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September 12, 2018

Apple held its annual product launch Wednesday at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. The company announced improvements to its HomePod speaker system, new video partners for AppleTV, and a coming redesign for Mac OS. Notably missing from the event was any news on wireless charging; Apple announced an AirPower charging mat at its product launch last year but has yet to roll out the product.

But the biggest news of the day was Apple's unveiling of a new Apple Watch, as well as three new iPhones. Here's all you need to know. Kathryn Krawczyk

Apple Watch Series 4: The Series 4 watch has a larger screen that bleeds over the edge of the watch face. Its speaker is louder, its microphone will provide clearer calls, and it features a faster processor. Series 4 improves Apple Watch's health tracking capabilities, too, and can notably track when a wearer has fallen and contact emergency services. Heart monitors can alert a wearer if their heart rate is too slow, and the watch can take an electrocardiogram test to detect heart issues — all with FDA approval.

iPhone XS and XS Max: The iPhone XS has a stronger glass screen that's more waterproof than ever. Its 5.8-inch edge-to-edge display is bigger than a Plus-size iPhone's, but the device itself is smaller. There's also an iPhone XS Max, with a 6.5-inch display. Both phones feature more accurate FaceID, increased gaming power on a faster processor and higher-definition screen, and better photo quality with a dual lens system. For those who want the capabilities of two phones in the convenience of one, iPhone XS can support two SIM cards for two separate phone numbers. XS starts at $999 and the Max starts at $1,099, and they'll ship starting on Sept. 21.

iPhone XR: This lower-grade iPhone is made of aluminum and comes in six colors. It shares the XS camera system and has a 6.1-inch display, but starts at $749. It'll ship starting Oct. 26.

1:07 p.m.

Attorney General William Barr sent a letter to Congress on Friday, informing lawmakers that the investigation conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller had reached its conclusion and the final report is now under Barr's review.

The letter did not divulge much — indeed, Barr announced that he would brief Congress more thoroughly "as soon as this weekend." But one of the key pieces information about the process came to light precisely because it was not mentioned in the letter. Per special counsel investigation regulations, The Washington Post reports, Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein were required to, first and foremost, alert Congress when the investigation was complete. Beyond that, the only requirement is to "provide a description and explanation" of any action by the special counsel that the Attorney General deemed "inappropriate or unwarranted."

Barr's initial letter, therefore, would indicate that the Department of Justice did not, over the course of the last two years, block Mueller and his team from investigating anyone. In other words, there does not appear to have been any executive interference.

"There were no such instances during the Special Counsel's Investigation," Barr wrote in the letter. Read the full analysis at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

11:48 a.m.

The king will get some extra rest this year.

For the first time since 2005, the NBA playoffs will not feature LeBron James, whose teams had appeared in 13 straight postseasons, including eight straight trips to the NBA Finals.

James' Los Angeles Lakers were officially eliminated from contention following Friday evening's 111-106 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. Los Angeles dropped to 31-41 overall with 10 games remaining in the regular season.

It's the sixth year in a row that the Lakers, who signed James during the offseason, have missed the postseason. Before the current streak of futility, the storied franchise missed the playoffs only five times during its first 65 seasons in the league, Per ESPN.

Despite the lack of team success and having to deal with a mid-season injury, James still put up his usual prolific numbers, averaging 27.4 points, 8.1 assists, and 8.5 rebounds per game on the year.

"I'm probably going to have a conversation with the coaching staff and my trainer and go from there," James said. "But I love to hoop. S---, I'm going to have five months and not play the game." Tim O'Donnell

11:19 a.m.

The Mueller report is now in the hands of Attorney General William Barr and the early reaction both inside the White House and from analysts is that things are looking good for the Trump administration — especially because Special Counsel Robert Mueller is not recommending any further indictments as a result of the nearly two-year investigation.

CNN legal expert Jeffrey Toobin said the lack of indictments is "unambiguously good news" for the White House.

MSNBC's Chris Matthews, meanwhile, expressed incredulity that the investigation concluded without Mueller directly interviewing Trump, though NBC News reporter Ken Dilanian explained that Trump likely would have invoked the Fifth Amendment regardless.

CBS News' Major Garrett reported that Trump's attorneys also are expecting the investigation to end in the president's favor.

"The special counsel's office is essentially shuttered and they believe not only legally, but importantly politically, the president will be found to be largely, if not completely in the clear," Garret said.

CNN's Jim Acosta likewise reported that the White House was celebrating the news "quietly," but "with a fair amount of glee." Acosta said a Trump campaign adviser told him, "This was a great day for America and we won." Tim O'Donnell

8:41 a.m.

A former Justice Department lawyer who helped write the regulations for special counsel investigations in 1998 and 1999 has added his name to the list of those calling for Attorney General William Barr to make Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, which was handed over to Barr on Friday, available to the public.

Neal Kumar Katyal, who is now a law professor at Georgetown University, wrote in The Washington Post that he and his colleagues drafted regulations for special counsel investigations following independent counsel Ken Starr's investigation into former President Bill Clinton. They wanted to avoid similar investigations in the future which might "produce a lurid document going unnecessarily into detail about someone's intimate conduct."

But he also wrote that the regulations serve as "a floor, not a ceiling" on the amount of transparency that the attorney general can provide to Congress and the public after the special counsel completes an investigation.

"The canard that some Trump allies are floating, that a public release would violate the special counsel regulations, is false," Katyal wrote. "They require transparency and an 'explanation of each action' at the end of the special counsel investigation, but they don't forbid more transparency on top of that."

Katyal argued that Barr "has all the latitude in the world" to make the Mueller public and that he should, indeed, do so. Read the full article at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

8:06 a.m.

New Zealand continues to act swiftly in its response to the mass shootings that claimed 50 lives at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last week.

The manifesto, believed to be written by Brenton Tarrant, the 28-year-old Australian who has been charged with the murder of 50 people, is now illegal in the country, New Zealand's Office of Film and Literature Classification announced on Saturday. The manifesto, which is more than 80 pages long, is rife with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim content. It was made public online before the shootings occurred and was also sent to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's office just minutes before Tarrant allegedly carried out the attack.

"Others have referred to this publication as a 'manifesto', but I consider it a crude booklet that promotes murder and terrorism. It is objectionable under New Zealand law," New Zealand's Chief Censor David Shanks said. "It crosses the line."

The decision follows another one made earlier this week which banned footage of the shootings, including edited clips and still images. The New Zealand government also banned semi-automatic rifles and accessories just six days after the shooting. Tim O'Donnell

7:47 a.m.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency shared the private data, including banking information, of millions of hurricane and wildfire survivors, the Department of Homeland Security inspector general said in a memo that surfaced on Friday.

The unlawful disclosure places the survivors at "increased risk of identity theft and fraud."

The data was shared with an unidentified federal contractor that was helping the 2.3 million survivors from Hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and Maria, as well as the 2017 California wildfires find housing. It included 20 "unnecessary" fields such as electronic funds transfer numbers, bank transit numbers, and addresses.

FEMA said in a statement that it has already begun filtering the data to ensure it cannot be shared with the public, and the organization has said that there is so far no indication that the information has been compromised. But, per CNN, a more permanent fix may not be finalized until June 2020. Tim O'Donnell

March 22, 2019

Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report is here, and pretty much no one knows what's in it.

The Justice Department announced Friday that Mueller had finished his investigation into potential ties between President Trump's campaign and Russian election interference. And within minutes, even the most unexpected lawmakers started calling for Attorney General William Barr to release it to the public.

First up came a wave of Democratic voices. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) issued a joint call for public report, while 2020 candidates chimed in with some variation on the theme. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) also surprisingly called for a public release, saying it was needed to "put an end to the speculation and innuendo that has loomed over the administration."

Those calls reflected a 420-0 House vote last week on a non-binding resolution to make the report public. Heck, even Trump said Tuesday that he wouldn't mind if Congress saw what Mueller had to say. But there's still one major holdout: Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). In his Friday statement, Graham reflected Barr's language in simply calling for "as much transparency as possible, consistent with the law." Graham also blocked the House's popular resolution from a vote in the Senate earlier this week.

Grassley did pointedly note Friday that he was in Graham's committee position just last year — perhaps something he's regretting giving up right about now. Kathryn Krawczyk

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