Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 19, 2017

Trump calls for U.N. reform ahead of Tuesday speech, Hurricane Maria devastates Dominica with 160 mph winds, and more

1

Trump calls for U.N. reform ahead of Tuesday speech

President Trump made his first appearance at the United Nations on Monday ahead of his Tuesday speech, which is expected to address how his "America first" theme can be compatible with a push for global cooperation. Trump, a frequent U.N. critic, called for "truly bold reforms" during a brief event he hosted. "In recent years the United Nations has not reached its full potential because of bureaucracy and mismanagement, while the United Nations on a regular budget has increased by 140 percent and its staff has more than doubled since 2000," he said. "The United Nations must hold every level of management accountable, protect whistleblowers, and focus on results rather than on process." He added that he was "confident" he could work with other leaders to build a "stronger, more effective" U.N.

2

Hurricane Maria slams Dominica and barrels toward Puerto Rico

Hurricane Maria made its first landfall on Monday, devastating the tiny eastern Caribbean island of Dominica after rapidly strengthening into a potentially catastrophic Category 5 storm with top sustained winds of 160 miles per hour. Dominica's prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, said the roof of his residence was destroyed by high winds but police got him to safety. "I don't think there were very many roofs which would survive the hurricane," Skerrit said. Maria continues on a path that could take it to the U.S. Virgin Islands late Tuesday and Puerto Rico on Wednesday. It could be the strongest storm to hit Puerto Rico in 85 years.

3

Senate GOP makes final push to replace ObamaCare

Senate Republicans on Monday launched a final attempt to replace ObamaCare. The bill, proposed by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) would replace much of the Affordable Care Act with block grants to states, and phase out the Medicaid expansion. It also would end the mandate for Americans to buy insurance. Republicans have two weeks to pass the bill before special procedures preventing Democrats from filibustering it expire. Until then, the GOP can pass the bill with 50 votes. After the deadline, it will take 60, which the 52-seat Republican majority can't get. The Congressional Budget Office, however, said it could not provide estimates on the proposal's impacts on premiums and the number of Americans without insurance, which would rise.

4

Suu Kyi breaks her silence on Myanmar's Rohingya refugee crisis

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, Myanmar's de facto leader, broke her silence on the exodus of 400,000 Rohingya refugees, saying the country's government condemns "all human rights violations and unlawful violence," but sidestepping allegations of atrocities against members of the Muslim minority group. She said there have been "allegations and counterallegations" since Aug. 25, when attacks by Rohingya insurgents in the Rakhine region triggered a military offensive the United Nations has called a "textbook example of ethnic cleansing." Human rights activists have been calling for Suu Kyi to speak out. "The security forces have been instructed to adhere strictly to the code of conduct ... and to take full measures to avoid collateral damage and the harming of innocent civilians," she said.

5

Report: Investigators wiretapped Manafort before and after the election

U.S. investigators wiretapped President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after last year's election, CNN reported, citing several people with knowledge of the situation. Three people said the intelligence collected suggested that Manafort may have encouraged Russians to help with the Trump campaign, although the evidence was not conclusive. The order was authorized by the court that handles the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), and started after Manafort became the subject of a 2014 FBI investigation focused on work he did consulting Ukraine's Part of Regions. The surveillance ended in 2016, then started up again and extended into early 2017, one of CNN's sources said. The information has been passed along to Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team.

6

3 arrested at Georgia Tech protest after police shoot and kill student

Police arrested three people at a protest at the Georgia Tech campus police station on Monday after a vigil for a 21-year-old student, Scout Schultz, who was shot and killed by police over the weekend. Officers said Schultz, who was president of the campus Pride Alliance, advanced on them with a knife and refused repeated requests to put it down. WSB-TV reported that the knife was actually a half-open multi-tool with no blade extended. Schultz's mother, Lynne Schultz, said the student was brilliant and had suffered depression and other medical issues, and attempted suicide two years ago.

7

Donald Trump Jr., seeking privacy, foregoes Secret Service protection

President Trump's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., has given up his Secret Service protection, seeking more privacy, The New York Times reported Monday, citing a senior administration official. Donald Trump Jr. is an executive at the Trump Organization and lives in New York City. Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to President Trump, also is losing her Secret Service protection. The moves are unrelated, but could provide relief to an agency whose resources have been strained by the demands of protecting the president's family and inner circle during frequent business and leisure trips.

8

St. Louis protests continue after ex-officer's acquittal

Protesters shouted "free our people" outside St. Louis' downtown jail on Monday night, the fourth day of demonstrations sparked by Friday's acquittal of a white former police officer, Jason Stockley, for the fatal shooting of a black man, Anthony Lamar Smith, in 2011. Police said more than 120 people were arrested on Sunday night. Each day, peaceful daytime protests have been followed by vandalism by small groups that authorities called "agitators." "The days have been calm and the nights have been destructive," Mayor Lyda Krewson said Monday.

9

Spain becomes 4th nation to expel North Korean ambassador

Spain expelled North Korea's ambassador on Monday, giving the diplomat until the end of the month to leave Madrid. It is the fourth country to kick out Pyongyang's representative since the isolated communist regime conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test, following similar moves by Mexico, Peru, and Kuwait. U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis hinted on Monday that the U.S. had military options to contain North Korea's defiance in the face of international calls to rein in its missile and nuclear weapons programs, adding that the U.S. actions could spare South Korea from a devastating counterattack.

10

Toys 'R' Us files for bankruptcy protection

Toys 'R' Us Inc., the nation's largest toy store chain, filed for bankruptcy protection late Monday. The retailer has been struggling under a heavy debt load since a buyout more than a decade ago. Its troubles mark the latest in a series of setbacks for brick-and-mortar retailers due to tough competition from Amazon and other online retailers, along with falling mall traffic. Under bankruptcy protection, Toys 'R' Us will try to restructure $400 million in debt due next year. "This filing is really a buildup of financial problems over the past 15 years," said Jim Silver, an industry analyst and the editor of toy-review site TTPM.com. "Finally, the straw broke the camel's back."

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