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terrorism
July 31, 2014
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

It turns out that Bill Clinton had Osama bin Laden on his mind mere hours before al Qaeda attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Speaking to a group of Australian businessmen on Sept. 10, 2001, Clinton said he once had the opportunity to kill bin Laden, but decided not to because it would have led to the deaths of innocent civilians. An audio recording of the remarks was released for the first time today by Australian media.

Here's what he said (h/t MSNBC):

And I'm just saying, you know, if I were Osama bin Laden — he's very smart guy, I've spent a lot of time thinking about him — and I nearly got him once. I nearly got him. And I could have killed him, but I would have to destroy a little town called Kandahar in Afghanistan and kill 300 innocent women and children, and then I would have been no better than him. And so I didn't do it. [MSNBC]

Clinton tried and failed to kill bin Laden a couple times in the 1990s, launching missile strikes at his residences in Sudan and Afghanistan. In this speech, he appears to be referring to a famous missed opportunity in 1998, when he balked over concerns about collateral damage. Ryu Spaeth

Whoa
July 27, 2015
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images

While writing a piece for The Daily Beast about Donald Trump's ex-wife Ivana using "rape" to describe an incident between the pair while they were still married, writers Tim Mak and Brandy Zazrozny asked Michael Cohen, special counsel at The Trump Organization, for comment. And boy, did they get a comment.

"You're talking about the front runner for the GOP, presidential candidate, as well as private individual who never raped anybody," Cohen said, according to The Daily Beast. "And, of course, understand that by the very definition, you can't rape your spouse.... It is true," he added. "You cannot rape your spouse. And there's very clear case law." (This is not accurate: In New York, the marital rape exemption law was struck down in 1984.)

The allegations first appeared in the 1993 book Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald J. Trump, by Harry Hurt III. Hurt wrote that Ivana stated in a deposition from their divorce proceedings that after a fight caused by Donald having scalp-reduction surgery, things turned violent and she was raped. Before the book was published, Ivana released a statement saying that while she "felt violated" and did say during the deposition that he raped her, she did "not want my words to be interpreted in a literal or criminal sense." Donald has denied the incident ever took place, and called Hurt "a guy without much talent.... He is a guy that is an unattractive guy who is a vindictive and jealous person."

Those words sound almost quaint compared to the diatribe Cohen apparently unleashed against Mak and Zazrozny. He threatened a lawsuit if the story was published, they recount, promising to "take you for every penny you still don't have. And I will come after your Daily Beast and everybody else that you possibly know. So I'm warning you, tread very f—ing lightly, because what I'm going to do to you is going to be f—ing disgusting. You understand me?" Cohen later reiterated the fact that he was ready to go to court, telling The Daily Beast: "You write a story that has Mr. Trump's name in it, with the word 'rape,' and I'm going to mess your life up...for as long as you're on this frickin' planet...you're going to have judgments against you, so much money, you'll never know how to get out from underneath it." So far, Cohen has yet to sue The Daily Beast or its reporters for every penny they still don't have. Catherine Garcia

Fires
July 27, 2015

A fire that quickly engulfed a pool at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas on Saturday was fueled by decorative trees that are not regulated by Clark County codes.

Current codes govern structures like pool decks and cabanas, but not plants and outdoor furniture, Ron Lynn, director of the county's Department of Building and Fire Prevention, told reporters Monday. The fire started in a cabana at the Bamboo Pool, then spread to the trees, which were made from high-density foam and plastic. One person was hospitalized for smoke inhalation and another was treated at the scene. The fire was put out within 30 minutes, and the pool reopened Sunday.

Lynn said officials are still trying to get to the bottom of what caused the fire, and will likely take a close look at the role the trees played in the fire, the Las Vegas Sun reports. Lynn also said officials might need to establish new rules to control the use of fake trees. Catherine Garcia

the search is on
July 27, 2015

A Coast Guard official says that as long as current water conditions remain the same, two teenage boys lost at sea off the Florida coast could likely survive for four or five days.

Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, were last seen Friday at 1:30 p.m. buying gas at a marina in Jupiter, Florida. On Sunday, their boat was found capsized off the coast of Ponce de Leon Inlet, but there was no sign of Stephanos or Cohen. Coast Guard Captain Mark Fedor said that while the water in the area is relatively warm, it's still a dangerous environment. Fedor also told ABC News that he's hopeful the boys are holding onto either a lifejacket or cooler, which was believed to be onboard the boat.

Family members told the Coast Guard that the teens mentioned going towards the Bahamas. Rescuers are focusing on the area north of where the boat was found, and by midnight Monday, crews will have searched more than 27,000 square miles, an area roughly the size of West Virginia. Catherine Garcia

This just in
July 27, 2015
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

On Monday, the governing board of the Boy Scouts of America voted to end its ban on gay scout leaders.

The national executive board came to the conclusion that the policy "was no longer legally defensible," and the decision was approved by 79 percent of the board, NBC News reports. Local scouting units can still bar gay applicants from leadership positions if hiring them would violate religious beliefs. "This change allows Scouting's members and parents to select local units chartered by organizations with similar beliefs, that best meet the needs of their families," the Boy Scouts said in a statement. About 70 percent of local scouting units are sponsored by religious organizations, with many speaking out about the ban in the past.  Catherine Garcia

this is horrible
July 27, 2015

A tourist is suspected of paying a safari operator $55,000 in order to kill Cecil, a 13-year-old lion who lived in a national park in Zimbabwe.

Cecil was well known, and wore a GPS collar as part of a research project with Oxford University. Johnny Rodrigues, head of the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force, told CNN that Cecil was lured out of a national park with food, shot with a crossbow, tracked for 40 more hours, and then shot and killed July 6. Rodrigues said Cecil's skin and head, which was cut off as a trophy, were found and are being held as evidence. The tourist is believed to be a Spaniard, and three other people may have been involved.

Only the operator of the safari, a member of the Zimbabwe Professional Hunters and Guides Association, has been arrested, and has a hearing set for August 6. Cecil's death is hitting David Macdonald of Oxford's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit hard. "It's not many months ago that I watched Cecil with my hand on my heart as he strayed toward a hunting concession," he said. "On that occasion he turned back into the protection of the park, but this time he made a fatal mistake and I feel deeply sad, personally." Macdonald said that research has shown when a male lion is killed, it has a ripple effect and can lead to the deaths of other males and his cubs. Cecil regularly mated with about six lionesses, and leaves behind around 24 cubs. Catherine Garcia

campaign 2016
July 27, 2015
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In an interview conducted entirely in Spanish on Monday, Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush said he was "herido" — the Spanish word for "hurt" — by comments Donald Trump made about Mexican immigrants last month, specifically that those coming to the U.S. are "rapists" who are bringing "drugs" and "crime" to the country.

“I was hurt hearing somebody speaking in such a vulgar fashion,” Bush, whose wife is from Mexico, told MSNBC's Jose Diaz-Balart. "This makes solving this problem much more difficult. When we can have politicians like that we cannot progress. In a political sense it was bad, and it creates an environment that is worse."

Bush also took issue with another GOP presidential candidate, Mike Huckabee, who over the weekend said President Obama's nuclear deal with Iran will "take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven." Bush told reporters in Orlando that he does not agree with the deal, but added, "The use of that kind of language is just wrong. This is not the way we're going to win elections and that's not how we're going to solve problems. So, unfortunate remark — not quite sure why he felt compelled to say it." Catherine Garcia

hold the phone
July 27, 2015
Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

The National Security Agency will destroy nearly 10 years of phone records collected from millions of Americans, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said Monday.

When President Obama signed into law a revised version of the Patriot Act in June following contentious congressional debate, the NSA lost its legal ability to collect the bulk records. Going forward, intelligence agencies must seek targeted records directly from phone companies. Since the amendment became law, White House officials have been discussing whether to keep the existing records going forward.

The bulk collection program, first implemented under President George W. Bush, came under scrutiny after whistleblower Edward Snowden brought the policy to the public's attention in 2013.

Phone records connected to pending lawsuits will be preserved. Julie Kliegman

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