They may have blinked. President Donald Trump has cryptically signaled his intentions toward North Korea, suggesting that Friday’s meeting with military leaders was the “calm before the storm” and tweeting Saturday that “only one thing will work” after Pyongyang’s nuclear agreement violations. Then North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, addressing his ruling party’s central committee, reportedly referred to nuclear weapons as a “powerful deterrent” to preserve sovereignty, while state media said he’d addressed a “complicated international situation” — seemingly de-escalating from direct attack threats and indicating to some that Trump’s brinksmanship isn’t so crazy.
The Presidential Daily Brief
And again. After killing perhaps 25 people in Central America, Category 1 Hurricane Nate made U.S. landfall twice, once late Saturday near the mouth of the Mississippi River in Louisiana, and again near Biloxi, Mississippi, as it moved north on a path toward the Tennessee Valley. Bringing reported storm surge of up to 5 feet to coastal cities, the storm’s expected to weaken as it heads inland. There have been no American casualty reports, but national guardsmen, boats and high-water vehicles were deployed for rescue efforts and to monitor pumping stations in New Orleans.
They’re the loyal opposition. Thousands demonstrated in Madrid Saturday for keeping Catalonia united with Spain in spite of last Sunday’s violence-wracked independence vote, while Spanish officials said they regretted heavy-handed voter suppression. But Catalan leaders appear poised to declare independence, which Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy vowed “will lead to nothing” except perhaps a revocation of the restive region’s autonomy. Meanwhile, Europe’s other independence movements are taking notice, as pro-unity Catalans plan to rally today in Catalonia’s heart, Barcelona, against separation.
We still don’t know why he did it. That’s one unique feature of America’s deadliest single-shooter rampage. Another is the gunman’s long distance from the 58 people he killed, meaning shooting back couldn’t help. Yet another was his use of a “bump stock,” which rigs semi-automatic firearms to fire rapidly — like fully automatic guns civilians can’t legally obtain. Now, in a rare concession amid national outrage, the National Rifle Association has given Congress its blessing to regulate the devices, while a city and nation bury their dead.
He’s taking America back. If they demonstrate “sincerely held” religious objections, for-profit businesses can deny employees medical plans’ birth control coverage under new regulations announced Friday with immediate effect. “No American should be forced to violate his or her own conscience” to comply with health care mandates, a Health and Human Services Department spokesperson said. But advocates of the contraception mandate introduced with Obamacare say preventing childbirth promotes safety and saves money. Civil rights advocates also warn that President Donald Trump’s new religious freedom guidance could enable discrimination against LGBT people.
It’s a recipe for disaster. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s popularity’s near 20 percent, inflation’s nearing 700 percent and his oil-producing nation’s facing economic collapse. So why, after sustained opposition protests, is the government still in power? Facing high-profile failures like Maduro’s replacement of the National Assembly, plus jailing and harassment of opposition leaders, many would-be activists have resigned themselves to the new paradigm. Russia and China are propping the nation up for now, but observers wonder if that will last, and if Venezuelan military leaders’ tolerance will erode into mutiny.
Coincidence? That’s how New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. describes his 2012 decision to stop a fraud investigation into Donald Trump Jr. and sister Ivanka Trump. Buyers complained they’d inflated the success of their Trump SoHo project, but after Donald Trump Sr.’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz, donated $25,000 to Vance’s re-election coffers and met with Vance four months later, the case went away. While Vance returned that money, Kasowitz made a bigger contribution six months later — which Vance, son of former President Jimmy Carter’s secretary of state, now says he’ll also return.
The Week Ahead: President Trump is expected, possibly on Thursday, to decertify the international Iran nuclear development agreement, which allows Congress to vote on canceling it. And on Friday, Major League Baseball begins the American and National League championship series.
Know This: Tiki torch-bearing white supremacists chanting “You will not replace us!” returned to march through Charlottesville, Va., last night. A vehicle crashing into pedestrians in front of London’s Museum of Natural History, injuring 11, raised terror alarms Saturday, but appears to have been an accident. U.S. authorities have announced the arrests of three men in connection with an alleged 2016 terror plot targeting Times Square and the New York City subway system.
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.
Their money’s no good there. Overwhelmed by economic refugees, the European Union has pledged billions of dollars on ambitious — and sometimes hastily implemented — development projects aimed at reducing African migration. While it’s logical that new jobs would keep people at home, research shows that new income actually boosts the exodus by providing enough cash to pay smugglers for a risky trip to Europe. In countries such as Mali, heavily dependent on expat remittances, it’s expected that even if development succeeds, convincing Africans to embrace their local economy will take generations.
Get the most from your post. Major social media networks have made billionaires of their founders thanks to the free content their users generate. But fledgling Steemit actually pays users in digital currency called Steem, which they can trade for real cash. And 18 months after its launch, Steem’s the 21st most valuable cryptocurrency, with market capitalization flirting with $300 million. As enticing as the allure of earning income for curating puppy videos may sound, there’s a risk that Steem’s value will crash, leaving users with less tangible, Facebook-style rewards.
It’s within the law, but beyond the pale. Over 1.5 million adults in the U.S. have guardians, who are expected to act in their best interest. Before family members assume that burden, professional guardians like April Parks sometimes jump in — with no input from relatives. In hearings lasting a few minutes, a Nevada court gave Parks total control over hundreds of elderly adults, whose property she sold while billing their estates for her services. She’s facing charges, but reforming laws that enable predatory guardianship remains mired in family courts’ secrecy and authorities’ reluctance to investigate.
Does this old drink need a new vibe? Carin Luna-Ostaseski was a San Francisco app developer when she tasted her first 14-year-old Oban. It was love at first sip, and after a Kickstarter campaign and a meeting with a master blender in Scotland, she’s now the CEO of SIA Scotch Whisky and the first American woman to blend her own successful scotch. And with SIA beating Oban 14 in this year’s Ultimate Spirits Challenge, she’s well on her way to infusing “modern, sexy appeal” into a stodgy old spirit.
Time to catch our breath. Aaron Judge’s rookie season with the Yankees has been phenomenal. What do you get with a rookie record 52 home runs and 114 RBIs? You get an unprecedented 208 strikeouts during a 37-game early-summer slump that tied another record. And just as he was written off, he blasted 15 round-trippers in September to propel his dormant Bombers back into the postseason, where the team’s haters hope the strikeout king — who figured in Thursday’s loss to Cleveland — is the Judge who shows up.