He’s kicking it up another notch. Two days after lashing out at North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, calling him “Rocket Man” and threatening to “totally destroy” his country, President Donald Trump said he’s putting further economic pressure on the militaristic regime. Today, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin formally announced an executive order by Trump taking aim at individuals and financial entities that trade with Pyongyang. “Tolerance for this disgraceful practice must end now,” Trump told reporters. In a rare public statement, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un described Trump as “deranged” and said he will “pay dearly” for his threats against the country.
The Presidential Daily Brief
As for what happens next, they’re in the dark. After Hurricane Maria rampaged across the island, the U.S. territory’s 3.5 million residents are totally without electricity. The storm, which caused one confirmed death on the island and dumped 20 inches of rain, was the strongest to directly hit Puerto Rico since 1932. With cell towers and weather stations obliterated by 155-mph winds, authorities can only guess at the extent of the wind and flood damage. Hurricane Maria, now a Category 2, is moving on toward the Dominican Republic and the Bahamas.
The buck stops there. Special Counsel Robert Mueller has reportedly requested documents relating to President Trump’s time in the White House — his firing of high-level staffers and a meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office in particular — as part of the probe into potential collusion with Russia. Trump’s lawyers say the White House is cooperating with the investigation. The document requests so far don’t indicate that Mueller is delving into the president’s personal finances or business dealings, which Trump has demanded stay secret.
Hope, and time, are in short supply. Rescuers, parents and untrained volunteers continue to dig through the ruins of Enrique Rebsamen school, finding the bodies of at least 25 children and four adults who were inside when the building collapsed. Several children have been rescued from the rubble and more are believed to still be alive. President Enrique Peña Nieto declared three days of mourning for the 237 confirmed victims of Tuesday’s 7.1 earthquake. Meanwhile, some question whether supplies and rescuers are reaching Mexico City’s poorest neighborhoods.
Haters gonna hate … but nobody needs to help them. A ProPublica report last week revealed that Facebook was allowing advertisers to target demographics like “Jew haters” to reach users interested in anti-Semitic subjects. COO Sheryl Sandberg called the feature “a fail on our part” and indicated that the company didn’t know it was an option until the report was released because the categories had been generated by an unsupervised algorithm. Facebook says it has disabled those features and has promised to add “more human review” to ad targeting processes.
Know This: Congressional Republicans will vote on their latest attempt to repeal Obamacare next week. The Federal Reserve says it’ll start to pull back on measures instituted to shore up the economy in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. And President Trump’s nominee for deputy U.S. trade representative appears to have voted illegally, calling the GOP focus on voter fraud into question.
Peace in Our Time: Russia has unveiled a statue honoring Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the AK-47, in Moscow.
Tune In: OZY and WGBH have teamed up to create a fabulous new show for PBS, Third Rail With OZY. The show tapes every Friday in NYC in front of a live studio audience. Want to get in on the action? Sign up here. We’re also hosting a watch party this Friday, Sept. 22, at Spreadhouse. RSVP here to attend!
It was an old-fashioned caper. Gilbert “Toby” Curtsinger, the alleged ringleader of a gang that stole 40 cases of top-shelf bourbon, 28 bottles of prize Pappy Van Winkle and whole barrels of Wild Turkey, entered a guilty plea yesterday in Kentucky. Curtsinger, who once worked at the Buffalo Trace distillery loading docks, is accused of illegally distributing pilfered whiskey, joined by members of his amateur softball team. He could face 15 years in prison for the crime. Meanwhile, authorities say the recovered bourbon may need to be destroyed.
So close, and yet sofa. The Swedish furniture giant, perhaps concerned that decorating a house isn’t enough like playing Pokemon Go, has used Apple’s new iOS 11 augmented reality developer ARKit to create the Ikea Place app. Users can beam images of more than 2,000 different products straight into their living rooms — or onto the sidewalk, or into the bathtub — for measuring purposes. While other home stores have similar apps, they don’t work on most phones, which could turn Ikea Place into furniture shopping’s technological game changer.
Will they go nuclear? With the nuke-friendly Trump administration in place, the U.S. government is again advancing 30-year-old plans for a national nuclear waste repository deep in Yucca Mountain, near Las Vegas. Nevada citizens and politicians have long fought the project, but the most powerful voices in the battle may prove to be Native Americans, frustrated by fears of contamination. As plans move forward, some think this will become a Native-led protest along the lines of the Standing Rock movement against the Dakota Access Pipeline.
They’re singing her praises. From the gilded buzzer to an overall win, 12-year-old singing ventriloquist Darci Lynne Farmer wowed the judges and viewers in season 12 of America’s Got Talent. Some 52 million voters participated, crowning Farmer — armed with her puppet Petunia — the champion of the televised talent show. Judge Simon Cowell predicted her win earlier this year after the voice artist performed “With a Little Help From My Friends” as a puppet duet. Farmer takes home $1 million and will headline Las Vegas shows Nov. 3-4.
He was a class act. LaMotta, the real-life fighter behind Martin Scorsese’s classic film Raging Bull, died Tuesday from complications due to pneumonia. He was 95 years old. Born in the Bronx to Italian immigrants, LaMotta was a middleweight fighter who was known to be both aggressive and resilient, battling fellow boxing great Sugar Ray Robinson six times, but only beating him once. He was immortalized on-screen by Robert De Niro, who won an Oscar for the legendary 1981 film based on LaMotta’s 1970 memoir.