Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: November 13, 2017

President Trump touts his "great relationship" with Duterte, an earthquake kills hundreds in Iran and Iraq, and more


Trump touts 'great relationship' with Duterte

President Trump said Monday he had a "great relationship" with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte after their first formal one-on-one meeting. Trump declined to answer questions about whether he had pressed human rights issues with Duterte, an authoritarian leader accused of ordering extrajudicial killings of drug suspects. White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that the issue of human rights "briefly came up in the context of the Philippines' fight against illegal drugs." Duterte's spokesman said Duterte talked about the "drug menace" but Trump never mentioned human rights. Duterte, who had tense relations with former President Barack Obama, expressed his affinity for Trump at a Sunday dinner by singing a Philippine love ballad that includes the line, "You are the love I've been waiting for."


Earthquake kills hundreds in Iran and Iraq

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck near the Iraq-Iran border in the Iraqi city of Halabja on Sunday, killing at least 330 people, most of them in Iran. Iran's state-run news agency reported that at least 328 people were killed and about 3,950 were injured in the country. News videos showed people fleeing their homes in the night. More than 100 aftershocks were reported. At least seven people died in Iraq, and at least 535 were injured. The quake, which was centered just over 200 miles north of Baghdad, was felt across Iraq and as far away Pakistan, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Turkey. Iran sits on several major fault lines and experiences frequent earthquakes. A magnitude 6.6 temblor killed 26,000 people in the historic city of Bam in 2003.


Texas pastor tells survivors to keep faith after massacre

The congregation of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, gathered Sunday for its first service since a gunman murdered 26 worshippers a week ago. The members of the small church and hundreds of others met at a baseball field about a half-mile from the church, which would have been too small to accommodate the crowd. The church's pastor, Frank Pomeroy, has vowed to start arming himself when he preaches, but said his faith was unshaken. Pomeroy, who lost his 14-year-old daughter in the mass shooting, said the surviving church members should "not allow the lives that were lost or the families hurt lie in vain."


Roy Moore threatens to sue Washington Post as top Republicans distance themselves

Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore continued to mostly deny allegations from four women that he initiated inappropriate physical relationships when he was in his 30s and they were teenagers as young as 14, telling a Christian Citizen Task Force forum on Sunday that The Washington Post, which reported the accusations after speaking with 30 people who knew Moore in the late 1970s and early '80s, had printed false allegations "for which they will be sued." Meanwhile, four polls since Thursday show a dead heat between Moore and Democrat Doug Jones, and Senate Republicans and the White House are increasingly distancing themselves from Moore. Two GOP senators — Tim Scott (S.C.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) — said Sunday they find the accusations more credible than Moore's denials.


Lebanese prime minister vows to return home after surprise resignation

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri said Sunday in his first TV interview since he unexpectedly announced his resignation last week that he would be returning home from Saudi Arabia "within days." Hariri rejected suggestions by opponents and allies alike that Saudi Arabia, which is increasingly clashing with Iran, had coerced him into resigning and accusing the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and its ally, Iran, for destabilizing Lebanon and the region. Hariri said he was free to travel "if I wanted to," but that he was being careful about returning to Lebanon to avoid being assassinated like his father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was killed in a 2005 car bombing blamed on Hezbollah members.


Former intelligence chiefs say Putin using flattery to manipulate Trump

Two former top U.S. intelligence officials on Sunday said Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared to be manipulating President Trump with flattery. A day earlier, Trump dismissed the intelligence chiefs, former CIA Director John Brennan, and ex-National Intelligence Director James Clapper, as "political hacks" and questioned their agencies' shared conclusion that Russia meddled in last year's U.S. presidential election. Trump walked back his criticism on Sunday, saying that he believes that Putin really feels that Russia did not interfere in the election, but that, "I believe very much in our intelligence agencies," which Trump said are "currently led by fine people."


Report: Green Beret killed in Mali discovered 2 SEALs were stealing

Staff Sgt. Logan Melgar, a 34-year-old Green Beret who died in Mali in June, had discovered that two members of SEAL Team Six, who are now being investigated in his death, were stealing money from a fund used to pay local informants, The Daily Beast reported on Sunday, citing five members of the special-operations community. Melgar's wife said he had told her he had a bad feeling about two SEALs he was working with and would tell her more when he returned home. The SEALs told superiors that Melgar was drunk during hand-to-hand fighting exercises, but no drugs or alcohol were found in his body in an autopsy. Military investigators believe Melgar lost consciousness in an early morning altercation with the SEALs.


North Korean soldier shot, injured while defecting to South

North Korean troops shot and injured a fellow soldier on Monday as he dashed across the heavily armed border into South Korea as the two countries remain on high alert due to tensions over the North's missile and nuclear weapons programs. South Korean soldiers found the defector about 55 yards south of the border line and took him to a hospital, where he was being treated for gunshot wounds to an elbow and shoulder. The incident occurred as the U.S. and South Korea conduct joint naval exercises involving three American aircraft carriers off South Korea's east coast. This is the first time in a decade the U.S. has used three carrier groups in the drills, in a show of the kind of force President Trump has said Americans "hope to God we never have to use" against Pyongyang.


Uber seals big investment by SoftBank

Uber on Sunday approved SoftBank's offer to invest billions in the ride-hailing company. The Japanese conglomerate will lead a consortium of investors to buy at least 14 percent of Uber. SoftBank reportedly plans to buy about $1 billion of fresh Uber stock at the ride-hailing service's current valuation of about $68.5 billion, and purchase about $9 billion worth of existing shares from current Uber shareholders. The deal is expected to pave the way for sweeping governance changes at Uber, which has shaken up its leadership following complaints about sexual harassment and a toxic corporate culture, and a move to take the company public by 2019.


Gossip columnist Liz Smith dies at 94

Longtime New York tabloid gossip columnist Liz Smith died on Sunday at her Manhattan home. She was 94. Smith chronicled the lives of the rich and famous for more than 30 years, writing her column for publications including the New York Daily News, Newsday, and finally the New York Post, where it appeared from 1995 to 2009, before it moved onto the internet in the New York Social Diary. For years, her column was syndicated and was published in up to 70 other newspapers. She occasionally got big scoops, such as Donald and Ivana Trump's 1990 split and Madonna's 1996 pregnancy, but Smith was known for a more gentle approach to gossip than the brutal, sensationalist style of many of her competitors, which led critics to accuse her of going easy on celebrities to stay in their good graces.


Spanish Prime Minister and U.S. Embassy latest targets in series of letter bombs
U.S. embassy in Madrid

Spanish Prime Minister and U.S. Embassy latest targets in series of letter bombs

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Camilla, King Charles, and Lady Susan Hussey.
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What is a 'lady-in-waiting,' anyway?

Paul Whelan reportedly moved to prison hospital
Paul Whelan.
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Paul Whelan reportedly moved to prison hospital

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