Miles Parks

A strange twist of national security politics in Washington, D.C., has meant the United States isn't responding seriously to the ongoing threat of foreign interference, Senate Democrats charged in a new report.

The study, about Russian leader Vladimir Putin's international crusade against democracy, is expansive, at more than 200 pages. It documents Russian offensive efforts in 19 different countries. But what it doesn't include is any optimism that President Trump might act to push back against the Kremlin's aggression.

Vice President Pence made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Thursday. It is the first visit to the country by the president or vice president under the Trump administration, and comes four months after Trump unveiled his strategy for the United States' role in the country.

"I bring greetings from your commander in chief," Pence told troops at the Bagram Airfield, north of Kabul. "Before I left the Oval Office yesterday, I asked the president if he had a message for the troops.

"He said, 'Tell them I love them,' " Pence said.

Pope Francis, in speaking to a group of journalists Saturday, addressed the importance of a free and responsible press while also warning against falling "prey to the sins of communication."

He was speaking to members of the Italian Periodical Press Union and the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies and said that in a field "dominated by the anxiety of speed, by the drive for sensationalism," reliable information is at a premium.

Austria finalized a deal late Friday to make 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz Europe's youngest leader and to form a new governing coalition that will include a far-right party with Nazi roots.

Exactly two months after Austrians went to the polls, Kurz struck a deal to join his conservative Austrian People's Party with the right-wing Freedom Party, led by Heinz-Christian Strache.

The New Year will bring a new test for President Trump and the United States' relationship with Russia.

Five years ago, President Obama signed a bill imposing sanctions on a group of powerful people there charged with involvement in the death of a Russian lawyer who uncovered a $230 million tax fraud scheme — and then died in government custody. The sanctions infuriated Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau effectively has two leaders right now, which should lead to a confusing Monday morning back from the Thanksgiving holiday — and eventually a battle in court.

Both the departing head of the CFPB, Obama appointee Richard Cordray, and the White House have named interim leaders of an agency that has been engulfed in partisan politics since its inception as part of the Dodd-Frank regulatory reform bill in 2010.

The agency was created to be a watchdog for consumers when they interact with almost all kinds of financial institutions.

The Egyptian military launched airstrikes on militant hideouts overnight Friday, in response to the horrific mosque attack earlier that day, the deadliest in the country's modern history.

Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi had promised to respond with "brute force" in retaliation for the attack on a village mosque that officials say killed 305 people and wounded more than 128.

The first charges have been filed in the special counsel investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election, and the court documents help make clearer the timeline of Russia-related events that took place during the presidential campaign.

Updated at 1:40 p.m. ET

Before George Papadopoulos became the first legal casualty of Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia and the 2016 election, he was a 30-year-old energy lawyer best known in D.C. for getting name-dropped by Donald Trump and for reportedly embellishing his resume.

Updated at 2:10 p.m. ET

A pair of Russian state media organizations will no longer be able to advertise on Twitter, the company said Thursday — a direct result of their role in Russian interference in the 2016 election.

The announcement took place less than a week before much-anticipated hearings on Capitol Hill at which representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google are expected to be grilled by lawmakers about how Russia used their platforms as part of its influence campaign in the U.S.

When Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced he was handing over the reins of the Justice Department's Russia investigation to a special counsel, he gave Robert Mueller the authority to look into "any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation."

Police in London say they've arrested a second man in connection to Friday's attack on the city's subway.

The 21-year-old was arrested in west London around 11:30 p.m. Saturday under the Terrorism Act, the Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement. He was taken to a south London police station for questioning but he has yet to be charged or identified.

As President Trump doubled down on his defense of Confederate statues and monuments this week, he overlooked an important fact noted by historians: The majority of the memorials seem to have been built with the intention not to honor fallen soldiers, but specifically to further ideals of white supremacy.

President Trump will skip the annual Kennedy Center Honors this year to allow the "artists to celebrate without any political distraction," the White House said Saturday.

Three of the five artists set to be honored had either expressed a specific intent to boycott the traditional White House reception before the event or were said to be considering it.

Look both ways before you cross the street; and if you're in Honolulu, make sure to put away your phone, too.

This week, the city became the first major U.S. city to pass legislation targeting texters and other "distracted walkers" as they step off the curb.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell signed the bill, also known as the "Distracted Walking Law," on Thursday, after it was passed 7-2 earlier this month by the city council.

The rules were clear; to participate, you needed four things:

A floral-printed dress (knee length), a shawl (red or pink), artificial flowers in your hair (three, at a minimum), but most important of all, of course, was the unibrow.

Hundreds of people came together at the Dallas Museum of Art Thursday night, in an attempt to set the record for the largest gathering ever of people dressed like Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

On yet another day when President Trump's tweets are dominating the news, the top Republican and Democrat leading the House Intelligence Committee's Russia probe said his tweets aren't quite enough for them.

Updated at 2:25 p.m. ET

CNN is cutting ties with comedian Kathy Griffin after she was photographed posing with a model of President Trump's head covered in blood.

The photo and video were first posted Tuesday morning by TMZ; Griffin apologized Tuesday evening but by then the image had already been widely shared and condemned.

Justice Department ethics experts have decided Robert Mueller can proceed as the special counsel leading the investigation into the Russian government's efforts to interfere in the 2016 election, despite his former law firm's representing President Trump's daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

FBI agents last week arrested an Arizona man accused of threatening to shoot Rep. Martha McSally, a Republican who represents the same Arizona district Gabrielle Giffords represented when she was shot in the head in 2011.

Updated at 6:49 p.m. ET on July 7

Christopher Wray, President Trump's pick to lead the FBI, will testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, July 12. But even as he makes his case to take the reins of the law enforcement agency, there's plenty of ongoing drama from the fallout over the firing of his predecessor, James Comey.

In an effort to retake ISIS' last major stronghold, President Trump has approved arming Kurdish forces in Syria despite opposition from Turkey.

The U.S. will supply the Kurdish elements of the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces "as necessary," Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said in a statement Tuesday.

After the GOP-controlled House passed a Republican-drafted health care bill Thursday without waiting for an analysis of the bill's costs and impacts by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the White House is signaling that Washington's official legislative scorekeeper could be its next political foil.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a spokeswoman for President Trump, told reporters Friday the White House feels "very confident in where the plan is, and moving it forward."

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the first Cuban-American elected to Congress and the first congressional Republican to publicly support marriage equality, is retiring next year at the end of her term.

During a "very friendly" phone conversation, President Donald Trump invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House, signaling a massive shift in attitude from the U.S. toward a leader known best for inciting an extrajudicial war on drugs in his country that's killed more than 7,500 people.

Kuki Gallmann, a conservationist best known for her book I Dreamed of Africa, was ambushed and shot while she drove across her conservancy in Kenya Sunday morning.

Gallmann, 73, was shot in the stomach and "severely injured" while surveying her property with rangers of the Kenya Wildlife Service, according to her brother-in-law Nigel Adams and a press release from a farmers' association of which she's a member.

She was flown to a hospital in Nairobi for treatment, and was still conscious and speaking after the attack, according to The New York Times.

A federal appeals court denied President Trump's attempt to restore his travel ban on refugees and visa holders from seven majority-Muslim countries Sunday morning, sending people scrambling to board planes while it is legal once again for them to enter the country.

#NPRreads is a weekly feature on Twitter and The Two-Way. The premise is simple: Correspondents, editors and producers from our newsroom share the pieces that have kept them reading, using the #NPRreads hashtag. Each weekend, we highlight some of the best stories.

You can take your drinks outside on Bourbon Street, but you can no longer bring your smokes indoors.

Effective Wednesday, New Orleans has banned smoking in bars, restaurants and casinos.

The New York Times published an intriguing look at the city's nightlife spots as the ban went into effect.

Here's an excerpt:

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