensville County deputies said that a woman and her son reported seeing "a clown in the woods" around 8:30 p.m. on Aug. 21. Another witness said she saw a clown near the garbage dumpster, and that the clown waved at her, she waved back, but the clown did not walk toward her. Some children additionally reported that "several clowns" had tried to pursue them into the woods with money, CBS News reports, although the Greensville County Sheriff's Office said it only has one filed incident report about the clown sightings.

"Witnesses told investigators that they believed the clowns lived in a nearby home, but a deputy wrote in the Aug. 21 police report that he followed a trail through the woods to the home and found no evidence related to the clown sightings," CBS News writes. Jeva Lange

February 19, 2015

John Oliver isn't on the market. After signing a two-year contract extension with HBO, he will not replace Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. Jimmy Fallon congratulated Oliver on the new contract on Tuesday night's Tonight Show, then asked him the obvious question: Who should replace Stewart?

"Like most people, I would love him to carry on," Oliver said, and since that isn't happening, "how about hologram Jon?" Oliver, who'd apparently given this some thought, noted that "he's said every word in the English language," and if they can put the late Tupac Shakur on stage, why not a very Daily Show–like cut-and-paste hologram Stewart? Fallon is enthusiastic, but the ridiculous idea gets sillier from there.

Oliver isn't exactly neutral when it comes to Stewart. "I owe that man everything — everything!" he told Fallon. "I could fact-check how much I owe him, and it will be everything." For everyone else, of course, depriving The Daily Show of a live human host is a terrible idea. You can read her for my initial guesses about Stewart's replacement, though now I'd add Jessica Williams to the list. Hologram Jon wouldn't make the Top 50. —Peter Weber

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