Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 14, 2018

Palestinian protests build as the U.S. opens its embassy in Jerusalem, Shiite cleric's coalition leads Iraq election returns, and more


Palestinians killed as protests build against U.S. embassy in Jerusalem

Israeli gunfire reportedly killed at least a dozen Palestinians and wounded at least 35 more along the Gaza Strip border fence on Monday as thousands of protesters gathered ahead of the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. Demonstrations against the embassy's move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which both Israelis and Palestinians claim as their capital, were fueled by calls from Gaza mosques urging people to participate in a "Great March of Return." The May 15 event, which honors the 700,000 Palestinians who left or were expelled from their homes due to Israel's 1948 Declaration of Independence, culminates six weeks of protests in which Israeli troops have now killed 49 Palestinians. President Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner, both White House advisers, are on hand for the embassy's inauguration on Monday.


Shiite cleric Sadr's coalition leads early Iraq election returns

An electoral coalition backed by Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr led early Iraq election results released Sunday. If the count holds when the final official tally is released Monday, the vote will upset the re-election campaign of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Sadr, who led a militia that fought U.S. troops during the occupation of Iraq, was not a candidate for office, but his coalition, called Sairoon, held a big lead in the capital city of Baghdad, which has the biggest presence in the 329-seat parliament. Abadi's coalition, which was the faction preferred by the U.S. and had been predicted to win, came in fifth in Baghdad and third overall. Sadr surprised everyone by building a non-Islamist, cross-sectarian coalition for the Saturday election.


Trump pledges to help China's ZTE rebound 'fast' after sanctions

President Trump on Sunday vowed to help Chinese cellphone maker ZTE Corp. "get back into business, fast," after being targeted with crippling U.S. sanctions. ZTE suspended its main operations after the Commerce Department last month banned U.S. companies from selling to the tech company for seven years over its failure to honor the terms of an agreement made after it was found to be illegally shipping U.S. goods to Iran and North Korea. Trump, in what was seen as a goodwill gesture ahead of high-stakes trade talks this week, tweeted: "Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!" Trump said he was working with Chinese President Xi Jinping on a fix.


Pompeo promises prosperity for North Korea if it dismantles nuclear program

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Sunday that the U.S. would lift sanctions against North Korea if it commits to dismantling its nuclear weapons program. Pompeo, speaking on Sunday morning talk shows, said that the U.S. would not send taxpayer money to North Korea but would let private companies invest in the cash-poor communist nation's energy, agriculture, and infrastructure sectors. "We can create conditions for real economic prosperity for the North Korean people that will rival that of the South," he said.


Suicide bombers hit Indonesian police station

Suicide bombers, apparently members of a single family, attacked a police station in the Indonesian city of Surabaya on Monday, a day after another family blew themselves up at three Christian churches. Monday's bombing, which involved four attackers on two motorcycles, injured 10 people, including four police officers, and killed all the attackers. An 8-year-old girl who was on one of the motorcycles was blown clear and survived. On Sunday, a husband and wife used their four children in suicide attacks on the churches, killing eight people. "These attacks are the nightmare scenario that's been anticipated since Indonesians affiliated with ISIS have returned from the Middle East," said Greg Barton, chair in Global Islamic Politics at Deakin University in Australia.


2 more fissures open around Hawaii volcano

Two more fissures opened Sunday around Hawaii's Kilauea volcano, bringing the total to 18 as the state braces for what could be a violent eruption. State and federal authorities warned residents in the southeast corner of the island of Hawaii that they should be prepared to evacuate at a moment's notice. The newest fissure spouted lava "many tens of feet into the air," the U.S. Geological Survey said. It prompted state officials to tell some area residents to leave their homes, the latest expansion of evacuations around the volcano. Authorities have warned that if the dropping lava level inside the volcano falls below the water table, it will generate enough steam to blast a shower of rocks, ash, and sulfur dioxide gases up to 10 miles downwind.


Education Department unwinds team investigating for-profit colleges

The Education Department has significantly reduced the size of a special team formed to investigate possibly fraudulent activities at large for-profit colleges, The New York Times reported Sunday. Current and former employees said their duties changed, with some of the team members reassigned or told to work on other matters, after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hired people who once worked at the for-profit institutions. The team was created in the wake of the 2016 collapse of Corinthian Colleges, as complaints started to flood in about for-profit institutions and their false advertising and program claims. At the end of the Obama administration, the team had about 12 people, but now there are just three.


French police question parents of Paris knife attacker

French police on Monday questioned the parents of Khamzat Azimov, a 20-year-old French citizen born in Chechnya who was fatally shot by police after killing one person and wounding four others in a Saturday knife attack in Paris. Investigators also interviewed one of Azimov's friends from the eastern city of Strasbourg, where the attacker lived before moving to Paris. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack. Azimov had been on a government radicalism watch list, but he had no criminal offenses. Conservative leader Laurent Wauquiez on Sunday criticized the French government for "inaction" and "blindness," saying the watch list is useless if authorities don't use it to stop potential attacks.


Former NFL coach Chuck Knox dies at 86

Former professional football coach Chuck Knox, who led the Los Angeles Rams to three straight NFC championship games, died over the weekend. He was 86. Knox was named NFL coach of the year in 1973, 1980, and 1984, winning once with each of the three NFL teams he coached: the Rams, the Seattle Seahawks, and Buffalo Bills. Knox was known as "Ground Chuck" due to his offenses focused on running. He went 186-147-1 in 22 seasons as an NFL head coach, and won five straight NFC West titles from 1973-77. "Great coach and an even better man," said Hall of Fame defensive end Jack Youngblood.


Avengers: Infinity War leads box office for third weekend

Avengers: Infinity War led the domestic box office for the third straight weekend, earning $61.8 million this weekend. Life of the Party, starring Melissa McCarthy, came in at No. 2 this week with $18.5 million. Avengers: Infinity War made a record $257.6 million in North America on its first weekend, then tacked on another $112.5 million in its second weekend. Its hauls in weeks two and three were the second highest totals ever, behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Avengers: Infinity War reached $500 million domestically faster than any film other than Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and it reached $1 billion globally faster than any other movie. Its global total has now reached $1.6 billion, making it the fifth biggest international release of all time.


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Scientists sequence Beethoven's DNA, 200 years after his death
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