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December 14, 2018

Apple just signed a massive deal that will surely make executives at Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon let out a collective "good grief."

Apple has purchased the rights to new Peanuts shows, specials, and shorts for its upcoming streaming service, per The Hollywood Reporter. The classic comic-inspired content will be produced by DHX Media, and it will reportedly include educational programming for kids, such as shorts with an astronaut Snoopy. Details about the other shows and specials haven't been revealed yet, but this will be the first new Peanuts material since the 2015 feature film The Peanuts Movie, which was released by Fox and made $246 million at the box office.

This is a huge get for Apple, which has been making moves this year to build up a library of original content with plans to launch its own streaming service to compete with the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. The details of this service, such as whether it will be a standalone app or will live on existing Apple platforms like Apple TV, haven't yet been confirmed, but one recent report suggested it will roll out within the first half of 2019, per The Information.

Ahead of the platform's launch, Apple has already reeled in talents like M. Night Shyamalan, Steven Spielberg, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, Steve Carell, and Oprah Winfrey for other shows on the service. The company also signed a deal for new content from the Sesame Workshop in June, per The Hollywood Reporter. Needless to say, expect the escalating streaming wars, which resulted this year in more scripted content on streaming than on broadcast or cable TV for the first time ever, to become even more competitive in 2019. Brendan Morrow

5:37 p.m.

It's fair to assume that, when playing word association games, "Burning Man" and "lobbyist" don't pair together all too often.

But that's exactly what's happening in real life, Politico reports. Burning Man, an annual festival — actually, Burning Man's official website is loud and clear about the fact that the event is not a festival, but a "community," "temporary city," or "global cultural movement" — that takes place in the Nevada desert.

Burning Man organizers are reportedly afraid that new federal regulations could end its reign, or at least kill its vibe. The Bureau of Land Management wrote a 372-page draft creating a whole set of new standards that would seemingly knock some of the wind out of the event's carefree, unrestrained spirit, including calls for reduced light pollution, additional dumpsters, a wall outside of the venue, and maintenance on Nevada's County Road 34.

So, because those proposals are "in direct conflict with" Burning Man's "core principles," the event now has some "top-shelf" lobbyists from the firm Holland & Knight on retainer, Politico reports. Several lobbyists from both sides of the aisle, including a former Trump campaign staffer, will reportedly talk with the Bureau of Land Management on getting a permit for the event. Tim O'Donnell

5:30 p.m.

Prisoners of some of the world's worst terrorist groups had a privilege that many migrant children don't.

Reports had already indicated that migrant children were being held in disgusting conditions in U.S. detention centers, and last week, that story came to a head as a video showed a Trump administration lawyer arguing that toothpaste and soap aren't necessary to constitute "safe and sanitary" conditions. That viral footage prompted a response from Michael Scott Moore, who tweeted Saturday that "Somali pirates gave me toothpaste and soap."

Moore would know. He was kidnapped by Somali pirates in 2012 and was held for two and a half years before he was released. His response then got some backup from David Rohde, who tweeted that "the Taliban gave me toothpaste and soap." The journalist was kidnapped by Taliban members in 2008 and held for eight months before escaping.

An Associated Press report last week first described conditions at a Clint, Texas detention facility, where there was "inadequate food, water and sanitation for the 250 infants, children and teens" being held there. A doctor who visited the facility later filed a report saying it "could be compared to torture facilities." All but 30 of those children have since been taken out of the facility and to a tent detention center, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) told AP on Monday. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:19 p.m.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio needs a presidential primary boost. This probably won't do it.

On Monday, de Blasio tweeted an apparent text exchange between himself and his 21-year-old son Dante, in which the 2020 Democrat asks his son for advice ahead of Wednesday's primary debates. "Hey Dad, I'm glad you've asked," Dante responds in what one can only assume is the tone of an infomercial host, before going on to share some advice.

For starters, Dante tells de Blasio to relate the story of meeting his wife Chirlane McCray to "how hard it is to find, like, 'the one' on tinder." De Blasio is skeptical, so Dante suggests bringing up the universally beloved subject of dogs, and then proposes de Blasio "tell people that NYC was just Staten Island when you started your first term." For an extra hip approach, Dante also recommends the tallest candidate on the stage try "a Zion leap over the moderator to the rim."

It was in de Blasio's best interest to ask Dante for some help, given that his stellar ad for his father's 2013 mayoral race is said to have steered de Blasio to victory. Dante is also a state debate champion, as de Blasio alludes to in his carefully crafted text exchange. And while this exchange may not do the mayor any favors, Dante should at least be credited with convincing de Blasio to apparently ditch his beloved flip phone. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:04 p.m.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry would like to thank actors Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Mark Hamill for their artistry — but he's not talking about their portrayals of Elaine Benes, Selina Meyer, or Luke Skywalker.

Instead, Kerry is talking about a their participation in a play based on Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on his investigation into 2016 Russian election interference. Hamill and Louis-Dreyfus will join a wide-ranging cast, including John Lithgow, Alyssa Milano, Annette Bening, Sigourney Weaver and Zachary Quinto, to perform a one-night-only show titled The Investigation: A Search For the Truth in Ten Acts. The play, which is written by Pulitzer Prize-winner Robert Schenkkan, is set to air in New York at 9 p.m. It will be live streamed.

Kerry, it seems, will be tuning in, and he's quite excited about it, going so far as to call the 10-act play "an act of public service."

If, for some reason, you feel the urge to see not one, but two staged performances about the Mueller report, Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., is presenting an 11-hour marathon reading of Volume 2 of the Mueller report in July, The Washington Post reports. Tim O'Donnell

4:04 p.m.

Bacteria might just be the key to making us all healthier.

A new study published in the journal Nature Medicine on Monday offers new evidence that there are certain types of microbes present in the digestive tracts of athletes that help their bodies' endurance during exercise. Scientists took a look at a bacteria that is especially common in runners' bodies after a marathon, called Veillonella, NPR explained.

They then introduced that bacteria into mice, and found that those mice performed 13 percent better on an exercise wheel than mice who didn't get the boost. That's a huge effect — strong evidence that Veillonella is actually the cause of better athletic performance, not just its byproduct. This type of microbe actually feeds on lactate, a chemical that builds up in sore muscles and fatigued bodies.

While 13 percent might be a big change in mice, though, it's not confirmed that this bacteria would have the same effect on humans. It's highly unlikely that you could just take a Veillonella supplement to get a boost in your athletic performance, because "it's harder to replicate an effect" in the human body than in mice, said Morgan Langille, a microbiome researcher not involved in the research. But it's still "a really impressive study" that helps us understand more about the tiny ecosystems inside our bodies.

Further research will be necessary before a supplement could be tested on humans, but at least there's hope that someday, exercise won't need to be so much of a slog. Read more at NPR. Shivani Ishwar

4:03 p.m.

A government watchdog will criticize White House counselor Kellyanne Conway's "unacceptable" and "unlawful" behavior while testifying before Congress this week.

The Office of Special Counsel recommended earlier this month that Conway be fired for "repeatedly" violating the Hatch Act, which limits the political activities federal employees can engage in, and Special Counsel Henry Kerner will discuss this while testifying before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform on Wednesday, The Daily Beast reports.

In an opening statement released on Monday, Kerner criticizes Conway for her "egregious and repeated Hatch Act violations," as well as her "unrepentant attitude," which he says are "unacceptable from any federal employee, let alone one in such a prominent position."

"Her conduct hurts both federal employees, who may believe that senior officials can act with complete disregard for the Hatch Act, and the American people, who may question the nonpartisan operation of their government," he writes.

Kerner goes on to again lay out why it was "inappropriate" and "unlawful" for Conway to "argue in support of President Trump's reelection and in opposition to the election of the Democratic Party's candidates for president" in her official capacity as a White House official. He also notes that the Office of Special Counsel has had to issue multiple reports about Conway's violations. "Ms. Conway's conduct reflects not a misunderstanding of the law, but rather a disregard for it," he therefore concludes.

Conway has denied that she violated the Hatch Act, saying in a Monday interview on Fox News, "they want to silence me." Trump has said he has no plans to fire Conway. Brendan Morrow

3:15 p.m.

Four people have been found dead along the Rio Grande Hidalgo County Sheriff Eddie Guerra said Sunday.

Two of the people found were infants, one was a toddler, and one was a 20-year-old woman, Guera continued in a Sunday tweet. They all appear to be undocumented immigrants, an FBI official told NPR.

Right now, it looks as if the four people died of dehydration and heat overexposure, and foul play is not currently suspected, the FBI said. Still, the agency will be continuing an investigation into the deaths, with a spokesperson calling it "an incredibly heartbreaking situation, which seems to happen far too often." The bodies were found close to where a section of President Trump's proposed border wall is being built, seeing as the Rio Grande is the most heavily trafficked area of the border, Customs and Border Protection told The Associated Press.

The news comes as reports reveal that migrant children are living in unsanitary, overcrowded detention facilities along the border. A recent lawsuit alleged that more than 300 children in a Clint, Texas facility — some as young as 2 1/2 years old — were living in conditions that "could be compared to torture facilities," a local physician who visited the facility said in a report. All but 30 of those children have since been taken out of the facility, Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) told The Associated Press on Monday. The children were reportedly moved to a tent detention center, a Homeland Security official told NBC News. Kathryn Krawczyk

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