Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 3, 2017

North Korea claims hydrogen bomb test, Trump says 'talk of appeasement' with North Korea 'will not work,' and more

1

North Korea claims hydrogen bomb test

North Korea claimed Sunday it has tested a "missile-ready" hydrogen bomb with "perfect success," the last stage in developing a "state nuclear force." The thermonuclear test claim has not been independently verified, though strong tremors were detected near the area of previous North Korean nuclear tests. Sunday's announcement was met with broad condemnation, including from the United States and North Korea's ally, China, which issued a statement saying Beijing "resolutely opposes" and "strongly condemns" North Korea's actions. South Korea President Moon Jae-in labeled the test "an absurd strategic mistake," and Japan, which believes the test to be authentic, called it "absolutely unacceptable" and a "grave and urgent" threat.

2

Trump says 'talk of appeasement' with North Korea 'will not work'

President Trump issued his reaction to North Korea's claim of a successful hydrogen bomb in a series of Twitter posts early Sunday. "North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States," he wrote, continuing, "North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success." Trump added, "South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!"

3

Trump visits Harvey victims, declares they're 'really happy with' relief efforts

President Trump made a second trip to observe the devastation of Hurricane Harvey Saturday. The "comforter-in-chief" visited both Houston and Louisiana, telling reporters the survivors he met are "really happy with what's going on." The relief efforts are "something that's been very well received," he added. "Even by [the media], it's been very well received. Have a good time, everybody!" Some of the people Trump visited weren't so upbeat. "Is he going to help? Can he help?" said Devin Harris, a displaced construction worker from the Houston area. "I lost my home. My job is gone. My tools are gone. My car is gone. My life is gone. What is Trump going to do?"

4

DOJ: No evidence of Obama wiretap on Trump Tower

The Justice Department (DOJ) on Saturday announced its conclusion there is no evidence the Obama administration wiretapped Trump Tower during the 2016 election, as President Trump claimed on Twitter earlier this year. "Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my 'wires tapped' in Trump Tower just before the victory," Trump tweeted in March. While security experts note Trump Tower communications could have been swept up in foreign surveillance, the Senate Intelligence Committee in March came to the same conclusion as the DOJ, as did fired FBI Director James Comey.

5

Trump mulls canceling South Korean trade deal

President Trump is mulling an exit from KORUS, the United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement, The New York Times reported Saturday citing unnamed senior administration officials. The Associated Press reported the same story based on a U.S Chamber of Commerce statement to members opposing cancellation. KORUS is a bilateral Obama-era trade deal Trump believes is unfair to the United States, and the president said in Houston Saturday KORUS is "very much on my mind." This comes as the United States reiterates its alliance with Seoul amid North Korea tensions.

6

Toxic waste sites flooded in Houston

At least 13 "Superfund" toxic waste sites in Houston have been flooded or otherwise damaged by Hurricane Harvey, adding a new element of risk to clean-up efforts. Superfund sites are designated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); they are "the nation’s most contaminated land." Since Harvey flooding occurred, the EPA has made aerial assessments of 41 Superfund locations in and around Houston and identified 13 in bad shape. It will take about two weeks for waters to fully recede at these locations, which are contaminated with industrial waste, pesticides, and more.

7

Russian diplomats vacate 3 outposts on U.S. order

Russian diplomats on Saturday vacated three outposts in New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C., on order of the Trump administration in response to Moscow's recent reduction of the U.S. diplomatic presence in Russia. The San Francisco facility was Russia's oldest consulate in the United States, responsible for issuing some 16,000 tourist visas to Americans annually. Before the building was vacated, consulate staff on Friday apparently burned unknown items they wished to keep out of U.S. hands. The Russian foreign ministry on Sunday registered its disapproval of the evictions, calling them a "blunt act of hostility."

8

Record Los Angeles fire forces hundreds of evacuations

The La Tuna fire in Los Angeles has become the "largest fire in the history of L.A. city in terms of its acreage," said L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on Saturday. The wildfire has spread to more than 5,000 acres, prompting hundreds of evacuations and destroying three buildings so far. About 800 firefighters — beset by high temperatures, low humidity, and volatile winds — have managed to get the blaze 10 percent contained as of Sunday morning. This is one wildfire of many currently burning in western states including California, Oregon, and Washington.

9

Hurricane Irma expected to escalate, won't strike Houston

Hurricane Irma is currently a Category 3 storm and is expected to escalate as high as Category 5 before making landfall this week. As of Sunday, the "extremely dangerous" hurricane is still over the Atlantic Ocean and moving toward the Caribbean, particularly the Leewards Islands. The storm could then head up the Eastern Seaboard, though it is too soon to say with confidence. Contrary to a faked weather prediction map widely shared on social media this past week, Irma is not expected to reach Houston or other areas already suffering catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

10

Germany evacuates 60,000 to defuse World War II-era bomb

Some 60,000 people had to evacuate their homes Sunday morning in Frankfurt, Germany, to allow the safe defusing of a World War II-era bomb. The British explosive was discovered during construction excavations on Tuesday and placed under police guard until it could be defused. Sunday's mandatory evacuations included patients at a nearby hospital. This process is relatively common in Germany, which continues to find about 2,000 tonnes of live munitions left over from WWII each year. Clocking in at 1.4 tonnes, this bomb is larger than most.

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