Nearly six in 10 Americans are ready for normalized diplomatic and trade relations in Cuba, per a new CBS/New York Times poll released Monday, while only 25 percent oppose the thaw. This news comes as President Obama visits Cuba this week, the first trip to the island by a sitting U.S. president in nearly nine decades.
Though self-identified Republicans were significantly divided on renewed diplomacy — 44 percent support it, but 42 percent oppose — the project finds serious support on Capitol Hill from Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).
No fan of the Castro regime, Flake argues that open trade with Cuba is the best way to improve Cuban quality of life, and he is willing to call out fellow Republicans who lose faith in the free market where Cuba is concerned. "[I]t always bothered me that as a Republican we preach the gospel of contact and commerce and trade and travel," he recently told Reason, "yet with Cuba we turn around and say, 'No, it's not going to work there.'"
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.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 21, 2017
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
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad thanked Russia, Iran, and Lebanon-based Hezbollah militias on Sunday for helping his army make gains against rebel groups and the Islamic State, saying their "direct support — politically, economically, and militarily — has made possible bigger advances on the battlefield and reduced the losses and burdens of war."
Assad made his remarks during a televised address to the country, which is still in the midst of a six-and-a-half-year-old civil war. He said there had been several plans by the West to remove him from the presidency, yet none had come to fruition, and revealed that the army will launch an offensive in Syrian deserts, in conjunction with Russian planes and Iranian-funded militias, to root out ISIS militants.
Assad also said Syria has "an interest in the success of" ceasefire deals brokered by Russia, adding that "the idea of these de-escalation zones is to stop the bloodletting ... and the eviction of the armed groups handing over their weapons and the return of normalcy." Several rebel groups have accused Assad of violating truces, including in the suburbs of Damascus, where witnesses say the army bombs residential areas that are held by the rebels, Reuters reports. Catherine Garcia
The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said at least 10 sailors are missing and five others hurt after the guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain and a tanker collided early Monday in the waters east of Singapore and the Straits of Malacca.
The destroyer sustained damage on its left rear and port side aft. The ship is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and has 23 officers, 24 chief petty officers, and 291 enlisted sailors, The Associated Press reports. This is the second crash in the Pacific involving a ship from the Navy's 7th Fleet in two months, following June's collision between the USS Fitzgerald and a container ship, which killed seven sailors. Catherine Garcia
Comedian Jerry Lewis died Sunday morning, his agent announced that afternoon, at home in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was 91.
Perhaps best known for his comedy partnership with Dean Martin, Lewis' slapstick career spanned more than half a century and media including film, television, radio, and stage. He starred in movies like 1960's The Bellboy and 1963'sThe Nutty Professor, and also worked as a singer, screenwriter, director, and producer.
Offscreen, Lewis was a prominent supporter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association, headline its annual fundraising telethon for decades and raising some $2.6 billion for the cause. Lewis is survived by his second wife, SanDee Pitnick, and six children.
Lewis was widely mourned by Hollywood when news of his death broke; see a few of those tributes below. Bonnie Kristian
That fool was no dummy. Jerry Lewis was an undeniable genius an unfathomable blessing, comedy's absolute! I am because he was! ;^D pic.twitter.com/3Zdq9xhXlE
— Jim Carrey (@JimCarrey) August 20, 2017
Jerry Lewis passed today,millions around the world loved him,millions of kids he helped w/his telethons. R.I.P. &condolences 2 his family
— Whoopi Goldberg (@WhoopiGoldberg) August 20, 2017
Jerry Lewis was a genius comedian, actor, director, inventor, humanitarian and, as a Las Vegan, what I miss most..https://t.co/R0uLkPOwyU
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) August 20, 2017
The terrorist cell responsible for the vehicle attack in Barcelona that killed 13, including one American, on Thursday originally intended to target the city's iconic Sagrada Familia cathedral, Spain's El Español reported Saturday, citing police sources. The church was reportedly chosen for its religious symbolism as well as its busy flow of tourists, but the plan was ultimately abandoned after the terrorists apparently mishandled their own explosives stockpile.
The cathedral instead became the site for a memorial service for the victims' families Sunday.
— CharlotteChelsomPill (@charlottejourno) August 20, 2017
Authorities believe the terror cell had 12 members and collected 120 gas cannisters to use in vehicle attacks. Five cell members were fatally shot by police; four were arrested; and three — including Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, believed to be the driver in the Barcelona attack — remain at large.
The manhunt for the final suspects continued Sunday, though two sets of unidentified remains could account for two of the three missing men. The remains are from an explosion at a house in Alcanar, Spain, on Wednesday, the incident thought to have canceled the cathedral plan. Abouyaaqoub fled the scene of the Barcelona attack on foot and may have crossed the border into France. Bonnie Kristian
"I don't have any plans" to primary President Trump in 2020, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) said Sunday in an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper. "I'm rooting for him to get it together. We all are. I mean, we're only like seven months into this presidency," he added.
Kasich decried a political discourse in which "all we're doing is questioning [Trump's] motives" and "fighting back and forth," averring that America doesn't "do well when all we do is fight."
He also weighed in on Trump's much-criticized responses to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last week. Asked by Tapper whether he believes Trump is "concerned about alienating bigots because they might be a part of his base," Kasich praised Trump's Saturday remarks on the related demonstrations in Boston. "It's all about ... explaining to [Trump] we've got to bring the country together," the governor continued, "and, you know, blaming one side or another when we're talking about the KKK or white supremacists — there is no comparison between these hate groups and everybody else."
Watch Kasich's full interview below. Bonnie Kristian
GOP senator says it will be difficult for Trump to lead if 'his moral authority remains compromised'
GOP Sen. Tim Scott (S.C.), the Senate's only black Republican, did not mince words in his assessment of the Trump administration during an interview on Face the Nation Sunday.
"As we look to the future, it's going to be very difficult for this president to lead if in fact his moral authority remains compromised," Scott told CBS host John Dickerson. "Sometimes you have positional authority, and that is very helpful," Scott continued, "but the reality of it is this nation responds to moral authority, when we believe that our president has the entire nation's best interest at heart."
Trump's "comments on Tuesday," in which he said there were some "very fine people" marching on the white nationalist side in Charlottesville, Virginia, "erased his positive comments on Monday," Scott added. The senator recommended Trump meet with Civil Rights movement leaders "who endured the pain of the '60s ... the humiliation of the '50s and the '60s" to better understand "the painful history of racism and bigotry of this country."
Watch an excerpt of Scott's comments below. Bonnie Kristian
Sen Scott: As we look to the future it’s going to be very difficult for this POTUS to lead if in fact moral authority remains compromised pic.twitter.com/VYeq720hew
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) August 20, 2017