Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 23, 2017

McCain announces no vote on GOP health-care bill, Trump slams McCain and 'Rocket Man' at Alabama rally, and more


McCain announces no vote on GOP health-care bill

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced Friday he would not vote for the new Republican health-care bill, effectively killing the GOP's last chance to repeal and replace ObamaCare before their Sept. 30 deadline. Sponsored by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), the unpopular bill would have converted ObamaCare's subsidies and Medicaid payments to block grants to states. The GOP could only lose three votes, and Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) already opposed the bill. President Trump attacked McCain's choice on Twitter Saturday, saying he "never had any intention of voting for this Bill" and accusing McCain of being manipulated by Democrats and betraying "his best friend," Graham.


Trump slams McCain and 'Rocket Man' at Alabama rally

President Trump spoke Friday night at a campaign rally in Alabama for Sen. Luther Strange (R), who is in a runoff to retain Attorney General Jeff Session's former seat. Trump endorsed Strange while publicly worrying about damage to his own image should his candidate lose Tuesday's vote. He used the occasion to slam Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for his "terrible, honestly terrible" role in defeating the latest GOP health-care proposal, and he reused his "Rocket Man" nickname for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The president also mentioned his much-promised border wall, which in this latest telling will only cover part of the border.


Trump issues profane call to fire protesting NFL players

President Trump issued a profane call to NFL team owners to fire players who engage in peaceful political protest on the field while speaking Friday night at an Alabama campaign rally. "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now?" Trump asked his audience. "Out. He's fired. He's fired." The rally crowd responded with cheers. Trump was referring to football players like Colin Kaepernick, formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, who has silently declined to stand for the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America. Trump's comments were widely decried, including by other NFL players.


Unidentified tremors detected in North Korea

As-yet unidentified tremors were detected in North Korea early Saturday near the site of previous nuclear weapons tests. While China labeled the 3.4 magnitude quake a "suspected explosion" that could be Pyongyang's second nuclear test in a matter of weeks, an official from South Korea's meteorological agency said initial assessments indicate it was more likely a natural earthquake. North Korea has not commented either way. On Friday, North Korea's foreign minister said his government might test a hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean.


DHS notifies 21 states of attempted Russian election hacking

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) on Friday notified 21 states they were targeted for hacking by the Russian government in advance of the 2016 election. In most cases, this targeting amounted only to research and preparation. No voting machines were compromised in any state. DHS announced the 21-state figure several months ago but had not previously communicated to the states in question. In his Friday night speech in Alabama, President Trump again denied election collusion with Moscow. "No, Russia did not help me, that I can tell you, OK?" he said, calling this "hoax" Democrats' greatest achievement of 2016.


Iran tests new ballistic missile

Iran has successfully tested a new ballistic missile, state-run media reported Saturday, one day after displaying the weapon at a military parade. The Khorramshahr missile has a range of 1,200 miles, and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani labels it "a deterrent" to guard Iranian security against attack. President Trump has accused Tehran of violating "the spirit" of the 2015 nuclear deal with this sort of test, but Rouhani maintains Iran is committed to upholding the agreement. The new missile could reach Iranian rivals like Saudi Arabia or Israel and can carry multiple warheads.


Dam failure threatens Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria

The National Weather Service of San Juan, Puerto Rico, is reporting an "extremely dangerous situation" due to a dam failure that threatens Isabela Municipality and Quebradillas Municipality in the territory's northwest. "Buses [are] currently evacuating people from the area as quickly as they can," the agency reported. "Move to higher ground now. Act quickly to protect your life." Puerto Rico remains completely without power after being hit by Hurricane Maria, the source of the flooding. Now a Category 3 storm, Maria was packing winds of up to 125 miles per hour as it slammed the southeastern Bahamas Friday.


Trump to replace travel ban with country-specific restrictions

President Trump is reportedly set to replace his broad ban on travel from six majority-Muslim countries with new, more specific restrictions as soon as this weekend. The new rules will vary by country; they come at the end of a 90-day review period the administration used to assess security threats from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. Officials said certain countries that have taken measures to improve security will not be included in the new restrictions. It remains to be seen how this will affect the ban's Supreme Court case, which has oral arguments scheduled for Oct. 10.


Merkel expected to win German elections Sunday

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is expected to take the plurality of votes in Germany's election Sunday, securing Merkel her fourth term while necessitating a coalition government. "There are a lot of problems in other countries, think Donald Trump or Brexit," one Berlin voter told NBC News. "With Merkel there is a sense that there is no great problem that she couldn't overcome, and that she's a politician you can trust." Nevertheless, the legislature is expected to increase its partisan diversity, with CDU ceding seats to parties including Alternative for Germany (AfD), a growing right-wing populist group.


CVS to limit opioid prescriptions to 7 days

CVS Pharmacy announced Friday it will limit opioid prescriptions to seven days for certain patients, including those who are new to prescription pain medications, beginning in February. "With a presence in nearly 10,000 communities across the country, we see firsthand the impact of the alarming and rapidly growing epidemic of opioid addiction and misuse," said CVS Health's president and CEO, Larry J. Merlo. CVS also plans to have its pharmacists educate patients about the risk of addiction when taking pain medications, providing information on how to securely store and properly dispose of the drugs.


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