Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 22, 2018

Students and parents demand gun control in meeting with Trump, influential evangelical leader Billy Graham dies at 99, and more


Students, parents push for gun control in meeting with Trump

Survivors of school shootings and relatives of victims met with President Trump on Wednesday and urged him to back tougher gun control to make schools safer. "How many schools, how many children have to get shot?" asked Andrew Pollack, whose daughter Meadow was one of the 17 killed in the recent shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Trump pitched his own ideas to prevent more shootings, including strengthening background checks, raising the age limit on gun purchases, and allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons. "That coach was very brave, saved a lot of lives, I suspect," Trump said, a reference to football coach Aaron Feis, who died shielding students from gunfire. "But if he had a firearm, he wouldn't have had to run, he would have shot and that would have been the end of it."


'America's pastor' Billy Graham dies at 99

The Rev. Billy Graham, the charismatic North Carolina evangelist known as "America's pastor," died early Wednesday at his home in North Carolina. He was 99. Graham has been called a main driver in the rise of evangelical Christianity. Known for his national and international preaching and activism, he was a counselor to numerous American presidents. In 1983, President Reagan awarded Graham the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor. In 2007, former presidents George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton attended the dedication of the Billy Graham Museum and Library in Charlotte. "When he prays with you in the Oval Office or upstairs in the White House, you feel he's praying for you, not the president," Clinton said at the ceremony.


Parkland survivors demand gun control in Florida's Capitol and at CNN town hall

Survivors of the Parkland school shooting converged on Florida's Capitol on Wednesday, leading 3,000 people demanding tougher gun control. Backed by Democrats, students called for tighter background checks and a ban on assault-style semiautomatic rifles like the one a gunman used to kill 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. State House Republicans, however, blocked an assault-rifle ban proposal on Tuesday. Republicans, including Gov. Rick Scott, support a package of incremental measures, including improved background checks, mental health services, and school security. Parkland survivors and families also grilled Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and a National Rifle Association spokeswoman at a CNN forum in South Florida. Rubio said raising age limits on semiautomatic rifle purchases might help, but he opposed a ban.


Mueller's team files fresh criminal charges against Paul Manafort

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team has filed new sealed criminal charges in its case against Paul Manafort, President Trump's former campaign manager, and Rick Gates, also a one-time Trump campaign aide, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing federal court records. The document does not include details on the charges. Mueller's office, which is investigating Russian election meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates, indicted the pair in October on charges of money laundering conspiracy and failure to register as foreign agents for work they did for the pro-Russian Ukrainian Party of Regions. Both pleaded not guilty.


Man throws grenade at U.S. Embassy in Montenegro

An unidentified man threw a hand grenade at the U.S. Embassy in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro, in an overnight attack, officials in the small southeastern European nation said Thursday. The man then detonated another explosive device, killing himself. Nobody else was hurt, and the blasts did not cause any major damage. "Police came very quickly and the body of a man was taken away," a witness told the French news agency AFP. Police armed with automatic weapons were posted in the street in front of the embassy through the morning. The embassy announced via Twitter that all visa services were canceled for the day, and U.S. citizens could access the embassy only on an "emergency basis."


Trump in-laws' green cards face scrutiny after his vow to end 'chain migration'

First lady Melania Trump's parents, Viktor and Amalija Knavs, have become legal permanent U.S. residents and are close to getting citizenship, The Washington Post reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with their status. Their status has come under scrutiny in the media since President Trump proposed ending "chain migration," which lets citizens sponsor parents and siblings for legal U.S. residency, in the immigration reform proposal he sent lawmakers. Michael Wildes, a New York immigration attorney representing Melania Trump and her family, confirmed that her parents have green cards but declined to say how they obtained them.


Pennsylvania Republicans challenge new congressional map

Pennsylvania Republicans on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a congressional map created by the state Supreme Court. The court imposed the map after Republicans failed to replace one they made in 2011 that the court found too partisan. Republican politicians said justices were violating the U.S. Constitution by taking over the Legislature's job of drawing election maps. President Trump on Tuesday urged Pennsylvania Republicans to challenge the court-imposed map and not "let the Dems take elections away" from them. Under the old maps, Republicans won 13 of the state's 18 seats, even though Democratic voters outnumber Republicans. Independent analysts say the court's map would reduce but not eliminate the GOP's advantage.


Twitter cracks down on bots

Twitter on Wednesday announced that it is banning automated tweets from multiple accounts in an effort to root out spam and political propaganda bots. Twitter has banned developers from letting users post, like, retweet, or follow simultaneously from multiple accounts. Developers have until March 23 to comply. Twitter is removing automation options from its TweetDeck app as part of what it calls "an important step in ensuring we stay ahead of malicious activity targeting the crucial conversations taking place on Twitter — including elections in the United States and around the world." Twitter also purged thousands of suspected bot accounts, prompting some fringe conservative media figures, such as pro-Trump host Bill Mitchell and white nationalist Richard Spencer, to complain they had lost hundreds of followers.


50 girls missing after Boko Haram attack on Nigerian school

More than 50 girls have gone missing from a Nigerian science and technical school after an attack by Boko Haram militants, a spokesman for the governor of Yobe state said Wednesday. "Out of the 926 students in the school, over 50 are still unaccounted for," Abdullahi Bego, a spokesman for Governor Ibrahim Gaidam, said in an emailed statement two days after Monday's attack. He said there was no clear evidence yet that the girls had been "taken hostage by the terrorists." The military and other security forces are looking for the missing girls. The state borders Borno state in the African nation's northeast, the center of Boko Haram's nine-year insurgency. The group caused an international outcry when it kidnapped more than 200 girls in the Borno town of Chibok in 2014.


U.S. beats Canada for 1st Olympic women's hockey gold medal since 1998

Team USA beat Canada in the Olympic women's hockey finals on Thursday in Pyeongchang, South Korea, in a thrilling 3-2 shootout after a hard-fought game that ended 2-2 even after a 20-minute overtime. Jocelyne Lamoureux-Davidson fired in the game-winning shot past Canada's Shannon Szabados, and when U.S. goalie Maddie Rooney blocked the potential equalizing shot from Canada's Meghan Agosta, the U.S. women won their first gold medal since 1998, and their second ever. Canada won the women's hockey gold in the past four Winter Olympics. This was the first time the women's hockey gold medal had ever been decided in a shootout.


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