“Flynn certainly has a story to tell.” So says the lawyer representing Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser to President Donald Trump who was forced to resign last month after misleading White House officials over his contacts with Russia. In exchange for immunity from prosecution, Flynn’s reached out to the FBI and congressional leaders, offering to cooperate with House and Senate investigators probing Trump-Russia ties. His offer has thus far been rebuffed, with officials unwilling to give Flynn a deal until they know more about what he might disclose.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It’s the end of the road. Ousted President Park Geun-hye, 65, denies that she allowed her friend Choi Soon-sil to trade political favors for money. But now Park is facing 13 bribery and corruption charges, and after being her country’s first democratically elected leader to be dismissed, she’s become the first to be jailed since the mid-1990s. Park can legally be detained for 20 days while prosecutors build their case. Meanwhile, South Korea’s government struggles to operate in a political vacuum before a May 9 snap election.
It’s a royal flush. North Carolina has voted to repeal the state’s controversial “bathroom bill,” which critics say discriminates against LGBTQ citizens. The law was repealed with a 70-48 vote, and has been signed by Gov. Roy Cooper, despite backlash from the LGBTQ community. Concerns have been raised about the repeal, which has been enacted as part of a compromise that prohibits local councils and cities from developing and implementing their own anti-discrimination ordinances, effectively leaving trans rights at the mercy of the state.
It’s a delicate time. Turkey’s concluded its seven-month military campaign in Syria, declaring Operation Euphrates Shield a success. In backing the rebel Free Syrian Army, Turkey has actively opposed Bashar Assad’s forces, ISIS and U.S.-backed Kurdish groups. The announcement came as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepared to meet with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today. With the U.S. choosing to partner with a Kurdish militia instead of Turkey in the upcoming coalition assault on Raqqa, it may be tough for Tillerson to avoid alienating the volatile strongman.
It never got out of the gate. After President Donald Trump’s first executive order barring travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations was blocked, the second, which removed Iraq from the list, was temporarily halted by a federal judge in Hawaii. Now Judge Derrick Watson has indefinitely extended that suspension, reiterating that the order amounts to unconstitutional religious discrimination, considering campaign promises from the president to ban Muslims from entering the United States. As long as the order is being contested in court, officials won’t be allowed to enforce it.
It’s a bold move. British Prime Minister Theresa May’s attempt to win a post-Brexit free-trade deal that includes the critical finance industry by alluding to “security” and making veiled threats to drop out of Europol may not make much headway with EU leaders. Negotiators in Europe insist any trade talks must begin with a plan for withdrawal and settling Britain’s expected multibillion dollar bill for the divorce. Meanwhile, insurance giant Lloyd’s of London announced it’ll launch a subsidiary in Brussels to avoid losing EU business.
Know This: As a House inquest flags, the Senate Intelligence Committee says it will thoroughly investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election, including potential ties to the president. The Oscars have banned cell phones for future accountants after the debacle over Best Picture this year. And in a reversal, the White House says Ivanka Trump will have an official title: Assistant to the President.
Read This: In the future, could Ms. Pac-Man and other arcade games be used to train military drones? The mechanics of games provide the training that could help artificial intelligence deal with unpredictable situations.
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It’s a huge blow to health care. During a procedural vote in the Senate on a bill that gives states the autonomy to decide whether to keep federal funds from Planned Parenthood, the Vice President supported the legislation with the deciding vote. The Title X legislation is a massive roll-back of Obama-era policy that prevented states from withholding such funding. Planned Parenthood currently supports around 4.1 million Americans with reproductive health services, so if Title X is ultimately successful, it’s unclear where access to analogous health services will be available.
They’re taking it to the streets. Despite Brazil’s reputation as a tolerant and open society, it’s been shifting rightward politically, leaving members of the LGBT community feeling more at risk. While the government doesn’t keep track of homophobic and transphobic hate crimes, one independent watchdog estimates that 2016 saw 343 LGBT Brazilians killed — the deadliest year since it started the tally in 1981. Now the community is taking efforts into its own hands and, despite limitations, using the public platform of Carnival in the hope of increasing visibility and acceptance.
The fourth law of robotics: A robot must deliver cheesy bread when requested. Domino’s Pizza is set to start making deliveries using specially designed six-wheeled automatons in Germany and the Netherlands, having already delivered pizzas by drone in New Zealand. The European pizzabots will initially only deliver meals to those living within a 1-mile radius of a Domino’s store. But the company’s CEO says their need for drivers over the next decade will outpace the available human workforce, necessitating the use of a pizza-toting robot army.
It’s the relaunch of a classic. Today SpaceX is launching a communications satellite from Cape Canaveral, but this time a successful mission will make history as the first time a reused rocket has been sent into orbit. This Falcon 9 delivered cargo to the International Space Station last year before landing upright on a floating drone ship at sea. Reusing rockets has been one of SpaceX’s main goals from the company’s inception: Tens of millions of dollars could be saved with each successful relaunch, making the final frontier more affordable and accessible.
Act casual, Bob. The famously award-shunning songwriter’s prize for literature, which he won in October 2016, has been languishing with the Swedish Academy. But this weekend — while he’s already in Stockholm for two concerts — he’ll finally make time to pick it up. Dylan has so far neglected his duties as a Nobel Prize winner, including delivering a lecture, a requirement if he wants to receive the $900,000 prize money. Characteristically, Dylan plans to collect his award privately, and will deliver the lecture on tape.
What a foul response. By all accounts, John Higgins didn’t have his best day when he refereed the Kentucky-North Carolina Elite Eight game Sunday. But for making a few questionable calls, some irate Kentucky fans decided death threats were an appropriate response, while others targeted his Nebraska roofing business. On Facebook, hundreds of angry 1-star reviews quickly left Higgins’ company with a 1.7 rating. As news spread, however, positive reviews managed to boost it back to 3.5 stars. Kentucky released a statement reminding fans to be good sports.