Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 1, 2017

Trump softens tone in first address to Congress, Democrat Steve Beshear accuses Trump of dividing America, and more


Trump calls for ending 'trivial fights' in first address to Congress

President Trump, in his first address to a joint session of Congress, on Tuesday called for setting aside "trivial fights" to focus on fixing the nation's problems. Trump defended his presidency after a tumultuous first 40 days, and made a bid to smooth the waters by reframing his hard-line campaign promises in more moderate terms. Trump reached across the aisle with a call to pass paid family leave, long a priority for Democrats, and vowed to work with Muslim allies to defeat the Islamic State. He also forcefully pushed some of his most controversial policies, such as his temporary travel ban on people from seven Muslim-majority nations and his immigration crackdown, while urging his opponents to give him a chance. "We are one people, with one destiny," he said. "The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts."


Ex-governor from Kentucky accuses Trump of dividing nation in Democratic response

Former Kentucky governor Steve Beshear delivered the Democratic response to President Trump's address to Congress on Tuesday, accusing Trump of dividing the country and trying to "rip affordable health insurance" from Americans. "Real leaders don't spread derision and division," Beshear said. "Real leaders strengthen. They unify… and they offer real solutions instead of ultimatums and blame." Beshear urged lawmakers to defend the Affordable Care Act, warning that "so far, every Republican idea to replace [the ACA] would reduce the number of Americans covered." Beshear also referred to Trump as "Wall Street's champion." A folksy former leader from a red state, he made a pitch that analysts said was part of Democrats' attempt to win back working-class voters who helped Trump upset Hillary Clinton in November.


Trump places blame for SEAL's death on generals

President Trump on Tuesday responded to criticism by the father of Navy SEAL William "Ryan" Owens, who was killed in a counterterrorism raid in Yemen, by shifting responsibility to his generals. "They came to see me and they explained what they wanted to do, the generals, who are very respected," Trump told Fox & Friends. "My generals are the most respected that we've had in many decades, I would — I believe. And they lost Ryan." Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, said earlier this month that anyone who criticized the raid, the first such mission of Trump's presidency, was dishonoring Ryan, but Ryan's father, William Owens, has called the operation "stupid" and refused to meet with Trump when his son's body was brought back to the U.S. During Trump's address to Congress on Tuesday, Owens' widow received a lengthy standing ovation.


Trump calls for review of Obama-era water protection rule

President Trump on Tuesday told the Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers to review a sweeping clean water rule ordered by the Obama administration, saying he hoped he was "paving the way for the elimination of this very destructive and horrible rule." Trump said the regulation, which he called "a massive power grab," unnecessarily burdened farmers and businesses. Scrapping it could make it easier for farmers and developers to drain wetlands and small streams. Outdoor recreation and environmental groups said the rule, which affects 60 percent of the nation's water bodies, was critical in the protection of drinking water, the landscape, and wildlife.


Jewish leaders criticize alleged Trump remark on bomb threats

The leaders of several Jewish organizations on Tuesday called for President Trump to clarify himself after he reportedly said that recent bomb threats against Jewish centers might not have been expressions of anti-Semitism, but "the reverse" to "make others look bad." Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Trump, who has condemned the threats, made the comments in a meeting with state attorneys general. Critics have interpreted Trump's remarks as a suggestion that bomb threats against more than 60 Jewish institutions since last month were made to hurt Trump's image. A Trump adviser, Anthony Scaramucci, tweeted that it was "highly irresponsible to jump to conclusions" about who made the threats.


11 teens injured when SUV hits band members in Alabama Mardi Gras parade

Eleven teenagers were injured on Tuesday when a Ford Expedition plowed into a high school marching band during a Mardi Gras parade in Gulf Shores, Alabama. Three of the teens were in critical condition late Tuesday, Gulf Shores city spokesman Grant Brown said. Investigators did not immediately know why the SUV's driver, a 73-year-old man, suddenly accelerated, leaving the teens in the Gulf Shores High School band no time to get out of the way. Authorities did say, however, that the crash did not appear to have been intentional.


Iraq says ISIS leaders fleeing Mosul as battle continues

The commander of Iraq's Federal Police, Lt. Gen. Raid Shakir Jaudat, said Tuesday that Islamic State leaders are fleeing western Mosul as government troops attack their last major urban stronghold in the country. He said the Islamist extremist group is "living in a state of shock, confusion, and defeat, and its fighters are fighting in isolated groups." Iraqi forces drove ISIS out of eastern Mosul a month ago, and are now undertaking an offensive to reclaim the rest of the city, Iraq's second largest.


Trump set to remove Iraq from new travel ban

President Trump will remove Iraq from the list of countries affected by a 90-day travel ban in his new immigration order, U.S. officials told The Associated Press on Tuesday. The officials said that Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen will stay on the list, but Iraq was removed because the country is a crucial partner in the fight against the Islamic State. The Pentagon and State Department had urged Trump to make the change. The new order, which Trump is expected to sign within days, will replace the original one that has been blocked several times by several courts.


2 injured when police sniper accidentally fires during French president's speech

A French police sniper on Tuesday mistakenly fired his weapon during a speech by President François Hollande, slightly injuring two people. Hollande, nearing the end of a five-year presidency marred by several deadly terrorist attacks, halted his address when the gunfire rang out. "I hope it's nothing serious," he said before resuming his speech. The sniper reportedly was a member of the PSPG, an elite protection squad, who accidently discharged his weapon when he shifted his position under a marquee near a reception area.


Penguin Random House beats out rivals to snag Obama book deal

Penguin Random House won an auction for the right to publish forthcoming books by former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama, the company said Tuesday night. No details on the deal were immediately released, but publishing industry executives said it was likely worth tens of millions of dollars. Penguin Random House CEO Markus Dohle said the publishing house looked forward to working with the Obamas to make the books "global publishing events of unprecedented scope and significance." The company plans to donate one million books in the Obamas' name to First Book, a Penguin Random House nonprofit partner, and to Open eBooks, a partner of the 2016 White House digital education initiative.


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