10 things you need to know today: July 21, 2016

Pence accepts the Republican VP nomination, an appeals court rules Texas' voter ID law discriminatory, and more

Ted Cruz speaks at the RNC
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

1. Pence accepts VP nomination as Cruz fails to endorse Trump

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence accepted the Republican nomination for vice president on Wednesday night, praising the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump, as a man who "never quits, never backs down, a fighter, a winner." He said the billionaire businessman is "a doer in a game usually reserved for talkers." The forceful speech came after Sen. Ted Cruz, Trump's strongest primary-season rival, upstaged the rest of the night's speakers by telling conservatives to "vote your conscience" in support of conservative policies, declining to endorse Trump and drawing boos from delegates.


2. Trump says U.S. will only defend NATO allies that meet obligations to U.S.

Donald Trump said in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday that if he is elected, the U.S. might not defend NATO allies from Russian attack unless they "have fulfilled their obligations to us." Trump also said that he would not pressure Turkey or other authoritarian allies over respecting democracy and civil liberties, saying the U.S. must "fix our own mess" before lecturing others. "How are we going to lecture when people are shooting policemen in cold blood?" said Trump, who is to accept the GOP presidential nomination in the Republican National Convention's main event on Thursday.

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The New York Times

3. Court says Texas voter ID law violates Voting Rights Act

A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday ruled that a Texas voter-identification law violates the U.S. Voting Rights Act. The New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 9-6 that the law, which requires voters to present a government-issued photo ID before casting a ballot, had a discriminatory effect, and sent the case back to a lower court to consider whether the effect was intentional. Critics say Republican-dominated state legislatures have passed such laws to make it harder for minorities to vote, while supporters say the measures are needed to prevent voter fraud.


4. Court upholds Olympic ban on Russian track athletes

The Court of Arbitration for Sport on Thursday rejected an appeal by the Russian Olympic Committee and 68 track and field athletes banned from competing in Rio over Russia's government-run doping. The International Association of Athletics Federation, track and field's governing body, issued the sanctions in June after revelations about the cheating scheme. On Monday, investigators issued a report saying forensic evidence and computer records confirmed that high-ranking Russian officials covered up positive tests of doped Russian athletes at the Sochi Olympics.

USA Today The New York Times

5. Erdogan declares three-month state of emergency in Turkey

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared a three-month state of emergency on Wednesday in his latest response to Friday's failed coup. Erdogan's government also continued purging its ranks, suspending nearly 22,000 education ministry employees, including teachers. The government already has dismissed thousands of police, judicial, and military officials, blocked 20 websites, and revoked the licenses of 25 media outlets as Erdogan tightens his grip on power.

USA Today

6. Secret Service looks into Donald Trump supporter who said Hillary Clinton should be shot

The Secret Service has launched an investigation into a Donald Trump supporter and adviser, New Hampshire state Rep. Al Baldasaro (R), who said presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton should be "shot for treason." Baldasaro's comments came after Republicans said at this week's convention that Clinton, who served as President Obama's secretary of state in his first term, should be jailed over mishandling of government secrets on a private email server. Trump's campaign said it did not agree with Baldasaro's views.

The Washington Post

7. Speechwriter takes blame for Melania Trump plagiarism scandal

Melania Trump's speechwriter, Meredith McIver, took responsibility on Wednesday for the plagiarism scandal surrounding Mrs. Trump's speech at the Republican National Convention. McIver said she was the one who included remarks lifted from a 2008 speech by Michelle Obama, and included them in what became the final draft of Melania Trump's speech. "This was my mistake," McIver said. She reportedly submitted her resignation, but the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump rejected it.

The New York Times

8. Dozens of civilians die in coalition Syria airstrikes

About 73 Syrian civilians, including children, were reportedly killed in U.S. airstrikes as they fled Islamic State-controlled areas in northern Syria this week, activists said. If confirmed, it would be the deadliest attack on non-combatants since the U.S.-led air campaign against ISIS began. The nearby city of Manbij is an ISIS stronghold where more than 450 airstrikes have taken place since May. ISIS militants are reportedly using thousands of civilians in the city as "human shields."

The Guardian The Telegraph

9. Toddler's parents say they won't sue Disney over fatal alligator attack

The parents of Lane Graves, the toddler killed by an alligator last month at Walt Disney World, have decided not to sue the Florida theme park. "The family is really focused on just moving forward and healing," said Sara Brady, a family spokeswoman. She could not say whether the two sides had reached a financial settlement. The parents said in a statement that they were "broken." "We will forever struggle to comprehend why this happened to our sweet baby, Lane," they said. "As each day passes, the pain gets worse."

CBS News

10. Hawaii's Rep. Mark Takai dies at 49

U.S. Rep. Mark Takai (D-Hawaii) died Wednesday, a year and a half into his first term and nine months after he announced he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He announced in May that the cancer had spread and he would not seek a second term. Before being elected to the U.S. House, Takai served in Iraq as a member of the Hawaii National Guard, and was a member of the Hawaii House of Representatives for 20 years. President Obama praised him as a "fighter" who "stood up for America's most vulnerable."

USA Today

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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.