By Stavros Agorakis

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President Trump nominates candidates for attorney general and UN ambassador; the second-largest Ebola outbreak spreads to a major city in Congo.


A Cabinet shake-up

 Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
  • President Trump is filling in two Cabinet-level seats in his administration, at the same time as reports allege his chief of staff is expected to resign after days of the two men no longer speaking to each other. [Twitter / Alexandra Limon]
  • For the first open seat, Trump will nominate William Barr to once again take over as head of the Justice Department, a position he previously held under the George H.W. Bush administration. [CNN / Maegan Vazquez and Kaitlan Collins]
  • Of course, that means acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, who took over from Jeff Sessions, will now have to step down from the post. Whitaker had a brief tenure marked by controversy, with Democrats and the media attacking him over his past remarks on the Mueller probe, his political philosophy, and business dealings outside the government. He may still be involved in the Justice Department in some capacity. [Des Moines Register / William Petroski]
  • Barr is not without his own issues. He’s stated that it was okay for Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey — raising eyebrows on his impartiality toward the Mueller probe — and he also helped establish mass incarceration as a former Attorney General, leaving many criminal justice experts worried about his future reform package. [Vox / German Lopez]
  • Trump’s second Cabinet nomination is for the UN ambassador position, which Nikki Haley will soon vacate. State Department spokesperson and former Fox News anchor Heather Nauert will take over if confirmed by the Senate. [Bloomberg / Jennifer Jacobs and Nick Wadhams]
  • As the Washington Examiner’s Tiana Lowe argues, Nauert has better represented American interests in her current position, fielding questions on foreign policy expertly due to her broadcast background. [Washington Examiner / Tiana Lowe]
  • According to Eliana Johnson, a White House correspondent for Politico, the White House will downgrade the UN ambassador post to a sub-Cabinet position. [Twitter / Eliana Johnson]
  • The president’s nominations come amid rumors that John F. Kelly, his chief of staff since July 2017, will leave office after several clashes with the president. This is not the first time Kelly has been rumored to be on the verge of resigning or being fired, though. [CNN / Kaitlan Collins]
  • Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff and a longtime Washington aspirer, is the likely replacement for Kelly if he indeed steps down. [WSJ / Peter Nicholas, Michael C. Bender, and Rebecca Ballhaus]

The second-largest Ebola outbreak is still raging

  • Butembo, a major city in eastern Congo with more than a million residents, is reporting cases of Ebola in the second-largest outbreak of the deadly fever in history. [AP / Carley Petesch and Cara Anna]
  • Just 40 percent of some 420 reported cases have survived the disease. The majority of the population infected by Ebola in eastern Congo is women. [Voice of America / Anita Powell]
  • Making matters worse, there’s a looming shortage of an experimental vaccine for the virus. While shipments of doses arrive there once every week, the logistics of mass vaccination has raised concerns. [AP / Carley Petesch and Cara Anna]
  • The largest and deadliest Ebola outbreak occurred in West Africa in 2014, and resulted in more than 11,300 casualties, according to the World Health Organization. This is the 10th outbreak since 1976 in Congo and the second this year. [CNN / Susan Scutti]

Miscellaneous

  • The Grammy nominations were announced Friday morning, with Kendrick Lamar earning the top spot with eight nods, including for Best Album for his work on the soundtrack of the film “Black Panther.” Taylor Swift, Ariana Grande, Beyoncé, and Jay-Z were shut out of the major categories. [Pitchfork / Matthew Strauss]
  • Speaking of awards, comedian Kevin Hart, who was just announced on Wednesday as the 2019 Oscars host, has stepped down from the gig after backlash over homophobic remarks he had made in the past. [Variety / Kristopher Tapley]
  • Ten years after the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the first official Avengers 4 trailer is here and prepares us for an emotional end. [The Verge / Julia Alexander]
  • You’ve certainly crossed a street in your life, but have you ever rubber-legged through it? Friedberg, a town just north of Frankfurt in Germany, is once again honoring Elvis Presley by installing three pedestrian lights with images of the rock star. Elvis was stationed there as a soldier in the 1950s. [AP]

Verbatim

“The US president has given such regimes a green light and labeled the press in this country the enemy of the people. … And, of course, two months ago a Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, walked into a consulate in Istanbul and was brutally tortured to death.” [Amal Clooney, a human rights attorney, called out President Trump over his response to the Saudi-orchestrated murder of Khashoggi / Huffington Post]


Watch this: Why we should stop rebuilding beaches

Beach nourishment is the latest chapter in a never-ending tale of erosion. [YouTube / Carlos Waters]


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Read more here: Vox Sentences: Ebola strikes again in Congo

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