On Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it's "highly likely that Russia was responsible" for a March 4 nerve gas attack on a 66-year-old former Russian double agent, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter, Yulia, outside a shopping center in Salisbury. Skripal and his daughter, 33, are hospitalized in critical condition, and a British police officer who found them unconscious on a bench is in serious condition.
The pair "were poisoned with a military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia," May said. "Either this was a direct act by the Russian state against our country, or the Russian government lost control of this potentially catastrophically damaging nerve agent and allowed it to get into the hands of others." U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the nerve agent, Novichok, "came from Russia" and will "certainly trigger a response." He did not speculate if the Russian government ordered the attack, but said the Kremlin is increasingly "aggressive" and seems to be behind a "certain unleashing of activity that we don't fully understand."
Earlier Monday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had repeatedly declined to blame Russia for the nerve gas attack.
Sarah Sanders condemns poisoning of ex-spy in U.K. but declines to accuse Russia despite statements from PM Theresa May. pic.twitter.com/NDGtSiLxab
— Axios (@axios) March 12, 2018
May gave Russian President Vladimir Putin until midnight Tuesday to explain how a nerve agent developed by the Soviet Union ended up poisoning British citizens in broad daylight. The Russian Foreign Ministry said May is putting on "a circus show in the British Parliament" and posted a mocking tweet.
— MFA Russia (@mfa_russia) March 12, 2018
Michael Avenatti says he will reveal the name of the 3rd Kavanaugh accuser, detail her allegations 'within 48 hours'
On Sunday night, lawyer Michael Avenatti announced he is representing a third woman with sexual misconduct allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and on Monday, he told reporters that "within 48 hours we will release additional details relating to the allegations relating to Brett Kavanaugh," including the woman's name. That will put the big reveal very close to Thursday's high-stakes Senate Judiciary Committee testimony from Kavanaugh and his first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford. Avenatti's client "may sit for a televised interview at that time," he said. "She is 100 percent credible, and when the American people hear from her, they will determine, as I have, that she is to be believed."
Kavanaugh denies all the allegations and says he has never sexually assaulted anyone. Avenatti described the woman as a former State Department and U.S. Mint employee and said her information relates to how Kavanaugh and his friend Mark Judge "behaved at countless house parties" in high school. The woman will "literally risk her life" by coming forward, he claimed, and she will be willing to take a polygraph test if Kavanaugh does, too.
Democrats aren't necessarily thrilled with Avenatti's late entry into the Kavanaugh imbroglio. "Mr. Avenatti has a tendency to sensationalize and make his various crusades more about himself than about getting at the truth," a senior Senate Democratic aide told The Daily Beast. "This moment calls for the exact opposite." Avanatti dismissed the criticism as "certain Democrats being weak-kneed and not up for the fight." Peter Weber
Thanks to sustained and successful conservation efforts, Nepal is on track to hit its goal of doubling the country's tiger population by 2022.
A recent tiger survey found that there are an estimated 235 tigers living in the wild in Nepal, up from 121 in 2009. In 2010, representatives from the 13 countries where tigers roam wild met in St. Petersburg for a summit, and they agreed to try to double the world's tiger population within 12 years. It's believed that worldwide, there are only 3,900 tigers in the wild.
The main threats tigers face are poaching and a loss of habitat, and Nepal is showing other countries what can be done when there's an increase in anti-poaching efforts and policing at national parks. Bishwa Nath Oli, secretary of Nepal's ministry of forests and environment, said that "protecting tigers is a top priority of the government," and the country's World Wildlife Federation representative, Dr. Ghana Gurung, declared that "every tiger counts, for Nepal and for the world." Catherine Garcia
Stephen Colbert ran through the new allegations of sexual misconduct by Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and they are mildly NSFW. His new accuser, Deborah Ramirez, "acknowledges that she has gaps in her memory, because she had also been drinking that night, but she remembers that somebody yelled down the hall, 'Brett Kavanaugh just put his penis in Debbie's face,'" he said on Monday's Late Show. "And a little further down the hall, a 50-year-old Chuck Grassley yelled, 'Get that man on the Supreme Court!'"
Colbert noted that the allegations originated not from Ramirez but from emails among Ramirez's classmates in July, before Kavanaugh's first accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, came forward. "Obviously this is a disturbing allegation that has to be investigated," he said. "You don't want to confirm a perv to a job where you get to wear a robe every day." Kavanaugh, to rebut Ford's allegations, "is attempting a bold new defense strategy," Colbert said: Handing over his calendars from 1982. "Who hangs on to their high school calendars?" he asked "The only things I have left over from high school are deep emotional scars."
The Late Show also had some jokes about Kavanaugh's yearbook, the focus of some real questions on Monday
On The Daily Show, Trevor Noah also mocked Kavanaugh's 1982 calendars gambit. "Come on, man, a calendar just says what you plan on doing, not what you actually did," he said. "It's also pretty ballsy that Kavanaugh, as a judge, would bring up an old calendar as his defense, because I wonder if that would hold up in his court?" Look, Noah said, "I get why Republicans are doing this. Getting five conservative justices onto the Supreme Court is something they've been dreaming of for 40 years, so they'll do anything to get it done, even if it means normalizing sexual assault." He had a focus group to prove it. Watch below. Peter Weber
On Monday, a federal judge reversed a decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to lift protections for 700 grizzly bears living in and around Yellowstone National Park.
Wyoming and Idaho had already issued 23 hunting permits for this fall, setting up the first grizzly hunt to take place in the United States outside of Alaska in 27 years, but U.S. District Judge Dana Christensen's decision cancels the hunt. Christensen said this was "not about the ethics of hunting" but rather that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service "failed to make a reasoned decision" when it concluded grizzly bears are no longer a threatened species that needs federal protections.
Grizzly bears were listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1975, when there were only about 136 of the animals still in Yellowstone. Catherine Garcia
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of Instagram, are leaving the company, saying they plan on "taking some time off to explore our curiosity and creativity again."
They founded the photo-sharing app in 2010 and sold it to Facebook for $1 billion in 2012. Systrom is the company's CEO and Krieger the chief technology officer, and in a blog post Monday night, Systrom said in order to build something new, they need to "step back, understand what inspires us, and match that with what the world needs."
People familiar with the matter told Bloomberg that Systrom and Krieger were clashing with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg over the direction of Instagram, frustrated that he was spending more and more time in the day-to-day operations of the brand. In a statement, Zuckerberg called Systrom and Krieger "extraordinary product leaders" with "creative talents. I've learned a lot working with them for the past six years and have really enjoyed it." Catherine Garcia
Kavanaugh and his friends bragged about being 'alumni' of the same girl in high school, and she just found out
In a Fox News interview Monday, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh portrayed his high school days at Georgetown Prep as dedicated to sports, service, church, and academics, said he's "always treated women with dignity and respect," and suggested he never drank to excess. His senior high school yearbook page paints a different picture, including naming himself "treasurer" of the "Keg City Club" ("100 Kegs or Bust") and "Beach Week Ralph Club — Biggest Contributor."
Kavanaugh also identified himself as a "Renate Alumnius" [sic]. That and 13 other mentions of "Renate" in Georgetown Prep's 1983 yearbook — including a "Renate Alumni" tag under a photo of Kavanaugh and eight other football players — refer to Renate Dolphin née Schroeder, a student at a nearby Catholic girls' school, The New York Times reports. Dolphin, one of 65 women who signed a letter attesting to Kavanaugh's respectful behavior toward women in high school, wasn't previously aware of the suggestive references to her in the yearbook, and she isn't happy.
"I learned about these yearbook pages only a few days ago," Dolphin told the Times. "I don't know what 'Renate Alumnus' actually means. I can't begin to comprehend what goes through the minds of 17-year-old boys who write such things, but the insinuation is horrible, hurtful, and simply untrue. I pray their daughters are never treated this way."
Four "Renate Alumni" released a statement saying the Renate references "were intended to allude to innocent dates or dance partners." Kavanaugh's lawyer said "Kavanaugh and Ms. Dolphin attended one high school event together and shared a brief kiss good night following that event," and that's what he referred to in his yearbook, "nothing else." Dolphin told the Times, "I think Brett must have me confused with someone else, because I never kissed him."
Classmates of Kavanaugh said the "Renate Alumni" tags were part of his "fratty" clique's bragging about sexual conquests, real or imagined. Read more, and see the yearbook pages in question, at The New York Times. Peter Weber
Christine Ford's attorney shares concerns over Kavanaugh Senate hearing not being 'fair and credible'
In a letter sent to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Monday night, an attorney for Christine Blasey Ford asked how his client could expect to receive "fair and respectful treatment" when she testifies in front of the committee Thursday, considering what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had to say about her earlier in the day.
Ford has accused Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh of sexual assault when they were teenagers. Attorney Michael Bromwich said McConnell's claims on the Senate floor Monday afternoon that Ford was part of a "smear campaign" against Kavanaugh also implied, falsely, that there had been an investigation and there was a lack of evidence proving the assault took place. Grassley had told Ford she would be provided "a fair and credible process," Bromwich said, but McConnell's statements "are flatly inconsistent" with Grassley's promise.
Bromwich also wanted to know more about the "experienced sex crimes prosecutor" who is being hired to question Ford. "This is not a criminal trial for which the involvement of an experienced sex crimes prosecutor would be appropriate," he said. "Neither Dr. Blasey Ford nor Judge Kavanaugh is on trial. The goal should be to develop the relevant facts, not try a case." This is not on par with Watergate or Iran-Contra, and it is "disingenuous" for Republicans to state otherwise, he said, later adding. "The central point is that there is no precedent for this committee to bring in outside counsel for the sole purpose of shielding the members of the committee from performing their responsibility to question witnesses." Catherine Garcia