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May 19, 2017
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President Trump's continued hiring freeze at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is adversely affecting operations at the agency tasked with preventing global disease outbreaks, officials told The Washington Post. The freeze, which was implemented by Trump in an executive order signed Jan. 22, has left "nearly 700 positions vacant," which is taking a toll on programs that support "local and state public health emergency readiness, infectious disease control, and chronic disease prevention," the Post reported.

The CDC isn't the only Health and Human Services agency affected, even as physicians and public health emergency responders are exempted from the freeze. At the National Institutes of Health, the freeze has hampered clinical work and patient care. At the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response — which the Post noted "regulates some of the world's most dangerous bacteria and viruses and manages the nation's stockpile of emergency medical countermeasures" — several positions remain unfilled.

The freeze is part of Trump's push for government agencies to slim down staff as he prepares to roll out a pared down budget, due out next week. Becca Stanek

10:04 a.m. ET

President Trump revisited familiar territory on Twitter Sunday morning, raging against "fake news" and urging his followers to disbelieve any news reports citing unnamed sources.

These posts come just two days after unnamed sources alleged Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner attempted to arrange backchannel communications between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin, deepening suspicion of election manipulation collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Bonnie Kristian

9:56 a.m. ET
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The bodies of eight men who appeared to be civilians executed for attempting to flee hostilities were found Sunday on the outskirts of Marawi City in the Philippines, where militants claiming ties to the Islamic State terrorist group have staged a six-day occupation. By one body, a sign was placed reading "munafik," which means "traitor" or "hypocrite."

This brings the death toll of the conflict to about 85, including at least 19 civilians. Controversial Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law in the area as government forces combat the rebels using ground troops and airstrikes.

Civilian evacuations are also underway. "Some have no food at all. Some fear for their lives," said Zia Alonto Adiong, an official organizing rescue efforts. "This is a conflict that has gone beyond proportion. The magnitude of the degree of the damage and the people that are affected ... it's really massive." Bonnie Kristian

8:22 a.m. ET

President Trump on Sunday tweeted, then deleted, comments on NATO members' defense spending and Republican Greg Gianforte's congressional campaign win in Montana earlier this week.

The Gianforte post in its first iteration included a stray "We" at the end, and after a few moments, it was deleted and replaced with a corrected tweet restating Trump's Friday remark that Gianforte had secured a "great win."


(Screenshot/Twitter)

More interesting was the tweet about NATO, which was apparently composed Friday morning and accidentally published for a few moments on Sunday. The tweet Trump actually posted on arrival in Italy began the nearly same way but ended on a rather more positive note, touting the trip's success instead of complaining about NATO allies. Bonnie Kristian

8:05 a.m. ET
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President Trump returned Saturday night from his trip abroad to a White House mulling serious changes to contain escalating federal investigations into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Among the changes reportedly under consideration: a reduced role for Press Secretary Sean Spicer; the re-hiring of fired Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski; advance legal vetting of Trump's tweets; and a heftier schedule of press conferences, live social media appearances, and campaign-style rallies permitting the president to speak directly to the media and public.

While Trump was traveling, credible allegations surfaced that his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, attempted to set up a secret communication channel with Russia in December. So far, there is no suggestion of Kushner stepping down. Bonnie Kristian

7:38 a.m. ET
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North Korean state media on Sunday reported the isolated regime has tested "a new type of anti-aircraft guided weapon" under the observation of leader Kim Jong Un.

"This weapon system, whose operation capability has been thoroughly verified, should be mass-produced to deploy all over the country," said the KCNA news agency story, "so as to completely spoil the enemy's wild dream to command the air, boasting of air supremacy and weapon almighty."

This is Pyongyang's third Sunday test in a row; the tests performed one and two weeks ago both used mid-range ballistic missiles. Next week, the U.S. military will test a system for shooting down an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, which is North Korea's stated development goal. Bonnie Kristian

May 27, 2017
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Beekeepers in the United States saw a third of their honeybee colonies die between April 2016 and April 2017, an annual survey finds. That sounds grim, but it's actually a slight improvement over similar assessments in the last decade, in which an average of 40 percent of the colonies died off annually.

"I would stop short of calling this 'good' news," said Dennis vanEngelsdorp, a University of Maryland professor who is also a project director at the Bee Informed Partnership. "Colony loss of more than 30 percent over the entire year is high. It's hard to imagine any other agricultural sector being able to stay in business with such consistently high losses."

Some of the dead colonies may be salvaged, but the process isn't easy. One bumblebee species was added to the federal Endangered Species List earlier this year, and steady decline of bee populations is a serious and widespread problem that is believed to be linked to pesticide use.

"Bees are good indicators of the landscape as a whole," said Nathalie Steinhauer, who worked on the new survey. "To keep healthy bees, you need a good environment and you need your neighbors to keep healthy bees. Honeybee health is a community matter." Bonnie Kristian

May 27, 2017
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President Trump may be asked to subject his tweets to legal scrutiny before posting them, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday night in a story covering changes to White House procedure Trump will entertain upon his return home from his tour abroad Saturday evening. The tweet vetting would be designed to avoid unforced errors as the Trump campaign and administration undergo scrutiny in federal investigations concerning Russian interference in the 2016 election:

One major change under consideration would see the president’s social media posts vetted by a team of lawyers, who would decide if any needed to be adjusted or curtailed. The idea, said one of Mr. Trump's advisers, is to create a system so that tweets "don't go from the president's mind out to the universe."

Some of Mr. Trump's tweets — from hinting that he may have taped conversations with Mr. Comey to suggesting without any evidence that former President Barack Obama wire-tapped Trump Tower — have opened him to criticism and at times confounded his communications team. Trump aides have long attempted to rein in his tweeting, and some saw any type of legal vetting as difficult to implement. [WSJ]

Many of Trump's critics and supporters alike have repeatedly (and unsuccessfully) urged the president to curtail his tweeting habits, as his posts often come back to bite him politically. Bonnie Kristian

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