Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 17, 2017

Harold Maass
A Malaysia Airlines jet on the tarmac
How Foo Yeen/Getty Images


Search ends for missing Malaysia Airlines plane

The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been called off after an unsuccessful $135 million hunt for the missing plane, the governments of Malaysia, Australia, and China said Tuesday. The Boeing 777 disappeared on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board after veering off course on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Satellite data indicated that it flew south for six hours before plunging into the southern Indian Ocean, but an exhaustive search of a 46,000 square mile area failed to locate the aircraft, although several pieces of debris washed ashore on Reunion Island, Mauritius, and Africa's eastern seaboard. [Bloomberg, The Washington Post]


Pulse nightclub gunman's wife arrested

The FBI on Monday arrested Noor Salman, the wife of Orlando nightclub gunman Omar Mateen. Salman was charged with obstructing justice in connection with the massacre, which left 49 people dead. Salman also reportedly faces a charge of aiding and abetting Mateen. The nature of the accusations suggest that authorities believe she knew about Mateen's plan to attack the Pulse nightclub. Her lawyer denies she had advance knowledge about Mateen's plans. During the siege, he pledged allegiance to the Islamic State during phone calls to a local television station and 911 dispatchers. [USA Today, NBC News]


European leaders rattled by Trump skepticism about E.U., NATO

European leaders reacted with shock on Monday to an interview in which President-elect Donald Trump told the Times of London that the European Union was heading for a breakup and NATO was obsolete. Leaders from France, Germany, and other countries said that they were bracing for an unprecedented weakening of the transatlantic alliance, with the possibility that they would have to unite and stand on their own without the U.S. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she would work with Trump whenever possible, but, "We Europeans have our destiny in our own hands." [The Washington Post, CNN]


Trump heads into inauguration with historically low favorable rating

President-elect Donald Trump's favorable rating remains historically low just days before his inauguration, according to a Gallup poll released on Monday. The poll put Trump's favorable rating at 40 percent, roughly half of Obama's 78 percent rating leading up to his 2009 inauguration. He also is the only one among the most recent four presidents to enter office with an unfavorable score higher than his favorable score. Fifty-five percent of respondents have an unfavorable view of Trump, compared to just 18 percent of Obama in 2009. Trump's favorable rating has, however, edged up from where it was during the campaign, around 38 percent. [Gallup]


Monica Crowley declines Trump administration role after plagiarism accusation

Conservative commentator Monica Crowley on Monday backed out of taking a senior communications job in President-elect Donald Trump's administration after a CNN investigation uncovered several plagiarized passages in her 2012 book. "After much reflection I have decided to remain in New York to pursue other opportunities and will not be taking a position in the incoming administration," she told The Washington Times, which was first to report the news. "I greatly appreciate being asked to be part of President-elect Trump's team and I will continue to enthusiastically support him and his agenda for American renewal." [The Washington Times, CNN]


Turkey arrests suspect in Istanbul nightclub massacre

Turkish police have captured the man they believe carried out the New Year's attack that left 39 people dead at an Istanbul nightclub. Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said the man, Abdulkadir Masharipov, was being questioned by police. Istanbul's governor, Vasip Şahin, said the suspect had confessed, and "it is clear" that he staged the attack on behalf of the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility. He added that Masharipov is believed to have trained as a militant in Afghanistan, and entered Turkey illegally a year ago. [The Associated Press, Hurriyet Daily News]


Kyrgyz authorities say 'crew error' probably caused cargo plane crash

A Turkish cargo plane crashed into the village of Dacha-Suu on the outskirts of the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, on Monday, killing 37 people and destroying at least 15 houses. Kyrgyz Deputy Prime Minister Muhammetkaly Abulgaziev told state-run news that "crew error" appeared to have been the cause of the disaster, according to a preliminary investigation. Poor visibility due to a thick mist might have been a contributing factor. [CNN]


Theresa May calls for hard Brexit in long-awaited speech

British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a clean break with the European Union in a long-awaited Tuesday speech, saying that the U.K. will leave the European single market but still "seek the greatest possible access to it through a new comprehensive, bold, and ambitious free trade agreement." May indicated that controlling Britain's borders is the government's priority, even if it means losing trading advantages. She said an "independent, self-governing" Britain would seek "a new and equal partnership" with the countries in the EU. [The New York Times, Reuters]


Two eyewear giants plan $49 billion merger

Essilor of France said on Monday that it planned to merge with Luxottica Group of Italy in a deal worth $49 billion. The combined company, EssilorLuxottica, would bring together the industry's two largest companies to form the largest eyewear maker in the world. Essilor makes lenses, and Luxottica makes eyeglasses and sunglasses under numerous brand names, including Ray-Ban and Oakley. The new company will have more than 140,000 employees. It will bring together a host of brands and stores, including Foster Grant, Oliver Peoples, Persol, LensCrafters, Pearle Vision, and Sunglass Hut. [The New York Times]


Gene Cernan, last man on the moon, dies at 82

Former NASA astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, died Monday, NASA announced via Twitter. He was 82. Cernan was the commander of Apollo 17. In December 1972, he became the 11th person to set foot on the moon. His lunar module pilot, Jack Schmitt, followed him, becoming the 12th. Cernan, as commander, got back into the lunar module last, making him the last person to walk on the lunar surface. Cernan also was the second American to complete a space walk, a feat he accomplished on the 1966 Gemini IX mission. [Fox News]