Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 12, 2017

Senate's Russia inquiry heats up, Pittsburgh Penguins win second straight Stanley Cup, and more


The Senate's Russia inquiry continues to heat up

The congressional investigations into Russia's meddling in last year's election continues to heat up this week, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions prepares to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday. Committee member Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said on Sunday he would question Sessions about why he was involved in last month's firing of FBI Director James Comey even though Sessions had recused himself from matters linked to the Russia inquiry. "There's a real question of the propriety of the attorney general participating in that in any way, shape, or form," Reed said on Fox News on Sunday. Comey testified last week, and told the committee he felt pressured by President Trump to drop the inquiry into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn's Russia ties. Trump responded by saying Comey was lying, and Republicans on the intelligence committee said Trump should release any tapes of his conversations with Comey, if they exist, to clear up the matter.


Penguins win second straight Stanley Cup

The Pittsburgh Penguins won Game 6 of the pro hockey's Stanley Cup finals, 2-0, on Sunday, ending the Nashville Predators' improbable run for the championship. It was the Penguins' second consecutive Stanley Cup title, and their fifth in franchise history. Pittsburgh's Patric Hornqvist and Carl Hagelin scored the two goals. Still, the Predators had by far their best season in their 19-year history, becoming the first eighth-seeded team since 1994 to sweep a first-round series, beating the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks, and Nashville rallied behind the team.


White House and British government deny report Trump will delay state visit

The Guardian newspaper reported Sunday that President Trump told British Prime Minister Theresa May in a phone call that he might not travel to the U.K. for a state visit as planned due to opposition in Britain. Trump said he did not want to make the trip if it would be marred by large-scale protests, the British newspaper said. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted that a decision to call off the visit would be "welcome," given Trump's withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris climate deal and his criticism of London Mayor Sadiq Khan following last week's London terrorist attack. May's Downing Street office said there had been no change to the plans for Trump's visit. A spokeswoman for May said her officer would not comment on her "private" conversation with Trump. The White House also denied the report that the trip had been canceled.


LGBT supporters hold marches across the country

Supporters of LGBT rights demonstrated in 100 cities across the nation on Sunday, as activists celebrated recent gains while expressing staunch opposition to President Trump. Activists noted that the Trump administration has rolled back federal guidance advising school districts to let transgender students use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity. They also point out that Trump campaigned as an ally of gays and lesbians but filled his administration with people who have opposed LGBT rights, including Vice President Mike Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price. At one of the biggest rallies, the Equality March in Washington, Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, noted that Trump had broken with former President Barack Obama's practice by declining to issue a proclamation in honor of Pride Month. "If you look at their prioritization, we're really low on it," she said. "There absolutely is a resistance aspect to this march."


Puerto Rican voters back statehood

Puerto Rican voters on Sunday overwhelmingly supported making their Caribbean island the 51st state in the U.S. Preliminary results showed nearly half a million votes for statehood, 7,600 for free association/independence, and nearly 6,700 for keeping the island's current status as a U.S. territory. Gov. Pedro Rosello declared that "Puerto Rico voted for statehood," although turnout was just 23 percent, lower than in the last statehood referendum in 2012. Opposition activists said the nonbinding referendum was meaningless. Congress would have to approve any formal proposal to make Puerto Rico a state.


Macron's party dominates in first round of parliamentary elections

French President Emmanuel Macron's year-old party, France on the Move, and its centrist ally, MoDem, rolled over the country's traditional Socialist and conservative parties in the first round of parliamentary elections on Sunday, setting itself up to win a projected three-quarters of the seats in the lower house after the second round next week. Macron's allies won 31.9 percent in the first round, compared to 18.9 percent for The Republicans and allied center-right Union of Democrats and Independents, while the far-right National Front won 13.8 percent and the Socialists just 7.5 percent. Macron's alliance is promising to clean up French politics and boost the economy by easing business regulations. "France is back," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said. "Next Sunday, the National Assembly will embody the new face of our republic."


Germany releases three suspects after easyJet scare

Germany released three British men on Sunday hours after they were detained over terrorism suspicions that resulted in the diverting of their easyJet plane to Cologne on a flight from Slovenia to London. The pilot made an emergency landing after fellow passengers reported hearing the three men discuss "terrorist matters." Bild newspaper reported that passengers said they heard the men using such words as "bomb" and "explosive." An investigation cleared them, however. "The criminal investigation against them has been halted. No evidence was found," a local police spokesman said. "We now believe that there was never any real danger."


Melania and Barron Trump move into the White House

President Trump's wife, first lady Melania Trump, and 11-year-old son, Barron, moved into the White House on Sunday, after spending the first several months of the Trump administration in their New York City penthouse in Trump Tower. "Looking forward to the memories we'll make in our new home!" Melania Trump tweeted from her official @FLOTUS account. It is rare for first families to live apart, especially early in a presidency, but Melania Trump and Barron remained in New York so he could finish the year at his old school, Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Barron Trump will enroll at the private St. Andrew's Episcopal School in Maryland in the fall.


Dear Evan Hansen leads with six Tonys

Dear Evan Hansen was the big winner at the 2017 Tony Awards on Sunday, taking the prize for Best New Musical and five other Tonys. Ben Platt, 23, won a Best Leading Actor Tony in the title role as an anxiety-racked teen who gets close to the grieving family of a classmate who has committed suicide. Oslo, a drama about the 1993 Middle East peace talks, won Best New Play. Hello, Dolly! won the prize for Best Musical Revival, while its star, Bette Midler, won her second Tony. Cynthia Nixon, one of the stars of Sex and the City, received a Tony for her role in The Little Foxes, and Laurie Metcalf, best known for her role in the sitcom Roseanne, was recognized for A Doll's House, Part 2.


Nadal wins record 10th French Open

Rafael Nadal of Spain won his 10th French Open title on Sunday, beating Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 in the men's final. No other men's tennis player has won more than seven singles titles at any single Grand Slam tournament. Fabrice Santoro, the former French star turned French Open interviewer, described the record as "one of the most beautiful exploits in the history of sport" as he approached Nadal following the match. Nadal lost only 35 games in his seven matches on the way to the title, the second fewest in the Open era behind Bjorn Borg's march to the 1978 French Open title, in which he lost just 32 games.


Ethiopian general vows to 'eliminate' Tigrayan opposition
Ethiopian army
no chance for peace

Ethiopian general vows to 'eliminate' Tigrayan opposition

Flights to and from Xi'an resume as China eases lockdown
Xi'an Xianyang International Airport
the beginning of the end?

Flights to and from Xi'an resume as China eases lockdown

Families of U.S. Embassy personnel must evacuate Ukraine, State Department orders
U.S. Embassy in Ukraine
Everybody out!

Families of U.S. Embassy personnel must evacuate Ukraine, State Department orders

Air strike on Yemeni detention center kills at least 70, Houthis claim
Yemeni protesters
Death from Above

Air strike on Yemeni detention center kills at least 70, Houthis claim

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