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October 12, 2017

The United States announced its intention Thursday to withdraw from UNESCO, citing concerns about the organization's "continuing anti-Israel bias." The U.S. helped found the organization, which promotes education, culture, and science worldwide, after World War II. America will stay on as a UNESCO observer, a State Department announcement said:

It is not the first time the U.S. has withdrawn. "The Reagan administration decided to withdraw from the organization in 1984, at the height of the Cold War, citing corruption and what it considered an ideological tilt towards the Soviet Union against the West," Foreign Policy writes. "President George W. Bush rejoined the organization in 2002, claiming it had gotten its books in order and expunged some of its most virulent anti-Western and anti-Israel biases."

In 2011, the Obama administration cut $80 million a year from its UNESCO budget in response to the organization's inclusion of Palestine as a member. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson additionally wants to save money with the withdrawal, avoiding the $500 million owed to the agency due to American funding cuts.

"For us, it is important to have the United States on board, including at UNESCO at this critical juncture," said France's U.N. ambassador, Francois Delattre, prior to America's announcement. "We consider the U.S. must stay committed to world affairs." Read more about the decision at Foreign Policy. Jeva Lange

5:33 p.m. ET

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was indicted by a grand jury in St. Louis on Thursday for conduct stemming from a 2015 extramarital affair. The charge — a single count of felony invasion of privacy — stems from reports that Greitens, in an effort to cover up his marital transgression, threatened his affair partner that he would release an intimate photo of her if she spoke about their relationship.

Greitens' threat was first reported by local St. Louis news station KMOV, after the woman's ex-husband approached the network. The man had surreptitiously recorded a conversation he had with his then-wife, in which she apparently confesses to the affair with Greitens, describing how Greitens invited her to his home and posed her for a compromising photo before saying, "You're never going to mention my name, otherwise there will be pictures of [you] everywhere."

The blackmail allegation against Greitens led to a criminal investigation by St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kim Gardner, whose office handed down the indictment Thursday. Greitens has denied blackmailing the woman, the Springfield News-Leader notes, though he has admitted to having the affair.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Robert Patrick said Thursday that he saw Greitens "being led away in the custody of" St. Louis Sheriff Vernon Betts. Read the statement from Gardner's office below. Kimberly Alters

5:09 p.m. ET
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President Trump's plan to arm teachers to prevent school shootings like the one in Parkland, Florida, has an important opponent: actual teachers.

In a statement Thursday, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said her union's position is firm, even among teachers who are gun owners: "Teachers don't want to be armed, we want to teach. We don't want to be, and would never have the expertise needed to be, sharp shooters; no amount of training can prepare an armed teacher to go up against an AR-15."

She had some practical questions, too:

How would arming teachers even work? Would kindergarten teachers be carrying guns in holsters? Is every classroom now going to have a gun closet? Will it be locked? When you have seconds to act when you hear the code for an active shooter, is a teacher supposed to use those seconds getting her gun instead of getting her students to safety? Anyone who pushes arming teachers doesn't understand teachers and doesn't understand our schools. Adding more guns to schools may create an illusion of safety, but in reality it would make our classrooms less safe. [Randi Weingarten]

Read the full statement here. Kelly O'Meara Morales

5:07 p.m. ET
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Special Counsel Robert Mueller levied 32 new charges against Paul Manafort and Rick Gates on Thursday, the latest development in the Justice Department's sprawling probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The charges against Manafort, President Trump's former campaign chairman, and Gates, a former campaign aide and Manafort's business associate, include multiple charges of tax and bank fraud.

The indictment, handed down Thursday by a federal grand jury, includes a litany of financial crimes, alleging the men filed false income tax returns and failed to disclose foreign accounts. One specific charge claims that Gates helped Manafort launder "more than $30 million in income," Reuters reported. In October, Manafort and Gates were indicted on 12 counts, including conspiracy against the United States and conspiracy to launder money, in the first round of charges to result from Mueller's probe.

The timing of the Thursday filing is notable, The Washington Post noted, because there is "significant uncertainty in the case about when a trial might happen, or even who the defense lawyers will be." Gates' three lawyers have all asked to be dismissed from the case.

Since October, George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, and Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser, have pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI. Last week, 13 Russian nationals and three Russian companies — including an infamous "troll farm" known as the Internet Research Agency — were charged with conspiracy for online efforts intended to influence the election, the first charges from Mueller's office that concern election meddling specifically.

Read the full indictment against Manafort and Gates here. Kimberly Alters

4:34 p.m. ET

President Trump has proposed that the solution to preventing school shootings is arming teachers. Former New York Police Commissioner Bill Bratton ... disagrees.

"Proposals to arm American teachers are the height of lunacy," Bratton wrote Thursday in a Twitter thread. He sarcastically added that schools should perhaps "arm school bus drivers and school crossing guards" and said that such proposals are merely "political Band-Aids." The president and the NRA announced their support for armed teachers in the wake of a mass shooting last week at a high school in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead.

"The answer to gun violence isn't more guns," Bratton declared. Citing New York City's decline in gun violence over the last 25 years, the former police commissioner said "fewer guns has resulted in dramatically less gun-related violence of all types." Bratton also seemed to imply his support for an assault weapons ban, as he noted that a previous ban on assault weapons "lowered crime involving that weapon."

Although Bratton was a controversial police commissioner because of his support of a "broken windows" policy that cracked down on minor crimes, he has long been a proponent of gun control and has previously claimed the National Rifle Association has a "stranglehold" on Congress. Kelly O'Meara Morales

4:08 p.m. ET

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) invoked The Simpsons to make a point about politics.

Cruz was being interviewed by Ben Domenech, the founder of the conservative publication The Federalist, who began the exchange by referring to a Simpsons episode where patriarch Homer and his daughter Lisa talk about gun control. "Homer points out that guns are for things like protecting your family, hunting delicious animals, and making sure that the King of England never shows up to push you around," Domenech said.

With a laugh, Cruz replied, "All good things," before Domenech noted that Lisa told her father that the Second Amendment is just "a relic of the Revolutionary War era." "I think the Democrats are the party of Lisa Simpson," Cruz replied, while "Republicans are happily the part of Homer, and Bart, and Maggie, and Marge," referring to the rest of the Simpson clan.

Cruz's comparison may not portend a bright future for the Republican Party: In an episode called "Bart to the Future," President Lisa Simpson is tasked with cleaning up a "budget crunch from President Trump." Kelly O'Meara Morales

3:35 p.m. ET

Nevada Republican Senate candidate Danny Tarkanian could not have picked a poorer time to potentially provoke President Trump. Tarkanian attacked his primary opponent, incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R), on Nevada radio station KBET on Thursday, claiming Heller "talks to Ivanka Trump all the time. Well, Ivanka Trump was a Democrat, and she's very, very moderate to liberal, compared to the Republican base."

Tarkanian, who is backed by Trump's former chief strategist Stephen Bannon, apparently miscalculated: "Ivanka Trump is viewed favorably by 81 percent of Republicans," CNN notes. Tarkanian's attack was apparently intended as an "effort to capture voters who bought into Trump's campaign pledges and are loyal to the president, but suspicious of those around him in Washington — particularly on Capitol Hill."

Heller is one of the most endangered Republicans in the 2018 midterm elections; if he wins the June 12 Republican primary, he will face off against Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen this fall. Trump has expressed his irritation with Heller, who voted against an ObamaCare repeal last year, threatening "he wants to remain a senator, doesn't he?" Still, the Las Vegas Review-Journal claimed earlier this month that whatever path to victory Tarkanian may have once had against Heller, it now "no longer exists."

In an email to CNN, Tarkanian clarified that he "did not say nor mean to infer a relationship with Ivanka is a bad thing. It is a good thing. She is the daughter of the president." Jeva Lange

3:05 p.m. ET

President Trump on Thursday threatened to punish the entire state of California for not adhering to his preferred immigration policy.

Specifically, Trump said he was considering removing U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers from the state because of its newly adopted statewide "sanctuary" status, which provides some protections for undocumented immigrants. His remarks came suddenly, The Washington Times reports, during a meeting on school safety at the White House and after he spent nearly a minute explaining why California so desperately needed a strong ICE presence.

"Frankly, if I wanted to pull our people from California, you would have a crime nest like you've never seen in California," Trump said, after complaining that the state was not doing enough to deport undocumented criminals in gangs like MS-13. "All I'd have to do is say: 'ICE and border patrol, let California alone.'"

"You'd see crime like nobody's ever seen crime in this country," he continued, calling the state's sanctuary status "a disgrace." He also predicted that if he did pull federal border enforcement agents, California would long desperately for their return: "In two months they'd be begging for us to come back. And you know what? I'm thinking about doing it."

Watch his remarks below. Kelly O'Meara Morales

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