Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 15, 2017

Kim Jong Un claims North Korea's latest missile could carry a nuke, Merkel's party wins state election in an upset, and more


Kim Jong Un boasts latest missile could carry a nuclear warhead

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Monday celebrated his reclusive regime's latest missile test, saying it was a "perfect weapon system" capable of carrying "a large-size heavy nuclear warhead." U.S. rocket scientists said the Sunday morning launch, which came after a recent failed test launch, appeared to indicate that North Korea had made progress in its effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the mainland U.S. The missile flew 430 miles before coming down in the Sea of Japan. It marked "a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile," and suggested that North Korea could be just one year away from developing an ICBM, closer than previously thought, said John Schilling, an aerospace engineer who specializes in rockets. South Korea and Japan condemned the launch, and the White House called for stronger sanctions, saying North Korea was a "flagrant menace."


Merkel's conservative party wins upset in key state election

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative party unexpectedly won elections in the country's most populous state on Sunday in voting seen as a bellwether for national parliamentary elections in September. Merkel's Christian Democrats got nearly 33 percent of the ballots cast, while the center-left Social Democrats led by Martin Schulz, who is challenging Merkel in her bid for a fourth term, received 31 percent. Ruling parties have been losing ground across Europe recently, but Merkel has been buoyed by her calm handling of a series of crises and Germany's strong economy. Schulz acknowledged that his party had a "tough day," and said his party would now focus on doing better in September. Germany's vote came as centrist Emmanuel Macron, who defeated far-right Marine Le Pen, was sworn in as France's president.


Second appeals court to review travel ban

A federal appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments Monday on President Trump's revised temporary travel ban affecting travelers from six Muslim-majority countries. The hearing before a three-judge 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will be the second appellate court review of the policy. The 9th Circuit will be examining a Hawaii judge's ruling blocking parts of Trump's March order, which he issued after courts blocked his first travel ban, issued Jan. 27. The second order, which sought a 90-day suspension of travel from Libya, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, and a 120-day suspension on entry by refugees, was blocked before it could take effect. Last week, an appeals court in Virginia held a hearing on a Maryland judge's ruling blocking the policy. That court has not made a decision on the travel ban, which Trump says is necessary to allow time to improve vetting procedures to keep out terrorists, but opponents say unfairly targets Muslims.


Charlottesville mayor calls white nationalist protest 'horrific'

Charlottesville, Virginia, Mayor Mike Signer on Sunday called a protest against the planned removal of a Confederate statue in the city "horrific." At the Saturday night rally, several dozen demonstrators led by self-proclaimed white nationalist Richard Spencer carried torches and chanted slogans such as "we will not be replaced," "Russia is our friend," and "blood and soil" at the site of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee at the city's Lee Park. The protest occurred on the same weekend as a Festival of Cultures event in the city park where the statue is displayed. "We're a city that proudly values our diversity," Signer said. A court has issued a six-month injunction against the plan to remove the statue.


New cases of ransomware problems reported Monday

Thousands of new cases from the global ransomware cyberattack were reported Monday in Asia, although there were no immediate reports of major breakdowns. Security experts had warned of fresh fallout from Friday's attack when people returned to work on Monday and restarted their computers. Many workers, especially in Asia, had already left their offices on Friday when software tools stolen from the NSA began disrupting computer systems in many countries. Copycat malware also could result in fresh problems. The so-called WannaCry cyberattack hit more than 200,000 organizations in 150 countries, including Britain's health service and Germany's rail system, by exploiting a Microsoft Windows flaw identified by and stolen from the federal government.


Schumer calls for independent counsel before new FBI director is confirmed

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Sunday that the Senate should block President Trump's nominee to be the next FBI director unless the Department of Justice appoints a special counsel to investigate Russia's attempts to meddle in last year's presidential election, and any possible collusion between Moscow and Trump associates. "There are a lot of Democrats who feel that way," Schumer told CNN. "We'll have to discuss it as a caucus, but I would support that move." Democrats started calling for a special counsel after Trump fired James Comey as FBI director last week. Trump tweeted Friday that Comey "better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!" Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said that if tapes exist they should be given to Congress. "You can't be cute about tapes," he said.


Yankees retire Jeter's No. 2

The New York Yankees retired Derek Jeter's jersey — No. 2 — on Sunday, honoring the team's longest-tenured captain for a 20-year career filled with records. "There isn't a person or player I would trade places with that's playing now or ever," Jeter said during a ceremony before the Yankees-Astros game. "And the reason why I say that is because I got a chance to play for a first-class organization and in front of the greatest fans in the history of sports." A plaque was also put up in Yankee Stadium's Monument Park, and Jeter was given a 14-karat white gold ring that lists his accomplishments. Jeter won five World Series and holds several Yankee records, including number of hits (3,465) and games played (2,747). His is the 21st number retired by the franchise, and the final single digit.


Lyft and Waymo join forces on self-driving cars

Ride-hailing start-up Lyft is teaming up with Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent Alphabet, to develop autonomous vehicle technology, The New York Times reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the agreement. Both companies confirmed the deal. "Waymo holds today's best self-driving technology, and collaborating with them will accelerate our shared vision of improving lives with the world's best transportation," a Lyft spokeswoman said in a statement. Few details were available, but Waymo and Lyft plan to collaborate on pilot projects and product development, potentially heating up the race to take self-driving cars mainstream.


Character actor Powers Boothe dies at 68

Powers Boothe, a character actor who appeared in numerous films and TV shows, died Sunday in his sleep from apparent natural causes, his publicist said. He was 68. Booth started his career in theater, debuting on Broadway in the late 1970s in Lone Star & Pvt. Wars. He won an Emmy for his portrayal of Jim Jones in the 1980 CBS drama Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones. He played many memorable villains, including in the action film Sudden Death (1995), and Sin City (2005), and was well-known for his portrayal of the ruthless saloon owner Cy Tolliver in HBO's Deadwood. "The heavies are more fun," Boothe told American Profile magazine in 2014. He also appeared in Tombstone, Nixon, MacGruber, The Avengers, 24, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and Nashville. Boothe married his wife, Pam, in 1969, and the couple had two children, daughter Parisse and son Preston. On Sunday, his friend, actor Beau Bridges, tweeted that Boothe was a "dear friend, great actor, devoted father and husband."


Kara McCullough, Miss District of Columbia, crowned Miss USA

Kara McCullough, representing the District of Columbia, was crowned Miss USA in Las Vegas on Sunday night, giving Washington, D.C., its second straight win in the pageant after Deshauna Barber's win last year. McCullough, 25, is a chemist at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission. During the questions part of the competition, McCullough was asked whether affordable health care is a right or a privilege, and she got mixed reviews on social media for responding that health care is a right for those with jobs, so the country should focus on creating jobs to get more people covered. McCullough and the other two finalists, second runner-up Miss Minnesota Meridith Gould and first runner-up Miss New Jersey Chhavi Verg, were asked to define feminism. McCullough said she prefers "equalism" to feminism. "Women," she said, "we are just as equal as men, especially in the workplace."


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