10 things you need to know today: October 15, 2016

Trump attacks accusers' looks and motives to deflect mounting allegations, U.S. and Russia resume Syria talks, and more

Donald Trump
(Image credit: Brian Blanco/Getty Images)

1. Trump attacks accusers' looks and motives to deflect mounting allegations

At a campaign rally Friday, Donald Trump went on the offensive against the growing number of women who have accused him of sexual assault. "Believe me, she would not be my first choice," Trump said of Jessica Leeds, who in The New York Times Wednesday accused Trump of groping her on an airplane in the 1980s. Of People writer Natasha Stoynoff, who shared her story Wednesday night, Trump said: "Check out her Facebook page, you'll understand." While Trump was speaking, a former Apprentice contestant came forward with her own allegations against Trump, becoming the second woman to speak out Friday after Kristin Anderson recounted being touched by Trump at a nightclub in the 1990s. Trump theorized Friday evening hs accusers are motivated by personal gain or a desire to "stop our movement."

The Washington Post The Washington Examiner

2. U.S. and Russia resume Syria talks

Syria negotiations resumed between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Saturday following the breakdown of a cease-fire deal the United States and Russia reached in early September. Joining the conversation this time are foreign ministers from Egypt, Jordan, Iran, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, regional powers which — like the two major players — find themselves supporting opposite sides of Syria's civil war. "We've asked countries to come, having done some thinking, about a realistic way forward given the differences represented in the room," said a U.S. State Department official, cautioning that expectations of a quick solution are not prudent.

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Reuters Associated Press

3. Clinton quietly downgrades schedule as Trump fights sexual assault allegations

Hillary Clinton ended the week without any major events, underscoring her campaign's cautious optimism as Election Day draws near. Clinton's last big rallies were Wednesday in Colorado and Nevada, and on Thursday she appeared for a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. But what she won't do, as The New York Times puts it, is "anything that could rattle a race that has shifted solidly in her favor." As more women came forward Friday with allegations Donald Trump sexually assaulted them, the Clinton campaign is hoping it can "avoid making any unforced errors" by downgrading the candidate's schedule and simply letting Trump implode.

The New York Times CNN

4. Trump campaign puts forth 'eyewitness' to debunk assault claim

In an interview with the New York Post arranged by the Trump campaign and published Friday, a British man named Anthony Gilberthorpe says he can dispute Jessica Leeds' claim of sexual assault by Donald Trump. Leeds accused Trump of groping her on an airplane, but Gilberthorpe says he was on that plane, has "excellent memory," and "not only did [Trump] not do so ... but it was she that was the one being flirtatious." Leeds did not respond to the Post's requests for comment. Meanwhile, Trump himself said Friday the many sexual assault allegations are a conspiracy organized against him by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim.

New York Post The Week

5. Obama ends restrictions on Cuban cigars, rum

The Obama administration announced Friday an end to restrictions on Cuban rum and cigars in the United States. The executive action is intended to boost trade and travel between Cuba and America and will also make it easier for American companies to sell their products to Cubans, including through online purchases. Cuban rum and cigars were previously banned from entering the U.S. for five decades, though Obama loosened those rules last year. The ban officially lifts on Monday.

USA Today

6. Nearly 200 nations agree to deal limiting HFC greenhouse gas use

After overnight negotiations, 197 nations signed a climate change deal announced Saturday morning which will limit use of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs), a greenhouse gas. HFCs are used in refrigeration and air conditioning technologies, and many climate scientists believe limiting their use is the single best way to slow climate change. The deal has a separate set of rules for developed and developing countries; the former will begin cutting HFC use in 2019, reaching an 85 percent cut of current use levels by 2036. The latter can continue expanding their HFC use until 2024 or 2028 and then must begin gradual cuts.

Reuters Associated Press

7. Samsung's Galaxy Note losses expected to eclipse $5 billion

Samsung expects to lose more than $5 billion thanks to its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone, which has a disastrous tendency to burst into flames. The South Korean company said Friday the recall and discontinuation of the product would cost around $3 billion for the current and subsequent quarters. This comes after Samsung already reduced its operating profit by $2.3 billion for the previous quarter. Samsung is expected to push its alternative smartphones, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, to make up for the recall of 1.9 million Note 7 phones and their faulty replacement phones in the U.S.

CNN Money ABC News

8. Saudi coalition admits culpability for strikes that killed more than 140 at a Yemeni funeral

The U.S.-backed, Saudi-led coalition waging an air campaign in Yemen took responsibility Saturday for strikes that killed more than 140 people and injured nearly 600 more last week. A Saudi investigation concluded the ceremony was "wrongly" hit after a source falsely "insisted that the location be targeted immediately [was] a legitimate military target." The inquiry blames both "non-compliance with coalition rules of engagement" and "the issuing of incorrect information" for the devastating strike, which produced the single largest death toll in Yemen's grueling civil war.

The Washington Post BBC News

9. Tornadoes, heavy rain batter Pacific Northwest

Though fall typically sees the American Southeast suffering extreme weather thanks to hurricane season, heavy storms battered the opposite corner of the country Friday night and into Saturday. Two tornadoes hit Oregon Friday, damaging about 30 homes, and the remnants of a typhoon rained down on Washington State, where the Coast Guard had to rescue 46 people caught in the storm. Even stronger rain storms are anticipated in the region Saturday.


10. Amazon greenlights first-ever animated series from Studio Ghibli

Amazon Studios announced Friday it picked up the first-ever television series from beloved Japanese animation house Studio Ghibli for streaming in the U.S. later this year. Fans of the studio's previous offerings — My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away among them — will be treated to the 26-episode series Ronia the Robber's Daughter, featuring English-language dubbing by The X-Files' Gillian Anderson. For Ronia, the studio teamed with CGI animation studio Polygon, and the series will be directed by the son of retired Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki.

The Verge Variety

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Bonnie Kristian

Bonnie Kristian was a deputy editor and acting editor-in-chief of TheWeek.com. She is a columnist at Christianity Today and author of Untrustworthy: The Knowledge Crisis Breaking Our Brains, Polluting Our Politics, and Corrupting Christian Community (forthcoming 2022) and A Flexible Faith: Rethinking What It Means to Follow Jesus Today (2018). Her writing has also appeared at Time Magazine, CNN, USA Today, Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and The American Conservative, among other outlets.