Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 22, 2017

Ex-presidents headline hurricane benefit, Madrid moves to impose direct rule on Catalonia, and more


Ex-presidents headline hurricane benefit

All five living ex-presidents gathered in College Station, Texas, Saturday evening to appear at a concert raising money for the victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria. Republicans George W. and George H.W. Bush and Democrats Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Jimmy Carter took the stage together to kick off the event, offering brief remarks praising Americans' unity in the face of adversity. President Trump sent in a video message. "This wonderful effort reminds us that we truly are one nation under God, all unified by our values and devotion to one another," he said. Lady Gaga made a surprise showing, appearing alongside Sam Moore, Yolanda Adams, and others.


Madrid moves to impose direct rule on Catalonia

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy on Saturday announced Madrid will remove Catalan President Carles Puigdemont from his position, suspend Catalonia's regional autonomy, and impose direct national rule to suppress the Catalan independence movement. This is an unprecedented step under the current Spanish Constitution. Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras labeled the move "totalitarianism," and Barcelona Mayor Ada Colau called it "an attack on everyone's rights and freedoms." Half a million Catalans marched in protest in Barcelona Saturday, and Puigdemont said the region will not accept direct rule.


Carter willing to negotiate in North Korea

Former President Jimmy Carter would be willing to travel to North Korea for negotiations to avoid nuclear catastrophe, he told The New York Times in an article published Sunday. "I would go, yes," Carter said, explaining that he, like many, is "afraid, too, of a situation" sparked by the war of words between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. "They want to save their regime. And we greatly overestimate China's influence on North Korea," he added. Carter has offered his services to National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, but the Trump administration has yet to accept.


Trump reportedly may suspend program to reunite refugee families

President Trump is considering further revisions to refugee admission procedures, Reuters reports, including a plan to suspend a program that allows refugees to settle with family members already living in the United States. In the new proposal, incoming refugees would be delayed by additional scrutiny before being admitted to rejoin their families. Also on the table is increased use of in-depth security checks that are currently mandatory for male refugees from certain countries; the new plan would apply them to women as well. Refugee fingerprinting requirements may be expanded, too.


Trump likely to release JFK papers

President Trump indicated on Twitter Saturday he will most likely release 3,600 top-secret files about the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy this coming week, with the caveat that new information could lead him to change his mind. The Oct. 26 release deadline was set by a 1992 law, but Trump can miss that deadline if he certifies that publishing the papers at that time would cause "an identifiable harm" to national security outweighing "the public interest in disclosure." Members of both houses of Congress from both major parties have urged Trump to publish.


Trump relitigates election, early presidency, media relations

President Trump returned to familiar stomping grounds on Twitter Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning. He claimed Facebook was on Hillary Clinton's side during the 2016 election and touted his win in spite of "the billions of dollars of Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC & CBS." Later Saturday, he turned to the record of his presidency so far, promising tax reform and health-care progress while boasting of unspecified accomplishments on a litany of issues, like "2nd Amendment, Strong Military, ISIS." On Sunday, Trump reiterated his belief that journalists habitually "FABRICATE STORIES" about him and promoted an interview with himself airing that day.


WHO under fire for making Mugabe a goodwill ambassador

The World Health Organization came under intense criticism Saturday for its decision to name Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe as its newest goodwill ambassador. The position is mostly symbolic, but the 93-year-old Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, is widely considered a dictator, and his government stands accused of gross human rights violations. WHO's Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Mugabe was chosen because his government prioritizes universal health care, but outside observers say the Zimbabwean health-care system is in "a shambolic state" with hospitals lacking "the most basic necessities."


Fox renewed O'Reilly contract after $32 million harassment settlement

Fox News renewed host Bill O'Reilly's contract in January of 2016, promising him $25 million per year for four years, even after he settled a sexual harassment lawsuit for $32 million with the network's knowledge, The New York Times reported Saturday. While Times reports from earlier this year revealed O'Reilly and Fox together paid around $13 million in the pundit's various harassment settlements, this larger agreement was previously unknown. The settlement was paid over a woman's allegations of "a nonconsensual sexual relationship" and other repeated harassment including the sending of unwanted pornography. Fox fired O'Reilly in April of 2017. He denies all wrongdoing.


Funeral held for Sgt. La David Johnson

Sgt. La David Johnson, the U.S. soldier whose death in an ambush in Niger has become embroiled in controversy involving President Trump's call to his widow, was buried Saturday in Florida. Johnson was just 25 and leaves behind two young children; his wife, Myeshia, is pregnant with their third. The service also honored the three other soldiers who were killed in Niger: Staff Sgt. Bryan C. Black, 35, of Washington; Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Ohio; and Staff Sgt. Dustin M. Wright, 29, of Georgia.


Astros defeat Yankees to advance to World Series

Led by second baseman José Altuve, the Houston Astros defeated the New York Yankees 4-0 on Saturday in Game 7 of their fight to make it to the World Series. The Astros, a team with no World Series wins, will now face the six-time World Series champions Los Angeles Dodgers in match-ups beginning Tuesday at the Dodgers' home stadium. Both teams have won more than 100 games in this year's regular season — 101 for the Astros and 104 for the Dodgers — and ESPN reports this "is the first matchup of 100-win teams in the World Series since 1970."


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