Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 1, 2016

The Pentagon lifts a ban on openly transgender troops, Gingrich and Christie top Trump's VP short list, and more


Pentagon lifts ban on openly transgender troops

The Pentagon on Thursday lifted a ban on openly transgender service members in the military. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said that transgender service members could serve openly effective immediately, and could not be discharged due to gender identity. The change came after a year of meetings between top brass and transgender service members, and discussions of how to handle medical, housing, and uniform issues for troops transitioning to the other sex. Removing this barrier to Americans eager to serve "is the right thing to do," Carter said.


Gingrich and Christie top Trump's VP short list

Donald Trump has begun vetting possible running mates, with N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich reportedly topping his short list. More than a half-dozen others, including Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) also are under consideration. Trump allies have indicated that Gingrich is the leading potential vice presidential pick, but they add that the presumptive Republican presidential nominee could shake up the list if he decides he needs other options.


Official says Lynch will accept FBI recommendations in Clinton email case

Attorney General Loretta Lynch plans to announce Friday that she will accept whatever recommendations prosecutors and the FBI make on whether to file charges related to the private email server Hillary Clinton used while serving as secretary of state, a Justice Department official told The New York Times. Lynch faced an uproar this week after meeting privately with Clinton's husband, former president Bill Clinton, at the Phoenix airport. Lynch said they didn't discuss the case, but Republicans said the meeting cast doubt on the investigation's integrity.


Turkey says ISIS leaders planned airport suicide attack

Turkish officials said Thursday that they believed the three suicide bombers who killed 44 people at Istanbul's Ataturk International Airport this week were Islamic State terrorists who entered the country from Raqqa, Syria. The city has long been held by ISIS, and Turkish authorities believe the suicide bombings were planned by senior ISIS leaders. The three men reportedly traveled to Raqqa from Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan about a month ago. Turkish police detained at least 22 people in raids on suspected ISIS hideouts since the attack.


Judge blocks Mississippi's anti-LGBT religious objections law

A judge blocked a Mississippi law that would have let state workers and businesses refuse services to LGBT people on religious grounds, hours before it was to take effect on Friday. U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves said the state unconstitutionally "put its thumb on the scale to favor some religious beliefs over others" in a "predictable overreaction" to the Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. Reeves on Monday struck down a part of the law that would have let clerks deny same-sex couples marriage licenses due to religious objections.


Navy says crews detained by Iran were 'derelict' in duties

Navy investors concluded that the crews of two U.S. Navy boats detained briefly by Iran in January were "derelict" in their duties. The crews of the riverine boats were on a mission to move from Kuwait to Bahrain, but they decided to take an unauthorized shortcut through Iranian territorial waters to save time. They were ready to evade Iranian patrol boats, and wound up getting captured near Iran's Farsi Island. The Navy report said the 10 crew members made bad decisions, and had inadequate training and oversight.


Tesla driver killed in first fatal autopilot crash

Federal regulators said Thursday they were investigating the fatal crash of a Tesla Model S that happened while its driver was using the autopilot feature. The male driver was killed May 7 in Williston, Florida, when a tractor-trailer made a left turn in front of him. His 2015 Tesla passed under the trailer, which hit the electric car's windshield. "Neither autopilot nor the driver noticed the white side of the tractor-trailer against a brightly lit sky, so the brake was not applied," Tesla said. The fatality appeared to be the first involving an autopilot feature.


Judge blocks Florida abortion law challenged by Planned Parenthood

On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle blocked a Florida law that would have barred Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers from receiving state funding, hours before it was to take effect. The law also would have increased inspection requirements for abortion clinics. Planned Parenthood receives state money for health screenings and school dropout prevention. Hinkle said the state is targeting Planned Parenthood because it separately provides abortions, which the state can't do because governments can't prohibit something indirectly if they can't constitutionally prohibit it directly.


Austrian court orders new presidential election

An Austrian court on Friday overturned the results of the country's recent presidential election due to irregularities in the absentee balloting, and ordered a new vote. Far-right Freedom Party candidate Norbert Hofer, who would have been the first far-right head of state in an EU country, lost last month's election to Green Party politician Alexander Van der Bellen. Hofer led after polls closed, but fell behind by just over 30,000 votes when absentee ballots were counted. The re-run is expected in September or October.


Serial's Adnan Syed granted new trial

A judge on Thursday vacated the murder conviction of Adnan Syed, a Baltimore man convicted in 2000 for the murder of his ex-girlfriend and featured in the first season of the popular true-crime podcast Serial. Judge Martin Welch granted Syed a new trial after his attorneys argued his original lawyer failed to properly cross-examine incriminating cell-tower evidence. Syed's current defense team successfully re-opened post-conviction hearings in February, then introduced new evidence, partially due to unearthed information from Serial. He is currently serving a life-plus-30-years sentence.


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