Coming just a day after President Barack Obama spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the ongoing Ukraine crisis, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry turned his America-bound plane around and traveled instead to Paris.
There, Kerry will meet on Sunday with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. The two met earlier this month concerning Crimea, the disputed peninsula which voted to join Russia amidst pressure from Moscow. The United States and other Western nations have more recently expressed concern toward Russian troop movements near other parts of Ukraine, although Putin has maintained those are merely training drills.
Hopefully, this meeting between Kerry and Lavrov will be a little less tense than the last. --Sarah Eberspacher
(AP Photo/Brendan Smialowski, Pool-File)
Cambridge Analytica CEO Alexander Nix was suspended by the company on Tuesday, following the release of a secret recording that features Nix talking to an undercover reporter about how to obtain compromising material on an opponent.
The data company worked for President Trump's campaign, and in the tapes, Nix and other executives hint they used bribes and other underhanded techniques to influence more than 200 elections around the world. The undercover reporter was from Britain's Channel 4, and posed as someone who wanted dirt on a Sri Lankan candidate. Nix told him he could "send some girls around to the candidate's house," and when pressed, said they would be Ukrainians. "They are very beautiful," he said. "I find that works very well."
Cambridge Analytica said on Monday the report had been "edited and scripted" to misrepresent the conversations. On Tuesday, the company said it would launch a "full, independent investigation." Catherine Garcia
Authorities in Austin, Texas, responded to an explosion at a Goodwill store in the southern part of the city Tuesday night. One person was injured.
The victim is a male in his 30s, and his injuries are described as serious but not life-threatening. The Austin Police Department later tweeted that it was "not a bomb, rather an incendiary device" that went off inside a package, and "at this time, we have no reason to believe this incident is related to previous package bombs." The injured man, a Goodwill employee, took a box of donations "around the corner, and upon looking inside of it, it had two small devices that are artillery simulators that looked like some type of military ordinance or some type of memento," assistant Austin Police chief Ely Reyes said in a press conference late Tuesday. The incendiary device was also described as a flare.
There has been a string of bombings throughout Austin since March 2, and police believe that those incidents are connected. Two people have been killed, and four others seriously injured since the first bomb exploded inside a package. Early Tuesday, a package exploded at a FedEx shipping center 60 miles south of Austin, and the FBI said a suspicious package reported at a FedEx distribution center near Austin's airport "contained an explosive device."
This is a breaking news story, and has been updated throughout. Catherine Garcia
Before he called Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, President Trump was warned in all caps by national security advisers not to congratulate Putin on his re-election, officials familiar with the phone call told The Washington Post.
Trump did congratulate Putin, and the White House later said they also discussed arms control and the situations in Syria and North Korea. His briefing materials included the note "DO NOT CONGRATULATE," and aides told Trump he needed to condemn the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in England earlier this month; several countries, including the U.S., say Moscow is likely behind the attack. Trump didn't bring this up, the Post reports. Analysts say Russia's election, which Putin won with 76 percent of the vote, was undemocratic, and there are videos showing ballot box stuffing.
One senior White House official told the Post that it's not clear if Trump read the materials, and another said National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster did not explicitly say anything about not congratulating Putin during a phone briefing ahead of the call. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was not impressed by Trump's conversation with Putin, and tweeted Tuesday afternoon: "An American president does not lead the free world by congratulating dictators on winning sham elections. And by doing so with Vladimir Putin, President Trump insulted every Russian citizen who was denied the right to vote in a free and fair election." Catherine Garcia
After spending a decade at Fox News as a strategic analyst, retired Lt. Col. Ralph Peters did not renew his contract, and sent colleagues a farewell email detailing all of the issues he has with the network, which he calls a "propaganda machine for a destructive and ethically ruinous administration."
Peters, who often appeared on Fox as a vocal critic of former President Barack Obama's foreign policy, wrote in his email that he believes Fox News is "assaulting our constitutional order and the rule of law, while fostering corrosive and unjustified paranoia among viewers. Over my decade with Fox, I long was proud of the association. Now I am ashamed."
The network once provided "a legitimate and much-needed outlet for conservative voices," he said, but now, primetime hosts like Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson "dismiss facts and empirical reality to launch profoundly dishonest assaults on the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts, the intelligence community (in which I served) and, not least, a model public servant and genuine war hero such as Robert Mueller."
In a statement, Fox News said Peters is "entitled to his opinion despite the fact that he's choosing to use it as a weapon in order to gain attention. We are extremely proud of our top-rated primetime hosts and all of our opinion programing." Read Peters' entire email at BuzzFeed News. Catherine Garcia
A New York judge on Tuesday rejected President Trump's motion to dismiss a defamation lawsuit filed by Summer Zervos, a contestant on The Apprentice in 2005.
Zervos has claimed that in 2007, while in Trump's New York office, he kissed her on the lips twice, making her "uncomfortable, nervous, and embarrassed." She also alleged that while at the Beverly Hills Hotel, Trump kissed and groped her, and pressed his genitals against her. In January 2017, Zervos filed a defamation suit against Trump, after he made inflammatory comments on the campaign trail about Zervos and other women who accused him of misconduct.
In her decision, Judge Jennifer Schecter wrote that "no one is above the law," and "nothing in the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution even suggests that the president cannot be called to account before a state court for wrongful conduct that bears no relationship to any federal executive responsibility." Trump's attorney, Marc Kasowitz, has argued that Trump's comments were just political rhetoric, and on Tuesday, said he will appeal the decision. Catherine Garcia
It's been six months since Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico, and the island still has a long way to go in recovering from the storm, which left hundreds of thousands of citizens without homes, electricity, or running water. But beyond infrastructure reconstruction, Puerto Rico faces another challenge as a result of the storm: skyrocketing suicide rates.
The number of suicide attempts between November 2017 and January 2018 was more than double the same period a year ago, Vox reported, based on data from the island's Commission for Suicide Prevention. The report found that in those three months, a crisis hotline run by Puerto Rico's health department received more than 3,000 calls from people who said they had attempted suicide — a 246 percent increase from the same period the previous year, Vox said.
In the same period, the hotline also received more than 9,600 calls from people who reported suicidal thoughts — an 83 percent increase from a year ago. El Nuevo Día, a Puerto Rican newspaper, reported that high rates of unemployment and homelessness after Hurricane Maria were likely contributing to the mental health crisis.
Puerto Rico was hit by the Category 4 storm in September, resulting in an estimated $100 billion in damage, reports The Washington Post. The island has made some headway restoring the electrical grid and rebuilding roofs on damaged homes, though many residents are still without power. The storm's total death toll is still unknown, as a recount is set to be completed in April. Summer Meza
Google is ready to shell out $3 million in the battle against fake news.
A new project called Mediawise, which is being funded by the tech giant, aims to help teenagers identify fake news online. The Poynter Institute, a resource for journalists, will head the project, which intends to enlist the help of educators and YouTube content creators, including author John Green.
Mediawise will include a media literacy curriculum for middle and high school students and a "first-of-its-kind teen fact-checking initiative," Poynter explained. The teenaged fact checkers will work with professional journalists online to parse real news from fiction and will produce "heavily visual" reports, Poynter said, "to reach teens wherever they are consuming news."
The effort is centered on a body of research from the Stanford History Education Group that shows that "despite being constantly online, the vast majority of teenagers are unable to correctly evaluate the credibility of online news and information," Poynter said. Adults, Poynter added, "didn't do much better."
Poynter is hoping to engage 1 million students with Mediawise, with at least 50 percent coming from "underserved or low-income" communities. Google's $3 million investment in the project will come over the course of two years. Also Tuesday, the company announced its larger $300 million Google News Initiative, which is an effort to "strengthen quality journalism" through new tools and partnerships with news organizations, per CNN. Mary Catalfamo