That was awkward. In a hastily called press conference today, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters he’d never intended to quit his post, though he also declined to say whether he’d ever called President Donald Trump a “moron.” Both claims had been reported by NBC News, and are only the latest explosive allegations to have been leveled against a famously chaotic administration. Praising Trump as “smart” and result-oriented, Tillerson slammed what he said were attempts to stoke dissent. A State Department spokesperson later denied the country’s top diplomat called his boss a “moron.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
They’re hoping for answers. Marilou Danley, 62, was traveling in the Philippines when her boyfriend, Stephen Paddock, opened fire on a Las Vegas music festival and killed 59 people. Now Danley, a “person of interest” in the case, has returned to the U.S. and spoken with investigators trying to ascertain Paddock’s motive. In a statement read by her lawyer she was said to have had no idea the massacre was coming and saw no warnings in Paddock’s behavior. Meanwhile, Clark County Sheriff Joseph Lombardo said he believes Paddock likely did not act alone.
He was only there for four hours. But in that time President Donald Trump, whose response to the plight of storm-devastated Puerto Rico has been widely excoriated, told residents they should be “very proud” of the low death toll compared to the “literally thousands” killed in 2005 by “real catastrophe” Hurricane Katrina. That storm killed 1,800, while 34 died in Puerto Rico during Hurricane Maria. Trump later told Fox News the U.S. territory’s $70 billion debt should be “wiped out,” though he provided no further details.
It’s a battle royale. King Felipe VI rarely speaks publicly, but he appeared on TV Tuesday night to denounce Catalonia’s independence movement, saying local officials “have tried to break the unity of Spain.” He called on the national government to restore order amid a general strike in Catalonia, where shops and transport shuttered to protest police violence against would-be voters in Sunday’s referendum. Meanwhile, Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont said his government will act on the independence referendum by the beginning of next week, no matter the consequences.
What’s worse than a billion hacked accounts? The other 2 billion that weren’t disclosed. Yahoo’s new owner, Verizon, revealed that the massive hack four years ago, already the biggest ever, was three times as extensive as previously claimed, affecting every user account. While all Yahoo users were already forced to reset their passwords, the hackers — who investigators believe were linked to Russia — now have their birth dates, names, phone numbers and security questions. At least three buyers have reportedly purchased the stolen data on the dark web.
Know This: After Supreme Court arguments yesterday, some think Justice Anthony Kennedy could cast the deciding vote to let courts restrain politically motivated gerrymandering. Text messages suggest Pennsylvania’s Rep. Tim Murphy, a staunchly anti-abortion Republican, encouraged his mistress to terminate her pregnancy. And a Mexican university conference on feminism is under fire for featuring 11 panelists — all of whom are male.
Read This: The story of Jedidiah Brown, a 30-year-old minister who almost committed suicide on Facebook Live, points up the emotional toll taken on young activists in 2017.
They don’t have the energy. Scotland’s government has permanently extended its moratorium on the extraction of oil and gas from shale rock, known as fracking, after years of protests. While the practice has revolutionized the U.S. fuel industry, opponents argue that it contaminates water and air, as well as sparking earthquakes. In his announcement yesterday, Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse told Parliament the ban would cost Scotland a mere 0.1 percent of its annual GDP. Environmental groups lauded the ban, but deep-pocketed petrochemical companies are expected to challenge the decision.
This isn’t business as usual. From chair-lifts to boats to bar stools, entrepreneurs looking for investors are seeking unconventional settings, leaving boardrooms — and Silicon Valley — behind. Adrenaline-infused events like Peak Pitch (on the slopes) and Road Pitch (on motorcycles), put a Shark Tank twist on the process of luring investors. Others take the pitch on the road, touring up-and-coming cities to invest in local startups. But it’s not clear if the pizazz of the setting actually has an effect on the bottom line.
Let the space-time roll. The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded yesterday to U.S. scientists Rainer Weiss, Barry Barish and Kip Thorne for their work detecting ripples in space-time caused by gravity, as predicted by Albert Einstein’s 1916 theory of relativity. A century later, the team of physicists, who’d been working on the problem for decades, managed to detect gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes. Barish described the waves as “another way to look at the universe” that will lead to “some enormous surprises.”
“It risks being misunderstood.” So said the Paris museum’s director, Jean-Luc Martinez, as the Louvre backpedaled on displaying a 40-foot tall brutalist sculpture that resembles two buildings having sex. Domestikator, designed by the Atelier Van Lieshout collective, was meant to go on display in the Tuileries Garden on Oct. 19 as part of the Fiac contemporary art fair. Some pointed out that the Louvre already displays plenty of nude sculptures and paintings, while the collective’s founder protested that the abstract Domestikator is “pretty innocent.”
He’s driving in the left lane. NASCAR has a reputation as a bastion of white, rural conservatism, but Earnhardt Jr., voted Most Popular Driver for the last 14 years, has broken from the pack. He responded to the controversy over kneeling NFL players with a tweeted quote from John F. Kennedy supporting peaceful protests, and he’s also condemned white supremacists in Charlottesville and ubiquitous Confederate flags at races. But with Earnhardt Jr. retiring in just seven weeks, it’s unlikely he’ll steer NASCAR into a new political lane.