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August 10, 2018

It seems somehow fitting that a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame has become a symbolic battleground for America's stark divide on President Trump. The Donald Trump star, in honor of The Apprentice, has been destroyed twice in the past two years, most recently in late July. The man who claimed responsibility for taking a pickax to Trump's star, Austin Clay, was bailed out of jail by James Otis, the man who took a sledgehammer to the star in November 2016. And the West Hollywood City Council just voted unanimously to remove the star over his treatment of women, a decision that isn't theirs to make.

But the fear of losing the Trump star was enough to spur a group of Trump-loving street artists to jump into action, and on Wednesday night, they installed dozens of vinyl Donald Trump stars on blank squares around the stars of Trump critics. "Keep taking down the @realDonaldTrump star, and we will further spread Trump Derangement Syndrome by installing a never ending stream of stars," the group, calling themselves The Faction, wrote on Twitter, with video of their work.

The unidentified conservative street artist who made the realistic-looking Trump stickers told The Hollywood Reporter he spent $1,000 on the first batch of stars, with the money coming at least partly from "a young and anonymous entrepreneur." "If no one peels these off, they could last there for 10 years," the artist said, but it's a good thing The Faction took pictures, because cleaning crews and employees of stores along Hollywood Blvd. began removing the stars at 5 a.m. Thursday.

The Faction isn't the only group going to silly lengths to make a brief, symbolic stand on the Donald Trump star. In a bout of world-class trolling, two men dressed as Russian soldiers stood guard over the star in the days after its most recent destruction.

Keep in mind, late July was really hot in Los Angeles. Peter Weber

7:59 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

After receiving multiple complaints that she retaliated against staff members who once ran her personal errands, the Defense Department's Inspector General launched an investigation into Dana White, the Pentagon's chief spokeswoman, four people familiar with the matter told CNN on Tuesday.

White is one of Defense Secretary James Mattis' most senior civilian advisers, and allegedly asked support staff to pick up her dry cleaning, buy things for her at the pharmacy, work on her mortgage application and other financial documents, and give her a ride to work when it snowed.

Several people told CNN that in May, at least two staffers went to senior officials to let them know what White was doing, and not long after, White retaliated by having them transferred. The investigation began weeks ago, CNN reports, and the Inspector General has interviewed at least six people so far. Read more about the allegations and White's pre-Pentagon life at CNN. Catherine Garcia

6:43 p.m. ET
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

A natural gas explosion in Denver's historic Baker neighborhood leveled an apartment building on Tuesday, leaving at least nine injured, one critically.

Fire officials said this was the biggest home explosion Denver has seen in 10 years, 9 News reports. The building was a fourplex, Denver Fire Captain Greg Pixley said, and two people were trapped in rubble and had to be rescued by first responders. No one else is believed to be trapped in the debris, but fire officials will go in and search once it's considered safe. An investigation into what triggered the blast is underway. Catherine Garcia

5:49 p.m. ET

This is a man's world. But not for long, if Taraji P. Henson has anything to say about it.

The Oscar nominee infiltrates the boy's club in the trailer for her latest film, What Men Want. In a gender-swapped remake of the 2000 romantic comedy, What Women Want, Henson's character Ali Davis struggles to climb the corporate ladder due to the sexism engrained within her company. Under the guidance of her friends, Davis turns to a spiritual guide — appropriately played by the enigmatic Erykah Badu — who makes her drink a "special" concoction. Soon after, she realizes she has the ability to read men's minds.

What initially seems like a curse becomes one of Davis' greatest assets as she seeks to fix the culture within her office. Henson is joined in the cast by Hollywood favorites like Mark Cuban, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Phoebe Robinson, and Tracy Morgan, who combine to turn the cult classic on its head.

What Men Want is in good hands under the direction of Adam Shankman, also known for directing Hairspray, The Wedding Planner, and Bringing Down the House. The film sashays into theaters on Jan. 11, 2019. Watch the full trailer below. Amari Pollard

5:29 p.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Officials in Nebraska used fentanyl to execute a felon Tuesday, the first time the drug was ever used in an execution in the U.S., reports The New York Times.

Carey Dean Moore, 60, was convicted of killing two taxi drivers in 1979, and the state went forward with the controversial decision to execute him by lethal injection at the Nebraska State Penitentiary. The Times reports that officials used a mixture of four different drugs, which had never before been tested. The mixture included a tranquilizer, a muscle relaxant, potassium chloride to stop the heart, and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that has garnered attention in the nation's rising opioid epidemic.

On Monday, a federal appeals court rejected an attempt by the German pharmaceutical company Fresenius Kabi to stop the execution; Fresenius Kabi said two of its drugs, the muscle relaxant and potassium chloride, would be used in the lethal cocktail, but claimed Nebraska obtained the drugs illegally, The Guardian reports. The drug company argued that the drugs had been improperly stored, which could lead to a painful execution.

Reporters who were in the room said the execution didn't appear to have any complications, with Moore mouthing "I love you" to his chosen witnesses, then breathing heavily and coughing before his death. It was the first execution in Nebraska since 1997, when state officials used an electric chair to carry out the death penalty. Read more at The New York Times. Summer Meza

4:28 p.m. ET

The Washington Nationals have not been super great in the ballpark lately, so fans of the beleaguered team are looking to celebrate alternate expanses of grass and dirt.

After their team gave up walk-off home runs on consecutive nights — first a grand-slam blast to Chicago Cubs rookie David Bote on Sunday, then a neat dinger to St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Paul DeJong on Monday — fans of the D.C. baseball team sought to commiserate in the Nationals' dedicated subreddit. But rather than debate the franchise's embattled managers, or its subpar relief pitching, or its general malaise, Nats fans turned to the great outdoors to ease their pain.

You see, while "the Nationals" tends to refer to the MLB team in the nation's capital, if you think creatively enough, it can really be shorthand for "the National( Park)s (of America)":

Petition to turn this subreddit into a National Parks themed subreddit from r/Nationals

As Ringer writer Claire McNear noted Tuesday, depressed Nationals fans have been sharing gorgeous pictures from America's national parks in the subreddit, rather than remember how this ballclub was supposed to contend into October. There are also pleas to recognize underappreciated contributors and spirited discussions of hot topics, just like in any other good sports subreddit.

Nats fans aren't the first group to co-opt their own subreddit; devotees of the spiraling New York Mets did the same in June, which isn't exactly ideal company to keep. On the plus side, you can see some beautiful nature photos here. Kimberly Alters

4:05 p.m. ET

Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes and White House leaks.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders knows this to be true, telling reporters Tuesday that she "can't guarantee anything" when it comes to the next tape that former senior adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman will inevitably release.

Manigault Newman has alleged that President Trump has said the N-word on tape, and gave CBS News a recording of Trump campaign officials allegedly discussing the existence of such a tape to corroborate her claim. Trump himself took to Twitter to insist that "there are NO TAPES" of him using "such a terrible and disgusting word."

Sanders couldn't make things quite so clear, leaving some room for the possibility that more recordings will emerge. She said she had "never heard him use that term or anything similar," but when asked whether she could "guarantee the American people they'll never hear Donald Trump utter the N-word on a recording in any context," she replied, "I can't guarantee anything," and could only say that if people in the administration thought Trump was racist, they "wouldn't be here." Sanders added that she "hasn't been in every room" to know for certain whether tapes exist.

Instead, Sanders pointed to policies that have reduced the unemployment rate among African-Americans, claiming against evidence that Trump has already tripled the accomplishments of former President Barack Obama. Watch the moment below, via Fox News. Summer Meza

3:51 p.m. ET
RONALDO SCHEMIDT/AFP/Getty Images

American millennials may have ruined mayonnaise, but at least they haven't launched an avocado black market.

That's what's happened in New Zealand, as low avocado harvests has driven the average cost of one fruit to $3.30. New Zealand refuses to import the toast-topper, jacking prices up 37 percent in the past year, The New York Times reports.

Guacamole lovers have tried to avoid high prices by growing their own avocado trees, but they are often put on a waitlist at nurseries, the Times says. Others see an opportunity to turn green into gold and have started nabbing avocados in the night: Two thieves were recently caught smuggling $4,300 of avocados out of an orchard in duvet covers, the Times reports. Another pair tried using a hook to pull fruits off a tree and escaped on a mobility scooter.

These thieves' plots may have been smashed, but one farmer reported 70 percent of his avocados were stolen last year, per The New Zealand Herald. Growers have taken to surrounding trees with razor wire or installing security systems to protect their crops.

The sheer volume of these stolen avocados suggests they're likely sold in small shops or used for food service. "It's clearly not for their own consumption," Alasdair Macmillan, New Zealand's coordinator of community policing, told the Times. "You can only put so much avocado on your burger or in your sushi," Macmillan continued — indicating he's never seen the full power of a dedicated millennial mind. Kathryn Krawczyk

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