Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 24, 2017

Trump redoubles attacks on Kaepernick, U.S. bombers fly near North Korea in show of force, and more


Trump redoubles attacks on Kaepernick

President Trump redoubled his attacks on NFL player Colin Kaepernick on Twitter Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. "If a player wants the privilege of making millions of dollars in the NFL,or other leagues, he or she should not be allowed to disrespect our Great American Flag (or Country) and should stand for the National Anthem," Trump tweeted in two parts Saturday. Early Sunday, he encouraged his supporters to boycott the NFL and claimed this has already happened on a significant scale. Trump began his critique of Kaepernick and other athletes who take a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice while speaking at a campaign rally Friday.


U.S. bombers fly near North Korea in show of force

A group of U.S. bombers and fighter escorts on Saturday flew well north of the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, staying over international waters but making a clear show of force toward Pyongyang. The Pentagon characterized the flight as a demonstration "that the president has many military options to defeat any threat." North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho registered his objection while speaking at the United Nations later Saturday, saying President Trump's insults toward North Korean leader Kim Jong Un make a North Korean strike on the U.S. mainland "more inevitable."


Trump escalates Korea rhetoric

President Trump again referred to Kim Jong Un as "Little Rocket Man" in a tweet Saturday night, the third iteration of the president's favorite new insult in his war of words with the North Korean leader. "Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N.," Trump wrote. "If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!" A Washington Post-ABC News poll reported Sunday found a majority of Americans — Democrat, independent, and Republican alike — oppose a military strike against North Korea if Pyongyang has not already attacked the U.S.


Merkel forecast to win 4th term in German elections

Germans head to the polls Sunday in a vote anticipated to give Chancellor Angela Merkel her fourth term in office. Her center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU) is predicted to take about 34 percent of Bundestag seats with which it will form a coalition government with Merkel again at the head. The growth of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party — which campaigned on a populist, anti-immigration message and could well become the Bundestag's third-largest party out of six represented — has raised alarm among many Germans concerned about extremism. Turnout is expected to be high.


Dam threat in hurricane-battered Puerto Rico subsides

The damaged dam at risk of failure in Puerto Rico continued to hold as of Sunday morning, and evacuees began to return to their homes. The dam on Lake Guajataca remains compromised, however, and a flash flood warning is in effect through Sunday afternoon. Aid is beginning to arrive to the "apocalyptic" island territory decimated by Hurricane Maria. Most Puerto Ricans remain without power, and 95 percent of cell phone service sites are down. Currently a Category 2 storm, Maria is expected to dissipate over the Atlantic Ocean later this week.


New 6.2-magnitude earthquake interrupts rescue efforts in Mexico

Mexico was struck by a 6.2-magnitude earthquake Saturday, suspending ongoing rescue efforts in response to two other recent quakes. The new tremor follows Tuesday's 7.1-magnitude earthquake, as well as an 8.1-magnitude quake that struck off the coast of Mexico earlier this month. The combined death toll from the earlier quakes has nearly reached 400 people. Saturday's tremor, believed to be an aftershock of the 8.1 quake, collapsed a bridge and toppled some damaged buildings. "Homes that were still standing just fell down," said Bettina Cruz, who lives in Juchitan, Mexico. "We are all in the streets."


Iraqi Kurds to vote on independence

Iraq's Kurdish population is set to vote Monday in a non-binding referendum on Kurdish national independence. The referendum is expected to pass but not to lead to any formal declaration of independence from the Kurdish minorities in Iraq or neighboring states of Turkey, Iran, and Syria. The vote is broadly opposed by other powers in the region, including the United States, which labeled the process "provocative and destabilizing." "There are pressures on us to postpone, to engage in dialogue with Baghdad, but we will not go back to a failed experiment," said Kurdish President Masoud Barzani on Friday.


'Noxious substance' attack in London mall injures 6

Six people were injured by a "noxious substance" that may have been acid in an altercation at a London mall on Saturday. Police do not believe this is an incident of terrorism. Three of the victims were hospitalized, but none are suffering "life threatening or life changing" injuries. A teenager was arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm as the investigation continues. An eyewitness said at first "people thought it was a fight" until "the guys [with] the victim started shouting, 'It is an acid attack; he is burning.'"


Anthony Weiner faces 2-year prison sentence in sexting case

Former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) faces up to two years behind bars following his conviction for sending lewd messages to a 15-year-old girl. Weiner's sentencing hearing is scheduled for Monday, and prosecutors are pushing for 21 to 27 months in prison because Weiner's "crime is serious and his demonstrated need for deterrence is real." In a court filing last week, prosecutors argued the "noncustodial sentence that Weiner proposes is simply inadequate; his crime deserves time in prison." Weiner has already agreed not to appeal his sentence.


Stevie Wonder kneels 'for America' after Trump's Kaepernick comments

Stevie Wonder knelt on stage at a music festival in New York on Saturday in apparent protest of President Trump's attacks on NFL players like Colin Kaepernick who have kneeled to protest police brutality and racial injustice. "Tonight, I'm taking a knee for America; but not just one knee, I'm taking both knees," Wonder said before his performance. "Both knees in prayer for our planet, our future, our leaders of the world and our globe." The singer is not alone in his pushback to Trump. Pro athletes, NFL owners and organizational leadership, and Kaepernick's mother have all spoken out.


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