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December 13, 2017
Screenshot/Youtube/Liberty Day Institute

President Trump's ex-ghost-hunting federal judicial nominee — deemed "not qualified" by the American Bar Association but nevertheless approved by Senate Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote — will not ultimately "be moving forward" in the appointment process, NPR learned from a Trump administration official Wednesday. Brett Talley, 36, was in line for a lifetime appointment despite having never tried a case in his life, only practicing law for three years, and forgetting to mention his wife is the chief of staff to White House counsel Don McGahn and thus a potential person of interest in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into possible obstruction of justice by Trump.

The head of the judiciary committee, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), urged Trump not to proceed with the nomination of Talley on Tuesday, CNN reports. The top Democrat on the committee, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), weighed in, saying: "I would hope that Chairman Grassley's request that the White House pull these nominations leads him to reconsider the breakneck speed at which the Judiciary Committee has been considering nominees."

The next step in Talley's nomination process would have been a full Senate vote, where it was unclear he had the support to be confirmed. Trump, on the other hand, had earlier directly praised Talley as being an "untold story" that "nobody wants to talk about." Jeva Lange

July 4, 2017
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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) late Monday announced a budget deal with Democrats that would end a three-day shutdown of non-essential state government services.

"I'm saddened that it's three days late, but I'll sign the budget tonight," Christie said. The deal hinged on giving the state greater influence over the operation of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, a nonprofit that is the state's largest insurer. The agreement came after Christie faced a backlash over photographs showing him lounging with his family on a beach at a state park he had ordered closed under the shutdown. Christie dismissed the issue as "B.S., gotcha journalism," saying he made no apology for making a brief visit to his family at their summer house between budget meetings back in Trenton. Harold Maass

May 19, 2017
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Huma Abedin has filed for divorce from her husband, Anthony Weiner, the New York Daily News reports.

On Friday, Weiner pleaded guilty to a sexting scandal involving a 15-year-old girl. "I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse," he told the court in tears.

After The Daily Mail published the news last year that Weiner exchanged sexually explicit messages with a high school sophomore whom he knew was underage, the FBI got involved, seizing Weiner's laptop. That resulted in the discovery of emails on the laptop from Hillary Clinton to Abedin, a top aide to Clinton, reopening the (ultimately unchanged) FBI investigation into Clinton's handling of classified emails — which Clinton has blamed in part for her election loss.

While Weiner and Abedin, who have a 5-year-old son, have been living separately since the most recent scandal, they were reportedly "working hard" on their marriage as recently as March. Jeva Lange

March 27, 2017
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Under a proposed settlement announced Monday, the state of Michigan will pay $47 million to replace lead pipes in Flint and distribute free bottled water to residents.

The water crisis in Flint started in 2014, when the city changed its water source to the Flint River, which was contaminated and exposed residents to lead. In 2016, several activists filed a lawsuit against the state, saying officials violated the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the settlement will be reviewed Tuesday by a U.S. district judge in Detroit. In addition to the $47 million, which will be used to replace lead and galvanized steel pipes with copper service lines at 18,000 residences, bottled water will be delivered to people who are unable to leave their homes and provided at water distribution centers operating every day except Sunday. Flint residents will also still be able to have their tap water tested for free for the next four years, up to four times annually.

The state has already budgeted $40 million to cover the water crisis and set aside $10 million for any unexpected expenses. Earlier this month, Michigan was awarded a $100 million emergency grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to upgrade Flint's infrastructure; the grant was approved by Congress in December and signed into law by former President Barack Obama. Michigan State Senate Democratic Leader Jim Ananich of Flint called the settlement "very fair," and said he has received "assurances" the city will get enough money to replace all of its lead pipes over the next several years. "I'm gonna hold them to that," he told The Detroit News. "We'll make sure that the resources are there." Catherine Garcia

December 15, 2016
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Facebook announced Thursday its plans to address the spread of fake news, an apparent response to critics who have blamed the site for making it easy to peddle misinformation or even swing the election. The social media network has long been cautious about interfering with what gets shared, not wanting to be, as The New York Times puts it, "an arbiter of truth." But while "we really value giving people a voice … we also believe we need to take responsibility for the spread of fake news on our platform," said Adam Mosseri, a Facebook vice president.

Facebook plans to experiment with gutting fake news websites' revenue by scanning third-party links for pages that are mainly advertising, or are pretending to be another website, like a fake New York Times. Users will also be able to report posts that appear to be fake:

Users can currently report a post they dislike in their feed, but when Facebook asks for a reason, the site presents them with a list of limited or vague options, including the cryptic "I don't think it should be on Facebook." In Facebook's new experiment, users will have a choice to flag the post as fake news and have the option to message the friend who originally shared the piece to let them know the article is false.

If an article receives enough flags as fake, it can be directed to a coalition of groups that would perform fact-checking, including Poynter, Snopes, PolitiFact and ABC News, among others. Those groups will check the article and can mark it as a "disputed" piece, a designation that will be seen on Facebook.

Disputed articles will ultimately appear lower in the News Feed. If users still decide to share disputed articles, they will receive pop-ups reminding them that the accuracy of the piece is in question. [The New York Times]

Opinion pieces, or satirical ones like those published by The Onion, will not be affected by the changes, Facebook said.

"The fake cat is already out of the imaginary bag," explained Emily Bell, the director at the Tow Center for Digital Journalism at Columbia University. "If [Facebook] didn't try and do something about it, next time around it could have far worse consequences." Jeva Lange

November 3, 2016

She patiently waited her whole life — all 108 years — for this moment: To see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series.

Hazel Nilson lives in New Hampshire now, but she grew up near Wrigley Field. The longtime baseball fan told Fox 25 before Wednesday night's World Series finale that she spent the season "pulling like crazy" for her team. "I never lost faith in the Cubs," she said. "Win or lose, I love them." Donning a Cubs cap, Nilson stayed up until past 1 a.m. to watch the game with neighbors and Jim Morelli, who shared these photos of Nilson celebrating the big win:

Congratulations to the Cubs — and, of course, to Hazel, whose long wait is finally over. Catherine Garcia

June 29, 2016
Ron Sachs-Pool via CNP

President Obama will finally hit the campaign trail with Hillary Clinton next Tuesday in Charlotte, North Carolina. The pair will appear in the battleground state for a discussion about "building on the progress we've made," the Clinton campaign said.

Obama was initially going to make his campaign debut two weeks ago in Wisconsin, but that appearance was canceled due to the mass shooting in Orlando. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said "busy schedules" prevented the pair from syncing up any earlier.

Obama is expected to be a powerful surrogate for Clinton, though he did lose the contested state of North Carolina in the 2012 presidential election. In his endorsement of Clinton earlier this month, Obama said he's unsure if "there's ever been someone so qualified [as Clinton] to hold this office." Becca Stanek

May 21, 2016
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President Obama signed a bill into law Friday that strikes derogatory terms for minorities, including "Oriental" and "Negro," from federal law, The Hill reports.

"The term 'Oriental' has no place in federal law, and at long last this insulting and outdated term will be gone for good," bill author Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.

The House of Representatives and the Senate both unanimously passed the measure, which will replace the words struck with terms including Asian-American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, African-American, Hispanic, Puerto Rican, Native American, and Alaska Native. Julie Kliegman

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