September 28, 2015

More than 170,000 people have volunteered to sift through the dirt of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem over the past decade, but the project's most important find was made by a 10-year-old boy from Russia. Matvei Tcepliaev was volunteering at the Temple Mount Sifting Project recently when he uncovered an ancient coin from the 10th century BCE — when King David was ruling. The Temple Mount is the site where, according to the Bible, King David built the First Temple of the Jews around 1000 BC.

The dirt through which Tcepliaev was sifting was "removed illegally from the Israeli capital's most contested holy site at the turn of the 20th century," the New Historian says. While the illegal removal of the dirt destroyed much of the historical context, archaeologists have still uncovered valuable objects, which they then can date through comparisons with other artifacts.

The latest find, which archaeologists note is "the first of its kind to be discovered anywhere within the entire city," offers researchers some evidence that the Bible's depiction of Jerusalem in the 10th century BCE is accurate and that Temple Mount very well may have been an administrative center. The date on the coin's seal corresponds with King David's conquest of Jerusalem, the Temple's construction, and the creation of King Solomon's royal office compound. Becca Stanek

1:48 p.m. ET

Apparently Rex Tillerson isn't the only Cabinet member in the Trump administration who looks down on the president.

BuzzFeed News reported Monday that at a private dinner in July, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster compared President Trump's intelligence to that of a kindergartner. McMaster additionally said the president was "an idiot" and "a dope," BuzzFeed News reported, while dining with Oracle CEO Safra Catz.

One source who spoke to BuzzFeed News said that McMaster also had harsh words for former White House strategist Stephen Bannon; Secretary of Defense James Mattis; Tillerson, the secretary of state; and Trump's son-in-law/opioid crisis solver/broker of Middle East peace, Jared Kushner. Five sources confirmed the contents of McMaster's table talk to BuzzFeed News, while a sixth claimed that the national security adviser has also questioned Trump's intelligence — or lack thereof — in private.

Officials from both Oracle and the Trump administration rejected the claim that McMaster spoke disparagingly of Trump and the other Cabinet officials while at dinner with Catz.

McMaster, like Tillerson, has long been a target of the alt-right for holding "establishment" and "globalist" positions on foreign policy. Sources who spoke to BuzzFeed News said McMaster was also deeply critical of Trump's foreign policy positions — most notably the president's disdain for the Iranian nuclear deal. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Michael Anton, a spokesman for the National Security Council said: "Actual participants in the dinner deny that General McMaster made any of the comments attributed to him by anonymous sources. Those false comments represent the diametric opposite of General McMaster's actual views." Kelly O'Meara Morales

1:37 p.m. ET

It has been 17 days since Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was tackled by his neighbor, Rene Boucher, in an incident that has upset the (normally) peaceful gated community of Rivergreen in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Paul reportedly sustained five broken ribs after Boucher ran him down while he was mowing his lawn.

What prompted Boucher's attack is still unclear — if you ask the neighbors, they'll tell you it was a landscaping dispute, although Paul himself has said his libertarian politics provoked his "socialist" neighbor, GQ reports. The real story, though, might be much shorter than that.

Like most everyone else in the Rivergreen development, [Bowling Green resident Bill Goodwin] told me, Boucher pays in the ballpark of $150 a month for professional landscaping, while Paul insists on maintaining his yard himself. Goodwin said that part of what nagged at Boucher was the difference in grass length between his lawn and that of his libertarian neighbor's. "He had his yard sitting at a beautiful two-and-a-half, three inches thick, where Rand cuts it to the nub," Goodwin said. [GQ]

Goodwin also told GQ that Boucher was infuriated by Paul's "tendency to mow outward at the edge of his property, spraying his clippings into Boucher's yard." Read more about the dispute at GQ. Jeva Lange

1:01 p.m. ET

President Trump has reinstated North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism in an effort to crack down on Kim Jong Un's nuclear program, The New York Times reports. Former President George W. Bush removed North Korea from the list in 2008 while attempting to negotiate a nuclear deal. The nation was first listed in 1988.

"Today the United States is designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism," Trump said in his announcement Monday. "Should have happened a long time ago, should have happened years ago. In addition to threatening the world by nuclear devastation, North Korea has repeatedly supported acts of international terrorism including assassinations on foreign soil."

Last year, South Korean officials claimed Kim had sent assassins abroad to kill or abduct defectors. North Korea has successfully killed defectors in the past, such as when the nephew of the former wife of the previous North Korean leader, Kim Jong Il, was assassinated in South Korea in 1997. Additionally, two female assassins were accused of killing Kim's estranged older half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, in Malaysia earlier this year.

North Korea joins a list of state sponsors of terrorism that includes Sudan, Syria, and Iran. The announcement follows Trump's 12-day trip through Asia, including a stop in South Korea. Watch his declaration below. Jeva Lange

12:50 p.m. ET

The Trump administration's Federal Communications Commission is expected to announce its plans to begin dismantling of the Obama-era net neutrality rules this week, with an official rollback anticipated following a mid-December meeting, The Wall Street Journal reports.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai vowed last winter that he would take "a weed whacker" to the regulations. Pai argues that the rules — which prevent internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T from tinkering with the speed of certain websites and applications — are preventing innovation in the industry. Supporters of the standards, such as the nonpartisan Free Press, argue that "without net neutrality, cable and phone companies could carve the internet into fast and slow lanes … This would destroy the open internet."

If the dismantling is successful, internet providers will have "more flexibility to use bundles of services and creative pricing to make their favored content more attractive to consumers," The Wall Street Journal explains. Or, as Slate puts it: "Without network neutrality rules, internet providers stand to make a lot of money, since the companies will be able to operate what is essentially a two-way toll — collecting money from both subscribers and websites that want to reach those users at faster speeds."

The new rules are expected to be announced Wednesday, British tech website The Inquirer writes, adding that "the important point, as we've said before, is that once the genie is out of the bottle, getting it back in is almost impossible." Jeva Lange

12:10 p.m. ET
Alex Wong/Getty Images

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on Monday refused to explicitly disavow Alabama Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore because of tax reform. Conway, appearing on Fox & Friends on Monday morning, warned the people of Alabama (and presumably the president) that a vote for Democratic candidate Doug Jones is "a vote against tax cuts."

After Conway made the case against Jones, Fox & Friends host Brian Kilmeade asked: "So vote Roy Moore?" Conway demurred and turned her ire toward embattled Democratic senators. "I'm telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through," she said. "And if the media were really concerned about all these allegations ... Al Franken would be on the ash heap of bygone half-funny comedians."

After the hosts noted that the Republican National Committee and various other top-tier Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), had withdrawn their support for Moore after allegations of his sexual misconduct with teenagers became public, Conway assured them that President Trump would not campaign in Alabama on Moore's behalf.

Conway's remarks echo the White House's unofficial position on the Alabama Senate race: White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week that while Trump takes the allegations against Moore seriously, "he thinks the people of Alabama should make the decision on who their senator should be."

Although Trump attacked Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) on Twitter last week for his alleged sexual misconduct, the president has not addressed the accusations against Moore. Sanders has defended the president against his own accusations of sexual assault by saying that "the American people I think spoke loud and clear when they elected this president."

Watch Conway talk taxes and Moore at Mediaite. Kelly O'Meara Morales

11:13 a.m. ET
Kirk Irwin/Getty Images for SiriusXM

New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush is accused of making unwanted advances on aspiring young female journalists, Vox reports. Formerly of Politico, Thrush, 50, is accused in one instance of paying for a colleague's cab in order to be left alone with Vox reporter Laura McGann. "He slid into my side of the booth, blocking me in," writes McGann of the incident, which she says took place five years ago. "I was wearing a skirt, and he put his hand on my thigh. He started kissing me."

In another account, from June 2015, a young woman at a bar with Thrush texted her friend, Bianca Padró Ocasio, from the bathroom: "I'm drunk," she wrote. "I'm nervous about this Glenn situation." The woman's friends urged her to get an Uber, but she reportedly left the bar with Thrush to get fresh air instead:

[Thrush] led her down an incline to a dimly lit path along the old C&O Canal bed. He kissed her, she says, and she panicked. Then her phone rang, jolting her. It was Padró Ocasio […] The young woman ordered an Uber — the receipt shows it was about 11 p.m. — and says she planned to call Padró Ocasio back once inside the car. In the few minutes she waited, she said, Thrush walked back over to her and started to kiss her again. She began to cry. When Thrush saw, he abruptly walked off, waving his hand flippantly, and left her alone to wait for her ride, she said. [Vox]

Thrush called the June incident "a life-changing event [for me]" and said that "over the past several years, I have responded to a succession of personal and health crises by drinking heavily." He added: "I have not taken a drink since June 15, 2017, have resumed counseling, and will soon begin out-patient treatment for alcoholism."

The New York Times says Thrush is suspended while the reports are investigated. Read more at Vox. Jeva Lange

11:06 a.m. ET
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Values voters are, as the name suggests, voters who say they make their Election Day choices primarily motivated by their moral values, a political calculus that would prioritize good moral character in candidates for office. In practice, however, a new data analysis from FiveThirtyEight shows the most important values for values voters are actually policies — and candidates who pledge to defend those positions can win values voters' support irrespective of their personal morality.

To be clear, values voters' views on these top policy topics are informed by their values, but when it comes to voting, those secondary positions, rather than the values themselves, dominate the decision. For example, a 2004 poll of self-described values voters found 44 percent "mentioned specific issues like abortion or gay marriage" as the top concerns that came to mind when they thought of "moral values." Just 23 percent mentioned candidates' character.

Likewise, a 2015 poll of evangelicals, a group with considerable overlap with the values voters category, found their presidential vote was more determined by positions on key policies than by whether moral values were evident or absent in candidates' own lives. There's even some anecdotal evidence of this dynamic among this morning's headlines here at The Week: "Trump voter claims not even Jesus could convince him Trump has done anything wrong." Bonnie Kristian

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