Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 23, 2017

Apparent suicide bombing kills 22 people at Ariana Grande concert in England, Trump urges Israel to join new peace push, and more


22 killed, 59 injured in blast at Ariana Grande concert in Manchester

At least 22 people, including children, were killed and 59 were injured Monday night in a suspected terrorist bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in the northern England city of Manchester. Police said the attack appeared to have been carried out by a lone suicide bomber. "The attacker, I can confirm, died at the arena," Greater Manchester Police Chief Constable Ian Hopkins said. "We believe the attacker was carrying an improvised explosive device, which he detonated, causing this atrocity." Witnesses said they heard two loud bangs in the foyer of Manchester Arena. "It was really scary," said Michelle Sullivan, who attended the concert with her 12- and 15-year-old daughters. "We heard a really loud explosion. ... Everybody screamed." Cellphone video showed people running and parents frantically trying to find their children.


Trump urges Israeli leaders to join new push for peace

President Trump arrived in Israel on Monday for a 36-hour visit intended to make progress toward regional peace, telling the country's leaders that they must make progress toward making peace with the Palestinians to ease tensions with their Arab neighbors. "We have before us a rare opportunity to bring security and stability and peace to this region. ... But we can only get there working together," Trump said. Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the sacred Western Wall in Jerusalem, and he also met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He is meeting Tuesday in the West Bank with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. When he hosted Abbas at the White House earlier this month, Trump said Mideast peace is "something that I think is, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years."


Michael Flynn takes the 5th, refuses to comply with Senate subpoena

Michael Flynn, who was ousted as President Trump's national security adviser in February, said Monday in a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he was invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination and declining to hand over documents regarding his contact with Russia. The committee issued a subpoena seeking Flynn's papers for its investigation into Russia's alleged attempts to influence last year's presidential election in Trump's favor. In the letter, Flynn's attorneys justified withholding the information by saying there was an "escalating public frenzy" against Flynn. The lawyers also said the Justice Department's decision to appoint a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to run the federal investigation made it more risky than ever for him to cooperate with the Senate panel's inquiry.


Supreme Court rules North Carolina redistricting improperly focused on race

The Supreme Court on Monday rejected two congressional districts redrawn by North Carolina's Republican-led legislature after the 2010 census, ruling that the lawmakers had relied too heavily on race. Justice Elena Kagan wrote in the majority opinion that North Carolina had used race in its effort to "reshuffle" voters among districts in a way that reduced the influence of minority voters. GOP lawmakers argued that they were trying to draw maps for maximum partisan advantage, but had intended no racial discrimination. The justices unanimously rejected one of the districts, but split 5-3 on the other, with conservative Justice Clarence Thomas joining the four liberal justices in ruling that it was a case of racial redistricting. The court's newest justice, Neil Gorsuch, did not take part in the decision because the court heard arguments before he was sworn in. "Today's ruling sends a stark message to legislatures and governors around the country: Racial gerrymandering is illegal and will be struck down in a court of law," said former Attorney General Eric Holder, who is part of a Democratic redistricting reform effort.


Trump asked 2 top intelligence officials to dispute FBI Russia inquiry

President Trump in March asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials — Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency, and Daniel Coats, director of national intelligence — to publicly deny that there was evidence of collusion between his campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election, current and former officials told The Washington Post and NBC News. Trump approached Rogers and Coats separately after former FBI director James Comey publicly confirmed the investigation. Both refused, saying the request was inappropriate. One of them was concerned enough about the request that he detailed it in a memo. A White House spokesperson told the Post it "does not confirm or deny unsubstantiated claims based on illegal leaks from anonymous individuals."


Turkey complains to U.S. ambassador over protest clash in Washington

Turkey summoned the American ambassador in Ankara on Monday to give him a written and verbal complaint about "aggressive and unprofessional" treatment of Turkish government bodyguards who were videotaped assaulting protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's residence in Washington, D.C., last week. The U.S. ambassador reportedly responded by saying that the bodyguards had violated U.S. laws. The bodyguards were in the U.S. to protect President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu. The bodyguards, wearing dark suits, were seen rushing Armenian and Kurdish protesters. Nine people were injured. Police tried to break up the clash, and allegedly pushed some of the bodyguards.


Jury selection begins in Bill Cosby's sex assault trial

Jury selection began Monday in actor-comedian Bill Cosby's sex assault trial. Lawyers on both sides are expected to carefully weigh numerous factors, including the race, gender, age, and occupation of potential jurors. On the first day, five people — three white men and two white women — were chosen to serve on the panel, which will have 12 jurors and six alternates. Cosby was once a national father figure beloved for his portrayal of Dr. Cliff Huxtable on The Cosby Show. His reputation and career have mostly collapsed since he began facing numerous sexual allegations involving dozens of women. In the trial, he faces charges that he drugged and molested a friend who served as team manager for the Temple University women's basketball squad at his house near Philadelphia in 2004. Cosby says the encounter was consensual.


Texas Republicans approve bathroom bill

Texas' Republican-controlled House of Representatives on Monday approved a bill seeking to restrict bathroom access for transgender students in public schools, requiring them to use restrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their biological sex rather than the gender with which they identify. Supporters said the bill was "about child safety," while critics said it promoted discrimination against transgender children. The Senate version of the bill is similar to the one North Carolina enacted last year, sparking a backlash that included costly economic boycotts. North Carolina rolled back the measure this year.


St. Paul's School report substantiates abuse allegations

St. Paul's School, an elite New Hampshire boarding school, released a report by outside lawyers naming 13 former faculty and staff members who over decades allegedly "sexually abused children in their care in a variety of ways, from clear boundary violations to repeated sexual relationships to rape." The 73-page report, written after a year-long investigation, substantiated the allegations against the 13 staffers, and identified another 10 former faculty or staff members who allegedly committed sexual misconduct but were not named. Investigators failed to find evidence supporting allegations against another 11 former school employees. Last month, another elite prep school, Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut, released a report naming 12 former faculty members believed to have abused students. Similar accusations also have been raised at Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and St. George's School in Rhode Island.


Golden State Warriors beat Spurs, head to NBA Finals

The Golden State Warriors advanced to their third straight NBA Finals on Monday night, completing a sweep against the San Antonio Spurs with a 129-115 win in San Antonio. The Warriors, who haven't lost a playoff game since Game 7 of last year's finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, are the first team in NBA history to start the playoffs with a 12-0 record. Stephen Curry scored 36 points for the Warriors, while Kyle Anderson led the injury-plagued Spurs with 20 points. The Cavs are facing the Boston Celtics in Game 4 on Tuesday, with a 2-1 series lead, and if they prevail, the Warriors and Cavs would be the first teams to face each other for three consecutive finals.


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