10 things you need to know today: August 4, 2015
Democrats block a GOP effort to defund Planned Parenthood, Donald Trump widens his lead, and more
Democrats block Senate GOP effort to defund Planned Parenthood
Senate Democrats on Monday blocked Republican legislation to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood. GOP lawmakers launched the effort to strip the family planning organization of its more than $500 million in federal funding after an anti-abortion group released hidden-camera videos it said showed Planned Parenthood officials negotiating prices for fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood said it did nothing wrong, and never illegally profits from tissue from abortions that is used in medical research.
Trump extends polling lead
Donald Trump has widened his lead over his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination, according to a poll released Monday by Monmouth University. The real-estate magnate and reality TV personality now has more than twice as much support as his nearest rival. He had the backing of 26 percent of the Republicans polled, followed by former Florida governor Jeb Bush with 12 percent. Fifty-two percent now have a favorable opinion of Trump, up from 20 percent when he launched his campaign.
Bank confirms Puerto Rico missed bond payment
Puerto Rico's Public Finance Corp. confirmed Monday that the U.S. territory's government had defaulted on a bond payment for the first time. "Due to the lack of appropriated funds for this fiscal year the entirety of the PFC payment was not made today," bank president Melba Acosta Febo said in a statement. Gov. Alejandro Garcia Padilla has declared the island's debts "unpayable." The government is pushing for creditors to restructure $73 billion in loans.
GOP candidates participate in first major forum of presidential campaign
Fourteen Republicans participated in the Voters First Presidential Forum in New Hampshire on Monday, touting their plans for reforming immigration, combating terrorism, and uniting the country. The event gave voters their first chance to hear from most of the 2016 GOP presidential candidates on one stage. All of the candidates for the GOP nomination participated in person or via satellite, except Donald Trump and Mike Huckabee, who chose not to show, and Jim Gilmore, who joined the race too late to participate.
Suspect surrenders two days after fatal shooting of Memphis officer
Tremaine Wilbourn, the suspect in the fatal shooting of Memphis police officer Sean Bolton, surrendered to federal Marshals on Monday, accompanied by family members and a lawyer. Wilbourn, 29, turned himself in after investigators conducted a massive two-day manhunt following the shooting, which occurred when a routine traffic stop apparently interrupted a small-time drug deal. "I think he felt the walls closing in and felt it was in his best interests to turn himself in," Memphis Police Director Toney Armstrong said.
State Department reportedly went easy on key countries in trafficking report
The State Department watered down an annual report on human trafficking in a way that spared several strategically important countries from public shaming, Reuters reported Monday. Human rights experts at the State Department concluded that conditions had not improved in Malaysia and Cuba, and had deteriorated in China. High-ranking political staff at the department, however, prevailed, and got the countries removed from the list of worst offenders.
Texas attorney general indicted on securities fraud charges
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was arrested on felony securities fraud charges on Monday. A grand jury indicted the 52-year-old Republican on two counts of securities fraud and one count of acting as an investment adviser representative without registration. The case stems from allegations that Paxton misled investors before becoming attorney general. GOP supporters stood by him, emphasizing that he had been convicted of nothing, while Democrats called for his resignation.
Jury keeps death penalty as option in movie theater massacre case
A jury voted Monday to keep the death penalty on the table as it moved toward sentencing James Holmes for killing 12 people and wounding 70 others at an Aurora, Colorado, movie theater in 2012. Holmes' lawyers had argued that he was not guilty by reason of insanity, and his father said mental illness had changed a once "excellent kid." The jury must now decide whether Holmes, who opened fire during a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises, should be executed or serve life in prison.
High-ranking Taliban official quits after Mullah Omar's successor named
The head of the Taliban's Qatar political office announced his resignation on Monday. The high-profile resignation of Tayeb Agha was a rare public display of internal divisions in the wake of the confirmation of the death of Mullah Mohammad Omar, who led the Islamist militant movement for 20 years. The Afghan Taliban announced Friday that Mullah Akhtar Mansoor would be the new Taliban leader, triggering a tense split between Mansoor's supporters and rivals.
Major airlines refuse to transport big-game trophies
Delta, American, and United airlines have decided to stop transporting big-game trophies as outrage continues to simmer over an American hunter's killing of a protected lion named Cecil in Zimbabwe. Delta Air Lines — the U.S. airline with the most flights to Africa — announced Monday that it would no longer ship lion, leopard, elephant, rhinoceros and buffalo trophies. The airline had said as recently as May that it would accept the shipments as long as they were legal.