May 19, 2017

BLOOMBERG

Donald Trump departs Friday for his first foreign trip as president with his White House engulfed in crisis and little prospect for a break from the drama disrupting his agenda. His eight-day odyssey across the Mideast and Europe is packed with crucial sit-downs with key allies. Saudi King Salman. Pope Francis. Newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron. Yet each of those meetings will be shadowed by Trump's firing last week of FBI Director James Comey.

Iranians began voting Friday in a presidential election that will either hand Hassan Rouhani a second term to pursue his engagement with the world economy, or see control of the nation's top elected office lurch back to conservatives whose antagonism to the West left Iran isolated.

President Donald Trump's top trade negotiator came out of the gate sounding like he wants to fine-tune the North American Free Trade Agreement, not blow it up as some feared.

President Donald Trump labeled Venezuela's ongoing political and economic turmoil "a disgrace to humanity," as the Treasury Department slapped sanctions on members of the crisis-torn country's Supreme Court.

Two Chinese SU-30 fighter jets intercepted an American military aircraft over the East China Sea on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Air Force. "The interaction was considered unprofessional due to the maneuvers of the Chinese pilots and the speed."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said breaking up the biggest banks would be a "huge mistake," easing concerns that the Trump administration plans a major revamp of Wall Street.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange moved closer to freedom Friday after Swedish prosecutors moved to drop a rape investigation against him, leaving the door open for him to emerge from his self-imposed exile in a London embassy.

Jean-Michel Basquiat's painting of a skull sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby's in New York, setting an auction record for American artists and providing a windfall for the daughter of two collectors who purchased it for $19,000 in 1984.

AP Top Stories

The U.S. military carried out an air strike on Thursday against militia supported by the Syrian government who had moved against U.S.-backed fighters in the country's south, a U.S. official told Reuters on Thursday.

President Trump is expected to announce his pick to replace fired FBI Director James Comey. According to multiple reports, former Sen. Joseph Lieberman has emerged as the leading candidate for the position.

Special counsels like the one named Wednesday to oversee the probe into Russia's alleged election interference are rare super sleuths with more power and independence than regular American investigators. This time it is former FBI director Robert Mueller who will take over the probe into the meddling as well as whether President Donald Trump's campaign team colluded with Moscow to tilt the election his way. The stakes are huge.

After increasing for 11 straight quarters, aggregate household debt toppled the previous peak in 2008, reaching a total of $12.73 trillion in the first three months of 2017. But a report also harbored a real cause for concern, specifically for millennials. While aggregate student loan debt only made up 11 percent of the total - compared to mortgages, with 68 percent of household debt - the average delinquency rate for student loans has shot above all other forms of debt in recent years, and stayed there, according to the Fed report.

The Guardian reported worker conditions at Tesla factories are so bad people have reportedly passed out to meet production demands while others received life-changing injuries.

After a seemingly healthy 16-year-old South Carolina boy died from drinking a series of caffeinated beverages last month, parents are being warned about the dangers of drinking excessive amounts of caffeine in popular coffee beverages and energy drinks.

Mobs looted shops and fought security forces overnight in Venezuela's restive western region, where three soldiers were being charged on Thursday with the fatal shooting of a man who was buying diapers for his baby, witnesses said.

Carson Huey-You graduated high school at the young age of 10, started attending Texas Christian University when he was 11, and received his bachelor's degree in physics on May 6. Carson became the youngest person ever to graduate from the university.

Two research teams have managed to create blood stem cells in the lab, with each using different techniques. Both papers detailing these efforts were published in the journal Nature.

The type of hackers who recently hijacked 300,000 computers in 150 countries with the so-called WannaCry ransomware have an inherent advantage against law enforcement agencies. "The bad guys have no rules to be governed by. The good guys have to follow a process while conducting these investigations, so [the hackers] tend to be a little ahead."

BBC

Dozens of gay men who fled persecution in Chechnya are hoping to find safety in a handful of countries that have volunteered to help.

China has for the first time extracted gas from an ice-like substance under the South China Sea considered key to future global energy supply. Methane hydrates, also called "flammable ice", hold vast reserves of natural gas.

Japan's government has approved a one-off bill which, if passed, will allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate. But there is no provision under existing law for him to abdicate and be succeeded by Crown Prince Naruhito.

WND

Federal and local law enforcement officers conducted 50 simultaneous raids in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday, taking down almost two dozen "high-ranking" suspected leaders of the notoriously violent MS-13 street gang, along with numerous Mexican Mafia leaders, in what is being described as the "largest gang raid in Los Angeles history."

Hebrew University will not play Israel's national anthem at a graduation ceremony, saying it does not want to offend the university's Arab students.

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