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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

From Kim K. to clemency

Long day. Short List. Kim Kardashian got what she wanted from Trump. McCain and Trump actually agree on something. And KFC tests "faux chicken."
Alice Johnson got a life sentence. Brock Turner got 6 months. Both cases made news again
President Trump and Kim Kardashian West.

Keeping up with the clemency 

President Trump granted clemency to Alice Johnson, a great-grandmother serving life in prison for cocaine trafficking, on Wednesday. The move came a week after Kim Kardashian visited the Oval Office to make the case for Johnson, 63, who was sentenced in 1996 for her first offense. (President Obama denied her clemency in 2017.) The move also came less than three months after Trump said drug dealers should get the death penalty. In a separate dispute over a sentence said to be too lenient rather than too harsh, Aaron Persky, the judge in the Brock Turner case, was recalled . The Stanford swimmer was convicted of sexual assault in 2016. Emily Doe's stunning victim impact letter made national headlines, as did the 6-month prison sentence handed down by Persky, which many called unfair

Something John McCain and President Trump agree on?

On Wednesday, President Trump signed legislation to overhaul the Department of Veterans Affairs and expand veterans' access to private care. "What a beautiful word that is — choice — and freedom to our amazing veterans," Trump said during the signing ceremony. Congress had passed the measure with overwhelming bipartisan support. On Wednesday, Sen. John McCain, a former war hero who has been critical of the president, tweeted that he was "proud the #VAMISSIONAct has been signed into law." Leading the overhaul effort will be Trump's nominee for VA Secretary Robert Wilkie if he's confirmed.

Finger-lickin' faux chicken?

KFC plans to test plant-based "chicken" with customers later this year, the fast-food company's United Kingdom unit announced. Not only are more people vegans and vegetarians , but even some meat-eaters regularly choose plant-based alternatives (almond milk, tofu, veggie burgers) as part of a healthier, less caloric diet, experts say. KFC's not the first to try this: McDonald's added the McVegan to its Sweden and Finland menus last year and White Castle added an Impossible Foods slider at a number of locations in April. While some customers are happy, there's one group that's decidedly not: ranchers.

That picturesque bay now turned to molten rock

The volcano is still flowing in Hawaii. Four weeks after Kilauea began its latest episode of activity, lava this week destroyed hundreds of homes — including that of Hawaii County's mayor — and has now transformed the Big Island's charming Kapoho Bay into an ominous field of molten rock . The lava's slow and steady march has swamped the bay, a one-time playground for water sports. And precisely what it will become remains unknown: "Whatever happens, Kapoho will never be a cute little bay again," said Tracy Gregg, a geology professor at the University at Buffalo.

Remembering RFK and what might have been

On this day 50 years ago, Robert F. Kennedy died after lingering for 26 hours from shots fired by Sirhan Sirhan (although Robert F. Kennedy Jr. said this year that he believed there was a second gunman). Americans old enough to remember  report less vivid memories of Bobby's death than John F. Kennedy's five years before. But in that uncertain day that RFK underwent surgery and his press secretary said his "life signs remain good," many people recall wishing for the best, expecting the worst and thinking that, whether Kennedy lived or not, something in America had died. Had he not been shot, many believe he would've been elected president, in no small part because of his ability to connect with the poor. In Appalachia, in a drastic political reversal, the children of Kennedy Democrats are now Trump Republicans. On the anniversary of his death, we'll leave you with what RFK said after Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination, just two months before his own:

"What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence and lawlessness, but is love, and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice toward those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black ... Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks wrote so many years ago: to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world."

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