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December 7, 2017
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Drivers in Japan's real-life Mario Kart tours are soon going to have to wear seat belts on the road, the Japan Times reports.

For less than $75, would-be racers can dress up as their favorite Mario Kart character and dash around city streets in go-karts that drive up to 37 miles an hour. The tours, which are wildly popular among tourists, last two hours and are sparsely regulated. Exhibit A: While MariCAR, the company behind the tours, claims "safety is our top priority" on its website, their go-karts do not have seat belts.

While MariCAR does warn against dropping banana peels and shooting red turtle shells at other drivers, kart-goers are not legally required to wear a seat belt or a helmet because of a loophole in Japan's vehicular regulations. And while it sounds exhilarating — if moderately terrifying — to drive a go-kart freely on city streets, the Mario Kart tours veer toward outright recklessness, as the karts are not required to have direction indicators or rear view mirrors either. (It was only in May that MariCAR banned their customers from using smartphones while driving.)

If that wasn't bad enough, consider this: Most Mario Kart drivers are tourists who have no experience driving on the left side of the road, the BBC notes. All of this has led the Japanese government to announce revisions to its road regulations law by next March in order to better moderate the Mario Kart tour industry.

While celebrities like Hugh Jackman and Kim Kardashian have taken Mario Kart tours in Japan, the country's residents are not so wild about the tours. A taxi driver told The Wall Street Journal in July: "When I see them driving close by it's scary, especially since they drive in large groups." Kelly O'Meara Morales

3:52 p.m. ET
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Everyone predicts Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh will face tough questions, especially about Roe v. Wade, when he eventually undergoes his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.

But two Democratic senators — Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Patrick Leahy (Vt.) — were there for Kavanaugh's last hearing. And they think Kavanaugh may have fudged a few answers.

In 2006, Kavanaugh faced the Senate committee after receiving a lifetime nomination to the D.C. Court of Appeals, The Atlantic reports. Kavanaugh had previously worked for former President George W. Bush, so Durbin and Leahy asked about his involvement in administration decisions during the war on terror. That included how detained terror subjects were treated in the early 2000s.

Kavanaugh denied knowing anything about the torture of detainees at the time, and he was confirmed. But two stories from The Washington Post and NPR soon reported that Kavanaugh discussed torture with White House lawyers in 2002, telling them that Justice Anthony Kennedy — whose impending retirement has spurred Kavanaugh's nomination to the bench — wouldn't support indefinite detention of U.S. citizens, per The Atlantic.

Durbin told NPR that the revelation made him feel "perilously close to being lied to." He wrote Kavanaugh to ask for clarification, and tweeted the same letter the day after Kavanaugh's SCOTUS nomination. Apparently, Kavanaugh never responded. Leahy wrote to the U.S. attorney general, but was denied a criminal investigation, The Atlantic says. He "still has questions about how truthful" Kavanaugh was last time around, per his statement after Kavanaugh's July 9 nomination.

Now, Kavanaugh is set to appear once again before the Senate, and Durbin and Leahy are still on the committee. And judging by Durbin's and Leahy's tweets, they haven't gotten over that one question. Read more at The Atlantic. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:34 p.m. ET
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Dogs across the country better lawyer up — the government is feeling litigious.

The United States on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against "APPROXIMATELY 30 PIT BULL-TYPE DOGS," a legal tracking Twitter account reported. The lawsuit, filed in North Carolina, alleges that the dogs were involved in an animal fighting operation, and seeks to require their owners to pay up.

Among the defendants: "a brown male, pit bull-type dog;" "a black and white, female pit bull-type dog;" and "an underweight black, male pit bull-type dog." The dogs are suspected of being involved in a fighting ring "for purposes of sport, wagering, or entertainment."

Of course, it's the humans who will ultimately be accused of violating the Animal Welfare Act, the lawsuit explains, but the poor dogs are the ones who were seized by officials and are named in the legal documents. "They are currently in the custody of the United States Marshals Service and being cared for by the Humane Society of the United States," reads the lawsuit. While the "pit bull-type" dogs were seized more than a month ago, the owners apparently still haven't paid to cover the cost of their care and veterinary treatment while in government custody.

For the record, the government's "approximate" guess was spot-on. It's unclear how much longer the exactly-30 dogs will remain in government care. Summer Meza

3:23 p.m. ET

Queen fans, get ready to belt your hearts out: Bohemian Rhapsody is just a few months away.

20th Century Fox released a new trailer Tuesday for the Freddie Mercury biopic, calling it "a foot-stomping celebration" of "one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet."

Framed by some of the band's most famous hits, including "We Will Rock You," "We Are The Champions," and of course the titular "Bohemian Rhapsody," the trailer gives us a look at the very beginnings of Queen and their unexpected rise to stardom. We also get brief glimpses of Mercury as he wrestles with his bisexuality and his struggle with his AIDS diagnosis, despite speculation that those parts of the story would be left untold.

Starring Emmy award-winning actor Rami Malek as Mercury, Bohemian Rhapsody is expected to be released on Nov. 2, 2018. Watch the full trailer below. Shivani Ishwar

3:18 p.m. ET
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President Trump on Tuesday appeared to walk back many of his controversial comments from his joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin, held Monday in Finland.

Trump faced widespread backlash for failing to side with the U.S. intelligence community over Putin during Monday's summit. On Tuesday, the president addressed the controversy and sought to correct the record. "I accept our intelligence community's conclusion that Russia's meddling in the 2016 election took place" he said. "Could be other people also. A lot of people out there."

He also reversed one of his most-criticized comments, when he said he didn't "see why it would be" Russia that interfered in the election. "In a key sentence in my remarks, I said the word 'would' instead of 'wouldn't,'" Trump explained. "The sentence should have been, 'I don't see any reason why it wouldn't be Russia.' Sort of a double negative. So you can put that in, and I think that probably clarifies things."

As critics pointed out, this was one of several instances in which Trump was forced to backpedal a statement after receiving fierce backlash. But Boston Globe reporter Matt Viser noted that Trump claiming he misspoke — and doing so more than 24 hours after the initial remarks — doesn't quite align with his post-press conference tweets and interview with Fox News, in which he fully stood by his comments on Russia's purported innocence.

Trump added that has "full faith" in intelligence officials, and pledged that his administration "will repel any effort to interfere in our elections" going forward. Summer Meza

2:14 p.m. ET

The White House has tried to squeeze every positive ounce out of President Trump's Monday meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But there may not be much there.

Congressional Republicans received their daily set of talking points from the White House on Tuesday, which are meant to help the party and the president keep a united front. But half of Tuesday's list was just a backstory of the U.S.-Russia summit in Helsinki, Finland. The other half includes four bulleted times Trump acknowledged Russian meddling or said he trusted American intelligence — four times within the full 18 months of his presidency.

Those bullet points attempt to contradict nearly everyone's criticism of Trump's post-summit press conference with Putin on Monday: that the president questioned Russia's involvement in the 2016 election instead of condemning it. But Republicans aren't taking the bait and using the points, notes NBC News' Peter Alexander — perhaps because most of them already saw the whole press conference and ripped it to shreds. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:37 p.m. ET

President Trump seemed to have a bit of a Putin hangover Tuesday.

Trump reportedly didn't emerge from his residence until past noon, following widespread criticism over his comments at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday. An NBC News reporter pointed out that Trump was nowhere to be seen in the West Wing, perhaps because he had no events on his public schedule all morning.

Whether the president was recovering from some wicked jet lag from the flight back from Helsinki — or on the mend from the brutal comments from even his fellow GOP lawmakers — he rested all morning, firing off just four tweets. Trump is scheduled to emerge at 2 p.m. ET, when he will speak about his meeting with Putin, replacing the meeting with members of Congress that suddenly appeared on his schedule Monday. Summer Meza

1:26 p.m. ET

Jupiter's massive gravitational attraction has collected some fresh followers.

While looking for a possible ninth planet, scientists instead discovered another 12 moons orbiting the gas giant, per a Monday press release from Carnegie Science. The find brings Jupiter's total number of moons to 79, the most in the solar system.

Eleven of the new moons are pretty normal, orbiting either with or against Jupiter's rotation. But in the release, scientists called one an "oddball" because it lives far out with moons that orbit counterclockwise, but travels clockwise itself.

Carnegie's team put together this video to explain the mysterious moon, named Valetudo after the Roman god Jupiter's great-granddaughter.

Scientists suggest Valetudo's reverse orbit could cause a head-on crash one day, per the release. But in a family of 79 moons, Jupiter was bound to have one rebel. Kathryn Krawczyk

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