Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 12, 2017

Obama-appointed prosecutor fired after refusing to resign, Secret Service arrest intruder with mace on White House grounds, and more


Obama-appointed prosecutor fired after refusing to resign

New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was fired by the Trump administration Saturday after he refused to resign at the request of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who on Friday asked for the resignation of 46 Obama-appointed district attorneys in the Justice Department. It is routine for incoming administrations to ask these attorneys, who are political appointees, to step down, though Sessions' request was unexpectedly abrupt, and some attorneys reportedly were not privately informed before the public statement. So far, Bharara is the only attorney to refuse to resign when asked. "I did not resign," he tweeted Saturday. "Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in [the Southern District of New York] will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life."


Secret Service arrest intruder with mace on White House grounds

An intruder arrested on White House grounds late Friday night while carrying a backpack containing mace has been identified as a California man named Jonathan Tran, age 26. Tran has been charged with entering restricted grounds while carrying a dangerous weapon and faces 10 years in prison. He has a court hearing Monday and is presently held without bail. When apprehended, Tran said he was a friend of President Trump and was found with a letter in which the Secret Service said he "mentioned Russian hackers and said he had information of relevance. Tran alleged that he had been followed, and his 'phone and email communications [were] read by third parties,' and that he had 'been called schizophrenic.'" "Secret Service did a fantastic job," Trump said of the incident Saturday. "It was a troubled person."


Famine threat is greatest humanitarian crisis since 1945, U.N. says

The threat of famine affects millions in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, and Nigeria, the United Nations reported Friday, posing the "largest humanitarian crisis since the creation of the U.N." in 1945. "We stand at a critical point in history," said U.N. humanitarian chief Stephen O'Brien. "Now, more than 20 million people across four countries face starvation and famine. Without collective and coordinated global efforts, people will simply starve to death. Many more will suffer and die from disease." O'Brien emphasized the rapid escalation of the crisis in Yemen in particular and requested "$4.4 billion by July" to stave off further catastrophe.


New Trump immigration order condemned by 134 foreign policy experts

A letter signed by 134 members of the foreign policy establishment, including former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, serves up a harsh critique of President Trump's new executive order pertaining to immigration and refugee admissions, The New York Times reported Saturday. The revised order "suffers from the same core substantive defects as the previous version," the letter says, and, because it targets six majority-Muslim nations, "will send a message that reinforces the propaganda of [the Islamic State] and other extremist groups, that falsely claim the United States is at war with Islam."


Ousted South Korean leader leaves the presidential residence

Impeached South Korean President Park Geun-hye left the Blue House, South Korea's presidential residence, on Sunday, two days after a court removed her from office over an ongoing corruption scandal. Park is accused of giving a personal friend undue influence in government affairs, though she maintains her innocence. "Although it will take time, I believe the truth will certainly come out," she said before moving back to her private home. Public opinion is largely against the ousted leader, who has been the subject of months of large-scale protests in Seoul. A new presidential election is scheduled for May.


U.S. boots on the ground are 'invaders,' says Syria's Assad

The U.S. ground troops deployed to Syria by the Trump administration to join the battle to retake Raqqa from the Islamic State are not welcome, said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in an interview published Saturday. "Any foreign troops coming to Syria without our invitation or consultation or permission, they are invaders," he charged. "And we don't think this is going to help. What are they going to do? To fight ISIS? The Americans ... didn't succeed anywhere they sent troops, they only create a mess; they are very good in creating problems and destroying, but they are very bad in finding solutions." Raqqa is the de facto capital of ISIS.


Iraqi troops retake a third of west Mosul from ISIS

U.S.-supported Iraqi forces have recovered a third of the western half of Mosul, the last major Islamic State stronghold in Iraq, Major General Maan al-Saadi of the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service said Sunday. Fighting is slow going thanks to ancient, narrow alleyways which cannot accommodate modern armored vehicles, but ISIS terrorists have been forced out of several key neighborhoods, including the local museum and municipal buildings. The eastern half of the city, separated by the Tigris River, is already liberated.


Garbage landslide kills at least 15 in Ethiopia

A landslide at a garbage dump near the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa on Saturday killed at least 15 people, local officials said, and dozens more remain missing as rescue workers canvass the site for survivors. About 150 people were present when the landslide occurred. Some were scavenging the debris, while others live at the dump in makeshift homes. "My house was right inside there," said a survivor named Tebeju Asres. "My mother and three of my sisters were there when the landslide happened. Now I don't know the fate of all of them." The mayor of Addis Ababa promised the dump residents will be relocated.


Richard Gere criticizes Trump, Netanyahu, settlements during Israel visit

Actor Richard Gere waded into political territory while in Israel promoting a new film. Israeli "settlements [in Palestinian-claimed territory] are such an absurd provocation," Gere was quoted saying in Israel's Haaretz paper on Sunday, "and they are certainly not part of the program of someone who wants a genuine peace process." In an interview, Gere called President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "bad guys" who "don’t really get it in the fullness of things" before conceding that because he is "not a citizen" in Israel, addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "not [his] place."


Spring blizzard to blanket Northeast in snow

A spring blizzard is expected to bring up to 18 inches of snow to the Northeast region beginning Monday evening in an area spanning from New York City to Boston. Winds are predicted to top 60 miles per hour and power outages are likely. Snow is also expected across much of the upper Midwest beginning Sunday night; accumulation there will range from one to six inches in places like Chicago and the Twin Cities.


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