Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 31, 2017

Trump fires acting attorney general for defiance, a "lone wolf" suspect is charged for Quebec mosque murders, and more


Trump fires acting attorney general for defying him on immigration order

President Trump on Monday fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates, an Obama administration holdover, for refusing to defend his executive order on immigration in court. Trump's order temporarily bans entry into the U.S. by people from seven predominantly Muslim nations. Yates said it was probably unlawful. Trump appointed Dana Boente, a Virginia federal prosecutor, to replace her until his nominee for attorney general, Sen. Jeff Sessions, is confirmed. In another gesture of defiance, 100 State Department officials signed a dissent memo warning that barring millions of refugees to find a small number of would-be terrorists could increase the terrorist threat, instead of diminishing it. The White House told the diplomats to "get with the program" or leave.


'Lone wolf' identified as Quebec mosque killing suspect

Quebec City police on Monday identified the suspect in the killing of six worshippers at a mosque as Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old political science student at Université Laval. He was formally charged with six counts of murder. A second man, of Moroccan descent, who was detained at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center, was determined to be a witness, not a suspect. Police "consider this a lone wolf situation," a source told Reuters. U.S. government security experts said a leading theory was that the attacker was a terrorist motivated by hatred of Muslims. A friend of Bissonnette's said he was "enthralled by a borderline racist nationalist movement."


Obama praises people protesting Trump immigration order

Former President Barack Obama, in a rare move for an ex-president, on Monday joined a growing list of political leaders who have spoken out against President Trump's temporary ban on refugees and travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. Kevin Lewis, an Obama spokesman, said the former president was "heartened" by the engagement of protesters across the country. Lewis also said Obama rejected the White House's comparison of Trump's executive order to actions Obama took to step up vetting of Iraqi refugees, saying that Obama "fundamentally disagrees" with prioritizing Christian refugees over Muslim ones. "That's not American," Obama said.


Trump signs executive order to cut federal regulations

President Trump signed an executive order Monday that he said would deliver on his campaign promise to slash government regulations. "We'll be reducing [regulations] big league," Trump said. The order calls for eliminating two old regulations for every new regulation imposed on businesses. "The American dream is back," Trump said, "and we're going to create an environment for small business like we haven't had in many, many decades." Business groups applauded the move but policy experts shrugged. William Gale, a tax and fiscal policy expert at the Brookings Institution, said the order appeared to be a "totally nonsensical constraint," because it's not the number of regulations, but "how onerous regulations are" that matters.


Boy Scouts to allow transgender boys to join

The Boy Scouts of America announced Monday that it would start allowing transgender boys to join. The organization will now use the gender families put on a child's scouting application, rather than that found on a birth certificate, to determine eligibility. The organization asked an 8-year-old New Jersey transgender boy to rejoin the Cub Scouts after being forced out. "We realized that referring to birth certificates as the reference point is no longer sufficient," Boy Scouts chief executive Michael Surbaugh said in a video message. "Communities and state laws are now interpreting gender identity differently than society did in the past." The Boy Scouts ended a ban on gay scouts in 2013 and on gay scout leaders in 2015.


Trump nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court

President Trump on Tuesday night revealed he has picked Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court seat left vacant when Justice Antonin Scalia died nearly a full year ago. Republicans blocked former President Barack Obama's choice, Merrick Garland, refusing to even consider the nomination. With only a 52-seat Senate majority, Republicans will have to win over eight Democrats to get past a threatened filibuster, unless the GOP leadership changes the rules so a simple majority can confirm the pick.


Trump to leave Obama LGBT protections in place

President Trump will leave in place former President Barack Obama's 2014 order creating new workplace protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, the White House said Monday. "President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBT rights, just as he was throughout the election," the statement said. Obama's order prohibited federal contractors from discriminating against gay and transgender employees, marking the first time the federal government explicitly protected workers against discrimination over gender identity.


U.N. Security Council to discuss Iran missile test

The United Nations Security Council plans to meet Tuesday to discuss Iran's latest ballistic missile test, its first since President Trump took office. U.S. diplomats at the U.N. requested the meeting Monday to discuss the launch to determine whether it defied U.N. sanctions. Israel's U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, urged immediate Security Council action, saying the test endangered "not only Israel, but the entire Middle East." During the campaign, Trump frequently condemned the nuclear deal and efforts to contain its missile program. The White House said it was still trying to determine the "exact nature" of the latest test.


Stocks drop as Trump honeymoon cools

U.S. stock futures pointed to a lower open on Tuesday, extending losses on Monday that came as investors worried about potential fallout from President Trump's temporary ban on migrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations. Trump's rapid-fire executive orders also spooked some people, particularly after the confusion caused by the refugee ban. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 0.6 percent, dropping below the psychologically important 20,000 level it reached for the first time last week. The S&P 500 fell by 0.6 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite Index dropped by 0.8 percent. It was the worst day yet for U.S. stocks in 2017.


George H.W. Bush, 92, goes home from hospital

Former President George H.W. Bush was released from Houston Methodist Hospital on Monday after two weeks of treatment for pneumonia. Bush, 92, was admitted on Jan. 14 after experiencing difficulty breathing. He spent part of his time in the Intensive Care Unit connected to a ventilator. His wife of 72 years, Barbara Bush, spent five days in the same hospital to be treated for bronchitis. They were "essentially therapy for each other," one of the physicians who treated the former president said last week.


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