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January 23, 2019

Tuesday was Day 32 of the government shutdown, and Stephen Colbert is prepping to live without a government. "I'm licking raw chicken to build up an immunity, and I'm practicing to be my own TSA," he joked on Tuesday's Late Show. "I'm hiding something somewhere, and I'm gonna find it." There is some hope for a temporary end to the shutdown, Colbert noted, but there was also "some bad news from the Supreme Court," which revived President Trump's ban on transgender military service. "That was like 15 bigoted policies ago," he said, and since it was a 5-4 party-line vote, Colbert threw in a Brett Kavanaugh joke.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani "stepped in it" on Sunday by saying Trump's Moscow Trump Tower deal was under negotiation until right before the 2016 election, but he "tried to call backsies" in a "weird" and "rambling" interview with The New Yorker on Monday night, Colbert said. Giuliani appeared to disclose Trump-Russia tapes and conversations he later said he shouldn't have mentioned, contradicted himself repeatedly, and mused about lying for Trump being on his tombstone and how he would convince St. Peter he was honest. "You know things are going great when your lawyer is already prepping his argument to stay out of hell," Colbert said.

Cliff Sims, a former Trump staffer with a new tell-all out, will be on The Late Show next week, Colbert said, and he ran through some of the newly released revelations, like Trump's reliance on budget-brand hairspray ("Now we know where Trump gets most of his best ideas from — the fumes," Colbert joked) and Trump walking out on a droning Paul Ryan to turn on the TV in a room down the hall. In Colbert's imagination, the TV wasn't tuned to Fox News.

On The Tonight Show, Jimmy Fallon put on his Trump outfit and imagined what other things are going through Trump's head these days. Watch below. Peter Weber

4:12 a.m.

"If you're a woman and/or a person of color in the U.S., you may well have a very different relationship to our health care system than a white man," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "So frankly, who better to talk at you for 20 minutes about this than me, the whitest of white men?"

"Tonight, let's talk about bias in medicine in two specific areas: first sex, and then race," Oliver said. "And in the words of every therapist I've ever had, let's start with sex." He did, focusing on why some doctors have "woman-shaped blind spots" when it comes to treatment and pain management, and how "the consequence can be deadly," like with heart attacks. "Sex and gender bias can clearly distort medical outcomes, but they are not the only forms of bias that can do that," he said. "And now, if I may quote the inside of Donald Trump's head when energy at one of his rallies seems to be flagging, let's get to the racism stuff. Because there is a huge disparity in life expectancy between black and white Americans, particularly for black men."

But "there's perhaps no starker expression of where sex and race can negatively impact health care outcomes than maternal mortality," Oliver said. "Currently, the United States has the highest rate of maternal mortality in the developed world — which is already terrible. But it gets even worse for black women," whose odds of dying in childbirth are three to four times higher, largely because doctors believe black women less when they express concerns about symptoms, especially pain. "These racial disparities exist even when you control for socioeconomic factors like education or insurance status," he said. "We are literally disbelieving black women to death."

At this point, Oliver finally stepped aside and let Wanda Sykes offer some solutions, including her fallback plan, "bring a white man" to repeat your complaints to the doctors — and if you don't have one, she has a loaner "who loves complaining to doctors." You can access Larry David's women's complaints at WhatsLarrysProblem.com, and you can watch the occasionally NSFW video below. Peter Weber

2:50 a.m.

"If you had asked me, say, five years ago, if there was a likelihood that Donald Trump, as U.S. president, would be quoted in an anti-democracy hip hop tune promoted by the People's Daily newspaper on social media," tweeted Bloomberg News Hong Kong correspondent Iain Marlow on Monday, "I probably would have said no and felt pretty confident." But, well, here were are.

The song juxtaposes video of President Trump saying Hong Kong is an internal Chinese matter with tweets from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton supporting the rights of Hong Kong's citizens to their promised limited autonomy: "Mrs. Clinton, you know nothing about Chinese citizens. Now I've got some words from your president." Generally, the officially promoted song claims that Hong Kong's massive pro-democracy protests are a plot by "somebody" to "split Hong Kong from us" by starting "a riot," adding in Chinese that the Chinese "will always protect Hong Kong without any hesitation, airplanes, tanks, and the Chinese People's Liberation Army."

The rappers, Roy & Chuckie, should probably listen to some NWA. Peter Weber

2:14 a.m.

Iceland held a funeral Sunday for its first glacier lost to climate change. About 100 people hiked two hours to the top of a volcano for the ceremony, marked with poetry, moments of silence, and a plaque bearing a note for future humans. Icelandic geologist Oddur Sigurðsson, who actually pronounced the Okjokull glacier dead about a decade ago, formalized the extinction on Sunday, warning that Iceland won't have any more masses of ice in 200 years. Okjokull — now just Ok, without the Icelandic word for glacier — used to cover six square miles.

"We see the consequences of the climate crisis," Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir said. "We have no time to lose." Former Irish president Mary Robinson agreed: "The symbolic death of a glacier is a warning to us, and we need action." The plaque the mourners installed reads: "This monument is to acknowledge that we know what is happening and what needs to be done. Only you know if we did it."

Not all glaciers die so peacefully, though, and Iceland isn't the only area affected. Saturday's NBC Nightly News showed some dramatic footage of Alaska's Spencer Glacier in its apparent death throes. Watch that below. Peter Weber

1:31 a.m.

There has been a push for stronger gun laws after back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, and if anything is going to happen before the 2020 election, "it's September or bust," a source involved in discussion between the White House and Congress tells Axios. "We'll either have everything ready for when Congress returns, drop it on the floor, vote on it, and move on — or we blow it." White House and Capitol Hill officials tell Axios that Trump genuinely wants to expand background checks, but Trump was noncommittal when talking to reporters on Sunday.

"I don't want people to forget that this is a mental health problem," Trump said when asked about expanding background checks to all gun purchases and trades — an idea supported by 89 percent of U.S. adults in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll and 90 percent of voters in a recent Fox News poll. "Congress is working on various things, and I'll be looking at it. We're very much involved." Mental health experts are adamant that mental illness isn't a significant factor in mass shootings.

When a reporter asked, "Would you support banning high-capacity magazines?" Trump also hedged. "Well, we're going to look at a whole list of things, and I'll make a determination then," he said. "A lot of things are happening on the gun level." And then he shifted to the closure of mental institutions decades ago, adding: "Unrelated to that, I believe that the concept also of voter identification has to be looked at."

"Sir, what does that have to do with guns?" a reporter asked Trump.

If you wanted an answer to that, well, sorry. Trump pivoted again, to how golf "is so unimportant to me." Peter Weber

12:06 a.m.

The U.S. has opened up secret communications with Venezuelan socialist boss Diosdado Cabello, an alleged drug kingpin and the second most powerful person in Venezuela, after President Nicolás Maduro, The Associated Press reported late Sunday, citing a senior U.S. administration official. Cabello, 56, met with a U.S.-backed envoy in Caracas last month, the official said, though it isn't clear if Cabello is acting on Maduro's behalf or, as the official suggested, negotiating safety guarantees if he helps topple Maduro.

AP isn't reporting who Cabello is meeting with, but Axios said Sunday that National Security Council official Mauricio Claver-Carone has been communicating with Cabello through emissaries, and U.S. officials tell both Axios and AP that Cabello is among a handful of top Maduro officials who have secretly reached out to the U.S. An unidentified Cabello aide disputes that, telling AP that the U.S. has been chasing Cabello, and Cabello would only meet with U.S. officials with Maduro's permission. Cabello did not take part in April's failed uprising.

Trump, meanwhile, is getting frustrated that Maduro is still in power, and he has suggested publicly and pushed "more vividly" in private for the U.S. to set up a naval blockade along Venezuela's coast, five current and former officials tell Axios. "They added that to their knowledge the Pentagon hasn't taken this extreme idea seriously, in part because senior officials believe it's impractical, has no legal basis, and would suck resources from a Navy that is already stretched to counter China and Iran."

Trump "literally just said we should get the ships out there and do a naval embargo," one source who's heard Trump's comments told Axios. "I'm assuming he's thinking of the Cuban missile crisis. ... But Cuba is an island and Venezuela is a massive coastline. ... It would need massive, massive amounts of resources; probably more than the U.S. Navy can provide." Former Defense Secretary James Mattis long stonewalled Trump's demands for a military option for Venezuela, Axios reports. Peter Weber

August 18, 2019

Buckingham Palace released a statement on Sunday saying Prince Andrew is "appalled" by the accusations made against his late former friend, financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein, who died by suicide earlier this month.

Video was recently released that shows him inside Epstein's New York City mansion, The Guardian reports, with the footage believed to have been shot on Dec. 6, 2010. In 2015, a woman who said she was one of Epstein's sex slaves attested in court documents that she was forced to have sex with Prince Andrew multiple times in the early 2000s, when she was 17 years old. At the time, Buckingham Palace denied the allegations, calling them "false and without any foundation."

On Sunday, Buckingham Palace said the prince "deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in, or encourage any such behavior is abhorrent." Catherine Garcia

August 18, 2019

President Trump on Sunday said the economy is "doing very well," and rejected the notion that a recession could be on the horizon.

Last week was a turbulent one on Wall Street, with stocks and bonds going up and down and investors spooked by the first inverted yield curve in more than a decade, but Trump said the United States is doing "tremendously well. Our consumers are rich. I gave a tremendous tax cut and they're loaded up with money."

Trump's comments echoed those made earlier in the day by Larry Kudlow, his top economic adviser. "No, I don't see a recession," he said. "We're doing pretty darn well in my judgment. Let's not be afraid of optimism." Kudlow also said that while the energy sector may be slowing down, unemployment is low and retail is doing well. Catherine Garcia

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