The VICE Morning Bulletin

The VICE Morning Bulletin

Jared Kushner intervened in major Saudi arms deal, Swedish prosecutor drops rape case against Julian Assange, Basquiat painting sells for $110.5 million, and more.

by VICE Staff
May 19 2017, 2:47pm

Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

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

US News

Kushner Intervened in Saudi Arms Deal
Presidential adviser Jared Kushner urged US weapons manufacturer Lockheed Martin to give Saudi Arabia a better price in a major arms deal, officials said. Kushner apparently called Lockheed's CEO Marillyn A. Hewson and asked her to cut the cost of a radar system, and now the deal is expected to be announced during President Trump's visit to Saudi Arabia this weekend.—The New York Times

Trump Continues to Deny Collusion with Russia
At a press conference on Thursday, President Trump denied asking former FBI director James Comey to drop his investigation into Michael Flynn, denied collusion with Russia, and claimed the newly appointed special counsel "hurts our country terribly." Meanwhile, it was revealed Thursday that at least 18 calls and emails were made between members of Trump's campaign and Russian officials in the final seven months of the election.—Reuters

US Strikes Pro-Assad Convoy in Syria
US jets have struck a convoy of pro-Assad militia forces en route to the town of al-Tanf in southwest Syria. Military officials explained that Syrian and Iranian-backed militia fighters were moving toward a base the US has created at al-Tanf to support rebel forces and their own operations. Syrian state media said several people were killed.—Reuters

Times Square Crash Driver Apparently Heard Voices
The man accused of driving his vehicle into pedestrians in Times Square, killing one woman and injuring 22 others, has been identified as 26-year-old Richard Rojas. The US Navy veteran said he was hearing voices and also told police officers he had expected to die, according to law enforcement officials. He has been charged with second-degree murder, multiple counts of attempted murder, and aggravated vehicular homicide.—AP

International News

Swedish Prosecutor Drops Rape Case Against Assange
The Swedish director of public prosecutions, Marianne Ny, has announced her decision to halt the investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. British police said they would still arrest Assange if he leaves the Ecuadorian embassy in London for a breach of bail conditions.—Motherboard

Polls Open in Iranian Presidential Election
Iranians are heading to the polls Friday to elect one of four candidates to become their next president. Two candidates—President Hassan Rouhani and conservative contender Ebrahim Raisi—are expected to pick up the vast majority of the votes. "Everyone should vote in this important election," said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.—Al Jazeera

Venezuelan Opposition Leader Blocked at the Airport
Venezuela's opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, was prevented from leaving the country and had his passport confiscated, he has claimed in a video. Capriles said he had been trying to travel to New York to meet UN's High Commissioner for Human Rights.—BBC News

Japan Passes Bill Allowing the Emperor to Abdicate
The Japanese government has approved a bill allowing 83-year-old emperor Akihito to abdicate due to his weakening health. Despite concern about the lack of male heirs in the imperial family, the bill does not allow a princess to inherit the throne in the meantime.—Reuters

Everything Else

Basquiat Painting Sold for $110.5 Million
The 1982 Jean-Michel Basquiat painting "Untitled" has been sold at auction in New York for $110.5 million. Japanese buyer Yusaku Maezawa said he "struck with so much excitement and gratitude for my love of art" when he saw the work.—USA Today

Chris Cornell Death Ruled Suicide by Hanging
A medical examiner in Michigan has determined the death of Soundgarden and Audioslave singer Chris Cornell to be suicide by hanging. Tributes to Cornell flooded in Thursday, with Jimmy Page describing him as "incredibly talented," and Elton John calling him "a great singer, songwriter, and the loveliest man."—Variety / Rolling Stone

Jesse Eisenberg to Play Marcel Marceau
Jesse Eisenberg will play the legendary French mime artist Marcel Marceau in director Jonathan Jakubowicz's upcoming film Resistance. The film will focus on Marceau's role in the French resistance during World War II.—The Hollywood Reporter

Matthew McConaughey to Star in Harmony Korine Movie
Matthew McConaughey will star in director Harmony Korine's next movie, entitled The Beach Bum. McConaughey will play "a rebellious and lovable rogue" named Moondog in the comedy.—VICE

Lil Yachty Drops Another Track from Teenage Emotions
Lil Yachty has released more material from his forthcoming album, Teenage Feelings. New track "X Men" has a harder sound than recently released songs and features Texas rapper Evander Griiim.—Noisey

Canada Introduces Carbon Pricing Plan
The Canadian government has revealed the outline of its federalized carbon pricing plan to help reduce CO2 emissions. The price for carbon will be set at $10 CAD per metric ton in 2018, rising to $50 CAD per metric ton by 2022. Provinces and territories have until 2018 to get in line or face national intervention.—Motherboard