The VICE Morning Bulletin
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The VICE Morning Bulletin

Trump says pressure on Sessions is a "total witch hunt," Mike Pence used a private email for business as governor (and got hacked), tech giants back transgender teen's lawsuit, and more.

Everything you need to know about the world this morning, curated by VICE.

US News

Trump Says Pressure on Sessions a 'Total Witch Hunt'
President Trump has declared the scrutiny faced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions over his contact with the Russian ambassador "a total witch hunt!" after the revelation that Sessions spoke with Sergey Kislyak twice last year, despite telling Congress he did not have communications with Russia. "He did not say anything wrong," Trump said in a statement. "He could have stated his response more accurately, but it was clearly not intentional." Sessions said he would recuse himself from any investigation into the presidential campaign.—CNN

Mike Pence Used Private Email for Business as Governor, Got Hacked
Vice President Mike Pence used a private AOL email account to conduct government business while Indiana governor, his spokesman Marc Lotter confirmed. He used the account until it was hacked in early 2016, before setting up and using a second private AOL account. The AOL emails may show Pence discussing homeland security issues.—The Washington Post


Tech Giants Back Transgender Teen's Lawsuit
Fifty-three companies—including tech giants Apple, IBM, eBay, and Microsoft—have signed a brief supporting a transgender teenager's landmark lawsuit against a Virginia school board. Gavin Grimm wants to use his school's boy's bathroom, which matches his gender identity. The supporting brief states that "transgender individuals deserve the same treatment and protections" as all US citizens.—CBS News

MS-13 Gang Members Slapped with Murder Charges
Prosecutors in New York have charged 13 adult members of the MS-13 gang with the murder of seven people, attempted murder, arson, and other crimes. The Salvadorian MS-13 is said to be one of Long Island's most violent gangs.—The New York Times

International News

Syrian Army Recaptures Palmyra from ISIS
The Syrian army says it has recaptured the city of Palmyra from ISIS. An advance by the army and Iranian-backed allied fighters forced ISIS militants to withdraw to the east of the city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. ISIS was driven out in March last year, but then retook the city in December.—Al Jazeera

German Town Receives Bomb Threat After Turkey Speech Cancelation 
Germany authorities have searched Gaggenau's city hall after a bomb threat was received. Mayor Michael Pfeiffer said he presumed there was "a direct link" to the cancelation of a planned speech by Turkey's justice minister. Bekir Bozdag was set to speak to Turkish expatriates in Gaggenau about President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's post-coup crackdown.—Reuters


More than 200 Killed in Zimbabwe's Recent Floods
The Zimbabwean government says flooding in the country has killed 246 people and left almost 2,000 homeless since December. The country is appealing to the international community for $100 million for relief efforts, as it struggles to cope with collapsed infrastructure. President Robert Mugabe declared a national disaster earlier this week.—AP

Banksy Unveils New Hotel in Bethlehem
The British street artist Banksy has opened a hotel on the outskirts of Bethlehem in the West Bank, near a border wall separating Israel from the Palestinian territories. The ten rooms of the Walled Off Hotel were unveiled to the media on Friday and will be available for bookings later this month. The venture's aim is to boost jobs and tourism in the area.—The Guardian

Everything Else

SXSW Founder Responds to Immigration Criticism  
SXSW founder Roland Swenson has dismissed criticism over festival contracts giving organizers the right to inform immigration authorities if international bands do not comply with rules. Swenson said it was a "misunderstanding" and the contract was merely a "safeguard." Indie rockers Told Slant have canceled over the issue.—Rolling Stone

Bitcoin Value Now Greater Than Gold
Bitcoin has topped gold for the very first time, surging to $1,271 per unit compared with gold at $1,235 per ounce. The Securities and Exchange Commission will decide whether or not to approve a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund this month.—NBC News

Rachel Dolezal Changes Her Name
Rachel Dolezal, the former Spokane NACCP leader who was caught up in the controversy over whether she had tried to pretend she was black, has changed her name. Court records show her name has been changed to Nkechi Amare Diallo.—AP

Trent Reznor Sends NIN Fans Black Powder in the Mail
Trent Reznor sent Nine Inch Nails fans a mysterious black powder in the mail alongside the physical edition of EP Not the Actual Events. Fans posted photos of dirtied hands after sifting through the record's artwork.—Noisey

NASA Rover Captures Dust Storm on Mars
NASA has released footage of a dust storm on Mars. The Curiosity rover captured the storm at Gale Crater, and it's helping NASA scientists learn more about how the Red Planet's atmosphere and surface interact.—Motherboard

Congressman Blames 'Oriental' Politics for Skipped Town Hall
Republican congressman Mike Bost compared the eruption of town hall protests to an "Oriental" political practice. Explaining his own lack of events, the Illinois representative said: "You know the cleansing that the Orientals used to do when you'd put one person out in front and 900 people yell at them? That's not what we need."—VICE