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July 13, 2018

It usually takes months or years for U.S. presidents to prepare for a meeting with Russia's leader, but President Trump is apparently comfortable with just winging it. Kremlin experts warned The New Yorker that the White House has done practically nothing to prepare for the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday: "I'm afraid our guy here is like an amateur boxer going up against Muhammad Ali," said one former State Department official.

Not even Trump is clear on what he and Putin are going to talk about at the summit in Helsinki, and foreign policy experts say there is little reason for the meeting to be happening with such haste. "There is no historical precedent that I know of for such a potentially high-stakes U.S.-Russia meeting to take place with so little advance preparation, and with such a dark cloud of suspicion and uncertainty hanging over it," said John Beyrle, who served as ambassador to Moscow under former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama. "We really are in uncharted waters here."

Others say that Trump's confidence in himself is misplaced — and playing right into Putin's hands. Read more about what diplomats are saying about the rapidly approaching summit at The New Yorker. Jeva Lange

12:19 a.m.

President Trump, "mostly alone in the White House on Saturday and Sunday," averaged "just over a tweet per hour through the weekend as he decried various subjects, from unflattering television coverage to the late Republican Sen. John McCain," The Washington Post reports. Almost none of his 50-plus tweets dealt with Friday's terrorist attack that murdered at least 50 Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, evidently carried out by an avowed white nationalist.

"After a tweet Friday expressing his 'warmest sympathy and best wishes' for the people of New Zealand — and a brief statement decrying 'the monstrous terror attacks' that transformed 'sacred places of worship' into 'scenes of evil killing' — the president largely devoted his weekend to personal grievance," the Post notes. This matches what critics call a familiar pattern for Trump, who "has often seemed eager to highlight attacks and hate crimes perpetrated by Muslims but has frequently been slower and less forceful when Muslims are the victims," the Post says, adding:

One former senior administration official said Trump often associated Muslims with terrorism and rehashed grim Muslim terrorist attacks, even in private. "He thinks, and says sometimes, that Muslims are taking over Europe," this person said. This former official, as well as a second person, said they'd never heard Trump use a derogatory term for Muslims in private. But they said many of his political calculations are based on how his supporters, whom he often calls "my people" or "the base," will see an issue. [The Washington Post]

Along with tweet-complaining about Fox News and SNL, Trump called allies "all weekend to vent," one person who spoke with Trump told the Post. One of those allies, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), said Trump briefly mentioned the New Zealand shooter in their hour-long talk Sunday, asking "how could someone be so cruel?" Overall, Trump "was actually in a good spot," Graham added. Read more at The Washington Post. Peter Weber

March 18, 2019

President Trump has a long history with Deutsche Bank — one that the bank didn't want scrutinized after he was elected in 2016, The New York Times reports.

More than 20 current and former executives and board members told the Times that despite Deutsche Bank saying Trump was not a top priority, it's just not true. Beginning in the late 1990s, Deutsche Bank gave Trump loans despite his business bankruptcies and knowing he overinflated his net worth and the worth of his real estate assets. At the time, the German bank wanted to make a name for itself on Wall Street, so it worked with clients deemed risky by other entities, a former employee told the Times.

In 2008, Trump defaulted on a loan and then sued Deutsche Bank, claiming the financial crisis was a "tsunami" and thus an act of God, preventing him from paying the loan back, the Times reports. In 2010, the bank concluded that he was inflating some of his assets by up to 70 percent, yet still gave him a $100 million loan to buy the Doral Golf Resort and Spa in Miami.

One managing director, Rosemary Vrablic — who'd helped get Trump more than $300 million in loans — tried to get Trump a loan in early 2016 for his golf course in Turnberry, Scotland, the Times reports. An executive, Jacques Brand, opposed the loan because of Trump's divisive rhetoric, Vrablic appealed, and top executives were aghast that the bank was considering lending him money during the campaign, ending the transaction in March.

After Trump's election, Deutsche Bank commissioned reports to figure out how the bank became so entwined with him, and employees were told they couldn't even say "Trump" in public, the Times reports. All told, Trump is believed to have received more than $2 billion from the investment banking and private banking arms. The New York state attorney general and congressional committees are now investigating the relationship between Trump and Deutsche Bank. You can read more about the various loans Trump managed to secure at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia

March 18, 2019

Baylor is the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA women's basketball tournament, which starts Friday.

The other No. 1 seeds are defending national champion Notre Dame, Louisville, and Mississippi State. Baylor (31-1) is a two-time national champion. For the first time since 2006, UConn is not among the No. 1 seeds.

ESPNU accidentally showed the bracket two hours before it was set to be revealed on Monday night; ESPN has since apologized to "the NCAA and the women's basketball community." The Final Four is scheduled to start April 5 in Tampa. Catherine Garcia

March 18, 2019

For decades, the identity of Jack the Ripper has remained a mystery, but two British forensic scientists say that because of DNA testing, they finally have a name.

Jack the Ripper gained notoriety in the late 1800s when he murdered and mutilated at least five prostitutes in London's East End. There were several suspects, but no one was ever definitively proven to be the serial killer.

Earlier this month, British researchers Jari Louhelainen of Liverpool John Moores University and David Miller of the University of Leeds wrote in the Journal of Forensic Science that after testing semen and blood found on a shawl discovered near victim Catherine Eddowes, they determined that the DNA belonged to Aaron Kosminski, a prime suspect at the time.

Kosminski, a 23-year-old Polish barber, reportedly disappeared from London after the Jack the Ripper murders. Louhelainen and Miller said they've spent the last eight years studying the silk shawl, which is "the only piece of physical evidence known to be associated with these murders." Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from a person's mother, and the researchers compared what was found on the shawl with samples taken from living relatives of Kosminski and Eddowes. Catherine Garcia

March 18, 2019

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) sued Twitter for $250 million on Monday, alleging that the social media platform "shadow banned" conservatives, including himself, ahead of the 2018 midterms, Fox News reports.

Shadow banning is described as purposely making a user's content undiscoverable to everyone except the original poster, without their knowledge; Twitter had repeatedly denied ever shadow banning any user. His lawyers allege Nunes was shadow banned in 2018 "in order to restrict his free speech," adding that access to Twitter "is essential for meaningful participation in modern-day American democracy" and a "candidate without Twitter is a losing candidate. The ability to use Twitter is a vital part of modern citizenship."

The suit, filed in Virginia state court, also claims Twitter wanted to interfere with Nunes' work when he was still chair of the House Intelligence Committee, and allowed users with Twitter handles like "@DevinNunesMom" to harass him. "In her endless barrage of tweets, Devin Nunes' Mom maliciously attacked every aspect of Nunes' character, honesty, integrity, ethics, and fitness to perform his duties as a United States congressman," the suit claims.

This is one of several users named in the complaint, accused of forcing Nunes to endure "an orchestrated defamation campaign of stunning breadth and scope, one that no human being should ever have to bear and suffer in their whole life." Nunes is asking that Twitter reveal the identities of those users. Catherine Garcia

March 18, 2019

A marine biologist in the Philippines made a startling discovery last week during the autopsy of a young Cuvier's beaked whale.

Darrell Blatchley found 88 pounds of plastic inside the whale's stomach, "compact to the point that its stomach was literally as hard as a baseball," he told NPR. "That means that this animal has been suffering not for days or weeks but for months or even a year or more." Blatchley, based in Davao, drove two hours to see the whale, which was found alive but vomiting blood. The whale died a few hours later.

Blatchley said the whale's stomach contained 16 rice sacks and plastic bags from local grocery store chains. Over the last decade, 57 whales and dolphins within the Davao Gulf have "died due to man," Blatchley said, "whether they ingested plastic or fishing nets or other waste, or gotten caught in pollution — and four were pregnant." So far this year, three whales or dolphins have been found by Blatchley and his team with plastic in their systems.

The U.N. Environment Program says that about nine million tons of plastic winds up in the ocean every year, and the Ocean Conservancy found in 2017 that more than half of all that garbage comes from the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and China. Blatchley told NPR he hopes the most recent whale death will bring attention to this crisis. "If we keep going this way, it will be more uncommon to see an animal die of natural causes than it is to see an animal die of plastic," he said. Catherine Garcia

March 18, 2019

Quentin Tarantino is ready to go back to his roots.

As moviegoers patiently wait for the director's highly anticipated Once Upon a Time In Hollywood to hit the theaters, Leonardo DiCaprio did fans a favor on Monday by sharing the film's official poster and release date on Twitter.

Expected to hit theaters in July, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood brings all of Tarantino's old favorites back to the big screen as the ultimate dream team: DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Al Pacino travel back to Los Angeles in 1969, at the height of hippy Hollywood and the Charles Manson murders. Despite the movie's release date being around the 50th anniversary of the bloodshed, Tarantino has told Variety that the film will not focus specifically on the evil true-crime story. "It takes place at the height of the counterculture explosion," he told the magazine earlier in 2018.

The late Luke Perry, Dakota Fanning, Damian Lewis, Emile Hirsch and Damon Herriman were also revealed to be part of the film's star-studded cast, with Herriman playing cult-leader Charles Manson.

In classic Tarantino fashion, the story "oscillates between humorous, serious and spooky," says cinematographer Robert Richardson, as Pitt and DiCaprio play longtime friends and business partners who are struggling to find fame and success as they did in their early careers. Luckily for the dynamic duo, DiCaprio's character — the washed up actor Rick Dalton — happens to be neighbors with the beautiful, fast-rising star Sharon Tate, played by Robbie.

While the rest of the plot remains a mystery, Collider reports that Tarantino has revealed one more thing about the movie: in terms of plotting and style, Once Upon a Time In Hollywood will carry a very similar vibe to the director's iconic 90s hit Pulp Fiction. Is it July yet?! Marina Pedrosa

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