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Morning Update: Katy And Taylor Prove Peace In Our Time Is Possible

The US is out of the Iran deal and Google wants to help with your phone addiction. Your BuzzFeed News newsletter, May 9.

Posted on May 9, 2018, at 7:18 a.m. ET

Trump announced that the US is leaving the Iran deal

Yesterday, President Donald Trump declared that he will withdraw the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, allowing sanctions against the country to resume.

OK, I’ve been meaning to ask — what is the Iran deal? I got you. Under the Obama administration, the US and its allies finalized an agreement with Iran in 2015 to place limits on its nuclear program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

What does Iran get out of the deal? The terms stated that the US and others would lift some sanctions targeting Iran and unfreeze seized Iranian assets worth $100 billion.

And what does everyone else get out of it? Well, in a word, security. Iran’s nuclear program is a cause for concern for many. Under the deal, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency were to make sure Iran had halted almost all nuclear enrichment.

Was Iran keeping its end of the bargain? Since the deal was agreed upon, the IAEA has verified Iran’s compliance 11 times, most recently in February.

Why does Trump hate the deal? Trump and his allies say it’s far too generous to Iran, and that it allows the country to run out the clock on the deal’s expiration date with few consequences.

What will Iran do now? While there are hardliners in Iran who see the deal as a capitulation to the US, President Hassan Rouhani, a relative moderate, says his country will continue to remain within the terms.

How is the world reacting to this? Leaders from Germany, France, the UK, and others quickly condemned the US’s decision to withdraw. The secretary general of the UN said he’s “deeply concerned.” Russia said it was “deeply disappointed.”

Is it a surprise that Trump pulled the US out? No. He done been saying.

What happens now? In the immediate future, the US Treasury Department will begin to reinstate sanctions that were waived. That is to be completed in no more than 180 days. In the long term, well, I’ll keep you posted.

Quick Brief:

  • New York’s governor has appointed a special prosecutor to investigate allegations against former state attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

  • A bunch of actors dressed as ISIS fighters ran into a mall in Iran to promote a film, and yeah, it was exactly as bad as it sounds.

  • The judge who gave Brock Turner a controversial six-month sentence for sexual assault compared his decision to school desegregation.

Michael Cohen’s company received payments from a Russia-linked firm

Follow me on this one for a second.

By now, you’re deeply familiar with Michael Cohen as a central player in the Stormy Daniels saga. Trump’s longtime lawyer set up a company called Essential Consultants to pay Daniels $130,000 in hush money.

Here’s what’s new: The company was later used as a payment vehicle for other companies doing business with Cohen. This is according to a new trove of information made public by Daniels’ lawyer.

Cohen’s company apparently received over $1 million from four companies. One of them — Columbus Nova LLC — is linked to a firm owned by a Russian oligarch.

That oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg, is a one-time business associate of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. He was sanctioned last month by the Trump administration as retaliation for Russian election meddling.

For its part, Columbus Nova issued a statement saying “reports that Viktor Vekselberg used Columbus Nova as a conduit for payments to Michael Cohen are false.”

An important night of primary races

Last night there were six closely watched primaries that could shape the future of both parties.

The one that had the national spotlight in the last week was the West Virginia Republican primary, where Don Blankenship, an ex-convict who made race-baiting remarks in his campaign, was positioning himself as the “Trumpier than Trump” candidate. He lost.

Here’s the full list of who won last night and what it could mean.

Google wants to help you with your phone addiction

Amid a widening tech backlash, one question keeps popping up: Is technology taking up too much of our lives?

Don’t worry, though: Google’s on it. Android P, the newest update for phones running Google’s operating system, has many features to help users manage — and limit — screentime.

Users will see how many times they've unlocked their device, the total time spent on the device, and the number of notifications received. Time limits can also be set for certain apps.

Users will also see a graph of total time on an app broken down by hour or by day.

Many of those features are also coming to YouTube — Google says if YouTube has been playing for “a while,” an alert will pop up asking “time to take a break?”

[King George from Hamilton voice] Good luck!

Katy Perry sent Taylor Swift a note and a literal olive branch

Peace in our time is possible.

The long-standing ~bad blood~ between Katy and Taylor seems to be on its way to a resolution. While sharing videos of rehearsals for her upcoming tour, Taylor showed a package that she’d received from Katy.

She opened it up, and it included a literal olive branch (and you’re smart, so I don’t have to tell you it’s a symbol for peace) and a note. The video was blurry, but BuzzFeed staff could make out these words on the note: “Dear Old Friend — I've been doing some reflecting on past miscommunications and the feelings between us. I really want to clear the air, I am deeply sorry for…”

What will it lead to? Who knows? I’ll tell you one thing it means for sure: Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.

Peaceful thoughts,

Elamin

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