Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 7, 2016

Bonnie Kristian
A U.S. drone
John Moore/Getty Images
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White House releases drone strike 'playbook'

President Obama released a redacted version of his administration's "playbook" for drone strikes Saturday in response to a successful Freedom of Information Act suit from the American Civil Liberties Union. The 18-page Presidential Policy Guidance document details the rules the Obama White House has followed since 2013, which require the president to personally approve drone strikes that target people outside combat zones, permanent U.S. residents, and anyone about whom "there is a lack of consensus" among agency heads. Only "near certainty" that the targeted individual is at the targeted location is required to launch a strike, and the next president will be under no legal obligation to be limited by these guidelines. [Reuters, Politico]


Rio's first day sees broken records, leg, bikes, and expectations

After Friday's Opening Ceremony, the first day of Olympic Games in Rio got off to a very mixed start. Three world records were broken in swimming events Saturday by Australia's Cate Campbell, Britain's Adam Peaty, and Hungary's Katinka Hosszu. French gymnast Samir Ait Said broke his leg in a bad vault landing, horrifying his audience with a loud cracking noise and the sight of the leg dangling at an unnatural angle. Road race cyclists dealt with broken bikes thanks to a bumpy cobblestone road, and in a surprise upset, American tennis champion Venus Williams was eliminated in the first round of qualifiers. The first gold medal of the Games went to a teenage American sharpshooter, Virginia Thrasher, for the women's 10-meter air rifle event. [Reuters, USA Today]


Trump says Clinton is 'totally unbalanced,' has brain 'problems'

Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is "unstable" and "totally unbalanced," GOP candidate Donald Trump said at a campaign rally in New Hampshire Saturday night. "She short-circuited — she used the term, 'short-circuited.' She took a little short-circuit in the brain," he said. "She's got problems. I mean if we had real people this would be a real problem for her. But I think that the people of this country don't want someone who will short-circuit up here. Not as your president." Trump was referring to Clinton's recent statement that she may have "short-circuited" in mischaracterizing comments from FBI Director James Comey about her private email server. [The Hill, Politico]


Rio bomb squad carries out a controlled explosion at cycling finish line

A loud bang heard at the finish line of the men's cycling road race at the Rio Olympics was quickly confirmed to be a controlled explosion carried out by a bomb squad on a suspicious package. "Security forces telling us on ground they exploded a suspect bag," said BBC reporter Andrew Cropper. "Area is just behind spectator seating after finish line of road race at Copacabana beach." The location was cordoned off, but no one was injured and the Games were not interrupted. In two unrelated events, a mugger and a woman attacked by three muggers were both shot and killed near the Olympic facilities. [Independent, Daily Mail]


Clinton leads Trump by 23 points among women, 8 points nationally

Hillary Clinton is surging among women in a new Washington Post/ABC News poll, which finds the Democrat leading Republican Donald Trump 58 to 35 percent with female voters, a 23-point margin. The same survey saw Clinton eight points ahead among registered voters nationally, beating Trump 50 to 42 percent. Despite these successes, Clinton still struggles to find support among America's second largest voting demographic, millennials. Though young voters are generally turned off by Trump, they do not have a corresponding enthusiasm for Clinton. "It's a challenge that needs to be taken very seriously," said pollster Ben Tulchin. [Politico, The Atlantic]


Two Belgian police injured in machete attack

Two police officers in Charleroi, Belgium, were injured Saturday by a machete-wielding attacker. The local police department tweeted that the suspect was "shouting Allahu Akbar" and was shot by police. French state broadcaster VTM later reported the attacker died from his gunshot wounds. Both officers were hospitalized, and one will undergo surgery for injuries to the face. The other was not seriously hurt. Police quickly erected a perimeter around the attack site and asked citizens to stay indoors. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel said Sunday "preliminary indications" suggest the attack was an act of terrorism. [Mirror, RTL INFO]


Iran confirms execution of nuclear scientist accused of giving information to U.S. spies

Iranian officials confirmed for the first time Sunday the secret trial and execution of Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist who came to the United States in 2009 only to return to his home country a year later. Amiri said he was kidnapped and subjected to "the harshest mental and physical torture" by American and Saudi intelligence agents while on a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia. But the CIA told the Associated Press in 2010 that Amiri came to the U.S. of his own accord and was offered $5 million for information on Iran's nuclear projects. He was executed by hanging. [Associated Press]


ISIS claims to have captured an American rocket launcher, grenades, and other gear

Islamic State fighters released photos Saturday showing American weaponry and equipment they claim to have captured from U.S. troops, including a rocket launcher, grenades, and radio gear. The images also show two identification cards belonging to U.S. Army Specialist Ryan Larson. A Defense Department representative said it is currently unclear how ISIS obtained the cards, as Larson, who is stationed in Afghanistan, is safe and "has been accounted for and remains in a duty status within his unit." [Reuters, USA Today]


NBC News criticized for its handling of Rio Olympics coverage

Olympic viewers have been widely critical of this year's presentation and commentary from NBC News, the Games' telecaster. Particularly at issue is the network's decision to air many events on a tape delay instead of live, as well as the addition of frequent commercial breaks and prioritization of athlete profiles over score reporting. In a comment which only fueled the uproar, NBC executive John Miller said the packaging was designed to appeal to women, who are "less interested in the result and more interested in the journey" and want to watch "the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one." [Chicago Tribune, NY Daily News]


Republican congressman breaks with party to endorse Libertarian Gary Johnson

Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) said Saturday he cannot vote for his party's nominee for president this November and has chosen Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson over Donald Trump. "I believe that Republican voters have got a reason to be upset and angry," he said, "but I'm submitting to them that the solution is not Donald Trump in any respect." Rigell is retiring from his seat at the end of this term. Previously, on Tuesday, Republican Rep. Richard Hanna of New York announced his decision to vote for Democrat Hillary Clinton instead of Trump. [The Washington Post, Politico]