Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 30, 2017

Trump criticizes 'witch hunt' as Mueller's first indictment looms, Puerto Rico cancels its controversial power contract, and more

1

Trump criticizes Russia 'witch hunt' as Mueller's first indictment looms

President Trump lashed out against the investigations into Russian election meddling and possible collusion by Trump associates, tweeting that facts are emerging about his 2016 Democratic rival Hillary Clinton's links to Russians. "DO SOMETHING!" Trump said in his flurry of Sunday tweets. The outburst came as administration officials prepared for the first indictment in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, expected Monday. Trump's legal team reportedly believes the sealed indictment most likely targets former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort or ousted National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Trump said investigators should drop the "Witch Hunt" into "phony Trump/Russia 'collusion,' which didn't exist," and instead focus on the "Clinton made Fake Dossier" about him and Russia, and the sale of uranium to Russia when Clinton was secretary of state.

2

Puerto Rico power authority cancels controversial contract

The Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority on Sunday canceled a controversial $300 million contract with Whitefish Energy to restore the country's power grid, which was knocked out by Hurricane Maria. Critics, including some in Congress, had questioned whether Whitefish, a tiny Montana company from the same town as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, was up to the massive job, and Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said the contract had become a distraction. About 80 percent of the U.S. island territory's residents are still without electricity more than a month after the storm. Ricardo Ramos, the power authority's executive director, said Whitefish would be paid to finish repairing two transmission lines. Rosselló said he was requesting assistance from Florida and New York to help with additional work under mutual aid arrangements for emergencies.

3

Unionists demonstrate against Catalonia independence push

Hundreds of thousands of Spanish unity supporters rallied in Barcelona on Sunday to oppose the push by Catalan regional leaders for independence. Spain's central government dismissed Catalonia's regional government including President Carles Puigdemont, and dissolved its parliament after lawmakers there declared independence, a move Madrid called illegal. The central government called a regional election, and the first opinion poll, published Sunday, showed unionist political parties holding a small lead, with 43.4 percent support against the pro-independence side's 42.5 percent. The pro-independence side won overwhelmingly in a recent referendum that the Spanish government tried to disrupt and unity supporters boycotted.

4

2 Navy SEALs under suspicion in Green Beret's death in Mali

Two members of the Navy's famed SEAL Team Six are under suspicion in the strangling death of an Army Green Beret last June in Mali, U.S. officials said Sunday. Army Staff Sgt. Logan J. Melgar, a Special Forces member who enlisted in 2012 and served two deployments to Afghanistan, was found dead in a house he shared with three other American Special Operations troops in Bamako, Mali. According to one version of events, The New York Times reported, one of the SEALs put Melgar in a chokehold, and the commandos tried to revive him and rushed him to an emergency clinic after he lost consciousness. Melgar was a member of the 3rd Special Forces Group, the same group the four Americans killed in an ambush in Niger earlier this month belonged to.

5

Kurdish leader resigns after independence push backfires

Iraqi Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani said Sunday that he would step down as the region's president on Nov. 1 after he pushed a Sept. 25 independence referendum that backfired. Barzani defended his decision to go ahead with the referendum despite warnings from Baghdad and threats from neighboring Turkey and Iran, which feared that the vote would reverberate in their own Kurdish populations. Barzani said the result of the vote, overwhelmingly favoring independence, "can never be erased." The referendum, however, triggered a crisis in which Iraqi government forces seized oil-rich Kirkuk and other Kurdish-held areas also claimed by the central government. Dozens of protesters attacked the region's parliament building as Barzani announced his decision on TV.

6

Trump job approval falls to lowest yet in new poll

President Trump's job approval rating has fallen to its lowest level yet, according to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday. Only 38 percent of the survey's participants said they approved of Trump's performance, a decline of five percentage points since a September poll. Fifty-eight percent said they disapproved. "This is his worst showing of his young presidency so far," said Democratic pollster Fred Yang of Hart Research Associates, who conducted the poll with a Republican counterpart, Bill McInturff of Public Opinion Strategies. Trump's showing also was the lowest for any president in modern times at this point in his presidency. George W. Bush had 88 percent approval at this point in his first term, and Barack Obama had 51 percent.

7

Astros beat Dodgers in home-run-filled Game 5 of World Series

The Houston Astros beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 13-12 in 10 innings on Sunday, taking a 3-2 lead in the World Series. Dodger Yasiel Puig's ninth inning home run helped send the game into an extra inning. It was the seventh home run of the game and the 22nd of the Series, breaking a record for the most homers in a World Series. The previous record of 21 was set by the Anaheim Angels and San Francisco Giants in 2002 over a full seven games. Sunday's thriller also was the first World Series game ever with three three-run home runs. "I feel like I'm going to have a heart attack out there," the Astros' Carlos Correa said. Game 6 is Tuesday night at Dodger Stadium.

8

House GOP tax-cut bill faces opposition from lobbyists

President Trump's tax cuts faced growing opposition on Sunday from interest groups opposed to eliminating popular deductions to help pay for them. The National Association of Home Builders, a powerful housing industry trade group, said it would work to kill the bill after House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) said the legislation, which will be released Wednesday, would not include a homeownership tax credit. "We're opposed to the tax bill without the tax credit in there, and we'll be working very aggressively to see it defeated," NAHB chief executive Jerry Howard said. House Republicans also face opposition over proposals to reduce tax-free 401(k) contributions, and deductions for state and local tax payments.

9

Carbon dioxide level makes record surge in 2016

Carbon dioxide levels have surged to the highest point in 800,000 years due to human-caused pollution and a strong El Nino, the World Meteorological Organization said Monday. The key greenhouse gas' concentrations reached an average of 403.3 parts per million in 2016, up from 400 parts per million the year before, and the increase was 50 percent greater than the average over the last 10 years. The organization said the change could mean worsening "severe ecological and economic disruptions," because the last time CO2 levels were this high the planet was 2 to 3 degrees Celsius warmer, and sea levels were as much as 20 meters higher than they are now.

10

Kevin Spacey apologizes to actor who accused him of sexual misconduct

Actor Anthony Rapp told BuzzFeed News that when he was 14 years old, Kevin Spacey, then 26, made a sexual advance toward him in Spacey's home. Spacey responded with a public apology and came out as gay. Rapp said the incident occurred at a party in 1986, when both actors were in Broadway plays. Rapp said after everyone else left, Spacey picked him up, put him on the bed, and climbed on top of him. Rapp said he squirmed away and left. Spacey said via Twitter that he was "beyond horrified" to hear the story. He said he did not remember the incident, "but if I did behave as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior."

Recommended

Biden reverses some Trump restrictions on Cuba
A man drives down a street in Havana, Cuba.
a new era

Biden reverses some Trump restrictions on Cuba

McDonald's announces total withdrawal from Russia
Russian McDonald's
Mc-bye!

McDonald's announces total withdrawal from Russia

U.S. updates foreign terrorism blacklist, removing 5 extremist groups
A wall painted with portraits of prisoners of the Basque separatist armed group ETA, in the small village of Hernani, northern Spain, on May 2, 2018.
Terror watch

U.S. updates foreign terrorism blacklist, removing 5 extremist groups

Russia's failed Ukraine river crossing has pro-Russia war bloggers griping
Failed Russian river crossing
Losing faith

Russia's failed Ukraine river crossing has pro-Russia war bloggers griping

Most Popular

Russia's failed Ukraine river crossing has pro-Russia war bloggers griping
Failed Russian river crossing
Losing faith

Russia's failed Ukraine river crossing has pro-Russia war bloggers griping

Why 'the Russian army just isn't very good'
Vladimir Putin.
Briefing

Why 'the Russian army just isn't very good'

Watch Wynonna Judd and Brandi Carlile sing 'The Rose' at Naomi Judd memorial
Wynonna Judd, Brandi Carlile
Some Say Love...

Watch Wynonna Judd and Brandi Carlile sing 'The Rose' at Naomi Judd memorial