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March 19, 2017

Jimmy Breslin, the brash newspaper columnist who covered his hometown of New York City for several decades, died Sunday of pneumonia. He was 88.

Breslin authored more than 20 books and was a longtime columnist for the New York Daily News. "Jimmy Breslin was a furious, funny, outrageous, and caring voice of the people who made newspaper writing into literature," said Arthur Browne, editor-in-chief of the Daily News. He reported from Vietnam, was at the Ambassador Hotel in 1968 when Robert Kennedy was assassinated, became pen pals with the Son of Sam, and won a Pulitzer Prize in the 1980s for a series of columns that brought to light several scandals, including the use of stun guns on jailed suspects by one NYPD precinct.

Breslin, who also won a Polk Award, is survived by his second wife, Ronnie Eldridge, four children, three stepchildren, and 12 grandchildren. His first wife and two of his daughters preceded him in death. Catherine Garcia

2:02 a.m. ET

It's been to Norway, Germany, Sweden, and Iceland, and now the world's largest Titanic replica made entirely of Legos is coming to the United States.

The model — 24-feet long and five-feet tall — was built five years ago by Brynjar Karl Birgisson of Iceland. Birgisson, now 15, has long been fascinated by the Titanic, and when he was 10 decided he wanted to build a replica. He figured out how many Legos he needed, and then raised enough money to purchase them all. It took 700 hours over 11 months, plus 56,000 bricks, to build the model, which will now be on display at the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, through 2020.

Birgisson is on the autism spectrum, and has written a book called My Autistic X Factor. He says everyone has an "X Factor," which is a special talent, and he was lucky enough to figure out his when he was 10. Building such a detailed model wasn't easy, but with "belief, a supportive system, and determination," anything is possible, Birgisson says on his website. Catherine Garcia

1:39 a.m. ET
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The House needs a new chaplain, after Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) pushed out Fr. Patrick Conroy, and one of the Republicans leading the search committee, Rep. Mark Walker (N.C.), said Thursday that he wants a chaplain with a family — which would preclude Catholic priests like Conroy. "I'm looking for somebody who has a little age, that has adult children," said Walker, an ordained Southern Baptist minister.

Walker said he wasn't discriminating against Catholics, "but when you walk the journey of having a kid back home that's struggling or made some bad decisions, or when you have a separation situation or your wife's not understanding the [congressional] schedule, having somebody who's walked in those shoes allows you to immediately relate a little bit more than others." He added that he's "probably looking for somebody more of a nondenominational background, that has a multicultural congregation." Walker is leading the search committee with Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), a nondenominational ordained Baptist minister, and Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), an Air Force Reserve chaplain and Southern Baptist.

The search committee's lone Democrat, Rep. Emauel Cleaver (Mo.) — a United Methodist pastor — said he was furious after Thursday's meeting and set up an appointment with Ryan. Some Catholic Democrats, like Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.), called Walker's remark "anti-Catholic — on its face." Ruling out a chaplain from America's largest denomination may not have been what Walker meant, "but to any Catholic ears, that's what we heard," he said.

When House Speaker John Bohner (R-Ohio) was stepping down, "he invited the pope to speak before the House," noted Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.), and now that fellow Catholic Speaker Ryan is leaving, "he's asking only the second Catholic spiritual leader on the House floor to leave." The first Catholic House chaplain, Fr. Daniel Coughlin, was appointed in 2000 after Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-Ill.) first choice, a Presbyterian minister, withdrew amid anger that Hastert had ignored the bipartisan committee's Catholic pick for chaplain, Fr. Timothy J. O'Brien. Peter Weber

1:19 a.m. ET
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Before he met Linda Brandt, Steven Ma didn't care about school — he regularly skipped class and never got an A.

Ma told CBS Sacramento he had been told by one teacher he was "the stupidest student" he had ever seen, leaving him with "no self-esteem, there was no self-dignity." Things changed when he entered Brandt's classroom. She was his 10th grade geometry teacher, and Ma said she pushed him to "see who I was. She made me discover what I could do."

Now, the Lodi, California resident is the CEO of Thinktank Learning, a college prep and tutoring company, and an international education liaison for California's Department of Education. In honor of the teacher who changed his life, Ma is offering two Linda Brandt Scholarships, each worth $15,000, for deserving students at Lodi High School. Ma said he wanted Brandt to know he was "forever thankful for her." Brandt is now retired, having taught for almost 30 years. "I had no idea that I actually had that sort of an affect on Steven and I'm just so proud of him for all that he has accomplished," she said. Catherine Garcia

12:26 a.m. ET
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He's been fielding phone calls from people who want to know why he's leaving, but House chaplain Rev. Patrick J. Conroy says he has no idea why House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) asked him to resign earlier this month.

In an interview with The New York Times, Conroy said the message came from Ryan's chief of staff, and he was blindsided by the request. He notified Ryan in an April 15 letter that he was stepping down, at Ryan's request, on May 24. "I certainly wasn't given anything in writing," Conroy said. "Catholic members on both sides are furious." The nonpartisan House chaplain gives a prayer each day the House is in session, and Conroy has held the position since 2011.

Republicans and Democrats are preparing a letter asking Ryan for an explanation. Conroy told the Times that Ryan may have been motivated by his Nov. 6 opening prayer, as the GOP tax bill was being discussed: "May all members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle. May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans."

Conroy said a week later, a Ryan aide told him they were "upset" by the prayer and he was getting "too political," and Ryan later told him, "Padre, you've got to stay out of politics." Conroy doesn't see the problem. "If you are hospital chaplain, you are going to pray about health," he said. "If you are a chaplain of Congress, you are going to pray about what Congress is doing." Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.) told the Times he's "very upset" by Conroy's resignation, and "if this is true about the prayer, and we have freedom of religion in America, how about freedom of religion on the floor of the House? The members of the House vote for the chaplain. This is not a one-man decision." Catherine Garcia

12:13 a.m. ET

President Trump had a hard day, and naturally he "did what everyone does when they're feeling down, he called into a Fox News morning show — and it was, honestly, epic," Trevor Noah said on Thursday's Daily Show. "Normally, when Trump has a bad day, we know Trump watches Fox & Friends and yells at the TV, but today he did the same thing, but we all got to listen in." Trump started out by saying he was calling in because it was first lady Melania Trump's birthday, and when Brian Kilmeade asked what Trump got his wife, it didn't go so well.

"How did Trump mess up the world's easiest question?" Noah marveled. "I can't believe that Donald didn't get Melania anything for her birthday. Now, she might think he's not a very good husband. Also, I would pay anything to know what he wrote inside that card (that he definitely didn't actually get). Like, 'Roses are red, love is a mystery, I had a historic electoral college victory.'"

"So the interview didn't get off to a great start, but then it got worse," Noah said, playing some of the highlights. "I can safely say that I've never seen a news anchor try to bail on an interview with the president of the United States. Like, how is it that he's the commander in chief, but it's the couch people who have better things to do?"

Actually, "the interview started strong, but then the president started talking," Stephen Colbert said on The Late Show. And he also thought Trump's stated gift was lousy: "You're a billionaire! You got your wife a card? Do you know what she puts up with? I think she's earned a shopping spree — I'm going to say about $130,000 worth." Watch below. Peter Weber

April 26, 2018
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A former NBC News correspondent told The Washington Post that during the 1990s, former anchor Tom Brokaw made unwanted sexual advances toward her, once forcibly trying to kiss her after inviting himself into her hotel room.

Linda Vester, who was in her 20s at the time, tells the Post she did not file a complaint because she was worried about retribution. "I am speaking out now because NBC has failed to hire outside counsel to investigate a genuine, long-standing problem of sexual misconduct in the news division," she said. Another woman, a former production assistant who asked to remain anonymous, told the Post that Brokaw acted inappropriately with her in the 1990s, grabbing her hands and putting them under his jacket and against his chest.

Brokaw denied the allegations, telling the Post: "The meetings were brief, cordial, and appropriate, and despite Linda's allegations, I made no romantic overtures toward her, at that time or any other." Late last year, NBC fired Today co-host Matt Lauer after he was accused of sexual misconduct. The Post spoke with 12 female NBC staffers who said they were sexually harassed but never reported it; three said the harassment came from Lauer — one women said he exposed himself in his office, another said she had sex with him in his office in the middle of the day, and a third said he gave her a sex toy.

Three of Lauer's supporters told the Post that the relationships were consensual, and in a statement, Lauer acknowledged that he "acted inappropriately as a husband, father, and principal at NBC. However, I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegations or reports of coercive, aggressive, or abusive actions on my part, at any time, are absolutely false." For more on how NBC News has handled sexual misconduct allegations and the warning Ann Curry says NBC ignored, visit The Washington Post. Catherine Garcia

April 26, 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Friday in the demilitarized zone between their countries, and held hands as they crossed into South Korea.

When Kim crossed the demarcation line, he became the first North Korean leader to enter South Korea since the Korean War, and Moon was also invited to step over to the North Korea side. This is the first meeting of Korean leaders in more than a decade.

During their summit, meant to ease tensions between the Koreas, they are expected to discuss denuclearization and will plant a memorial tree in the border village of Panmunjom. They will also likely release a joint statement late Friday, which could touch on peace and the improvement of relations between the two countries. Because the Korean War ended in a truce and not a peace treaty in 1953, the countries are still considered to be at war. Catherine Garcia

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