Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 23, 2018

South Korea silences propaganda loudspeakers ahead of summit, police hunt for Nashville shooting suspect, and more


South Korea cuts off propaganda loudspeakers ahead of summit

South Korea on Monday turned off loudspeakers that it had used to blast K-Pop music and other propaganda into North Korea. The decision came ahead of the historic Friday summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The South's Defense Ministry said the move was intended to "ease military tensions and create a peaceful mood" for the summit. "We hope that our move today will result in South and North Korea ending mutual slandering and propaganda against each other and creating a peaceful new beginning," the ministry said. Over the weekend, Kim announced that his country would halt tests of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles, and shut down his country's nuclear test site.


Police hunt for Nashville shooting suspect

Travis Reinking, the fugitive suspected in the shooting that left four dead at a Nashville Waffle House restaurant over the weekend, was arrested last July outside the White House complex. Reinking, 29, crossed a security barrier and refused to leave, saying he "wanted to set up a meeting with the president," Special Agent Todd Hudson said Sunday. Reinking was released, but police in his home state of Illinois seized four guns from him. His father got them back, promising to keep them secure. One of the weapons was the AR-15 used in the Waffle House shooting. Police searched for Reinking overnight after he fled on foot. Waffle House customer James Shaw Jr., who disarmed the attacker, said, "I saw an opportunity and I took it."


Macron heads to Washington for state visit with Trump

French President Emmanuel Macron heads to Washington on Monday for a meeting with President Trump. Macron will be making the first visit to the U.S. of his young presidency as he faces strikes by public employees over his ambitious domestic reform package. Macron has alienated himself from some of his fellow leaders by courting a close relationship with Trump, who has responded by inviting Macron to make the first formal state visit of the Trump presidency. A key topic for the two leaders will be the nuclear agreement with Iran, which Trump has criticized as a bad deal but Macron and other European leaders insist must be upheld. Macron also is expected to argue the U.S. should not pull out of Syria.


Supreme Court showdown looms over Trump travel ban

The latest version of President Trump's travel ban faces a showdown in the Supreme Court this week. The justices will hear oral arguments on Wednesday in a challenge to the policy. The first two versions of the ban targeted people from only a handful of predominantly Muslim countries. The third version also includes restrictions on certain travelers from North Korea and Venezuela, although those restrictions were not challenged. The lead plaintiff, the state of Hawaii, argues that the policy still violates the Constitution by favoring people of other faiths over Muslims. The Supreme Court in December ruled that most of the ban could take effect while the legal challenge was working its way through the courts.


Nicaraguan government cancels social security changes that sparked protests

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said Sunday that his government has canceled the proposed changes to social security that provoked days of deadly protests. Ortega said in a televised address that the Central American country's social security system board had voted to revoke the planned changes. The news came after violent protests resulted in the looting of dozens of shops in the Nicaraguan capital city of Managua. At least seven people were killed, with human rights groups putting the death toll over the last several days at 26 or more. Hundreds of other people have been injured. The dead included a journalist who was shot while doing a Facebook Live broadcast.


Paris attacks suspect convicted in related case in Belgium

A Belgian court on Monday convicted Salah Abdeslam, the surviving suspect in the 2015 Paris terror attacks, over the shootout with Brussels police that led to his 2016 arrest. The judge sentenced Abdeslam, 28, to 20 years in prison, as well as Abdeslam's co-defendant, Sofien Ayari. Both were found guilty of terror-related attempted murder charges. The duo shot at officers during a raid on an apartment that ended four months on the run for Abdeslam. He is being held in France, where he soon goes to trial for the Paris attacks, which were linked to the Islamic State and left 130 people dead.


Southwest struggles to limit flight cancellations during inspections

Southwest Airlines canceled about 40 flights Sunday as the company ramped up engine inspections on its Boeing 737s following a midair engine explosion that killed one passenger on a flight last week. The airline voluntarily announced inspections of the CFM56-type engines, which power most of its fleet, after the accident. Investigators believe the accident last week started when one of the engine's fan blades broke off. Southwest said it has "minimized flight disruptions" by routing aircraft, including spare planes, to cover open trips. A spokesperson said the roughly 40 flights canceled Sunday were out of a schedule of 4,000 flights.


32 Chinese tourists killed in North Korea traffic accident

Thirty-two Chinese tourists and four North Koreans were killed in a traffic accident in North Korea, Chinese officials said Monday. Two other Chinese tourists were injured and hospitalized in "acutely serious condition," China's Foreign Ministry said. Beijing sent a medical team over the border to help. Video footage broadcast in China showed a mangled bus flanked by rescue vehicles. In the footage, it was dark and rain was falling heavily. China shares a long border with North Korea, and is the isolated communist-run nation's largest trading partner.


Brands complain Alibaba retaliates if they don't sign exclusive contracts

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has punished U.S. companies that refused to sign exclusive contracts by taking steps to cut traffic to their online storefronts, The Associated Press reported Monday, citing executives from five major consumer brands. One major clothing company said it had been expecting a 20 percent jump in online sales on Alibaba's Tmall. After it declined an exclusive contract and participated in a sale promotion with Alibaba rival JD.com Inc., the company's advertising banners disappeared from prime Tmall spots and sales plunged by up to 20 percent. "That's a clear manipulation of traffic," the brand's e-commerce director said. "That's a clear punishment." Alibaba denied punishing companies, but said some choose exclusive contracts to take advantage of "attractive services and value."


Royal baby watch: Duchess of Cambridge goes into labor

Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, was rushed to a London hospital Monday in the "early stages of labor," Kensington Palace announced. The baby, the third child of the duchess and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, will be fifth in line to the British throne, behind the child's sister, Princess Charlotte, 2, and Prince George, 4, and father and grandfather, Prince Charles. The baby will nudge uncle Prince Harry back to sixth. Kensington Palace had said the baby was due in April but did not give a specific date. The arrival of Kate and William at the hospital touched off a royal baby watch, with royal fans clad in Union-Jack-themed clothes gathering outside the hospital.


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