Happy Valentine’s Day! Turns out finances and sex are better for married folks. But don’t fret, singles — you win sleep.
1. White House
President Trump publicly says he has full confidence in John Kelly, but talk of who might replace the embattled chief of staff is starting to heat up. Kelly is in hot water, of course, over the White House’s handling of former staffer Rob Porter, who’s accused of abusing his two ex-wives. The White House claims it didn‘t know about the allegations until recently, but FBI Director Christopher Wray blew that story out of the water when he testified the bureau repeatedly briefed the White House last year on its investigation into the aide.
Meanwhile, Michael Cohen, the President’s personal lawyer, said he paid porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 out of his own money. Daniels allegedly had a sexual encounter with Trump before his time in office, something Trump denies. So, why the payoff? Cohen said, “Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump.”
Police in Israel say there’s enough evidence to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges. The Prime Minister says he’s innocent and nothing will come of the allegations. The evidence will be passed on to the attorney general, who’ll make the decision on whether to indict Netanyahu. A Prime Minister must step down if convicted, but Netanyahu could face intense public and political pressure to quit before it gets that far.
3. Russia & US elections
The nation’s intel chiefs gave lawmakers a stunning warning: Meddling with America’s elections worked like a charm for the Russians in 2016, so there’s “no doubt” they’ll try it again during the 2018 midterms. But the warning to the Senate Intelligence Committee stands in sharp contrast to the Trump administration’s insistence that claims of election interference from Russia are much ado about nothing. Lawmakers voiced fears that the US electoral system is just as unprepared to deal with this in 2018 as it was two years ago.
The US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats also warned that the current risk of a global conflict is higher than at any time since the end of the Cold War.
4. South Africa
South Africa’s ruling party wants President Jacob Zuma to resign, but he refuses to go. The African National Congress, once led by Nelson Mandela, recalled Zuma because of corruption scandals swirling around the 75-year-old leader. If he continues to defy his party’s wishes, he could face a no-confidence vote by lawmakers as early as this week.
5. Iraq after ISIS
$88.2 billion. Iraq’s minister of planning says that’s how much the country needs to rebuild after the battle to kick out ISIS. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson helped pass the hat, urging coalition partners to contribute. He also announced $200 million in aid to support stabilization and early recovery initiatives in Syria. Iraq declared victory over ISIS at the end of last year, three years after the terror group seized large swaths of the country and neighboring Syria. About 18,000 people were killed and 36,000 others wounded by ISIS or in the battle to eradicate the terror group, an Iraqi official said.
WHITE-WATCH: Shaun White is snowboarding’s first three-time Olympic gold medalist, after he won the halfpipe competition, securing Team USA’s 100th gold medal in Winter Olympic history. White also is responding to criticism after he let the American flag drag behind him in the snow.
‘A DAY IN THE LIFE OF’ KOREAN PAIR: North Korean figure skaters Ryom Tae Ok and Kim Ju Sik got a huge cheer from the crowd as they took to the ice for the first time in the pairs skating short program. They danced to a Jeff Beck cover of The Beatles’ “A Day in the Life” and ended up in second place in the qualifying round.
MEN’S ICE HOCKEY: The men’s ice hockey competition will get underway on Wednesday with USA taking on Slovenia and Slovakia taking on the gold medal favorite Olympic Athletes from Russia team. The start of this competition has been overshadowed by the absence of some of the sport’s biggest stars after North America’s NHL decided not to allow its players to participate.
VALENTINE’S DAY AT THE OLYMPICS: Later today, check out CNN’s Christina Macfarlane’s “Olympic Love Story” piece as we share the love on February 14.
CORRECTION: Yesterday, we said the women’s OAR team lost to Sweden 5-0 in its first game. They actually lost to Canada. We’re sorry for the error; thanks to everyone who pointed it out.
People are talking about these. Read up. Join in.
We may be in the middle of the Winter Olympics, but Michael Phelps is still making news, thanks to his new baby boy.
The greatest thing since …
Lawmakers in Missouri are debating the really big issues, like whether to OK a bill marking July 7 as Sliced Bread Day.
Social media’s been on a kindness streak lately. It took just one tweet to get more than 100 people to shovel snow for Chicago’s elderly after a recent storm.
Throw me a bone
NUMBER OF THE DAY
That’s how much we’ll spend on candy, cards and other goodies this Valentine’s Day, according to the National Retail Federation.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“We live in a racist country that hasn’t figured it out yet.”
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, on why it’s important for the NBA to celebrate Black History Month
AND FINALLY …
Great ball of fire
It’s 42,000 matches, glued together to form a sphere. Wonder what happens if you light it up? (Click to view.)