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April 16, 2018

"Tonight, in honor of upcoming tax day, we thought we'd give you just a glimpse of the lengths that companies will go to to legally avoid paying taxes, both," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. Like Cardi B, "many people are perplexed and mystified by our tax system," he said, breaking down where your tax dollars go, roughly speaking.

When President Trump signed the GOP tax overhaul last year, he "made some clear promises about who stood to benefit," Oliver said, most of them "clearly nonsense, because if this bill were really helping the people that like Donald Trump best, it would exclusively benefit Eric Trump, Rosanne Barr, and anyone who's looked both ways before whispering, 'It was the Jews.' And the truth is, for all Trump's talk of pipefitters, the biggest tax rate cut by far actually goes to businesses."

Oliver walked through the "long and infuriatingly proud history" of corporate tax avoidance, with a special nod to Apple and Google for being top "innovators in weaselly accounting," though GE and other huge companies paid zero federal taxes for much of this century. The new tax bill does force some of those companies to pay taxes on money stashed overseas, but at bargain rates — a gamble that did not pay off in terms of job creation in 2004, and probably won't this time either, Oliver said. "We just had a huge chance to reform our tax code and we absolutely blew it. Because effective tax reform is not just about lowering rates, it's about closing loopholes."

"So, on Tuesday, as you scrape together your taxes and like Cardi B, wonder what Uncle Sam is doing with your motherf---ing money, rest assured that Donald Trump's tax reform continues to let companies engage in sophisticated tax avoidance schemes," Oliver said. And he had a parting gift for those companies. There is NSFW language throughout. Peter Weber

6:55 p.m. ET
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Former President George H.W. Bush was admitted to a Texas hospital Sunday morning with an infection, his office announced Monday.

Bush is at Houston Methodist Hospital, and is responding to treatments for an infection that spread to his blood. His office said he "appears to be recovering," and promised to issue updates as necessary. Bush, whose wife, Barbara, died last week at age 92, was at her funeral on Saturday. Catherine Garcia

6:31 p.m. ET
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The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted on Monday 10-9 in favor of Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, becoming the next secretary of state.

After saying he would oppose Pompeo's nomination, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) announced right before the vote that he had changed his mind, following a conversation with President Trump. The full Senate will vote later this week. Catherine Garcia

5:29 p.m. ET

The temperature reached near 70 degrees in Washington, D.C., on Monday, so Sen. Rand Paul broke out his flip-flops.

The Kentucky Republican had long maintained his opposition to Mike Pompeo, President Trump's nominee for secretary of state, stating repeatedly that he intended to vote against Pompeo because of his hawkish instincts. During Pompeo's confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee earlier this month, Paul pressed Pompeo over whether Trump's use of military force in Syria without congressional approval was constitutionally sound, and said that Pompeo's view of the war in Afghanistan is at odds with Trump's desire to withdraw from the country.

But on Monday, Paul said that after speaking to Trump and Pompeo, he had "received assurances" that Pompeo does not in fact want to prolong America's presence in Afghanistan. Trump "believes that Iraq was a mistake, that regime change has destabilized the region, and that we must end our involvement with Afghanistan," Paul wrote on Twitter, and on Monday he "received confirmation that [Pompeo] agrees" with Trump.

For that reason, Paul announced that he would vote to confirm Pompeo after all. With Paul's support, plus the backing of three moderate Senate Democrats, Pompeo seems poised for confirmation by the full Senate later this week.

5:28 p.m. ET
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President Trump said one thing, but his flight records said another.

Trump reportedly told former FBI Director James Comey twice that he never stayed the night in Moscow, Russia, when visiting in 2013 for a Miss Universe pageant. But flight records reviewed by Bloomberg, combined with social media posts, appear to indicate that Trump indeed spent a full weekend with business associates and pageant developers in the Russian capital.

The findings contradict Trump's main alibi denying the veracity of a dossier that alleges salacious details about his interactions with prostitutes in Moscow. Even though Trump told Comey on two separate occasions that the dossier "couldn't be true" because of how little time he spent in Moscow on that trip, Bloomberg reports that Trump flew to Russia in a private jet owned by his business partner, rather than on his own jet, making his timeline a bit muddier.

Trump fired Comey last year, and aspects of his explanation regarding the trip to Moscow are detailed in Comey's recently released memoir, A Higher Loyalty. The dossier, compiled by a British ex-spy, remains unverified, though Comey has said some aspects of it were "corroborated by other intelligence."

Social media posts, such as a Facebook photo posted by a Russian restaurant, show that Trump was in Moscow the night before the pageant began. He partied with the pageant's host on a Friday night before spending Saturday touring Moscow and attending the pageant. Trump's own tweets show that he spent more than a full day in the city before flying back to New York early Sunday morning. Read more at Bloomberg. Summer Meza

5:00 p.m. ET
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Nine people were killed and 16 injured Monday afternoon when a man drove a van down a Toronto sidewalk, authorities said. The driver of the vehicle is in custody, though authorities have yet to identify a motive.

The incident occurred down a busy stretch of Yonge Street in Toronto's North York neighborhood. Toronto Deputy Police Chief Peter Yuen told reporters that authorities would be on the scene for "days," and that the investigation would be "complex."

An eyewitness told BBC News that she saw a white car plow through pedestrians. "So many people [were] shouting, 'Stop the car,' but he didn't," the woman said. "He just [kept] moving." Kimberly Alters

This is a breaking news story that will be updated as more details become available.

2:31 p.m. ET
iStock.

Something stinks in the far reaches of our solar system.

A study published in the journal Nature Astronomy on Monday suggests that the clouds that form the upper atmosphere of Uranus are largely composed of hydrogen sulfide gas — the same compound found in rotting eggs that produces their signature odor.

Scientists have speculated about whether Uranus' clouds contained hydrogen sulfide or ammonia, which is found in Jupiter's and Saturn's atmospheres, Space reported. But until now, there has been no concrete proof; Jupiter and Saturn, meanwhile, are much closer to Earth, and thus much easier to observe. The "lucky break" that allowed researchers to finally observe the miniscule gas particles in Uranus' atmosphere was the Gemini telescope in Hawaii, said Leigh Fletcher, one of the co-authors of the study.

Based on what they've discovered about Uranus, scientists now theorize that Neptune's atmosphere may contain hydrogen sulfide as well — which may make humans reluctant visitors to the far-off planets. But Patrick Irwin, the study's lead author, says the rotten egg smell would be the least of anyone's concerns: "Suffocation and exposure in the atmosphere" would be a much bigger problem to worry about, he quipped.

Read more about the study at Space. Shivani Ishwar

2:18 p.m. ET
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Nashville police have confirmed that the 29-year-old man suspected of opening fire in a local Waffle House over the weekend has been taken into custody. Travis Reinking, of Illinois, opened fire early Sunday morning in the restaurant, killing four people and injuring four others. He fled the scene nude after being disarmed by another Waffle House patron, James Shaw Jr., and had been the subject of an intense manhunt.

Reinking was arrested last July by the Secret Service on charges that he was in a restricted area outside the White House, and had four of his guns seized, including the AR-15 rifle police said he used in Sunday's shooting. Jeva Lange

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