Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: March 24, 2018

March for Our Lives rallies assemble nationwide, Trump orders ban on most transgender troops, and more


March for Our Lives rallies assemble nationwide

Student-led March for Our Lives rallies are scheduled in Washington and cities across the United States on Saturday. About 500,000 people are expected to gather in the capital alone, and some 700 additional protests for stricter gun laws are listed on the march website. Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where the mass shooting on Valentine's Day left 17 people dead, are among the 20 speakers scheduled for the primary event in Washington. All the speakers are 18 or younger, and they will be accompanied by performances from celebrities including Ariana Grande, Common, and Miley Cyrus.


Trump orders ban on most transgender troops

President Trump on Friday issued an order banning transgender people who "may require substantial medical treatment, including medications and surgery" from the military "except under certain limited circumstances." The question of transgender troops has been in limbo for the better part of a year since Trump's surprise announcement via Twitter last summer of a complete ban on transgender service. That initial rule was blocked in court, and the Justice Department dropped its challenge to the stay in December pending a recommendation from Defense Secretary James Mattis. The Friday memo said Mattis reached a conclusion in favor of this new ban, which will still face court challenge.


Trump signs $1.3 trillion omnibus bill after teasing potential veto

President Trump on Friday signed the $1.3 trillion spending bill passed by Congress after threatening a veto over the bill's failure to address the DACA immigration program. The omnibus provides $1.6 billion for the border wall, far short of what the White House wanted, but it also increases spending on the military and border protection. Trump answered a few shouted questions after his announcement, confirming: "I looked very seriously at the veto." On Twitter Friday evening, Trump said he will "NEVER sign another bill like this again," asking for a "line-item veto for all govt spending bills."


Trump pledges ban on bump stocks

"Obama Administration legalized bump stocks," President Trump tweeted Friday, on the eve of March for Our Lives. "BAD IDEA. As I promised, today the Department of Justice will issue the rule banning BUMP STOCKS with a mandated comment period." Bump stocks are the modification for semi-automatic weapons that permitted the Las Vegas attacker to shoot about 500 people in 10 minutes in October. The DOJ issued a ban proposal earlier this month that hinges on changing the legal definition of a machine gun. Under current law, the Obama administration was required to permit bump stock sales.


North and South Korea agree to preliminary talks

South Korea announced Saturday it has finalized plans for high-level talks with North Korea this coming Thursday. Each country will be represented by three delegates who will meet in the demilitarized zone (DMZ) in advance of planned negotiations between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which will in turn be followed by discussion between Kim and President Trump. "Through these talks and future talks, we must end the nuclear and peace issue on the Korean Peninsula," Moon said of the arrangement.


Gunman takes hostages, kills 4 at French supermarket

Four people are dead and 16 injured after a gunman took hostages at a supermarket in Trebes, a small town in southern France, on Friday. French Interior Minister Gerard Collomb identified the attacker as Redouane Lakdim, 26. He was shot and killed by police at the store. The Islamic State has taken responsibility for the attack, and local media reports Lakdim demanded the release of Salah Abdeslam, who is the only surviving member of the ISIS-affiliated group that killed 130 people in attacks across Paris in 2015.


U.K. authorities raid Cambridge Analytica

The London offices of Cambridge Analytica were raided overnight Friday by agents of the United Kingdom's Information Commissioner's office. The seven-hour search, which completed early Saturday, was authorized by a warrant to investigate the company's database and servers. Cambridge Analytica is the data firm alleged to have illicitly acquired and used information from the Facebook profiles of tens of millions of Americans for targeted campaign ads. The Trump campaign was among its clients, as was a super PAC organized by incoming National Security Adviser John Bolton. Cambridge Analytica and Facebook both deny illegal conduct.


Justice Department charges 9 Iranian hackers

The Department of Justice on Friday charged nine Iranians in a major hacking conspiracy that targeted American universities and government agencies. The indicted hackers were involved in "massive, coordinated cyberintrusions" at the behest of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, an intelligence-gathering arm of the Iranian government, the DOJ alleged. Also Friday, the Treasury Department announced sanctions against 10 Iranians in tandem with the indictments. Nine of the sanctioned individuals were the nine indicted; the 10th was indicted in November for hacking HBO computer servers.


Craigslist shuts down personal ads after passage of sex trafficking bill

Craigslist on Friday shut down its "personals" section in response to a new online sex trafficking measure passed by Congress. Lawmakers on Wednesday approved the Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), which holds websites liable for hosting content that advertises sex or enables potentially illegal actions. "Any tool or service can be misused," Craigslist said in a statement. "We can't take such risk without jeopardizing all our other services, so we are regretfully taking craigslist personals offline." Critics say FOSTA, which permits retroactive enforcement, is unconstitutional, threatens free speech, and will make it more difficult to prosecute sex traffickers.


Iowa family found dead in Mexico

An Iowa family of four was found dead Friday inside their vacation condo in Tulum, Mexico, local authorities reported. Police said there are "no signs of traumatic injury," and a relative of the family reported on Facebook there "was no foul play." Autopsies will be conducted to determine the cause of death, which some reports have suggested was a gas leak. Kevin Sharp, 41, his wife Amy, 38, and their children Sterling, 12, and Adrianna, 7, were from Creston, Iowa. The Sharps owned a beer distribution company, and Kevin raced stock cars.


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