Will cooler heads prevail? The head of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, in Oslo accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for the group, warned that “the deaths of millions may be one tiny tantrum away.” Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the group that’s helped convince 122 nations to sign a UN treaty banning such destructive devices, was apparently referring to mercurial North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump, who have traded increasingly bellicose threats, while U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster has said the chance of war is increasing daily.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It “ignites anger.” So said the Arab League Saturday about President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move America’s embassy there. The league’s asking the UN Security Council to condemn the move, which it says negates U.S. opportunities for brokering peace. The announcement sparked clashes between Palestinians, who consider the city occupied, and Israeli security forces. Protests turned violent near the U.S. embassy in Beirut, and in Gaza, a border clash killed two Palestinians, and two Hamas militants were reportedly killed by Israeli airstrikes retaliating for rockets fired into Israel.
Where’s Roy? Things are looking up for GOP U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore. President Donald Trump endorsed him in a speech Saturday just outside of Alabama, and one of the women who’d accused him of sexual assault decades ago has recanted details of her story. So why hasn’t he appeared in public in four days, especially when the special election to fill Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ vacated seat happens Tuesday? Meanwhile, his quixotic red-state Democratic opponent, Doug Jones, is appearing almost daily as polls show him stalking Moore within the margin of error.
The devastation continues. Six major wildfires have killed a woman, burned 260 square miles, destroyed more than 1,000 buildings and forced 200,000 people from their homes in California in the past week. One fire, sparked Thursday in San Diego County, is now 50 percent contained, but the biggest, in Ventura County, is still going strong and President Trump has declared a federal emergency. Flames have been driven by what experts say are the driest of the region’s notorious Santa Ana winds ever recorded, and at least 8,700 firefighters are working round the clock to control them.
His victory’s going to cost him. Nicolás Maduro may have succeeded in outsmarting Venezuela’s opposition and quelling months of large-scale protests, but now he’s faced with an economic slump that rivals America’s Great Depression. Long propped up by handouts to some of his more disadvantaged supporters, the late Hugo Chavez’s embattled successor may now have to choose between social programs and repaying foreign debt that has increased sixfold during his regime. Add to that U.S. sanctions that prevent Wall Street bailouts, and financial pressure could create a climate that even Maduro partisans might not tolerate.
He’s taking a new path. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke wasn’t always seen as conservationists’ worst enemy. The former Navy SEAL’s previously moderate positions as a Montana congressman branded him as a Prius-driving maverick. But now, he’s fighting to expand the gas industry’s access to public land, has proposed radical changes for national monuments and is planning “the largest reorganization in a hundred years” for his agencies. That, with massive downsizing of two national monuments in Utah at his behest, has some wondering where the old Zinke has hiked off to.
Know This: President Trump marked the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum Saturday in Jackson, praising civil rights leaders, but at an invitation-only gathering. Two people were killed when a small plane crashed into a house in San Diego. And Oklahoma University quarterback Baker Mayfield has won the Sooners’ sixth Heisman Trophy.
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It’s simple: They surrendered. In 2001, Portugal took the radical step of decriminalizing all drugs, instead focusing on voluntary treatment and harm reduction for users, including needle exchanges and even safe “consumption facilities.” Since then, HIV infections, overdose deaths and drug use have plummeted, thanks largely to a national attitude shift that’s survived conservative governments. Nevertheless, other countries persist with seemingly fruitless enforcement — and while marijuana legalization has seen a groundswell of support in many places, some Portuguese campaigners insist that treating all substances and their users equally is the path to victory.
He had a particular set of skills. When a “debt collector” threatened to rape Andrew Therrien’s wife and harassed his grandparents, he snapped. Using his persuasive salesman techniques to cajole, sermonize and threaten various levels of fake loan scammers, he eventually cornered the payday-loan magnate who the feds believe created $7.7 million in falsified debt and sold it for $4.2 million for others to harvest from fearful victims. In September, a judge ordered the loan king to repay $34 million in illegal gains, but Therrien remains unfulfilled as the collectors keep calling.
Step away from the spigot. Whether in North Dakota or across the American South, the politics of water have become increasingly dire. Sometimes-violent conflicts over water are a historical and modern reality worldwide. But now such disputes are becoming common in the U.S., with states claiming underground aquifer rights on private property, even tribal land. Even Michigan — surrounded by the Great Lakes, which hold a fifth of the planet’s fresh surface water — has become a battleground in places like Flint, where the cherished “right” to water is beginning to feel like a privilege.
Does their sound mean our fury signifies nothing? Even after the public turned against them, or they got fired or were charged with felonies, they still had podcasting. That’s what Bill O’Reilly did after a sexual misconduct scandal canceled his Fox News stardom. Doping disgrace also helped Lance Armstrong find his voice. Now radio sportscaster Craig Carton — facing trial in a federal wire and securities fraud case — is similarly doing digital rehab with no danger of firing. But are these podcasts any good — and is it OK to listen either way?
They gave it their best shot. Following their country’s performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, Kremlin officials swore they wouldn’t let that humiliation repeat itself. So they allegedly instituted a widespread doping program leading up to their home-based Winter Games in Sochi, but couldn’t cover their tracks. Thanks in part to testimony from Moscow’s top anti-doping official, who fled his homeland after colleagues’ untimely deaths, the operation that tallied an impressive medal count in 2014 has also won Team Russia a 2018 ban — along with a fresh national disgrace.