Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 30, 2016

Actor Gene Wilder dies at 83, Russian hackers target Arizona voting system, and more


Comic film icon Gene Wilder dies at 83

Comic actor Gene Wilder, a film icon known for starring roles in modern classics such as Young Frankenstein and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, has died. A nephew said Monday that Wilder died of complications from Alzheimer's disease. He was 83. Wilder became a star playing quirky, often neurotic characters in three films directed by Mel Brooks — The Producers, Young Frankenstein, and Western spoof Blazing Saddles. He also teamed up with Richard Pryor in the hit Stir Crazy. Wilder wrote, directed, and starred in several films — including The Woman in Red, which co-starred his wife, Gilda Radner. She died of ovarian cancer in 1989.


Russia hackers allegedly target Arizona voter-registration system

The FBI told Arizona officials in June that Russia was behind an attempt to hack the state's voter registration system, Matt Roberts, a spokesman for Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan (R), said Monday. As a result of the cyberattack, Reagan shut down the system for a week, and parts remain offline, although investigators determined the hackers did not compromise any state or county systems. Illinois officials also discovered in July that hackers had gotten into their system and accessed "a fairly small percentage" of voter records, Ken Menzel, general counsel for the Illinois elections board, said.


Clinton aide Huma Abedin and husband Anthony Weiner split

Huma Abedin, a top aide to Hillary Clinton, announced on Monday that she is separating from husband and former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner, after the New York Post reported that Weiner had sent sexually charged texts to another woman over the last two years. Weiner resigned from the House of Representatives in 2011 after accidentally tweeting sexual images and admitting to sexting with "about six women." He later ran for mayor of New York, and lost after another woman claimed Weiner had sent her explicit photos. Abedin said she and Weiner "remain devoted to doing what is best for our son, who is the light of our life."


Clinton's lead over Trump narrows in two new polls

Two national polls released Monday showed the presidential race narrowing. A Monmouth University poll showed Democrat Hillary Clinton leading her Republican rival Donald Trump among likely voters by seven percentage points, 46 percent to 39 percent. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson and Green Party nominee Jill Stein were far behind, with seven percent and two percent, respectively. Monmouth's last poll, earlier this month, showed Clinton leading Trump by 13 percentage points among likely voters. The latest NBC News/SurveyMonkey Weekly Election Tracking Poll of registered voters also showed Clinton's lead over Trump narrowing, from seven percentage points to six.


California bill sparked by Stanford rape case passes

California lawmakers on Monday passed legislation to close a legal loophole that let a former Stanford University swimmer, Brock Turner, receive a sentence of just six months in jail after his conviction of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman. Prosecutors had asked for him to serve six years, because there was no penile penetration. The bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown (D), who had not indicated whether he plans to sign it. Turner, 21, is scheduled to be released from Santa Clara County Jail on Sept. 2.


Putin critic dies in Ukraine of apparent suicide

Well-known Russian journalist Alexander Shchetinin, a critic of President Vladimir Putin, has been found dead in Kiev, Ukraine, with a gunshot wound to the head. His body, seated in a chair with a gun nearby, was discovered by friends arriving at the Novy Region press agency's apartment for his birthday party. Shchetinin had renounced his Russian citizenship, and reportedly told loved ones he wanted to kill himself. Ukrainian police are investigating the death as suicide.


Brazilian president Rousseff asserts innocence at impeachment trial

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff defended herself before her nation's Senate on Monday in her impeachment trial, saying her conscience was "absolutely clean." Rousseff was suspended after she was charged with illegally tinkering with the budget to hide the national deficit. She also noted her popularity, and record as a resistance fighter. The impeachment vote is scheduled for Tuesday. Brazilian paper Folha de São Paulo reports that 52 senators are in favor of impeachment, two shy of the 54 of 81 senators needed for a conviction. Eleven senators reportedly remain on the fence.


E.U. tells Apple to pay Ireland $14.5 billion in back taxes

On Tuesday, the European Commission ordered Apple to pay Ireland $14.5 billion in back taxes. E.U. antitrust regulators believe that Ireland gave the iPhone maker a deal allowing it to route profits through Ireland and skirt E.U. laws in return for creating jobs in the country. Apple shares dropped by 1.6 percent in pre-market trading on the news. The ruling is expected to anger Washington, which has accused the E.U. of targeting big U.S. companies — Amazon and McDonald's face similar investigations in Luxembourg, and Starbucks has been ordered to pay Holland $33 million.


Nadal and Kerber advance at U.S. Open

On opening day at the U.S. Open, two-time champion Rafael Nadal of Spain advanced to the second round by beating Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2. Angelique Kerber, the No. 2 women's seed, also advanced easily, beating Slovenian Polona Hercog, who called it quits in the sweltering heat when she was down 6-0, 1-0. Top-ranked Serena Williams, fresh off a disappointing showing at the Rio Olympics, plays her first match in the tournament Tuesday night.


Researchers shed light on how human ancestor 'Lucy' died

A close examination of the bones of "Lucy," one of the oldest and most complete hominin skeleton fossils ever found, indicates that she died from a fall from a great height, possibly from the limbs of a tall tree, according to an article released Monday in the journal Nature. The fractures the three-foot-tall Lucy suffered — 3.2 million years ago — were so severe she probably sustained damage to her internal organs, the researchers said. Lucy has been at the center of a debate over the use of trees to get around at early stages of human evolution.


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The US Embassy in Havana.
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