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Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 24, 2015

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Harold Maass
Three Americans were awarded France's highest honor.
(AP Photo/Kamil Zihnioglu)
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1.

France awards train heroes its highest honor

France on Monday gave its highest award, the Legion of Honor, to three Americans and a Briton who subdued a heavily armed attacker on a high-speed train. "You have shown that in the face of terror, you can resist," French President Francois Hollande said. Childhood friends Airman 1st Class Spencer Stone, Specialist Alek Skarlatos, and California college student Anthony Sadler, and British businessman Chris Norman disarmed, pummeled, and tied up the suspected Islamist militant, Ayoub el-Khazaani, who said he wanted to rob passengers, not massacre them. [The Washington Post, CNN]

2.

Fresh Chinese stock market dive fuels global fears

Stocks fell sharply in Europe and Asia on Monday after China's benchmark Shanghai index plunged by 8.5 percent, its biggest drop since February 2007. Japan's Nikkei index fell by 4.6 percent, its worst day in more than two years. In the U.S., Dow futures dropped by two percent as fears over the health of the world's second largest economy deepened. U.S. stocks suffered their biggest losses in four years last week, threatening a powerful six-year rally. [Reuters, The New York Times]

3.

North Korea and South Korea continue talks as armies remain on high alert

Negotiators from North and South Korea continued two days of talks into Monday, aiming to bring the feuding neighbors back from the brink of war. The negotiations began after the passing of a Saturday deadline North Korea issued for South Korea to stop using a loudspeaker for cross-border propaganda broadcasts. South Korea began the broadcasts several weeks ago after two of its soldiers were injured by landmines it said North Korea planted in the demilitarized border zone. The two nations have been on high military alert since exchanging artillery fire Thursday. [Reuters]

4.

ISIS destroys treasured temple in Syria's Palmyra ruins

Islamic State militants have blown up the Baalshamin Temple, part of the ancient ruins of Palmyra in Syria, activists said Sunday. The destruction came less than a week after ISIS members beheaded a local antiquities expert, Khalid al-Asaad, who had served as chief archaeologist at the 2,000-year-old Roman-era city. The Sunni extremists' violent interpretation of Islam holds that ancient relics promote idolatry. They sometimes destroy artifacts, and sometimes sell them to finance their fighters. [The New York Times]

5.

Lebanon's prime minister threatens to quit as garbage protests intensify

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam threatened to resign on Sunday as protests continued for a second day over the government's failure to pick up garbage. Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Beirut in the "You Stink" campaign against the government, which reflects wider complaints over the weak state. Police fired water cannons and tear gas at the crowds, and some demonstrators countered by throwing rocks. Some protesters chanted that they wanted "the downfall of the regime." [Reuters]

6.

U.K. embassy reopens in Iran

Britain reopened its embassy in Iran on Sunday in a gesture made possible by the proposed deal to curb Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of punishing economic sanctions. Iran also reopened its embassy in London. The British embassy in Tehran had been closed since demonstrations protesting sanctions stormed it in November 2011. "Today we have entered a new stage of ties based on mutual respect, policy of constructive interaction and dialogue," Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said. [The New York Times]

7.

Scott Walker says he would not try to repeal birthright citizenship

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, said Sunday that he had no intention to push for repealing the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the United States. The statement appeared to contradict one Walker made just days earlier. Many Republican candidates have stated their position on the question since Donald Trump, who is way out front in polls, began calling for doing away with birthright citizenship for the children of undocumented immigrants. [ABC News]

8.

Netanyahu reportedly came close to launching strikes on Iran

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned strikes against Iran three times from 2010 to 2012, according to accounts published in Israel over the weekend. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak, in a taped interview with authors for his upcoming biography, said he, Netanyahu, and then-foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman believed Iran's nuclear program was approaching the "zone of immunity," where a strike might not work. Israel's military and government ministers ultimately advised against going through with the plans. [Los Angeles Times]

9.

Two men arrested on gun charges at Pokemon World Championships

Two Iowa men suspected of making threats of violence at the Pokemon World Championships in Boston have been arrested on weapons charges, police said Sunday. Security personnel at the scene of the event — Hynes Convention Center — alerted detectives to threats spotted Thursday on social media. The men were detained trying to enter the video-game and trading-card event. Detectives executed a search warrant on Friday, and found weapons including a 12-gauge Remington shotgun and an AR-15 rifle. [The Associated Press]

10.

Two women die climbing in Grand Teton National Park

Two women fell to their deaths during a climb in Grand Teton National Park, the National Park Service said Sunday. Tyler Strandberg, 27, and Catherine Nix, 28, were trying to climb the Teewinot Mountain when they fell about 200 feet on Saturday. Another woman who was climbing with them, 26-year-old Rebecca Anderson, called 911 after her companions fell out of sight, and did not respond when she called down to them. Anderson was not injured. [ABC News]