Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 1, 2017

Trump urges senators to repeal ObamaCare now and replace it later, Trump talks trade and North Korea with South Korean president, and more


Trump urges GOP senators to repeal ObamaCare now and replace it later

Senate Republicans left for their 10-day July 4 recess on Thursday night without a politically viable health-care plan, and it is unclear if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will be able to pass a health-care bill before his new deadline of mid-July or early August. On Twitter Friday, President Trump jumped in with some advice: "If Republican Senators are unable to pass what they are working on now, they should immediately REPEAL, and then REPLACE at a later date!" This was Republicans' original plan, but they abandoned it earlier this year after deciding it was politically untenable.


Trump talks trade and North Korea with South Korean president

President Trump addressed trade and U.S. policy toward North Korea during joint statements at the White House on Friday with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. Trump was critical of the existing trade deal between the U.S. and South Korea and announced his administration is negotiating a new deal with Seoul that "will be good for the American worker." The president also said he discussed with Moon "options" for how to deal with North Korea. Declaring the "era of strategic patience with the North Korean regime" over, Trump called for a "determined response" to North Korea's nuclear program.


Morning Joe co-hosts accuse Trump of blackmail attempt

President Trump on Thursday tweeted some unkind things about Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough of MSNBC's Morning Joe, and on Friday, the co-hosts responded. They accused Trump of attempting to blackmail them with a "negative story" in the National Enquirer. A White House staffer believed to be Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, reportedly told Scarborough he'd have to "personally apologize" to Trump for Morning Joe's coverage of the president to "have the story spiked." The co-hosts say they refused the request. Trump replied by saying Scarborough called him to stop the article, which Scarborough labeled "another lie."


Doctor kills 1, injures 6 in Bronx hospital shooting

A shooter identified as Dr. Henry Bello killed one person and injured six more when he attacked Bronx-Lebanon Hospital in New York City Friday afternoon. Bello then committed suicide by setting himself on fire and shooting himself in the head. The doctor was previously employed at the hospital but resigned amid accusations of sexual harassment. In a letter emailed to New York's Daily News two hours before his attack, Bello complained the hospital unfairly "terminated" his career but did not threaten violence. Five of the six wounded remain in critical condition.


Maine, New Jersey governments shut down over budget debate

The governments of Maine and New Jersey entered a partial shutdown Saturday after lawmakers in both states failed to reach a budget agreement with their respective governors. "The Maine people are taxed enough. I will not tax them anymore and in my budget overall taxes were decreased," Maine Gov. Paul LePage said in his shutdown announcement. New Jersey's debate centers on opioid addiction programs, with Gov. Chris Christie threatening to use his line-item veto to enforce his demands. State parks will stay open in Maine, but New Jersey's beaches could be closed throughout the July 4 holiday weekend.


Hong Kong protests challenge Beijing, mark 20-year anniversary

Hong Kong on Saturday marked the 20-year anniversary of the city-state's 1997 transfer of sovereignty from the United Kingdom to China. Tens of thousands of residents turned out for an annual pro-democracy march critiquing Beijing's creeping control over internal city affairs. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping warned all attempts "to challenge the power" of China are "absolutely impermissible." "Any attempt to endanger China's sovereignty and security ... or use Hong Kong to carry out infiltration and sabotage activities against the mainland is an act that crosses a red line," he said.


U.S. birth rate hits record low

America's steadily declining birth rate fell by 1 percent to an all-time low in 2016, population data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed. The general fertility rate in 2016 was 62.0 births for every 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. Though the birthrate slightly increased among women in their 30s and 40s, that uptick was not enough to offset the decreased birthrate among women in their teens and 20s. Donna M. Strobino, professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, said the decline was not necessarily "bad," as it indicates a drop in teen pregnancies.


Recreational marijuana sales begin in Nevada

Recreational marijuana sales began Saturday in Nevada, the fifth state to legalize recreational pot use despite continuing federal prohibition. The legalization was approved by ballot initiative in November with 55 percent public support. Some dispensaries opened at midnight Saturday morning, and purchases are regulated much like alcohol, allowing buyers over 21 to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana at a time. Legalization is expected to be a major tourist draw for Las Vegas as well as a significant new source of state revenue.


FBI makes an arrest in Chinese scholar disappearance case

The FBI on Friday arrested a man in connection to the disappearance and likely death of Yingying Zhang, a Chinese scholar with a year-long position at the University of Illinois who went missing in June. The man arrested is Brendt Christensen, a grad student at the same school who was caught by a security camera picking up Zhang in his car shortly before her disappearance. Christensen also visited online forums on topics including "Abduction 101," "Perfect abduction fantasy," and "planning a kidnapping." He has been charged with kidnapping and may face more charges as the investigation continues.


Americans to spend $7 billion on food over July 4 weekend

Americans are expected to spend $7.1 billion on food over the Fourth of July weekend, the National Retail Federation estimates. Out of approximately 219 million people anticipated to celebrate Independence Day, more than two-thirds will likely attend a picnic or a cookout. Last year, Americans spent the most cash on hamburgers, buying $804 million worth of beef. Condiments were also big sellers, with $43 million spent on barbecue sauce, $37 million on ketchup, and $25 million on mustard. A Walmart spokesperson noted to BuzzFeed News that the Fourth of July is "one of the biggest food holidays of the year."


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