5 things you need to know now
5 things you need to know now
  • Trump budget proposes $54 billion increase in defense spending

  • Republicans settle on high-stakes 'now or never' ObamaCare repeal effort

  • Moonlight wins Best Picture after embarrassing Oscars mix-up

  • Report: Sean Spicer connected journalists with intelligence officials to discredit New York Times story

  • Headstones toppled at second Jewish cemetery

President Trump's 2018 budget proposes a $54 billion increase in defense spending, The Associated Press reported Monday, leveled out by cuts to domestic programs and foreign aid. Entitlement programs like Social Security and Medicare would remain unchanged. "We will be substantially upgrading all of our military," Trump promised the audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday. "And hopefully we'll never have to use it, but nobody's going to mess with us, folks. Nobody." Trump's proposal would be a 10 percent budget increase for the Pentagon, and the spending is planned specifically for defense, homeland security, intelligence, the Department of Justice, and law enforcement, an administration official told Politico. "Dollar for dollar cuts" are expected elsewhere. The proposed budget is set to be finalized and sent to Congress next month, and would go into effect Oct. 1.

Source: The Associated Press, The Week

Republican leaders have come up with a new plan for health-care reform, The Wall Street Journal reports: "Set a bill in motion and gamble that fellow GOP lawmakers won't dare to block it." The new push to repeal and replace ObamaCare in three stages begins this week, premised on an acknowledgment that there is no plan that will get a comfortable majority in either chamber. Assuming no Democrats back the repeal bill, Republicans can lose two senators and 22 House members, giving really any GOP faction de facto veto power. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) are going to gamble on the "now or never" gambit anyway, as overhauling the Affordable Care Act is central to their entire domestic policy agenda. While Republicans alone could repeal the bill, any "replace" effort will need support from Democrats to pass.

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Moonlight, a coming-of-age story about a young African-American man struggling with his sexuality, won the Oscar for Best Picture on Sunday night in an upset that capped an Academy Awards ceremony that celebrated diversity. Moonlight's win was announced after a bizarre mix-up in which Warren Beatty, joined by his Bonnie & Clyde co-star Faye Dunaway, were handed the wrong envelope and mistakenly declared that musical romance La La Land had won. La La Land entered the 89th Oscars ceremony with a leading 14 nominations, and wound up winning six awards, including Best Actress for leading lady Emma Stone. Casey Affleck won Best Actor for Manchester by the Sea. The night was peppered with political remarks, and Iranian director Asghar Farhadi, whose drama The Salesman won Best Foreign Language Film, boycotted the ceremony over President Trump's travel ban.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter, Reuters

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer personally connected Washington Post and Wall Street Journal reporters with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) in an attempt to discredit a Feb. 15 New York Times story alleging contact between President Trump's campaign aides with Russian officials. While the Post had previously reported on the administration's attempts to counter the Times' reports, "the new details show how determined the West Wing was to rebut" the reports, Axios writes. Pompeo and Burr reportedly did not offer details to deny the Times' story, and intelligence officials told Axios that it is unusual for the CIA director to talk one-on-one with a single journalist; typically, the director only talks to publishers or executive editors when a story could potentially hurt national security.

Source: Axios, The Washington Post

Vandals toppled dozens of headstones at a Philadelphia Jewish cemetery on Sunday, the second such attack in the U.S. in a week. Jim McReynolds, a Philadelphia police detective, said at least 75 to 100 headstones had been knocked over at Mount Carmel Cemetery. Several were broken. Police said they were investigating whether the incident was motivated by anti-Semitism as seen in a wave of recent threats across the nation, noting that 33 tombstones at a nearby Catholic cemetery were toppled earlier this month. "We just have to find out if it's drunken kids or an act of — well, it is a predominantly Jewish cemetery, so we have to look into that fact," McReynolds said.

Source: The Washington Post
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