This could hurt. In an address to the Conservative Political Action Conference today, President Donald Trump announced his administration is ratcheting up pressure on Pyongyang by hitting the militaristic regime with the “heaviest” ever U.S. sanctions. The new measures will reportedly target dozens of vessels, shipping companies, and other trade-oriented businesses currently helping North Korea evade the sanctions it already faces over its nuclear saber-rattling. The move coincides with Pyongyang’s attempts to play nice with South Korea during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
The Presidential Daily Brief
The hot water just got deeper. The former Trump campaign manager and his associate Rick Gates were hit with conspiracy charges last fall, and now Robert Mueller’s special investigation into Russian election meddling has added a new 32-count indictment against them, including charges of bank and tax fraud. While the charges aren’t related to the 2016 election, they may put pressure on Manafort and Gates to cooperate with the investigation to avoid prison — which may be Gates’ game plan, given reports today that he’ll plead guilty to some charges.
It’s a different kind of teacher training. While many called for action after the Florida school shooting, President Donald Trump, backed by the NRA, proposed federal funds to arm 1 million American educators. Trump tweeted that gun-trained teachers would be a “great deterrent” and suggested paying them bonuses. Teachers widely expressed alarm at the idea. Despite NRA objections, Trump also suggested raising the minimum age for buying assault rifles to 21. Meanwhile, organizers are planning for a possible 500,000 attendees at Washington’s “March for Our Lives” demonstration March 24.
G’bye, mate. National Party leader Barnaby Joyce admitted to an affair with a former staff member earlier this month and they’re now expecting a baby. But he had resisted calls to resign his role until yesterday, when Australian media reported a separate sexual harassment complaint against him. Joyce previously resigned in December when it turned out he was a dual citizen and thus ineligible for office, but re-won his seat in a by-election. Joyce will remain a member of Parliament, and his party must now elect a new leader.
This is the way his career ends: Not with Anbang, but a whimper. Mogul Wu Xiaohui was detained eight months ago, but prosecutors say he’s now been indicted on charges including fraudulent fundraising and embezzlement. China has also taken over his conglomerate, Anbang Insurance Group, which owns the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York and has long been seen as a hard-charging global investor. Anbang will spend a year being overseen by regulators, who are expected to restructure the firm — though it will remain a private company.
He was told to put his life on the line. Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where 17 people were killed last week, had an armed sheriff’s deputy on campus — but video footage shows the man didn’t confront the shooter. Scot Peterson was suspended without pay and put under investigation, but chose to resign. Security personnel are instructed to try to slow active shooters, even when alone and outgunned. “I don’t know what he could have done other than literally died,” said one teacher, who says she doesn’t blame Peterson.
Curses, foiled again! With Catalan ex-President Carles Puigdemont on the lam in Belgium and facing arrest if he returns to his homeland, Spanish police are on the lookout — and yesterday they spotted and swarmed the infamous separatist just outside Madrid. But it turned out the man was actually an actor, Joaquín Reyes, dressed as Puigdemont for a TV comedy sketch. Puigdemont, presumably still in Belgium, said last month that his crusade for an independent Catalonia is “over,” though there’s still a movement to reinstall him as regional president.
Puff, puff … pass? New analysis of 11 studies says that despite concerns about encouraging drug use, teens aren’t smoking marijuana more in places where it’s been legalized for medical purposes. Researchers analyzed data from 1991 to 2014, and say that while the results are “quite clear,” there are still unanswered questions about the effects of recreational marijuana legalization. Their findings could dent the credibility of some anti-medical marijuana campaigners’ claims. Meanwhile, teen marijuana use is at a 24-year low, according to a 2017 national survey.
The rest is art history. New analysis of cave paintings in Spain has revealed they were made at least 64,000 years ago — 20,000 years before humans arrived in Europe, meaning the artists were likely Neanderthals. The paintings are just one example of previously unsuspected pre-human creativity: Uranium-thorium dating says primitive jewelry found in Spanish sea caves, at 114,000 years old, can’t have been made by humans. Combined with evidence that Neanderthals buried their dead and practiced medicine, this further upends theories that humans outlived Neanderthals due to intellectual superiority.
They’re paving the way. The NBA has released a phone number to anonymously report workplace abuse following a recent story on widespread sexual harassment of female employees working for the Dallas Mavericks. That report detailed a culture of sexual misconduct — including numerous allegations against former team CEO Terdema Ussery — and an unresponsive HR department. NBA Commissioner Adam Silver sent a memo to top officials of every team in the league describing the new initiative and reminding them of existing workplace regulations. The hotline will be ready next week.