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May 20, 2019

The Trump administration is going to start unveiling its long-promised Israeli-Palestinian peace plan at a June 25-26 economic "workshop" in Bahrain, the White House announced Sunday. The conference, involving finance ministers and business executives, is being described as Phase 1 of the peace initiative, with the second part, dealing with difficult political solutions that have thwarted earlier peace attempts, being rolled out later this year.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will lead the U.S. delegation with Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law. Kushner and Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt have worked on the plan for two years.

The goal of June's conference is to secure tens of billions of dollars from wealthy Gulf Arab states and donors in Europe and Asia. The reported target of $68 billion would go toward infrastructure, industry, and government reform in the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt, and Lebanon. "Just as they have done in their sometimes highly leveraged real estate businesses," The New York Times says, Trump and Kushner "hope to use other people's money to achieve their goals. The vast bulk of the funds they hope to generate as part of the plan would come from other nations, not the United States."

Middle East experts cast doubt on the efficacy of putting the economic carrots in front of the political thorns. Israel, whose government has only taken a harder line against Palestinians since the last election, is expected to send its finance minister. The Palestinian Authority, which has ruled out the Trump administration acting as peace brokers due to its pro-Israel leanings and actions, is not expected to send anybody. On Sunday, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called the conference "futile," since "any economic plan without political horizons will lead nowhere," and any political plan that doesn't "include a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital" is a nonstarter. Peter Weber

11:38 p.m.

Police in Hong Kong arrested 36 people, including a 12-year-old, on Sunday, following a violent protest.

They were detained for a variety of reasons, police said, including unlawful assembly, possession of an offensive weapon, and assault against a police officer. Demonstrators have been filling the streets for more than two months, calling for democratic elections and investigations into use of force by police. Tens of thousands of people marched peacefully earlier in the day, but at the end of the rally, some protesters broke away from the crowd at Tsuen Wan Park and started setting up traffic barriers in the road.

Police responded, putting up warning flags and then using tear gas to get the protesters to leave. In response, demonstrators threw bricks and gasoline bombs toward the officers, The Associated Press reports. After the remaining protesters, holding sticks and rods, started chasing officers down the street, police pulled their guns on the group, with one firing a warning shot. "The escalation you're seeing now is just a product of our government's indifference toward the people of Hong Kong," demonstrator Rory Wong told AP. Catherine Garcia

10:34 p.m.

Joe Arpaio marked the anniversary of President Trump pardoning him by announcing he is once again running for sheriff in Maricopa County, Arizona.

"Watch out world!" the 87-year-old said in a statement. "We are back!" Arpaio served six terms as sheriff, and his jails were known for their harsh conditions, with immigrants housed in tents outside during extreme heat; inmates fed twice a day with food served at other institutions as a form of punishment; and prisoners forced to wear pink underwear. As a result, several civil rights lawsuits were filed against Arpaio, NBC News reports, and a federal judge ruled twice that his jails violated the constitutional rights of inmates because of poor medical care.

Arpaio was handily defeated in November 2016, and convicted in July 2017 of contempt of court after he disregarded a federal judge's order to stop arresting immigrants based on suspicion that they were undocumented. One of Trump's earliest supporters, he was pardoned by the president in August 2017. In his statement, Arpaio said he's been urged by "thousands" to run again, and "the last four years have proven to be a time of lost opportunities to continue the kind of tough policing this country needs." Catherine Garcia

9:42 p.m.

There's about to be more Mickey Mouse, Frozen, and Marvel inside Target stores across the United States.

Disney and Target announced on Sunday they are partnering to open permanent Disney stores inside select Target locations, with 25 launching on Oct. 4. By October 2020, the plan is to open 40 more stores within the store. The designated Disney areas will cover about 750 square feet adjacent to the children's clothing and toy section, with at least 450 items, including apparel, games, and some collectible merchandise.

The first Disney stores will open in several major cities, including Philadelphia, Chicago, and Denver. Catherine Garcia

9:07 p.m.

President Trump, on more than one occasion, asked Homeland Security and national security officials to consider the following: What if the United States dropped a nuclear bomb inside the eye of a hurricane, disrupting it before it could reach land?

Several people who heard Trump's suggestions, and others who read about it in a National Security Council memo, told Axios on Sunday that Trump wanted officials to start exploring his hypothesis. During one meeting at the White House, Trump's idea stunned his briefer, who was "knocked back on his heels," an attendee told Axios. "You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting. People were astonished. After the meeting ended, we thought, 'What the f—k? What do we do with this?'"

Trump discussed the idea early in his presidency — and at one point also suggested using regular bombs as opposed to nuclear — and hasn't said anything since John Bolton became his national security adviser, Axios reports. This idea has actually been bandied about before, but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said it won't work because the explosives would need to have an exorbitant amount of energy to modify the hurricanes, plus radioactive fallout would spread with the trade winds, harming people and the environment.

While Trump's idea caught several people off guard, a senior administration official told Axios they didn't think it was strange at all that the president of the United States thought it would be wise to drop a nuclear bomb into the eye of a hurricane. "His goal — to keep a catastrophic hurricane from hitting the mainland — is not bad," the person said. "His objective is not bad." Catherine Garcia

1:03 p.m.

The Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, received a surprise visitor on Sunday.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif arrived in the French resort town for an unannounced visit to the gathering of world leaders. A senior French official said that, upon arrival, Zarif went straight into a meeting with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who invited his Iranian counterpart to attend the summit where the leaders of other invited countries are discussing how to handle Iran's nuclear ambitions.

American officials in Biarritz will reportedly not meet with Zarif. One French official said that France operates on its own terms when asked about Washington's knowledge of Zarif's attendance prior to his arrival.

Tensions, of course, are running high between Tehran and Washington, as they have been ever since the Trump administration last year pulled out of the 2015 nuclear pact orchestrated by the Obama administration. French President Emmanuel Macron has since taken the lead in negotiations to preserve the pact for its remaining signatories, including France, Germany, and the U.K., all countries that are in attendance at the G-7 summit.

The White House was reportedly caught a bit off guard by Zarif's sudden appearance. Earlier on Sunday, before Zarif showed up, Trump reportedly said while he was content with Paris reaching out to Tehran, he would continue to approach the situation with Iran independently and as he saw fit. Tim O'Donnell

12:28 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) doesn't have a fundamental issue with tariffs — in fact, he's made it clear that he led the fight against "permanent, normal" trade relations with China, as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement. But the Democratic presidential candidate doesn't think President Trump is utilizing tariffs in the correct manner.

In an appearance on Sunday's edition of CNN's State of the Union, Sanders told host Brianna Keilar that tariffs are one tool that can be used to fight unfair trade, but added that Trump is handling the entire trade war irrationally. "You do not make trade policy by announcing today that you're going to raise tariffs 'x percent' and the next day by 'y percent'," he said.

In particular, Sanders took issue with Trump attacking Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as an enemy of the American people and denouncing Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Sanders said he would use tariffs himself, but in a "rational way within the context of a broad, sensible trade policy." He did not, however, elaborate much more on what such a policy would look like. Tim O'Donnell

11:48 a.m.

The White House would like to clarify something.

Earlier on Sunday, while at the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump said he had second thoughts about how Washington's trade war with China has played out. Trump's comments were originally tempered by the fact that he said he has "second thoughts about everything" and did not signal that he was considering reversing any tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S. But they still created speculation that the president might regret escalating the trade war, which has stoked fears of a global recession, especially since he also toned down rhetoric about ordering U.S. businesses to cut off dealings with China.

His administration, however, was quick to suppress any doubt that Trump was open to a softer approach in trade negotiations with Beijing — in fact the White House says the opposite is actually true. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said, referring to the question about Trump having second thoughts. "President Trump responded in the affirmative because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

So, really, Trump meant he hadn't escalated the trade war enough.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow backed up Grisham's correction. Read more at NBC News. Tim O'Donnell

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