It’s now or never. Donald Trump is pushing forward with Trumpcare today, posing an ultimatum for reluctant House Republicans to vote or be “stuck with Obamacare.” In a press conference this afternoon, Sean Spicer said POTUS and his team have lobbied “every member” who had concerns about the bill, but it’s now down to the House to decide. With a bloc of conservatives and moderate-leaning Republicans bailing on the legislation, it’s being reported that the bill is still short of support ahead of today’s vote, and that Paul Ryan is briefing the President as such.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It’s a frightening case of déjà vu. A man was arrested in Antwerp today as he attempted to drive a car at high speed into a crowd of people at the Meir, the city’s largest shopping street. The driver is reportedly a French national who was wearing a camouflage uniform at the time of the attempted attack, and allegedly carrying weapons and military uniforms in the trunk of the car. Just one day after the anniversary of the Brussel’s bomb attacks, the incident in Antwerp is drawing chilling parallels to yesterday’s terrorist attack in London.
“Londoners will never be cowed by terrorism.” So said Mayor Sadiq Khan after a lone attacker plowed his vehicle into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge yesterday, then stabbed and killed a policeman inside the gates of Parliament before being shot himself. The man has been identified as Khalid Masood, 52, who was British born, known to MI5 and with a range of criminal convictions, although none terrorist related. Police have arrested eight people in connection with the attack, and Prime Minister Theresa May said the U.K.’s threat level will stay at “severe.”
Has he chosen a side? While Rep. Devin Nunes joined the FBI and other Republicans in saying that there’s no evidence that Obama wiretapped Trump Tower, he admitted President Donald Trump or his associates may have been “incidentally” monitored during surveillance of foreign agents. Trump said he felt “somewhat” vindicated, but the House Intelligence Committee chair’s move could accelerate the decision to bring in a special prosecutor. Meanwhile, Democrats decried Nunes, who was an adviser to the Trump campaign, for acting as a “surrogate of the White House.”
This won’t calm international tensions. U.S. prosecutors are reportedly putting together a case that the $81 million stolen from Bangladesh’s account at the New York Federal Reserve last year was taken by North Korea. Chinese middlemen allegedly involved in the theft would be the targets of the upcoming investigation, but North Korea would likely be implicated. Security experts say the heist is linked to the 2014 Sony hack, which is also thought to have been directed by Pyongyang, though no public charges have been filed in that case.
Was it sabotage? That’s the explanation of the Ukrainian military after a warehouse containing more than 152,000 tons of ammunition exploded this morning in Balakleya, about 60 miles from the front line of ongoing battles with Russian separatists. Saboteurs with drones reportedly attempted to destroy the same base in late 2015. Rescue teams are evacuating some 20,000 people from the city and nearby villages, and Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman will fly into the area later today as security at nearby bases increases in response to the threat.
Know This: The White House and GOP leaders are scrambling to convince conservative lawmakers to support their Obamacare replacement before an up-or-down vote today. A 28-year-old Army veteran who told police he hates Black men has been arrested for stabbing a homeless man with a sword. And Donald Trump Jr. is under fire for a tweet mocking London Mayor Sadiq Khan in the wake of the Westminster terror attack.
Remember This Number: 700. That’s how many measles cases have been reported in Italy so far in 2017. The same period last year saw only 220 — and the massive leap is being blamed on the rise of the Five Star Party, a populist movement that campaigned partly on an anti-vaccination platform.
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Hips don’t lie. Almost 130 years of evolutionary consensus is being re-examined after a new study suggested that the longstanding division of dinosaurs into “bird-hipped” and “lizard-hipped” groups may no longer be valid. The Cambridge study upends conventional thought by suggesting bipedal, carnivorous lizard-hipped dinos like Tyrannosaurus rex actually belong to the bird-hipped lineage of the family tree. Moreover, it suggests that the first dinosaurs emerged millions of years earlier than previously thought, and in the Northern Hemisphere instead of the southern supercontinent of Gondwana.
Old habits die hard. While digital streaming services are driving forward, a new report suggests that normal TV isn’t necessarily budging under market pressure. But that’s due to the over-55s, who prefer to consume television the traditional way, while those aged 18-24 watch digital platforms nearly twice as much as live TV, and the 35-54 group is split between the two. Still, 85 percent of households with digital streaming subscriptions also get regular TV, so analysts say the juggernaut of old media can’t be switched off just yet.
Nobody’s in harmony on this one. Each year, Europe’s kitschy song competition is held in the previous winner’s home country. In 2017, that’s Ukraine — but Kiev’s sparked an international incident long before anyone sings a note. They’ve banned Russia’s contestant, wheelchair-bound singer Yulia Samoilova, from the country over an illegal performance in Russian-annexed Crimea in 2015. Russia’s demanding that the avowedly neutral contest condemn the exclusion, threatening to boycott all future events, while Eurovision says it hopes to negotiate with Ukrainian authorities to reinstate Samoilova by May.
Our selection process is evolving. More fashion retailers are looking to integrate consumer-facing tech into their shops, hoping retail experiences built around in-house gadgetry can engage shoppers and keep brick-and-mortar businesses alive. From the boutique with touchscreen interactions for introvert-friendly changing rooms to North Face’s VR headsets that place customers in Yosemite National Park, what may sound gimmicky is having a real impact. So while e-commerce is still on the rise, physical stores certainly aren’t giving up the fight for consumer cash.
Shine bright on the diamond. Team USA made it to the tournament’s championship game for the first time — and promptly crushed previously undefeated Puerto Rico. Manager Jim Leyland joked about “making America great again,” despite Puerto Rico being part of the United States, and the fact that tournament MVP Marcus Stroman, whose mother is Puerto Rican, could have pitched for either team. The Blue Jays ace carried a no-hitter into the seventh, shutting down a Puerto Rico offense that had scored 55 runs in its previous seven wins.