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December 16, 2011

The U.S. Coast Guard has reduced the passenger capacity of U.S. commercial vessels to reflect the growing weight of the average American. A boat's capacity used to be based on an assumed average of 160 pounds per passenger, but that’s been raised to 185 pounds. Florida pleasure-boat passenger David Kushner said he approved of the change. "Oh, God, yeah," said Kushner. "I'm 251 with sandals." The Week Staff

1:40 p.m. ET

In addition to apparently giving Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte a pat on the back for the extrajudicial slaughter of thousands of small-time drug users and dealers, President Trump apparently made another major stumble during the leaders' April phone call: Revealing where our nuclear submarines are.

On Tuesday, a leaked transcript of their conversation revealed that Trump reassured Duterte that America has "a lot of firepower" near North Korea. "We have two submarines — the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all," Trump said.

Defense officials were horrified. "We never talk about the subs!" three separate Pentagon officials told BuzzFeed News. While the U.S. announces the movements of aircraft carriers as a show of force — and because they're not very easy to hide — submarines "are, at times, a furtive complement to the carriers, a hard-to-detect means of strategic deterrence," BuzzFeed News writes:

By announcing the presence of nuclear submarines, the president, some Pentagon officials privately explained, gives away the element of surprise — an irony given his repeated declarations during the campaign that the US announces far too many of its military plans when it comes to combating ISIS.

Moreover, some countries in the region, particularly China, seek to develop their anti-sub capability. Knowing that two US submarines are in the region could allow them to test their own military capabilities. [BuzzFeed News]

Additionally, it is unclear why Trump chose to volunteer the potentially sensitive information to Duterte, as the Philippines are not involved with the U.S. military on deescalating and deterring North Korean aggression. Following Trump's highly-criticized decision to share extraordinarily sensitive intelligence with the Russians "off script" earlier this month, his comments to Duterte are "likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information," Reuters reports. Jeva Lange

1:26 p.m. ET
Dave Thompson/Getty Images

U.K. police confirmed Wednesday that they are now investigating a "terror network" in connection to the attack Monday night in Manchester, England, that killed 22 people. "This is a network that we are investigating," Chief Constable Ian Hopkins of the Greater Manchester Police told journalists Wednesday. "There's an extensive investigation going on, and activity taking place across Greater Manchester as we speak."

Salman Abedi, the 22-year-old man who is believed to have exploded a suicide bomb at an Ariana Grande concert, was known to British intelligence and security agencies "up to a point," British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said. On Wednesday, police made a fifth arrest in connection to the incident.

The U.K. on Tuesday increased its terrorist threat level to "critical," the highest possible level, for the first time in a decade. The designation means a terror attack is considered "imminent" and allows for up to 3,800 military personnel to be deployed instead of police officers at public events. Becca Stanek

12:23 p.m. ET

To briefly recap: Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in Washington, D.C., in July 2016 in what was likely a botched robbery attempt. Democrats definitely did not assassinate him for leaking info to WikiLeaks, although conspiracy theorists and Fox News host Sean Hannity seem to believe that is the case. Rich's grieving family asked Fox News to stop spreading the false narrative, saying "the conspiracy theories surrounding [Rich's] death cause us unbearable pain," and the network responded by issuing a not-very-apologetic retraction. Hannity said Tuesday that after speaking to Rich's family, "for now I am not discussing this matter at this time."

During all of this, progressive watchdog Media Matters posted a list Tuesday of Sean Hannity's advertisers, calling him "a professional propagandist for President Donald Trump, as well as a bigot, a sexist, and a conspiracy theorist."

Then this happened:

And in case anything wasn't CLEAR:

By Wednesday morning, Hannity was still going, claiming that "liberal fascism" is trying to get him fired. "TODAY, George Soros and Hillary Clinton-supported Media Matters is targeting all of my advertisers to try to get me fired," he raged. "Spoke to many advertisers. They are being inundated with emails to stop advertising on my show. This is Soros/Clinton/Brock liberal fascism."

"DO NOT give up on Sean Hannity," one supporter with the username "TrumpGirlStrong" tweeted in response. "He's not giving up on #SethRich."

Hannity replied:

Stay tuned, indeed. Jeva Lange

12:18 p.m. ET
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump apparently thinks former FBI Director James Comey is a "nut job," but House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) begs to differ. When asked at an Axios Q&A session Wednesday morning whether he agreed with Trump's assessment of the FBI director he fired — which the president reportedly uttered while meeting with Russian officials in the Oval Office — Ryan made clear that he didn't.

"Yeah, I don't agree with that, and he's not," Ryan said, defending Comey against the president's charge.

Ryan said that he thinks Comey was put in an "impossible position," but "served his country ably." "I like Jim Comey," Ryan said, a far cry from Trump's depiction of Comey as a "grandstander" and a "showboat."

Despite his departures from Trump on Comey, Ryan reiterated that he still has confidence in the president. Becca Stanek

11:30 a.m. ET

Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) suggested Wednesday in an interview with CNN that the 2016 Democratic National Committee email leak could have been an "insider job." "There's still some question as to whether the intrusion at the DNC server was an insider job, or whether or not it was the Russians," Farenthold said.

When pressed for evidence to back his claim, Farenthold cited "stuff circulating on the internet." He didn't specify what "stuff."

The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that Russia was behind the cyberattacks throughout the 2016 presidential election, including the DNC hack:

Watch Farenthold's full interview below. His comments about the "insider job" start around the 3:20 mark. Becca Stanek

11:27 a.m. ET
Joe Raedle/Newsmakers

Tommy Arthur, a 75-year-old Alabama inmate sentenced to death in 1983 for murder, is facing his eighth execution date Thursday evening. Seven times before — in 2001, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2016 — he's been slated to sit down for his last meal, only for his execution to be delayed after his legal team won appeals.

Arthur has been accused of two murders: He served five years for the second-degree murder of his wife's sister, but he's maintained his innocence in the 1982 murder of Troy Wicker, for which he was sentenced to death. Arthur's lawyer has argued that "neither a fingerprint or a weapon, nor any other physical evidence" ties Arthur to the murder.

Arthur's case has become a flash point for people on all sides of the death penalty, The New York Times reported. "People who simply want the execution are unhappy because of the passage of time," said Robert Dunham, the executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center. "People who oppose the death penalty are unhappy because they don't want Tommy Arthur executed. People who want fairness are unhappy because, despite the length of time this case has been in the courts, the process has never been fair."

Arthur said his oldest daughter "came to six execution dates, and the stress of her father about to be killed was so traumatic it damaged her heart." She did not come to his seventh execution date and she was not originally planning to come to his eighth, scheduled for Thursday at 6 p.m. Arthur isn't bothering with requesting a last meal either. "I don't believe in that last meal baloney — I never have the appetite. When they're trying to kill you, you're not hungry," he said.

Arthur's lawyers are fighting for another delay, but The New York Times reported that Arthur "allowed that his case might be near its end." On Friday, the day after Arthur's eighth execution date, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is slated to sign a measure that would shorten death penalty appeals. Becca Stanek

10:20 a.m. ET

As President Trump waltzes across the Middle East and Western Europe this week, he leaves at home a gaping hole at the top of the FBI following the ousting of former FBI Director James Comey. Despite Trump claiming he was "very close" to having an FBI director last week, the leading candidate, former Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman (Conn.), is now out of the running, CNN reports.

"Trump has since decided he wants to see a broader range of candidates for the job," CNN reports an administration official as saying.

Lieberman had no federal law enforcement background, The Hill reports, which sparked concerns in Congress. Lieberman is a partner at the same law firm as Trump's private attorney, Marc Kasowitz, who will represent Trump in the investigation, led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

For the position, Trump has also interviewed former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating (R), acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and former FBI official Richard McNeely; McNeely has since withdrawn from the running, and Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher, New York Court of Appeals Associate Judge Michael Garcia, Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R), and South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy (R) have also removed themselves from consideration. Jeva Lange

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