Meme asks what if Robert Mueller is just procrastinating?

He has the Google doc open.
He has the Google doc open.

Image: Andrew Burton / Getty Images

As we all anxiously await the Mueller report, a curious theory has emerged: What if Robert Mueller, special counsel of the Russia investigation and former director of the FBI, is just procrastinating?

On a Friday afternoon — a great time to put off work — a lot of people wrote tweets about what Mueller might be up to in his procrastination hole. Sure, they might have done these tweets instead of doing their jobs, but that only makes the tweets better and more appropriate. (I say this because I participated.)

Anyway, we’re sure Mueller will send over his report once he gets back from his bike ride, makes a batch of chickpea stew, and does a few ten-minute YouTube workouts.

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New Zealand ends a week of grief with action and embrace of Muslim community after shootings

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Women across New Zealand are wearing headscarves in a show of support for the Muslim community
Time

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – Every New Zealander will remember where they were and what they were doing when they first learned about the Christchurch terror attack.

Brooke Metekingi works part-time at a security company in Porirua and got a phone call from a friend concerned about her well-being.

Isadore Campbell was watching the news while working from home and saw the breaking news alert about police activity in Christchurch’s Hagley Park neighborhood – a foreboding report that contained little hint of the horrors to come.

Imam Mustenser Qamar had just finished his own Friday prayers in his Lower Hutt community when he got a text message from a Christian friend who he had met through his “Meet a Muslim” initiative. “Are you ok?” the text read. “Hearing about this shooting and it’s terrible praying for all of you.”

The shootings at two mosques in Christchurch last Friday that left 50 dead and dozens more injured have forever changed the face of New Zealand.

Government officials have promised swift action on gun control with the backing of every major party in Parliament – the center-right opposition National Party even says the proposed new legislation doesn’t go far enough.

Meanwhile, major private and public corporations are lashing out at tech companies like Facebook and Google for not doing enough to stop people from sharing footage of the shootings.

More: 4 things to know about Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister

Rallying around the nation’s Muslims

Domestically, Kiwis have rallied around the Muslim community, offering to provide escorts so Muslims feel safer and depositing thousands of flowers at mosques around the country.

These responses, although quick and sweeping, were not immediate.

First, there was shock. 

“I was absolutely horrified when I realized the extent of what was actually happening,” Campbell told USA TODAY. Campbell, a mixed-race immigrant from South Africa whose family were incarcerated for fighting against apartheid, found herself experiencing flashbacks to the racism she had experienced in Cape Town.

Qamar had similar thoughts.

“I could have been there that day. It could have been any of us,” the imam found himself thinking. “That’s the shocking thing about it. I’d been to one of the mosques a couple of months ago and I even prayed there. It has indirectly affected all Muslims across New Zealand.”

In the evening, the nation tuned in to the radio and television to watch Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern address the nation.

“We, New Zealand, we were not a target because we are a safe harbor for those who hate. We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism. We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of those things,” she said. “Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion. A home for those who share our values. Refuge for those who needs it. And those values will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.”

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Her words struck a chord.

“I was completely grief-stricken. I once again had the television on and I found myself weeping unconsolably for hours,” Campbell said of her reaction.

As the day progressed, however, that mourning transformed into a desire to take action and embrace the Muslim community in its grief.

More: A look at New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

More: ‘You won’t hear me speak his name’: Ardern urges public to deny accused gunman’s quest for fame

‘We love our Muslim communities’

On Facebook, hundreds of people offered to walk with local Muslims to school, to work, or even just to the grocery store. Metekingi, 27, was one of those.

“Any Muslim women in Porirua who feels unsafe pls PM me. As tangata whenua [an indigenous New Zealander], I do not want you to feel unsafe!” she wrote online.

Around the country, graffiti, posters and stickers appeared championing New Zealand’s Muslims. “We love our Muslim communities,” one spray-painted message read in Lyall Bay.

Others took action in unorthodox manners. In Australia, 17-year-old Will Connolly cracked an egg on the head of Australian Senator Fraser Anning. As news of the shooting was still filtering out last Friday, Anning had tweeted, in a since-deleted post: “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?”

Connolly’s actions went viral and provided a bit of much-needed levity in New Zealand. “Scrolling through the Egg Boy trending stream brought one of the only smiles of the day to the face of the immigrant Muslim in my house,” Kiwi commentator Tze Ming Mok wrote of her husband’s reaction to the footage.

By Sunday, the country was united and resolved to address the shootings head on. At a vigil in Wellington’s Basin Reserve, refugee rights campaigner Gayaal Iddamalgoda took issue with New Zealand security services’ response to the attack. “Why was our secret service busy surveilling our Muslim neighbors and not the extremists who sought to victimize them?” he asked during his speech.

“When will politicians left and right own up to the fact that they have for years scapegoated and blamed migrants and refugees for social and economic problems that they are not responsible for?” Iddamalgoda continued.

The crowd roared in agreement.

Social media companies slammed 

In a news conference, Ardern began to raise questions about the way major tech companies responded to the attack. The shooter livestreamed his actions on Facebook and the footage was left up for an hour. Since then, it has been distributed across the internet.

New Zealand returned to work on Monday, with questions unanswered, issues unresolved. In Wellington, the buses kept running, ferrying commuters past bus stops whose electronic advertisements had been replaced with the image of New Zealand’s flag in a heart.

At the Parliament buildings, police armed with assault rifles stood guard – an unusual sight in a country where most law enforcement carry no firearms at all. That day, Ardern promised to announce new gun control legislation within 10 days of the shooting.

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New Zealand Prime Minister said the country’s gun laws will change after the mosque shootings that left 49 dead.
USA TODAY

In New Zealand, handguns and many military-style semi-automatic weapons are already strictly regulated. However, an AR-15 can be purchased with the most basic gun license and Radio New Zealand reported on Sunday that 99.6 percent of license applications were approved in 2017.

The AR-15 – the gun of choice for mass killers – can be combined with a high-capacity magazine to become a potent weapon. Gun owners with basic licenses are allowed to have only low-capacity magazines in their rifles, but high-capacity ones are not regulated.

However, New Zealanders own guns for very different reasons than Americans. While American gun owners list protection as their top motivation, that isn’t even a valid option on New Zealand’s license application. Instead, the application focuses on recreational ownership.

Owning a handgun in New Zealand requires joining a gun club, waiting out a six-month probationary period, providing two references and undergoing a police interview . Even then, handguns can only legally be fired at target ranges.

More: We examined the gun laws of a dozen countries to show how they compare to New Zealand’s new ban on semi-automatic weapons

Halting the sale of some firearms

Already, major firearms retailers had pulled semi-automatic weapons from the shelves. TradeMe, New Zealand’s $1.7 billion version of eBay, announced it would stop selling all semi-automatic guns.

Hunting & Fishing, an outdoor and sporting goods retailer with 37 outlets throughout the country, pulled military-style semi-automatic weapons March 15 and ended online sales of the guns the next day.

Meanwhile, Gun City, which claims to be New Zealand’s largest firearm retailer, took advantage of a wave of panic buyers ahead of the anticipated reforms. Chief executive David Tipple refused to bow to online criticism and has continued to sell semi-automatic weapons online and in stores, despite the fact that Gun City sold the Christchurch shooter four weapons and ammunition.

Tipple did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.

Gun owners voiced their frustration with the coming gun legislation, announced Thursday by Ardern. The ban will be on all assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and military-style semi-automatic rifles.

Mike Loder, a 48-year-old gun rights enthusiast, told USA TODAY he thought the government was moving too quickly with its plans for gun reform. “If gun laws will keep me safe, I support them. But right now we’re coming up with a solution when we don’t even know what the problem is. We haven’t had time to launch an investigation and we aren’t waiting for the results of it before taking action,” he said.

Other gun owners reacted differently. John Hart, a farmer and Green Party politician, said he had owned a gun for years. After the shooting, however, he went to his local police station and turned the weapon in.

More: New Zealanders turn in guns as prime minister promises tighter restrictions

Campbell agrees with the government’s quick action on guns. “Often I have sat in horror watching the news unfold from the United States and I’ve wondered when on earth they would change their gun laws.” 

The shooting and its aftermath have had a unifying effect on New Zealand. When Ardern announced the details of the gun law changes on Thursday, all but one Parliamentarian came out in support.

Displays of national unity are common 

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the terror suspect sought notoriety, “but we in New Zealand will give him nothing.”
USA TODAY

This is just the first round of legislative changes. Details about a plan for the government to buy back the guns from firearms owners have yet to be released. A national firearm registry has the support of the center-right National Party.

Such displays of national unity are not common in New Zealand. The Federated Farmers organization, which represents a major bloc of gun owners, came out in support of the new laws as well.

“Christchurch, March 15 has changed everything,” the group’s security spokesman, Miles Anderson, said in a statement.

Gun laws aren’t the only focus. A coalition of major New Zealand companies, including telecommunications firm Spark NZ, locally-owned Kiwibank, and Burger King all pledged to pull advertising from Facebook and Google after the video was distributed.

Public organizations also are protesting the tech companies. KiwiSaver, the country’s public savings program made up of private investment funds, has begun dumping millions of dollars of Facebook stock. Police have also arrested and charged individuals in the country for sharing the footage of the shooting.

Metekingi said she thinks “social media needs to be held accountable.” She said that Facebook should do a better job of moderating its livestreaming feature or else should it down.

The livestream video made the whole event that much more horrific, Metekingi believes. “I haven’t seen it and I hope to never see it,” she said of the footage. “It just makes what he did a lot worse.”

At 1:32 pm on Friday, the Muslim call to prayer was broadcast nationwide and followed by two minutes of silence. New Zealand was a totally different country than it had been a week before.

 

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The Scantron meme is a clever nod to finals week

Scantrons are the bane of any student’s existence. But this meme might make them a little less nerve wracking. 

If you went through any sort of school system, you probably had to use a Scantron form to take a test. After agonizing over a multiple choice question, you scratched in what you hoped was the right answer with a No. 2 pencil and prayed to the standardized testing gods that you won’t get hit with a fuchsia incorrect mark.  

But the horrible test sheets are now a beautiful ASCII meme. The Scantron meme imagines a variety of characters attempting to take a multiple choice test in the only ways they know how, like this dolphin. 

Or mid-2000s Gwen Stefani. 

Since Thursday, the meme has taken over Twitter feeds. 

There were even crossovers with the “They live among us” meme, which banishes sinners like stoners to the depths of Scantron-less hell. 

If hell doesn’t have standardized tests, though, it doesn’t sound so bad. 

Some Twitter users leaned into Twitter’s formatting mess.

But Twitter’s formatting is still easier than dealing with the crushing anxiety of a multiple choice test.

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Charles Barkley supports Michigan State’s Tom Izzo after coach lashed out at player

The biggest debate from the first day of the 2019 NCAA tournament was about Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo furiously screaming at his player Aaron Henry during the Spartans first-round win, an incident in which Henry’s teammates got between the two.

It has talking heads and fans on Twitter debating whether it was right to act like that toward a player for a teaching moment — Henry himself endorsed a Cris Carter take on First Things First (he was fine with what Izzo did) with a tweet of a bullseye emoji.

Charles Barkley weighed in on Friday’s pre-tournament broadcast, calling out people — specifically, experts “on other networks” — who criticized Izzo:

“One of the reasons Tom Izzo is one of my favorite coaches (is) he coaches his team. I was so disappointed to hear all these jackasses on other networks complaining about a coach coaching his team. Coach Izzo, you keep doing your thing. It’s alright for a coach to yell at a player. When did we get to a point where every time a coach yells at a player, it becomes a national emergency?”

I’m not sure who he’s referring to at “other networks” — I’ve seen Carter and others defending Izzo, many former college hoops players and coaches who did the same (see below) and columnists with the opposite take.

 

 

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Kushner ‘used WhatsApp for official work’

Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump acknowledge the crowd at the New York Hilton MidtownImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Jared Kushner smiles for the camera at Donald Trump’s presidential victory party

Jared Kushner, White House senior advisor and President Trump’s son-in-law, used WhatsApp for official business, a top Democrat says.

Democrat Elijah Cummings, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, made the allegations in a letter to the White House on Thursday.

It is unclear whether Mr Kushner allegedly used the messaging app to discuss classified information.

A probe into the use of personal email accounts at the White House is ongoing.

What’s the latest?

Mr Cummings pressed the White House for further information on the investigation in his letter.

“The White House’s failure to provide documents and information is obstructing the committee’s investigation into allegations of violations of federal records laws by White House officials,” he wrote.

His letter notes that Mr Kushner’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said his client had sent screenshots of his WhatsApp messages to his White House email account or the US National Security Council.

Mr Lowell could not say whether his client, who serves as President Trump’s advisor on the Middle East, used WhatsApp to share classified information, he added.

But in response to the letter, Mr Lowell said that Mr Cummings had not been “completely accurate”, according to Reuters news agency.

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Media captionNikki Haley: ‘Jared is such a hidden genius’

Mr Cummings also wrote in his letter that Ivanka Trump – President Trump’s daughter and Mr Kushner’s wife, who is also a White House adviser – continued to receive emails related to official business on a personal email account.

A review into her emails revealed in November 2018 that she had used her private address to contact government officials.

Ms Trump sent the emails before she was briefed on the rules, her lawyer says.

White House spokesman Steven Groves said: “As with all properly authorised oversight requests, the White House will review the letter and will provide a reasonable response in due course.”

What happened with Hillary Clinton’s emails?

The use of personal email servers has become controversial since the 2016 presidential campaign, when Mr Trump accused his Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton of putting the US “in danger” over her emails while secretary of state.

Before becoming secretary of state in 2009, Mrs Clinton had set up an email server at her home in New York that she used for all work and personal emails during her four years in office.

She did not use, or even activate, a state.gov email account, which would have been hosted on servers owned and managed by the US government.

She said it was for convenience.

During his 2016 campaign, Mr Trump suggested that Mrs Clinton be jailed after it emerged that the FBI had found classified information in some emails from her private server.

Chants of “lock her up” were a mainstay at Mr Trump’s rallies.

An FBI investigation eventually concluded that Mrs Clinton should not face charges, but said she and her aides had been “extremely careless” in their handling of classified information.

Is it illegal to use personal accounts for work?

It is not illegal for White House officials to use personal accounts for government business.

However, under the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act, government officials must forward any official correspondence to a work account within 20 days for preservation.

If this is not done reliably, the use of private accounts can put official records beyond the reach of journalists, lawmakers and others who seek publicly available information.

There are also rules against sharing classified or privileged information on personal email accounts.

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