What happens in Vegas is reverberating in D.C. Casino magnate Steve Wynn, a major GOP donor, resigned as Republican National Committee finance chairman Saturday after a Wall Street Journal investigation alleged a pattern of sexual harassment of massage therapists, manicurists and other casino employees. Democrats were quick to spotlight Wynn’s party connection — echoing Republicans’ October reaction to Democratic donor Harvey Weinstein’ serial sexual harassment and assault claims that launched the #MeToo movement. Wynn thanked President Donald Trump for the chairmanship, but said he didn’t want “this distraction” to impair the party’s success.
The Presidential Daily Brief
It was a cruel deception. A powerful car bomb reportedly painted to resemble an ambulance slipped past a security checkpoint and detonated on a crowded Kabul street Saturday, killing at least 103 people and injuring 235. The leader of the U.N. mission in Afghanistan, Tadamichi Yamamoto, called it “nothing short of an atrocity.” The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, happening a week after the group said it attacked a Kabul Hotel, killing 20, including four Americans. It also came as Afghanistan’s U.S. allies step up attacks against insurgents, hoping to force them to negotiate.
Michigan gave him 175 years. The feds, 60. But the state judge’s so-called “death warrant” signifying that Olympic gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar will die in prison may still ring hollow in the ears of the 156 sexual abuse victims who delivered impact statements over seven days following his molestation plea deal. Key officials of his employers, like USA Gymnastics board members and Michigan State University’s president, have resigned, leaving early victims, whose complaints were allegedly dismissed decades ago, with some measure of justice as they pursue lawsuits against Nassar’s reputed enablers.
He’s the main event — again. President Donald Trump’s swatting away questions about his reported attempt to fire Russiagate special counsel Robert Mueller, but when he delivers his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, he’ll have plenty of other topics. As he extolled Friday in Switzerland at the World Economic Forum, there’s a booming economy, for instance. His speech a year earlier boosted stocks, but now experts say investors are wary, so he should avoid aggravating hot-button issues like immigration, or the long-running Trump bump could become the Trump tumble.
The friend of their friend is still the enemy. This month Turkey attacked the Afrin district, controlled by YPG, a U.S.-backed Kurdish militia in northwestern Syria. Ankara’s been watching in frustration because the group, believed to be linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which has been fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey for decades, was armed by its NATO ally. Now the U.S., which has plans to stay in the region, is urging restraint against its preferred force for defeating ISIS, as Turkish warplanes and allied Syrian rebels drive Kurds from the border region.
This doesn’t compute. The chipmaking giant, which posted $60 billion in revenue last year, has been busy showing off its innovative technology while alarm bells are ringing over two major, unpatched weaknesses called Meltdown and Spectre. They leave virtually every user exposed to data theft, and fixing them could slow down processing by 30 percent. And during the company’s quiet resolution effort, its CEO, Brian Krzanich, sold off $24 million in Intel stock. The company says that’s unrelated to the bugs, but class action litigants aren’t buying it, and U.S. senators are demanding answers.
The Week Ahead: This afternoon, NFC all-stars will face their AFC counterparts in football’s Pro Bowl in Orlando. Tonight, the 60th Grammy Awards will be broadcast from Madison Square Garden in New York. And on Wednesday and Thursday, the financial world will have its ears cocked for the Federal Reserve’s expected decision to maintain interest rates as well as quarterly earnings reports from corporate giants including Facebook, Apple and Alphabet (Google).
Know This: Saudi Arabia has released several of its billionaires, including Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, one of the world’s richest men, from detention in Riyad’s Ritz-Carlton hotel after an 80-day corruption crackdown that ended with unspecified settlements. Israel has complained to Warsaw after Polish legislators approved a bill Friday that would criminalize statements suggesting Polish culpability in the Holocaust. And an elite climbing team has found a stranded French climber alive at 24,280 ft. on Pakistan’s Nanga Parabat, nicknamed “Killer Mountain,” where her Polish climbing partner remains missing.
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They sweated it out. A day after Simona Halep was hospitalized for dehydration after her Australian Open tennis final loss to Dane Caroline Wozniacki, No. 1 Roger Federer proved he could take the heat. The Swiss veteran endured three hours against Marin Cilic, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, to earn his 20th major title and, at 36, become Melbourne’s oldest winner in 46 years. But trophies aren’t everything to new women’s No. 1 Wozniacki, who’s sent previous trophies to her parents but might keep her inaugural Grand Slam from Saturday.
They’re ready when you aren’t. After journalist Joseph Williams’ life unraveled, he found himself face-to-face with a national trend: climbing rents on increasingly upscale apartments, accompanied by middle-class Americans’ downward mobility and a thriving eviction industry. So he investigated, finding Yelp-reviewed services that, supervised by law enforcement, pack up lives into plastic bags and place them neatly on sidewalks — sometimes aided by homeless day workers. So Williams prepared himself with a storage locker and a hand truck, waiting in his home for the inevitable knock on the door.
This company loves misery. Young Pioneer Tours infamously took doomed American Otto Warmbier into North Korea, but somehow kept operating. Writer Kent Russell joined intemperate, fast-living serial clients of YPT on a rare tour of Chechnya and South Ossetia to imbibe the morally fraught world of “dark tourism.” It makes places where people have recently met violent deaths a commodity — regarded as solemn memorials, cues to get drunk, or both. Despite its role in Warmbier’s deadly imprisonment, the adventure firm gets five-star ratings and keeps its customers coming back for more.
They’re searching for their own voices. Those who’ve lost their ability to speak to illness or other debilitating conditions have long been reliant on technology — from the robotic “Stephen Hawking voice” to more modern humanized voices — that fails to reflect users’ identities. Now speech pathologist Rupal Patel and her VocaliD project are trying to provide more natural-sounding solutions. By using a variety of donor voices or, when possible, a patient’s archived original voice, Patel hopes those lacking vocal abilities can set the tone for the way they express themselves.
Fake it till you make it. The phenomenon of “duplitecture” in China, where developments mimic European landmarks and building styles, are a concrete-and-steel metaphor for poor Chinese planning. Sky City, a Paris-themed community built in 2006 anchored by a one-third-scale Eiffel Tower in Hangzhou, seemed destined to be another ghost town. But a decade later, it and other copies of old Europe are booming, partially because they now allow local flavor like noodle shops and clothing lines injecting new, if not entirely continental, success into spectacular failures.
Hawaii’s got rhythm, but can paradise have the blues? More venues there are using R&B and soul music instead of playlists long monopolized by reggae, local folk music and island-y fare like Jawaiian. The movement, buoyed by the popularity of “live looping” technology that makes solo artists sound like a band, along with a change in local preferences, is diversifying playlists once reliant on island classics. And with music aficionados streaming whatever genre they prefer outside of radio’s influence — R&B acts are getting a chance to pay their dues.
Wade in the water, children — never know what you’ll find. In 1860, the Clotilda was the last ship to bring a group of African slaves to the U.S., but the captain unloaded and sank her, as international slaving was outlawed in 1808. Freed a few years later, the captives would found a nearby community called Africatown, still home to their descendants. But the ship was lost, until journalist Ben Raines followed historical clues and local lore to a wreck that, if verified, may trouble the waters again.