September 12, 2019

John Bolton and President Trump had many differences, but his acrimonious exit as national security adviser Tuesday seemed inevitable after he broke "the president's sometimes Kafkaesque management style — an unusual set of demands and expectations he sets for those in his direct employ," The Washington Post reports. Trump, for example, "tolerates a modicum of dissent, so long as it remains private; expects advisers to fall in line and defend his decisions; and demands absolute fealty at all times."

There's only one person who can survive in Trump's orbit, and it's Trump, former advisers tell the Post. "You're there more as an annoyance to him because he has to fill some of these jobs, but you're not there to do anything other than be backlighting," said former communications director Anthony Scaramucci. "There's one spotlight on the stage, it's shining on Trump, and you're a prop in the back with dim lights." A Republican in close touch with Trump agreed: "He really doesn't believe in advisers. ... John [Bolton] saw his role as advisory, but Trump thinks he's his own adviser, and I don't think people fully appreciate this."

"There is no person that is part of the daily Trump decision-making process that can survive long-term," a former senior administration official told the Post. "The president doesn't like people to get good press. He doesn't like people to get bad press. Yet he expects everyone to be relevant and important and supportive at all times. Even if a person could do all those things, the president would grow tired of anyone in his immediate orbit."

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich blamed the ousted aides. "Anybody who thinks they're smart enough to manipulate Trump, they're very foolish," he said. "People mistake a willingness to eat cheeseburgers and drink Coke with being a buffoon, and he's not a buffoon." Read more Trump rules, plus the four categories of doomed Trump advisers, at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

4:22 p.m.

The White House apparently needs to increase its IT staff, or at least increase its subscription budget.

Acting Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, who is the top member of President Trump's coronavirus task force, was having trouble accessing an online map produced by Johns Hopkins University of the virus' spread. So, he took to Twitter to ask if anyone else was having trouble with the website.

He quickly realized the map was behind a paywall, much to his chagrin. But while Cuccinelli expressed dismay over the university's decision to restrict access during a time of global concern, others pointed out that it was actually little more worrisome that the U.S. government's task force leader was struggling with such a simple issue in the first place. Tim O'Donnell

4:02 p.m.

Thousands of people filled the Staples Center on Monday to pay tribute to Kobe Bryant, and as his wife delivered an emotional eulogy, there couldn't have been a dry eye in the house.

Vanessa Bryant spoke at the public memorial a few weeks after her husband and their 13-year-old daughter Gianna were killed in a helicopter crash, starting off her eulogy by talking about "my baby girl."

"She was one of my very best friends," she said.

Bryant went on to tearfully note all of the milestones in Gianna's life she won't be able to experience, including seeing her learn how to drive a car, get married, or have children, but she said that Gianna "most likely would have become the best player in the WNBA" and would have "made a huge difference for women's basketball."

"She was a beautiful, kind, happy, silly, thoughtful and loving daughter and sister," Bryant said. "She was so full of life and had so much more to offer this world. I cannot imagine life without her."

Bryant then moved on to her late husband, "my soul mate."

"He was my everything," she said. "...He was the most amazing husband. Kobe loved me more than I could ever express or put into words." She concluded by saying of Kobe and Gianna, "God knew they couldn't be on this Earth without each other. He had to bring them home to him together. Babe, you take care of our Gigi."

Among those who also delivered powerful eulogies on Monday were Michael Jordan, who said that "when Kobe Bryant died, a piece of me died," and Shaquille O'Neal, who said, "Now, it’s time for us to continue your legacy." Brendan Morrow

3:32 p.m.

The Trump administration's efforts to curb immigration look like they're working, The New York Times reports.

A report released Monday by the National Foundation for American Policy projects policies like Trump's recently-expanded travel ban or the public charge rule preventing immigrants who may rely on welfare assistance from entering the country will alter legal immigration to the U.S. for quite some time. But change may also be noticeable rather quickly. Legal immigration had already declined by 11 percent between the 2016 and 2018 fiscal years, and the NFAP report predicts the decline will have reached 30 percent by 2021.

That could have long-term consequences for U.S. economic growth, which will NFAP says will slow because the average annual growth rate of the U.S. labor force will also sputter as a result of the immigration decline. The report says the rate will slow somewhere between 35 percent and 59 percent going forward if the policies remain in place. "The significant decline in the annual level of legal immigration means lower long-term economic growth may be Donald Trump's most lasting economic legacy," the report reads. Read more from The New York Times and view the full report. Tim O'Donnell

2:58 p.m.

Harvard University epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch is predicting the coronavirus "will ultimately not be containable" and, within a year, will infect somewhere between 40 and 70 percent of humanity, The Atlantic reports. But don't be too alarmed. Many of those people, Lipsitch clarifies, won't have severe illnesses or even show symptoms at all, which is already the case for many people who have tested positive for the virus.

That's precisely why he doesn't think the virus can be stopped. Viruses like SARS, MERS, and the avian flu were eventually contained in part because they were more intense and had a higher fatality rate. In other words, if you were infected by the virus that caused SARS, chances were you weren't out and about. But because the current coronavirus, known as COVID-19, can be asymptomatic, or at least very mild, there's a better chance people will likely go about their day as normal. The down side, though, is that it becomes harder to trace and prevent. In that sense it's similar to the flu, which can also be deadly, but often passes without the infected person seeking medical care.

The Atlantic reports Lipsitch is definitely not alone in his prediction. There's an emerging consensus that the outbreak will eventually morph into a new seasonal disease, which, per The Atlantic, could one day turn "cold and flu season" into "cold and flu and COVID-19 season." Read more at The Atlantic. Tim O'Donnell

2:31 p.m.

Other planets, they're just like us!

It turns out Mars, Earth's red neighbor, also has earthquakes — er — marsquakes.

Thanks to NASA's InSight lander, scientists have confirmed that Mars is a seismically active planet, said Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator of the mission, findings from which were published Monday in Nature Geoscience and Nature Communications.

The InSight mission landed on Mars in November 2018, to study the crust, mantle, and core, and to measure tectonic activity and meteorite impacts, in the planet's "first thorough checkup since it formed 4.5 billion years ago," per NASA.

So far, the mission has recorded 174 different seismic events in 235 Martian days. "The seismic activity is greater than that of the Moon, which was measured back during the Apollo Program, but less than Earth," Banerdt said in a teleconference, per Vice News.

"Knowledge of the level of seismic activity is crucial for investigating the interior structure and understanding Mars's thermal and chemical evolution," according to the findings.

The mission is set to last for at least an entire Martian year (687 Earth days). Read more about the latest on Mars at Vice News. Taylor Watson

2:14 p.m.

Attorneys for Vanessa Bryant filed a wrongful death lawsuit Monday against Island Express Helicopters, the company operating the aircraft that crashed in January, killing Bryant's husband, Los Angeles Lakers legend Kobe Bryant, their 13-year-old daughter Gianna, and the seven other people on board.

The lawsuit alleges the passengers were killed as a direct result of the "negligent conduct" of the helicopter's pilot Ara Zobayan, who was also killed in the crash, making the company "vicariously liable in all aspects."

Zobayan was Bryant's longtime pilot. The 27-count complaint argues he failed to abort the flight, monitor the weather, and keep a safe distance between the helicopter and natural obstacles, noting Zobayan was cited in 2015 for violating visual flight rules minimums, The Los Angeles Times reports. The suit reportedly seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.

The helicopter crashed into a hillside in Calabasas, California, last month on a morning that has been described as intensely foggy.

Vanessa Bryant on Monday spoke at a public memorial in Los Angeles for her husband and daughter. Read more at The Los Angeles Times. Tim O'Donnell

1:25 p.m.

Harvey Weinstein has officially been convicted of rape, and Time's Up is hailing this as a "historic moment."

The disgraced movie producer on Monday was found guilty of forcibly performing oral sex on Mimi Haleyi in 2006 and raping Jessica Mann in 2013. Weinstein, who was acquitted on the more serious charges of predatory sexual assault, pleaded not guilty and denied all allegations of non-consensual sex.

Time's Up CEO Tina Tchen in a statement on Monday highlighted the significance of the Weinstein verdict, which comes more than two years after the flood of sexual misconduct allegations against him helped ignite the #MeToo movement.

"This trial — and the jury's decision today — marks a new era of justice, not just for the Silence Breakers, who spoke out at great personal risk, but for all survivors of harassment, abuse, and assault at work," Tchen said.

Tchen went on to say that the verdict "sends a powerful message to the world of just how much progress has been made since the Weinstein Silence Breakers ignited an unstoppable movement," adding that now, "abusers everywhere and the powerful forces that protect them should be on notice: There's no going back."

Gloria Allred, attorney for several Weinstein accusers, also celebrated the verdict on Monday, saying, "This is a new day for victims of gender violence."

Weinstein on Monday was sent right to jail, where he'll await his sentencing on March 11. His lawyer said on Monday he plans to appeal and that "the fight is not over." Brendan Morrow

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