Nobody’s backing down. The Hermit Kingdom conducted a large-scale live-fire exercise today, while policymakers from Japan, South Korea and the U.S. gathered in Tokyo to discuss the situation. An American submarine also docked in South Korea, and though the U.S. says it’s a routine stop, tensions continue to ratchet up, with many worried Pyongyang could try another missile test soon. Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has called the entire U.S. Senate for a briefing tomorrow on the situation with North Korea, a highly unusual move.
The Presidential Daily Brief
EU can bet on him. The euro has soared after the first round of French elections, with investors reassured that pro-Europe centrist Emmanuel Macron is in the running for the presidency. Meanwhile, far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, who wants France to leave the eurozone, has temporarily stepped down as leader of her National Front party. It’s seen as a bid to widen her appeal and escape the shadow of the party’s deeply anti-Semitic history. Macron is currently expected to win on May 7 by more than 20 percentage points.
Some are calling it “the robbery of the century.” Yesterday in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, dozens of gunmen believed to be from a massive Brazilian gang blew up the front of a private security firm and took as much as $40 million. They fired on police, sparking a two-hour shoot-out that left one officer dead, then fled to Brazil via stolen armored trucks and boats. Police intercepted a small group of them in Brazil, killing three and arresting four. Cross-border operations are now underway to capture the rest.
They’re racing against the clock. Arkansas executed convicted murderers Jack Jones and Marcel Williams on Monday, marking the first double execution by any U.S. state in almost 17 years. Lawyers for both had argued that the inmates’ obesity lessened the effectiveness of sedatives, rendering the procedure inhumane and unconstitutional, but were denied. After 12 years without an execution, expiring lethal injection drugs rushed Arkansas into scheduling eight prisoners’ deaths in just 11 days. Four of those are now on court-ordered hold, but another inmate is scheduled to be killed on Thursday.
Know This: Three more people have died during demonstrations in Venezuela, bringing the death toll of recent anti-government protests to 24. A scientist has accidentally discovered that wax moth larvae eat plastic — which could have big implications for fighting pollution. And in his first major public appearance since his term ended, former President Barack Obama told young people to get involved in politics.
Remember This Number: 15 percent. That’s the corporate tax rate President Trump reportedly wants in his tax cut plan that’ll be unveiled this week. It’s currently 35 percent, and the slash could cause a shortfall that may be unpalatable to congressional Republicans.
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There is such thing as bad publicity. Watchdogs, lawmakers and former White House ethics officials were all part of the outcry over a blog post detailing the history of President Trump’s for-profit, members-only Mar-a-Lago resort. The plug appeared on U.S. embassy websites and the State Department’s ShareAmerica site. Calling Mar-a-Lago “the winter White House,” it amounted, critics say, to taxpayer-funded self-promotion prohibited by ethics rules. The State Department has since removed the post and apologized for “any misperception.”
Citations are desperately needed. In response to the fake news phenomenon, Jimmy Wales has announced the launch of an independent news service: Wikitribune. By using the “fact-based, fact-checking mentality that we know from Wikipedia,” Wales says his volunteer contributors will support a team of 10 professional reporters, crowdfunded by monthly supporters. The venture aims for maximum transparency, which Wales calls “kryptonite to false information.” Wikitribune, which will launch in English but plans to add other languages in the future, will be free to users and not ad-supported.
Think of the children. A new report from Lambda Legal, Children’s Rights and the Center for the Study of Social Policy shows the U.S. isn’t adequately protecting LGBT and gender nonconforming youth. Almost half of young homeless people identify as LGBT, compared to 5-7 percent of the general population. Meanwhile, only 27 states have explicit nondiscrimination policies in the child welfare system, and safeguards in the juvenile justice system and youth homeless shelters are even rarer. Researchers are demanding that states do more to protect vulnerable young people.
You gotta spend money to make … TV shows. The online streaming giant hopes to raise just over $1 billion from non-U.S. sources, a debt offering that’ll help keep the company afloat as it budgets a small fortune — $6 billion in 2017 alone, one of the entertainment industry’s biggest budgets — to fund its slate of original movies and shows. Presumably the plan is to attract enough new subscribers to eventually make up the difference, and with shares up 15 percent it seems Wall Street may take the gamble.
They call her the “miracle from Chandigarh.” Man Kaur charmed the crowd at the World Masters Games in Auckland yesterday as she completed her 100-meter dash in just 1 minute, 14 seconds to claim her 17th career gold medal. As the only competitor in the centenarian age group, Kaur’s victory may have been a foregone conclusion, but her enthusiasm and dedication were inspirational. The 101-year-old, who began her track and field career at age 93, will also compete in the 200-meter sprint, shot put and javelin.