TIME viral

The Star Wars References in This Graduation Speech Are Perfect

"The Force is strong with you all"

When the students of the University of Pennsylvania law school sat down to hear their commencement speech from Cass Sunstein, they probably didn’t think they were in for a dissertation on Star Wars.

“Graduates, faculty, family, friends—our topic today is Star Wars,” the legal scholar and former Obama Administration regulatory official opened his May 17 speech. “It’s not the most usual topic I know, but it’s not completely random. The Class of 2015 has the astounding good fortune of graduating in the very year of Star Wars‘ rebirth.”

And from there he was off, drawing thematic lessons from the movies that he said hold lessons for both graduates and their families.

But his closing line was the best: “The Force is strong with you all. May your ships make the kessel run in much less than 12 parsecs. Congratulations to the Jedi Knights of 2015!”

Watch the full speech below.

TIME Television

Meet Jon Stewart’s Replacement on The Daily Show

Trevor Noah has appeared on the show only three times

Trevor Noah, a young South African comedian who has been a contributor on The Daily Show for barely four months, will replace Jon Stewart as host of the Comedy Central satirical news show.

The announcement came less than two months after Stewart said he will be leaving the show following a successful 16-year tenure in the faux anchor chair that saw him turn the show into a cultural touchstone of comedy and political satire. Noah has appeared on the show only three times.

“No-one can replace Jon Stewart,” Noah wrote on Twitter. “But together with the amazing team at The Daily Show, we will continue to make this the best damn news show!”

Stewart said in a statement that he “may rejoin as a correspondent just to be a part of it!!!”

“I’m thrilled for the show and for Trevor,” Stewart said. “He’s a tremendous comic and talent that we’ve loved working with.”

 

TIME 2016 Election

Scott Walker Changes Position on Immigration as 2016 Nears

"My view has changed. I'm flat out saying it," the Wisconsin governor said

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said in a new interview that he has changed his position and now opposes a path to citizenship for immigrants in the U.S. illegally, a policy shift that comes as the Republican is emerging as a conservative favorite in the 2016 presidential race.

“My view has changed. I’m flat-out saying it,” Walker said during an interview on Fox News Sunday. “I look at the problems we’ve experienced for the last few years. I’ve talked to governors on the border and others out there. I’ve talked to people all across America. And the concerns I have is that we need to secure the border. We ultimately need to put in place a system that works. A legal immigration system that works.”

The acknowledgement came after host Chris Wallace aired a clip of Walker in 2013, when he was asked about a system that would allow undocumented immigrants to get citizenship and responded, “I think it makes sense.”

“I don’t believe in amnesty,” Walker said Sunday.

Walker, admired by conservatives for his victories over organized labor in Wisconsin, has been rising in polls in early-voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire, and immigration policy is an area where he can differentiate himself from one of his top likely rivals, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Walker finished second in a straw poll of conservative activists at a weekend conference in Washington, coming behind Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul.

“Candidates can say that,” Walker added in acknowledging the immigration shift. “Sometimes they don’t.”

TIME Foreign Policy

Obama Aide Calls Israeli Leader’s U.S. Visit ‘Destructive’

Says planned address to Congress has "injected a degree of partisanship"

President Barack Obama’s top national security aide on Tuesday lambasted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to address Congress as “destructive [to] the fabric of the relationship” between the two countries, as political fallout continued to mount ahead of Netanyahu’s controversial visit.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice, delivering the Obama Administration’s strongest critique of the visit to date while speaking Tuesday night on PBS, said Netanyahu’s address next week has “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it’s destructive [to] the fabric of the relationship.”

Netanyahu’s visit has been sharply criticized in both Israel and the U.S. as overly political, coming just weeks before Israeli elections and after House Speaker John Boehner invited him without informing Obama or congressional Democrats. Obama will not meet with Netanyahu while he’s in town, and many Democrats, including Vice President Joe Biden, have signaled that they won’t attend his address to a joint session of Congress.

“The relationship between Israel as a country and the United States as a country has always been bipartisan and we’ve been fortunate the politics have not been injected into that relationship,” Rice said. “It’s always been bipartisan. We need to keep it that way. We want it that way. I think Israel wants it that way, the American people want it that way, and when it becomes infused with politics, that’s a problem.”

The Israeli leader has steadfastly defended the speech as an opportunity to voice his concerns over a potential nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran, and did so again Tuesday, saying he was coming to the U.S. to “do everything I can” to stop a deal with Iran, the New York Times reports.

“Therefore, I will go to Washington to address the American Congress, because the American Congress is likely to be the final brake before the agreement between the major powers and Iran,” Netanyahu said.

Still, the trip risked coming off as more partisan when Netanyahu turned down an invitation to address Senate Democrats.

“Thought I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time would compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit,” Netanyahu said in a letter released by the office of Illinois Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin.

Dubin wasn’t pleased with Netanyahu’s response.

“We offered the prime minister an opportunity to balance the politically divisive invitation from Speaker Boehner with a private meeting with Democrats who are committed to keeping the bipartisan support of Israel strong,” he said in a statement. “His refusal to meet is disappointing to those of us who have stood by Israel for decades.”

TIME Television

Jon Stewart Is Leaving The Daily Show

The iconic Comedy Central host will depart later this year

Jon Stewart, the comedian-turned-faux newsman who transformed The Daily Show into a cultural powerhouse over the course of 16 years at the anchor desk, is leaving the show later this year.

Stewart announced his coming departure during the taping of Tuesday night’s show, and Comedy Central president Michele Ganeless confirmed it in a statement. It wasn’t immediately clear what Stewart’s next move will be, nor was it clear who would replace him or whether the show will continue.

“For the better part of the last two decades, I have had the incredible honor and privilege of working with Jon Stewart,” Ganeless said. “His comedic brilliance is second to none. Jon has been at the heart of Comedy Central, championing and nurturing the best talent in the industry, in front of and behind the camera. Through his unique voice and vision, ‘The Daily Show’ has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come. Jon will remain at the helm of ‘The Daily Show’ until later this year. He is a comic genius, generous with his time and talent, and will always be a part of the Comedy Central family.”

Stewart became anchor in 1999, taking a show that Craig Kilborn had started and turning it into a searing nightly political and media satire that left no subject matter—and no political party—unscathed. His fire was trained as often on his real-life media colleagues as it was on the politics or public affairs of the day.

Ratings for the show have increased 400% from the year Stewart took over. The show has received 50 Emmy nominations and won 15. In 2000 and 2004, the show won two Peabody Awards for its coverage of the presidential elections relevant to those years, called “Indecision 2000″ and “Indecision 2004,” respectively.

And it spawned numerous successful comedy careers, most notably when Stephen Colbert, a Daily Show correspondent, launched The Colbert Report. Colbert ended his show late last year for a move to David Letterman’s job at CBS. Other correspondents whose roles on the show shot them to stardom include actor Steve Carell and comedian John Oliver, who just started the second season of his HBO show Last Week Tonight.

MORE: Watch Jon Stewart’s First Episode of The Daily Show

TIME 2016 Election

Jeb Bush Leads in New Hampshire Poll

Jeb Bush Speaks At Detroit Economic Club
Bill Pugliano—Getty Images Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush waits to speak at the Detroit Economic Club on Feb. 4, 2015 in Detroit.

Not all good news for Bush in a wide open race

Former Florida governor Jeb Bush has an early advantage in the key presidential primary state of New Hampshire, according to a new poll, but the race remains wide open a year before the election.

The Saint Anselm College survey released Sunday found Bush topping a crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls with 16% of the vote, followed by Kentucky Senator Rand Paul at 13%, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at 12% and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie at 10%. No other candidate cracks double digits.

New Hampshire holds the first-in-the-nation primary, shortly after the Iowa caucuses next February, and along with a small handful of early-voting states plays an outsize role in determining presidential-nomination fights.

The poll also points at a potentially tough general election climate for Bush in the swing state if he secures the Republican nomination. Half of likely general election voters there view him unfavorably and only 35% view him favorably. That’s compared to 54% of voters who have favorable views of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the presumed Democratic front-runner.

MORE: Wisconsin Governor Leads Tight 2016 Race in Iowa

The survey, conducted Jan. 31 to Feb. 5, has a margin of error of 4.9% for the primary and 4.4% for the general election.

TIME Media

Brian Williams Leaves NBC Anchor Desk for ‘Several Days’ Amid Controversy

"It has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news," Williams said

NBC News anchor Brian Williams said Saturday that he would not anchor Nightly News “for the next several days” while he deals with growing controversy over his disputed account of coming under fire while reporting in Iraq.

“In the midst of a career spent covering and consuming news, it has become painfully apparent to me that I am presently too much a part of the news, due to my actions,” Williams said in a statement. “As Managing Editor of NBC Nightly News, I have decided to take myself off of my daily broadcast for the next several days, and Lester Holt has kindly agreed to sit in for me to allow us to adequately deal with this issue. Upon my return, I will continue my career-long effort to be worthy of the trust of those who place their trust in us.”

Williams has been under scrutiny in recent days after his tale of being in an aircraft that came under fire in Iraq in 2003, told often over the years, was disputed by military service members who were there. He apologized and recanted the story on Wednesday. He now faces an internal NBC News investigation.

TIME 2016 Election

Measles Vaccinations Roil Republican Presidential Race

“I’m a little shocked that we are having a discourse about the efficacy of vaccinations," one Republican says

The Republican presidential primary caught a case of the measles this week.

Republicans who would prefer to be aiming their fire at President Obama and presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton instead found themselves debating whether or not parents should have to vaccinate their children for measles and where to draw the line between public health and parental choice.

It all came against the backdrop of a measles outbreak that has passed 100 cases in the U.S. and amid scientific consensus on the issue that has long since been settled in favor of vaccination. Republican House Speaker John Boehner weighed in himself on Tuesday, saying that “all children ought to be vaccinated.”

“I’m a little shocked that we are having a discourse about the efficacy of vaccinations,” said John Weaver, a moderate Republican strategist often critical of the party’s conservative wing. “It’s a shocking development. Our party has a reputation that’s grown as being anti-science, and now we’re going to be anti-public health?”

The political outbreak started Monday when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, traveling in England, said the government should “balance” public health and parental choice.

“Mary Pat and I have had our children vaccinated and we think that it’s an important part of being sure we protect their health and the public health,” the Republican said. “I also understand that parents need to have some measure of choice in things as well, so that’s the balance that the government has to decide.”

But Christie’s comments prompted a quick backlash—and an almost-as-quick retreat from his office, which said Christie “believes vaccines are an important public health protection and with a disease like measles there is no question kids should be vaccinated.”

MORE: Chris Christie’s Terrible Vaccine Advice

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul, sensing an opening to project the libertarian-leaning philosophy he hopes to ride to the nomination, jumped at the chance to part with Christie, an establishment-friendly rival with whom he has often feuded.

“I’m not anti-vaccine at all,” Paul said during a radio interview, “but particularly, most of them ought to be voluntary. … I think there are times in which there can be some rules, but for the first part it ought to be voluntary.”

“[I’ve] heard of many tragic cases of walking, talking normal children who wound up with profound mental disorders after vaccines,” Paul said in another interview. “The state doesn’t own your children. Parents own the children, and it is an issue of freedom and public health.”

And Clinton took a chance to needle the other side as simply anti-science, an argument Democrats have pushed often when it comes to Republican resistance to fighting climate change.

“The science is clear: The earth is round, the sky is blue, and #vaccineswork,” she wrote on Twitter late Monday. “Let’s protect all our kids. #GrandmothersKnowBest.”

The issue could prove surprisingly resonant if more measles cases erupt and candidates are forced to continue weighing in. That’s partly because fear of vaccines cuts across party lines, with no significant differences between Republicans and Democrats, according to a 2014 Yale University study. But the study did find that conservatives are more supportive of religious exemptions to vaccination requirements, while liberals are more likely to support only strict medical exemptions.

Scientific consensus overwhelmingly supports widespread vaccinations to achieve what’s known as a “herd immunity,” in which enough of the population is inoculated that those who can’t or don’t get vaccinated are also protected, and stories of vaccinations leading to disorders like the ones Paul alluded to have been repeatedly debunked. On Monday it fell to Ben Carson, a long-shot Republican presidential hopeful and a neurosurgeon, to be the lone GOP candidate mounting an unqualified defense of the science favoring vaccinations.

“Although I strongly believe in individual rights and the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, I also recognize that public health and public safety are extremely important in our society,” Carson said. “Certain communicable diseases have been largely eradicated by immunization policies in this country and we should not allow those diseases to return by foregoing safe immunization programs, for philosophical, religious or other reasons when we have the means to eradicate them.”

For Clinton, the entire spat is just one of many opportunities she’ll have to exploit the lack of opposition she faces on the Democratic side to rise above disagreements that roil the large and fractured Republican filed.

“This is just a potential flashpoint that draws an essential distinction between theories of government,” Democratic strategist Chris Lehane said. “You can really compare and contrast.”

TIME 2016 Election

Wisconsin Governor Leads Republicans in Tight Iowa 2016 Race, Poll Says

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker Delivers Keynote At The American Action Forum
Bloomberg/Getty Images Scott Walker governor of Wisconsin speaks during a panel discussion at the American Action Forum in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 30, 2015.

An early lead for Scott Walker

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is leading a crowded field of Republican presidential hopefuls in the key state of Iowa, according to a new poll, but the race remains wide open exactly a year before the caucuses.

The Des Moines Register poll released Sunday shows Walker garnering 15% of the vote when likely Republican caucusgoers are asked which candidate would be their first choice. Walker shot to conservative stardom after a high-profile fight with public sector unions over collective bargaining rights and survived recall elections to oust him.

MORE: Scott Walker Comes to Washington to Bash Washington

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is in second place at 14%, followed by Mitt Romney at 13% and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 10%. The poll was conducted just before Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, announced he won’t run again in 2016.

No other candidate or would-be candidate cracks 10%. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the first choice of 8% of likely caucusgoers, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gets 4%.

The Iowa caucuses kick off the presidential nomination fight on Feb. 1, 2016. The survey of 402 likely Republican caucusgoers, conducted Jan. 26-29, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.9 percentage points.

TIME People

Mario Cuomo, Former New York Governor and Liberal Icon, Dies at 82

Cuomo died just hours after his son was inaugurated to a second term as governor

Mario Cuomo, the former New York governor whose fiery, eloquent advocacy of liberal policies made him a key figurehead in the Democratic Party for years, died Thursday. He was 82, and his death was confirmed by the office of his son, current New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo died just hours after his son was inaugurated to a second term as governor. Andrew Cuomo said during his inauguration Thursday that his father was too ill to attend. Cuomo’s family said he died “from natural causes due to heart failure this evening at home with his loving family at his side.”

President Barack Obama paid tribute to “a determined champion of progressive values, and an unflinching voice for tolerance, inclusiveness, fairness, dignity, and opportunity.” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said the President also phoned Andrew Cuomo to personally extend his condolences.

“An Italian Catholic kid from Queens, born to immigrant parents, Mario paired his faith in God and faith in America to live a life of public service—and we are all better for it,” Obama said in a statement. “His own story taught him that as Americans, we are bound together as one people, and our country’s success rests on the success of all of us, not just a fortunate few.”

Mario Cuomo served as governor from 1983 to 1994, during which he was twice considered a clear frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination. But both times, in 1988 and 1992, he declined to run.

His keynote speech at the 1984 Democratic convention is remembered as a forceful defense of liberalism—and a searing attack on then-President Ronald Reagan. “Mr. President, you ought to know that this nation is more ‘a tale of two cities’ than it is just a ‘shining city on a hill,'” Cuomo said then.

Cuomo often found his liberal policy ambitions in New York thwarted by a harsh economic climate, but his personification of the Democratic Party’s liberal wing at a time when conservatism was ascendant made him a political player far beyond the state’s borders. The 1984 convention speech was a high-water mark in his political career, and he very publicly flirted with White House runs in the years ahead. In a dramatic moment in December of 1991, Cuomo kept an airplane waiting on the tarmac while he mulled whether to fly to New Hampshire to hand in his application to be on the primary ballot on the day it was due. A budget clash with Republicans in the state legislature kept him from leaving, and he announced that he wouldn’t run.

Had he decided to run in 1992 it’s possible Bill Clinton would have never become president.

“We have lost a true progressive giant with Governor Mario Cuomo’s passing today,” former New York Gov. David Paterson wrote on Twitter. Former New York Gov. George Pataki called Cuomo “a proud son of immigrants, possessed of a soaring intellect [and] a great New Yorker.”

With reporting by Zeke Miller / Washington

Read next: Vice President Biden, Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio Honor Life of Fallen Officer

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