Close call. Both houses of Congress have voted to approve the final version of the GOP’s $1.5 trillion tax overhaul, which cuts both corporate and individual tax rates — though analysts say will benefit wealthy Americans most. Senate Republicans kept their narrow majority, approving the legislation 51-48. Due to a procedural violation, the House had to schedule a re-vote, which is planned for this morning, after which it’ll go to the president’s desk. If signed into law, as expected, the cuts would take effect next month.
The Presidential Daily Brief
Watch tensions rocket back up. White House counterterrorism adviser Thomas Bossert published an editorial in The Wall Street Journal Monday night that publicly accused Pyongyang of orchestrating the massive WannaCry cyberattack that spread around the globe in May. Many cybersecurity groups had suggested North Korea as the likely culprit, but the article, followed by a public statement from Bossert, will likely heighten tensions between the two nations. Meanwhile, analysts say that a sanctions-pummeled Pyongyang is targeting untraceable cryptocurrencies like bitcoin in a bid for much-needed funds.
It was over the limit. Authorities say the Amtrak train that derailed yesterday south of Tacoma, killing at least three, was going 80 mph when it veered off an overpass, though the speed limit was 30 mph. The passenger train, on the maiden voyage of a new Seattle-to-Portland route, jumped the tracks and slammed onto a busy highway, crushing five cars and two trucks and injuring around 100 people. Gov. Jay Inslee has declared a state of emergency, cautioning that the cause of the crash remains unclear.
It was a vote of confidence. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has been chosen as party leader — a threat to President Jacob Zuma’s grip on power. Ramaphosa, one of South Africa’s wealthiest citizens, narrowly defeated Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the president’s ex-wife and chosen successor, in a contentious leadership vote that threatened to split the party. A former student activist and union organizer, Ramaphosa will now have to revive the ANC’s scandal-ridden reputation. He’ll become president in 2019 if the ANC wins, as it has every year since 1994.
Know This: ESPN president John Skipper has resigned over “substance addiction” issues. A U.S. district court has ruled that the administration can’t bar two undocumented teenagers from seeking abortions while detained. And Britain’s two-week-old, $4.2 billion warship HMS Queen Elizabeth reportedly already has a leak and requires repairs.
Read This: Last year, three climbers died on an expedition on Mount Everest. This year, a massive expedition was mounted to bring them home.
Talk to Us: Tell us how you really feel. Our electrifying TV show, Third Rail With OZY, is shelving the PC and whipping up debates. Each week we’re posting a provocative question, and we want you to weigh in. This week: Should private education be banned? Why or why not? Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts, and we might feature your answer next week.
Watch this space. While scans for signals indicating alien intelligence turned up nothing, astronomers say ‘Oumuamua could still harbor conditions for life. A new paper suggests the skyscraper-sized object’s exterior is a dry, carbon-rich crust, which could shield an icy core like “a flaming baked Alaska of an object.” ‘Oumuamua, which passed by the sun last week, is the first known interstellar visitor from outside our solar system. Though we may never know what it is or where it came from, more observations are expected from the data already collected.
The enemy of your enemy might not be your friend. With President Michel Temer’s popularity at 3 percent over an ongoing corruption scandal, Brazilian voters are looking to populists across the political spectrum in the 2018 presidential race, sparking radicalism on both sides. Former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who leads in the polls, has veered toward the radical left in recent years, while anti-gay conservative Jair Bolsonaro has gathered support on the right. A win from either, analysts say, could send Brazil into uncharted territory.
That’s cold. While it’s illegal in some countries, landlords across the United States are allowed to kick people out of their homes even during the chilliest weeks of the year — and they do, with wintertime evictions making up many of America’s 2.7 million annual displacements. Cash-strapped residents who have few other options — and often at least one dependent — can end up homeless and relying on overfull shelters. But landlords say they’re victims, too, burdened by deadbeat tenants on whom they rely for their own income.
Was it a cry for help? Kim Jonghyun, lead singer of hugely popular K-pop band SHINee and a beloved solo artist whose debut album topped the world charts in 2015, was found unconscious in his Seoul apartment yesterday of an apparent suicide. He’d texted his sister: “I’ve had a hard time. Please let me go and say that I did a good job. This is my last word,” spurring her to contact authorities. Shocked fans are mourning Jonghyun and encouraging others to speak up about mental health struggles despite social stigma.
Can’t nobody hold them down. Diddy, the highest-paid celebrity according to Forbes, tweeted his interest in buying the Carolina Panthers after it was announced the team would be sold amid an investigation into harassment allegations against owner Jerry Richardson. “There are no majority African American NFL owners. Let’s make history,” Diddy tweeted. Stephen Curry and protest vanguard Colin Kaepernick both expressed interest in the potentially $2.3 billion deal, which could put Kaepernick back on the roster — and at the table with NFL owners suspected of blacklisting him.