Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 24, 2017

U.K. authorities say Manchester suicide bomber probably had accomplices, the White House releases Trump's first budget, and more


British authorities identify suspected bomber, say he likely had help

U.K. authorities on Tuesday identified a 22-year-old British man, Salman Abedi, as the suspected suicide bomber who killed 22 people — including an 8-year-old girl — and injured 59 others at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, on Monday night. Police are investigating the bombing as a terrorist attack, and suspect Abedi, who had visited Libya, had accomplices. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the blast, which hit in a lobby area as crowds of teenage girls, parents, and others were filing through toward the exits after the show. Abedi, the U.K.-born son of Libyan immigrants, lived in a house a few miles from Manchester Arena, where the attack occurred. It was Britain's deadliest terrorist attack since 2005. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May raised the country's threat level to "critical," its highest point, meaning the government believed another attack could be imminent.


White House releases Trump budget calling for deep social spending cuts

The White House on Tuesday unveiled President Trump's first full budget, a $4.1 trillion plan that includes steep cuts in spending on Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, social services for the low-income and disabled, most federal agencies, farm subsidies, federal pension benefits, college loans, highway funds, medical research, and foreign aid. Trump's budget also would boost funding for the Pentagon, Veterans Affairs Department, Homeland Security, and a new parental-leave plan. The budget, released while Trump is abroad on his first foreign trip as president, is considered unlikely to pass Congress as written, but it clarifies Trump's priorities. Critics said the spending plan, which says the budget will be balanced in 10 years, relies on faulty math and unrealistic projections for economic growth. White House budget director Mick Mulvaney will start trying to sell the plan to the House and Senate budget committees on Wednesday and Thursday.


Ex-CIA director tells lawmakers he had growing Russia-Trump concerns

Former CIA Director John Brennan told the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday that he had grown increasingly concerned about contact between Russian officials and associates of President Trump, then a candidate, and his campaign. Brennan said he expressed his concerns to the FBI, and personally warned his Russian counterpart that Moscow's attempt to meddle in the election "would destroy any near-term prospect of improvement" in U.S.-Russia relations. Brennan's testimony provided unprecedented detail regarding the period when U.S. intelligence officials were reaching the conclusion that Moscow was trying to tip the vote in favor of Trump and against Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival. Brennan also testified that intelligence suggesting a pattern of contact between Russian agents and people linked to the Trump campaign "raised concerns" in his mind.


Pope Francis urges Trump to be a peacemaker

President Trump, in the third stop on his first foreign trip in office, met in the Vatican with Pope Francis on Wednesday morning, their first face-to-face meeting. The pope has been critical of Trump, particularly regarding the president's policies on refugees, and Trump has called Francis' jabs "disgraceful." In their meeting, however, the pope reportedly asked Trump to be a peacemaker, and afterwards Trump told the pope he "won't forget what you said," adding, "We can use peace." The meeting came after Trump pushed for a new peace effort in separate meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in Israel. In the Vatican, Pope Francis and Trump exchanged gifts — the pope gave Trump copies of his three main papal writings and a medallion by a Roman artist that he called a symbol of peace; Trump gave Francis a first-edition set of writings from Martin Luther King Jr. and a piece of granite from Washington's Martin Luther King. Jr. Memorial. Trump will next head to Brussels for a NATO summit.


Trump hires private lawyer to handle Russia inquiry

President Trump has hired his trusted personal lawyer, Marc E. Kasowitz, to represent him during the investigations into his campaign and suspected Russian interference in last year's election, numerous news outlets are reporting, citing people familiar with the decision. Kasowitz's New York firm, Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, says on its website that it has worked with Trump "on a wide range of litigation matters for over 15 years." Those include the restructuring of his business debt, defamation cases, divorce records, real estate transactions, and fraud allegations regarding Trump University.


Fox News retracts story on murdered DNC staffer

Fox News on Tuesday retracted a story suggesting that late Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich had leaked internal party emails to WikiLeaks shortly before he was fatally shot in Washington, D.C., last July. The Fox 5 of DC affiliate reported the story, citing a private investigator affiliated with the Rich family, Rod Wheeler. Fox News, facing accusations of touting a politically charged and unsubstantiated conspiracy theory insinuating that Democrats had killed Rich in retaliation, pulled the story from its website, saying that the article "was not initially subjected to the high degree of editorial scrutiny we require for all our reporting." The Rich family thanked Fox News for the retraction, saying that the story had "done harm to Seth Rich's legacy," but star Fox News commentator Sean Hannity, who has publicized the story, said on his radio show that he "retracted nothing."


Duterte declares martial law on Mindanao

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte placed the island of Mindanao under martial law after violence broke out in Marawi City on Tuesday. The controversial Duterte, notorious for a deadly crackdown on drug suspects, said he would end a diplomatic trip to Russia early and return home after fighting erupted when government forces tried to arrest a leader of Abu Sayyaf, an extremist group linked to the Islamic State. A presidential spokesman said Duterte's declaration was effective for 60 days due to the possible "existence of rebellion because of what is happening in Mindanao."


Moody's downgrades China's credit rating

Moody's Investors Service downgraded China's credit rating for the first time in nearly 30 years on Wednesday, saying the world's second largest economy would weaken in coming years as it continues building up debt as growth slows. In a statement announcing the one-notch downgrade, from A1 to Aa3, Moody's said China remains committed to maintaining high economic growth, but, with productivity gains waning, to do so it will have to keep using debt to stimulate the economy. China's Finance Ministry said that Moody's "to some extent overrated the difficulties that the Chinese economy is facing, and underestimated the ability of the Chinese government to deepen supply-side reform and properly expand overall demand."


Bowie State awards slain student posthumous degree

Bowie State University awarded a posthumous degree Tuesday to 2nd Lt. Richard W. Collins III, a 23-year-old business administration and ROTC student who was fatally stabbed on the University of Maryland campus early Saturday in an attack police and the FBI are investigating as a possible hate crime. Police arrested white Maryland student Sean Christopher Urbanski, who belonged to a Facebook group called "Alt-Right: Nation" that posts disparaging material about African-Americans and others, on murder charges for the killing of Collins, who was black. Collins' father, Richard W. Collins II, accepted the degree, and nearly every speaker in the commencement ceremony mentioned his son, who died days after he was commissioned as an Army officer. Malik Mickens, a business administration and marketing graduate, remembered Collins as "a very soulful, down-to-Earth person. He'd give you the shirt off his back."


Former James Bond star Roger Moore dies at 89

Sir Roger Moore, the actor best known for playing James Bond, died Tuesday in Switzerland after what his family described as "a short but brave battle with cancer." He was 89. Moore played Ian Fleming's secret agent in seven Bond films. Moore was the oldest actor hired in the Bond series, taking on the role at age 46, and held onto the part for the longest, portraying 007 from 1973's Live and Let Die to 1985's A View to a Kill. After Timothy Dalton took over as Bond, Moore appeared in a few more films and TV programs and voiced some animated characters, but also devoted himself to working as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador.


Ukraine blames Russia for cyberattack
Ukrainian military drill
virtual warfare

Ukraine blames Russia for cyberattack

2 dead from flooding in Peru as damage to Tonga remains unclear
Ash cloud off the coast of Tonga
"like a moonscape"

2 dead from flooding in Peru as damage to Tonga remains unclear

Synagogue hostage-taking suspect was British
FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno
a not-so-great briton

Synagogue hostage-taking suspect was British

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