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October 19, 2017

There is controversy brewing in the last frontier. One of the top 20 finishers in the 2017 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race possibly gave their team the banned opioid pain reliever Tramadol, Alaska Dispatch News reports. It is the first time dogs have tested positive for an illegal substance in the history of the nearly 1,000-mile race.

While the president of the Iditarod Officials Finishers Club, Wade Marrs, did not name the musher in question (he or she is referred to only as "Musher X"), the positive test for Tramadol was reportedly isolated to a single top-finishing dog team.

"Race officials have refused to provide the musher's name, citing 'legal concerns,' the Dispatch News writes. "They have said they cannot prove the musher's intent, so they cannot penalize the musher under the 2017 race rules, which they have since revised." Musher X denied administering the drug and "repeatedly offered to submit to a polygraph and complied fully with all requests," Marrs' statement said.

"It's not a good situation," Iditarod Board member Aaron Burmeister told The Associated Press. "I'm hoping that we can turn a positive light on it and the musher steps forward." Jeva Lange

2:06p.m.

The number of hate crimes reported to the FBI jumped by 17 percent in 2017 — their biggest spike since 9/11.

Reported hate crimes have generally fallen since the FBI recorded an all-time high of 9,730 incidents in 2001, CBS News notes. But FBI data released Tuesday shows a recorded 7,175 crimes in 2017, up from 6,121 in 2016 and marking a third straight year of growth.

The majority of reported hate crimes — 59.6 percent — targeted a victim's race, ethnicity, or ancestry, the FBI notes. About 2,000 of the reported crimes targeted black Americans. Another 20.6 percent were categorized as religiously motivated, and 15.8 percent targeted a victim's sexual orientation.

In a Tuesday statement, acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker said he was "particularly troubled by the increase in anti-Semitic hate crimes." Crimes against Jewish people went up 37 percent last year, making them the most common religiously motivated hate crimes last year, per The Washington Post. There were 938 reported anti-Semitic crimes in 2017.

These numbers increased in part due to an increase in the number of local police departments that report hate crimes to the FBI, the Post notes. Still, many local police departments still don't share statistics with the bureau.

To combat this continued uptick, the FBI also launched a hate crimes website with resources for reporting a crime. It lists news and descriptions of hate crimes, and features a "safe exit" button that redirects away from the site. Kathryn Krawczyk

1:12p.m.

Incoming congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made her first visit to Capitol Hill this week for congressional orientation. And after meeting some fellow new recruits, she visited a Democratic veteran for an impromptu protest.

On Tuesday, Ocasio-Cortez joined protesters who gathered at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) office to push for congressional action on climate change. The newly-elected New York Democrat had spent Monday evening rallying for "green jobs for all," and it soon became clear she was behind the protest as well.

Ocasio-Cortez defeated longtime Rep. Joe Crowley (D-N.Y.) in a June primary and became the youngest woman elected to the House last week. But unlike some other congressional newcomers, she hasn't explicitly said whether she'll support Pelosi's bid for House Speaker. And given how the Sunrise Movement, the organization behind Tuesday's protest, had some less-than-kind tweets for Pelosi during its sit-in, it seems that Ocasio-Cortez is not on the minority leader's side.

But in what seemed like an attempt to distance herself from anti-Pelosi rhetoric, Ocasio-Cortez later tweeted that activists at the office "asked [her] to join them" in protesting Pelosi. Ocasio-Cortez then tweeted that she'd reached an agreement with Pelosi and seemed pleased with the result — though the Sunrise Movement said Pelosi's statement didn't go far enough. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:32a.m.

Amazon has officially announced its second global headquarters will be split between New York City and ... some part of Virginia it's calling "National Landing."

As reports projected, the company revealed Tuesday that it'll route 25,000 new jobs to its "HQ2" in New York's Long Island City neighborhood, and another 25,000 to Arlington, Virginia. Except Amazon's official announcement says its Washington-area headquarters will be in National Landing — a place Amazon seems to have pulled out of thin air.

Save for Amazon's announcement, a quick search of The Washington Post reveals no previous references to this mystery area. So, reasonably, Twitter lit up with locals questioning just what a National Landing entails. Luckily, Amazon included a handy map to explain where this so-called National Landing office will, well, land.

Yes, "Amazon in Arlington" will be just west of Reagan National Airport, in the D.C. metro area currently known as Crystal City. Plenty of people think the area's glimmering name is a bit of misnomer anyway, which could be why Virginia is officially okay with Amazon co-opting three whole neighborhoods. In a Tuesday statement, Arlington and Alexandria, Virginia called National Landing "a newly branded neighborhood encompassing Crystal City, Pentagon City, and Potomac Yard." In a similar vein, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) released a Tuesday video rehashing the state's only noteworthy slogan as "Virginia is for Amazon Lovers."

Amazon also unveiled its plans for a 5,000-employee Operations Center of Excellence on Tuesday. This office is slated for Nashville's neighborhood of The Gulch, which is surprisingly not the made-up name in this situation. Kathryn Krawczyk

11:26a.m.

It looks like Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen isn't the only member of the Trump administration on the way out.

The president is also looking for candidates who could replace White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, ABC News reported Tuesday. Right now, the leading contender is reportedly Nick Ayers, Vice President Mike Pence's 36-year-old chief of staff. President Trump has met with Ayers about potentially taking over for Kelly, and they had an "extended conversation" on Election Night, ABC News reports. Some sources said that this is essentially a "done deal," though others said it's not final yet.

It sounds like part of the reason Trump is interested in Ayers is that he sees him as someone who's politically savvy, which he doesn't think is true of John Kelly, per ABC News. Kelly has been rumored to be on the outs with Trump for months on end, but some believe the end is finally nigh now that the midterm elections have passed.

Trump is also reportedly getting ready to fire Nielsen, who has received support from Kelly even as some in the administration criticize her approach. Kelly, who last week was the one to phone Jeff Sessions and tell him he was being forced to resign as attorney general, has reportedly threatened to resign should Nielsen be fired. Now, it sounds like that won't be a problem for Trump, who is ready to get rid of both of them, despite the fact that he had previously asked Kelly to stay on until 2020, reports CNN. Brendan Morrow

10:48a.m.

Conflict between Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip is at its most intense since 2014, The Associated Press reports.

The IDF estimate Hamas has launched about 400 rockets since Monday, and Israeli strikes have reportedly hit around 100 targets in Gaza, including the building housing Hamas's television station. Six Palestinians have been killed in this round of strikes, though reports vary as to how many were militants. Another two dozen people have been wounded, and one Israeli civilian has also died.

U.S. Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt on Twitter Monday reiterated U.S. support for Israel against Hamas, which Washington considers a terrorist organization. "Terrorists in Gaza are again attacking Israel with tools of war," he wrote. "These rocket & mortar attacks on Israeli towns must be condemned by all. Israel is forced once again into military action to defend its citizens. We stand with Israel as it defends itself against these attacks."

Truce negotiations facilitated by the United Nations, Egypt, and Qatar are underway, and further escalation is expected if they are derailed by this week's violence. Bonnie Kristian

10:42a.m.

Winter is coming — next spring.

HBO announced in a teaser video Tuesday that Game of Thrones' long-anticipated final season will premiere in April 2019. Before you get too excited, there's no new footage in the teaser; it's just a 30-second compilation of some of the series' highlights. But snuck in right at the end is confirmation that the series is coming back within a few months.

HBO had previously only said that the show's last season would air sometime in the first half of the year, making fans worry that the premiere could be as late as the summer. Many had guessed the show would return in April, as this used to be the series' typical premiere month, and star Maisie Williams even said as much in an interview once. But Season 7 came out in July, and Williams later reversed her comments, both of which opened up the possibility of a later-than-usual start.

There's no trailer for the final season of Game of Thrones yet, but some details were recently revealed in an Entertainment Weekly cover story, including that the first episode will feature a lot of callbacks to Season 1 as Daenerys Targaryen makes her arrival in Winterfell. The show's cast and crew have also been promising that the final season features the biggest battle sequence of all time — not just on television, but in movies, too. If that's the case, it sounds like the extended 20-month wait between seasons should turn out to be well worth it. Just don't hold your breath for those books. Brendan Morrow

10:31a.m.

President Trump has your new go-to excuse for getting out of dreary mandatory functions: Blame it on the Secret Service.

On Saturday, Trump was scheduled to appear at an American cemetery in France to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I. But when a "light steady rain" persisted just outside Paris, per Reuters, the White House said Trump would skip out "due to scheduling and logistical difficulties caused by the weather."

The change of plans inspired trolling from even the French army, and dredged up Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's rain-soaked 2017 speech honoring WWI troops who endured much more than wet suits and hair. "On that day ... the rain wasn't rain, it was bullets," Trudeau said. Three days later, a seemingly defensive Trump still hadn't let it go.

Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Emmanuel Macron all managed to make it to Saturday ceremonies throughout France. And somehow, Chief of Staff John Kelly made it to the cemetery visit Trump missed, the White House statement said.

Trump did ditch his umbrella for a cemetery visit in France the next day — where he complained about the weather. But when he returned to the U.S. on Monday, Trump didn't make a traditional Veterans Day appearance at Arlington National Cemetery. And as France's U.S. Embassy displayed in a tweet, the weather was perfect. Kathryn Krawczyk

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