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August 12, 2018

Sci-fi thriller The Meg had an impressive opening weekend, bringing in an estimated $44.5 million at the U.S. box office.

The Warner Bros. film about scientists trying to keep an enormous shark from causing chaos was expected to debut with $20 million domestically. It's estimated the movie brought in $141.3 million worldwide. The Meg had the biggest domestic opening for a live-action shark movie, not adjusted for inflation; The Hollywood Reporter says Jaws is still the top-grossing live-action shark film in the U.S., adjusted or not.

Mission: Impossible — Fallout dropped from the top spot to No. 2 with $20 million, followed by Christopher Robin with $12.4 million, Slender Man with $11.3 million, and Spike Lee's BlacKkKlansman with $10.8 million. Catherine Garcia

4:11 p.m.

President Trump's feud with the late Sen. John McCain has become a downright obsessive vendetta.

Despite the fact that the former GOP senator died nearly six months ago, Trump has decided in the past few days to dig up his favorite McCain insults and seemingly launch them at random. He tied McCain to the Steele dossier in some tweets on Sunday, and then ranted about McCain's thumbs-down vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act to Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro again on Tuesday.

But things got intensely personal on Wednesday, with Trump bragging about how he gave McCain "the kind of funeral that he wanted" in a speech at an Ohio army tank plant. Trump said that McCain's funeral was something he "had to approve," but added that "I don't care about this." Trump then showed he really did care by claiming he "didn't get a thank you."

Trump followed this new episode in his backlog of McCain rants with a repeat, describing how he "never liked" McCain much and "probably never will," and complaining about the Steele dossier and ACA vote again. He did not mention that the funeral McCain wanted was one without him in the audience. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:55 p.m.

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) literally did this to himself.

Just two days ago, the congressman decided to sue a parody Twitter account called @DevinCow because it was apparently spreading misinformation to its 1,200 followers. Now, largely thanks to Nunes' own self-raised stink, that cow has a lot more followers than Nunes himself.

In his Monday lawsuit, Nunes sued the entirety of Twitter for $250 million, saying it "shadow banned" conservatives, including himself, ahead of the 2018 midterms. That term refers to some Twitter users' favorite conspiratorial excuse for why their content is allegedly being hidden, as Nunes inartfully explained to Fox News' Sean Hannity after filing the suit. Nunes' suit also said accounts like @DevinCow and @DevinNunesMom served him "an orchestrated defamation campaign of stunning breadth and scope, one that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life." Really.

Commentators and comedians promptly dunked on Nunes' very dramatic lawsuit, and thousands of Twitter followers followed suit. As of Wednesday afternoon, @DevinCow had easily surpassed Nunes' own 395,000 followers, and the lead has only continued to grow since. The suit has also inspired dozens of other bovine accounts, and earned @DevinCow a whole herd of high-profile supporters. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:49 p.m.

Donna Brazile is defending herself after facing some criticism for going to work for Fox News, saying she thought long and hard about the decision and stands by it.

The former Democratic National Committee chair, who earlier this week was hired as a contributor for the network, spoke with The New Yorker on Wednesday and again said she accepted the job in order to reach those who might disagree with her, arguing that "if you want to help the country, if you want to try to improve democracy, you have to go into places where you are uncomfortable and try to stir things up." Journalist Isaac Chotiner didn't seem to fully buy this explanation, asking if she thinks Fox News itself may have contributed to the very lack of civility in political discourse that she decries.

"Is Fox responsible alone?" Brazile asked. "No ... I don't want to blame it on one entity." She instead criticized the "the entire media landscape," especially journalists who reported on emails of hers released by WikiLeaks, later saying, "I knew people were going to call and say, 'Don’t you know the house might stink up?' Yeah, but is that the only house that is stinky?"

The conversation got a bit heated when Brazile said she hopes to "call out" racism, to which Chotiner responded that she'll be "seeing it a lot now" at Fox. "I hope you understand that you are having a conversation with me because I chose to call you back," Brazile said. "I understood that when I made this decision to call you that you probably wanted to get up in my crap about going on Fox." She later told Chotiner not to act "somehow appalled that a black woman, or a woman, or a liberal progressive" would go work for Fox, saying she has "all my marbles" and telling the reporter, "you don't know me." Brendan Morrow

3:37 p.m.

How's that for irony.

The Verge reported that during an Economic Club event in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson was interrupted in the middle of an on-stage interview by, what else, a robocall.

The robocall epidemic — that is, the swarm of computerized telemarketing calls that deliver a pre-recorded message to your phone — is on the rise and no one, not even the head of one of the nation's most powerful mobile carriers, can escape its reach.

Lawmakers have orchestrated bipartisan efforts to address the problem and customers are pressuring the Federal Communications Commission to put an end to scammer calls, per The Verge. FCC chair Ajit Pai, meanwhile, has threatened federal intervention if carriers like AT&T don't find a way to curb the calls. But so far their efforts have been fruitless, meaning that, for the time being, those random numbers will continue to haunt us all. Tim O'Donnell

2:53 p.m.

Finland is once again the world's happiness nation.

The 2019 World Happiness Index, an annual ranking released by the Sustainable Development Solutions Network for the United Nations, placed the Nordic nation, which is known for its strong education system and public safety, at the top of the list for the second year in a row. Its neighbors Denmark, Norway, Iceland, and Sweden were all in the top 10, as well.

The ranking system considers six different factors — freedom, generosity, income, trust, healthy life expectancy, and social support — when determining nations' overall happiness levels.

The United States wound up as the 19th happiest country, down one spot from a year ago, and five spots from 2017, signaling that the nation is becoming less happy. Per U.S. News, the report specifies the decline of happiness among the American population lies parallel to a rise in depression, suicide ideation, and self-harm, as well as an "epidemic of addictions," including substance abuse, gambling, and poor diets.

The report lists South Sudan as the least happy nation. Read the full World Happiness report. Tim O'Donnell

1:51 p.m.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway is finally speaking out about the feud between President Trump and her husband — and it sounds like she's on Trump's side.

Conway spoke with Politico on Wednesday after Trump went after her husband, George Conway, on Twitter for the second day in a row, calling him a "stone cold loser." The president's tweets came after Conway, who has long been an outspoken critic of the president, spent days suggesting that Trump has a personality disorder and that Americans should be concerned about his "mental condition and psychological state."

Kellyanne Conway told Politico that Trump is a "counterpuncher" and that he "left it alone for months out of respect for me." She asked, "you think he shouldn’t respond when somebody, a non-medical professional accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down?" Conway said Trump is "obviously defending me" and offered some criticism of her husband by saying that he shouldn't "play psychiatrist."

Conway didn't answer a question about whether she wants Trump to stop tweeting about her husband, but she did say that this drama has not affected her job, saying, "Hasn't everybody tried to push me out already and here I am, stronger than ever."

Around the same time this Politico interview was published, Trump went after Conway once again, telling reporters per The Hill's Jordan Fabian that he's a "whack job" who is "doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife." Brendan Morrow

1:44 p.m.

President Trump is embarking on a supremely roundabout quest to build the wall.

In November, French bank Societe Generale admitted that it spent years breaking American sanctions with the U.S. and Cuba. It had to pay $1.3 billion back to the U.S., and now Trump is hoping to siphon a chunk of it for his border wall, CNBC reports.

From asking Mexico nicely to cramming funds into the national budget, Trump has tried a slew of crafty solutions to fund his promised border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. His current national emergency declaration is still standing, but the $8 billion Trump is hoping to get from that actually stems from a variety of sources. About $3.6 billion comes from military construction already authorized this year, $2.5 billion comes from seized drug profits, and $1.3 billion is from what Democrats gave Trump in the budget. The remaining $601 million, Trump reportedly hopes, will come from the Treasury Department's "asset forfeiture fund," NBC News noted.

There's just one problem: Only $242 million of the largely off-limits forfeiture fund is available for government use right now, the administration has said. The rest — $301 billion — is from "future anticipated forfeitures," namely the Societe General deal that is still pending in court, two officials tell CNBC. Yet another source says the bank has already paid its fines, and the money has already been divvied up to other recipients, complicating Trump's reported plan.

Read more about Trump's backup border fund at CNBC. Kathryn Krawczyk

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