Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 27, 2018

Moon says Kim is still committed to summit and 'complete denuclearization,' Gulf states declare emergencies over Storm Alberto, and more


Moon says Kim is still committed to summit and 'complete denuclearization'

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is still very much committed to his maybe on-again summit with President Trump in Singapore on June 12, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Sunday. The two Korean leaders met Saturday for an unannounced discussion of how to keep the summit and inter-Korean relations on track after Trump's surprise Thursday cancellation of the scheduled negotiations. Moon also reported Kim reaffirmed his promises to pursue "complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." Meanwhile, Trump told reporters late Saturday that if the summit proceeds, the time and location will remain unchanged.


Gulf states declare emergencies over Storm Alberto

The approach of Subtropical Storm Alberto has prompted the governors of Florida, Alabama, and Mississippi to declare states of emergency, warning residents and Memorial Day tourists of forthcoming heavy rain, high winds, storm surges, and flash flooding. "Remember, the track of these storms can change without notice," said Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R). "Do not think that only areas in the cone will be impacted." Alberto is expected to make landfall Monday, gathering strength as it moves northward through the Caribbean and up the Gulf Coast. Hurricane season officially begins June 1.


American jailed in Venezuela returned to U.S.

Joshua Holt, an American from Utah who has been jailed in Venezuela since 2016, was freed and returned to the United States Saturday. Holt's release was negotiated by the office of Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, with the administration of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, which had branded Holt a CIA spy. Holt originally went to Venezuela to marry a Venezuelan woman, Thamara Caleño, who was also released to America Saturday. The Holt family was hosted at the White House to meet President Trump, Corker, and Utah lawmakers.


Trump denies existence of White House-arranged briefing

President Trump went after The New York Times on Twitter Saturday, revisiting his usual critiques of the paper's ethics and commercial viability. He also claimed an unnamed senior White House official the Times cited in a report on the North Korea summit "doesn't exist." In reality, as recorded audio of a White House background briefing has demonstrated, the source is National Security Council official Matt Pottinger, and he was speaking in a White House-arranged conference call. Trump also sent a series of Russia probe-related tweets, mourning the "young and beautiful lives ... destroyed" by the investigation.


Trump tweets blame on Democrats for 'horrible law' separating migrant children from parents

"Put pressure on the Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from there [sic] parents once they cross the Border into the U.S.," President Trump tweeted Saturday morning. This critique of the practice of breaking up migrant families at the border is a complete reversal of his administration's previous stance. "If you are smuggling a child then we will prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you as required by law," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions earlier this month. Trump's about-face may be prompted by the wide outrage the practice has generated.


Hawaiian volcano spurs more evacuations, threatens geothermal plant

Hawaiian officials have urged complete evacuation of the Leilani Estates neighborhood in the path of lava flows from the still-active Kilauea volcano on the Big Island. "I don't know what's going to be left of Leilani," said resident Steve Gebbie. "I really think it might be wiped out." So far, the lava has covered 2,200 acres, destroyed 82 structures, and made another 37 structures inaccessible. There were 90 earthquakes near the summit Friday, and tremors have continued over the weekend. Lava flows now threaten a nearby geothermal plant, which has been shut down as a precaution.


U.S. pledges 'firm' measures to protect Syrian ceasefire zone

"As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to [Bashar al-]Assad regime violations," said State Department representative Heather Nauert late Friday. At issue is a ceasefire zone in southwestern Syria close to Golan Heights. The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Wednesday Syrian government troops were moving into the area, and Syrian state media stories suggested the same. Nauert's statement also warned the Assad regime against taking "any actions that risk broadening the conflict."


Official vote tally confirms Ireland abortion ban repeal

Confirming expectations from exit polls, Ireland's official tally of votes for Friday's referendum on abolishing the country's constitutional abortion ban sees the prohibition voted out 66 percent to 34 percent. Only County Donegal on the northwestern coast counted a majority of votes to keep the ban intact. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar celebrated the result as "a historic day for Ireland" and a "quiet revolution" for Irish women. The Save the 8th campaign, which conceded defeat Saturday, said "a wrong does not become right simply because a majority support it."


China expected to approve Qualcomm-NXP deal

China's State Administration for Market Regulation is reportedly set to sign off on the acquisition of NXP, a Dutch semiconductor manufacturer, by Qualcomm, an American semiconductor and telecom equipment company. The deal has been in limbo thanks to U.S.-China trade tensions, as "Chinese regulators have expressed concerns that the merged company would crowd out domestic businesses in areas such as mobile payments," The Wall Street Journal reports. The Beijing agency is one of eight global antitrust regulators from with Qualcomm has sought approval.


'Hero' science teacher released from hospital

The Indiana science teacher, Jason Seaman, who stopped a middle school shooting Friday despite being shot three times himself was released from the hospital after surgery Saturday. The one student who was also injured in the attack remains hospitalized in critical but stable condition. Seaman is "very brave. He's a hero today, and he did something that most people would never dare to do," said student and eyewitness Ethan Stonebraker, age 13. Investigation into the shooting remains in process.


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