They took ill. Britain’s National Health Service became the canary in the digital coal mine Friday, as yet-unknown hackers unleased a global assault on Windows-equipped computers. Email-delivered WannaCry ransomware, linked to U.S. National Security Agency cybertools that hackers released last month, caused the service to turn away some patients. Tens of thousands of computers in nearly 100 nations were hit, and some owners reportedly paid Bitcoin ransoms to unlock their data. But by this morning, security measures and the chance legitimate activation of a hijacked domain had blunted the virus’ spread.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The plot thickens. President Donald Trump, who previously said expert recommendations led him to fire FBI Director James Comey, now says he was always planning to do it. He claimed Comey had asked him to dinner in January and assured him he wasn’t under investigation. But FBI officials disputed that account, saying the White House initiated the meeting and that Trump demanded loyalty from Comey — who said he could only offer “honesty.” Trump now says he wants to accelerate the Russia investigation, despite calling it a “made-up story.”
This is way more than the usual suspects. U.S. immigration officials have arrested hundreds of people over the past six weeks, the majority of which were allegedly affiliated with criminal gangs — meaning they’d admitted to being a member of a gang, had been identified by a “reliable” source or had gang-related tattoos. Of those arrested, 933 were U.S. citizens and 238 had no gang affiliation but were arrested on separate charges. Calling street gangs “the biggest threat facing our communities,” ICE’s acting director added, “We are not done.”
Victory is complicated. As French President-elect Emmanuel Macron prepares to take office on Sunday, his nascent party, Republic on the Move, has announced 428 of its candidates for June’s legislative elections — which will determine much of Macron’s influence during his presidential term. Half of the party’s candidates are women, and 52 percent have never held political office. Macron, a centrist and former member of the Socialist Party, has also said he’s willing to work with the country’s mainstream parties on the left and right, noting he’s “not closing any doors.”
Bring on the beef. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross described the deal as “a new high” for China-U.S. relations, but others are skeptical of the lasting power of President Xi Jinping’s promises to President Trump. According to the 10-part agreement, China will allow American beef imports and credit ratings companies, while the U.S. welcomes China’s cooked poultry. American officials — though not the president — will spend the weekend in Beijing at a summit on Chinese foreign policy as ties between the world’s two biggest economies continue to warm.
Know This: The EU has demanded urgent meetings over the possibility of a laptop ban on flights from Europe to the U.S., saying information about imminent threats must be shared. Jared Kushner’s sister has pulled out of corporate presentations in China after criticism for playing up her connections to the White House. And J.K. Rowling’s 800-word Harry Potter prequel, handwritten on a postcard and auctioned off nine years ago, has been stolen in a burglary.
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It’s good to be king. In Thailand, criticizing the monarchy is illegal — and now authorities say Facebook has until Tuesday to remove 131 posts deemed illegal by courts, including some that denigrate Thai royals. Facebook has already removed 178 of the 309 posts on the court’s blacklist, and it’s not clear why the rest remain online. But legal experts caution that if Facebook continues to refuse, authorities may decide a complete ban on the site, Thailand’s most popular social network, is the only way to remove offensive content.
It’s got a lot of atmosphere. An international team of astronomers analyzing exoplanet HAT-P-26b, about 430 light years away, says its atmosphere contains far more hydrogen and helium and fewer heavier elements than expected, with swirling water molecules and scattered clouds. Unlike Earth, its clouds aren’t water vapor: HAT-P-26b’s equilibrium temperature is more than 1,340 degrees Fahrenheit, and it orbits its nearby star every 4.2 days. Astronomers hope its anomalies could be a “big breakthrough” in our understanding of how planets and atmospheres form.
There’s more to football than the ball. While the social media platform couldn’t beat Amazon’s $50 million bid to broadcast Thursday Night Football, it’s signed a multiyear deal with the NFL to feature live programming — but not games. The Twitter audience can tune in for live broadcasts featuring highlights, breaking news and commentary five nights a week during the season, plus prime-time pregame content and other official NFL videos. Though it may keep football fans engaged, it’s undeniably a downgrade from Twitter’s deal to broadcast games last season.
But the book contracts will be money. Billy McFarland, 25-year-old founder of the calamitous Fyre Festival, told his dozen employees last week that they wouldn’t be getting paid for their past two weeks of work. He also didn’t fire them, a move that would have allowed them to collect unemployment benefits, but said they were welcome to continue working for free. Many employees reportedly quit en masse. McFarland and his partner Ja Rule are facing a slew of lawsuits, including a $100 million class action suit.
#NeverGiveUp. An unfortunate golfer who identified himself as a pro when he signed up for a U.S. Open qualifier at the Silver Lakes course in Glencoe, Alabama, wound up tapping in on the final hole at 55 shots above par for the day. Clifton McDonald, one of 9,485 people vying to qualify, finished in last place, with what the Alabama Golf Association said was, bar none, the highest score it had seen in any qualifying event. McDonald will not be competing in June’s U.S. Open in Wisconsin.