Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 19, 2018

School shooting survivors lead call for gun-control march, EPA chief Scott Pruitt postpones Israel trip after travel budget criticism, and more

1

Florida school shooting survivors plan national march for gun control

Students who survived the Parkland, Florida, shooting rampage that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School announced plans for a march in Washington and other cities to call for tighter gun control. "People are saying that it's not time to talk about gun control. And we can respect that," 11th-grader Cameron Kasky told ABC's This Week on Sunday. "Here's a time: March 24 in every single city. We are going to be marching together as students begging for our lives." Other groups also plan protests, including a 17-minute March 14 teacher walkout called for by Women's March organizers. President Trump, who ran on a platform opposing gun control and has faced direct criticism from student survivors, plans a "listening session" with students Wednesday.

2

EPA chief Scott Pruitt postpones Israel trip after criticism for travel costs

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, who has faced criticism over travel expenses, has canceled a planned trip to Israel, agency officials said Sunday. "We decided to postpone; the administrator looks forward to going in the future," EPA spokeswoman Liz Bowman told The Washington Post via email Sunday. Pruitt faced a backlash over his travel costs last week after reports that, on the recommendation of the head of his security detail, Pruitt had been traveling business or first class to avoid public confrontations with critics. In Israel, he had been scheduled to spend Sunday through Thursday at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, meeting with Israeli officials and business officials "to gain an understanding of Israel's unique infrastructure and environmental challenges," EPA officials said.

3

Russian curler tests positive for banned performance-enhancing drug

Russian curler Aleksandr Krushelnitckii failed a preliminary doping test after winning a bronze medal in mixed doubles at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. Russian media reported that Krushelnitckii's "A" urine sample had tested positive for meldonium, which increases circulation in the brain and aids with heart disease, and has been banned as a performance-enhancing drug since 2015. Krushelnitckii's "B" sample reportedly is to be tested Monday to confirm or refute the first result. International Olympic Committee Communications Director Mark Adams said Monday that he could not comment because "the testing and sanctioning is independent of the IOC." The findings of the tests could jeopardize the medal Krushelnitckii won with his wife and teammate, Anastasia Bryzgalova.

4

ISIS claims responsibility after gunman kills 5 at Russian church

A gunman shouting "Allahu akbar" (Arabic for "God is great") opened fire on worshipers at an Orthodox church in Russia's Dagestan region on Sunday, killing at least five people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the killer a "soldier of the caliphate." ISIS identified the attacker by the nom de guerre Khalil al-Dagestani. Several survivors were wounded, and witnesses said the toll might have been higher if the churchgoers hadn't managed to close the door of the church before the attacker, armed with a knife and a hunting rifle, got inside. Security forces shot and killed the attacker, identifying him only as a 22-year-old man.

5

Polish leader calls Holocaust 'horrific' after backlash over WWII comments

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki denied he was a Holocaust denier on Sunday, calling the genocide of Jews "a horrific crime" after facing intense criticism for suggesting that Jews were partially responsible for the crimes of World War II. Morawiecki's right-wing nationalist party recently pushed through a law banning comments blaming Poland or Poles for Nazi war crimes. The law has outraged many Jews and touched off protests from Israel. At a conference of world leaders in Munich on Saturday, Morawiecki defended the law, saying people would not be criminally charged for saying "there were Polish perpetrators, as there were Jewish perpetrators ... not only German perpetrators." Morawiecki's grouping of "Jewish perpetrators" with Nazis prompted calls from Israeli lawmakers for their country to recall its Polish ambassador.

6

Report: Trump security detail scuffled with Chinese officials over 'nuclear football'

President Trump's security team got into a scuffle with Chinese security officials over the "nuclear football" during Trump's November visit to Beijing's Great Hall of the People on his recent trip to China, Axios reported Sunday. The nuclear football, a briefcase U.S. presidents can use to authorize a nuclear attack while traveling, is supposed to be kept close to the president at all times. Axios reported that Chinese security officials blocked the official carrying the nuclear football from entering the Great Hall. Members of the security team called in Chief of Staff John Kelly. A Chinese security official reportedly grabbed Kelly, and Kelly shoved his hands away before a U.S. Secret Service agent tackled the Chinese official. The skirmish quickly ended and the head of the Chinese security detail reportedly apologized.

7

Trump criticizes Oprah Winfrey for 60 Minutes interview with voters

President Trump tweeted criticism of media mogul Oprah Winfrey on Sunday night over her CBS 60 Minutes segment in which she interviewed a panel of 14 Republicans, Democrats, and independent voters about Trump's first year in office. Winfrey, who has rejected supporters' calls to run for president in 2020, did not make statements for or against Trump, but asked the panelists whether they thought the economy and the nation's image had improved or suffered since Trump took office. The voters split widely, with one expressing "love" for Trump and another calling him a "bully." Trump tweeted: "The questions were biased and slanted, the facts incorrect. Hope Oprah runs so she can be exposed and defeated just like all of the others!"

8

Three Billboards leads Bafta winners

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, won best film and four other awards at the EE British Academy Film Awards, known as the Baftas, on Sunday, in a ceremony filled with expressions of solidarity with the Time’s Up movement against sexual misconduct in the workplace. Three Billboards, directed by Martin McDonagh, also won for outstanding British film, best original screenplay, best actress (Frances McDormand), and best supporting actor (Sam Rockwell). Among the other winners were Guillermo del Toro, who won best director for The Shape of Water, and Gary Oldman, who won best actor for his portrayal of Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour. Many Bafta winners will be favorites to win at the March 4 Oscars, although best picture is considered a tight race.

9

Black Panther beats expectations with blockbuster opening

The Disney-Marvel movie Black Panther smashed box office records over the weekend, instantly becoming the top-grossing film in history by a black director with global ticket sales estimated to reach $387 million by Monday after its debut weekend. Disney said the film brought in about $218 million in North America between Friday and Monday, with some theaters adding showings to meet demand. Analysts had projected an opening weekend take of $165 million in North America. The actual numbers were at a level previously unheard of for a February release, outside of the summer and holiday seasons usually reserved for the biggest blockbusters. The previous record for a February release was Deadpool's $159 million over Presidents' Day weekend in 2016.

10

Olympic skater Adam Rippon reverses decision to join NBC for rest of Winter Games

Olympic figure skater Adam Rippon said Sunday that he was reversing plans to work as a correspondent for NBC during the rest of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics. NBC had tweeted a welcome to Rippon, who won a bronze medal in the team skating event. Rippon, one of the first openly gay U.S. Olympic athletes, has become a star in Pyeongchang for his performances, plus his personality and social media presence. Rippon said he changed his mind because joining NBC would have meant leaving the Olympic Village. "My teammates and my friends were there for me during my events, and that meant so much to me," he said, "that I really feel like I need to be there for them during their events."

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