The vote was unanimous. South Korea’s Constitutional Court has upheld the December impeachment of President Park Geun-hye, making her the country’s first democratically elected leader to be forced from office. Park’s removal caps months of protest and turmoil over a corruption scandal that continues to rock the upper echelons of business and government. Two have died in violent clashes following the ruling. An election is expected within 60 days, with the opposition likely to take over — which could cause a reshuffling of relationships with the U.S., China and North Korea.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It’s not what you want on your commute. German police have reported “around five” people were injured in an axe attack at Duesseldorf train station, although it remains unclear the extent of those injuries. Witnesses say at least one assailant was carrying an axe or a machete. The train station has been cordoned off by police, and two people have been arrested in relation to the attack. Police spokesman Rainer Kerstiens says it’s believed there are still suspects at large.
Finally, everyone agrees on something. Groups representing doctors, senior citizens and insurers have spoken out against the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act — a potential new pressure point on the many conservative lawmakers who’ve expressed reservations about it. The American Health Care Act is being attacked from the left and the right, but President Donald Trump has promised to name and shame holdouts at his signature campaign-style rallies. Nonetheless, the White House has gone out of its way to keep the plan from being branded “Trumpcare.”
Whether the documents are real, they won’t say. But the CIA is investigating who might have leaked more than 8,000 pages of classified documents — and how they came into WikiLeaks’ possession. Intelligence officials and the White House have condemned the leak, and the CIA and FBI are coordinating on a criminal investigation, scrutinizing contractors who might have had access to the information. Meanwhile, tech companies rushed to assure consumers that many security flaws that were apparently exploited by the CIA’s hacking tools have since been addressed.
Boots, meet ground. A few hundred Marines with heavy artillery have been sent to Syria on a temporary basis, U.S. officials said yesterday, to help local forces fight against ISIS and oust the militants from their self-declared capital in Raqqa. Troops are reportedly also preparing for deployment to Kuwait in case of ISIS movement there. The deployments may indicate that the Pentagon is being given more leeway to make decisions about battles abroad, and officials say the Raqqa fight may resemble the ongoing battle to retake Mosul in Iraq.
What was that about securing borders? A three-year EU investigation has found that British customs authorities allowed Chinese importers to fraudulently avoid customs charges. Now the European Commission must decide whether to charge the U.K. $2.1 billion in lost duties. If it does, it could be yet another contentious point in upcoming Brexit negotiations. In another blow, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that a second referendum on Scotland’s independence from the U.K. could happen in autumn 2018, in the lead-up to Britain’s anticipated split from the EU.
Know This: The state of Hawaii is suing over President Trump’s revised travel order, calling it “Muslim Ban 2.0.” Centrist Emmanuel Macron has for the first time taken the lead in French presidential polls, putting him ahead of far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen. And North Korea’s allowed two Malaysians to leave the country despite edicts restricting travel, indicating a softening of tense relations between the two countries.
Remember This Number: 36 percent. That’s how much illegal border crossings from Mexico to the U.S. appear to have dropped year-on-year in February — a turnaround that’ll likely satisfy President Trump and his supporters that the immigration crackdown is working.
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A piggy bank won’t cut it. With studies suggesting that 35 percent of American workers are freelancers, some believe the very concept of retirement is threatened — and policymakers are working to determine how best to make sure today’s workforce will be taken care of. Yet some entrepreneurs believe tech is the answer, applying algorithms to analyze earning and spending patterns and create “smart” savings for the nontraditional employees of the future. For those in the present, however, it may be worth checking out a 401(k).
This family tree’s roots run deep. A new analysis of Aboriginal DNA has not only confirmed that humans have inhabited the continent for 50,000 years, but that modern indigenous Australians are all descended from a single group thought to have walked from New Guinea, which was then part of the same landmass. The variety of Aboriginal cultures and languages had led some to believe that diverse populations must have settled at different times, but DNA suggests that one group colonized the entire country within about 2,000 years of its arrival.
They’re up all night … playing Candy Crush. A new study of 26,000 adults reveals that in the current decade Americans are having sex nine fewer times per year than they did 20 years ago. The decline was seen across gender, race, region, education, employment and relationship status, with even married people getting busy less often. Researchers linked the dry spell to hectic lifestyles and the presence of smartphones and laptops in the bedroom — as well as an uptick in the use of libido-killing antidepressants.
Nobel, schmobel: Was she smokin’? To celebrate International Women’s Day yesterday, Snapchat released an animated lens honoring Nobel Prize-winning scientist Marie Curie — but users took to social media to complain that the filter gave them not just beakers and chemical formulas, but big fake eyelashes and makeup. Also causing eyerolls: The formula was an inaccurate guanosine structure, which has nothing to do with Curie’s discoveries of the elements radium and polonium. The app also included Frida Kahlo and Rosa Parks lenses, but neither has drawn the same level of criticism.
With five minutes to go, it seemed impossible. But Barca left soccer fans wide-eyed last night with what some are calling the greatest comeback in the history of the game. After losing 4-0 to Paris Saint-Germain in their first meeting, Barcelona eventually won the second leg 6-1, scoring an incredible three goals in the final seven minutes to win on aggregate 6-5. That puts them in the quarterfinals of the prestigious Champions League — and should put every team going up against them on notice.