WH Moves to Block Ex-Lobbyists Ethics Inquiry

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The Daily Beast Cheat Sheet®
WH Moves to Block Ethics Inquiry on Ex-Lobbyists on Payroll
The White House has sent a letter to the head of the Office of Government Ethics challenging his legal authority to demand the names of former lobbyists who have been granted waivers to work in President Trump’s administration. The highly unusual move, if successful, would make it impossible to know which, if any, officials are violating federal ethics rules. “It is an extraordinary thing,” said Walter M. Shaub, Jr., the head of the ethics office. “I have never seen anything like it.” Shaub is in his final year of a five-year term. He was appointed by President Obama, and he said he has no plans to back down. “It challenges the very authority of the director of the agency and his ability to carry out the functions of the office,” said Marilyn L. Glynn, who served as general counsel and acting director of the agency during the tenure of President George W. Bush. She called the move by the current White House “unprecedented and extremely troubling.”
READ IT AT The New York Times  
Chinese Media Applaud ‘Victory’ After CIA Sources Killed
A state-run newspaper in China has published an editorial applauding Beijing’s anti-espionage efforts following a weekend report in The New York Times that revealed Beijing had killed or imprisoned about 20 CIA sources, severely crippling U.S. spying operations in the country. The Times reported that at least a dozen people who were providing intelligence to the CIA between 2010 and 2012 had been murdered. Chinese paper Global Times, in an editorial, said that, if true, such a move was a triumph for China. “If this article is telling the truth, we would like to applaud China’s anti-espionage activities. Not only was the CIA’s spy network dismantled, but Washington had no idea what happened and which part of the spy network had gone wrong,” the paper said. “It can be taken as a sweeping victory. Perhaps it means even if the CIA makes efforts to rebuild its spy network in China, it could face the same result.”
Billy Bush: Trump Tape Was ‘an Instant Shock’
Seven months after the release of the Access Hollywood tape that showed now-President Donald Trump bragging about being able to get away with sexually assaulting women, disgraced former Today Show co-host Billy Bush has broken his silence about the bus ride that cost him his career—and almost lost Trump the White House. “I could not put two thoughts together,” Bush said, adding that he “didn’t have the strength of character” to change the subject with Trump, who he called “a provocateur… Shocking statements flow like wine from him. And he likes to captivate an audience.” Bush denied that he and Trump have a personal relationship, or that he had bragged about the tape’s existence during NBC’s coverage of the Olympics.
READ IT AT The Hollywood Reporter  
N. Korea: Latest Missile Launch Proves We Can Hit U.S. Bases
North Korea says its latest missile launch proves it is ready to deploy—and mass produce—a new medium-range missile that can reach U.S. military bases and Japan. The Sunday launch of the solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 missile allegedly confirmed the weapon’s combat readiness and will provide an “answer” to President Trump’s policies, according to North Korean state media. The Korea Central News Agency said the test confirmed technical aspects of the weapon, which flew about 310 miles and reached about 350 miles up into the air before it fell back into the Pacific Ocean. Pyongyang state media said more are on the way.
Protesters Demand Brazilian President’s Ouster
Protesters in cities across Brazil on Sunday demanded the ouster of President Michel Temer over recent corruption allegations. In São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, hundreds of demonstrators marched holding signs that read “Temer Out!” Demonstrations took place in several other cities as well, with many protesters saying the government corruption scandal threatens to worsen the country’s economic crisis. Temer has faced increasing scrutiny since an audio recording was released last week in which a man purported to be the Brazilian president can be heard arranging bribes. The bribes were to be given to a lawmaker who has already been jailed on corruption charges and was said to have incriminating information on the president. Brazil’s highest court has opened an investigation into the allegations against Temer, and opposition politicians have called for his impeachment. The president has maintained his innocence, however, and refused to step down. The scandal is just the latest fallout from Operation Car Wash, a massive corruption investigation underway since 2014 that has seen dozens of officials charged.
READ IT AT Reuters  
Police: Bomb at Thai Hospital Wounds 20+ People
A bomb at an army-run hospital in Bangkok has injured more than 20 people on the third anniversary of Thailand’s military coup. “Please don’t connect this with any other incidents because they may or may not be connected,” said government spokesman Sansern Kaewkumnerd. “We have to wait for officials to investigate details from surveillance cameras in the area.” Phramongkutklao, a military-run hospital, is open to civilians. Officials said there were remnants of batteries and wires at the blast site, but it is not yet clear who is responsible for the bomb. Three years ago, a coup overthrew Thailand’s democratically elected government. Since then, at least six explosions have rocked Bangkok.
Sea Lion ‘Attack’ Takes Internet by Storm
A sea lion has become an internet sensation overnight after yanking a little girl off a Canadian dock this weekend. The girl, who has not been identified, was not harmed in the attack Saturday, but video of the incident quickly went viral. Taken by Michael Fujiwara and posted on YouTube, the video shows a group of tourists in the seaside town of Steveston remarking on how cute a sea lion is as it swims up to the dock where they’re standing. As the group marvels at how big the animal is, the little girl sits down on the edge of the dock. The sea lion then abruptly lunges at the girl, snatches her by her dress, and yanks her into the water. The girl looks shell-shocked as she looks up from the water, but a man quickly dives in and rescues her. While the incident left many shocked by what they saw as the sea lion’s unexpected aggression, experts were more baffled by the behavior of the people in the video. Andrew Tites, director of the University of British Columbia’s Marine Mammal Research Unit, told CBC News that the sea lion most likely thought the girl’s dress was food. “My first reaction to the video is just how stupid some people can be to not treat wildlife with proper respect,” he said, adding that sea lions “are not circus performers.” “They’re not trained to be next to people.” View this cheat in a browser to see this video.
READ IT AT The Washington Post  
Ford Ousts CEO in Management Shakeup
Ford Motor Co. is reportedly firing CEO Mark Fields in a major shakeup of the Michigan-based company’s management. The move comes as the auto maker seeks to expand its venture into self-driving cars and ride-sharing services to keep up with competitors. Citing officials close to the situation, The New York Times reported late Sunday that Jim Hackett will take Fields’ place at the helm of the company. Hackett, who joined the company last year as the head of its “smart mobility” segment, now oversees a Ford subsidiary that specializes in autonomous vehicles. Fields’ ouster comes after he was repeatedly criticized for not doing enough to develop future technologies in the auto industry, while at the same time failing to boost Ford’s core car production business. During his three years leading the company, Ford’s share price dropped 40 percent. As the company struggles to keep a foothold in a market that is quickly gravitating toward innovative technologies, Ford has promised to have an autonomous vehicle up and running by 2021. General Motors and Google have already begun testing their self-driving vehicles, while Tesla is due to release its own mass-market electric car later this year.
READ IT AT The New York Times  
Report: Trump’s Budget to Slash Medicaid, Food Stamps
President Trump’s new budget proposal would slash funds for Medicaid and pave the way for states to limit other programs for low-income citizens, The Washington Post reported Sunday. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the report said Medicaid will lose more than $800 billion over 10 years, a move that could see as many as 10 million people lose their benefits in the next decade. Under Trump’s proposal, which is due to be announced Tuesday, states also will be given more power to restrict programs for low-income groups, with the ability to impose work requirements on those seeking assistance. A cut in Medicaid funding is in line with a proposal from House Republicans as part of an Obamacare replacement, though Senate Republicans have warned against reversing the program’s expansion. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the modern equivalent of food stamps, would also be gutted under Trump’s proposal. According to the Associated Press, the program would lose $193 billion over the next 10 years, a 25 percent decrease that would drive millions of low-income people out of the program. Trump’s proposal has already faced criticism from lawmakers. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer said Sunday night that the budget “continues to reveal President Trump’s true colors.” “His populist campaign rhetoric was just a Trojan horse to execute long-held, hard-right policies that benefit the ultra wealthy at the expense of the middle class,” he said. The White House has not yet commented on the details of the budget proposal.
READ IT AT The Washington Post  
FBI Probes U. of Maryland Stabbing as Possible Hate Crime
The FBI is helping police in Maryland determine whether the stabbing death of a visiting black student on Saturday was a hate crime. University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell said during a press conference Saturday that he sought the help of federal investigators after discovering Sean Urbanski, the suspect in the attack, is a member of a neo-Nazi group on Facebook. Urbanski faces charges of first- and second-degree murder for the attack on Richard Collins III on Saturday morning. Collins, who was visiting the University of Maryland and due to graduate from another local university on Tuesday, was reportedly stabbed in the chest while standing at a bus stop at the university. Court documents said Urbanski approached Collins and a group of other students and shouted, “Step left, step left if you know what’s best for you.” When Collins refused, he was stabbed.
READ IT AT The Washington Post  

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