January 12, 2018

On Friday, American Conservative Union chairman Matt Schlapp went on Fox News to offer a tenuous defense of President Trump's reported characterization of Haiti and several African states as "shithole countries." Schlapp, the former political director for former President George W. Bush, chose to back the president by ... disparaging the quality of Haiti's beaches.

Schlapp began by noting that Trump denied making the vulgar remarks entirely, before pivoting to his creative defense of the president's alleged comments. "Here are the facts. The facts are: I don't know anybody who has spent two weeks on the beach in Haiti."

Schlapp then moved on to blame the Democrats who were in the meeting — a bipartisan summit on immigration reform — for stirring up the controversy. "The president learned a lesson," Schlapp declared: "When the Democrats and their staff are in the Oval Office, they're gonna say and leak anything to harm you politically, and they did that."

Fox News' Sandra Smith pointed out in response that the Democrats were not lying about what the president said. "To be clear, Matt, Fox News has confirmed his choice of words in that meeting," she said.

For the record: Here are some pictures of Haiti's beaches. Kelly O'Meara Morales

Editor's note: This post originally mischaracterized Schlapp's relationship to Fox News. It has since been corrected. We regret the error.

January 7, 2018
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Former chief strategist Stephen Bannon on Sunday issued an apology to Donald Trump Jr. for critical comments reported in Michael Wolff's Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. The president's son "is both a patriot and a good man," Bannon said, declaring himself "unwavering" in his support for President Trump, "the only candidate that could have taken on and defeated the Clinton apparatus."

The apology alluded to Cold War conflict to declare Russians "duplicitous, cunning, and not our friends," though Bannon maintained there was "no collusion" between the Trump team and Russian election meddling attempts. The statement is similar to one multiple sources say Bannon planned to make before President Trump issued a statement vehemently attacking "Sloppy Steve" Bannon by claiming he has "lost his mind."

Wolff's book sees Bannon calling Trump Jr. "treasonous" and "unpatriotic" in connection to the campaign-era meeting he had with a Kremlin-linked lawyer. Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort, who has been indicted in connection with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing Russia probe, was also present at the meeting, and Bannon's Sunday statement said the negative remarks were actually aimed at him. Bonnie Kristian

January 7, 2018
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The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has launched an investigation into Kushner Companies, the real estate empire belonging to the family of Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.

The previously unknown probe reportedly began this past May and focuses on the company's use of the EB-5 visa program, which awards green cards to immigrants who invest at least $500,000 in eligible U.S. businesses. It is not clear what investigators may believe was improper in Kushner Cos. use of the visa; a representative of the company denied all wrongdoing.

Jared Kushner resigned from his role at Kushner Cos. when he went to work at the White House, but he retains a financial stake in the business. Bonnie Kristian

December 9, 2017
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President Trump spends between four and eight hours watching television on a daily basis, The New York Times reported Saturday, citing unnamed sources with ties to the president.

"Before taking office, Mr. Trump told top aides to think of each presidential day as an episode in a television show in which he vanquishes rivals," the Times story says. "People close to him estimate that Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back."

Trump has long been known to begin his days with an early TV viewing session, usually featuring Fox & Friends, which he regularly live-tweets. His advisers have reportedly begged him to watch less, a plea that has fallen on very deaf ears if the Times story is correct. Were he not president, Trump's viewing habits would be less remarkable: The average American watches about four hours of television per day, and those over 65 (Trump is 71) average seven hours, which is reasonable if you are retired and not the most powerful person in the world.

Read the rest of the New York Times report here for a look inside the president's routine and his relationship with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Bonnie Kristian

November 11, 2017
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President Trump's daughter and senior White House adviser, Ivanka Trump, is scheduled to visit Hyderabad in late November, and the southern Indian city is reportedly preparing for the occasion by hiding away its beggar population.

Local police are sweeping the streets for beggars, V.K. Singh, the city's director general of prisons, told CNN. "It's a permanent drive," he added. "The government, since 30 years, have been trying to figure out what to do about them" because there "is a mafia or a network behind this who force people to beg or kidnap some children and force them into begging."

Police representatives denied that the round-ups are connected to Trump's visit — begging has been illegal in the city since 1977 — and maintained that though the beggars have been held in the same location as prisons they are not in the prisons themselves. "All the facilities are there — security, medical, food," said A. Narasimha, an officer in the prisons department, "and all the basic amenities are being made to take care of the inmates." One of the structures to house the beggars is called "Hermitage of Happiness." Bonnie Kristian

October 21, 2017
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The World Health Organization (WHO) came under intense criticism Saturday for its decision to name Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe as the organization's newest goodwill ambassador. The position is mostly symbolic, but the 93-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, is widely considered a dictator, and his government stands accused of gross human rights violations.

"The decision to appoint Robert Mugabe as a WHO goodwill ambassador is deeply disappointing and wrong," said Dr. Jeremy Farrar of Wellcome Trust, a prominent British health charity. "Robert Mugabe fails in every way to represent the values WHO should stand for."

WHO's Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Mugabe was chosen because his government "places universal health coverage and health promotion at the center of its policies to provide health care to all," but outside observers say the Zimbabwean health-care system is in "a shambolic state" with hospitals lacking "the most basic necessities."

Update Oct. 22: WHO rescinded Mugabe's selection as a goodwill ambassador. Bonnie Kristian

October 21, 2017

Georgia state Rep. Betty Price (R), who is an anesthesiologist and the wife of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned last month, asked in a committee hearing Tuesday whether some sort of quarantine of people with HIV might be a viable option for limiting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Price's comments come as the surgeon general reports a new HIV epidemic could be brewing in places like Georgia.

"If you wouldn't mind commenting on the surveillance of partners, tracking of contacts, that sort of thing — what are we legally able to do?" Dr. Price asked Dr. Pascale Wortley, director of the Georgia Department of Public Health's HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Surveillance Section. "I don't want to say the 'quarantine' word, but I guess I just said it," she added, noting that "public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxis and treatment of this condition, so we have a public interest in curtailing the spread."

Wortley replied that Georgia already has a program called "Partner Services that involves talking to people who are newly diagnosed with HIV and asking them to list out partners" so either the patient or a public health worker can contact them. Watch the rest of the exchange below; the relevant section runs from around 1:02:00 to 1:05:30. Bonnie Kristian

September 23, 2017
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As-yet unidentified tremors were detected in North Korea early Saturday near the site of previous nuclear weapons tests. While China labeled the 3.4-magnitude quake a "suspected explosion" that could be Pyongyang's second nuclear test in a matter of weeks, an official from South Korea's meteorological agency said initial assessments indicate it was more likely a natural earthquake. North Korea has not commented either way.

On Friday, North Korea's foreign minister, Ri Yong Ho, said his government might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean. "This could probably mean the strongest hydrogen bomb test over the Pacific Ocean," Ri announced. "Regarding which measures to take, I don't really know since it is what Kim Jong Un does."

Also Friday, President Trump once again called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "Rocket Man," the latest in a series of insults the two men have traded this week. Bonnie Kristian

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