It’s the FBI vs. the president’s Twitter account. Director James Comey confirmed yesterday during a five-hour House Intelligence Committee hearing that his agency is still investigating Russia’s 2016 election interference, including potential collusion with the Trump campaign. President Donald Trump tweeted repeatedly during the hearing, claiming that Comey confirmed that the electoral process wasn’t affected by Russia — though the FBI director directly refuted that assertion during his testimony. Comey also dismissed Trump’s unsubstantiated accusation that Obama wiretapped him, a claim the White House continues to stand by.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The toxicology results are back. When Ziyed Ben Belgacem, 39, attacked a soldier at Orly airport Saturday while saying he wanted to “die for Allah,” his blood contained traces of cocaine and cannabis, plus nearly twice the legal limit of alcohol. Parisian-born Belgacem, who was shot and killed at the scene, had a criminal record and was reportedly radicalized in prison. The attack has re-energized the debate about national security ahead of next month’s presidential election, with several candidates calling for maintaining France’s ongoing state of emergency.
Nobody saw it coming. Multiple Syrian rebel factions launched an audacious dawn attack on eastern Damascus yesterday — a surprise move that came just days after the latest round of U.N.-brokered peace talks failed to produce any meaningful deal. The insurgents attacked with car bombs and surprised President Bashar Assad’s forces by tunneling underground to breach the Damascus security perimeter, hoping to stake new claims after months of territorial losses. Despite early gains, government forces have reportedly beaten the rebels back with airstrikes, while at least 15 civilians were killed.
Nobody wants to go it alone. But U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin saw conflict at the weekend summit of world leaders when he convinced them to drop language condemning economic protectionism from an official G-20 policy statement. The Trump administration’s promises to tear up existing trade agreements in pursuit of better deals had other nations on edge. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe praised free trade and advocated for signing an EU-Japan trade deal, which has been on the negotiating table since 2013.
Know This: The U.K. says it will trigger Article 50, which begins official Brexit negotiations, on March 29. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings kick off today. Rock ’n’ roll pioneer Chuck Berry died Saturday at the age of 90. And 20 teenagers have died in a freak accident at a waterfall in Ghana.
Read This: As a controversial case — in which Florida prison guards allegedly boiled a schizophrenic man alive — is put to rest, some are reflecting on the treatment of incarcerated people with mental illness.
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This road’s leading downward. The troubles just won’t stop for the world’s foremost car-hailing company. Uber’s president and No. 2 executive, Jeff Jones, has elected to leave after less than a year, saying in a statement that his beliefs and approach to leadership were “inconsistent with what I saw and experienced there.” Jones’ resignation is just the latest blow to Uber, which has been reeling from a string of scandals ranging from claims of sexual harassment to a lawsuit over allegedly stolen trade secrets to multiple #DeleteUber boycott campaigns.
Just keep streaming. While services like Spotify and Apple Music dominate the market with millions of subscribers, they’re not the only game in town: Voltra is a new digital music store with an “ethical mission” to give 100 percent of revenue from sales and streams to artists. The app, which offers a pay-to-play streaming service but focuses on ownership, is a reaction against big companies notoriously paying artists very little. The next step: Increasing its 3 million song library to 10 million before a planned May launch.
They’re hammering out a successful niche. While recent history has seen the megastore kill off the mom-and-pop and e-commerce overrun brick-and-mortar, the local DIY store has bucked every trend to become a rare Main Street mainstay, with half the home improvement market controlled by independent shops. By focusing on hyper-local and personalized services, such stores take advantage of the urgency of many hardware problems and customers’ need for friendly advice from an expert — though questions of succession make many family-run joints nervous.
What’s past is printed. Iranian-born Morehshin Allahyari is exhibiting 3-D printed recreations of twelve historical artifacts destroyed by ISIS in 2015. Allahyari says the work, prompted by the militants’ ransacking of Iraq’s Mosul museum, is “a ‘f- - - you’ to ISIS in some ways.” The exhibition is also a meditation on the nature of conservation and cultural ownership in the digital age — when files for 3-D prints of iconic monuments can be easily bought and sold, even after the original artifacts no longer exist.
Apparently science is losing ground around the world of sports. Coming to the defense of NBA star Kyrie Irving, who last month stated against all evidence that the Earth is flat, Shaquille O’Neal has become the fourth basketball player to fly the physics-defying flag. Shaq declared on his podcast, “It’s true. The Earth is flat.” He cited as evidence an impressive string of non sequiturs including Christopher Columbus, long distance drives, building angles, China and “all that stuff about gravity.” For the record, the Earth is not flat.