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September 14, 2018

One of the most famous and highest-grossing actresses in China hasn't been seen in months, and nobody knows what happened to her.

The New York Times reports that Fan Bingbing, a wildly popular actress in China who has also starred in some American films like Iron Man 3 and X-Men: Days of Future Past, has mysteriously vanished. BBC reports that her last public appearance was in early July. Her disappearance may be related to the fact that she was accused of tax evasion in June, per The Hollywood Reporter, leading to speculation that she has been detained by authorities.

But The New York Times reports that she hasn't actually been charged with a crime, and Chinese authorities will not confirm whether she is being investigated at all, although a general investigation into tax evasion in the industry launched in June and resulted in new restrictions on actors' salaries. The Times notes that those close to Fan doubt that her unexplained disappearance only has to do with taxes, though, and there are rumors that she may have fled the country. Her social media pages have not been updated in four months.

In addition to being missing, Fan has also suddenly become a pariah in China, with brands she used to represent completely cutting ties with her and studios scrubbing her from movie posters. In one case, Fan was reportedly removed from a film entirely. One report from August suggested she had been banned from acting for three years, per Variety, but neither this — nor nearly anything else about this strange saga — has been confirmed. Brendan Morrow

12:28 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) doesn't have a fundamental issue with tariffs — in fact, he's made it clear that he led the fight against "permanent, normal" trade relations with China, as well as the North American Free Trade Agreement. But the Democratic presidential candidate doesn't think President Trump is utilizing tariffs in the correct manner.

In an appearance on Sunday's edition of CNN's State of the Union, Sanders told host Brianna Keilar that tariffs are one tool that can be used to fight unfair trade, but added that Trump is handling the entire trade war irrationally. "You do not make trade policy by announcing today that you're going to raise tariffs 'x percent' and the next day by 'y percent'," he said.

In particular, Sanders took issue with Trump attacking Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell as an enemy of the American people and denouncing Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Sanders said he would use tariffs himself, but in a "rational way within the context of a broad, sensible trade policy." He did not, however, elaborate much more on what such a policy would look like. Tim O'Donnell

11:48 a.m.

The White House would like to clarify something.

Earlier on Sunday, while at the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, President Trump said he had second thoughts about how Washington's trade war with China has played out. Trump's comments were originally tempered by the fact that said he has "second thoughts about everything" and did not signal that he was considering reversing any tariffs on Chinese imports to the U.S. But they still created speculation that the president might regret escalating the trade war, which has stoked fears of a global recession, especially since he also toned down rhetoric about ordering U.S. businesses to cut off dealings with China.

His administration, however, was quick to suppress any doubt that Trump was open to a softer approach in trade negotiations with Beijing — in fact the White House says the opposite is actually true. "His answer has been greatly misinterpreted," White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said, referring to the question about Trump having second thoughts. "President Trump responded in the affirmative because he regrets not raising the tariffs higher."

So, really, Trump meant he hadn't escalated the trade war enough.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow backed up Grisham's correction. Read more at NBC News. Tim O'Donnell

11:29 a.m.

President Trump apparently better invest in a facemask soon because former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Il.) is officially challenging him in the Republican primary.

Walsh, who recently said somebody needs to punch Trump "in the face every single day," unveiled his campaign on Sunday during an appearance on ABC's This Week.

"We've got a guy in the White House who is unfit, completely unfit to be president, and it stuns me that nobody stepped up, nobody in the Republican party stepped up," he told host George Stephanopoulos. "Because I'll tell you what, George, everybody believes in the Republican party, everybody believes that he's unfit."

Walsh was also self-critical during the interviewing, acknowledging that he regrets helping "create" Trump. "The personal, ugly politics. I regret that," Walsh said. "And I'm sorry for that. And now we've got a guy in the White House, that's all he does." Walsh is reportedly going to attack Trump from the right on moral grounds.

He also announced the launch of his campaign on Twitter, joining former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld as Trump's GOP challengers. Tim O'Donnell

10:39 a.m.

Almost 200,000 Rohingya participated in a peaceful gathering that marked the second anniversary of the Muslim-majority ethnic group's exodus form Myanmar into Bangladesh, commemorating what they described as "Genocide Day." The refugees rallied and prayed as they demanded Myanmar grant them citizenship and other rights before they return.

In August 2017, nearly 740,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in the wake of a brutal crackdown by Myanmar's armed forces. Last year a United Nations investigation recommended the prosecution of Myanmar's top military commanders on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity; Myanmar dismissed the allegations. "I have come here to seek justice for the murder of my two sons," 50-year-old Tayaba Khatun, a participant in the rally, said. "I will continue to seek justice till my last breath."

Sunday's demonstration came days after a second failed attempt to repatriate the refugees — no Rohingya refugees showed up at the border to return to Myanmar, as their demands for rights and citizenship remained unmet.

Nearly 1 million refugees are living in "squalid" camps in Bangladesh. Al Jazeera reported the camps are akin to cities like Islamabad, Pakistan, or Oslo, Norway, in size, but lack the infrastructure to cope with the large populations. Read more at Al Jazeera. Tim O'Donnell

8:04 a.m.

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck stunned the NFL on Saturday evening when he abruptly announced his retirement from football at the age of 29.

The oft-injured Luck said the decision was the hardest in his life. "I've been stuck in this process," he said, referring to his fairly constant string of injuries over the last four years. "I haven't been able to live the life I want to live. It's taken the joy out of this game." Luck added that "the only way to move forward" was to leave football.

Colts fans caught wind of Luck's forthcoming announcement during the 4th quarter of the team's third preseason game against the Chicago Bears on Saturday, and several of them booed the quarterback — who was inactive due to an injured ankle — as he walked off the field. The negative reaction was likely a result of the shocking nature of Luck's announcement, as Colts fans have always held their signal caller in high regard. Regardless, Luck's fellow current and former players mostly backed him up, even if they were just as surprised as everyone else.

When Luck was healthy he was one of the game's elite passers, and the Colts were widely considered title contenders going into the season. That certainly seems to be in jeopardy now.

As for Luck, he reportedly plans to travel the world. Tim O'Donnell

7:44 a.m.

That's a first.

President Trump changed course slightly about the United States' trade war with China on Sunday while attending the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France.

Trump, just days after hiking tariffs on Chinese imports and ordering (via Twitter) U.S. businesses to begin cutting ties with China, said he does indeed have second thoughts about how the trade war has played out. "Might as well," he said. "Might as well. I have second thoughts about everything." He also said he has no plans to invoke a 1977 law that would grant him more authority to intervene with U.S. business practices in China.

Still, Trump said he believed the other leaders at the summit "respect the trade war," adding that "it has to happen," signaling that he has no intention of reversing the tariffs despite his recent comments.

As for his fellow G-7 leaders respecting Washington's trade policy? That doesn't seem to be the case, at least not entirely. Almost immediately after Trump said so far no foreign leader had challenged him on trade, U.K. Prime Minister did just that. "Just to register the faint, sheep-like note of our view on the trade war, we're in favor of trade peace on the whole," Johnson said. "We think that on the whole the U.K. has profited massively in the last 200 years from free trade." Read more about the G-7 summit at The Washington Post. Tim O'Donnell

August 24, 2019

The Group of Seven Summit in Biarritz, France, hasn't officially started yet, but French President Emmanuel Macron got the ball rolling when he "ambushed" President Trump on Saturday.

Macron reportedly surprised Trump at his hotel, and the two had lunch, where they reportedly discussed several crises around the world, including in Libya, Iran, and Russia, as well as climate change and trade policy — Trump had earlier repeated threats to place tariffs on French wine imports to the U.S. in retaliation for France's digital services tax.

Trump seemed pleased with the meeting, though. In brief remarks, he said that he and Macron "actually have a lot in common" and "have been friends a long time." He added that "everybody's getting along" and that he expects to "accomplish a lot this weekend."

His administration, on the other hand, doesn't have such a rosy outlook. A senior administration official told Politico that by trying to bring issues such as climate change and gender equality to the forefront of the meetings that are meant to focus on global economics, security, and trade, Macron and France are "trying to fracture the G-7."

It looks like the summit might be as difficult as predicted. Tim O'Donnell

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