Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 3, 2018

House Republicans release controversial Nunes memo without redaction, Pentagon reveals new nuclear policy, and more


House Republicans release controversial Nunes memo without redaction

President Trump on Friday approved the complete declassification of a controversial memo compiled by Republicans under Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) on the House Intelligence Committee. The four-page memo was released later that day. It purports to contain proof of "a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people" from improper surveillance by the government, and it questions the "legitimacy and legality" of certain actions by the FBI and Justice Department. The White House approved the release over DOJ and FBI objections. Both agencies expressed "grave concerns" about the document's accuracy. Trump called the memo's revelations a "disgrace," saying, "A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves."


Pentagon reveals new nuclear policy

The Department of Defense on Friday revealed a new strategy for American nuclear policy focused on building up smaller nuclear weapons, like some in Russia's arsenal, that are easier to use. The Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) is an effort to "look reality in the eye," said Defense Secretary James Mattis, and "see the world as it is, not as we wish it to be." The announcement included swipes at former President Obama's policy of nuclear stockpile reduction, which Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette said has happened while "every one of our potential nuclear adversaries has been pursuing the exact opposite strategy."


Man who sold armor-piercing ammo to Vegas shooter arrested

An Arizona ammunition dealer named Douglas Haig was arrested Friday and charged in connection to a sale he made to Stephen Paddock, the shooter in the October attack in Las Vegas that killed 58 people and wounded about 500 more. Haig is charged with selling armor-piercing bullets he did not have a license to manufacture. Two unfired bullets of this kind were found in the hotel room where Paddock staged his attack. "I had no contribution to what Paddock did," Haig said, expressing "revulsion, sickness, horror" at the attack. An official confirmed to The Associated Press investigators do not believe Haig had any idea of Paddock's intent.


Dow closes down 665 points

The Dow closed down 665 points on Friday, making this week the worst for markets in two years. The turbulent afternoon stemmed from fears over higher interest rates, and it also paralleled the release of a controversial Republican memo that had been declassified by President Trump. ExxonMobil slid 5.1 percent, and the S&P 500, which fell 2.1 percent, had energy as its worst-performing sector. However, U.S. employers added 200,000 jobs in January, beating economists' expectations of 190,000 jobs gained. "Temporarily, good news may be bad news for the stock market," Russell Price, senior economist at Ameriprise Financial, told USA Today.


Drive-by shootings wound 6 in Italy

A series of drive-by shootings apparently targeting foreigners left six people wounded, some critically, in Macerata, Italy, on Saturday. All six victims are African migrants. Local police have arrested an Italian man who was photographed with an Italian flag draped across his shoulders as he was taken into custody for the attacks. The suspect has no previous record, and the shootings come just days after a local teenager was found dismembered. The primary suspect in that case is a Nigerian immigrant, and authorities suspect the two incidents may be linked.


North Korea reportedly earned $200 million with banned arms exports

The government of North Korea earned $200 million in 2017 making prohibited arms sales to Syria and Myanmar, a confidential United Nations document reports. The exports were made in violation of U.N. sanctions, the report says, and with the knowledge of other countries including China, Russia, and Malaysia, none of which stopped the sales. Pyonyang is also in violation of other sanctions, the U.N. says, "flouting the most recent resolutions by exploiting global oil supply chains, complicit foreign nationals, offshore company registries, and the international banking system."


Hawaii false alarm worker was '100 percent' sure crisis was real

The Hawaiian emergency agency worker who accidentally sent a false alarm of an incoming ballistic missile attack last month was "100 percent" sure the crisis was real, he told NBC News for a report published Friday evening. "I'm really not to blame for this. It was a system failure and I did what I was trained to do," he said. "I felt sick afterward. It was like a body blow." The worker spoke on condition of anonymity. He has been fired from his job, and an investigation into the mistake is ongoing.


Federal Reserve prohibits Wells Fargo growth

The Federal Reserve on Friday prohibited Wells Fargo from growing its assets beyond what they were at the end of 2017 as a punishment for the banking giant's "widespread consumer abuses." This unprecedented move comes in response to Wells Fargo workers' dishonest tactics, including creation of some 3.5 million fake customer accounts, used in an effort to meet impossible sales goals. The cap will be lifted once Wells Fargo "sufficiently improves its governance and controls," the Fed said in a statement. The bank's stock fell 6 percent after the announcement.


U.S. Olympic Committee announces independent investigation into Larry Nassar scandal

The U.S. Olympic Committee announced Friday it will launch an independent investigation into the decades of sexual abuse perpetrated by former gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. The probe will seek to "determine when individuals affiliated with USA Gymnastics or the USOC first became aware of any evidence of Nassar's abuse of athletes, what that evidence was, and what they did with it." Last week, Nassar was sentenced to 40 to 175 years in prison on seven charges of criminal sexual misconduct; more than 200 people have accused him of sexual abuse. On Wednesday, the entire USA Gymnastics board of directors resigned after heavy criticism of the organization's handling of the scandal.


Punxsutawney Phil predicts 6 more weeks of winter

Friday was Groundhog Day, so Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, nudged its resident climatologist, Punxsutawney Phil, out of his burrow to determine if warm weather is nigh. According to tradition, if the groundhog sees his shadow, that means six more weeks of winter; if he does not, it means an early spring. This year, Phil's handlers instead had him pick a scroll, and, to boos from the crowd, the groundhog picked the winter scroll. However, Phil is not a reliable source: Since 1988, the groundhog has been right 14 times and wrong 16 times.


U.S. to crack down on guns going south while Mexico works to stop fentanyl heading north
A CBP agent at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Ysidro, California.
Stopping the Flow

U.S. to crack down on guns going south while Mexico works to stop fentanyl heading north

Lebanon to reverse daylight savings decision
Clock tower in Lebanon.
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Lebanon to reverse daylight savings decision

The extreme weather events of 2023
An illustration of a tornado and wind-swept palm trees
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Most of Silicon Valley Bank bought by First Citizens, FDIC says
An entrance to a Silicon Valley Bank
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Most of Silicon Valley Bank bought by First Citizens, FDIC says

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5 toons about Trump's possible indictment
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Florida principal forced to resign over Michelangelo's David display
The statue of 'David' by Michelangelo.
Controversy Over David

Florida principal forced to resign over Michelangelo's David display

Pope Francis updates sex abuse laws for Catholic Church
Pope Francis.
Francis Fights Back

Pope Francis updates sex abuse laws for Catholic Church