Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 21, 2017

The GOP's Handel defeats Ossoff in Georgia's special House election, authorities release police dashcam video of the Castile shooting, and more


Handel defeats Ossoff in special election win for Republicans

Republican Karen Handel won Georgia's special House election on Tuesday, defeating Democrat Jon Ossoff in the most expensive House race in history. Ossoff, a political newcomer, received $25 million in contributions from progressives across the U.S. who are angry at President Trump. He led a large field in the first round, but Handel, a former Georgia secretary of state and Fulton County official, surged after the other conservatives were pushed out of the race. Her victory let the GOP hold onto the seat vacated by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price in an affluent, suburban Atlanta district Republicans have held for nearly 40 years. Polls had indicated an extremely close race, but Handel won by an unexpectedly comfortable 4 percent margin. Democrats got better news from a South Carolina special election, where Republican Ralph Norman was heavily favored but beat Democrat Archie Parnell by roughly three percentage points with low turnout, suggesting GOP vulnerability even in very conservative districts.


Minnesota authorities release police dashcam video of Castile shooting

Patrol-car dashcam video released Tuesday showed a Minnesota police officer, Jeronimo Yanez, firing seven shots into the car of Philando Castile seconds after Castile said during a 2016 traffic stop, "Sir, I have to tell you that I do have a firearm on me." Yanez at first kept his voice steady, telling Castile not to reach for the gun or pull it out. Castile replied, "I'm not pulling it out," and Yanez yelled, "Don't pull it out!" Castile again assured him, "I'm not," and his girlfriend said the same, but seven seconds after Castile mentioned the gun, which he was lawfully carrying, Yanez opened fire at close range. Castile's girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, then began livestreaming the aftermath on Facebook. The video went viral, fueling criticism of police violence against African Americans. Yanez was acquitted of manslaughter last week, setting off protests in the St. Paul area.


Belgium says troops foiled terror attack by shooting suspected bomber

Belgian soldiers shot and killed a suspected terrorist bomber after he allegedly set off a small but fiery explosion in Brussels Central Station on Tuesday. Medics were unable to check on the man or treat him for several hours after the shooting, due to the fear he could have been carrying explosives. The suspect's identity was not immediately released. The incident prompted police to evacuate the station and the area immediately around it in historic downtown Brussels, which had been bustling with tourists and locals. Nicolas Van Herrewegen, a station employee, said he saw a man who appeared to yell "Allahu Akbar" in Arabic, then detonate something on a luggage cart. People standing within 10 feet of the explosion were not hurt.


McConnell vows Senate GOP health plan vote next week

Senate Republicans said Tuesday that they would release the draft of their health care bill on Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he planned to hold a vote on the proposal next week before senators leave for the week-long July 4 recess, as soon as the Congressional Budget Office provides its assessment of the proposal's likely impact. Details so far are scant, as a working group of 13 Republican men has been hammering out the plan in secret, angering Democrats and even some Republicans. "I think we should have debated it in open, in committee hearings, have both sides bring in witnesses," said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.). Even Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who is on McConnell's working group, said he hadn't seen the text yet, because it was being written by staffers and GOP leadership.


Embattled Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns

Uber co-founder Travis Kalanick resigned as CEO of the ride-hailing service on Tuesday under pressure from shareholders after a tumultuous year. Earlier in the day, five major Uber investors demanded that Kalanick step down immediately. The group included the venture capital firm Benchmark, which has one of its partners, Bill Gurley, on the Uber board. In a letter titled "Moving Uber Forward," the investors told Kalanick, 40, that the company needed new leadership. The company has shaken up its leadership after months of turmoil over allegations of an unhealthy corporate culture that permitted sexual harassment and misconduct. Kalanick said he loved Uber the company but "accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight." He will remain as a board member.


U.S. jet downs Iranian-made armed drone in Syria

A U.S. F-15 fighter jet shot down an armed, Iranian-made drone operated by pro-Syrian-government forces in southern Syria, American officials said Tuesday. The incident occurred late Monday night as the drone approached U.S.-led coalition forces in the latest sign of rising tensions and U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war and the broader fight against the Islamic State. The coalition forces were establishing a combat outpost where they are training and advising allies fighting ISIS. The U.S. shot down a Syrian military fighter jet on Sunday, and another drone earlier this month. Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, has accused the U.S. of targeting Syrian aircraft that also are fighting ISIS, and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov accused the U.S. of "complicity with terrorism."


Judge approves Ferguson settlement with Michael Brown's parents

A federal judge on Tuesday approved a settlement in the wrongful death lawsuit Michael Brown's parents filed over the unarmed black 18-year-old's fatal shooting by a white police officer in 2014. U.S. District Judge E. Richard Webber sealed the terms, including how much the city of Ferguson, Missouri, will pay parents Michael Brown, Sr., and Lesley McSpadden. The killing touched off weeks of unrest in the St. Louis suburb, and escalated the national debate over police use of force against African Americans.


Saudi king names his son as new crown prince

Saudi Arabia's King Salman on Wednesday named his son, Mohammed bin Salman, as crown prince, replacing Prince Mohammed bin Nayef as first in line to the throne. The decree makes Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 31, deputy prime minister, in addition to his position as defense minister. Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, 57, will also lose his job as head of domestic security. The move clears the way for the new crown prince, who is far younger than the typical ruler in the oil-rich kingdom, to push forward with reforms to reduce oil dependence and harden the country's foreign policy in the Middle East, where he has led the Saudi war effort against Iran-backed rebels in Yemen as well as the effort to diplomatically isolate Qatar.


European human rights court denounces Russia ban on gay 'propaganda'

The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Russia's laws against promoting homosexuality — the so-called gay propaganda laws — are illegal because they discriminate against gay people and violate freedom of expression. Russia officially decriminalized homosexuality after the Soviet Union fell. President Vladimir Putin and his allies enacted the gay "propaganda" prohibition in 2013 as part of a push to depict Putin's government as a promoter of traditional Christian values. The court ordered Russia to pay three gay activists $48,000 in damages, saying the clear purpose of the laws was "discriminatory and, over all, served no legitimate public interest."


Daniel Day-Lewis retiring from acting

Actor Daniel Day-Lewis is retiring from acting, his spokesperson announced Tuesday. Day-Lewis has won three Oscars, for performances in Lincoln, There Will Be Blood, and My Left Foot. His final film, Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread, will be released on Dec. 25, 2017. He famously practices "method acting," remaining in character even when he's off the set of a film. He "once learned Czech to play a philandering doctor in The Unbearable Lightness of Being, listened to Eminem records to channel rage in Gangs of New York, and confined himself to a wheelchair for My Left Foot to play [the protagonist], who had cerebral palsy," Variety writes. Day-Lewis, 60, did not give a reason for his retirement.


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