Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 18, 2015

Bangkok shrine bombing kills at least 20, the Obama administration clears Shell for Arctic drilling, and more


Bomb kills 20 at Bangkok shrine frequented by tourists

A bomb exploded in a popular Hindu shrine in Bangkok on Monday, killing at least 20 people, including nine Asian tourists. Another 140 were injured. The explosion at the Erawan Shrine, a popular site with visitors to the Thai capital, scattered body parts across the city's main shopping area. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said police were searching for suspects seen in security-camera footage, saying the bombers want to destroy "our tourism." A second device — a pipe bomb — thrown from a bridge exploded in the water by a ferry pier Tuesday but caused no injuries.


Federal government gives Shell permit to drill for Arctic oil

The Obama administration on Monday gave Royal Dutch Shell final approval to drill for oil and gas in the Arctic off northern Alaska. The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement cleared Shell to drill deep into the ocean floor for the first time since 1991 after emergency well-plugging equipment arrived in the area after months stuck on a ship needing repairs. Environmentalists strongly oppose Arctic drilling, saying it threatens wildlife already devastated by climate change.


305 more Hillary Clinton emails flagged by investigators

Intelligence service investigators have flagged another 305 of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emails for further review to see if they contain classified material, according to court documents released Monday. Clinton turned over 30,000 emails in December, and a judge in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit ordered the State Department to publicly release them on a rolling basis as reviewers confirm they contain no sensitive material. The FBI also is investigating the handling of classified information on Clinton's private email server.


Northwestern football players lose bid to unionize

The National Labor Relations Board on Monday declined a request by Northwestern football players seeking to unionize. The players argued that they were essentially university employees and should have the right to collectively bargain for pay and benefits. The binding decision reverses a March 2014 ruling that the players won and the school appealed. The board said it did not want to exert jurisdiction in a case that could have upended college sports with no clear benefit for the labor market.


Egypt enacts tough new anti-terrorism laws

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has approved sweeping new anti-terrorism laws following a rise in attacks by insurgents. The measures include special courts to handle terrorism cases, with up to 10-year prison sentences for joining a terrorist group and 25 years for financing one. Sisi vowed in June to launch the legal crackdown after a car bombing killed Egypt's prosecutor general. Sisi blamed that attack on the Muslim Brotherhood, which denied responsibility.


Two women about to make history as first female graduates of Army Ranger School

Two female soldiers on Friday will become the first women to graduate from the Army's grueling, 62-day Ranger School. This was the first year the Army opened the training program at Fort Benning, Georgia, to women on a trial basis. It is not yet clear what the next step will be for the two women after they graduate. Women still can't join the 75th Ranger Regiment, an elite special operations force. The Pentagon is expected to make a decision later this year on what combat roles will be open to women.


Authors, actors, and athletes join call for Mississippi to drop Confederate flag image

A group of celebrities on Monday stepped up a campaign to get Mississippi to remove the Confederate battle-flag emblem from its state flag. Author John Grisham, actor Morgan Freeman, former NFL quarterback Archie Manning, music legend Jimmy Buffet, and nearly 60 others backed a full-page ad published in Mississippi's Clarion-Ledger newspaper saying it was "simply not fair, or honorable" to ask black Mississippians to put up with "a state flag that glorifies a war fought to keep their ancestors enslaved."


Stocks plunge again in China, rattling world markets

Chinese stocks plunged by six percent on Tuesday, dragging down shares around the world as investors feared the country would further weaken its currency, signaling trouble in the world's second largest economy. European stocks fell, U.S. stock futures dipped, and a broad Asian stock index fell to its lowest in two years. "The more the Chinese government intervenes, the more traders want to dump stock and head for the exit," a U.K. market commentator said. "The mood in London is that the party is over in China."


Indonesian plane "totally destroyed" with no survivors, official says

Indonesian officials confirmed Tuesday that a Trigana Air Service plane that went missing two days ago was destroyed when it crashed into a mountain, and that all 54 people on board had been killed. Search crews, hampered by bad weather and rough terrain, only arrived at the site Tuesday. "The plane was totally destroyed," said Henry Bambang Soelistyo, the National Search and Rescue Agency chief. The cause of the crash remains unknown, but the plane's two black boxes were found in good condition.


Bezos responds to damning New York Times exposé

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is firing back over a weekend New York Times exposé that painted his company's office culture as combative and insensitive to women. In an internal memo obtained by CNBC. Bezos tells unhappy employees to come forward and tell HR if they experience what he described as the "dystopian" atmosphere and "shockingly callous management practices" described in the article. "Even if it's rare or isolated," he said, "our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero."


U.S. to crack down on guns going south while Mexico works to stop fentanyl heading north
A CBP agent at the U.S.-Mexico border in San Ysidro, California.
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Lebanon to reverse daylight savings decision
Clock tower in Lebanon.
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Most of Silicon Valley Bank bought by First Citizens, FDIC says
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Florida principal forced to resign over Michelangelo's David display
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Pope Francis updates sex abuse laws for Catholic Church
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