He’s on the outside now. President Trump’s chief strategist, whose appointment to the National Security Council was considered extraordinary, has lost his seat at the table — reportedly over clashes with the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Meanwhile, allies characterized Bannon’s NSC post as a watchdog for former adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned in February. Bannon’s demotion is widely seen as a victory for Flynn’s replacement, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, and for comedians and protesters that characterized Bannon as a Svengali to Trump, a joke that apparently chafed the president.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The dead are still being counted. Monitors put the total number of people killed by a suspected chemical weapon attack in a rebel-held village in northern Syria yesterday at 72 and possibly more than 100. Now the U.S. and other Western nations are blaming President Bashar Assad, and are calling on Syrian allies Iran and Russia to condemn the attack. While Damascus denies the charge, Russian officials have now blamed the poisoning on rebel weapons on the ground that were set off by Syrian government airstrikes.
“The U.S. has spoken enough about North Korea.” That was the gist of a peculiar three-sentence statement from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson following news that North Korea had once again fired a medium-range ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan. Pyongyang’s latest provocation came just one day before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits President Donald Trump in Florida for a summit. The U.S. has been pressuring China, North Korea’s closest ally and trade partner, to take a harder line against its missile tests.
Rumors of its death may have been exaggerated. The American Health Care Act was derailed last month, but as GOP leaders push for a vote by Friday before a two-week recess, its revival is far from secure. With Democrats aligned against the plan, the White House must negotiate a truce between moderate Republicans, who worry about projected costs and ranks of uninsured Americans, and the Freedom Caucus, which says the bill doesn’t go far enough. While some conservative concessions have been floated, they risk alienating moderates — and killing Trumpcare again.
The deadline’s looming. Without a new deal, Athens will have about $6.4 billion in payments due this July — which officials warn would cripple its still fragile economy. So the country’s finance officials and those monitoring the bailout are holding talks that will continue today, which negotiators described as “good progress” so far. To unlock the next portion of its $92 billion bailout program and avert misery for cash-starved Greeks, the country, which currently has 23 percent unemployment, may have to make more compromises on pension plans and economic reforms.
Know This: While former National Security Adviser Susan Rice is under fire from conservative commentators for asking for the names of some individuals redacted in daily security briefings, she says the practice of “unmasking” is both legal and routine. Companies are already submitting their designs for President Trump’s eventual border wall. And Spain is attempting to end an unnerving spike in murders of women.
Watch This: Who’s your favorite actor to tackle James Bond? After watching the new documentary Becoming Bond, you may abandon Daniel Craig in favor of George Lazenby, who played the role only once but did it with style.
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This isn’t fake news. The flagship Fox News program is facing a growing advertiser walkout after details of sexual harassment claims emerged. On Sunday, it was revealed that $13 million in settlements had been paid out to women accusing host Bill O’Reilly of inappropriate conduct. He denies the accusations, but some 20 companies including Mercedes-Benz, Allstate and Hyundai have suspended advertising with his program, citing the “disturbing allegations.” Fox executives were quick to point out that those ad dollars will be redirected to other network properties.
Everything old is new again. Forget today’s discussions between Brussels and Downing Street: New research reveals what happened the first time Britain separated from Europe — literally. For starters, it was 450,000 years ago and during an ice age. Scientists from Imperial College London believe that Britain’s physical separation came in two stages involving a massive lake spill eventually eroding a chalk ridge that once joined Britain to the continental mainland. The catastrophic flood that followed the ice age cemented a separation that — until now — had been purely physical.
Looks like the big kids want to play. Daimler and Bosch, global powerhouses manufacturing vehicles and automotive components, have announced they’re joining forces on a system to put autonomous cars, including driverless taxis, on the road within three years. The collaboration aims to improve urban traffic flow and the road safety of self-driving cars — something Uber has struggled with recently. Mercedes-Benz, a Daimler company, has been showcasing autonomous concepts for years, and the company owns ride-hailing and auto-sharing subsidiaries that will support the new venture.
The best songs in life aren’t free … anymore. In a new licensing deal with Universal Music Group, the streaming service will give the label’s artists a “flexible release policy,” letting them offer new albums only to paying subscribers for an initial two-week period. The change heralds an end to Spotify’s commitment to giving all users access to full albums upon release, but is a crucial step toward an anticipated 2018 IPO. It remains to be seen if users will pay for subscriptions or head elsewhere for new music.
The revolution will not be televised. Next week marks the public beta launch of SportsCastr.Live, a video-streaming platform that hopes to revolutionize how we watch sports by placing viewers in the middle of the action. Instead of passive engagement, fans can customize studio-quality, ultra-fast streams to an unprecedented degree before sharing them with online communities. SportsCastr hopes to stake its claim with big-name early adopters and help from former NBA commissioner David Stern. But the uncertainty of the industry means lawsuits and copycats are almost guaranteed to follow.