Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 4, 2017

Trump praises Puerto Rico hurricane response during San Juan visit, police search for motive in Las Vegas massacre, and more

1

Trump praises Puerto Rico hurricane response as death toll rises

President Trump praised officials in Puerto Rico on Tuesday for their Hurricane Maria response, while also pointing out that the devastation on the island has not yet proven as deadly as past natural disasters. "Every death is a horror," Trump said, "but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina, and you look at the hundreds and hundreds of people that died ... you can be very proud, [that the death toll is] 16 people versus in the thousands." Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello announced Tuesday evening that the death toll on the island had risen to 34. Trump also brought up the high cost of the federal response, saying, "you've thrown our budget a little out of whack."

2

Police say Las Vegas gunman 'extensively' planned attack

Las Vegas police said Tuesday that the gunman who killed 59 people at a country music festival had planned "extensively," placing cameras in the hall and hotel suite from which he fired, so he could see responding police. "I'm pretty sure that he evaluated everything that he did in his actions, which is troublesome," said Joseph Lombardo, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department sheriff. Photos released without authorization showed the 32nd-floor hotel suite where police say the gunman, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, fired on the crowd below. A rifle in the suite was fitted with a "bump stock" allowing it to fire hundreds of rounds a minute. Investigators are still searching for a motive. Paddock's girlfriend, Marilou Danley, returned from the Philippines for questioning.

3

Trump heads to Las Vegas to 'pay our respects'

President Trump is scheduled to visit Las Vegas on Wednesday to meet with law enforcement officials and survivors of the Sunday mass shooting, which killed 59 people and injured more than 500. Trump said he and first lady Melania Trump wanted to "pay our personal respects and condolences ... What happened is such a tragedy. So unnecessary." Trump has called the Las Vegas gunman a "very, very sick individual." Trump also praised Las Vegas police for doing an "incredible job." The attack has renewed the debate over gun control, but the White House has said now is not the time. "We'll be talking about gun laws as time goes by," Trump said.

4

Supreme Court considers challenge to partisan gerrymandering

The Supreme Court heard a challenge to partisan gerrymandering on Tuesday, with most justices appearing to agree that drawing legislative districts to favor one party is "distasteful," as Justice Samuel Alito put it. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, a potential swing vote, seemed to lean toward joining the court's liberal minority, which appears to consider extreme cases of gerrymandering unconstitutional. "What's really behind all of this?" Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked. "The precious right to vote." The case involves redistricting in Wisconsin after the 2010 census. In the 2012 election, Republicans got just under half of the statewide votes, but won 60 of the 99 state assembly seats. Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. said intervening in such partisan fights could "cause very serious harm" to the court's authority and legitimacy.

5

House approves bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks

House Republicans passed a bill Tuesday seeking to ban abortions after 20 weeks. The bill, which was approved 237-189 mostly along party lines, would make it a crime to perform an abortion after that point in a pregnancy. Penalties would include up to five years in prison, a fine, or both. The bill faces a much harder test in the Senate, where with only a 52-seat majority, Republicans will be unlikely to be able to muster the 60 votes needed to get past a filibuster by Democrats, who blocked a similar measure passed by the House in 2015. The White House said it "strongly supports" the bill and "applauds" House Republicans for continuing to push for it.

6

Trump expels 15 Cuban diplomats

President Trump on Tuesday expelled 15 Cuban diplomats over the alleged use of a sonic weapon against American Embassy personnel in Havana. The move was the latest in a series of actions Trump has taken to reverse efforts by former President Barack Obama to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than half a century of friction that started in the Cold War. The U.S. last week announced it would cut back its staffing in Havana. The Cuban government called the expulsion of its diplomats "hasty, inappropriate, and unthinking," saying Trump's decision was motivated by politics.

7

Yahoo breach appears to have affected all 3 billion accounts

The 2013 Yahoo data breach was much larger than previously disclosed, with all three billion Yahoo accounts affected, Yahoo's parent company, Verizon, announced Tuesday. When Yahoo revealed in late 2016 that hackers stole information from users three years earlier, it said that 1 billion accounts were likely affected. Verizon said it recently learned the full extent of the breach. The hackers stole personal information, including names, birth dates, email addresses, phone numbers, scrambled passwords, and security questions and answers, Yahoo said, but not credit card or bank account information. Yahoo has been unable to track down the hackers.

8

Pro-life congressman reportedly urged mistress to get abortion

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) asked a woman with whom he had an extramarital affair to get an abortion, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported Tuesday. Murphy, who enjoys support from pro-life groups like the Family Research Council and LifePAC, apparently made the request earlier this year of Shannon Edwards, a "personal friend" with whom Murphy admitted to an extramarital relationship last month. Edwards sent Murphy a text message on Jan. 25 of this year, the Post-Gazette reported, taking issue with his pro-life posturing in social media posts considering he'd asked her to terminate a pregnancy. "You have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week," Edwards wrote. Murphy reportedly replied that his staff wrote the posts, and that he "winced" when he read them.

9

3 scientists win Nobel chemistry prize for breakthrough imaging technique

The Nobel committee announced Wednesday that Jacques Dubochet, Joachim Frank, and Richard Henderson have won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for developing cryo-electron microscopy, which Nobel committee member Göran K. Hansson described as "a cool method for imaging the materials of life." Dubochet is Swiss, and a professor at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. Frank was born in Germany and now is a Columbia University professor in New York. Henderson, from Scotland, works at Cambridge University in Britain. Their technique flash-freezes samples of molecules allowing them to retain their original shape for better study. Scientists used cryo-electron imaging to quickly determine the shape of the Zika virus, a key step toward developing a vaccine.

10

Mattis says sticking with Iran nuclear deal is in U.S. interest

Defense Secretary James Mattis told senators on Tuesday that America should stick with the Iran nuclear deal, openly differing with President Trump days before a deadline for Trump's decision on whether to certify that Iran is complying with the agreement. Trump has frequently described the deal, which exchanged the lifting of sanctions for Tehran's commitment to curbing its nuclear program, as a "disaster" for the U.S. Mattis told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Trump should consider "staying with" the deal, "absent indications to the contrary."

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