Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 26, 2018

French President Emmanuel Macron urges Congress to reject isolationism, Trump's VA nominee Ronny Jackson considers withdrawing, and more


Macron urges Congress to reject nationalism

French President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday called for the U.S. to overcome fear and reject isolationism, and embrace a new era of global leadership. "We have two possible ways ahead. We can choose isolationism, withdrawal and nationalism. It can be tempting to us as a temporary remedy to our fears,” Macron told lawmakers in a joint meeting of Congress. "But closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world." Appearing to directly appeal to President Trump, Macron urged the U.S. not to retreat from involvement in Syria, the Iran nuclear deal, free trade agreements, and the Paris climate accord, all topics on which he and Trump disagree. Speaking in English, Macron called for a "more comprehensive" Iran nuclear deal, rather than dropping the agreement as Trump has threatened to do.


Trump VA nominee Ronny Jackson considers withdrawing as new allegations surface

President Trump's nominee to run the Department of Veterans Affairs, White House physician Ronny Jackson, faced potentially damaging new allegations Wednesday, including that he provided "a large supply" of the prescription opioid Percocet to a military officer, and once crashed a government vehicle while intoxicated. The alleged misdeeds were described in a summary compiled by Democratic staff of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee. Dr. Jackson said he had "no idea where that is coming from," adding, "I have not wrecked a car. I can tell you that." He said he still planned to go ahead with the confirmation process, although NBC News reported he had grown frustrated with the process and was discussing withdrawing his name from consideration. The White House stood by Jackson.


Conservative Supreme Court majority appears to back Trump travel ban

The Supreme Court's conservative majority appeared to be leaning toward ruling that President Trump has the authority to bar travelers from entering the U.S. from certain mostly Muslim countries. Lower courts have struck down three versions of Trump's travel ban, saying it amounted to religious discrimination. Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the justices Wednesday that Trump has the authority to restrict immigration for security reasons, and that he only targeted countries with inadequate vetting procedures to keep out terrorists. Conservative Justice Samuel Alito Jr. said Trump's ban only excludes 8 percent of the world's Muslims, so "it does not look at all like a Muslim ban." Liberal Justice Elena Kagan countered by asking whether an anti-Semitic candidate who won the presidency could ban entry to Israelis.


Memorial to lynching victims opens in Alabama

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice opens Thursday on a six-acre site overlooking the Alabama State Capitol in Montgomery. Inspired by the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin and the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, the memorial is designed to honor African Americans killed in racial terror lynchings across the South between 1877 and 1950. Equal Justice Initiative, the nonprofit organization behind the memorial, has documented more than 4,000 such lynchings, and many of the victims have never been named in public. The memorial has 800 6-foot-tall steel blocks suspended from above, with one for each county where racial killings occurred, and the victims' names etched in steel.


Police arrest suspected Golden State Killer after decades of searching

California authorities on Wednesday announced they had arrested former police officer Joseph James DeAngelo Jr., 72, after DNA evidence suggested he could be the long-sought Golden State Killer. The serial killer, also known as the Original Night Stalker, has been blamed for 12 killings and 45 rapes from 1976 to 1986. DeAngelo was arrested Tuesday night on suspicion of murder in the 1980 double killing of a Ventura County couple. The Original Night Stalker often broke into the homes of couples, forcing the man to lie on his stomach, then tying his hands and placing tea cups or plates on his back so he would hear clattering if the man broke free while he was in another room raping the woman.


Chevron evacuates executives from Venezuela

Oil giant Chevron Corp. has evacuated its executives from Venezuela after the government in the South American nation imprisoned two of its workers over a contract dispute with state-owned oil company PDVSA, Reuters reported Wednesday, citing four sources familiar with the matter. Chevron also told other employees to stay away from facilities involved in its joint venture with PDVSA. The arrests came in the first raid by government agents since Venezuela's government launched a purge last fall that has led to the arrest of dozens of executives at PDVSA and some of its business partners. The arrested Chevron workers reportedly had balked at signing an expensive contract for furnace parts proposed by PDVSA officials.


Michael Cohen to plead Fifth in Stormy Daniels case

President Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, told a federal judge on Wednesday that he plans to assert his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in the Stormy Daniels case. He made the declaration as part of his request to pause the case, citing the "ongoing criminal investigation by the FBI" and federal prosecutors. Cohen's home, hotel room, and office were raided by FBI agents earlier this month. They seized electronic devices and documents containing information relating to the payment to Daniels, an adult-film star who says she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Cohen paid her $130,000 right before the 2016 presidential election. She is suing to get out of a non-disclosure agreement, saying it is invalid because Trump never signed it.


Indian spiritual guru sentenced to life for raping teen

An Indian court on Wednesday sentenced spiritual guru Asaram Bapu, 77, to life in prison for raping a 16-year-old girl. The court said Bapu, who has millions of followers, "dented the image of saints among the common masses." The conviction ended a case that dragged on for two years, and was marred by the murders of at least two witnesses. The girl was raped in 2013 while studying at one of Bapu's ashrams. The trial came at a time of heightened attention to rape cases in India that has included several high-profile trials. Bapu urges his followers to live free from sexual desires, and has denied raping the girl. His sentencing came at a closed hearing as authorities braced for the possibility of a violent response from his followers.


Ford to stop selling most of its cars in the U.S.

Ford Motor Co. said Wednesday it planned to cut another $11.5 billion from its spending plans and stop selling most of its cars in the U.S., including the Fusion, Taurus, and other slow-selling sedans to focus on trucks and SUVs. The moves are part of President and CEO Jim Hackett's "fitness" initiative. The company expects to save $25.5 billion by 2022 as it works to reach a profit margin target ahead of schedule, Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks said as the company reported first-quarter earnings per share and revenue that exceeded expectations. Ford now says it should hit an 8 percent profit margin by 2020, two years ahead of schedule. "Everything is on the table," Shanks said. "We can exit products (and) markets."


Danish inventor Peter Madsen gets life for killing journalist Kim Wall

A court in Copenhagen on Wednesday convicted Danish submarine inventor Peter Madsen for killing and dismembering Swedish freelance journalist Kim Wall, and sentenced him to life in prison. Wall's dismembered body was found last August in the sea off Copenhagen. Prosecutors said Madsen, 47, bound Wall on his private submarine and sexually assaulted her. He then either strangled her or cut her throat, cut up her body, and threw it into the water. Madsen denied killing Wall, but his story changed several times. He once said she died of carbon monoxide poisoning while he was on deck. In the trial he confessed to cutting up Wall's body, saying that made it easier to bury her at sea. "What do you do when you have a large problem? You make it smaller," he told the court.


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