Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 27, 2017

Moonlight wins Best Picture after Oscars mix-up, Trump's Navy secretary pick withdraws, and more


Moonlight wins Best Picture after embarrassing Oscars mix-up

Moonlight, a coming-of-age story about a young African-American man struggling with his sexuality, won the Oscar for Best Picture on Sunday night in an upset that capped an Academy Awards ceremony that celebrated diversity. Moonlight's win was announced after a bizarre mix-up in which Warren Beatty, joined by his Bonnie & Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway, were handed the wrong envelope and mistakenly declared that La La Land had won. La La Land entered the 89th Oscars ceremony with a leading 14 nominations, and wound up winning six awards. The envelope that confused Beatty and Dunaway named Emma Stone as Best Actress for her role in La La Land. Casey Affleck won Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea. The night was salted with political remarks. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose drama The Salesman won Best Foreign Language Film, boycotted the ceremony over Trump's travel ban.


Trump's pick for Navy secretary withdraws

President Trump's Navy secretary nominee, Philip Bilden, withdrew from consideration on Sunday. "I have determined that I will not be able to satisfy the Office of Government Ethics requirements without undue disruption and materially adverse divestment of my family's private financial interests," he said. Bilden, a private equity executive and former military intelligence officer, was the second Trump military-service nominee to bow out. Vincent Viola withdrew from consideration to be Army secretary earlier this month.


Trumps host first White House social event

President Trump and first lady Melania Trump hosted 46 governors and their spouses at the black-tie Governors' Ball on Sunday evening, the Trump White House's first big social event. Trump told the governors in his dinner toast that thanks to the first lady, the candle-lit "room, they say, has never looked better, but who knows?" He went on to say that in his first month in office, "we've accomplished almost everything we've started out to accomplish." "The borders are stricter, tighter. We're doing a really good job... We've made a lot of promises over the last two years and many of those promises already are kept so we're very honored by that."


New DNC chair spars with Trump on first day

On his first day as Democratic National Committee chairman, Tom Perez harshly accused President Trump of failing to do "anything constructive" since taking office in January. "He hasn't proposed anything but chaos and carnage from day one," Perez said on NBC's Meet the Press. Perez served as labor secretary under former President Barack Obama, and Trump tweeted that Hillary Clinton had "rigged" the DNC vote to tip it to Perez over Rep. Keith Ellison, who was favored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and the party's progressive wing. Perez said he and Ellison, now Perez's top deputy at the DNC, got a "good kick" out of Trump's remark. "Frankly, what we need to be looking at is whether the election is rigged by Donald Trump and his buddy, Vladimir Putin."


Father of SEAL killed in raid calls for investigation

A senior White House spokeswoman, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said Sunday that President Trump was likely to support an investigation requested by the father of William "Ryan" Owens, the Navy SEAL killed during a counterterrorism raid in Yemen last month. Owens' father, Bill Owens, told The Miami Herald in an article published Sunday that he had refused to meet with Trump when his son's body arrived at Dover Air Force base. The Trump administration has called the mission a success, saying it yielded valuable intelligence, and claimed that any criticism dishonors Owens. The elder Owens said the administration owes it to his son to explain why it conducted the "stupid raid" days after Trump's inauguration. "Don't hide behind my son's death to prevent an investigation," Owens said.


Spicer cracks down on staff to stop leaks

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is cracking down on his own staff in an attempt to find the source of White House leaks. Spicer last week reportedly urgently summoned staffers after information leaked from a planning meeting involving a dozen of his staff members. The nature of the "emergency meeting" leaked, too, however. Spicer reportedly made staffers put their electronic devices on the table for a "phone check" to prove they had not made any unauthorized communications, and told them that using encrypted apps such as Confide and Signal violated the Presidential Records Act.


Treasury secretary says Trump budget won't touch entitlement programs

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a Fox News interview released on Sunday that President Trump's budget will focus on cutting taxes to boost economic growth, leaving alone entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. "We are not touching those now," Mnuchin said. The administration aims to lift economic growth by 3 percent through a mix of tax and regulation cuts, and Mnuchin said that President Trump would address tax reform in his speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday. "This is all about creating growth," he said. Trump also reportedly plans to ask for a sharp increase in military spending.


Headstones toppled at second Jewish cemetery

Vandals hit Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia


Vandals toppled dozens of headstones at a Philadelphia Jewish cemetery on Sunday, the second such attack in the U.S. in a week. Jim McReynolds, a Philadelphia police detective, said at least 75 to 100 headstones had been knocked over at Mount Carmel Cemetery. Several were broken. Police said they were investigating whether the incident was motivated by anti-Semitism as seen in a wave of recent threats across the nation, noting that 33 tombstones at a nearby Catholic cemetery were toppled earlier this month. "We just have to find out if it's drunken kids or an act of — well, it is a predominantly Jewish cemetery, so we have to look into that fact," McReynolds said.


Casualties surge as Iraqi government forces push into western Mosul

Iraqi forces in the western-Mosul offensive suffered a surge in casualties over the weekend as they pushed into the city proper, after driving Islamic State fighters out of rural areas nearby. At least 30 Iraqi security forces, along with more than 200 civilians, were killed or wounded over three days, according to medics. Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, is the last major urban stronghold ISIS has in Iraq, making this offensive a critical part of the Iraqi government's fight against the Islamist extremist group.


Bill Paxton, film and TV star, dies at 61

Actor Bill Paxton, known for roles in such films as Aliens, Titanic, and Twister, has died from surgery complications, his family said in a statement Sunday. He was 61. Paxton began his four-decade film career working in art departments before jumping into acting and, later, filmmaking. "Bill's passion for the arts was felt by all who knew him, and his warmth and tireless energy were undeniable," his family said. Paxton also made a mark on TV, starring in HBO's Big Love and CBS' new Training Day. "Big Love was a seminal series for HBO for many years due to Bill's extraordinary talent and grace," HBO said in a statement.


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