It was a Tuesday night massacre. The former FBI Director told lawmakers he asked the Justice Department for more resources for investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 election in the days leading up to his firing, although the Department denies the allegation. In a shock move reportedly preceded by anger over the Russia probe, President Donald Trump said he fired Comey because he “wasn’t doing a good job.” Politicians from both parties have criticized the “Nixonian” move, and many are calling for a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation.
The Presidential Daily Brief
He’s willing to come to the table. Leftist Moon Jae-in, who won 41.4 percent of the vote yesterday in a contest that saw the highest turnout from Korean voters in 20 years, has now been sworn in. Moon, the son of North Korean refugees, said in his first speech as president that he’s willing to visit Pyongyang in his quest to build peace on a peninsula that’s seen tensions rise over recent weeks. He also vowed to tackle corruption, which toppled his impeached predecessor, Park Geun-hye.
“You can’t be in the same sack as terrorist organizations.” So said Turkey’s deputy prime minister as he condemned President Trump’s decision to arm Kurdish troops in Syria. The Kurdish YPG militia is currently fighting ISIS, and American military officials have long advocated sending weapons to help them recapture Raqqa. But that’s a red line for Ankara, which views the YPG as an extension of outlawed Kurdish separatist groups. Turkey says it hopes the U.S. will “turn back” the policy and focus on training and arming Syrian rebels instead.
This is the moment of truth. Snap Inc. was valued at $30 billion when it went public in March, but Facebook’s essentially declared war on the company since then, launching its own versions of Snapchat’s popular features for Facebook’s massive user base. Snapchat’s also seen minor scandals that have sullied its reputation. Today’s posting of its first quarterly numbers as a public company will be keenly watched in Silicon Valley — particularly stats on user growth, which may have been dented by the craze for copycat Instagram Stories.
Know This: President Trump is scheduled to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House today. Marion Maréchal-Le Pen, long expected to follow in her aunt Marine Le Pen’s footsteps as an ultranationalist leader, has instead announced she’s quitting politics. And a tunnel collapsed at a nuclear power plant in Washington state, but officials say no radiation was released.
Hopeful Words: “For the first time, I can see a future for myself as Chelsea.” So said Chelsea Manning, currently in military prison for releasing U.S. state secrets to Wikileaks, in an emotional statement to supporters a week before her scheduled release.
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He didn’t bawk at a challenge. Carter Wilkerson, 16, has set a new bar for the most retweeted tweet of all time, surpassing the 3.43 million record held by Ellen DeGeneres. On April 5, Wilkerson asked Wendy’s how many retweets he’d need to win a year’s supply of free chicken nuggets. Wendy’s replied “18 million.” He hasn’t made that (yet), but Wendy’s says breaking the record is enough for them to donate $100,000 to The Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption — and a year’s supply of chicken to Wilkerson.
There’s been a lot of nuclear waste. Just a few years ago, private sector partnerships promised to galvanize America’s nuclear industry, which hoped for a renaissance in the Southeast. But amid an unexpected drop in electricity demand and falling petroleum prices, new facilities have been delayed and older plants have struggled, even with friendly legislators easing the way. Now, as utilities jack up prices to pay for such projects, angry Americans are growing more pessimistic about nuclear power’s future, and some experts say that could portend cooling global interest in the alternative energy source.
Who ya gonna call? Paleontologists from Toronto’s Royal Ontario Museum took one look at the spiky, horned skull of a newly discovered dinosaur and knew just what to call it: Zuul. But despite Zuul crurivastator’s striking resemblance to the famous demon-dog creature from the original 1984 Ghostbusters movie, the heavily armored 75-million-year-old ankylosaurid was an herbivore — not that it couldn’t still pack a punch. Its species name, crurivastator, literally means “shin destroyer,” a reference to the 5,500-pound beast’s spiked and clubbed tail.
No more getting lost in translation. Tools that automatically convert one language into another already exist, but the social network says its new prototype will do the job nine times faster using a machine learning method known as convolutional neural networks (CNNs) instead of the current standard, recurrent neural networks (RNNs). The new technology hasn’t been implemented yet, but Facebook, which is open-sourcing its translation research, hopes to roll it out once the company builds an extensive glossary of multilingual slang to keep up with the world’s online colloquialisms.
But he will not shoot for deputy. Hall of Famer Shaquille O’Neal has announced his plans to run for sheriff in 2020, highlighting his ability to run a team. The 15-time All-Star acknowledged his relative inexperience in law enforcement but told an Atlanta TV station, “This is not about politics for me.” Instead he says he wants to help bring people “closer together.” O’Neal holds residency in Florida and in Georgia, where he’s an honorary deputy in Clayton County, but he didn’t clarify exactly where he plans to run for office.