Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: February 7, 2018

Trump says he'd "love" a government shutdown, SpaceX launches the world's strongest rocket, and more

1

Trump says he'd 'love to see a shutdown' as Congress nears spending deal

President Trump said Tuesday he would "love to see a shutdown" of the federal government if Democrats don't accept enough of his priorities on tightening immigration laws as part of a spending deal. "If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don't want safety," Trump said, "... let's shut it down." Trump's comments came as the House passed legislation seeking to avoid a shutdown when funding runs out at midnight Thursday. The House's stopgap spending bill would fund most federal agencies through March 23, although Senate Democrats are expected to reject its increase in military spending without a mirror hike in non-defense spending. Senate leaders, however, said they were making progress toward a two-year budget deal that would set up an immigration debate next week.

2

SpaceX successfully test launches world's most powerful rocket

SpaceX on Tuesday successfully launched its new 27-engine Falcon Heavy, now the world's most powerful rocket. The Falcon Heavy blasted off on its first test flight from the Kennedy Space Center launchpad used in the Apollo moon missions. The Falcon Heavy is the first privately financed rocket capable of sending a payload beyond Earth's orbit. Its payload, which includes a sports car made by SpaceX founder Elon Musk's electric car maker Tesla, is on a trajectory that will pass near Mars. SpaceX also successfully landed two booster rockets in a historic double landing, although another rocket that was to land on a drone ship crashed into the sea. SpaceX reuses booster rockets to reduce costs and turnaround times for space missions.

3

U.S. stocks rise in volatile trading, but futures drop again

U.S. stocks snapped out of a sell-off Tuesday in a volatile day of trading, although futures dropped by nearly 1 percent early Wednesday, giving up part of the rally. The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 568 points or 2.3 percent on Tuesday, a day after losing 1,175 points, the biggest daily point loss in history. The Dow plunged by more than 500 points at Tuesday's opening bell, then reversed course before making big gains just before the close. The chief executive officer at Boston Private Wealth, Tom Anderson, explained the bumpy trading to The Wall Street Journal: "No one wants to catch a falling knife," he said, "so investors are looking to see things firm up or fall a bit more before buying."

4

U.S. objects after Polish leader signs controversial Holocaust bill

Polish President Andrzej Duda signed a controversial ban on blaming Poles or Poland for Nazi crimes in the country during World War II. The law, pushed through by far-right lawmakers, also aims to prevent people from describing Nazi death camps, including Auschwitz, as Polish. The move triggered a rare rebuke from the Trump administration against Duda. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said he was "disappointed" in Duda's decision to sign the bill. "Enactment of this law adversely affects freedom of speech and academic inquiry," Tillerson said. "We believe that open debate, scholarship, and education are the best means of countering misleading speech." Israel, which has harshly criticized the legislation, said it hoped a constitutional review would result in "changes and corrections."

5

Supreme Court partially blocks changes to some North Carolina state legislative districts

The Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily blocked state legislative-district maps in North Carolina's two largest urban counties, six days before the 2018 filing period opens for General Assembly candidates. The high court left new maps in place for six other counties, without explaining why it blocked only two while considering whether to hear an appeal in the case. A 2016 court ruling found that 28 districts were unconstitutionally gerrymandered to dilute the influence of black voters. The Republican-controlled General Assembly adopted new maps in 2017, but challengers said some remained unfair. Those were redrawn by a Stanford University law professor. The Supreme Court last month blocked another federal court's order for North Carolina to redraw its congressional maps.

6

Earthquake kills at least 6 in Taiwan

A magnitude-6.4 earthquake struck near Taiwan's east coast late Tuesday, killing at least six people, injuring 225, and leaving more than 80 missing. The U.S. Geological Survey put the epicenter about 13 miles northeast of the coastal city of Hualien. Many buildings were damaged, including the Marshal Hotel, where part of the ground floor caved in. "We know there are people who are trapped inside — we can see lights inside the hotel," witness Zeena Starbuck told BBC News. "People with phones are shining their lights to let people know they're there." Another hotel, the Beautiful Life, was left tilting. The area where the quake hit is in the famed "Pacific Rim of Fire," a center of seismic activity stretching from Alaska to Southeast Asia.

7

Trump reportedly orders Pentagon to prepare big military parade

During a meeting last month attended by Defense Secretary James Mattis and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford, President Trump said he wanted the Pentagon to start planning a military parade for Washington, D.C., two officials briefed on the meeting told The Washington Post. "The marching orders were: I want a parade like the one in France," one person told the Post. "This is being worked at the highest levels of the military." There's no date set, the Post reports, although Trump would like it on a patriotic holiday like the 4th of July and wants it to go along Pennsylvania Avenue, passing the Trump International Hotel.

8

Acela Express train cars separate at high speed in latest Amtrak incident

An Amtrak Acela Express train came apart Tuesday shortly after it left Washington, D.C., on the way to New York and Boston. The train was traveling at about 124 miles per hour when two of the train's eight passenger cars separated. Fifty-two passengers had to evacuate and board other trains, but nobody was injured. Amtrak is inspecting its other Acela trains to prevent similar incidents. The National Transportation Safety Board said it was monitoring the situation, and the Federal Railroad Administration said it was investigating. The incident came after three fatal accidents involving Amtrak trains since December.

9

Kim Jong Un's sister to attend Winter Olympics opening in South Korea

The influential younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un will visit South Korea this week, making her the first member of the North's ruling family ever to cross the border into the South, officials in Seoul said Wednesday. Kim Yo-jong will arrive Friday in Pyongyang's 22-member government delegation to the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics. The North Korean delegation will be officially led by the isolated communist nation's 90-year-old president, Kim Yong-nam, the nominal head of state. The delegation's three-day itinerary includes a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence also will attend the opening ceremony. Pence said Wednesday in Japan that the U.S. soon will unveil the "toughest and most aggressive" economic sanctions yet over North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.

10

Appeals court rejects challenge to $25 million Trump University settlement

A federal appeals court on Tuesday rejected a challenge to the $25 million settlement that President Trump was ordered to pay former students of his defunct Trump University. One former student, Sherri Simpson, challenged the settlement because she wanted to go to trial over the $19,000 she paid to Trump University, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the class-action suit "promised only one opportunity to opt out," and Simpson missed it. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D), who filed a civil suit that was resolved by the settlement, said the ruling "means that victims of Donald Trump's fraudulent university will soon receive the $25 million in relief they deserve."

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