May 18, 2018

Trump's unpredictability pushes Merkel toward Putin

Dave Lawler, author of World

Putin and Merkel today in Russia. Photo: Mikhail Klimentyev\TASS via Getty Images

Rebuilding ties with Russia is now a "core policy objective" of Germany's government, Bloomberg reports, citing a senior German official.

The backdrop: Per Bloomberg, tensions with President Trump mean Merkel "is being pushed closer toward a more predictable partner in Moscow." Germany is furious with Trump over his decision to exit the Iran deal and his threats to slap sanctions on the EU. In a poll last December, Germans were more likely to describe Russia as a reliable partner than the U.S. Still, Putin and Merkel have had a decidedly cool relationship since the 2014 Ukraine crisis.

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Updates: George Floyd protests continue for 9th day

Demonstrators march on Pennsylvania Avenue on June 3. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Largely peaceful protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Wednesday, marking nine straight days of demonstrations.

The latest: As several major cities moved to lift curfews, NYPD officers "aggressively" dispersed large crowds in Brooklyn and Manhattan beyond New York City's 8 p.m. curfew, per the New York Times. The National Guard was stationed outside many protests Wednesday night, including in Hollywood and Atlanta.

Trump hits back at Mattis: "I gave him a new life"

President Trump speaks at the White House. Photo: Doug Mills - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump unloaded on his former defense secretary via Twitter on Wednesday, hours after James Mattis condemned him for making a "mockery of our Constitution" in his response to mass protests in the wake of George Floyd's killing.

What he's saying: "Probably the only thing Barack Obama & I have in common is that we both had the honor of firing Jim Mattis, the world’s most overrated General. I asked for his letter of resignation, & felt great about it. His nickname was 'Chaos', which I didn’t like, & changed it to 'Mad Dog'"

Obama praises young protesters, urges mayors to pursue police reforms

Former President Barack Obama called on all mayors to review their use-of-force policies and commit to policing reform in a virtual town hall Wednesday hosted by the Obama Foundation's My Brothers Keepers Alliance.

Why it matters: Obama has addressed the killing of George Floyd and the nationwide protests that followed on social media and in a Medium post, but this was his first time speaking about the past week's events on camera. His voice will add weight to the growing pressure on local, state and federal officials to pursue policing reforms.