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Iran slams sanctions, Jussie Smollett video released & stars perform Mueller report: The Morning Rundown

Tehran says the new U.S. economic sanctions spell the end of diplomacy.
Image: A copy of Kayhan Iranian newspaper is seen in Tehran
Iranian newspapers' coverage of the new U.S. sanctions at a newsstand in Tehran on Tuesday. Nazanin Tabatabaee/West Asia News Agency / Reuters

Good morning, NBC News readers.

Hundreds of migrant children were removed from an "appalling" border station, Iran has responded to new U.S. sanctions, and a group of actors tried to breathe some life into the pages of the Mueller report.

Here's what we're watching today.

Iran says 'hilarious' U.S. sanctions spell the end of diplomacy

Iran slammed the Trump administration's new economic sanctions on Tuesday, calling them "outrageous and idiotic" and warning they could mean the end of diplomacy.

President Donald Trump announced the "hard-hitting" sanctions on Monday, saying they would deny Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top leaders within the regime access to "key financial resources and support."

In a televised speech, Iran's President Hassan Rouhani called the sanctions "hilarious" and a "stupid and ugly act."

With tensions running high, national security adviser John Bolton insisted that the U.S. is still open to negotiations with Iran.

"All that Iran needs to do is walk through that open door," Bolton told a high-profile security summit in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Migrant children removed from dirty, crowded border station

Almost 300 migrant children were removed from a border patrol facility in Texas that was reported to be unsanitary and potentially dangerous.

The move by Department of Homeland officials came after lawyers who visited the border station in Clint, Texas, last week called it "appalling" and said the children did not have access to showers, soap or toothpaste.

“Almost every child I spoke with had not showered or bathed since they crossed the border — some of them more than three weeks ago,” said Elora Mukherjee, who was part of a team of lawyers who visited the facility last week.

The children have now been taken to a detention camp in El Paso, Texas.

Kushner faces uphill battle to sell economic plan for Palestinians

Jared Kushner is due to kick off the economic half his Mideast peace plan today at a conference in the Bahraini capital of Manama.

But the conference and the plan have been met with near-unanimous rejection by the very people it claims to benefit.

Billions of dollars aren’t going to resolve the decades-long impasse, according to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, who said the American plan is biased toward Israel and also neglects Palestinian political aspirations.

As student debt becomes a cultural touchstone, brands look to profit

From Burger King's Whopper Loans to Natural Ice's $1 million sweepstakes, student debt is being used to launch ventures and ad campaigns.

But is it effective, or just offensive?

"I think it shows how desperate people are," said one 26-year-old with a mountain of student loans to pay off.

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THINK about it

Bernie Sanders' student debt plan doesn’t actually address the real problem: the sky-high cost of higher education, says Robert Kelchen, an assistant professor at Seton Hall University, in an opinion piece.

Science + Tech = MACH

SpaceX launched its heftiest rocket yet with 24 research satellites, a deep space atomic clock, a solar sail and even the human ashes of a former astronaut.


A better way to think about "clean eating" — that isn't restrictive or elitist.

Quote of the day

"The children are hungry, dirty and sick and being detained for very long periods of time."

Elora Mukherjee, director of the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School, on her visit to the Clint, Texas, border station last week.

One fun civic thing

A star-studded cast participated in the telling of a political drama full of intrigue, betrayal and a battle for power.

This wasn’t a live performance of "Game of Thrones," but rather a play based on the Mueller report.

"The Investigation: A Search For The Truth in Ten Acts" adapted and condensed portions of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 448-page report for the New York stage.

The one-night-only performance included Annette Bening, John Lithgow, Kevin Kline and more than a dozen other actors

It was livestreamed on the website and social platforms of Law Works, a bipartisan organization that aims to educate the "public on the importance of the rule of law."

"It’s pretty messed up. And it’s sad," said Lucia Venuto, who was in the audience. "But this is our country."

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Thanks, Petra