The Dow Jones Industrial Average surged past 25,000 in Thursday morning trading, the first time that threshold has ever been crossed. A sunny outlook for global growth and surprisingly strong U.S. economic data powered the bull market to yet another record after a historic 2017. While many investors see no sign of the market turning bearish, others are less sanguine; MarketWatch reported Thursday that some analysts are warning that the skyrocketing market is due for a "melt-up." Read more at MarketWatch and Bloomberg. Nico Lauricella
FBI counterintelligence investigators are looking into whether Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia's central bank, illegally funneled funds to the National Rifle Association in order to help candidate Donald Trump win the election, two people familiar with the matter told McClatchy.
Torshin is close to Russian President Vladimir Putin and is a lifetime member of the NRA, and during the organization's 2016 gala in Kentucky, met with Donald Trump Jr. Bloomberg News reported in 2016 that Spanish authorities believe Torshin helped mobsters launder money through Spanish properties and banks, and had he not been tipped off by a Russian prosecutor, he would have been arrested while in the country for a friend's birthday party.
The NRA said it spent a record $55 million on the 2016 elections, with $30 million going to help Trump, triple the amount used to back Mitt Romney in 2012. Torshin has hosted the NRA's top leaders in Moscow, and in 2016, tried and failed to broker a meeting between Putin and Trump, The New York Times reported. Neither the NRA or Torshin responded to McClatchy's requests for comment. Catherine Garcia
The House of Representatives on Thursday night voted 230-197 on a bill that keeps the government funded for less than a month, but it's uncertain if the measure will pass the Senate.
The bill finally got enough votes to pass after Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) made concessions to the far-right Freedom Caucus, including promising a vote on a conservative immigration bill. The bill would keep the government funded through Feb. 16, plus authorize six years of funding for the Children's Health Insurance Plan.
It won't be easy to pass the bill in the Senate, where 60 votes are needed and Democrats are refusing to vote for a measure that does not include a deal on DACA. Three Republican senators — Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Sen. Mike Rounds of South Dakota — have said they won't vote for the measure, and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is at his home, recovering from cancer treatment. Current government funding expires at midnight Friday. Catherine Garcia
Prosecutors say the parents of 13 siblings held captive in a Perris, California, house gave their children only one small meal a day, let them shower just once a year, left them chained to furniture, and routinely prepared food in front of them that they were not allowed to eat.
Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin said the siblings, between the age of two and 29, rarely saw the sun, and were beaten, choked, and shackled to their beds. The parents, David Allen Turpin, 57, and Louisa Anna Turpin, 49, accused their kids of "playing with water" while washing their hands, and they would go months without access to the bathroom. Hestrin said in his 20-year career, this is one of the most disturbing cases he's seen. "This is severe emotional and physical abuse," he said. "There is no way around that. This is depraved conduct."
The Turpins were charged Thursday with several counts of torture, abuse on a dependent adult, child abuse, and false imprisonment, with David Turpin also charged with committing a lewd act on a child by force. Both pleaded not guilty. Hestrin said the charges only cover the eight years they have lived in Riverside County; they moved to California from Fort Worth, Texas, in 2010, and Hestrin said what started as "neglect" became child abuse. He also said the siblings rarely saw doctors and never visited dentists, slept all day after staying awake until 4 or 5 a.m., and while one of the older siblings was allowed to attend classes outside the home, he was always accompanied by his mother. Catherine Garcia
Meet the presidential dendrologist.
In an effort to dissect President Trump's conversational character, The Wall Street Journal interviewed more than 50 sources about what it's like to gab with the commander in chief. But beyond the more conventional analyses of Trump's chatter — he can "be blunt," the Journal reported, but he also "isn't beyond using chocolate to win someone over" — comes a gem of a revelation from Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget.
Mulvaney, who the Journal noted is a "frequent golf companion" of Trump's, told the paper that Trump is very aware of "which trees have died" on his golf course. Not only that, but the president is also invested in landscaping decisions, Mulvaney said, often opining on "which trees to cut down." He's apparently a caring gardener, too, as Mulvaney said Trump will note from a distance "what greens are struggling with what fungus."
Among Trump's other tics, the Journal found, is that he will often change topic — like when he noted suddenly during an infrastructure discussion that he fears he'll get "speared" by the guardrails on the side of the road, should he ever get in a car crash. Read more about Trump's conversational whims at The Wall Street Journal. Kelly O'Meara Morales
More than a dozen Michigan State University employees knew of their colleague Larry Nassar's serial sexual abuse, The Detroit News reported Thursday. Since 1997, no fewer than 14 university figures had heard of the now-disgraced doctor's actions, the paper reported — despite the school's claim that it was unaware until a woman reported Nassar's behavior in 2014.
In 1997, Michigan State's then-gymnastics coach Kathie Klages was told by two girls from the school's youth gymnastics program that Nassar had digitally penetrated them during treatments, The Detroit News wrote. One of the girls, Larissa Boyce, said she told Klages that Nassar had been "fingering" her. Boyce recalled to the paper that Klages' response was to warn her against speaking out: "I can file this, but there are going to be serious consequences for you and Nassar," Boyce quoted Klages as saying.
Kelli Bert, a former assistant coach at Michigan State, reportedly dismissed similar reports two years later. Former track athlete Christie Achenbach told The Detroit News that she was digitally penetrated by Nassar during treatment in 1999, and when she reported the incident to Bert, Bert replied: "He's an Olympic doctor and he should know what he is doing." Bert denied to The Detroit News that she knew about Nassar's behavior. "If he had done something sexual, I believe I would have reported that immediately," she said.
The school has claimed it was unaware of Nassar's predation until 2014. A lawyer for Michigan State wrote to Michigan's attorney general last December defending the school, saying: "We believe the evidence in this case will show that no one else at MSU knew that Nassar engaged in criminal behavior."
In his capacities as a doctor for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics, as well as during treatments he administered in other volunteer positions, Nassar is accused of sexually abusing over 150 women. Read more at The Detroit News. Kelly O'Meara Morales
Another year, another dubious climate achievement.
NASA announced Thursday that per its annual temperature analysis, 2017 was the second-hottest year ever recorded. The space authority has been tracking global climate since 1880, and 2017 ranked second only to 2016 in terms of highest average temperature. Overall, in 2017 the planet was 1.62 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the 20th-century temperature average.
Quartz notes that 2017's extreme heat is particularly noteworthy because the year did not see any El Niño weather patterns — which brew over the Pacific Ocean and "typically add significant heat to global average temperatures," Quartz explains. In 2016, El Niño accounted for more than one-tenth of a degree of temperature increase, but "in 2017, none of the temperature anomaly could be attributed to that natural heat source," Quartz writes.
Still, 2017 was ranked only the third-warmest year (behind 2016 and 2015) by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which uses slightly different metrics for its climate examination. So maybe there's nothing to worry about after all. Kimberly Alters
The Trump administration on Thursday instituted new guidelines protecting pro-life medical workers. The new rules will protect medical professionals who oppose abortion, contraceptive use, or gender reassignment, allowing them to adhere to any personal objections they may have to facilitating those procedures without penalty.
Politico reported the coming announcement Tuesday, and it was confirmed by the Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday. A new department within HHS, called the "conscience and religious freedom division," will exist as a branch of the department's civil rights office for individuals to report "discrimination" against these pro-life workers, The New York Times reported.
Conservative groups celebrated the initiative, saying it properly shielded health-care workers from being compelled to betray their personal convictions. The Times noted that the HHS announcement occurred just one day before the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., an event celebrated by social conservatives that protests abortion. Kimberly Alters