Alayna Treene
Featured

Supreme Court strikes down North Carolina redistricting

Jon Elswick / AP

The Supreme Court ruled Monday that North Carolina Republicans placed too many African-Americans in two congressional voting districts it re-mapped after the 2010 Census, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: The 5-3 ruling upholds a federal district court decision that argued North Carolina lawmakers packed more African American residents into the districts than was necessary, which was challenged by the state. But even with the new lines, Republicans continue to hold 10 of the state's 13 districts.

Featured

Highlights from Trump's Israel visit

Evan Vucci / AP

President Trump is in Israel Monday and Tuesday, the second leg of his first foreign trip, where he's holding meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Follow along for live updates.

The latest: President Trump meets with Bibi in Jerusalem, where he criticizes the Iran deal as Netanyahu nods along. "We gave them wealth and prosperity... and an ability to continue with terror," said Trump. "Iran will never have a nuclear weapon. That I can tell you." Trump also told Bibi that he "never mentioned the word or the name Israel" during his Oval Office meeting with top Russian officials. "They're all saying I did, so you have another story wrong."

5:21am ET/ 12:21pm GMT: President Trump touched down at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, where he greeted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "Hello, my friend."

Oded Balilty / AP

6:55am ET/ 1:55pm GMT: Bibi tweets a group photo.

7am ET/ 2pm GMT: Marine One lands in Jerusalem. Trump meets with President Rivlin at his residence for a bilat. Trump commended Rivlin's work, and the two discussed the "opportunity" for Israel and other countries in the Middle East to come together.

Atef Safadi / EPA Pool via AP

7:50am ET/ 2:50pm GMT: Trump and Rivlin deliver a joint statement in Jerusalem. Key quote:

"This moment in history calls for us to strengthen our cooperation, as both Israel and America face common threats – from ISIS and other terrorist groups, to countries like Iran that sponsor terrorism and fund and foment terrible violence. Together, we can work to end the scourge of violence that has taken so many lives, here in Israel and around the world." — Donald Trump.

Evan Vucci / AP

8:45am ET/ 3:45pm GMT: Trump and Melania visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem.

Evan Vucci / AP

9:27am ET/ 4:27pm GMT: President Trump becomes the first sitting president in U.S. history to visit the Western Wall (Obama went as a candidate). He solemnly pressed his right hand against the Holy site, and left a note inside, in accordance with Jewish tradition. Trump was accompanied by Melania, Ivanka, and Jared.

Evan Vucci / AP

Featured

Zuckerberg: I'm not using this trip to run for office

Jeff Chiu / AP

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced in a Facebook post Sunday:

"Some of you have asked if this challenge means I'm running for public office. I'm not. I'm doing it to get a broader perspective to make sure we're best serving our community of almost 2 billion people at Facebook and doing the best work to promote equal opportunity at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative."

His learned insight: Zuckerberg said he sees an opportunity for Facebook to connect users beyond people they already know, and is hoping to soon introduce a system that recommends "people you should know," like mentors and people outside of your social circle who can provide "a source of support and inspiration."

Read next: Inside Zuck's real political strategy

Featured

Ford replaces CEO Mark Fields with autonomous driving exec

Carlos Osorio / AP

Ford will announce Monday morning that it is replacing CEO Mark Fields with Jim Hackett, who ran Steelcase furniture for 20 years before joining the car company, reports The New York Times. Hackett most recently headed Ford's autonomous vehicle subsidy, known as Ford Smart Mobility.

Under Fields, who served as CEO for three years, Ford shares dropped 40 percent. He also was criticized by investors and the board for failing to make Ford a competitive player in the development of high-tech vehicles for the future.

Between the lines: The shake-up shows that Ford is shifting its focus to accelerate its self-driving technology. As the NYT points out, Ford has lagged behind other large automakers like General Motors and tech companies like Google, both of which have already begun testing their own autonomous vehicles. Ford is promising it will have a fully operating driverless car on the road by 2021.

Featured

App tells 6-minute horror stories through text messages

Flickr cc

An app called Hooked is pulling in millions of millennials with its 6-minute horror fiction stories told entirely by text message. The app's slogan "Fiction for the Snapchat Generation" embodies the founders' goals: revive fiction from being lost in the social media generation.

"Our goal was engagement, getting teenagers and millennials spend time in a narrative and complete that story and not get distracted," Hooked co-founder and CEO Prerna Gupta told CNBC.

And that's just what Hooked has done. According to mobile analytics app SensorTower, Hooked has already been downloaded more than 20 million times, and most readers are between the age of 18 and 24, with 69 percent under the age of 25. The app has also generated more than $6.5 million in worldwide revenue since it launched in Sept. 2015.

How it works: Users, including some professional authors, submit stories of about 1,000 words told as a conversations between characters in text-message form. As for consumers, the app is free as long as they read each story in 6 minutes or less, otherwise they hit a paywall called a "hoot."

Why horror? "Horror was the first thing that clicked," said Gupta. "[It] is a visceral and very universal genre. It appeals to our very basic responses."

Featured

Report: Senior WH official under scrutiny in Russia probe

Ron Edmonds / AP

The FBI's ongoing Russia probe has identified a White House official as "a significant person of interest," the Washington Post reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter.

WaPo's exact description of the official: "The senior White House adviser under scrutiny by investigators is someone close to the president, according to these people, who would not further identify the official."

Spicer statement: "As the President has stated before — a thorough investigation will confirm that there was no collusion between the campaign and any foreign entity."

And another tidbit: McClatchy is reporting that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein briefed members of Congress that the Russia investigation is now working to determine whether White House officials had engaged in a cover-up.

Why this matters: The report reveals the Russia investigation is gaining momentum and reaching the highest levels of government. The Post writes the "intensity of the probe is expected to accelerate in the coming weeks."

Featured

Trump ordered a tactical shift in the fight against ISIS

Susannah George / AP

Defense Secretary James Mattis, Marine General Joseph Dunford, and Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk briefed reporters Friday on the latest developments in the U.S. fight against ISIS:

  • Strategy: Trump has ordered the Pentagon to shift their strategy from pushing ISIS out of seized locations to surrounding their strongholds, said Mattis.
  • Success: "Over 4 million people have been liberated and not one inch of territory has been recaptured by ISIS."
  • Syria: McGurk said that the DoD "will never work with the Assad regime," and Mattis added that he has "never seen refugees as traumatized as I've seen coming out of Syria."
  • Iran: Mattis said the Iranian regime "has been unhelpful... They've extended a war that should've ended long ago."
  • North Korea: Mattis said a military solution in North Korea would be "tragic on an unbelievable scale," so Washington is doing everything they can to find a diplomatic solution.
Featured

Anthony Weiner pleads guilty to "sexting" a minor

Richard Drew / AP

Former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner, who has been under FBI investigation since January 2016 for swapping sexually explicit messages with a 15-year-old girl, plead guilty to "transferring obscene material to a minor" in a federal courtroom Friday, per The New York Times.

According to "two people who have been briefed on the matter," Weiner agreed to a plea agreement that will likely result in him registering as a sex offender. He is also expected to face anywhere from zero to 10 years in prison, so there's a chance he may not face any jail time.

Don't forget: During the FBI's investigation into Weiner's "sexting" scandal, in which they searched his computer, authorities found a series of emails to Weiner's wife Huma Abedin, one of Hillary Clinton's top campaign aides. The findings ultimately led to a separate investigation into Clinton's emails, something Clinton credits as being partly responsible for her election loss.

Update: Huma Abedin filed for divorce today after Weiner's court hearing.

His courtroom statement:

Beginning with my service in Congress and continuing into the first half of last year, I have compulsively sought attention from women who contacted me on social media, and I engaged with many of them in both sexual and non-sexual conversations. These destructive impulses brought great devastation to family and friends, and destroyed my life's dream of public service. And yet I remained in denial even as the world around me fell apart.

In late January 2016, I was contacted by and began exchanging online messages with a stranger who said that she was a high school student and who I understood to be 15 years old. Through approximately March 2016, I engaged in obscene communications with this teenager, including sharing explicit images and encouraging her to engage in sexually explicit conduct, just as I had done and continued to do with adult women. I knew this was as morally wrong as it was unlawful.

This fall, I came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness. I had hit bottom. I entered intensive treatment, found the strength to take a moral inventory of my defects, and began a program of recovery and mental health treatment that I continue to follow every day.

I accept full responsibility for my conduct. I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse. I apologize to everyone I have hurt. I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly. I am committed to making amends to all those I have harmed. Thank you.

Featured

Issa on Trump witch hunt: "I don't believe in witches"

Alex Brandon / AP

When asked whether he believes the appointment of a special prosecutor was part of a witch hunt targeting President Trump, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) told reporters, "I don't believe in witches," adding that he wasn't surprised Trump was angry. "It's going to turn over a lot more rocks than the executive branch wants," said Issa.
  • Comey memos: "I don't believe in any way that anyone directed him [to write them]... it's suspicious when lawyer's don't write memos."
  • Comey firing timeline "will be reviewable," said Issa, who said Comey "ill-served the American people" and "loved the camera."
  • On Joe Lieberman: "As everyone here knows, he's solid, he's probably a little bored in private life... his experience and his independence is pretty legendary, so I'm a Lieberman fan and wouldn't look at a second candidate."
Featured

More than 1,700 plant species were discovered last year

Begonia rubrobracteolata / S. Julia

The Guardian's Damian Carrington breaks down the the latest State of the World's Plants report, published Thursday, by scientists at the Royal Botanical Garden Kew in the U.K. The study reveals that more than 1,700 new species were discovered last year, and examines the pests and invasive species that pose a threat to plants across the globe.

Why it matters: The discoveries offer researchers different plants to investigate for medical treatments, food and fuel and provide insights into how species might be protected from pests.

The discoveries, as detailed in The Guardian:

  • Edible plants: 11 new species of cassava were found in Brazil. Wild relatives of capers, ginger, vanilla and sugar cane were also among the new discoveries.
  • "Most striking": A new bamboo was uncovered in Madagascar, which "produces spiky, hedgehog-like flower clusters" that take between 10 and 50 years to develop.
  • Relatives of garden plants: 29 new begonias were found in the forests of Malaysia; new roses and busy-lizzies were discovered in China, and new violets and campions were uncovered in Turkey.
  • Medicinal plants: Climbing vines related to plants that produce compounds used for treating Parkinson's disease were found in Borneo and Ecuador. The authors reported more than 28,000 plant species are now documented as having medicinal uses.
  • A new species of coffee beans in Madagascar

The threats: Pests, diseases and invasive species, including the emerald ash borer beetle that arrived in the U.S. from China via wood packing material and is threatening to kill most of the 8 billion ash trees in the country.