Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 28, 2017

Bonnie Kristian
President Trump speaks at a Navy base in Italy
Pool/Getty Images
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Trump ends tour abroad with campaign-style speech

President Trump ended his nine-day tour abroad with a campaign-style speech at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Sigonella, Italy, Saturday afternoon. After an introduction from First Lady Melania Trump, the president used the occasion to label his trip a "home run" before turning to topics of terrorism, NATO, and Monday's Memorial Day. He spoke of "eradicating the terrorism that plagues our planet" while boasting that "money is starting to flow in" from NATO allies that have not honored their defense spending pledges in the past. Toward the end of his speech, the president commemorated fallen American forces, telling his audience they "are the warriors of freedom." [Reuters, The Week]


North Korea claims test of anti-aircraft missile

North Korean state media on Sunday reported the isolated regime has tested "a new type of anti-aircraft guided weapon" under the observation of leader Kim Jong Un. "This weapon system, whose operation capability has been thoroughly verified, should be mass-produced to deploy all over the country," said the KCNA news agency story, "so as to completely spoil the enemy's wild dream to command the air, boasting of air supremacy and weapon almighty." This is Pyongyang's third Sunday test in a row; the tests performed one and two weeks ago both used mid-range ballistic missiles. [NBC News, Reuters]


White House mulls changes to contain Russia investigation crisis

President Trump returned Saturday night from his trip abroad to a White House mulling serious changes to contain escalating federal investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Among the reported options: a reduced role for Press Secretary Sean Spicer; the re-hiring of fired Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; advance vetting of Trump's tweets; and a heftier schedule of Trump press conferences and rallies. While the president was traveling, credible allegations surfaced that his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, attempted to set up a secret communication channel with Russia. So far, there is no suggestion of Kushner stepping down. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]


McMaster 'would not be concerned' by Russia backchannel

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on Saturday said he "would not be concerned" by backchannel communications with Russia, though he declined to specifically comment on allegations that Jared Kushner unsuccessfully attempted to make such an arrangement between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin. National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and Press Secretary Sean Spicer also refused to discuss Kushner at Saturday's media briefing. McMaster did note the U.S. has "backchannel communications with a number of countries," though Kushner was a private citizen when he allegedly spoke with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. [The Washington Post, CNN]


British police release photos of Manchester suspect

British police on Saturday released photos of Salman Abedi, the Manchester-born man believed to be responsible for the suicide bombing that killed 22 people at an Ariana Grande concert Monday. "We are gathering a detailed picture of Abedi as the investigation develops and now need people to tell us if they have any information about his movement," said an official statement. British Home Secretary Amber Rudd has implemented a temporary exclusion order, requiring special vetting for "suspected Islamic terrorists" seeking to return to the U.K. until it is certain Abedi does not have accomplices still on the loose. [The Guardian, NBC News]


ISIS-linked Philippine rebels execute civilians

The bodies of eight men who appeared to be civilians executed for attempting to flee hostilities were found Sunday on the outskirts of Marawi City in the Philippines, where militants claiming ties to the Islamic State terrorist group have staged a six-day occupation. By one body, a sign was placed reading "munafik," which means "traitor" or "hypocrite." This brings the death toll of the conflict to about 85, including at least 19 civilians. Controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in the area as government forces combat the rebels. [Reuters, The Guardian]


Portland stabbing attacker, victims identifed

The man who fatally stabbed two people and injured one more while yelling slurs on a commuter train in Portland, Oregon, on Friday has been identified as Jeremy Joseph Christian, 35. A Portland native with a criminal record, Christian reportedly expressed "some racist and other extremist beliefs" on Facebook, and his attack may be prosecuted as domestic terrorism or a hate crime. The two men whom Christian killed while they attempted to protect other train passengers were Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, a recent graduate of Portland's Reed College, and Rick Best, a father and Army veteran. [CNN, Reuters]


British Airways suffers massive computer failure, cancels flights

British Airways canceled all flights out of London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports on Saturday after the airline suffered a worldwide computer system power failure. On Sunday, the airline said "work continues to restore all of our IT systems" and passengers should expect a "near normal schedule" at Gatwick and a "majority of services" at Heathrow. Thousands of passengers remain stranded, however, as more than a third of the hundreds of flights British Airways operates out of London daily remain canceled while even more are still delayed. [The Associated Press, BBC News]


London theater evacuated over false security threat

Police evacuated London's Old Vic theater, located near Waterloo Station, during a performance on Saturday in response to an unspecified security threat. The area was isolated as "specialist officers" investigated the scene, but ultimately nothing suspicious was found. The false alarm came less than a week after a suicide bombing in Manchester, England, during an Ariana Grande concert left 22 people dead and dozens more injured. The play that was interrupted was a showing of Woyzeck featuring Star Wars actor John Boyega. [The Independent, London Evening Standard]


Southern rock legend Gregg Allman dies at 69

Gregg Allman, Southern rock legend and leader of the Allman Brothers Band, died Saturday afternoon at his home in Savannah, Georgia. He was 69. "Gregg struggled with many health issues over the past several years," said a statement posted to his website. "During that time, Gregg considered being on the road playing music with his brothers and solo band for his beloved fans, essential medicine for his soul. Playing music lifted him up and kept him going during the toughest of times." Allman was known for songs including as "Midnight Rider," "Melissa," and "Whipping Post." [Billboard, Rolling Stone]