It has begun. The grand jury investigating possible collusion with Russian election meddling has reportedly filed charges, although who’s facing them hasn’t surfaced. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible collusion is also looking into other alleged misdeeds, so the charges may stem from alleged attempts to impede investigators or financial improprieties, rather than collusion. There’s been no White House response, but President Donald Trump, whose Justice Department would have been notified, tweeted yesterday that it was “commonly agreed … there was NO collusion.” Authorities reportedly plan to arrest those charged as early as Monday.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The lines are drawn. Catalonia’s parliament on Friday declared independence — a move that prompted the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to dismiss Catalan officials, including President Carles Puigdemont. The formerly autonomous region was put under the control of Rajoy’s deputy, and new elections were set for Dec. 21 to “restore democracy,” Rajoy said. The E.U., Britain, Germany and the United States have declared support for Spanish unity, and while Puigdemont urged jubilant crowds in Barcelona to remain peaceful Friday, many worry that Spain’s efforts to wrest control of Catalonia will result in violence.
Silver, Gold or nothing? As Congress struggles to come up with solutions and as health care markets reel from President Donald Trump’s cuts to Obamacare, Nov. 1 looms. That’s the start of the six-week period when millions of Americans must enroll for 2018 or go uninsured. In addition to cutting funding for advertising of the sign-up period, Trump also slashed cost-sharing subsidies that helped insurers contain rates. Oddly, it means Gold plans, with better coverage, will sometimes cost less than Silver plans, but 60 percent of enrollees don’t know their time’s running out.
Coverup: Suppresses noxious regulations. A series of documents released for a lawsuit against the U.S. agrochemical corporation Monsanto indicate its previously undisclosed awareness of potential harm caused by its signature weed killer, Roundup. The suit, stemming from expert claims that the chemical causes cancer, accuses the company of concealing risks of Roundup’s active ingredient, glyphosate — the world’s most ubiquitous herbicide. The revelation is expected to cloud European Union deliberations on renewing permission to use glyphosate in Europe for another 10 years, as well as German multinational Bayer’s efforts to acquire its American competitor.
“Do not underestimate the UNITY,” he tweeted. President Trump’s critics celebrated the scathing remarks of retiring Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker against the chief executive this week, but those takedowns only go so far, argues political writer Ryan Lizza. The majority of GOP lawmakers still owe their future nominations to a Republican electorate wedded to Trump’s brand of combative nationalism. Unless Trump’s conservative detractors coordinate clear, bipartisan challenges — or convince colleagues to join the anti-Trump movement — their opprobrium will likely do little to break the president’s firewall of partisan loyalty.
The Week Ahead: On Monday, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on renewing the president’s Congressional authorization for the use of force against terror organizations. Digital giants Facebook, Google and Twitter will testify Wednesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the influence of social media on elections and Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential contest. And President Trump kicks off his first official trip to Asia on Friday, including China and the Philippines.
Know This: U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis met with officials in Seoul on Saturday, where he accused North Korea of speeding up the threat of nuclear war. Analysis of CIA files on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy has turned up few answers for conspiracy theorists, but plenty of other revelations. Deadly violence continues in the wake of Thursday’s re-run of Kenya’s election, which opposition voters boycotted and all but guaranteed President Uhuru Kenyatta a second term.
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Is the enemy us? After Hillary Clinton’s shocking defeat, one center-left think tank set about visiting swing states like Wisconsin and mining voters’ minds. Surely, there were common aspirations that united people on both sides of America’s grim political divide, and they set out to find them. Instead, they got an existential gut punch: The divisions were personal, such as union workers hating their Trump-voting brethren, and the old hating “lazy” youths. And yet, inexplicably, these aspiring cultural anthropologists found hope of uniting people — by reaffirming the centrism they’d always promoted.
They’re fighting for their lives. With an estimated 12,000 Russian women being killed annually, often by husbands and lovers, few abuse survivors are brave enough to speak out. Thanks to the conservative country’s flourishing internet culture, those who do are quickly attacked by trolls eager to make their lives a living hell. But some, like journalist Anna Zhavnerovich, are nonetheless going public with their stories, helping other victims cope. With a government that nurtures digital bullying and has effectively decriminalized domestic abuse, these women know they have only each other to turn to.
Nothing gets past him. A veteran Democratic Party fundraiser, “Yashar,” as he identifies himself, has taken journalism by storm, microblogging on politics, entertainment and the media. Also writing for magazines, the 37-year-old enigma is known for being both informative and entertaining. From George W. Bush snarking over President Donald Trump’s inaugural address to how FBI Director James Comey learned he’d been fired — Yashar broke it. Now, editors are looking to court the freelancing hotshot, an exposé subject is suing him and his followers are dying to see his next scoop.
It pays to think inside the box. One of many YouTube subgenres, unboxing literally features people unpacking boxes and reacting to various products. It’s netting some of these first-sight critics millions of views per video and tens of thousands of dollars a year. Even venture capitalists are getting in on it, with startup Packagd raising $6 million. Some attribute the rise of unboxing to the parallel growth of subscription box services, but some viewers are questioning the ethics of vendors and carton-cutters collaborating to make bank off those eyeballs.
Los Angeles fans could kiss him. With 28 home runs going into the postseason and shenanigans that include smooching coaches and flipping, even licking, bats, Yasiel Puig, 26, is already a World Series darling. But his journey hasn’t all been fun and games. It took four tries and “help” from a drug cartel to get him out of Cuba. And then came a slump for the $42 million outfielder in 2015 and 2016. After this year’s turnaround, his antics are again tolerated — as long as the hits keep coming.