Taufatofua, Arms Held High

Pita Taufatofua, who lit the Internet on fire with his coconut-oiled, shirtless walk as Tonga’s flag-bearer during the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opening ceremony, had two goals for his cross-country skiing event on Friday.

They were not lofty — but that makes sense for a man who has tried skiing on snow for only three months.

“First step, finish before they turn the lights off,” the 34-year-old told reporters. “Don’t ski into a tree, that’s No. 2.”

He met both goals — and actually beat four other competitors — in the 15km cross-country skiing event.

NPR

Parkland, When It Happened Again

Seventeen people were killed and more than two dozen others were wounded when 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz allegedly opened fire Wednesday on the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School campus in Florida. Seven survivors remain hospitalized for treatment of various injuries.

Cruz was booked into the Broward County Jail early Thursday and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder. He appeared in court for the first time Thursday and was ordered held without bond. The incident is the deadliest school shooting in the U.S. in five years.

CBS

Cohen, After Stormy Came

Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, said on Tuesday that he had paid $130,000 out of his own pocket to a pornographic-film actress who had once claimed to have had an affair with Mr. Trump.

In the most detailed explanation of the 2016 payment made to the actress, Stephanie Clifford, Mr. Cohen, who worked as a counsel to the Trump Organization for more than a decade, said he was not reimbursed for the payment.

“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly,” Mr. Cohen said in a statement to The New York Times. “The payment to Ms. Clifford was lawful, and was not a campaign contribution or a campaign expenditure by anyone.”

NYT

The Spinal Fluid From Hafizabad

The suspects told women they had to provide blood samples to qualify for financial assistance from the Punjab government, police told BBC Urdu.

However, they extracted spinal fluid instead, and attempted to sell it on the black market, police added.

The gang is thought to have stolen spinal fluid from over 12 women, including a teenager.

The authorities became aware of the scheme after a man noticed that his 17-year-old daughter felt weak after the procedure.

“It appears the gang has been active in the Hafizabad area for some time,” regional police officer Ashfaq Ahmed Khan told BBC Urdu’s Shahzad Malik.

BBC

Limpopo, When Irony Was Delicious

A suspected poacher was mauled to death and eaten by a pack of lions close to the Kruger National Park in South Africa, police said Monday, adding that little was left of the victim’s body. The remains were found at the weekend in the bush at a private game park near Hoedspruit in the northern province of Limpopo, where animals have been poached in increasing numbers over recent years.

“It seems the victim was poaching in the game park when he was attacked and killed by lions. They ate his body, nearly all of it, and just left his head and some remains,” Limpopo police spokesman Moatshe Ngoepe told AFP.

CBS

Mazdzer, On The Ice Hill, When The Dry Streak Ended

Finally, Mazdzer gave the U.S. what it sought for so long.

“It’s great for sure,” Benshoof said moments after the result went final. “Happy for the team and Mazdzer. Anything can happen at an Olympics, for sure.”

Mazdzer was 13th in his Olympic debut in 2010, 13th again at the Sochi Games four years ago and came into the Pyeongchang Olympics after a less-than-scintillating 18th-place showing in this season’s overall World Cup standings. He said three weeks ago that he never felt worse about where he was on the sled, and vowed to find his way again.

Did he ever, and in a hurry.

“Medal or nothing,” Mazdzer said.

Medal it was.

CBS

When The Vetting Was Not Extreme

The resignation of White House staff secretary Rob Porter after media reports of domestic abuse allegations against him — allegations he has denied — raises some key questions about government security clearances, and how they’re obtained.

More than 3 million government employees hold some type of security clearance, most in the Department of Defense. That’s more than half of all federal jobs. Another 1.2 million government contractors held clearances, as of 2015.

And the government is running into what security experts warn is a major problem — a mounting backlog that is hampering critical functions of the government. Some 700,000 people are waiting to have clearances processed, according to a report issued last week by the U.S. Comptroller’s office, and many see the process as broken.

The problem is so acute that the Government Accountability Office two weeks ago added it to its list of “high-risk” programs “in need of either broad-based transformation or specific reforms to prevent waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement.”

NPR

When Equifax revealed, all was revealed.

The Equifax data breach exposed more of consumers’ personal information than the company first disclosed last year, according to documents given to lawmakers. The credit reporting company announced in September that the personal information of 145.5 million consumers had been compromised in a data breach. It originally said that the information accessed included names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and — in some cases — driver’s license numbers and credit card numbers. It also said some consumers’ credit card numbers were among the information exposed, as well as the personal information from thousands of dispute documents.

However, Atlanta-based Equifax Inc. recently disclosed in a document submitted to the Senate Banking Committee that a forensic investigation found criminals accessed other information from company records. According to the document, provided to The Associated Press by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s office, that included tax identification numbers, email addresses and phone numbers. Finer details, such as the expiration dates for credit cards or issuing states for driver’s licenses, were also included in the list.

CBS