White House

Happening Today: North Korea, Jeff Flake, Birth Control, Robert Guillaume

What to Know

  • A pair of senators from the Republican Party blistered criticism in a dramatic day of denunciation that laid bare a GOP at war with itself
  • Nurx ships birth control directly to doorsteps, bypassing the traditional visit to a clinic necessary for getting or renewing a prescription
  • Robert Guillaume, who became a star in stage musicals and win Emmys for his portrayal of the sharp-tongued butler in TV sitcoms has died

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Breakdown in Talks With North Korea Has U.S. Diplomat Sounding Alarm on Capitol Hill, Sources Say

North Korea is shunning talks with the United States after President Trump's attacks on its leader, imperiling diplomatic efforts, multiple U.S. government and congressional officials told NBC News. A top U.S. diplomat to North Korea, Joseph Yun, has been on Capitol Hill warning of the breakdown and enlisting help to persuade the Trump administration to prioritize diplomacy with Kim Jong Un over heated rhetoric that appears to be encouraging nuclear conflict, sources said. Trump will make his first official trip to Asia next month, as tensions with North Korea are at an all-time high, and government officials worry that the risks of military action are high as well. "It is not so much that North Korea is shutting down, it's that the message from the U.S. government is, 'surrender without a fight or surrender with a fight,'" a U.S. official said.

GOP Senators Blister Trump, Reveal Party at War With Itself

A pair of senators from President Trump's own Republican Party blistered him with criticism in a dramatic day of denunciation that laid bare a GOP at war with itself. Jeff Flake of Arizona declared he would not be "complicit" with Trump and announced his surprise retirement, while Bob Corker of Tennessee declared the president "debases our nation" with constant untruths and name-calling. Corker, too, is retiring at the end of his term, and the White House shed no tears at the prospect of the two GOP senators' departures. A former adviser to Steve Bannon, Trump's ex-strategic adviser, called it all "a monumental victory for the Trump movement," and Trump himself boasted to staff members that he'd played a role in forcing the senators out. It was a stunning rebuke of a sitting president from prominent members of his own party — and added to a chorus of criticism of Trump that has been growing louder and more public. Flake challenged his fellow senators to follow his lead, but there were few immediate signs they would. At midafternoon, as fellow lawmakers sat in attentive silence, Flake stood at his Senate desk and delivered an emotional speech in which he dissected what he considered his party's accommodations with Trump and said he could no longer play a role in them.

Bergdahl Due Back in Court With Trump Talk Looming Over Case

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl returns to a military courtroom at Fort Bragg for his sentencing hearing, where prosecutors plan to present evidence that fellow service members were seriously wounded in a fruitless search for him after he abandoned his post in Afghanistan. Prosecutors are expected to start calling witnesses to discuss these search missions and resulting wounds to multiple soldiers and a Navy SEAL , which the judge ruled would not have happened had Bergdahl not endangered his comrades in 2009. They include an Army National Guard sergeant who suffered a traumatic brain injury after being shot in the head and a Navy SEAL whose career was ended by a leg wound. The 31-year-old soldier who spent five years as a Taliban prisoner faces up to life behind bars in the U.S. after pleading guilty to the rare charge of misbehavior before the enemy as well as desertion. President Trump's criticism looms over the case. The military judge, Army Col. Jeffery R. Nance, has yet to rule on a defense motion that Bergdahl can't get a fair sentence with the Republican as commander in chief.

Nurx Aims to Help Women in the Nation's Contraceptive Deserts

Often referred to as the "Uber of birth control," Nurx ships birth control directly to a woman's doorstep, bypassing the traditional visit to a clinic or physician typically necessary for getting or renewing a prescription. Available in 15 states plus Washington D.C., the app may simply be an extra modern-day convenience for some women, NBC News reported. But for others, it's the difference between having access to birth control and not. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, nearly 20 million women in America live in so-called "contraceptive deserts": counties where the number of public clinics is not enough to meet the needs of the county's population. The group estimates that more than 19.7 million females ages 13 to 44 lack reasonable access to public clinics that provide birth control, defined as at least one clinic or provider for every 1,000 women.

Crying Babies Push Same “Buttons” in Mothers’ Brains, Study Finds

Crying babies push the same "buttons" in their mothers' brains no matter what their culture, a new study suggests. The research found that mothers in 11 countries tend to react the same way to their bawling child — by picking up and talking to the baby — and that the way mothers respond seems to be programmed into their brain circuits. An author of the study said he hopes the results will spur others to study brain responses in women who mistreat their children. Crying is a common trigger for abuse, said Marc Bornstein of the government's National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The new results were released by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The researchers analyzed videotapes of 684 mothers as they interacted with their infants, who were around 5 months old. Analysis showed that the mothers were likely to respond to crying by picking up and talking to the infant. But they were not likely to use other responses such as kissing, distracting, feeding or burping the child. Results were similar across the various countries.

Robert Guillaume, Emmy-Winning Actor and Voice of Rafiki in “The Lion King,” Dies

Robert Guillaume, who rose from squalid beginnings in St. Louis slums to become a star in stage musicals and win Emmy Awards for his portrayal of the sharp-tongued butler in the TV sitcoms "Soap" and "Benson," has died at age 89. Guillaume died at home in Los Angeles, according to his widow, Donna Brown Guillaume. He had been battling prostate cancer, she told The Associated Press. Among Guillaume's achievements was playing Nathan Detroit in the first all-black version of "Guys and Dolls," earning him a Tony nomination in 1977. He became the first African-American to sing the title role of "Phantom of the Opera," in a Los Angeles-based production, and was the voice of the shaman-slash-mandrill Rafiki in the film version of "The Lion King." Guillaume won a Grammy in 1995 when a read-aloud version of "The Lion King," which he narrated, was cited for best spoken word album for children. He also served as narrator for the animated HBO series "Happily Ever After: Fairy Tales for Every Child," which aired form 1995-2000.

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