“Firestorm” metaphors would be inappropriate. After North Korea’s Wednesday launch of an ICBM with global reach, it seemed President Donald Trump’s fortunes couldn’t get more dismal. Then British Prime Minister Theresa May called out the president Thursday for retweeting inflammatory anti-Muslim videos, risking estrangement between the staunchest of allies. And on Friday, it got worse: Ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his Kremlin contacts — part of a deal to cooperate with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in U.S. elections.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Now there’s time to read it. After a string of Republican legislative disappointments, all but one GOP senator voted to pass a sweeping tax overhaul, 51-49, early today, after Republicans wrestled over last-minute changes to its 500 pages into the night to satisfy holdouts. The result permanently cuts corporate taxes from 35 to 20 percent and provides temporary cuts for about 70 percent of middle class families. Now the House and Senate must reconcile their different bills in a joint committee, and both chambers vote again before the bill goes to the president.
He, he and he too. As the list of famous men accused and stripped of their professional ties gets longer, more women have come forward with sexual misconduct cases. On Thursday, award-winning playwright Israel Horovitz left his Massachusetts theater company when confronted with allegations, while his son, Beastie Boys rapper Ad-Rock, said he believed the women. And details continue to emerge about fired NBC host Matt Lauer’s alleged misconduct, including giving a sex toy to a subordinate — with instructions. Meanwhile, Rep. Ruben Kihuen, D-Nev., faces high-level resignation demands after a staffer’s allegation.
It’s a lost paradise. Lake Chad, once the life spring of the Sahel region touching Chad, Cameroon, Nigeria and Niger, has been anything but since the 1970s. Drought and disease came as colonial borders split communities and authoritarian leaders rose to power. Then came Boko Haram in 2015, stoking war that’s scorched the diminishing lake’s islands, creating the world’s most complex humanitarian disaster. As foreign powers pour aid and military support into the region, some desperate Chadians are moving toward the Nigerian conflict — where refugee centers offer their only hope of nourishment.
The Week Ahead: On Monday, President Trump plans to visit Utah to announce downsizing the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments increased in size by his predecessor. That day, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is scheduled to begin a Europe visit amid reports that the president — who denies them — plans to replace his chief diplomat. And Friday is the deadline for a congressional budget deal required to prevent a government shutdown, but there’s talk of extending it.
Know This: The Trump administration is expected to declare American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital next week, a move that Palestinians warn will derail any peace process. Federal authorities have issued a new arrest warrant for undocumented immigrant Jose Ines Garcia Zarate, acquitted Thursday in a San Francisco homicide cited in President Trump’s anti-immigration statements. And the Honduran government has given its security forces extraordinary powers to quell unrest.
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It was a night they’ll never forget. When London’s Grenfell Tower burned last June, it left dozens dead and a city in shock. The event is etched indelibly in the minds of its survivors: the rapid escalation — flames licking their way up the combustible sides of the high-rise — and horrifying consequences, including residents dying in their apartments or leaping from windows rather than facing the flames. And while many made harrowing escapes, firefighters who risked everything to aid them continue to wonder if they rescued everyone who had a chance.
Can they have their cake? In 1968, the Supreme Court dismissed arguments by a restaurant owner who believed that serving Black customers infringed on his intolerant religious beliefs. So Christian legal powerhouse Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) opted to call nondiscrimination laws an infringement of freedom of expression to defend a baker who refused to make a gay couple’s wedding cake. That’s to be argued before the Supreme Court on Dec. 5, and a high court ADF victory could carve out a glaring exception to American civil rights protections.
This may take a while to load. Anyone who’s bemoaned the Federal Communications Commission’s impending elimination of net neutrality can be consoled: The Dec. 14 commission vote on equal internet access is sure to be challenged in court, starting in one of 13 federal appeals courts. Jurisdiction is chosen by lottery, but it’s nonetheless one of many variables to be dragged out by at least a year and a half of legal jockeying. While a ruling is at “the end of a long tunnel,” as one lawyer puts it, neutrality partisans could see daylight there.
What you see isn’t necessarily what they get. More and more music lovers, especially those under 30, are getting their music from YouTube, which some believe is hurting album sales. And by some measures, the streaming service pays artists substantially less than they’d make selling their albums or streaming them elsewhere. None of this is necessarily bad for the creators of music, who often appreciate the exposure, but it means radio and other audio-only delivery mechanisms will have to innovate to keep up with a world that watches as much as it listens.
He’s not dribbling around. After the U.S. men’s national team failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, many are looking for a change, starting with replacing national soccer president Sunil Gulati. Former national team midfielder Kyle Martino wants the job and is pitching ideas to help develop better players at home: subsidizing youth soccer so it’s no longer “a rich kid’s game” and proliferating regional training centers as Germany’s done. If he’s elected in February, he says, he wants to make goals as ubiquitous as hoops on urban asphalt.