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5 things for April 19: Trump, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Syria, airline safety
President Trump thinks he can do great things in a meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But he's also more than willing to walk away. Speaking at Mar-a-Lago with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the President said that if talks with Kim aren't "fruitful, I will respectfully leave the meeting." Abe during the visit reminded Trump about past US failures in North Korean interactions.
Meantime, Trump downplayed talk he's getting ready to fire special counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein; "They're still here," he said. When questions turned to Russia, he used his go-to phrase -- "no collusion" -- FIVE times. Speaking of Russia, senior administration officials told CNN the President personally made the decision to dump the plan to hit the Russians with more sanctions after the Syria chemical weapons attack. Trump also is facing backlash for using the word "breeding" when discussing cities that don't cooperate with the feds to deport undocumented immigrants.
Puerto Rico just can't catch a break. Almost the entire island is in the dark this morning, after a crew removing a fallen tower got too close to an energized line, causing it to fail and, in the process, knock out power across the grid. Only a fraction of residents have regained power so far. This is the second blackout in two weeks caused by the same subcontractor, so the island's governor wants its public power agency to cancel its contract. Huge swaths of Puerto Rico have been without power since Hurricane Maria destroyed its electrical grid last fall, making that the second-longest blackout in history.
The man likely to become Cuba's next President may not carry the Castro name, but he'll uphold the Castro ideology. Cuban First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel was nominated by the country's National Assembly to replace Raul Castro as the island nation's leader. He's a 57-year-old technocrat who said he believes "in continuity," dashing the hopes of those wishing that a change in leadership could lead to reforms. And Raul Castro is still expected to exercise a large measure of control over the Cuban government.
Chemical weapons experts still haven't been able to get into Douma, the site of a suspected gas attack on civilians. The latest delay was caused by gunfire on a UN security team. It's not clear now when the team of experts from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons will be allowed into the city. And that's concerning because there's fear all the physical evidence of an attack might be gone by the time a team gets in. About 75 people were killed in the attack, for which Syria and Russia were blamed. The US, UK and France retaliated last week with missile strikes.
As investigators piece together what happened to the engine on a terrifying Southwest Airlines flight that turned fatal, the flying public has to be asking: What about the thousands of other jet engines in service right now? The Southwest jet engine showed signs of "metal fatigue," and this type of thing has happened before on at least one other Southwest flight. So, the airline's going to start doing intensive inspections of its planes' engines. The FAA last night said it would issue a directive requiring inspections of certain kinds of plane engines.
Editor's note: We're grateful to our readers who are aviation experts and who pointed out a line in yesterday's newsletter that implied the pilot regained control of the plane only after it dropped from about 30,000 feet to 10,000 feet. It's standard procedure in an emergency to descend to 10,000 feet, which is what the pilot, who's being praised for her "nerves of steel," did.
Looks like Steven Spielberg is joining the superhero craze. He's getting involved in "Blackhawk," from the DC Universe.
Welcome to Wakanda
Saudi Arabia ended it's 35-year ban on movie theaters with a screening of "Black Panther."
He needed a kidney and made a desperate plea. Thankfully, a classmate he hadn't seen in five decades answered the call.
Reboots roll on
First, it was "Total Request Live." Now, MTV's bringing back "YO! MTV Raps" for the Migos generation.
That "Three Billboards" movie was inspired by an actual cold case, and police just doubled the reward in the real-life mystery.
Living the California lifestyle is awesome -- until giant tumbleweeds roll into town and darn near take over.
Prince death investigation
A Minnesota prosecutor will announce today whether anyone will be charged in pop legend's April 2016 death.
The number of Amazon Prime members, revealed for the first time by CEO Jeff Bezos in a letter to shareholders
"This action goes against our very foundation."
Air National Guard Director Lt. Gen. Scott Rice, after three members of the Tennessee Air National Guard were fired or demoted after one used a dinosaur puppet while taking the reenlistment oath
What's Michael Scott's superpower?
Someone with a little (too much) time on his hands mashed up the intro from "The Office" with scenes from "The Avengers" movies. (Click to view.)