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July 18, 2014
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With the downing of Flight 17 over Ukraine on Thursday, Malaysia Airlines has lost two Boeing 777s and 537 people in the course of six months. "A double tragedy of this nature after such a short period is unheard of in the industry,'' Vivian Lines, a crisis-management expert, told The Wall Street Journal. "They were the wrong airline in the wrong place at the wrong time.''

Passengers are understandably spooked. They are already taking steps to avoid flying Malaysia Airlines, according to The New York Times:

The financial penalty on Malaysia Airlines seemed clear on Friday morning when two planes, one from Cathay Pacific and one from Malaysia Airlines, left Hong Kong International Airport five minutes apart, both bound for Kuala Lumpur. The Cathay Pacific flight was sold out in every class of service, and was so overbooked that the airline took the unusual step of calling at least one passenger at home the night before and telling him that he had been involuntarily bounced to the flight operated by Malaysia Airlines, with which Cathay Pacific has a shared marketing code.

By contrast, the Malaysia Airlines flight was at least one-third empty. [The New York Times]

Even before Flight 370 disappeared mysteriously in March, the airline's parent company was struggling, losing $139.5 million in the first quarter, up significantly from the previous year. Ryu Spaeth

2:09 p.m. ET

At his parole hearing Thursday, O.J. Simpson made the case for why he's a "good guy" who has just had some "problems with fidelity." The 70-year-old former football star has served nearly nine years of a 33-year sentence for kidnapping and armed robbery, stemming from an incident in which Simpson and five other men confronted two sports memorabilia collectors to allegedly reclaim stolen heirlooms. The incident happened in 2007, more than a decade after Simpson was acquitted in 1995 for the murder of his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman.

Simpson insisted during his hearing before the Nevada Board of Parole that he did not know that the men he was with were armed. He also claimed that "nobody's ever accused me of pulling any weapon on them." "I've always thought I've been pretty good with people. I basically have spent a conflict-free life," Simpson said, describing himself as a guy "that pretty much got along with everybody."

Catch a snippet of Simpson's statement below. Becca Stanek

1:11 p.m. ET

President Trump's explanation of health insurance in a recent interview with The New York Times raised some questions about his basic understanding of how health insurance functions. Here's Trump on why "pre-existing conditions are a tough deal":

Because you are basically saying from the moment the insurance, you're 21 years old, you start working and you're paying $12 a year for insurance, and by the time you're 70, you get a nice plan. Here's something where you walk up and say, "I want my insurance." [President Trump, via The New York Times]

The Washington Post took a whack at what Trump was trying to say:

Trump is arguing, it seems, that an insurance system is supposed to be based on people paying in over a lengthy period of time so that, when they need coverage, they've already helped offset the costs. He thinks of it, in other words, a bit like life insurance, or Social Security.

His point, it appears, is that a system where people suddenly have the need for new coverage or coverage that's expensive from the outset "was not supposed to be the way insurance works." That's not really true, of course; for someone born with a heart condition, for example, there was no halcyon period in their 20s when they could pay into the system without needing more back in coverage.

That's how health insurance differs from life insurance. Instead of one person paying against his own future needs, it's a pool of people paying in against their collective future needs. [The Washington Post]

This, coming from the man who claimed senators "couldn't believe" how much he knows about health care. Becca Stanek

12:31 p.m. ET

After being diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer, Arizona Sen. John McCain (R) vowed Thursday morning on Twitter that he would "be back soon" to his Senate duties in Washington, "unfortunately for my sparring partners in Congress." McCain, 80, was diagnosed with a type of tumor known as a glioblastoma after a surgery last week, his office announced Wednesday.

But in addition to his feisty Thursday morning tweet, McCain is hardly slouching on the job while he recovers from the operation — he also issued an official statement Thursday morning regarding President Trump's reported decision to end a CIA program that covertly arms moderate rebels in Syria. That relentless energy is why CNN commentator and former McCain staffer Ana Navarro has faith in McCain's recovery fight, she said on CNN on Thursday morning. "I know that if there's one word that he stands for, it's 'fight,'" Navarro said. "That guy has never given up in his life."

"I have never heard John McCain complain once," Navarro continued. "He is so much more than Sen. McCain. He is a friend, he is a mentor, he is a buddy, he is an adviser, he's a confidante. He's a critiquer — he's honest, he's blunt. He will open doors for you, and he will tell you when you're making mistakes."

Watch Navarro share her touching thoughts on her former boss below. Kimberly Alters

11:19 a.m. ET

Japan's first lady Akie Abe's silence at a recent G-20 summit dinner has left President Trump convinced that she can't speak English. In an interview with The New York Times published Wednesday night, Trump said he found Abe to be a "terrific woman," but noted the fact that she "doesn't speak English" made it "hard" to sit next to her at the dinner that lasted nearly two hours.

"Like, nothing, right? Like zero?" The New York Times' Maggie Haberman clarified. "Like, not 'hello,'" Trump said.

But this keynote address Abe gave in 2014 suggests not only can she say hello in English — she can deliver an entire speech:

Perhaps Abe just wanted to avoid nearly two hours of dinnertime conversation with Trump? Becca Stanek

10:58 a.m. ET
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller will investigate President Trump's business transactions as part of his probe into Russia's election interference, Bloomberg Politics reported Thursday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Mueller is specifically interested in a few developments, Bloomberg said: "Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump's involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, and Trump's sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008." The probe will also investigate deals involving the Bank of Cyprus, of which Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross previously served as vice chairman, and efforts undertaken by Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner to secure financing for certain real estate ventures.

Mueller's expanded probe reflects the investigation's absorption of an earlier probe by former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Before being fired in March, Bharara was gathering information about former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort's financial dealings. "Altogether, the various financial examinations constitute one thread of Mueller's inquiry, which encompasses computer hacking and the dissemination of stolen campaign and voter information as well as the actions of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn," Bloomberg wrote.

In an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, Trump said that any probing by Mueller into his or his family's finances would be a "violation." For more on Mueller's expanded probe, head to Bloomberg Politics. Kimberly Alters

10:53 a.m. ET

William Faulkner likely rolled over in his grave this morning. On Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough compared President Trump's recent rambling responses to The New York Times to the writer's winding, stream-of-consciousness style. To be fair, Scarborough specifically likened Trump's comments to "William Faulkner on acid" — but still the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author can't be flattered.

In the interview, Trump said France's Bastille Day parade "was a super-duper — okay. I mean that was very more than normal"; claimed he thought the information on Hillary Clinton offered to his son by Russia "had something to do with the payment by Russia of the DNC ... Like, it was an illegal act done by the DNC"; and said this about North Korea: "You know, we have a big problem with North Korea. Big. Big, big. You look at all of the things, you look at the line in the sand. The red line in the sand in Syria. He didn't do the shot. I did the shot."

"I mean the sentences just keep going on," Scarborough said. "They're garbled and make absolutely no sense." Scarborough said he felt particularly sorry for Trump's attorneys, who have to deal with Trump's "brain dump."

Catch the Morning Joe segment below and read The New York Times interview here. Becca Stanek

10:50 a.m. ET
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True to her nickname, Julia "Hurricane" Hawkins, 101, set a new national record for the 100-meter dash last week as she stormed across the finish line at the USA Track and Field Outdoors Masters Championships. The Louisiana great-grandmother was the oldest female athlete to compete in the championships, held in Baton Rouge, and shaved six seconds off the current record for women ages 100 or older — clocking in at 40.12 seconds. The former schoolteacher, who swears by her healthy diet, only took up running after her 100th birthday — and was pretty nonchalant about her accomplishment. "I missed my nap for this," said Hawkins after her heroic sprint. Christina Colizza

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