×
December 23, 2018

A tsunami struck the Indonesian islands of Java and Sumatra Saturday evening, killing at least 222 people and injuring at least 800 more.

The wall of water swept in without warning and is thought to have been caused by undetected sea floor landslides from an eruption of the Krakatoa volcano, located in the strait between the islands.

Indonesia also lacks a comprehensive tsunami warning system, explained Sutopo Purwo Nugroho of the country's National Disaster Mitigation Agency. "We need multi-hazard early warning system, and we need lots of it," Nugroho said.

Rescue efforts are ongoing Sunday, and the death toll is expected to rise. This comes just a few months after an earthquake and tsunami on another Indonesian island, Sulawesi, in September killed 2,256 people.

Watch a video of Saturday's destruction via Al Jazeera below, including the moment the tsunami struck a concert on the beach. (Warning: These images are disturbing.) Bonnie Kristian

5:12 p.m.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton are generally aligned when it comes to U.S. foreign policy, but that doesn't mean they get along.

Four sources familiar with their relationship told CNN that their stark personality differences and professional styles have caused a rift between the two, which has also been exacerbated by President Trump's "erratic behavior and lack of foreign policy experience." Pompeo, the State Department, and the National Security Council have all dismissed the claims.

But CNN's sources said that Pompeo is not a fan of Bolton's "calculating methods." Bolton often circumvents Pompeo to interact directly with the president, the CIA, and Congress. For example, during a debate over North Korea, Bolton reportedly left Pompeo off messages he sent to the CIA, which included a list of questions he wanted answered, a source within the intelligence community said. Pompeo, who has led negotiations with North Korea, was reportedly not pleased with being left in the dark. Bolton also reportedly has his deputy, Allison Hooker, call up the CIA ahead of meetings with Trump, allowing him to gather intel and keep that information to himself.

Pompeo is not alone when it comes to disapproving of Bolton's workplace behavior. One of CNN's sources, who describes themselves as Bolton's friend, said the national security adviser is "overreaching" and not running the NSC properly. "There is a real feeling outside of the national security council, across the board, that John has his own agenda and is undercutting the president's policies," another source close to the White House said.

Trump, too, reportedly has some issues with Bolton, though that has less to do with the way Bolton operates and more with how he's perceived. The president apparently gets annoyed by Bolton's public profile, especially when he's giving a speech or tweeting because it takes attention away from him. Read more at CNN. Tim O'Donnell

5:11 p.m.

Much like the Democratic presidential primaries, NASA is collecting a long list of names for 2020.

"Travelers" can have their names sent to Mars during NASA's 2020 space launch. The names will be stenciled in tiny letters on chips attached to a rover that will track any signs of life on Mars, the agency said. Researchers are calling the rover a "robotic scientist" that will collect samples and analyze climate on the red planet.

"As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate. "It's an exciting time for NASA, as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet, and even the origins of life itself."

Although no humans will be onboard, space-lovers can earn "frequent flyer" miles for the trip and any other mission they choose to submit a name for. Participants will also receive a souvenir boarding pass for participating in NASA's launch.

The rover is slated to reach Mars in February 2021. Participants can still add their names to NASA's list here. Tatyana Bellamy-Walker

5:07 p.m.

Democrats just scored their second subpoena victory of the week.

On Monday, a U.S. District Court judge denied President Trump's request to block the House Oversight Committee's subpoena of his financial records from his accounting firm. And on Wednesday, another judge did basically the same thing, ruling against Trump's suit to block a House subpoena of his financial record from Deutsche Bank and Capitol One.

Last month, the House Financial Services and Intelligence committees subpoenaed the banks for several years of Trump's financial records. Trump, his businesses, and his family immediately sued the banks to stop them from complying. But on Wedenesday, Judge Edgardo Ramos of the Southern District of New York said the subpoenas were broad, but decided they were "clearly pertinent" to Congress' goals, CNN reports. Ramos added that he expects the banks to comply with the subpoenas shortly.

Deutsche Bank has spent years loaning to Trump and his businesses, and said it "would comply with whatever the court ultimately decided," The New York Times notes. Like they did after Tuesday's ruling, though, Trump's lawyers will likely appeal the Wednesday decision. Kathryn Krawczyk

4:08 p.m.

Washington has become the first state to legalize human composting as an alternative to burial or cremation after Gov. Jay Inslee signed the bill into law on Tuesday.

The law also legalizes alkaline hydrolysis, "a process that breaks down bodies using lye and heat," HuffPost explained. Alkaline hydrolysis is legal in some other states, including California, Idaho, and Maine. Both processes will be legal in Washington starting on May 1, 2020.

These alternative methods have been touted by advocates as being more eco-friendly than traditional burial or cremation. As much as "a metric ton of CO2" could be saved by choosing the process of human composting instead of traditional methods, says Seattle company Recompose.

After the human composting process is complete — which would take about a month — the deceased's loved ones can take the remains home "to grow a tree or a garden," Recompose's website states.

It's possible that Recompose will be the first of many Washington companies to offer this service, though it's unclear exactly how many Washingtonians will decide to avail themselves of this new opportunity.

Read more at HuffPost. Shivani Ishwar

3:58 p.m.

Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson is desperately trying to explain that stunning "Oreo" gaffe.

Carson while testifying before Congress on Tuesday was asked by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) about REOs, a real-estate term, but responded, "An Oreo?" Porter proceeded to explain to Carson what an REO is as he appeared to not know what the last letter stood for.

Carson in two interviews on Wednesday discussed this viral moment, first on Fox Business, where he claimed he "was having difficulty hearing" Porter. "Of course, I'm very familiar with foreclosed properties and with REOs, have read extensively about them," he said.

In fact, Carson suggested he knows much more about the topic than the Democratic lawmaker because "I suspect when Katie Porter was an expert in this area, things were very different," saying he invited her to speak with his staff so "she would then be able to understand what's going on."

That doesn't explain why Carson struggled to recall what the 'O' in 'REO' stands for, though. To address that point, Carson said in another interview with The Hill, "We throw around acronyms all the time, particularly in government. And you don't really even think about, 'what do the letters mean?' But you know what the thing is. Of course you know what an REO is."

Carson after the gaffe on Tuesday tried to make light of the mistake by posting a photo of himself with a box of Oreos and sending some to Porter's office. She didn't find that very funny, though, telling MSNBC that Carson should not be in his position and that "we're all losing by not having competent, strong, effective, intelligent leadership at HUD." Brendan Morrow

3:43 p.m.

Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) has an unusual — and somewhat graphic — way of telling Democrats to get a move on.

House Democrats have spent months in a will-they, won't-they relationship with impeaching President Trump. So in a floor speech on Wednesday, Kennedy made it revoltingly clear that they should impeach the president now or quit talking about it.

"Again I say this gently and I say this hopefully constructively," Kennedy said on Wednesday before very not gently continuing: "The House leadership needs to urinate or get off the pot." Kennedy then broke down his metaphor into more explicit terms, saying House leaders should either "impeach" Trump "and let us hold a trial — he won't be convicted — or they need to go ahead and hold in contempt every single member of the Trump administration." If the latter happens and the issue goes to the court, either Trump will win, or the House will win and "no American with a brain above a single-celled organism is going to want to run for president," Kennedy finished.

The number of House Democrats — along with one Republican — calling for Trump's impeachment continues to mount. Yet despite reported prodding from her staff and even House Judiciary Chair Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) won't let it happen.

3:39 p.m.

The European parliamentary elections will begin on Thursday, carrying on through Sunday. All 28 European Union member states will elect a certain number of Members of Parliament to the bench. EU elections are normally, as The Washington Post describes, "tepid" affairs, but this year they've come to the forefront across the continent. Here are four lingering questions to consider before the polls open.

Will the skeptics prevail? — Several EU-skeptic party leaders, like Italy's Matteo Salvini, France's Marine Le Pen, and Hungary's Viktor Orban, have forged a united front in an attempt to gain control of the parliament. But where they once called for Brexit-like referendums in their respective countries, most of the EU-skeptic leaders now believe the answer is to reform the system of government to favor individual nations. The skeptics are expected to gain a fair number of seats, but it's unclear if they'll procure enough to make a difference going forward.

What about Brexit? — Brexit is a disaster, that much is clear. But because the U.K. Parliament can't come to terms on a deal, British citizens will participate in this round of elections. The election itself doesn't have much to do with domestic politics in the U.K., but many see the vote as emblematic of where the country now stands on leaving the EU. As The Guardian's Gaby Hinsliff writes, "This may be the closest we ever get to a second referendum." Currently, Nigel Farage's Brexit Party, which as its name suggests, wants the U.K. to leave, is currently leading the polls.

Will people actually show up? - In 2014, the last election cycle, voter turnout slumped to 42.4 percent. The truth is, in the past, Europeans have cared little about their Parliamentary elections. But with the rise of populist parties (and the possible consequences of their victories), and the Brexit-induced fragility of the EU on people's minds, it's likely turnout will surge. Tim O'Donnell

See More Speed Reads