I hope you're not like me, because if you are, you had a hard time falling asleep last night and so you made the mistake of checking your bracket in the midst of all that tossing and turning. And if you're really like me, your bracket is a total nightmare, so that was a bad idea.
Turns out, we're not alone: There are no perfect brackets left for this year's NCAA men's basketball tournament after this weekend, and according to NCAA.com, only one bracket — out of the tens of millions filled out across NCAA.com, Bleacher Report, CBS, ESPN, Fox Sports, and Yahoo — even made it unscathed through most of Saturday. Just one prescient user on Yahoo picked the tournament's first 39 games correctly, including upsets by No. 12 Middle Tennessee State, No. 11 Xavier, No. 11 USC, and No. 11 Rhode Island. Despite correctly predicting No. 8 Wisconsin would upend No. 1 Villanova on Saturday afternoon, the user's streak ended later in the evening, on the tournament's 40th game, when No. 5 Iowa State fell to No. 4 Purdue. (Don't feel too bad, though: Not even the best bracketeer of the year predicted No. 2 Duke would be upset by No. 7 South Carolina on Sunday.)
The good news is that with several powerhouses going down over the weekend, brackets that bet heavily on one or the other emerged less ruined than expected. In ESPN's bracket game, 45.5 percent of brackets suffered when Villanova went down in the round of 32 rather than making it to the Final Four — but because 39.2 percent of users picked Duke to make it out of the region instead, the Blue Devils' loss late Sunday evened things out between most brackets. In ESPN's Tournament Challenge, only 4.8 percent of brackets chose South Carolina to advance to even the Sweet 16, and only 9.1 percent had Wisconsin doing the same.
For the lucky few who picked No. 3 Baylor or No. 4 Florida to advance out of the East Region and make the Final Four — just 8.2 percent of ESPN's brackets — it might be time to send Wisconsin and South Carolina some flowers, because they just took you a big step further toward winning your office pool. Kimberly Alters
Georgia state Rep. Betty Price (R), who is an anesthesiologist and the wife of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who resigned last month, asked in a committee hearing Tuesday whether some sort of quarantine of people with HIV might be a viable option for limiting the spread of HIV/AIDS. Price's comments come as the surgeon general reports a new HIV epidemic could be brewing in places like Georgia.
"If you wouldn't mind commenting on the surveillance of partners, tracking of contacts, that sort of thing — what are we legally able to do?" Dr. Price asked Dr. Pascale Wortley, director of the Georgia Department of Public Health's HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Surveillance Section. "I don't want to say the 'quarantine' word, but I guess I just said it," she added, noting that "public dollars are expended heavily in prophylaxis and treatment of this condition, so we have a public interest in curtailing the spread."
Wortley replied that Georgia already has a program called "Partner Services that involves talking to people who are newly diagnosed with HIV and asking them to list out partners" so either the patient or a public health worker can contact them. Watch the rest of the exchange below; the relevant section runs from around 1:02:00 to 1:05:30. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump spoke at length about his social media habits in a Friday transcript of a forthcoming interview with Fox Business Network's Maria Bartiromo. He said his Twitter account is an important way to spread his views, manipulate lawmakers, and keep the public's attention — among other purposes. The interview will air on FBN Sunday and Monday, but in the meantime, read below seven of Trump's most noteworthy Twitter-related comments from the conversation. Bonnie Kristian
1. "Tweeting is like a typewriter — when I put it out, you put it immediately on your show."
2. "You have to keep people interested."
3. "You know what I find; the ones [who] don't want me to [tweet] are the enemies."
4. "I was in a faraway land, and I was tweeting. And I said very little. I said, like, 'I'm in Italy right now,' you know, for the summits. So, 'I'm in Italy right now and the weather is wonderful.' And one of the dishonest networks said, 'Donald Trump is on a Twitter stomp again.'" (See the Italy tweets here.)
5. "When somebody says something about me, I am able to go 'bing, bing, bing' and I take care of it."
6. "I doubt I would be [president] if it weren't for social media, to be honest with you."
7. "[My tweets] are well crafted. I was always good student." [Donald Trump, via FBN]
After the Senate on Thursday approved the GOP budget plan 51-49, House Republicans are considering whether to pass the Senate version as-is to accelerate their tax reform agenda. "There's a very clear possibility that the House clears this next week," House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said of the Senate legislation Friday.
The conservative House Freedom Caucus on Friday agreed to back the Senate bill if House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will first pledge to schedule a floor vote on taxes by the second week in November. Ryan has said he intends to complete tax reform by "early November," but many on the Hill consider that schedule deeply unrealistic.
President Trump addressed the situation on Twitter Friday and Saturday, decrying Democratic opposition, complaining of inadequate media coverage, and promising historic tax cuts soon. "Budget that just passed is a really big deal, especially in terms of what will be the biggest tax cut in U.S. history," he wrote Saturday morning. "MSM barely covered!" Bonnie Kristian
Secretary of Defense James Mattis spoke with members of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Friday, a conversation in which Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reports Mattis said he is mulling expanded U.S. military action in Africa in the wake of the attack in Niger that killed four U.S. soldiers.
"The war is morphing," Graham said. "You're going to see more actions in Africa, not less; you're going to see more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less; you're going to have decisions being made not in the White House but out in the field."
Meanwhile, other lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have argued the Niger incident highlights the need to reconsider the broad war-making authority the executive branch has claimed in the post-9/11 era. "The many questions surrounding the death of American service members in Niger show the urgent need to have a public discussion about the current extent of our military operations around the world," said Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.). Likewise, Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said present threats necessitate "a sober national conversation about Congress' constitutional role in authorizing the use of military force." Bonnie Kristian
Ousted White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon attacked fellow Republican former President George W. Bush while speaking at the California GOP convention banquet Friday evening.
"There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush's," Bannon said, arguing that Bush "embarrassed himself" with a "high falutin" speech in New York City on Thursday. Bush's talk did not mention President Trump by name, but its decrial of "discourse degraded by casual cruelty" was widely regarded as a critique of Trump.
Bush "has no earthly idea of whether he's coming or going," Bannon added Friday, "just like it was when he was president."
Watch Bannon's full speech below — the Bush comments begin around the 24-minute mark — and read The Week's Paul Waldman on why even Trump critics shouldn't misremember Dubya as a representative of a nobler age and a nobler GOP. Bonnie Kristian
Sarah Sanders says it is 'highly inappropriate' to question John Kelly because he's a 4-star general
The White House on Friday called it "highly inappropriate" to question Chief of Staff John Kelly's mischaracterization of Rep. Frederica Wilson's (D-Fla.) 2015 speech at the dedication of a new FBI building. In addition to skewering Wilson for sharing the details of a phone call between President Trump and the widow of a U.S. service member killed in Niger on Thursday, Kelly claimed Wilson once "talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for" the FBI building. In a video from the dedication surfaced by the South Florida Sun Sentinel on Friday, Wilson takes credit for naming the building but does not claim to have secured its funding.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders maintained that Wilson "also had quite a few comments that day that weren't part of that speech and weren't part of that video that were also witnessed by many people that were there."
"[Kelly] was wrong yesterday in talking about getting the money," a reporter pressed.
"If you want to go after Gen. Kelly, that's up to you," Sanders said. "But I think that, if you want to get into a debate with a four-star Marine general, I think that that's something highly inappropriate." Jeva Lange
Huckabee doubles down on the lies and says it's "highly inappropriate" to disagree with a Marine 4 Star General. pic.twitter.com/OiVHSeHP1d
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) October 20, 2017
Conditions in the United States are driving more people than ever to seek refugee status in Canada, Reuters reports. More than 15,000 people have crossed the border illegally this year alone, Reuters says, citing data through late October. That's in comparison to a total of 10,370 asylum claims made in Canada during the entirety of 2013.
Interestingly, many of those asylum-seekers told Reuters that they had been living in the U.S. legally, and would have considered staying if not for the Trump administration's recent immigration crackdown and forceful rhetoric. A transcript of one asylum hearing from January, in which a Syrian refugee expressed fears about the new U.S. government, showed a tribunal member saying, "That seems to be playing out as you have feared, and today on the news I know that President Trump has suspended the Syrian refugee program. You have provided, in my view, a reasonable explanation of your failure to claim in the U.S."
Lawyers working the refugee cases told Reuters that members of the tribunals who interview asylum-seekers have "grown more sympathetic toward people who have spent time in the United States." Sixty-nine percent of the claims filed by border-crossers that were processed between March and September of this year were accepted by the Immigration and Refugee Board, higher than the overall acceptance rate for all types of refugee claims in Canada last year.
Much of the recent influx is said to be taking place at the Quebec/New York crossing, and the Canadian military has set up a temporary tent encampment in response. Right-wing, anti-migrant Canadian groups, however, are staging rallies against upticks in immigration, prompting Canadians to worry that such displays "set back the cause of tolerance a couple of years." Watch scenes from one such rally below, or read more at Reuters. The Week Staff
Tense scenes Quebec City. Antifa confront La Meute supporter pic.twitter.com/am2UGFOAAD
— Jonathan Montpetit (@jonmontpetit) August 20, 2017