November 8, 2018

After bidding a tearful goodbye, ousted Attorney General Jeff Sessions "hopped on a sleigh back to the North Pole, where he will only have seven weeks to finish making all of those toys," Trevor Noah joked on Thursday's Daily Show. "Yeah, gotta make toys for all those kids he put in cages — too soon?" The audience suggested yes. "Since Sessions is gone, let's focus on the man who's replacing him," Matt Whitaker, Noah said.

Whitaker was a tight end for the University of Iowa, a federal prosecutor for five years, and a failed Senate candidate in 2014, Noah said. Oh, and "there is one other thing about Whitaker that probably makes him the perfect pick for President Trump: He shares a similar passion for business ethics." That passion is low, of course — a company Whitaker helped lead shut down after paying a $26 million federal fine for fraud. "How's America going to hire a guy who scams hot-tub inventors as its top cop?" Noah asked. "That seems like a real conflict of interest to me."

Whitaker was also a fixture on CNN, making one specific argument: Kneecap Special Counsel Robert Mueller. "So the guy who's now in charge of the Mueller investigation was on CNN over a dozen times s--t-talking Mueller and his investigation," Noah said. Well, it turns out that was an impressively devious scam, too. "He knew that Trump spends all day watching CNN, so he wasn't just trash-talking Mueller for no reason, he was trying to lure the president in," he said. "But Whitaker's plan to get Trump's attention on TV worked even better than he expected, because all he wanted was to be a judge in Iowa and now he's the acting attorney general. That's like applying to be a cashier at Ross Dress for Less and then they're like, 'Forget cashier, you're Ross!'" Dulcé Sloan also offered her thoughts. Watch below. Peter Weber

12:47 p.m.

Jared Kushner has a predictable first response to the Mueller report.

In a Tuesday appearance at the TIME 100 summit, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser discussed last week's Mueller report release, characterizing it all as just "a big distraction for the whole country." But instead of touching on the report's details on Trump's possible obstruction of justice, Kushner focused on the far less controversial Russian election interference.

While American intelligence officials largely concluded that the interference happened, and that it was a big deal, Kushner decided to brush it all off as "a couple of Facebook ads" that Russia purchased for about $160,000. The Mueller probe itself "had a much harsher impact on our democracy" than the ads, Kushner added, but failed to acknowledge that Russia's Facebook ad buy was only a tiny chunk of its entire interference operations.

NBC News' Ben Collins was quick to correct Kushner's characterization, tweeting that Russia's "troll farm spent $1.25 million per month illegally boosting" Trump, and that "most of their influence was organic — not an ad at all." That troll farm received 187 million interactions on Instagram from 2015 through 2018, and another 77 million interactions on Facebook and 73 million on Twitter, a Senate Intelligence Committee report previously found — all without major help from ad buys. Kathryn Krawczyk

12:11 p.m.

If you're sitting down while reading this, maybe you'll want to take a break.

New research has shown that Americans spend more time sitting than we ever have before, The Wall Street Journal reports. And, as we've been warned before, computers are a main culprit behind our sedentary lifestyles.

A study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on Tuesday, found that compared to 2007, data from 2016 reflects an increase in sitting time of about an hour per day for most Americans. The average adolescent now spends 8.2 hours sitting, while the average adult sits for 6.4 hours a day.

The numbers from 2016 point to screen time as a big reason for sitting: 65 percent of people watched TV at least 2 hours per day, and computer use saw a huge uptick as well. 56 percent of children, 57 percent of adolescents, and 50 percent of adults use computers for at least an hour a day outside of school or work.

Excessive sedentary behavior has been linked to a higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, or even early death — which makes this study's findings troubling. And while these numbers may seem high, the truth may be even worse. Since the study was based on self-reported surveys, some scientists believe that people are under-reporting their sedentary time. "Most people aren't very aware of how much time they spend sitting," said Keith Diaz, a professor at Columbia University Medical Center. Read more at The Wall Street Journal. Shivani Ishwar

12:09 p.m.

After Captain Marvel, the trend of digitally de-aging actors several decades continues with Ang Lee's latest film.

In the upcoming science-fiction film Gemini Man, the first trailer for which was released on Tuesday, Will Smith stars as an assassin who is targeted by a younger clone of himself. The 50-year-old actor plays both the older assassin at his current age, as well as the 23-year-old clone.

Smith was digitally de-aged almost 30 years for the movie, and he has said that the "physical challenges of making this film have been the most demanding of my career," per Entertainment Weekly. This young version of Smith will be front-and-center throughout, with the film's VFX supervisor having said he's in "400-plus scenes in over half the movie," per IndieWire.

This trailer comes shortly after Marvel used digital effects to make Samuel L. Jackson look about 25 years younger as Nick Fury in Captain Marvel, with the studio previously utilized de-aging in films like Captain America: Civil War, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Ant-Man and the Wasp. David Fincher's The Curious Case of Benjamin Button also made use of de-aging in 2008.

Gemini Man, which hits theaters in October, won't even be the only film of the fall to make use of de-aging technology. Martin Scorsese's The Irishman will be de-aging its cast, which includes Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, and Joe Pesci, for flashback scenes that evidently comprise about half the movie. All this digital work adds up, with The Irishman's budget having reportedly skyrocketed past $140 million.

Check out the first footage of the de-aged Smith in the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

12:01 p.m.

The sixth mass extinction is coming.

A draft report from the United Nations obtained by Agence France-Presse says that up to 1 million species of living organisms face extinction as a result of human influence.

The report, which is set to be revealed on May 6, adds that the loss of biodiversity, while closely linked, poses "no less of a threat" than climate change. Deforestation has led to the loss of greenhouse gas-absorbing trees, polluted waters are killing protein-rich fish and limiting clean drinking water, and pollinating insects are dying rapidly.

The pace of species loss is reportedly already "tens to hundreds of times higher than it has been, than it has been, over the last 10 million years." Wild mammal biomass is down 82 percent, per AFP. The causes of species loss are shrinking habitats, hunting, climate change, pollution, and invasive species, all of which can be traced to human actions.

"We need to recognize that climate change and loss of nature are equally important, not just for the environment, but as development and economic issues as well," Robert Watson, chair of the U.N.-mandated body that compiled the report told AFP. He added that only "transformative change" can stop the damage. Read more at Agence France-Presse. Tim O'Donnell

11:29 a.m.

It turns out college students want to elect the same old white men as everyone else.

Just like pretty much every poll out there, a new survey from university news site College Reaction shows college students have chosen former Vice President Joe Biden as their top 2020 pick across the political spectrum. After Biden, five more white men fall in line before we reach a woman candidate, making it clear that the supposedly more progressive college crowd isn't too different after all.

After Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) comes in second with 15.1 percent in the College Reaction poll. President Trump is a close third, with Beto O'Rourke not far behind. Next up is Pete Buttigieg, and even clearly unforgotten 2016 GOP contender John Kasich falls into the mix before a woman candidate. Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris (Calif.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) are both tied for seventh place with 5.5 percent among college students, per the survey.

Biden and Sanders' places at the top of the line aren't a huge surprise given their name recognition and 2016 track record, respectively. What's more shocking is Buttigieg's recent rise, even as a relative no-name whose political experience is limited to being the mayor of Indiana's fourth largest city. His ascent has largely been chalked up to his folksy yet prodigious vibe, which GQ's Julia Ioffe sums up under more blatant terms.

The College Reaction poll surveyed 1,052 college students online from April 4-8, with a margin of error of 3 percentage points. Find the full survey here. Kathryn Krawczyk

10:53 a.m.

Cable news — the great influencer of the 21st century.

It's no surprise that networks like CNN and Fox News attract viewers with very different biases, who hold starkly different editorial lines, but a new analysis from The Washington Post shows just how staggering those differences are.

The analysis, which looks at poll results released on Monday by HuffPost and YouGov, shows that more than 75 percent of those who followed reports about the Mueller investigation on Fox News believe the findings clear President Trump of any wrongdoing. Less than 25 percent of CNN viewers feel the same way. The separation remains consistent throughout the polling, including on questions about whether Trump tried to obstruct justice and the seriousness of Trump's relationship with Russia.

The Post made an important distinction in its analysis, however. While Republicans still tend to favor Trump's innocence, they did poll at a lower rate when compared to the general category of Fox News viewer, suggesting the news network one chooses to watch is a clearer indication of an individual's support for the president than political affiliation.

HuffPost and YouGov polled a random sample of 1,000 U.S. citizens of voting age selected from YouGov's opt-in Internet panel between April 18 and April 19. The margin of error is 3.3 percent. Read more at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

10:08 a.m.

President Trump is truly easing into the post-holiday workweek.

Starting with a Fox News clip tweeted just before 9 a.m. on Monday, Trump has sent more than 50 tweets and retweets in the past 24 hours. And looking at his public schedule, which is chock full of Easter Egg Rolls and Easter Egg Roll breakfast receptions, it's pretty easy to see where he got the time.

After getting home from his Mar-a-Lago resort at 7 p.m. on Easter Sunday, Trump seemingly didn't have anything scheduled until an in-house pool with reporters at 9 a.m. the next day. But that didn't seem to last long, as Trump was already calling out former Secretary of State John Kerry for giving Iran "VERY BAD advice" by 9:37 a.m. His "congratulations" tweet in response to news that CNN's ratings had dropped actually came three minutes after he was supposed to be at the White House Easter Egg Roll's breakfast reception.

That holiday tradition kept Trump busy until noon, when he revealed in a tweet that he wouldn't nominate Herman Cain for the Federal Reserve Board. His 1:30 p.m. intelligence briefing then seemingly only took half an hour, as he was back on the tweet game by 2:05 p.m., and sent off a few dozen retweets throughout the rest of the day.

On Tuesday, Trump got to work attacking the "Fake News New York Times" before 6 a.m. He then seemingly spent some quality time with his favorite show, Fox & Friends, ultimately firing off a dozen tweets before his 9 a.m. pool call with reporters and proving that Trump's executive time is alive and well. Kathryn Krawczyk

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