Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 28, 2017

Harvey's ongoing rains worsen "catastrophic" Houston flooding, at least 14 arrested at Berkeley anti-hate rally, and more


Harvey's rains paralyze Houston with 'unprecedented' flooding

The death toll from Hurricane Harvey rose to at least five on Sunday, as the storm sent floods that authorities described as "catastrophic" and "unprecedented" into Houston, the nation's fourth largest city. Three thousand National Guard troops were called up as Harvey, downgraded to a tropical storm, threatened to continue dumping rain on the area for days. The National Weather Service warned that before Harvey is gone it could hit some parts of Houston and its suburbs with up to 50 inches of rain, which would be the most ever recorded in Texas. Thousands of people fled to their roof tops or higher ground as the waters rose. "This disaster's going to be a landmark event," said Brock Long, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. President Trump plans to visit Texas Tuesday.


14 arrested after 'antifa' activists attack right-wing demonstrators in Berkeley

Berkeley, California, police arrested at least 14 people on Sunday after black-clad anti-fascist or antifa activists disrupted a peaceful rally against hate groups by attacking a smaller group of far-right demonstrators. Brief fights broke out after the two sides got into shouting matches. Several thousand people showed up for the "Rally Against Hate," which was organized for the day after a planned rally by a right-wing group failed to materialize as a large group of counter-protesters converged to oppose it. At the Sunday rally, anti-hate-group protesters chanted, "No Trump. No KKK. No fascist USA" and carried signs with such slogans as "Berkeley Stands United Against Hate."


Trump to lift ban on sending military equipment to police

President Trump plans to lift a ban imposed by former President Barack Obama on sending some surplus military equipment to police departments. Obama signed his executive order blocking the transfer of armored vehicles, large-caliber weapons, and other material to police following the use of military equipment by police responding to riots in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson sparked by the fatal police shooting of an unarmed black man, Michael Brown. The outline of the plan could be announced as soon as Monday, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses the annual meeting of the Fraternal Order of Police.


Tillerson says Trump 'speaks for himself' on Charlottesville

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson distanced himself from President Trump's controversial responses to the white nationalist violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, while speaking with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. "I don't believe anyone doubts the American people's values, or the commitment of the American government, or the government's agencies to advancing those values and defending those values," Tillerson said in reference to Charlottesville. "And the president's values?" Wallace replied. "The president speaks for himself, Chris," Tillerson answered. The secretary of state did not accede to Wallace's suggestion that Trump's comments complicated U.S. diplomatic efforts abroad.


Gas futures shoot higher as Harvey shuts down Houston refineries

Gasoline futures jumped by 5.5 percent on Monday as flooding from former hurricane Harvey shut down the oil and gas industry in Texas. Several energy companies, including ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, shut down Houston-area refineries on Sunday as Harvey's rains flooded the city. The moves took about 12 percent of U.S. fuel-producing capacity offline, escalating fears of fuel shortages. The Houston Ship Channel, a key gateway for incoming imported crude oil and outgoing fuel, has been shut down since Friday. Refineries in Corpus Christi closed ahead of the storm, taking even more capacity out of commission, although Valero Energy Corp. said it was looking for ways to reopen two Corpus Christi-area refineries that didn't sustain much damage.


Trump's company sought Moscow tower deal during 2016 campaign

President Trump's company sought a deal to develop a Trump Tower in Moscow during his campaign in late 2015 and early 2016, The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing people familiar with the proposal. An unidentified investor wanted to build the tower and put Trump's name on it under a licensing deal. The lead Trump Organization negotiator was one of its vice presidents, Michael Cohen. The Post said it was unclear how aware or involved Trump was. In one email to Cohen, a Russian-born real estate developer reportedly hinted that he could get Russian President Vladimir Putin to say "great things" about Trump. The Trump Organization and investors signed a letter of intent, but the project was dropped in January 2016, lacking land or proper permits.


India withdraws troops from border, easing tensions with China

India on Monday withdrew troops from a disputed Himalayan region on the border with China, defusing a tense two-month standoff. The tensions began when Indian troops arrived to stop China's military from building a road into an area claimed by India's ally, Bhutan. China denounced the move as a violation of its sovereignty. The two countries announced Monday that diplomats had maintained communication throughout the crisis and reached an agreement. India said the talks had allowed its leaders to "express our views and convey our concerns and interests." It was unclear whether Beijing made any concessions.


Second man arrested in attempted Buckingham Palace sword attack

London police arrested a second man Sunday for possible ties to a 26-year-old suspect charged with attacking police officers with a four-foot sword near Buckingham Palace. Scotland Yard said three officers suffered slight injuries in what detectives described as an attempted terrorist attack. The attacker drove up in a car and stopped next to a police van in a restricted area outside the palace — Queen Elizabeth II's London home — on Friday night. The man reached for the sword, repeatedly shouting "Allahu akbar" ("God is great" in Arabic), before the officers subdued him with tear gas, with two of them suffering minor cuts.


Expedia chief Dara Khosrowshahi picked as new Uber CEO

Uber's board on Sunday chose Dara Khosrowshahi, head of online travel company Expedia, to be its chief executive, The New York Times reported, citing two people with knowledge of the decision. The decision came on the day another finalist, former General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, dropped out of the running, lacking the necessary support. The board reportedly had been leaning toward picking Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman, but shifted gears when the directors and Whitman couldn't agree on details. Settling on Khosrowshahi marks the end of a long and contentious search to replace Uber cofounder and former CEO Travis Kalanick and return the ride-hailing company to stability after months of turmoil.


Kendrick Lamar big winner at politically charged MTV VMAs

Rapper Kendrick Lamar was the biggest winner at Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards, taking home six prizes, including Video of the Year for "Humble," in a politically charged event. Lamar opened the show with a message on police brutality, and other artists followed with messages denouncing white supremacists and urging suicide awareness. The mother of Heather Heyer, the counter-protester killed at the Charlottesville white nationalist rally, presented the Fight Against the System Award. "I miss her," Heyer's mother, Susan Bro, said, "but I know she's here tonight." She was introduced by a descendant of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, and joined him in denouncing racism.


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