Dec 17, 2018

Iraq begins rebuilding iconic Mosul mosque

The destroyed al-Nuri mosque in Mosul. Photo: Zaid al-Obeidi/AFP/Getty Images

Religious leaders in Iraq have laid the cornerstone to begin rebuilding the 12th-century Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, which was destroyed by ISIS militants last year as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces recaptured the city in a fierce battle, per the AP.

Why it matters: In 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a speech declaring a caliphate in the mosque in 2014. The rebuilding is expected to take five years and will be backed by a $50.4 million donation from the United Arab Emirates.

Go deeper

America's dwindling executions

The Trump administration wants to reboot federal executions, pointing to a 16-year lapse, but Pew Research reports the government has only executed three people since 1963.

The big picture: Nearly all executions in the U.S. are done by states. Even those have been steadily dropping for two decades, per the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) — marking a downward trend for all executions in the country.

Top NSC official may be moved after "Anonymous" rumor fallout

President Trump at the Daytona 500. (Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Top Trump administration officials are in discussions to reassign deputy national security adviser Victoria Coates to the Department of Energy from the National Security Council, per two sources familiar with the planning.

Why it matters: Coates' working relationship with National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien, who elevated her to the deputy role only months ago, has strained amid an effort by some people inside the administration to tag her as "Anonymous" — a charge she has vehemently denied to colleagues.

Jeff Bezos commits $10 billion for climate change research

Bezos at Amazon Smbhav in New Delhi on Jan. 15. Photo: Sajjad Hussain/AFP via Getty Images

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced the launch of his "Earth Fund" on Monday via Instagram to fund climate change research and awareness.

What he's saying: Bezos says he's initially committing $10 billion to fund "scientists, activists, and NGOS" that are working on environmental preservation and protection efforts.