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February 10, 2019

American and South Korean officials on Sunday signed a new deal on how much Seoul will pay Washington for the upkeep of U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

The agreement was renegotiated after President Trump demanded Seoul pay more. The payment for 2019 will be about $924 million, up from $830 million in 2018. Sunday's deal will only last for one year, far shorter than the five-year arrangements between the two nations in the past.

There are about 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea, where the United States has maintained a military presence since the Korean War in the 1950s. Bonnie Kristian

7:23 a.m.

Joe Biden kicked off his presidential campaign on Thursday as the clear frontrunner not only in the Democratic field but also the general election, according to Politico/Morning Consult polling. In a head-to-head contest with President Trump, Biden draws 42 percent to Trump's 34 percent, an 8-percentage point lead that puts Trump in a much worse position than former President Barack Obama when he was running for re-election in 2012. Morning Consult conducted the poll April 19-21 among 1992 registered voters; the poll has a ±2-point margin of error.

Biden is ahead of closest Democratic rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), 30 percent to 24 percent, in Morning Consult's weekly tracking polls. Biden and Sanders are followed by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg (9 percent), California Sen. Kamala Harris (8 percent), Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (7 percent), and Beto O'Rourke (6 percent). The tracking poll covers April 15-21, is based on 14,336 interviews with Democratic primary voters, and has a margin of error of ±1 percentage point.

Biden's coalition is older, more racially diverse, and more moderate than Sanders voters, Morning Consult found. Biden just edges out Sanders in favorability ratings, though his net favorability dropped 5 points from January, a period in which he was accused of inappropriate handsiness. Peter Weber

6:39 a.m.

Former Vice President Joe Biden announced in a video Thursday morning that he's making a third bid for president. Unlike in 1988 and 2008, though, he starts out as one of the frontrunners in a diverse field of 19 other Democrats. In a conference call with donors on Wednesday, Biden stressed the importance of notching strong fundraising numbers in the first 24 hours of his campaign, Politico reports. But in his launch video, Biden steered away from the prosaic, vowing to protect the core values and ideals that America stands for from President Trump, centering his pitch on Charlottesville, Virginia,

Biden, 76, starts out with strong name recognition, support from organized labor and other Democratic constituencies, and strong ties to former President Barack Obama, who is not endorsing anyone in the Democratic primary. He is expected to officially kick off his campaign at a Pittsburgh union hall on Monday. Peter Weber

2:34 a.m.

"Like all of [President] Trump's closest relationships, his relationship with Twitter is sort of a love-hate situation," Trevor Noah said on Wednesday's Daily Show. And on Tuesday, Trump invited Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey to the Oval Office to complain. "That's right, my friends, the president of the United States is upset because he feels he should have more Twitter followers," Noah said. "This is absolutely ridiculous. Like, what's next? He's going to complain to Instagram because his thirst traps aren't blowing up?"

Trump flying in the CEO of Twitter to complain about losing followers will actually probably "inspire more people to run for office," Noah suggested. "People are going to be on stage, like, 'I'm running for president so that I can ask Jeff Bezos: What happened to my tube socks, which were supposed to be here by Wednesday?!'" He pitied "everyone in this meeting with Trump who had to sit there and take it seriously," including Dorsey, forced to "explain to a president that some of his followers were deleted because they were bots and spam accounts."

"Twitter is only one of the president's beefs right now," Noah said. He's also feuding with the media, House Democrats, and the Constitution, threatening to "head to the Supreme Court" if Democrats impeach him. "Just to be clear, that's not a thing," Noah said. "The Supreme Court can't overrule an impeachment. ... This would be like if a cop gives you a ticket and your response is: 'I'm fighting this, buddy — you'll be hearing from my orthodontist!'"

"So in the last 48 hours, the president has gotten in fights with Congress, the press, and Twitter," he said. "Look, we can't help him with the first two, but we do have someone who can help him out online." That would be Jaboukie Young-White, and you can watch him advise Trump to seem less thirsty on Twitter below. Peter Weber

1:23 a.m.

President Trump made some promises during the 2016 campaign: He would release his tax returns, "build the wall," "drain the swamp," protect Medicare and Social Security, and champion law and order, to name a few.

Like all presidents, he has been pretty selective about which campaign promises merit follow-through. The "wall", for example, was worth shutting down the government and sparking a constitutional crisis; his tax returns were deemed worthy of going to court and threatening a constitutional showdown to keep hidden. One of the "promises" he has tried to keep, according to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's report, is "lock her up," his enduring campaign chant about 2016 rival Hillary Clinton.

Mueller's report "brimmed with examples of Mr. Trump seeking to protect himself from the investigation," The New York Times reports, but it also shows at least three instances of him "trying to wield the power of law enforcement to target a political rival, a step that no president since Richard M. Nixon is known to have taken." As with many potential crimes Mueller records, Trump's orders or suggestions to prosecute Clinton were apparently ignored or redirected by former Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former White House Counsel Don McGahn.

Still, Trump's attempt to target Clinton "reeks of a typical practice in authoritarian regimes where whoever attains power, they don't just take over power peacefully, but they punish and jail their opponents," political historian and professor Matthew Dallek tells the Times. It appears from Mueller's report that Trump, encouraged by his Fox News allies, didn't appreciate the difference between political self-preservation and weaponizing the law enforcement tools he seems to think work for him, adds Duke University law professor Samuel W. Buell. "All of his demands fit into a picture that he believes the apparatus is mine"

You can read the details of Trump's attempts to "lock her up" in Mueller's report and at The New York Times. Peter Weber

April 24, 2019

George Conway was, by all accounts, happy when his wife, Kellyanne Conway, helped campaign-manage President Trump into office. But that was so 2016. Since then, Conway has become one of Trump's loudest conservative critics, to the consternation of his wife, who is one of Trump's top White House aides and most ardent defenders in the media.

When Trump's 2016 rival, Hillary Clinton, wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on Wednesday night, arguing that Vladimir Putin is trying to make Russia great again by attacking U.S. democracy and Congress needs to hold Trump accountable for aiding him, using Special Counsel Robert Mueller's newly released report as a road map, George Conway repurposed Clinton's 2016 slogan: "If she's with the Constitution, I'm with her. "

Ouch. Peter Weber

April 24, 2019

Soon after Katie Pollak adopted her dog Chipper seven years ago, she discovered that he wasn't obsessed with traditional toys, but rather with discarded plastic water bottles they would find while out on walks and hikes.

"He started picking them up immediately, so I encouraged it and rewarded it," Pollak told Today. "And he motivated me to do the same. I really started getting out and picking up more than I was before, so we created kind of a team."

Pollak and Chipper, now 8, live in Mesa, Arizona, and enjoy spending time outdoors. Pollak carries garbage bags with her every time they go hiking or paddleboarding, and together, they pick up recyclables, including cans and bottles, and trash, like old clothes and wrappers. They have filled countless bags, and often meet with friends to clean up spaces across Mesa. Chipper, Pollak said, "reminds me all the time to be my best self and do everything I can, and he's so much fun to do it with." Catherine Garcia

April 24, 2019

Mohammad Yusuf Ibrahim, a politically connected millionaire spice trader, has been detained in connection with the coordinated suicide bombings that killed more than 350 people on Easter Sunday, Indian officials told The New York Times.

Indian media reports that two of Ibrahim's sons were among the eight suicide bombers, and during a raid at his villa near the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on Sunday, a female suspect detonated a suicide vest, killing herself, two of her children, and several police officers. Ibrahim is now being interrogated by police, investigators said.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks, but Sri Lankan officials said they do not know how the bombers are linked to the terrorist group. During a press conference on Wednesday, Sri Lanka's minister of defense, Ruwan Wijewardene, said most of the bombers were well-educated and from families that "are stable financially." Catherine Garcia

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