Faced with playing four games in five days in November, the coach of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs decided to have his best players sit out one game against the Miami Heat. Lawyer Larry McGuinness, who attended that game, is now suing the Spurs for damages. "It was like going to Morton's Steakhouse and paying $63 for porterhouse and they bring out cube steak," said McGuinness.
Well, crazier things have happened. On a visit to Bethlehem, in the West Bank, on Tuesday, President Trump told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that he is "committed to trying to achieve a peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians," adding: "And I intend to do everything I can to help them achieve that goal. I look forward to working with these leaders for lasting peace." Such an agreement, long sought by American presidents, could "begin a process of peace all throughout the Middle East," he said. Abbas welcomed Trump's "noble and possible mission," and said he is eager to "keep the door open to dialogue with our Israeli neighbors," while reiterating the Palestinian demands, including a capital in East Jerusalem.
Meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, Trump was similarly upbeat. He said he saw a new willingness among Sunni Muslim leaders gathered in Saudi Arabia to view Iran as more of a threat than Israel. "There's a great feeling for peace throughout the world," Trump said. "I've seen such a different feeling toward Israel from countries that, as you know, were not feeling so well about Israel." Netanyahu welcomed Trump's push for peace. "I also look forward to working closely with you to advance peace in our region, because you have noted so succinctly that common dangers are turning former enemies into partners," he said. "It won't be simple. But for the first time in many years — and, Mr. President, for the first time in my lifetime — I see a real hope for change."
The Trump White House says it is trying new approaches to brokering a peace deal that has eluded numerous predecessors, and Trump has given the task to his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a former Trump organization lawyer, Jason Greenblatt. Middle East experts note that the same old issues are preventing an agreement, including mistrust between Abbas and Netanyahu and their own citizens, territorial disputes, and the right of Palestinian return. During his visit to Bethlehem, Palestinian protesters were clashing with Israeli security forces.
After his trip to the West Bank, Trump has a brief stop planned at Israel's Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial museum then a speech elsewhere in Jerusalem. He leaves for Rome later Tuesday for a meeting with Pope Francis on Wednesday, before a NATO summit in Brussels and a G7 summit in Sicily. Peter Weber
Trump says U.S. stands 'in absolute solidarity' with Britain after Manchester attack, slams 'evil losers' responsible
At a news conference in Bethlehem on Tuesday morning, President Trump joined the chorus of world leaders offering condolences to Britain over the presumed terrorist attack by a lone suicide bomber at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester on Monday night, which killed at least 22 people, including children, and wounded at least 59 more, according to police. "We stand in absolute solidarity with the people of the United Kingdom," Trump said, adding that the dead were "murdered by evil losers in life." The ideology of those responsible must be "obliterated," he added. British police have not released any information yet about the man they say detonated an "improvised explosive device" at the end of the concert.
— Julian Druker (@Julian5News) May 23, 2017
In a statement, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the attack "incomprehensible" and said it "will only strengthen our determination to keep acting together with our British friends against those who plan and carry out such inhuman deeds." France's president also offered sympathy, solidarity, and aid. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Europe mourns with Britain today and will help it "fight back against those who seek to destroy our way of life," adding, "It breaks my heart to think that, once again, terrorism has sought to instill fear where there should be joy, to sow division where young people and families should be coming together in celebration."
Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called the explosion at a concert primarily for teenage girls a "brutal attack on young people everywhere." He added, "This incident, this attack, is especially vile, especially criminal, especially horrific because it appears to have been deliberately directed at teenagers." Peter Weber
President Trump is out of the country, and Stephen Colbert said that gave him a little extra pep in his step. "By the way, federal judges, now would be a good time to reinstate that travel ban," he said on Monday's Late Show. "He'll be flying in from a dangerous part of the world, he's said some radical stuff, I'm just saying. 'Extreme vetting,' that's all I'm asking for."
Colbert started with Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia, including the many similarities between what Trump criticized former President Barack Obama over and what he himself did — Obama bowed to accept a gold medallion, for example, and Trump threw in a curtsy. "It doesn't matter, you gotta bow to get the thing around your neck," Colbert said. "But it is kind of a dirty trick by the Saudi king. First of all, he's short. Second, he holds the medal down here."
Trump also gamely participated in a traditional sword dance, but "but not everyone looked that comfortable at the party," Colbert said. "Here's Steve Bannon realizing these aren't the kind of men in white robes he's used to." And of course he touched on the odd image of Trump and the Saudi king touching a glowing orb. "Fellas, if I may, you need to work on your not-looking-like-supervillain skills," he said. Finally, Colbert laughed a little darkly at Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' wonder that there were no anti-Trump protests in Saudi Arabia, given what Saudi Arabia does to protesters.
Trump flew to Israel on Monday, and his plans include a big push for, according to a real White House press release, "lasting peach" between Israel and the Palestinians. "Yes, lasting peach," Colbert said. "And I think this one's really going to resonate with the American people, because Americans really want something with peach in it — peach ice cream, peach cobbler, impeach, anything with peach." In Israel, Trump also inadvertently admitted he passed classified secrets from Israel to the Russians, and visited the Western Wall, the holiest site in Judaism. "Nice wall," Colbert said, in Trump voice. "How did you get Mexico to pay for it?" He ended with a "Donald Trump palate-cleanser," involving a girl and a sea lion.
If you wanted to end on a Trump note, here are some imaginary, cheeky post cards from Trump's travels. Peter Weber
On Tuesday morning, Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of the Greater Manchester Police said that the deadly explosion at the end of Monday night's Ariana Grande concert in the English city's Manchester Arena was likely caused by one man who exploded an "improvised explosive device" and died in the blast. He also raised the death toll to 22 people, including children, and said 59 people were wounded. British authorities are treating the explosion as a terrorist attack, and Hopkins said police believe the man acted alone but have 400 officers deployed in the investigation, which will try to determine if the attacker was part of a broader network and if nuts and bolts were used as shrapnel, as some concertgoers have reported.
Security was tight at the arena, as for all concerts, and it isn't clear that the suicide bomber was inside the venue at all. Some reports suggest the explosion came from the ticket area, the foyer, or the covered area connecting the arena to the adjacent train station. Peter Weber
With President Trump overseas, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney previewed Trump's first full budget proposal on Monday. The $4.1 trillion plan won't be released until Tuesday, but Mulvaney outlined the steep cuts to Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, social services for the low-income and disabled, most federal agencies, farm subsidies, federal pension benefits, college loans, highway funds, medical research, and foreign aid, paired with billions more for the Pentagon, Veterans Affairs Department, and Homeland Security. The proposal also includes $19 billion in new spending to help states provide six weeks of paid leave for new mother and fathers, a priority for Ivanka Trump.
The proposal foresees a balanced budget in 10 years, but that relies on growth of at least 3 percent a year, widely seen as exceedingly optimistic, plus Congress passing the American Health Care Act along lines laid out in the House Republican version. Using more conventional projections, it leaves a gaping hole in the budget. The blueprint does not cut Medicare or the main part of Social Security — though the Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) program goes under the knife — because Trump promised not to, Mulvaney said, adding that SSDI doesn't count under the promise because for voters, "it's old age retirement that they think of when they think of Social Security," not disability benefits.
For Trump's budget plan to become reality, Congress would have to sign on. That is seen as unlikely, though Congress will probably have to take Trump's priorities into consideration. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has already panned the proposal, calling it "a budget that takes a meat cleaver to the middle class by gutting the programs that help them the most." Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the $866 billion in Medicaid cuts are probably DOA in the Senate. "I just think it's the prerogative of Congress to make those decisions in consultation with the president," he said. "But almost every president's budget proposal that I know of is basically dead on arrival."
Mulvaney will start trying to sell the plan to the House and Senate budget committees on Wednesday and Thursday, and he told reporters he doesn't expect Congress to enact his wish list unchanged. "If Congress has a different way to get to that endpoint, God bless them," he said. Still, "it would be nice to minimize the daylight between us and them on these things." Peter Weber
A new Department of Homeland Security report released Monday found that in 2016, more than 600,000 foreigners who entered the U.S. legally overstayed their visas, with some just one day over their limit and others never planning on leaving.
The report says that of the 50 million travelers who came to the U.S. in 2016 via air and sea, 1.25 percent overstayed their visas; they make up 40 percent of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, USA Today reports. The Department of Homeland Security released its first report on visa overstays in January 2016, and found that in 2015, 347,632 foreigners who arrived in the U.S. through the Visa Waiver Program, B-1 business visas, or B-2 tourism visas remained in the United States after their visa expired, and that number increased by 13 percent in 2016.
"Identifying overstays is important for national security, public safety, immigration enforcement, and processing applications for immigration benefits," the report said. Catherine Garcia
Richard Collins III was set to graduate from Maryland's Bowie State University on Tuesday, not long after being commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Army. He was killed on Saturday in an "unprovoked attack," and his father is left trying to understand how something like this could happen.
"A parent's worst nightmare has just reached my doorstep," Richard Collins Jr. told NBC Washington. His 23-year-old son was waiting with friends for an Uber car on the University of Maryland campus when they were approached by the suspect, 22-year-old Sean Urbanski, court documents said. Witnesses told police Urbanski said, "Step left, step left if you know what's best for you," and Collins said no. Urbanski continued to walk closer, then pulled a knife out and stabbed Collins once in the chest, court documents said. Collins was pronounced dead at a local hospital, and Urbanski, after being identified by witnesses as Collins' attacker, was arrested while sitting at a bus stop. Urbanski has been charged with murder and assault, and a judge on Monday ruled he should be held without bond because he was "an absolute danger to the community."
After it was discovered that Urbanski was a member of a Facebook group called Alt-Reich Nation, University of Maryland Police Chief David Mitchell asked the FBI for help determining if the incident was a hate crime. Meanwhile, Collins' father is remembering how his son could "make friends no matter what group he was around" and enjoyed running and playing soccer and lacrosse. The younger Collins was a competitive athlete who had a "loving and giving heart," his father told NBC Washington. "He would go out of his way, sometimes to my chagrin, to try and help others. But you want to try to encourage that in your children." Catherine Garcia