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August 1, 2014
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Three months ago, two American tourists were detained in North Korea after being charged with "anti-state" crimes. Now, the two men are asking for the U.S. government's help in avoiding prison sentences.

Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle told the Associated Press that they were "in good health and were being treated well," but they are still awaiting a trial, for which a date has not been set.

"I don't know what the worst-case scenario would be, but I need help to extricate myself from this situation," Fowle told the AP. "I ask the government for help in that regard."

According to North Korea, Miller and Fowle committed "hostile acts" while visiting the country, though North Korea has not publicized what, exactly, those acts are. Meghan DeMaria

3:55 a.m. ET

Nuclear waste "is a serious health hazard, and America has a lot of it," John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "And you may live closer to nuclear waste than you think." For decades, America has known it needs a safe place to store this nuclear waste — one expert in 1990 compared America's nuclear situation to a house built without a toilet — and that was Oliver's focus on Sunday: "Why do we not have a nuclear toilet?"

On one level, this is easy to understand, he said, because in World War II the U.S. rushed to create atomic weapons to defeat the Nazis, "who — fun fact — pretty much all Americans agreed were bad at the time." He ran through some of the bad-to-horrifying solutions America came up with in early days of nuclear waste, and noted how some of the improperly stored waste has sickened people and created radioactive alligators, among other problems. Luckily, the U.S. government and scientific community came up with a solution 60 years ago. Unfortunately, the envisioned facility for the worst waste still hasn't been built.

For more on why America hasn't buried its nuclear waste yet, who much we're spending on the Hanford site in Washington State, and how little things have changed in 40 years, plus a running gag about a terrifying American Girl doll, watch below. (Yes, there is NSFW language throughout.) Peter Weber

3:07 a.m. ET

Late Sunday night, work crews began removing four statues from a main mall on the University of Texas campus in Austin, three of them Confederate leaders and the fourth a former Texas governor. UT Austin President Greg Fenves announced the removal in an email to the campus community just before 11 p.m., saying the three Confederate statues — two generals, Robert E. Lee and Albert Sidney Johnston, and Confederate postmaster general John Reagan — "run counter to the university's core values." The events in Charlottesville last weekend, he added, "make it clear, now more than ever, that Confederate monuments have become symbols of modern white supremacy and neo-Nazism."

Those three statues will be relocated to the Briscoe Center for American History on campus, while the fourth statue, of former Gov. James Stephen Hogg (1891-95), will likely be relocated elsewhere on campus. In 2015, after the shooting of black congregants at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, South Carolina, Fenves convened a committee to examine the three Confederate statues plus one of Jefferson Davis, the Confederate president; he then had the Davis statue and one of President Woodrow Wilson moved to the museum, leaving the four statues that are being taken down overnight.

UT Austin spokesman Gary Susswein said the statues are being removed in the middle of the night, 10 days before fall classes start, "for public safety and to minimize disruption to the community." Some protesters against the removals showed up anyway, as did some counter protesters, as the Austin American-Statesman's Mary Huber documents. "We do not choose our history, but we choose what we honor and celebrate on our campus," Fenves wrote. "Erected during the period of Jim Crow laws and segregation, the statues represent the subjugation of African Americans. That remains true today for white supremacists who use them to symbolize hatred and bigotry."

Update, 4 a.m. EDT: All four statues have been removed. Peter Weber

2:39 a.m. ET
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Just call him Dr. Jayden.

Jayden Fontenot, a quick-thinking 10-year-old, recently saved his newborn brother's life, keeping his cool the entire time. Ashley Moreau of Sulphur, Louisiana, had no idea she was in labor until she went to the bathroom and saw her baby was starting to come out, feet first. Her eldest son Fontenot ran to his grandmother's house, called 911, then raced back to his mother, asking what he could to help. As gently as possible, Fontenot began to slowly pull at the baby's feet, "just hoping I didn't hurt him," he told ABC News. Fontenot was able to get the baby out, safely.

Had he not intervened, the baby would have died, doctors said, and it's possible Moreau could have bled out. "I'm just so proud of him," she told ABC News. "I don't think he understands how big this is. He saved me and his brother's life." Both Moreau and her newborn are doing well. Catherine Garcia

2:13 a.m. ET
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So far this year, Republican committees have paid close to $1.3 million to companies owned by President Trump, new Federal Election Commission records show.

The Washington Post analyzed the records, and found that at least 25 congressional campaigns, state parties, and the Republican Governors Association have spent more than $473,000 combined at hotels or golf resorts owned by Trump, and Trump's companies received another $793,000 from the Republican National Committee and Trump's campaign committee. Trump's re-election committee has paid nearly $15,000 for lodging at Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., and the hotel has hosted events for several Republican members of Congress, including Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (Calif.), whose campaign committee spent more than $11,000 on catering and event space in May and June, and Rep. Jodey Arrington (Texas), whose committee paid almost $9,700 in January for food, beverages, and facility usage, the Post reports.

These payments have helped properties like Trump's private club in Florida, Mar-a-Lago, which otherwise lost business because of Trump; in response to his reaction to the deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, 10 of the 16 galas and dinners planned for next winter at the club have been cancelled, the Post reports. Catherine Garcia

1:45 a.m. ET
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In a nationally televised address on Monday night, President Trump will lay out his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, and the strategy is expected to include sending "several thousand" more U.S. troops to aid in the 16-year war, The New York Times reports. Trump announced that he had completed his strategic review on Saturday morning, and on Sunday night, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters that Trump has "made a decision," adding, "I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous and did not go in with a preset position."

There are currently about 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan as part of the 13,000-strong NATO force that's training and advising the Afghan military, plus another 2,000 or so U.S. troops conducting counterterrorism operations against Taliban, al Qaeda, and Islamic State militants. Trump gave Mattis the authority in June to deploy up to 3,900 more troops to Afghanistan, but Mattis has declined to do so without a broader strategy in place.

The president has been working on his Afghanistan strategy for months, as former President Barack Obama did when he took office. Trump was inconsistent during the campaign on what he thought the U.S. should do about Afghanistan, and he has considered pulling out as president, because, as he noted in 2013, the war is very expensive.

But Trump has told advisers he's been shown maps of Afghanistan from 2014 and 2017, and the Taliban's presence in the country (indicated in red) had grown from a little bit to more than half the map today, reports Jonathan Swan at Axios, adding: "Trump has been reluctantly open to the generals' opinion and I'm told he doesn't want to be the president who loses the country to the terrorists." At the same time, GOP strategist Ron Bonjean tells The Washington Post, Trump's "address is designed to turn the page from the Charlottesville chaos and remind voters that Trump is commander in chief and has made an informed and responsible decision." The speech, from Fort Meyers in Virginia, will be at 9 p.m. EST, during a town hall House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will be conducting through CNN. Peter Weber

1:19 a.m. ET
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It may make people uncomfortable, but Diana Ratcliff wants the world to know that when her cousin Heather Heyer was killed last weekend, run over by a car as she counter-protested a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, it was an act of terror.

"They'll call it murder," Ratcliff wrote in an op-ed for CNN, published Sunday. "They may call it a hate crime, but then struggle to call it terrorism. That man was fulfilling a call-to-action from white nationalists. He was committing an act of terror." If anyone with darker skin had been "marching the streets of Charlottesville wielding tiki torches, carrying semi-automatic rifles, chanting racist chants, engendering fear at a house of prayer, and menacing its residents, we'd call them terrorists," she added.

Ratcliff described her family as having a "white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant background with Appalachian heritage," and said they "have never had to be afraid that someone would target us or lynch us because of the color of our skin." During a vigil in Charlottesville, one speaker praised Heyer for her courage but asked why it took the death of a white woman to get the public outraged over racism and bigotry. "All I could think was, 'Heather is sitting in heaven right now, shaking her head in agreement,'" Ratcliff said. For those who think racism is "dying out with an aging population," they're wrong, Ratcliff warns — instead, it has "found new life, and it's going to get worse if we don't put a stop to it now." Read the rest of Ratcliff's op-ed at CNN. Catherine Garcia

August 20, 2017

About two hours after a Liberian-flagged oil tanker, Alnic MC, collided with the U.S. Navy destroyer USS John S. McCain at 5:24 p.m U.S. East Coast time in the Strait of Malacca off Singapore, President Trump tweeted that he was on his way back to Washington "after working hard" during his 17-day vacation at his New Jersey golf resort and other locations. The Navy, which announced the accident on Twitter a few minutes after Trump's tweet, said that 10 sailors are missing and five injured, and a search-and-rescue operation is underway. "Our first priority is determining the safety of the ship and crew," tweeted Adm. John Richardson, the chief of U.S. naval operations. "As more information is learned, we will share it."

On Sunday night, Trump tweeted out his "thoughts and prayers" to the sailors on the destroyer, which was damaged on the rear port side but is reportedly heading toward Singapore under its own power.

Earlier, when he arrived at the White House, reporters asked Trump about the accident. "That's too bad," Trump said.

The Strait of Malacca, connecting the Indian and Pacific Oceans, is often congested with shipping traffic, but analysts said the Navy should be concerned about the second collision in two months involving an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer in the 7th Fleet. Just last week, the Navy disciplined several officers for a deadly June collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a much larger container ship off Japan; seven U.S. sailors died. "They were already stretched after the Fitzgerald collision, and now they've lost a second frontline destroyer at an acute time in the region, with the tensions around North Korea and in the South China Sea," Euan Graham at Sydney's Lowy Institute tells The Washington Post.

In February, another guided-missile cruiser in the 7th Fleet, the Antietam, ran aground in Tokyo Bay near the fleet's base at Yokosuka, Japan, and in May, the Navy cruiser Lake Champlain collided with a South Korean fishing vessel, with no injuries, The New York Times notes. Peter Weber

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