“I’m not a racist.” So said President Donald Trump from his Florida golf club yesterday, adding, “I’m the least racist person you have ever interviewed.” Trump denied reports that he crudely insulted African and Caribbean nations last week. The White House didn’t initially refute the allegations, and two Republican senators first said they couldn’t recall the comment and later denied he’d used the “exact phrase” in question. Trump also cast doubt on the future of DACA, blaming Democrats. Meanwhile, a potential government shutdown looms within a week amid stalled budget negotiations.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Duck and cover your bases. An emergency alert terrified Hawaii residents early Saturday morning when it erroneously warned of an incoming ballistic missile — and didn’t correct the blunder, apparently made by an employee during a standard test, for 38 minutes. The national alert system has undergone an overhaul from one based on radio and TV broadcasts to one reaching people by text. But critics say such vulnerabilities are unacceptable, particularly as U.S. tensions with North Korea mount. FCC chair Ajit Pai has promised to review state and local systems.
The building gave way beneath them. At least 72 people were reportedly injured when a mezzanine level at Indonesia’s stock exchange fell in suddenly, collapsing into the building’s lobby. Officials have evacuated the area and sent the wounded to hospitals across the city. The stock exchange, a grandiose building with a large marble lobby, has helped perpetuate Indonesia’s image of stability, leading to increased foreign investment. Trading reportedly continued as usual, and police say while they don’t suspect a terrorist attack, they’re still investigating the cause of the collapse.
Are we on the road to ruin? Baidu COO Qi Lu, whose company has been experimenting with self-driving technology, says automakers must take security concerns into account. “A vehicle that can move by itself, by definition it is a weapon,” he said at last week’s Consumer Electronics Show, where Baidu unveiled its new Apollo 2.0 autonomous car technology. Lu warned that when such vehicles are acknowledged as potential weapons, depending on who controls them, countries may be unwilling to allow self-driving cars manufactured elsewhere across their borders.
Know This: Twin suicide bomb attacks have killed 38 people in Baghdad. Catherine Deneuve has apologized for any hurt caused to sexual assault victims by a letter she signed last week attacking #MeToo, saying other signatories have distorted the intent. And The Wall Street Journal is reporting that President Trump’s lawyers paid $130,000 to an adult film star before the election to keep her from going public about an encounter with the president.
Remember This Number: $18 billion. That’s how much SoftBank could seek in a potential IPO for its wireless business, in what could be the biggest IPO for a Japanese company in decades.
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She’s making a run for it. Manning, the former soldier who famously went to prison after releasing thousands of secret documents to WikiLeaks, has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission to challenge Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland for his seat in the June 26 primary. The popular Cardin, who’s expected to see multiple challengers, will be seeking his third term. Manning’s sentence was commuted at the end of President Barack Obama’s tenure, after which she moved to Maryland. If elected, she’d be the first openly transgender U.S. senator.
They’re up and coming. Once hobbled by clunky socialist economies, Central and Eastern European countries have benefited from the EU’s open borders and progressive policies. But nations like Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic still haven’t caught up with their Western counterparts — so they’re launching a regional development scheme aimed at building infrastructure and beefing up energy security. Critics wonder whether it’s really just an excuse for Poland to assert geopolitical sway, but others believe it could boost the region’s economic performance, as well as keeping Russian influence at bay.
It’s the year of the dragon. SpaceX reported its Dragon capsule has returned to Earth as planned after a resupply mission to the International Space Station. The spacecraft delivered two tons of crew supplies and scientific gear, then returned after more than a month docked in orbit, laden with live mice, experimental results and trash from the space lab. It’s the second return for the Dragon, which is the only ISS supply craft able to bring materials back to Earth. After refurbishment, the capsule will be ready for another trip.
It’s a question of consent. The popular comic found himself under fire after the website Babe reported an anonymous 23-year-old woman’s account of a date with Ansari that left her feeling “violated.” The woman described how he ignored her “verbal and non-verbal cues” and pressured her to have sex. Yesterday, the Master of None star responded to her account, saying he believed she’d consented. Ansari said, “Clearly, I misread things in the moment and I’m truly sorry,” adding that he still supports the “long overdue” #MeToo movement.
What a ride. The two-time gold medalist qualified for the Pyeongchang Games with a perfect 100 score on the halfpipe at the U.S. Grand Prix in Snowmass, Colorado. It’ll be the fourth trip to the Olympics for the 31-year-old snowboarder. Saturday’s perfect run — his career second — included a 1440 double cork on his first hit. White, who suffered a bruised lung and needed 62 stitches on his face after a crash in October, will now prepare to represent Team USA at next month’s competition.