The results are in. Democrat Ralph Northam won the Virginia governor’s election as fellow party member Phil Murphy won in New Jersey. The races were closely watched by both parties looking for a snapshot of the political landscape before the 2018 midterm elections. In Virginia it was a war of populist messages on illegal immigration and social issues against hopes to unite those dissatisfied with President Donald Trump’s first year in office. “Ed Gillespie worked hard but did not embrace me or what I stand for,” tweeted Trump after the Republican’s loss.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Bureaucratic errors can be deadly. Devin Kelley, the suspected shooter in the Texas church massacre that killed 26 people Sunday, shouldn’t have been able to buy a gun due to his criminal record. But the Air Force, which discharged Kelley for assaulting his wife and child, failed to record that information in the correct database. As a result, Kelley passed federal background checks and legally purchased guns — including a semi-automatic rifle. According to a police report, he’d also escaped from a mental hospital in 2012 after being caught trying to sneak guns onto an Air Force base.
“Ultimately it will all work out. Because it always works out.” So said President Donald Trump, visiting an American military base in South Korea today, before announcing that Seoul will pay the U.S. billions for military equipment to defend itself against Kim Jong Un’s nuclear threats. Trump also revealed that a nuclear submarine is positioned to intervene in case of conflict with North Korea. He advised Kim to “come to the table,” while South Korean President Moon Jae-in urged Russia and China to exert pressure on Pyongyang.
Speech is under attack. Shamshad TV, a private Pashto-language broadcaster in the Afghan capital that produces news and other programs, was set upon by three attackers on Tuesday who detonated explosives before entering the building. A security guard was killed and 20 others wounded, but the defiant staff went back on air just hours after the attack. ISIS has already claimed responsibility. Afghanistan is one of the world’s most dangerous countries for journalists: Last year seven were killed in a single Taliban-led suicide attack.
Normally it’s the fox that eats the mouse. But Walt Disney Co. reportedly held recent negotiations to buy most of Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox empire, including its Twentieth Century Fox studio and cable networks FX and National Geographic Channel. Such a deal could reshape the global media landscape, leaving mogul Murdoch to focus on sports, commentary and news. Both companies’ shares rose as the news broke, though any potential deal would be subject to close scrutiny from regulators as a serious consolidation of the media market.
Know This: Silvio Berlusconi’s conservative Forza Italia has won a major victory in Italian regional elections in Sicily. The Paradise Papers have revealed how Apple appears to be sidestepping tax obligations. And Virginia and New Jersey go to the polls today to choose new governors.
Remember This Number: 26. That’s the number of migrant women between the ages of 14 and 18 found dead by Italian officials in the Mediterranean Sea. Investigators are wondering why the dead were all together and all female — and if they may have been purposefully killed.
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“Keep your eyes open.” So read a mysterious note posted to Reddit predicting the Paradise Papers leak 16 days before the massive data dump exposed 1.4 terabytes worth of dirt on the world’s wealthy elite. Using the now-deleted account PanPthrowaway, the author left hints — like singling out U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who was later found to be financially tied to Kremlin cronies — to prove he or she wasn’t lying. Some, however, have criticized the move as a ploy for publicity that could have compromised the investigation.
Sound the alarm. New figures released by German police show that refugee shelters still come under near-daily attack, two years after Chancellor Angela Merkel offered sanctuary to more than 1 million migrants in need. Most of the incidents, which range from arson and other property damage to physical violence, are chalked up to far-right groups. In the first nine months of 2017, authorities recorded 211 xenophobic attacks — far fewer than the 1,031 recorded in 2015, but still dramatically higher than attacks against refugees before the crisis.
They’re sowing the seeds of hope. An average of 34 Indian farmers commit suicide every day, mostly due to financial worries. But several tech-oriented initiatives have sprung up across the country with the common goal of curbing those numbers. With apps that provide up-to-date, personalized and accurate data about crops, weather and market prices, developers hope that filling the information gap can alleviate farmers’ stress. Despite contending with low rural internet penetration and access to smartphones, they’re hoping technology can be a fertile field for change.
Look what you made her do. The ACLU’s Northern California chapter is set to defend blogger Meghan Herning, who wrote an essay on Swift’s lyrics and their appeal to the alt-right for a small pop culture blog. Swift’s legal team not only demanded she take the “defamatory” post down, but ordered her not to publicize their demand. The ACLU’s statement noted that “criticism is never pleasant, but a celebrity has to shake it off” — and now the lawsuit may make more headlines, especially with Swift’s Reputation set to drop Friday.
Is he the next big thing? Although many New York Knicks fans openly booed Porzingis when he was drafted in 2015 — burned in the past by European prospects that performed disappointingly stateside — the 7-foot-3, 22-year-old Latvian has won them over. On the court “The Unicorn” is only getting better, averaging 30.2 points per game, making half of all his shots and nearly 37 percent of three-pointers. Between his giant size, shooting skills and earnest, goofy personality, some are predicting he’ll be the NBA’s next superstar.