They’ve done it once more. North Korea fired another intercontinental ballistic missile, which flew higher and for a longer period than anytime before, claiming it could strike anywhere in the U.S. with a nuclear warhead. Tensions spiked between Washington and Pyongyang earlier this year after a string of missile tests by the militaristic communist regime, accompanied by an alarming war of words between President Donald Trump and the North Korean government. Tuesday’s launch comes a week after Trump officially designated Pyongyang as a state sponsor of terrorism. Trump said it was “a situation that we will handle.”
The Presidential Daily Brief
The future is anyone’s guess. Republicans hoping to pass tax reform in the Senate have to juggle the demands of multiple groups within the party — without losing the support of more than two senators. Several already say they’ll vote “no” without stronger support for so-called “pass-through” businesses, while others are concerned about the Obamacare repeal baked into the current proposal. Meanwhile, analysts say adjustments to the bill have been pushing benefits increasingly toward wealthy Americans, with little hope for amendments designed to help low-income people.
Just the facts, ma’am. The Washington Post says a woman apparently working for the conservative activist group Project Veritas lied to reporters about having an abortion after becoming pregnant at the age of 15 by struggling Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore. Several women have come forward alleging misconduct by Moore, but the paper says this particular woman’s story didn’t check out and was never published. Project Veritas is known for undercover sting operations, including attempts to discredit CNN. Moore will face Democrat Doug Jones in the Dec. 12 Alabama election.
It’s official: He’s back. President Uhuru Kenyatta’s inauguration today saw violent flare-ups after some supporters who didn’t have reserved seats rushed the stadium and were tear-gassed by police. Kenyatta won 98 percent of Kenya’s do-over ballot, though the opposition called for a boycott of that vote after the original election, which Kenyatta also won, was invalidated. Opposition leader Raila Odinga held a rival rally today, which he said was to honor the scores killed in post-election riots — highlighting the national divides Kenyatta must now try to bridge.
It’s anything but business as usual. Last week, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray, an Obama appointee, resigned amid rumors that he’ll run for governor of Ohio. He promoted his deputy, Leandra English, but President Donald Trump had his own pick, Mick Mulvaney, and longtime ambitions to upend the CFPB’s agenda of aggressively fining banks and corporations for transgressions. Mulvaney and English both showed up Monday, and with a federal judge delaying a decision on English’s request for a restraining order against Mulvaney, the legal battle could be lengthy.
Know This: Congressional Democrats backed out of a Tuesday meeting with President Trump about avoiding an government shutdown, citing Trump’s claim via Twitter that he’s unlikely to negotiate. Australian police have arrested a man they suspect of plotting a mass shooting during Melbourne’s New Year’s Eve celebrations. And Syria’s government will begin a new round of peace talks in Geneva today.
Watch This: Native American leaders have called out President Trump after he referred to Sen. Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” during an event honoring Navajo code talkers who served in WWII. Warren responded that it was “deeply unfortunate that the President of the United States cannot even make it through a ceremony honoring these heroes without throwing out a racial slur.”
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It’s a dogma-eat-dog world. After a toddler died of a rabid dog’s bite in Jordan last month, the country’s top religious scholar said killing a dog in self-defense was permissible under Islam. Unfortunately, some Jordanians took that as a fatwa — an Islamic legal decree — to kill all strays. Hundreds of animals have since been poisoned or shot, sparking an international outcry. With Jordan fearing a dip in tourism over the canine massacre, religious leaders are urging people to stop, clarifying, “It is forbidden to kill dogs like this.”
Heads, they win. The world’s leading cryptocurrency is poised to cap its remarkable 1,000 percent rise over the past year by hitting a value of $10,000 per unit. The surge is partly due to leading derivatives exchange operator CME Group announcing it would offer bitcoin futures, and also due to the currency splitting into bitcoin classic and bitcoin cash in August, paving the way for more frequent — and larger — trades. But despite its strong performance, some analysts remain cautious about the lasting power of cryptocurrencies, pointing to their evolution as emerging technologies.
Class can never be dismissed. Though many see powerful private clubs as elitist relics of older generations, some top-tier institutions are changing with the times to appeal to millennials. Exclusivity has always had a draw, and today the clubs also allow connection-starved young people to make friends (while yachting). But even among the elite, only the strong may survive: While overall club membership has declined 20 percent since 1990, the top 10 percent of clubs — buoyed by their still-powerful names — seem to be thriving.
They’re no ordinary couple. The last time a British royal married an American divorcée, it was 1936 and King Edward VIII had to abdicate the throne to do it. But Prince Harry’s impending marriage to Meghan Markle, announced yesterday, has received the royal family’s blessing, a signal that the famously traditional institution is ready to modernize — welcoming a 36-year-old biracial Catholic American into its ranks. Harry has lambasted Britain’s tabloids for their treatment of Markle, replete with racist undertones, but some are continuing to criticize her as “unsuitable.”
Bear with them. The Grizzlies have unexpectedly booted their head coach after hiring him just last season. Although the team was on an eight-game losing streak, some point to friction between Fizdale and team star Marc Gasol, who was benched for the last quarter of the team’s 98-88 loss to the Brooklyn Nets Sunday. LeBron James, who played for Miami when Fizdale was an assistant coach, was incredulous, tweeting, “Feels like my man was a fall guy.” Lead assistant J.B. Bickerstaff has been promoted to interim head coach.