On Friday, Australia said it has shifted the search for the remains of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 almost 700 miles to the northeast, based on new analysis of the radar data. Investigators now believe the airplane was traveling at high speeds when it disappeared early March 8, meaning it would have run out of fuel sooner than previously thought. "Either they wanted to land very fast or they wanted to escape radar coverage as soon as possible," Mikael Robertsson of flight-tracking firm Flightradar24 tells The New York Times. "You burn a lot more fuel when you fly very fast, so normally you try to avoid it."
The new search area is smaller than the previous one — about 123,000 square miles, or one-fifth the size of the earlier site — generally shallower, closer to Australia, and predicted to have better weather. But a new zone also means that all the sightings of wreckage from the last week are moot — the search is essentially starting over. --Peter Weber
President Trump tweeted Monday night that Puerto Rico is "in deep trouble" while resident commissioner Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R) estimated that the cost of damage from Hurricane Maria could be as much as $20 billion, far exceeding Hurricane Irma's estimated $1 billion recovery costs. "U.S. officials say that Puerto Rico faces a longer road to recovery than any other part of the U.S. hit by a hurricane, partly because the island nation needs to ship and fly in equipment and personnel that can simply be trucked in to states like Florida and Texas," The Wall Street Journal reports.
Of primary concern is Puerto Rico's power grid, which requires an expensive overhaul. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who visited the territory, has thrown his support behind recovery efforts and called for Puerto Rico not to "be punished" for the hurricane damage.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) September 25, 2017
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) deemed the situation "devastating" and told Gonzalez-Colon he is planning a relief package in October.
Graham-Cassidy, the latest Senate Republican effort to repeal large parts of the Affordable Care Act and transform Medicaid, appeared to have died its final death on Monday evening, when Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) joined Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in stating her intention to vote no on the bill if it comes up for a vote this week. The Senate GOP's ability to pass a health-care bill with just 50 Republican votes, through the budget reconciliation process, ends Saturday, and Republicans have committed to use next fiscal year's budget resolution to pass tax reform with only GOP votes. But in theory, Republicans could combine health care and tax reform in the same budget vehicle, and that idea is gaining steam.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), both sponsors of Graham-Cassidy, are pushing to combine tax reform and health care, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) are among those interested in the idea. Others, including GOP House tax leaders, are wary of threatening tax reform by mixing it up with an ObamaCare repeal effort that has thwarted Republicans all year. "I think we need to move onto tax reform," said Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), adding about Graham-Cassidy. "I think this bill's dead."
But it didn't earn the nickname "Zombie TrumpCare" for nothing. Johnson and Graham are both on the Senate Budget Committee, however, and if both joined all committee Democrats in voting against a budget resolution without health care, it wouldn't pass, meaning tax reform would be at an impasse, too. Both senators threatened to do that on Sunday and Monday. "I think this whole thing is going to get derailed by health care," a GOP lobbyist told Axios. "There are a lot of Republicans who are sick of dealing with health care," says Caitlin Owens at Axios. But President Trump and GOP donors large and small are insistent, and "as we've seen over the last 10 days, it becomes politically difficult for the GOP to ignore a glimmer of hope when it comes to repealing the Affordable Care Act." Peter Weber
Former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon told Alabamans on Monday night that the choice between incumbent Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.) and former Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore is akin to siding with the Washington elite or President Trump. Never mind that Trump, who is enormously popular in the Yellowhammer State, has actually joined forces with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in endorsing Strange in the Alabama GOP Senate primary — Bannon told attendees at a barn rally for Moore that "we did not come here to defy Donald Trump, we came here to praise and honor him."
While Bannon was supporting Moore in his speech, he was also declaring war on McConnell, Axios reports. "Mitch McConnell and this permanent political class is the most corrupt and incompetent group of individuals in this country," Bannon told the crowd. "They think you're a pack of morons. They think you're nothing but rubes. They have no interest at all in what you have to say, what you have to think or what you want to do."
Bannon spoke later with Fox News host Sean Hannity to nail down his point, Al.com reports. "[The Republican establishment] didn't come to Alabama to have a reasoned discussion with you or a debate with you," Bannon told Alabamans. "What they did was spend $30 million to destroy a man. Is that going to work? No." He added: "Alabama, tomorrow, gets to show the entire world ... this populist, nationalist conservative movement is on a rise." Read more about the Alabama Senate race, and watch a clip of Bannon's speech, here at The Week. Jeva Lange
Republican voters in Alabama will decide Tuesday whether to nominate Sen. Luther Strange, the incumbent appointed by the state's unpopular former governor and supported by President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), or Roy Moore, the controversial former judge who has consistently led in the polls and is backed by Trump's most prominent supporters. Trump held a rally for Strange in Huntsville last Friday, and Vice President Mike Pence was in Birmingham to boost him on Monday night, while Stephen Bannon headlined a Monday night barn rally for Moore, joined by Brexit leader Nigel Farange and Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson.
McConnell's allied super PAC has spent millions on ads against Moore, a conservative most famous for defying court orders to remove 10 Commandment monuments and accept a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage — both of which got him removed from the Alabama Supreme Court. Trump has tweeted his support for Strange and phoned in to local radio shows to talk him up as a loyal backer in the Senate.
Bannon has made it his top priority to unseat Strange and boost Moore, hoping to launch an insurgency against the Republican establishment. He was unsparing in his comments Monday night. He called Tuesday a "day of reckoning" for McConnell, his allies, and "the donors" and "corporatists that put up the money" for campaigns. "Mitch McConnell and his permanent political class is the most corrupt, incompetent group of individuals in this country!" he said, insisting, "We did not come here to defy Donald Trump, we came here to praise and honor him."
The winner of Tuesday's primary will face Democrat Doug Jones in deep-red Alabama's December special election. Peter Weber
If President Trump's speeches weren't like gas station bathrooms — "you can only really complain about on thing at a time" — people might be asking "what kind of a human being wants more brain damage?" Trevor Noah said on Monday's Daily Show. But of course, Trump's comments about the NFL not allowing hard enough hits were overshadowed by his broadside against NFL players who protest racism by kneeling during get nation anthem.
Noah compared Trump's "son of bitches" comment with his "nice people" line from last month's neo-Nazi march, and said the weird thing is that until Friday, taking the knee — which started under Obama — had nothing to do with Trump. It does now, he said, and now the NFL is kneeling against Trump and racism, but not the flag. "If they wanted to disrespect the country," he noted pointedly, "they wouldn't kneel silently, they would do crazy things like insult Gold Star families, or make fun of POWs like John McCain, or say that America is morally equivalent to Putin's Russia."
If Trump doesn't think black athletes should kneel during the anthem, when is it the right time for black people to protest in Trump's America? Noah asked. He ran through some comments from Trump, his press secretary, his treasury secretary, and his supporters, finding the most pernicious argument to be that wealthy black players kneeling quietly are being ungrateful. After all, "when a white billionaire spends a year screaming that America is a disaster, he's in touch with the country," Noah said. He ended with an homage to Dr. Seuss: "You still haven't told us the right way for black people to protest. I mean, we know it's wrong to do it in the streets, it's wrong to do it in the tweets, you cannot do it on the field, you cannot do it if you've kneeled. And don't do it if you're rich, you ungrateful son of a bitch, because there's one thing that's a fact: you cannot protest if you're black." Watch below. Peter Weber
Early Tuesday, a Palestinian man opened fire at a checkpoint to enter the upscale Israeli settlement Har Adar, between Jerusalem and the West Bank, killing an Israeli police officer and two private security guards, and wounding a fourth man. The attacker, identified as Nimr Mahmoud Ahmed Jamal, 37, was shot dead. He had hidden among the 150 or so Palestinian workers lined up to enter the settlement, and fired when police grew suspicious and asked him to stop, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said. The attack, during Jewish high holidays, could set back U.S. mediation efforts. President Trump's envoy, Jason Greenblatt, had just arrived in the region.
Gaza's Hamas-led government praised the attack but did not claim responsibility for it, and Israel's Shin Bet security service said the troubled gunman appeared to have acted alone. Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said the attack was "a message to special U.S. envoy Greenblatt" that "Israel's security was and yet remains the supreme consideration in the government's policy, and is above any other consideration of improving and easing the lives of the Palestinians." Palestinian attacks are eased recently, but since September 2015, Palestinians have killed 51 Israelis, two American visitors, and a British tourist; in that time, Israeli forces have killed more than 255 Palestinians. Peter Weber
Stephen Colbert said Monday that he watched the news over the weekend, then "to cheer up, I watched Ken Burns' Vietnam," about a "slightly less divisive time in America." He was talking about President Trump's feud with the NFL, which began Friday when the president encouraged NFL owners to fire "son of a bitch" players who kneel during the national anthem. "After all, the singing of the national anthem is a sacred time," Colbert said, "when red-blooded Americans stand up and run to the bathroom, because that's when the line is the shortest."
"'Son of a bitch,'" Colbert repeated. "That was unnecessary roughness. There should be a flag on that play, and I'm going to say, a Confederate flag." Trump insisted that his comments targeting only black athletes had nothing to do with race, but Colbert wasn't convinced. "Kneeling during the national anthem has everything to do with race — just like your presidency," he said. It has nothing to do with the American flag, however. "Saying that kneeling is a protest against the flag is like saying that Gandhi's hunger strikes were a protest against snacking," Colbert said. In fact, there are rules about how to act around a flag, he added, but it's clearly Trump violating them, not the NFL players.
"Believe it or not, Trump's war with the NFL this weekend wasn't the only fight with black athletes," Colbert said, pointing to Trump's other feud, with the NBA, disinviting the Golden Warriors to the White House because Steph Curry was meh on attending. "But in this instance, Donald Trump is messing with forces he doesn't understand: LeBron James," Colbert said. And James wasn't the only one dunking on Trump on Twitter, he added, reading the "sickest" burn from the Chicago Bulls' Robin Lopez. "It's official," he concluded. "Donald Trump is now going to get fewer visits from basketball players than Kim Jong Un." Watch below. Peter Weber