July 17, 2017
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A disturbing investigative report by BuzzFeed News suggests that singer R. Kelly is keeping young women against their will in a kind of "cult" in which he controls everything from how they dress to what they eat. Relying on interviews with the parents of the "brainwashed" women, as well as three former members of Kelly's group, BuzzFeed News describes Kelly luring young women in with the promise of affection or mentorship, only to abuse them and keep them from contacting their families.

"[Former members of Kelly's inner circle] said six women live in properties rented by Kelly in Chicago and the Atlanta suburbs, and he controls every aspect of their lives: dictating what they eat, how they dress, when they bathe, when they sleep, and how they engage in sexual encounters that he records," BuzzFeed News writes.

Women think "this is R. Kelly, I'm going to live a lavish lifestyle," explained Kelly's former personal assistant, Cheryl Mack. "No. You have to ask for food. You have to ask to go use the bathroom. … [Kelly] is a master at mind-control. ... He is a puppet master."

Women who break Kelly's "rules" are allegedly punished. Another woman, [Kitti] Jones, claimed that "Kelly held her against a tree and slapped her outside of a Subway sandwich shop in spring 2013 because she had been too friendly with the male cashier there."

Police are unable to intervene due to the fact that the women living with Kelly are all over the age of consent and well-being checks in the past have resulted in the women saying they are "fine" and don't want to be bothered.

Kelly has faced legal trouble in the past due to accusations about his sexual conduct, including a 2008 acquittal on 14 charges of making child pornography with a 14-year-old girl. Kelly's lawyer, Linda Mensch, said in a statement that Kelly "works hard to become the best person and artist he can be" and "[l]ike all of us, Mr. Kelly deserves a personal life. Please respect that."

Read the full chilling report at BuzzFeed News. Jeva Lange

4:32 a.m. ET

Last week, lawyers for President Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller sat down to discuss which topics investigators could ask Trump about, Stephen Colbert said on Tuesday's Late Show, showing an artist's rendition of what Trump's lawyers asked for: "They will allow questions on the 2016 electoral map and noises trucks make, but nothing about Stormy's bathing suit area or 'Vlad stuff.'" Trump is also shaking up his legal team, Colbert added, introducing viewers to former U.S. attorney, Fox News regular, and new Trump lawyer Joe diGenova.

Another Trump lawyer, John Dowd, might be leaving because, according to The New York Times, he has concluded he has "no control over the behavior of the president." "You just figured that out?" Colbert asked. "Come on, man, Trump doesn't even have control over Trump's behavior." He mourned the thought of Trump sacking his other lawyer, Ty Cobb, and had a wry laugh at Ivanka Trump's turn as a vape-lab analyst in Iowa.

Meanwhile, "on Sunday, Valdimir Putin won an election rigged to prop up a dangerous strongman who is threatening Western democracy," Colbert said. "That requires a strong response — so Donald Trump called him up to say, 'Atta boy!'" Among those unhappy "that Trump was giving the thumbs-up to a murderous dictator for winning a sham election" was his national security team and a bipartisan group of senators — including Sen. John McCain (R), who slammed Trump for insulting "every Russian citizen denied the right to vote in a free and fair election." Colbert had some words of consolation — "Don't worry, Sen. McCain, the Russians still have a chance to vote in our midterm!" — and a creative way to paper over the fact that former President Barack Obama also congratulated Putin on his similarly shady 2012 win. Watch below. Peter Weber

3:44 a.m. ET

On Tuesday, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) beat a primary challenge from state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R), who attacked him from the right, and fellow billionaire investor J.B. Pritzker won a three way contest for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rauner in November. Pritzker, an heir to the Hyatt hotel fortune, beat Chris Kennedy, the son of the late Robert F. Kennedy, and state Sen. Daniel Bliss. Pritzker has already put $70 million of his own money into the race and Rauner has put in $50 million of his fortune, setting this up to be the most expensive governor's race in U.S. history, beating California's 2010 contest.

In other races, former Gov. Pat Quinn (D) is neck and neck with state Sen. Kwame Raoul for the state attorney general nomination, and seven-term Rep. Dan Lipinski (D) very narrowly fended off a challenge from a more progressive candidate, Marie Newman. Lipinksi, one of the few Democrats left in Congress who opposes abortion rights, will face Arthur Jones, a Holocaust-denying neo-Nazi who ran unopposed in the GOP primary. That's not hyperbole. You can get a taste of Jones below. Peter Weber

3:05 a.m. ET

"Does anybody here use Facebook? Still?" Stephen Colbert asked on Tuesday's Late Show, noting that the world's biggest social network is in hot water over the unauthorized harvesting of the private information of 50 million American users by Cambridge Analytica, President Trump's campaign contractor — and also "the scientific name for John Oliver."

"Now, people are blaming Facebook for this because they handed over all your data willingly," Colbert said. "It's less like they're a bank that got robbed at gunpoint and more like a bank that just gave bank robbers your money because that's their business model — but now you can't quit the bank because your whole family is at the bank, and also the bank is where you get to see if your high school friends got fat." Now seems to be a good time for Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to weigh in with some damage control, he added, but so far, crickets.

But Cambridge Analytica is in hot water, too, especially as Britain's Channel 4 released the second part of its undercover report on Tuesday, focusing on their central role in electing Trump. "Wow, so it was their meticulous data and analytics that informed Trump's strategy of 'wear hat, yell about wall,'" Colbert said skeptically — and then in disbelief: "Wait, they made up 'Crooked Hillary'? Coming up with demeaning nicknames was the one skill we knew Trump had!" He also had some fun with Cambridge Analytica's assertion that the candidates they serve are always the "puppet," presumably including Trump: "Since he's a puppet, no wonder he has to use two hands to pick up a glass of water." Watch below. Peter Weber

2:10 a.m. ET

President Trump went to New Hampshire on Monday to roll out his plan to fight the opioid crisis, and he couldn't quite agree with himself on whether America was ready for his proposal to kill drug dealers, Trevor Noah said on Tuesday's Daily Show. "One of my favorite things about Trump is that he has inner monologues out loud — it's like America elected Gollum as president."

Sill, killing drug dealers won't solve America's opioid crisis, Noah said. "Do you also kill doctors who overprescribe painkillers? Do you kill family members who buy opioids for their addicted loved ones?" And Trump's vintage '80s idea of making "very, very bad commercials" to scare teens from taking drugs only makes sense if you are Trump. "I mean, if the president of the United States believes everything he sees on TV, then why wouldn't teenagers?" he asked, noting that they don't.

"I believe that the president sincerely wants to keep young people away from drugs, which is why here at The Daily Show, we've decided to help," Noah said. "What Trump needs is a way to make drugs seem really uncool for young people — and for once I believe he's the right man for the job."

Trump's plan is more than just commercials and executing drug dealers — historically, it also involves cutting funding for drug treatment, prevention, and research, Jordan Klepper noted at The Opposition. "You see, drug addiction is so tragic that usually, Trump can't bear to think about, let alone address it!"

Besides, "we shouldn't give Trump all the credit here: He actually crowdsourced this 'kill drug dealers' idea from some of his newest friends," Klepper said. "Trump visited the Philippines, and they do not have a drug problem there at all. They also don't have a journalist problem, or a due process problem, or a 'not getting murdered in your sleep by state police' problem." Watch below. Peter Weber

2:00 a.m. ET

It will take more than 500 workers a combined 450,000 hours to complete what Silversea Cruises says is a first-of-its-kind project: The lengthening of a luxury cruise ship.

The 642-foot-long Silver Spirit, which first set sail in 2009, was cut in half earlier this month while in a dry dock in Palermo, Sicily. A new 49-foot segment is being built for the ship's midsection, which will include a large pool area, restaurants, spa, and more cabins. It will take 846 tons of steels, 360,892 feet of cabling, and 26,247 feet of piping to complete the addition, which increases the Silver Spirit's passenger capacity by about 12 percent to 608, USA Today reports.

This massive undertaking is expected to be completed in early May, and the longer ship will make its debut as it sails out of Civitavecchia, Italy. Catherine Garcia

1:23 a.m. ET

After customer Danny Cadra drove away from a Chick-fil-A in Lubbock, Texas, without his $3 in change, cashier Marcus Henderson stuffed it into an envelope, knowing the regular would be back sometime soon.

For three weeks, Henderson carried the envelope in his back pocket while at work, never knowing if that would be the day he saw Cadra. He could have put it back in the cash register, but Henderson wanted to ensure Cadra received what was rightfully his. When Cadra came back to the restaurant last week, Henderson handed him the envelope, much to his surprise — he said he didn't even realize he left the change behind.

"What a breath of fresh air," Cadra told NBC Dallas-Fort Worth. "It meant that much to him, it meant even that much more to me." He said he thought it was "the coolest thing" for Henderson to hold onto his change, and that the cashier is a "great American." Catherine Garcia

12:45 a.m. ET

Tuesday's House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the Housing and Urban Development Department's budget ended up largely being about HUD Secretary Ben Carson's office furniture budget — specifically, the $31,000 mahogany dining set Caron's office ordered for his office. Carson "offered a rambling, at times contradictory, explanation of the purchase of the table, chairs, and hutch," The New York Times notes, pinning the blame variously on safety considerations; his wife, Candy Carson; and staff members.

In his telling, Carson was blameless and ignorant of the cost, despite emails showing that his top aides were aware of the price tag and discussed how to get around the $5,000 office redecoration cap. "It's my understanding that the facilities people felt that the dining room table was actually dangerous," Carson said. "People are being stuck by nails, a chair collapsed with somebody sitting in it, it's 50 years old." It wasn't clear when those things happened, or if Carson was even being literal.

Claiming he's "not big into redecorating," Carson said he "invited my wife to come and help" pick out the new furniture he was told he was entitled to. "I left it to my wife, you know, to choose something. I dismissed myself from the issues," Carson said, and his wife "selected the color and style ... with the caveat that we were both not happy about the price." Candy Carson, he added, is "the most frugal person in the world," and "if anybody knew my wife, they would realize how ridiculous this was."

American Oversight, the watchdog group that requested the emails linking the Carsons to the purchase, found Carson's explanation a little ridiculous. "Setting aside the issue of whether it is appropriate for Secretary Carson to delegate decisions regarding the use of taxpayer funds to his wife, this is now at least the third version of Carson's story about the furniture," said American Oversight's Clark Pettig. HUD says Carson has tried to cancel the order. Peter Weber

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