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March 31, 2013

A California creationist is offering $10,000 to anyone who can prove in court that God did not create the world 6,000 years ago. Joseph Mastropaolo, a former professor who believes Genesis' creation story is literally true, says evolutionists "are not stupid people," and "they are bright enough to know there is no scientific evidence they can give."  Samantha Rollins

2:26 p.m. ET

On Friday, a 35-year-old apparent racial extremist named Jeremy Christian allegedly stabbed three people on a light-rail train in Portland, killing two of them, after they interceded to stop Christian from harassing two teenage girls with dark skin, one apparently in a hijab. On Saturday, about 1,000 people gathered in Portland to honor the three men who intervened: Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, a recent graduate of Reed College, and Rick Best, 53, an Army veteran, both of whom died; and David-Cole Fletcher, 21, who survived.

"They didn't have capes," local activist Ellie Eaton said at the vigil. "They were just human beings that we all have the capacity to be like." On Monday, President Trump called the attack "unacceptable," and said the "victims were standing up to hate and intolerance," in a tweet from his official POTUS account:

On Saturday, one of the girls targeted on the MAX train, told a local TV station that she is not a Muslim and that the people who stood up for her were heroes. "I just want to say thank you to the people who put their life on the line for me, because they didn't even know me and they lost their lives because of me and my friend and the way we look," she said. "And I just want to say thank you to them and their family and that I appreciate them because without them, we probably would be dead right now."

Christian has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder and may face more when he is arraigned on Tuesday. Peter Weber

1:39 p.m. ET

New French President Emmanuel Macron hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris on Monday, and the two leaders agreed on the need to work together to try to resolve conflicts in Ukraine and Syria. But they disagreed on the independence and integrity of state-sponsored Russian news outlets RT and Sputnik, which Macron had refused to accredit during his presidential campaign, accusing them of spreading Russian misinformation favoring his pro-Russia rival, Marine Le Pen. On Monday, Putin said Russia did not try to meddle in the French election and argued it would have been strange to not meet with Le Pen.

Standing next to Putin, Macron disagreed about the first part. RT and Sputnik "didn't act like the media, like journalists. They behaved like deceitful propaganda" and "agents of influence," he said, in response to a question from RT France head Xenia Fedorova. "I have always had an exemplary relationship with foreign journalists, but they have to be real journalists," he added. "All foreign journalists, including Russian journalists, had access to my campaign." You don't have to speak French to tell when he's talking about RT and Sputnik, or to catch Putin's expression when the translation reaches his earpiece.

Macron, 39 and in office less than a month, met with President Trump for the first time last week, and their interactions suggest his extraordinary critique of Russian media in front of Putin wasn't impromptu. On Sunday, Macron told the French newspaper Journal du Dimanche that his white-knuckled handshake with Trump "wasn't innocent." It wasn't "the be-all and the end-all of a policy, but it was a moment of truth," he added, putting Trump in the same category as Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

"Donald Trump, the Turkish president, or the Russian president see relationships in terms of a balance of power," Macron said, according to The Guardian's translation. "That doesn't bother me. I don't believe in diplomacy by public abuse, but in my bilateral dialogues I won't let anything pass. ... That's how you ensure you are respected. You have to show you won't make small concessions — not even symbolic ones." Peter Weber

12:42 p.m. ET

President Trump helped lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery on Monday, a remembrance of fallen soldiers on Memorial Day, then made his first public remarks since returning from a nine-day trip to Europe and the Middle East on Saturday. "We only hope that every day we can prove worthy, not only of their sacrifice and service, but of the sacrifice made by the families and loved ones they left behind," Trump said, making a special mention of Robert Kelly, a son of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly who died in Afghanistan after stepping on a mine. He also generally thanked members of other Gold Star families, who have lost family members in war, and urged other Americans to thank them, too. "To every Gold Star family: God is with you, and your loved ones are with him." Trump said. You can watch the wreath-laying ceremony below. Peter Weber

12:03 p.m. ET

Golf great Tiger Woods was arrested at 3 a.m. on suspicion of driving under the influence in Palm Beach County, Florida, police in Jupiter said Monday. He was charged and booked into a Palm Beach County jail at around 7 a.m., then released on his own recognizance at 10:50 Monday morning, according to police records.

Woods, 41, has struggled with his golf game since multiple back surgeries in 2014. Peter Weber

11:49 a.m. ET
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Reports over the past few days that Jared Kushner, President Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, tried to set up secret backchannel communications with the Kremlin using Russian diplomatic facilities in December, when he was a private citizen and Trump president-elect, have shaken Kushner's safe perch at the White House, The New York Times reports. "The Trump-Kushner relationship, the most stable partnership in an often unstable West Wing, is showing unmistakable signs of strain."

White House officials spent the weekend defending the use of back-channel diplomacy, generally, with Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly telling ABC News on Sunday that "any way that you can communicate with people, particularly organizations that are maybe not particularly friendly to us, is a good thing." Experts outside the White House disagree, at least in this specific case. "There's no way that it can be appropriate to say, 'I want to use a hostile government's communications system to avoid our government knowing anything about it,'" Eliot Cohen, a Republican foreign policy stalwart, tells The Washington Post. Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, called Sunday for a review of Kushner's security clearance because, among other reasons, he did not disclose his backchannel overtures on his application form.

The new Kushner focus in the Russian investigation has imperiled his "hard-won influence on a mercurial father-in-law who is eager to put distance between himself and a scandal that is swamping his agenda and, he believes, threatening his family," says The New York Times. "That relationship had already begun to fray a bit" due to Kushner's "repeated attempts to oust Stephen K. Bannon," Kushner's family hawking visas-for-cash in Beijing, and Kushner's counsel that firing FBI Director James Comey "would be a political 'win' that would neutralize protesting Democrats because they had called for Mr. Comey's ouster," The Times reports, citing "six West Wing aides."

Trump put out a statement on Sunday calling Kushner "a very good person" who is "doing a great job for the country," adding "I have total confidence in him." But White House aides, some of whom call him "Jared Island" because of his unique and untouchable role, say that Trump has "increasingly included Mr. Kushner when he dresses down aides and officials, a rarity earlier in his administration and during the campaign." You can read more about Kushner's work-family troubles at The New York Times. Peter Weber

10:22 a.m. ET
Loic Venance/AFP/Getty Images

The Square, a Swedish- and English-language comedy, unexpectedly won the biggest award at the 70th Cannes Film Festival, the coveted Palme d'Or. Sofia Coppola was another big winner as she became the second woman in the festival's history to take best director. Coppola won for The Beguiled, a reimagining of a 1971 film based on a novel by Thomas P. Cullinan, about a wounded Union officer in the Civil War who is found by residents of an all-girls boarding school. It stars Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, and Colin Farrell. The first and only other female director to take the honors as best director at Cannes was the Soviet director Yuliya Solntseva, who won in 1961 for her World War II film The Story of the Flaming Years. Harold Maass

9:59 a.m. ET
Kim Won-Jin/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea continued a series of controversial weapons tests on Monday with the launch of at least one short-range ballistic missile. The apparent Scud-class ballistic missile flew about 280 miles before coming down in the Sea in Japan's economic zone, South Korean officials said. The launch came after two successful tests of North Korean mid- and long-range missiles in the last two weeks. President Trump responded on Twitter that "North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile ... but China is trying hard!"

North Korea's refusal to curb its missile and nuclear weapons programs in defiance of United Nations resolutions and international sanctions has ratcheted up tensions with the U.S. and other nations. The U.S. on Tuesday plans to conduct its first test of a missile defense system intended to intercept ICBMs. Harold Maass

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