In a speech packed with policy proposals, a dark view of the past, and hope for the future, President Trump addressed a joint session of Congress Tuesday evening. As my colleague Clare Foran notes, the speech was “perhaps more notable for its tone than its substance.” She writes:
It marked a striking change of tone from his campaign and his early days in office, from a president who has frequently feuded with critics, including members of his own party. The optimistic tone was equally a departure from Trump’s inaugural address, in which he painted a picture of a country in decline and memorably promised to end “American carnage.” On Tuesday, he acknowledged that “the challenges we face as a nation are great,” but he added “our people are even greater.”
For a full breakdown of the moments of the speech and what the president proposed, check out our full coverage here.
Malaysian authorities charged two women in the death of Kim Jong Nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The women, Siti Aishah from Indonesia and Doan Thi Huong from Vietnam, face the death penalty if convicted. Kim was killed on February 13 at the Kuala Lumpur airport when the women allegedly rubbed a VX nerve agent on his face. Lawyers for the women have said they thought they were playing a prank on a gameshow. Kim died within 20 minutes of the attack. The North Korean government is suspected in orchestrating the attack. Leaders in Pyongyang have denied those accusations. Authorities in Malaysia are seeking to question a diplomat in the North Korean embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
FBI to Investigate Shooting of 2 Indian Men in Kansas as a Hate Crime
Authorities will investigate the shooting at a Kansas bar that resulted in the death of an Indian man as a hate crime, the FBI announced Tuesday. The decision comes nearly one week after 51-year-old Adam Purinton allegedly yelled at Srinivas Kuchibhotla and Alok Madasani, both 32-year-old Indian men, to “get out of my country” before opening fire, killing Kuchibhotla and wounding Madasani. Ian Grillot, another bar patron who tried to intervene in the shooting, was also injured. Purinton, who was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder, reportedly believed Kuchibhotla and Madasani to be of Middle Eastern descent. The incident has since prompted fears within the Indian community of future racially-motivated attacks, and Madasani’s father, Jaganmohan Reddy, cautioned Indian parents against sending their children to the U.S., adding: “The situation seems to be pretty bad after Trump took over as the U.S. president.” In a press briefing Friday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called suggestions of a correlation between the shooting and President Trump’s immigration policies “absurd.”
2 Police Officers Shot in Houston; Suspect at Large
Updated at 3:42 p.m.
Two Houston police officers responding to a burglary were shot Tuesday in the southwest portion of the city, prompting a shelter-in-place for residents of the area. Both officers were shot multiple times and are being treated at local hospitals. One, identified as Officer Jose Munoz, a 10-year veteran, received non-life-threatening injuries; the other, Officer Ronnie Cortez, a 24-year veteran of the force, was critically injured, Chief Art Acevedo said at a news conference. Acevedo said there were two suspects, one of whom was killed at the scene, and the other who is at large.
Update: two officers shot during incident at 8714 Sterlingame; both being treated at hospitals; conditions not being released at this time
Female and Child Migrants Face Rampant Abuse in Libya, UNICEF Says
Female and child migrants making the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to Europe face sexual abuse, violence, and exploitation at the hands of smugglers and traffickers, a report published Tuesday by UNICEF finds. According to the UN agency, there are more than 250,000 migrants in Libya; women make up 11 percent and children 9 percent. These migrants are often held within any one of the 34 government-run detention centers identified throughout the country, though UNICEF said many of them are also held in unofficial detention centers run by armed groups. Of the 122 women and children interviewed by UNICEF, three-quarters “said they experienced violence, harassment, or aggression at the hands of adults” while in detention, and nearly half of them reported sexual abuse. Those interviewed also reported a lack of access to proper nutrition, sanitation, health care, and legal access—conditions UNICEF described as “living hellholes.” Afshan Khan, the UNICEF Regional Director and Special Coordinator for the Refugee and Migrant Crisis in Europe, said in a statement that migration routes from Libya to Europe are “controlled by smugglers, traffickers and other people seeking to prey upon desperate children and women who are simply seeking refuge or a better life,” adding: “We need safe and legal pathways and safeguards to protect migrating children that keep them safe and keep predators at bay.” Indeed, there are few safeguards for migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean. Of the more than 180,000 who attempted the journey from Libya to Italy last year, more than 4,500 drowned—a figure which made 2016 the deadliest year for migrants on record.
UPDATE: Samsung's Chief, 4 Executives Charged in Corruption Scandal
Updated at 9:19 a.m. ET
South Korean prosecutors say they charged Lee Jae-yong, the Samsung heir, and four other company executives with corruption and embezzlement in a scandal that has already resulted in the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye. Three of the four executives, who were named in Tuesday’s announcement, resigned from the company. Lee was arrested earlier this month. My colleague Yasmeen Serhan previously reported: “The arrest concerns multimillion-dollar donations the Samsung executive made to companies associated with Choi Soon-sil, a longtime friend of Park whose Rasputin-like relationship with the president prompted allegations of undue influence and ultimately led to Park’s impeachment. Prosecutors allege Lee made the donations in exchange for political support for a 2015 merger between Samsung and Cheil Industries, an affiliated firm. Though Lee confirmed he made the donations, he denied that they were bribes.” The charges could have major implications for Samsung; Lee has run the conglomerate since his father, Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack in 2014.
UPDATE: 'I Don’t Think We’ve Explained it Well Enough to the American Public,' Trump Says
Updated at 9:01 a.m. ET
President Trump toldFox & Friends he’d give himself an “A” on his achievements so far, but would give himself a “C or C-plus” for messaging. “I think I’ve done great things, but I don’t think I have—I and my people—I don’t think we’ve explained it well enough to the American public,” he said. The remarks came hours before his scheduled remarks to a joint session of Congress. Trump said he’d use the address to elaborate on his plans for the military, border security, the economy, and health care. The speech isn’t technically a State of the Union address, which is given a year after a president has been in office. The address, which begins at 9 p.m., comes a little more than a month after Trump’s inauguration as president. My colleague Molly Ball assessed his time in office so far.
Starting the process will rein in a president who is undermining American ideals—and bring the debate about his fitness for office into Congress, where it belongs.
On January 20, 2017,Donald Trump stood on the steps of the Capitol, raised his right hand, and solemnly swore to faithfully execute the office of president of the United States and, to the best of his ability, to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. He has not kept that promise.
Instead, he has mounted a concerted challenge to the separation of powers, to the rule of law, and to the civil liberties enshrined in our founding documents. He has purposefully inflamed America’s divisions. He has set himself against the American idea, the principle that all of us—of every race, gender, and creed—are created equal.
Insights into the little-studied realm of last words
Mort Felix liked to say that his name, when read as two Latin words, meant “happy death.” When he was sick with the flu, he used to jokingly remind his wife, Susan, that he wanted Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” played at his deathbed. But when his life’s end arrived at the age of 77, he lay in his study in his Berkeley, California, home, his body besieged by cancer and his consciousness cradled in morphine, uninterested in music and refusing food as he dwindled away over three weeks in 2012. “Enough,” he told Susan. “Thank you, and I love you, and enough.” When she came downstairs the next morning, she found Felix dead.
During those three weeks, Felix had talked. He was a clinical psychologist who had also spent a lifetime writing poetry, and though his end-of-life speech often didn’t make sense, it seemed to draw from his attention to language. “There’s so much so in sorrow,” he said at one point. “Let me down from here,” he said at another. “I’ve lost my modality.” To the surprise of his family members, the lifelong atheist also began hallucinating angels and complaining about the crowded room—even though no one was there.
Aides on Capitol Hill fear that a dramatic government failure may be the only thing to force President Trump and the Democrats back to the table.
As the longest government shutdown in American history lurches toward its fifth week, a grim but growing consensus has begun to emerge on Capitol Hill: There may be no way out of this mess until something disastrous happens.
This is, of course, not a sentiment lawmakers are eager to share on the record. But in interviews this week with congressional staffers on both sides of the aisle (whom I granted anonymity in exchange for candor), I heard the same morbid idea expressed again and again.
The basic theory—explained to me between weary sighs and defeated shrugs—goes like this: Washington is at an impasse that looks increasingly unbreakable. President Donald Trump is dug in; so is Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Democrats have public opinion on their side, but the president is focused on his conservative base. For a deal to shake loose in this environment, it may require a failure of government so dramatic, so shocking, as to galvanize public outrage and force the two parties back to the negotiating table.
Everyone’s winging it, but that’s not a bad thing.
Harvey Karp makes soothing babies look like a cinch. In the video that accompanies his best-selling book The Happiest Baby on the Block, he holds one screaming infant after another, deftly rolls them on their side, and bam!—the crying stops. “Side position” is just one of the techniques to calm a baby in Karp’s repertoire. He also uses swaddling, shushing, swinging, and sucking. Bleary-eyed parents ooh and aah over how Karp can instantly activate a baby’s calming reflex, or “automatic shut-off switch,” using his trademark “five S’s.”
I discovered the sixth S shortly after having my daughter nine years ago. A childbirth injury had left me bedridden with chronic pelvic pain, and for two months I lived on an air mattress in my living room because I couldn’t make it upstairs to my bedroom. I couldn’t sit in a comfortable position to nurse; I couldn’t stand to change my baby’s diaper or squat to bathe her; I couldn’t bounce her to calm her down. My husband stepped up, handling most things baby-related while I healed.
Seldom can one find so succinct a demonstration of the president’s anti-Muslim sentiments, reliance on right-wing media, and lack of interest in accuracy or truth.
Imagine you were charged with choosing an artifact to put in a time capsule so that future Americans could understand the current government shutdown. This is an unrealistic scenario, of course. No single item can explain the current moment, and moreover, there’s no reason to believe that the shutdown is actually going to end.
But playing along with the game, your best bet would be this Donald Trump tweet from Friday morning:
Border rancher: “We’ve found prayer rugs out here. It’s unreal.” Washington Examiner People coming across the Southern Border from many countries, some of which would be a big surprise.
It offers a succinct window into the president’s mind and his approach to the shutdown: an obsession with border security. A dubious anonymous source. Assertions that are unproven at best and likely bogus. A reliance on right-wing media. Anti-Muslim sentiments. Xenophobia. It is the total package; it’s just that the package is a booby trap.
In the United States, carbon emissions leapt back up, making their largest year-over-year increase since the end of the Great Recession. This matched the trend across the globe. According to two majorstudies, greenhouse-gas emissions worldwide shot up in 2018—accelerating like a “speeding freight train,” as one scientist put it.
U.S. emissions do remain 11 percent below their 2007 peak, but that is one of the few bright spots in the data. Global emissions are now higher than ever. And the 2018 statistics are all the more dismal because greenhouse-gas emissions had previously seemed to be slowing or even declining, both in the United States and around the world.
A BuzzFeed report says President Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress, prompting the talk of impeachment even before the special counsel finishes his probe.
Updated at 9:16 p.m. ET on January 18.
Late Thursday night, BuzzFeed News published a report that, if true, could prove historic: President Donald Trump allegedly directed his then–personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to lie to Congress about a real-estate deal he was pursuing in Moscow during the 2016 election. Trump immediately denied the story, but for many Democrats, including those who had previously cautioned against impeaching the president before Special Counsel Robert Mueller produces his findings in the Russia investigation, the report was cause to consider proceeding with impeachment before the Russia probe is finished.
After almost two years of near-complete silence, the special counsel’s spokesman issued a statement late Friday night calling parts of the story inaccurate. “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate,” said the spokesman, Peter Carr. BuzzFeed News’ editor in chief, Ben Smith, stood by the story, saying in a statement: “We stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it, and we urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”
Dr. Sherman Hershfield woke up one morning and was surprised to find himself behind the wheel of his car. Somewhere between his Beverly Hills apartment and his practice in the San Fernando Valley, the silver-haired physician had blacked out. Somehow he’d avoided a crash, but this wasn’t the first time. “I didn’t know what was going on,” he admitted.
Apart from his frequent blackouts, Hershfield was in fine health for a man in his 50s. He was tall and lean, ran six miles a day, and was a strict vegetarian. “I believe a physician should provide exemplary motivation to patients,” he once wrote. “I don’t smoke and have cut out all alcohol.” Hershfield specialized in physical medicine and rehabilitation, and for decades had helped patients with brain injuries learn to walk again and rebuild their lives. Even with his experience, Hershfield didn’t know what was wrong inside his own head.
America’s largest internet store is so big, and so bewildering, that buyers often have no idea what they’re going to get.
Updated at 5:28 p.m. ET on January 17, 2019.
There’s a Gatorade button attached to my basement fridge. If I push it, two days later a crate of the sports drink shows up at my door, thanks to Amazon. When these “Dash buttons” were first rumored in 2015, they seemed like a joke. Press a button to one-click detergent or energy bars? What even?, my colleague Adrienne LaFrance reasonably inquired.
They weren’t a joke. Soon enough, Amazon was selling the buttons for a modest fee, the value of which would be applied to your first purchase. There were Dash buttons for Tide and Gatorade, Fiji Water and Lärabars, Trojan condoms and Kraft Mac & Cheese.
The whole affair always felt unsettling. When the buttons launched, I called the Dash experience Lovecraftian, the invisible miasma of commerce slipping its vapor all around your home. But last week, a German court went further, ruling the buttons illegal because they fail to give consumers sufficient information about the products they order when pressing them, or the price they will pay after having done so. (You set up a Dash button on Amazon’s app, selecting a product from a list; like other goods on the e-commerce giant’s website, the price can change over time.) Amazon, which is also under general antitrust investigation in Germany, disputes the ruling.
The men behind the camera are ready to step into the spotlight.
Earlier this week, Chrissy Teigen posted a video on Instagram of herself posing artfully on the beach while her husband captured an endless stream of photos, including multiple angles and poses.
“Thank u for always supporting my Instagram dreams,” she wrote. “This train only moves because of you(r phone) … you are the tracks that lay the foundation … creating a direct path to hope and possibilities of likes and curated content. what u do is important. I will never take u for granted, my king.”
Like Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Meghan Markle, Beyoncé, and many influencers, in order to capture the perfect ’gram-worthy shot, Teigen relies on the help of her “Instagram husband.” When you start looking, you’ll see Instagram husbands everywhere you go. Over the Christmas holiday, a friend of mine posted a photo of an exotic beach littered with beautiful women. Standing about 10 feet away from almost all of them was a man holding a camera snapping photographs. “Instagram husbands working hard out here,” he wrote.