Deadpool 2 dethroned Avengers: Infinity War as leader of the box office, taking in $125 million in the U.S. and Canada over its opening weekend. The debut of the sequel featuring Ryan Reynolds' wisecracking superhero was the second-highest opening ever for an R-rated movie. Deadpool 2's haul fell just short of a projected $130 million to $150 million debut. It also fell shy of the original Deadpool's opening weekend haul of $132.4 million.
Avengers: Infinity War had led the box office for the three previous weekends. It dropped to second place, adding $28.7 million to its domestic total, which now stands at $595 million. Worldwide it has brought in $1.8 billion. Harold Maass
The Supreme Court struck down a federal law prohibiting states from allowing sports betting Monday, siding with the state of New Jersey in Murphy v. NCAA and reversing a ruling from the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor were the only dissenters.
"The legalization of sports gambling is a controversial subject," the opinion reads. "Supporters argue that legalization will produce revenue for the states and critically weaken illegal sports betting operations, which are often run by organized crime. Opponents contend that legalizing sports gambling will hook the young on gambling, encourage people of modest means to squander their savings and earnings, and corrupt professional and college sports."
The justices determined that the legalization of sports gambling "requires an important policy choice, but the choice is not ours to make." New Jersey argued the case in part to revitalize Atlantic City, where it wants to allow wagers at casinos or racetracks, the Washington Examiner reports. Jeva Lange
President Trump on Thursday told reporters aboard Air Force One that he was unaware that his personal lawyer had paid a former adult film star to keep quiet about an alleged affair she had with the erstwhile Manhattan billionaire.
The attorney, Michael Cohen, admitted earlier this year to transferring $130,000 to actress Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about a tryst she says she had with Trump in 2006. The payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was made in late October 2016, just weeks before the presidential election.
BREAKING: Press aboard Air Force One asked Trump if he knew about the $130,000 in hush money paid to STORMY DANIELS.
“No,” he said.
Why did Cohen do it?
“You have to ask Michael Cohen,” he said, per @jeneps. “Michael’s my attorney and you’ll have to ask Michael.”
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) April 5, 2018
Daniels and her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, are currently embroiled in a back-and-forth with Trump's legal team. Daniels is suing to be released from the nondisclosure agreement she signed with Cohen, arguing that because Trump never signed the contract, it is void. Lawyers for Trump have asserted that Daniels will be hit with financial penalties for breaking the agreement by talking about the alleged affair.
Trump has steadfastly denied that he was ever involved with Daniels — though New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman notes that Trump's specific characterization of Cohen as "my attorney" could make "attorney-client privilege assertion likelier," as the legal saga drags on. Read more about Daniels' unlikely heroism here at The Week. Kimberly Alters
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded after a tumultuous run last week, jumping nearly 670 points by the time markets closed Monday afternoon. The index surged nearly 3 percent in part thanks to Microsoft, the top-performing stock of the day.
The gains suggest the market is recovering after President Trump last week announced tariffs targeted at China, which sparked fears of a trade war between the world's two biggest economies. The Dow had closed down roughly 400 points Friday, good for its "lowest level since November," CNBC noted.
But investors "have apparently recognized that a trade war is in no one's best interests and therefore extremely unlikely," market strategist Jeremy Klein told CNBC in explaining the rebound. The S&P 500 also saw a more than 2 percent bump Monday, while the Nasdaq composite jumped 2.6 percent. Kimberly Alters
The White House announced Friday that President Trump has authorized an extension of the disaster declaration in Puerto Rico. Under the extension, the island will receive 90 more days of federal funding for "debris removal" and 60 more days of funding for "emergency protective measures," to help continue recovery efforts following Hurricane Maria last September. The announcement amends Trump's previous disaster declaration, under which federal aid would have ended in mid-March.
— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) February 23, 2018
The Trump administration's response to Hurricane Maria has been heavily criticized, and recovery efforts have been marred by bungled federal contracts for disaster relief. Almost half a year after the Category 5 hurricane hit Puerto Rico, 15 percent of the island remains without power. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer want to give the FBI a whopping $300 million to fight Russian midterm interference
Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer want Congress to break open the piggy bank.
In a letter to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Democratic leaders demand increased funds to protect U.S. election infrastructure from Russian interference, The Washington Post reported Wednesday. Pelosi, the House minority leader, and Schumer, the top Democrat in the Senate, specifically request lawmakers appropriate $300 million to the FBI to fight potential meddling in the midterms later this fall.
The minority leaders cite Special Counsel Robert Mueller's recent indictment of 13 Russians for interfering in the 2016 election, warning that "the most essential elements of America's democracy are under attack by a foreign adversary." The FBI needs "the resources and manpower to counter the influence of hostile foreign actors ... especially Russian operatives operating on our social media platforms," the Democrats argue, proposing the $300 million boost be included in the budget bill that is due March 23.
The Democratic leaders also note that U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russian hackers breached state and local election systems during the 2016 cycle. In order to prevent that from happening again, Pelosi and Schumer say that "state and local governments [need] to enhance their defenses against cyber-attacks," calling for boosted funds to the Department of Homeland Security and Election Assistance Commission.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged more than 600 points during trading Thursday, the latest major swing in a volatile week for the market. At its low, the Dow dropped roughly 650 points before recovering slightly, The Hill reports.
On Monday, the index recorded its largest ever single-day plunge, dropping more than 1,100 points by the time markets closed, though it recovered more than 560 of those points Tuesday.
Overall, the swings are modest compared to the overall gains the index has made over the last few years, CNBC notes. President Trump on Wednesday scolded the market for its declines, saying it was making a "big mistake" by falling in spite of "so much good (great) news about the economy." Kimberly Alters
The NBA is ready to go all-in on legalized gambling.
ESPN reported Wednesday that the NBA has "formally requested" a set of guidelines by which it would abide gambling on its games, the latest in a series of signals that the league has warmed to the idea of sports betting. The NBA's proposal stipulates that it receive a 1 percent cut on any bets that are made on its games, which "could create massive revenue" for the league, ESPN explains.
For many years, the NBA was adamantly opposed to legalizing sports betting, particularly after dealing with the fallout of a 2007 scandal perpetuated by a referee who was betting on games he officiated. But under the leadership of commissioner Adam Silver, the league has increasingly entertained the idea, and on Wednesday a league attorney stated a desire for legal betting services at smartphones and kiosks, which ESPN explains "would increase the amount of wagering and, in turn, create more revenue for the league." Silver himself has expressed his support for in-game betting, which he said "results in enormous additional engagement with the fans."
Critics of sports betting have long claimed that its legalization could corrupt sports leagues and lead to cheating and fixing of games. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on a case to legalize sports betting in New Jersey at some point this year — a decision that ESPN explains "could clear the way for individual states to legalize sports betting at casinos and racetracks."