Daily briefing

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

Trump and North Korea escalate threats, Chinese President Xi urges Trump to 'exercise restraint' with North Korea, and more


Trump and North Korea escalate threats

President Trump tweeted out a new threat to North Korea Friday: "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong Un will find another path!" He doubled down on the warning later that day, saying if Kim "utters one threat," he will "regret it fast." Pyongyang, which has threatened to fire missiles toward the U.S. territory of Guam, on Saturday boasted of a major expansion of its military forces, claiming "All the people are rising up across the country to retaliate against the U.S. thousands of times."


Chinese President Xi urges Trump to 'exercise restraint' with North Korea

China's President Xi Jinping urged President Trump to tone down his aggressive rhetoric toward North Korea in a phone call Friday night. "At present, relevant parties should exercise restraint and avoid words and actions that would escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula," Xi said, per the Chinese foreign ministry. Xi's comments come in response to increased saber-rattling from Trump and Pyongyang since North Korea tested missiles that could potentially execute a nuclear strike on the U.S. mainland. Earlier Friday, Beijing indirectly warned its North Korean allies no Chinese help would be forthcoming if Kim Jong Un attacks U.S. territory first.


White nationalists march in Charlottesville

Hundreds of tiki torch-bearing white nationalists marched through the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville, Virginia, Friday night in advance of a larger "Unite the Right" demonstration scheduled Saturday. The marchers chanted slogans like "Jews will not replace us" and "blood and soil," the latter a phrase used by the Nazi Party. Saturday's rally is expected to attract a heavy contingent of counter-protesters. White nationalists have rallied repeatedly in Charlottesville since the city began the process of removing Confederate statues. The city's mayor condemned this weekend's gathering as "a cowardly parade of hatred, bigotry, racism, and intolerance."


Trump suggests 'a military option' in Venezuela

"We have many options for" dealing with the ongoing political unrest in Venezuela, President Trump said Friday. "I am not going to rule out a military option," he added, noting the United States has "troops all over the world in places that are very, very far away" and "Venezuela is not very far away." Venezuelan Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino labeled Trump's comments "a crazy act, an act of supreme extremism." The Department of Defense said it has not received "any orders with regards to Venezuela," calling rumors of a U.S. invasion "baseless."


White House claims Trump was 'sarcastic' in thanking Putin for expelling U.S. diplomats

The White House on Friday insisted President Trump was not serious when he thanked Russian President Vladimir Putin for expelling hundreds of American diplomats from Russia. "He was being sarcastic," claimed White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Trump extended his gratitude to Putin Thursday when pressed by reporters for a statement on Putin's response to U.S. sanctions. "As far as I'm concerned I'm very thankful that he let go of a large number of people because now we have a smaller payroll," he said then.


U.S.-North Korea tensions rattle global markets

As tensions between the United States and North Korea ramped up over the past 48 hours, so too have concerns about the global markets. Wall Street's so-called "fear gauge," the VIX, spiked from historic lows to 44 percent, its highest point since Election Day 2016. Asian stock markets closed lower Friday, and European markets closed on their worst week in months. U.S. markets rallied slightly, suggesting that markets are "nervous but not panicked," NPR reported. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 14 points, and the Nasdaq Composite closed up almost 40 points.


Republican senators rally to support McConnell after Trump's threats

Republican senators have rallied to support Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) after President Trump lobbed attacks at the lawmaker Thursday. "As Benjamin Franklin said: We can hang together or hang separately," tweeted Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) Friday. Putting it more bluntly, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said McConnell "has been the best leader we've had in my time in the Senate, through very tough challenges. I fully support him." Politico Playbook wrote earlier this week that despite Trump's open hostility, "McConnell is not going anywhere for a very long time."


SoundCloud saved by last-minute investment

Beleaguered audio streaming platform SoundCloud was saved by a $170 million investment Friday, after reports Thursday indicated investors could terminate the company within hours. The new financing comes from The Raine Group, which owns the music festival Lollapalooza, and Temesek Holdings, a state-run Singaporean company. Co-founder Alex Ljung will also be replaced as CEO by former Vimeo CEO Kerry Trainor, but will remain with the company as a chairman. "All of this together ... puts our company in a really great position to stay strong and remain independent," Ljung told Billboard.


Dallas Cowboys star suspended after domestic violence investigation

The Dallas Cowboys' star running back, Ezekiel Elliott, has been suspended for six games by the NFL after being accused by an ex-girlfriend of domestic violence in July 2016. The Columbus, Ohio, City Attorney's Office declined to pursue domestic violence charges against Elliott last year, citing "conflicting and inconsistent information," but the NFL implemented the suspension after league investigators "examined all evidence, including photographic and digital evidence, thousands of text messages, and other records of electronic communication." Elliott is expected to appeal; otherwise, his suspension will run from Sept. 2 through Oct. 23.


Judge nixes suit against Taylor Swift in groping case

U.S. District Judge William Martinez threw out a lawsuit by former radio host David Mueller against pop star Taylor Swift on Friday. The suit claimed Swift personally sought to have Mueller fired after he allegedly groped her during a meet-and-greet in 2013; Martinez determined there was insufficient evidence of Mueller's claim against Swift, but his suits against Swift's mother and radio promotions director will be allowed to proceed to a jury decision. Meanwhile, Swift's suit against Mueller was advanced Friday by her bodyguard's testimony that "she moved, [and] pushed [her] skirt down" to escape the grope.


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