Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 5, 2017

Trump begins Asia tour with speech and golf in Japan, Rand Paul assaulted at Kentucky home, and more


Trump begins Asia tour with speech and golf in Japan

President Trump arrived in Japan Saturday night after a stop in Hawaii, beginning his 13-day diplomatic tour of Asia. Trump's first event Sunday was a speech at the joint U.S.-Japanese Yokota air base near Tokyo, where he told the assembled "brave warriors" they are "the greatest threat to tyrants and dictators who seek to prey on the innocent." The president then joined Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at a country club to have hamburgers, play a round of golf, talk about North Korea, and sign matching baseball caps reading, "Donald and Shinzo: Make Alliance Even Greater." Meanwhile, first lady Melania Trump met her Japanese counterpart, Akie Abe, to tour a pearl market.


Rand Paul assaulted at Kentucky home

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was assaulted while mowing the lawn at his home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, on Friday, sustaining minor injuries including cuts near his mouth and a "possible rib injury" that caused difficult breathing. News of the arrest of suspect Rene Boucher, who has been charged with one count of fourth-degree assault, was reported Saturday. Local sources say Boucher is Paul's neighbor and an outspoken critic of the senator's fellow Republican, President Trump, on social media. It is unclear whether the attack's motivation was political or related to a neighborly dispute.


White House slams Bushes after 'blowhard' comments

Former Presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush are seen offering blunt criticisms of President Trump, their fellow Republican, in excerpts of a forthcoming book published by The New York Times Saturday. The elder Bush says he does not like Trump and considers him a "blowhard," while the younger Bush says Trump is not humble and "doesn't know what it means to be president." The White House issued a response slamming both former presidents' legacies later Saturday, accusing them of weakening the GOP and calling the war in Iraq "one of the greatest foreign policy mistakes in American history."


McConnell says not 'much pressure to pass' bill protecting Mueller

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Saturday he does not expect to pass legislation to keep Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired by President Trump. "I don't hear much pressure to pass anything," he said. "There's been no indication that the president or the White House are not cooperating with the special counsel." Two bipartisan bills have been introduced in the Senate to forestall any White House moves to ax Mueller. One would require judicial approval for the Justice Department to fire any special counsel; the other would let any special counsel challenge a firing in court.


Yemeni rebels claim missile attack on Saudi Arabia

Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for Saturday's missile attack on Riyadh in neighboring Saudi Arabia. The missile was intercepted and destroyed near the city's airport, and no one was injured. "The capital cities of countries that continually shell us, targeting innocent civilians, will not be spared from our missiles," the rebels said in a statement, referring to the U.S.-facilitated, Saudi-led Sunni coalition intervening in Yemen's civil war to oppose the Shiite Houthis. The coalition blockade and airstrikes have been accused of being war crimes as Yemen's civilian population suffers famine and a cholera epidemic. Also Saturday in Saudi Arabia, 11 princes were arrested in a corruption investigation, consolidating the authority of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, a driving force behind the Yemen intervention.


Iran parades missile on embassy takeover anniversary

Iran on Saturday marked the anniversary of the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran, commemorating the launch of the 444-day hostage crisis with a parade featuring a ballistic missile. This is an annual event, but Reuters reports 2017 saw a larger turnout than recent years, and much of protesters' ire seemed to be directed at President Trump, as well as Israel and the United States more generally. Marchers carried signs reading "Shut up Trump," and Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, told the crowd "the American president is a crazy individual who is taking others toward the direction of suicide," a reference to Trump's decision to decertify the Iran deal.


Lebanese prime minister resigns

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri resigned Saturday while visiting Saudi Arabia. Hariri's announcement came via televised comments from Riyadh in which he accused Iran and its Shiite Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, of destabilizing the Middle East. "The evil that Iran spreads in the region will backfire on it," he said, alleging that Hezbollah is "directing weapons" to Yemen and Syria, and pledging that Saudi Arabia's Sunni coalition will "cut off the hands that wickedly extend" to Hezbollah. Hariri, a Sunni, took office in 2016 with a unity cabinet that included Hezbollah. His resignation is unexpected, and it is not clear who will take his place.


Sprint and T-Mobile call off merger talks

Wireless carriers Sprint and T-Mobile on Saturday announced they are not able to reach a merger deal after months of negotiations and have decided to call off their talks. "The prospect of combining with Sprint has been compelling for a variety of reasons," said T-Mobile President and CEO John Legere, but "we have been clear all along that a deal with anyone will have to result in superior long-term value for T-Mobile's shareholders." Sprint would have brought considerable debt to the new company, which still would have ranked third in U.S. customer base behind Verizon and AT&T.


U.S. woman jailed in Zimbabwe over tweet

An American woman named Martha O'Donovan has been arrested and charged with subversion in Zimbabwe after allegedly tweeting that the country's President Robert Mugabe is "a selfish and sick man." Mugabe is widely considered a dictator and has been accused of gross human rights abuses. O'Donovan appeared in Zimbabwe's highest court Saturday to make a bail application; she will remain in jail over the weekend and reappear in court Monday. "I deny the allegations being leveled against me as baseless and malicious," O'Donovan told the court. She faces up to 20 years in prison.


New York City marathon proceeds after truck attack

Some 50,000 competitors with run the New York City Marathon Sunday, unbowed by Tuesday's deadly truck attack in Manhattan. "I will not be defeated by it," said Ito, a 59-year-old runner who reports the incident gave him "a little trepidation" but not enough to interrupt his racing plans. Marathon organizers told Reuters they have not seen any spike in cancellations. However, security will be "more intense this year," The New York Times reports, with police prepared to use "snipers, aviation units, undercover officers, and sanitation trucks filled with sand" to block any would-be vehicle attacks.


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