January 14, 2020

"The world is still on edge over escalating tensions between rival foreign powers that could at any moment erupt into a full-blown war, and everyone is asking the same harrowing questions: Can Harry and Meghan really leave the royal family?" Stephen Colbert deadpanned on Monday's Late Show. Last week, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan announced they plan to "step back" from being senior royalty to become financially independent, "but like many millennials who move out, they will stay on the queen's Verizon family plan."

"The palace was shocked — shocked! — and so today the queen held a royal family summit to work out a future for Prince Harry and Meghan," Colbert said. And the queen's statement after the summit, that she and the other royals "are entirely supportive of Harry and Meghan's desire to create a new life as a young family" with a "more independent life," is "way nicer than the statements that came out of royal summits in the old days," he said, paraphrasing Henry VIII: "I'm starting a new religion so I can get divorced and kill my next wife."

Yes, Britain's royal family is "like the Kardashians with an occasional beheading," Trevor Noah said at The Daily Show, but Harry and Meghan announcing "they're no longer going to be on the family phone plan anymore" is "an unprecedented crisis." Meghan called into the meeting from Canada, he said, "and I'll be honest, I don't blame Meghan for not going. Because nothing good happens when white people invite you to the countryside."

On paper, the couple has a charmed life — us commoners "kiss frogs to try and become royalty," Noah said, but "for Harry and Meghan in particular, the reality of being a royal couple has been far from a fairy tale." That's largely due to Britain's tabloid press, he explained. "Now everyone is wondering what they will do to support themselves without any of that royal cash. Well, good news: Meghan's already got herself a job," thanks to some high-level "hustling" by Harry.

"I would have loved to have been a fly on the cucumber sandwich" at the queen's "Megxit" summit, Jimmy Kimmel said at Kimmel Live, but is the royal family really "upset that Harry and Meghan want to move out and become financially independent? Isn't that every parent's dream, to not have their 35-year-old kid still living with them?" Peter Weber

January 18, 2020

Officials in Paris are fearing potential violence as protests continue to disrupt France's capital.

"Seditious groups want the law of 'might is right' to reign, to impose violence on all people who think differently from them," said Marlene Schiappa, the government's secretary of state for equality, per The Associated Press.

Her comments came after a fire on Saturday damaged a renowned Paris restaurant and protesters on Friday forced the Louvre to close. An investigation is ongoing, but Schiappa said the blaze "probably" stemmed from a criminal act.

She criticized the "hate and violence" she claims stems from the protest movement against pension reform in France that began in December. The "yellow vest" movement has reportedly begun to splinter into subgroups, with some protesters returning to work and others calling for continued demonstrations.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who patronized the restaurant affected by the fire, was also targeted by demonstrators on Friday as he attended a theater performance. "Video showed protesters chanting 'Macron resign,'" reports AP, "and some entering a door as surprised police tried to hold them back. A black car reported to be carrying Macron then sped away under a hail of boos."

Read more at The Associated Press. Summer Meza

January 18, 2020

Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein authorized the release of text messages between FBI employees Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, Politico reported Saturday.

The Department of Justice revealed Rosenstein's authorization in a court filing — the filing shows Rosenstein said he allowed the release of the messages to the media in part to protect Strzok and Page.

The two FBI employees sent texts criticizing President Trump as an "idiot" ahead of his election. They have faced ongoing disparagement from Trump, who has used their messages as evidence of a "deep state" effort to block his presidency. A recent DOJ inspector general report found that FBI employees also sent pro-Trump messages during the agency's investigation into Trump's ties to Russia.

Page said last month she's "done being quiet" about Trump's attacks. Both she and Strzok have said that while they criticized Trump's character, they never acted in a biased manner during the course of their work. Trump has suggested they are guilty of "treason."

Strzok and Page filed lawsuits against the DOJ last year, alleging the release of their messages violated the Privacy Act. Rosenstein said he allowed the messages to be released to the media "with the express understanding that it would not violate the Privacy Act and that the text messages would become public by the next day in any event." Read more at Politico. Summer Meza

January 18, 2020

The National Archives aren't exactly archiving everything.

In an exhibit meant to document the Women's March that took place in 2017 the day after President Trump's inauguration, the National Archives blurred some parts of an image that showed anti-Trump messages, The Washington Post reports.

The 49-by-69-inch photograph contrasts the large-scale march to a 1913 image of a women's suffrage march. But while the photo shows the thousands of demonstrators who showed up in Washington, D.C., many in protest of Trump's presidency, it obscured some key details.

A sign reading "God Hates Trump" was blurred so that it simply reads "God Hates," the Post reports. Additionally, a sign reading "Trump & GOP — Hands Off Women" has "Trump" blotted out, and one reading "This Pussy Grabs Back" is edited to eliminate "Pussy."

"As a non-partisan, non-political federal agency, we blurred references to the President's name on some posters, so as not to engage in current political controversy," said Archives spokesperson Miriam Kleiman. The Post notes David Ferriero, the archivist appointed by former President Barack Obama, participated in discussions about the editing and supports the blurring of the words.

The spokesperson said the image wasn't presented as an artifact, and said the reference to women's genitals was erased because of young visitors to the Archives. "Modifying the image was an attempt on our part to keep the focus on the records," she said. Read more at The Washington Post. Summer Meza

January 18, 2020

The fourth annual Women's March is scheduled to take place on Saturday, and activists are expecting thousands of demonstrators to turn out for the events, which will be held in cities around the country.

The first Women's March took place the day after President Trump's inauguration, and drew hundreds of thousands of participants, reports NPR. This year, the march is expected to be smaller and without the celebrity appearances of years past, in part due to criticism the march's organizers have faced in recent years regarding inclusion and diversity.

The demonstration in Washington, D.C., is expected to attract up to 10,000 demonstrators. Read more at NPR. Summer Meza

January 18, 2020

Microsoft announced plans to become "carbon negative" by 2030, seeking to erase its entire carbon footprint since the company's founding in 1975 and begin removing more carbon from the environment than it emits.

The company first wants to reduce emissions to zero across its entire supply chain by 2030, and then focus on eliminating all of the carbon dioxide it has ever released by 2050, reports The Verge.

Microsoft has been carbon neutral since 2012, and achieves this through purchasing renewable energy and carbon offsets. Going negative will require more technology and investment than going neutral. "Technology does exist that does this, but getting the price and the scalability to where we need it to be is a significant challenge," said Lucas Joppa, the company's chief sustainability officer, per CBS News. The company plans to spend $1 billion over the next four years on carbon reduction, capture, and removal.

Read more at The Verge and CBS News. Summer Meza

January 18, 2020

Lev Parnas, the indicted associate of Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani who worked as his envoy in Ukraine, communicated with a top aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) about an effort to find damaging information on former Vice President Joe Biden, documents released Friday night by House Democrats revealed.

The evidence shows Derek Harvey, a former White House official and top aide to Nunes, communicated extensively with Parnas and sought to speak with Ukrainian prosecutors who were giving Giuliani information about Biden, reports The Washington Post. The documents corroborate Parnas' own claims about Nunes' office's involvement in the scheme.

Parnas has said President Trump and his associates were working to push Ukraine into announcing an investigation into Biden. The messages, the Post writes, "indicate Nunes' office was aware of the operation at the heart of impeachment proceedings against the president — and sought to use the information Parnas was gathering." Nunes, the top Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, did not comment on the documents.

Read more at The Washington Post and NBC News. Summer Meza

January 18, 2020

Former GOP Rep. Chris Collins was sentenced on Friday to two years in federal prison on charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI, reports NBC News.

Collins, who was a New York representative since 2013 and was the first member of Congress to endorse President Trump's candidacy, pleaded guilty to tipping off his son to confidential information regarding an Australian biotechnology company, which allowed them to make illegal stock trades avoiding more than $700,000 in losses.

At his sentencing, Collins tearfully apologized, reports The Washington Post. "I stand here today a disgraced former congressman," he said. "I cannot face my constituents. What I have done has marked me for life." The 26-month sentence will begin on March 17, and will likely be served at a federal prison camp in Pensacola, Florida.

Read more at NBC News and The Washington Post. Summer Meza

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