They want to make sure there’s nowhere to hide. The American military yesterday used a massive ordnance air blast bomb, or MOAB, for the first time, bombarding a complex of caves used by ISIS in Afghanistan. President Donald Trump wouldn’t confirm he’d personally authorized the MOAB, but called the mission “very, very successful.” The Afghan military estimated that 36 militants and no civilians were killed by the 21,600-pound bomb. Meanwhile, the Pentagon admitted a U.S.-led airstrike targeting ISIS fighters in Syria had mistakenly killed 18 rebel allies.
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re staring each other down. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov battled in front of the press over whether Bashar Assad, a Russian ally, can stay in power in Syria, with Tillerson pessimistic and Lavrov saying the U.S. doesn’t choose other countries’ leaders. Presidents Trump and Putin have both characterized trust between the nuclear nations as being at low ebb. Meanwhile, Russia vetoed a U.N. resolution condemning Assad’s suspected chemical attack on a Syrian village, which sparked American military retaliation last week.
“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy.” So said President Donald Trump, describing how he’d thought China had the power to stop North Korea’s missile tests until President Xi Jinping explained China and Korea’s intertwined histories. Now Trump, who once derided China as a currency manipulator, has walked back that criticism. Having once threatened trade war, Trump now says he’s offered favorable trade terms to China if they manage to defuse the situation in North Korea, even as satellite images suggest Pyongyang’s preparing another nuclear test.
Hold on to your chapeaux. The French presidential race, already a roller coaster of scandals and unexpected candidates, has seen support for extreme-left contender Jean-Luc Mélanchon surge seven points. Some polls place him ahead of scandal-ridden conservative François Fillon and within striking distance of the front-runners, centrist independent Emmanuel Macron and far-right nationalist Marine Le Pen. He’s also shaking up markets as investors get jittery at the still-remote prospect that France might see a Euroskeptic government under Mélanchon or Le Pen.
No destroying the evidence now. Lawyers for David Dao, the 69-year-old doctor whose violent removal from an overbooked United Airlines flight was viewed by millions online, have filed an emergency court request to force the airline to preserve video recordings, passenger lists and other potential evidence. Dao, who’s still hospitalized, was bumped from his seat in favor of United crew members and was dragged off by police. United CEO Oscar Munoz has apologized and offered refunds to all the flight’s passengers, but insists he won’t be resigning.
Know This: Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first female Muslim judge in the U.S., has been found dead in the Hudson River. President Trump appeared to undercut adviser Steve Bannon this week, giving rise to speculation about Bannon’s job security. And New Zealand’s evacuating coastal areas as it prepares for Cyclone Cook.
Learn This Word: Teleocrater. It’s a Labrador-sized prehistoric animal that for years has flummoxed paleontologists — but now they believe it could tell us more about the evolution of dinosaurs.
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Score one for Melania. The Daily Mail has settled the first lady’s lawsuits in the U.S. and U.K., apologizing and retracting its defamatory allegations about her modeling career and relationship with the president. The tabloid officially apologized for “any distress that our publication caused her,” and will pay reparations, reportedly to the tune of $3 million. Trump originally sought $150 million for the “tremendous harm” caused to her reputation by an article falsely suggesting she’d worked as an escort, but her reps say she’s “very pleased” with the settlement.
Have it their way. Google has apparently stepped in to stop a 15-second Burger King TV ad that commandeered Google Home devices with the question, “OK Google, what is the Whopper burger?” The gimmick tricked users’ voice-activated assistants into reading out the Wikipedia entry for the Whopper. Naturally pranksters were quick to edit the article to include ingredients like “toenail clippings,” “cyanide” and “a medium-sized child.” The fun only lasted three hours before Google stepped in to disable the phrase from triggering its myriad home devices.
The grass is always greener on the other side. With recreational marijuana legal in eight states — and prices subsequently dropping — some dealers are seeking new pastures. It’s one of the original hustles, but as attitudes and laws change, some dealers are adopting the more-risk, more-reward approach of bulk shipping their product across state lines via unwitting mailmen. While that’s considered trafficking, a felony, some are more concerned about the possibility of losing packages in the mail — though they’re still lured by the potential for skyrocketing profits.
He’s not a fan. Arturo Di Modica, who sculpted Wall Street’s iconic “Charging Bull,” is calling for his statue’s feisty new neighbor to be removed, saying she violates his rights and misappropriates his work. “Fearless Girl” has won plaudits as a symbol of defiance against gender inequality, but Di Modica disagrees, saying, “That is not a symbol! That’s an advertising trick!” Mayor Bill de Blasio, who’s said “Fearless Girl” will stay until 2018, responded, “Men who don’t like women taking up space are exactly why we need [her].”
He’s a class act. The legendary Cavs baller, who was raised by a struggling single mom himself, has a history of funding educational programs and scholarships. Now he’s collaborating with parents, community leaders and Akron public schools to open a dedicated school for at-risk students in his hometown. James says the “I Promise School” will be for kids who “fall through the cracks” of the current system. It’ll open in 2018 for children in third and fourth grades, expanding to include grades one through eight by 2022.