Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 18, 2019

Barr schedules news conference ahead of Mueller report release, woman suspected in Columbine threat found dead, and more


Barr to hold news conference ahead of Mueller report release

Attorney General William Barr has scheduled a 9:30 a.m. Thursday news conference to discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report on Russian election meddling. Barr is expected to release a redacted version of the report to Congress later in the morning. White House lawyers have had several conversations with Justice Department officials about the conclusions made in Mueller's report, giving President Trump's legal team the opportunity to come up with a rebuttal on such questions as whether Trump obstructed justice, people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times. Congressional Democrats criticized Barr's plans. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said Barr had "taken unprecedented steps to spin Mueller's nearly two-year investigation" to protect Trump.


Woman who threatened Columbine High found dead

Sol Pais, the 18-year-old woman suspected of making a "credible threat" against Columbine High School and other Denver-area schools, was found dead near a campground in the Arapaho National Forest on Wednesday. Police said Pais was "infatuated" with the 1999 Columbine massacre, which left 13 people dead and 24 wounded. She flew from Miami to Denver and reportedly bought a pump-action shotgun and ammunition, prompting authorities to cancel Wednesday classes in schools in and near Denver, affecting about 500,000 students. Pais reportedly had made disturbing comments about Columbine on social media, and police conducted an intense search for her, describing her as armed and dangerous.


North Korea says it has test-fired a new tactical guided weapon

North Korea said Thursday it had tested a new tactical guided weapon capable of delivering a "powerful warhead." North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reportedly oversaw the test, the isolated Communist nation's first public weapon test since Kim's historic summit with President Trump in Singapore last year. The news came less than two months after the two leaders' second summit, in Vietnam, collapsed with no deal on North Korea's denuclearization. "This is a volatile country that holds the entire world at risk but, at this point, it just seems like a bunch of propaganda and a way to remind the Trump administration why they were negotiating in the first place," Alexandra Bell, senior policy director at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, told CNBC.


Tent cities planned as Border Patrol detention facilities overwhelmed

The Trump administration is spending nearly $40 million on two new tent cities for migrant families and children in Texas as part of an effort to confront a surge of people from Central America seeking asylum. The temporary facilities are part of a plan to address overcrowding at Border Patrol detention centers. "The system is full and we are beyond capacity," said Kevin K. McAleenan, the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, during a visit to South Texas on Wednesday. Earlier this week, Attorney General William Barr ordered immigration judges to deny bail to asylum seekers found to have a credible fear of persecution in their home country. That policy, which is expected to face court challenges, could leave thousands of migrants in jail indefinitely.


Former Peruvian president, facing arrest, commits suicide

Former Peruvian President Alan Garcia died in a Lima hospital on Wednesday after he shot himself in the head as he faced arrest on bribery charges. Earlier in the day, a judge ordered Garcia and eight other people to be arrested for their alleged involvement in a scandal involving bribes by Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. Garcia said the charges against him were part of a campaign of political persecution, although he was one of three former presidents ordered jailed in the scandal. "Others might sell out, not me," said Garcia, a one-time leftist firebrand who became a supporter of foreign investment and free trade. Members of his once-powerful Apra party announced his death outside a hospital where he underwent emergency surgery.


Trump administration hits Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua with new sanctions

The Trump administration on Wednesday stepped up pressure on Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, National Security Adviser John Bolton announced in a speech near Miami marking the 58th anniversary of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion intended to overthrow Cuba's revolutionary government. "The troika of tyranny — Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua — is beginning to crumble," Bolton said. The Trump administration hit Cuba the hardest, imposing a new cap on money Cuban-Americans can send back to relatives still on the Communist-run island. The Obama administration had lifted limits on remittances as part of a policy to restore normal relations with Cuba, but the Trump administration capped them at $1,000 per person, per quarter. The administration also restricted "non-family travel," which Bolton called "veiled tourism."


Ivanka Trump says she passed up top World Bank job

White House senior adviser Ivanka Trump told The Associated Press on Wednesday that her father, President Trump, had asked her to consider taking the job as head of the World Bank, but that she declined. Ivanka Trump said she chose not to pursue the World Bank position because she was happy in her role as an adviser, adding that she had helped with a selection process that led to the nomination of David Malpass, who she said would do an "incredible job." President Trump recently told The Atlantic that he "thought of Ivanka for the World Bank ... She would've been great at that because she's very good with numbers."


Doctors in 7 states charged over illegal opioid prescriptions

Sixty people, including 31 doctors, were charged Wednesday with participating in illegal prescriptions of more than 32 million pain pills in seven states. Prosecutors said some of the doctors traded opioids for sex. A dentist allegedly pulled teeth unnecessarily to justify prescribing patients opioids. The people charged also included seven pharmacists and eight nurse practitioners, as well as several other licensed medical professionals. Prosecutors said the defendants wrote more than 350,000 illegal prescriptions in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and West Virginia. "If these medical professionals behave like drug dealers, you can rest assured that the Justice Department is going to treat them like drug dealers," said Brian Benczkowski, an assistant attorney general in charge of the Justice Department's criminal division.


Pinterest IPO pricing values it at $12.7 billion

Pinterest on Wednesday priced its shares at $19 ahead of its initial public offering of stock, which starts trading on the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. The digital pin board company raised $1.6 billion from big investors, valuing the company at $12.7 billion. The IPO pricing suggested strong demand in an encouraging sign for other "unicorns" — startups valued at more than $1 billion — that are readying their own IPOs. Pinterest's debut follows a bumpy start for ride-hailing service Lyft, which spiked on its first trading day only to quickly fall below its IPO price. "Coming out of Lyft, there was a lot of drama and concern around the appetite investors had for these money-losing businesses," said Vincent Ning, director of research at Titan Invest.


Astronaut Christina Koch will break a record for longest spaceflight

Astronaut Christina Koch is scheduled to break the record for longest single spaceflight by a woman, NASA announced Wednesday. Koch will beat out former NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson, who was in space for 288 days two years ago. Koch, who arrived at the space station in March, will stay on mission until February 2020, NASA writes. The 328-day orbit will allow researchers to study the effect of long-term spaceflights on the body. Last month, Koch and Anne McClain were among NASA's top picks for its first female-led spacewalk, though the trip was later canceled amid spacesuit sizing issues.


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