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January 21, 2019

If you went on social media over the weekend, you almost certainly saw a video clip of MAGA hat–wearing students from Kentucky's Covington Catholic High School in some sort of standoff with a Native American advocate and Marine Corps veteran, Nathan Phillips, after Friday's March for Life anti-abortion rally in Washington, D.C.

The Catholic diocese of Covington and Covington Catholic High did, and they said in a joint statement Saturday that they "condemn the actions of the Covington Catholic High School students toward Nathan Phillips specifically, and Native Americans in general. ... The matter is being investigated and we will take appropriate action, up to and including expulsion."

After that clip went viral on Saturday, on Sunday "the nation picked apart footage from dozens of cellphones that recorded the incident," The Associated Press notes, and the student featured in the viral clip, Nick Sandmann, released a statement explaining his side of the story. He said Phillips approached him, and "I believed that by remaining motionless and calm, I was helping to diffuse the situation." He added that he is now "being called every name in the book, including a racist, and I will not stand for this mob-like character assassination of my family's name." Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) said the "honorable and tolerant students of Covington Catholic School" learned "a brutal lesson in the unjust court of public opinion and social media mobs."

Phillips told the Detroit Free Press that he stepped in to defuse a brewing brawl between the crowd of about 100 Covington students and a handful of confrontational men from a religious group called the Black Hebrew Israelites. "I'm a Marine Corps veteran and I know what that mob mentality can be like," he said. "I mean, it was that ugly." He said some Covington students started shouting "Build the Wall" and insulting Native Americans. Marcus Frejo, a member of the Pawnee and Seminole tribes, told The Associated Press that he and Phillips approached the Covington students in part because one of their school cheers was a haka, or war dance of New Zealand's Maori people, and they thought it was mocking. Some students are seen doing a "tomahawk chop."

When you watch the nearly 2-hour video of the incident and what led up to it, says Jorge L. Ortiz at USA Today, "the fuller video would seem to assign more blame on a small group of Black Hebrew Israelites," who hurled insults first at Phillips and other Indigenous Peoples March participants then called the Covington students "crackers" and disparaged Catholicism and President Trump, among other aspersions. Peter Weber

8:52 p.m.

Capitol Police arrested 70 people on Thursday during protests against the Trump administration's immigration policies.

The protesters were arrested inside the Russell Senate Office Building, with Capitol Police saying they were unlawfully demonstrating in the rotunda. Thursday was the Catholic Day of Action to oppose immigration policies like detaining migrants in overcrowded facilities without adequate necessities. The Sisters of Mercy traveled from Chicago to Washington, D.C., for the protests, and one nun, 90-year-old Sister Pat Murphy, was arrested.

The situation in immigrant detention centers is "immoral," Murphy told ABC News during a phone interview. "These are our brothers and sisters and they are part of the human family," she said, adding, "I mean, any person with any human compassion would reach out. What is going on is, it's just abominable. It's a horrific situation that's happening right now." Murphy, who has been with Sisters of Mercy for 71 years, said it's not fair that people are "being punished because our immigration system is broken, it's shattered, it doesn't exist." Catherine Garcia

7:36 p.m.

President Trump will most likely nominate attorney Eugene Scalia to be the next Labor secretary, three people familiar with the matter told Politico.

Scalia is the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and is a partner at the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. In 2006, he represented Walmart in the retail giant's fight against a Maryland law that would have forced the company to spend more money on employee health care.

Last week, Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta stepped down following outrage over a 2008 plea deal he arranged with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein in Florida. Acosta's deputy, Patrick Pizzella, will step into the role on Friday. Catherine Garcia

7:01 p.m.

The Environmental Protection Agency announced on Thursday it will not ban the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide associated with health problems in children.

During the Obama administration, the EPA produced scientific studies showing chlorpyrifos could damage brain development in children and prohibited its use, but in 2017, Scott Pruitt, then the agency's administrator, reversed course. This led to a legal battle, and in April, a federal appeals court told the EPA it had to make a final decision on the ban by July. In a statement, the agency said there is not enough data to show that an unsafe amount of pesticide residue is left in or on treated foods.

Sold under the name Lorsban, chlorpyrifos cannot be used in homes, but can be used by farmers, who spray it on more than 50 nut, fruit, vegetable, and cereal crops, The New York Times reports. Since the legal battle began, several states, including California and New York, have announced they are looking into banning chlorpyrifos. Catherine Garcia

5:40 p.m.

Words can't adequately prepare you for your first glimpse at the Cats movie.

Universal Pictures on Thursday debuted the highly-anticipated first footage from its upcoming musical adaptation after months of teases about Taylor Swift's attending of "cat school" and the film's supposedly revolutionary use of, as the filmmakers describe it, "digital fur technology." And, well, here it is.

From start to finish, the trailer is a wild ride that doesn't even attempt to ease viewers into how surreal literally every character in the film looks. That online reactions to the initially funky-looking CGI Genie in Aladdin and the extremely distressing new Sonic the Hedgehog don't even hold a candle.

Cats' cast includes, believe it or not, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden, Ian McKellen, and Judi Dench, who discussed their experience making the film in a recent behind-the-scenes reel featuring such quotes as "these are people but they're cats ... there is nothing else like it." Indeed, there isn't. Take a deep breath and watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

4:42 p.m.

Tom Cruise still has that need for speed, even three decades later.

At San Diego Comic-Con on Thursday, Cruise made an unannounced appearance following a Terminator: Dark Fate panel to reveal the first trailer for the long-awaited Top: Gun Maverick, a follow-up to the 1986 original that's set for release next year. The footage, which dropped online shortly after its Comic-Con debut, shows off Cruise's return as Maverick and some seriously impressive-looking flying sequences.

Cruise, who in recent years has infamously done his own, increasingly insane stunts for the Mission: Impossible franchise, promised the Comic-Con audience similar authenticity in Maverick, saying, "Everything you see in this film, obviously, it's for real," Variety reports. "We're working with the Navy. All of the flying that you see in this picture, everything is real." He also described the movie as a "love letter to aviation."

Top Gun: Maverick will hit theaters on June 26, 2020, and Cruise said Thursday that after a 34 year wait, "I felt it was my responsibility for me to deliver for you." Watch the trailer below. Brendan Morrow

4:35 p.m.

The U.S. Navy has "destroyed" an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, President Trump announced Thursday afternoon.

The U.S.S. Boxer was sailing in the strategic strait when the drone came within 1,000 yards of it and ignored "multiple calls to stand down," Trump told reporters. It then took "defensive action" and used electronic jamming to down the drone, Trump continued.

The attack comes after Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on Thursday claimed responsibility for seizing a foreign tanker that went missing this past weekend in the Strait of Hormuz, The Washington Post notes. It's the latest international incident in the waterway that connects the Persian Gulf with the rest of the world, and also comes amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Iran shot a U.S. drone in that area last month, but while America says it was in international airspace, Iran claimed it was flying in Iranian territory. Kathryn Krawczyk

3:55 p.m.

Toys 'R' Us is getting a reboot.

The retailer, which closed all its locations in the U.S. in 2018 after the company filed for bankruptcy, is being relaunched by Tru Kids Brands with the opening of two new stores this year, CNN reports. One of the new locations will be in Houston, Texas, while the other will be in Paramus, New Jersey, and the company's aim is to open 10 new stores by the end of 2020, The Washington Post reports.

But Toys 'R' Us won't be coming back without some major changes, as Tru Kids Brands has reworked the stores' design so they're more "fun and interactive" as to "better fit within today's retail environment," CEO Richard Barry told the Post. The two new locations will be smaller — 6,500-square feet compared to about 40,000 square feet before — and they'll emphasize open areas for children to play in, the Post notes. The stores will also sell fewer toys than before, CNN reports. Previously, lenders had teased a "new and re-imagined" Toys 'R Us on the horizon.

Ahead of this relaunch, though, The Associated Press notes that it's unclear "how much support the new model will get from suppliers, who were burned by Toys 'R' Us' quick demise." The company in 2018 announced it would close all of its stores in the United States six months after filing for bankruptcy, resulting in the loss of more than 30,000 jobs, per The Washington Post.

For Toys 'R' Us kids in Texas and New Jersey, the new locations will open this fall. Brendan Morrow

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