Daily briefing

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

Deadly Irma weakens after leaving millions without power, U.N. Security Council approves new North Korea sanctions, and more


Deadly Irma weakens after leaving millions without power

Irma weakened to tropical storm and then tropical depression strength on Monday as it pushed into Georgia and Alabama after devastating northern Caribbean islands and the Florida Keys, then plowing up Florida's west coast. The storm caused flooding emergencies in Florida, Georgia, Alabama, and the Carolinas, and knocked out power to millions of Florida's 20.6 million people. "More than half of the population of Florida is out of power would be my guess," said Eric Silagy, president and chief executive of Florida Power and Light. More than a million people lost power in Georgia. At least 8 deaths were reported in the U.S., and the number continues to rise. At least 36 people were killed in the Caribbean, where some of the hardest hit smaller islands suffered widespread devastation.


U.N. Security Council approves new North Korea sanctions

The United Nations Security Council on Monday unanimously approved the toughest sanctions yet against North Korea in response to its sixth and most powerful nuclear weapons test. The Security Council resolution limits North Korea's oil imports, but doesn't flatly ban them, and bars exports of its textiles to deprive the isolated communist regime of money it could spend on developing intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads. "The stronger the sanctions we impose on North Korea, the stronger our hand in promoting a political solution," said French U.N. Ambassador François Delattre. The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, had called for the "strongest possible" sanctions, but the U.S. softened some initial demands to win support from Russia and China.


Trump vows to fight 'evil' as ceremonies mark 9/11 anniversary

President Trump led a national moment of silence on Monday to mark the 16th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, starting a day of memorial ceremonies at the spots where the four planes hijacked by terrorists hit — Ground Zero in Manhattan, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. "On that day not only did the world change, but we all changed," Trump said at the Pentagon ceremony. "Our eyes were opened to the depths of the evil we faced, but in that hour of darkness we also came together with renewed purpose. Our differences never looked so small, our common bonds never felt so strong." Trump added that he was committed to "destroying the enemies of all civilized people," and keeping the country safe.


Supreme Court temporarily restores Trump refugee travel ban

The Supreme Court on Monday temporarily restored President Trump's ban keeping thousands of refugees from entering the country. A federal appeals court last week ruled the Trump administration to temporarily let in vetted refugees already working with a resettlement agency. The decision was to take effect on Tuesday, and would have cleared a path for as many as 24,000 more refugees to enter the U.S. Justice Anthony Kennedy put the ruling on hold to give the high court time to decide whether to grant the administration's request for an extended hold to let Trump's order suspending the refugee program stand while challenges are pending in the courts.


Report: Trump lawyers recommended Kushner step down over Russia

Some of President Trump's White House lawyers this summer argued that Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner should step down due to worries that his meetings with Russians could create legal complications for the president, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday. Some of the lawyers also expressed concern that the possibility that Kushner could get drawn into the investigation of possible collusion by Trump associates with Russia's effort to influence last year's election could hamper Kushner's ability to handle his broad domestic and foreign policy responsibilities, The Washington Post reported, citing people familiar with the discussion. Trump didn't think Kushner did anything wrong, and saw no need for Kushner to give up his White House duties.


Pope Francis urges Trump to restore 'pro-life' DACA

Pope Francis on Monday urged President Trump to reverse his decision to phase out the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which has shielded hundreds of thousands of immigrants brought into the country illegally as minors from deportation. "If he is a good pro-life believer, he must understand that family is the cradle of life and one must defend its unity," Francis said while flying back to the Vatican after visiting Colombia to support that country's peace process. Trump has given Congress six months to determine whether to revive the program, known as DACA, through legislation.


U.N. human rights leader calls Rohingyas' treatment 'ethnic cleansing'

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said Monday that the treatment of the Rohingya Muslim minority in Myanmar "seems a textbook example of ethnic cleansing." An estimated 313,000 Rohingya refugees have fled Myanmar into neighboring Bangladesh in the last two weeks, following an outburst of violence between Rohingya insurgents and government security forces in the mostly Buddhist country. There have been reports that the refugees are fleeing the western state of Rakhine to escape persecution, including murder, arson, and rape.


Equifax shares plunge as class-action suits filed over massive breach

Equifax shares plummeted by 8 percent on Monday, adding to a 13 percent plunge on Friday after the credit reporting company disclosed a data breach affecting 143 million people. Capital One CEO Richard Fairbank said the breach probably affects many of the bank's customers, "and it's going to be costly to them and to us." Equifax already faces at least 23 proposed class-action lawsuits over the compromised personal data. The lawsuits were filed through the weekend after Equifax announced that criminal hackers had accessed personal information, including Social Security numbers, on nearly 44 percent of the U.S. population, potentially exposing millions to the threat of identity theft.


VW to make electric versions of all models by 2030

Volkswagen announced Monday that all of its 300 models will be available in electric versions by 2030. The company, the world's largest automaker, is investing nearly $23 billion in the effort. The German carmaker will also roll out 80 new electronic cars across its brands, which include Audi, Bentley, and Bugatti, by 2025. Earlier Monday, Mercedes-Benz announced it would make its entire line of cars electric by 2022, joining BMW and Jaguar Land Rover in similar efforts. Volkswagen's announcement comes two years after its diesel-emissions crisis surfaced, and just after China's weekend announcement that it will eventually ban gasoline engines as it continues to battle pollution.


Brexit bill passes first test

A major Brexit bill cleared its first hurdle in British Parliament early Tuesday, with the House of Commons backing the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill in a 326 to 290 vote. The bill is necessary to convert European Union laws and regulations into British ones in time for the U.K.'s planned exit from the European trading bloc in March 2019. Prime Minister Theresa May's Conservative government says the bill is necessary to keep Brexit from spinning into chaos, but opposition Labour Party politicians have called the bill a power grab that gives the government unprecedented authority to change laws as it sees fit. Opponents, including some Conservatives, say they will try to amend the bill in its next stage, when lawmakers go over it line by line before a final vote.


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