Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: May 29, 2018

The U.S. and North Korea continue discussions to revive summit, two journalists killed covering Alberto's rains, and more


U.S., North Korea continue efforts to plan summit

The U.S. and North Korea are continuing work on efforts to revive plans for a June summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. U.S. diplomats met with North Korean officials along the South Korean border on Monday, and South Korean media reported that a North Korean delegation arrived in Singapore for likely talks on summit preparations with U.S. officials. Senior North Korean official Kim Yong Chol is also en route to New York City, Trump confirmed Tuesday. Kim will be the most senior North Korean official to visit the U.S. since 2000, following Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's two trips to North Korea this year. Trump called off his potentially historic meeting with Kim Jong Un last week, citing recent angry statements by North Korean officials.


2 journalists killed as Alberto makes landfall in Florida

Subtropical Storm Alberto made landfall near Laguna Beach, Florida, on Monday afternoon, with its maximum winds dropping to 45 mph in the hours before it hit. The National Hurricane Center said there was heavy rainfall and flash flooding in parts of the Florida Panhandle, and north into the Carolinas. Two journalists with the NBC affiliate WYFF in Greenville, South Carolina, were killed in North Carolina when a tree fell on their vehicle while they were driving in an area where a woman was killed in a mudslide during heavy rains a week earlier. Alberto is weakening further as it heads north, pushing more heavy rains into Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Alabama early Tuesday.


Macron promises Paris 'Spider Man' hero citizenship

French President Emmanuel Macron met Monday with Malian migrant Mamoudou Gassama, a day after the 22-year-old was hailed as a hero for rapidly climbing up four stories of an apartment building's balconies to save a 4-year-old dangling over a fifth-floor railing. Macron said Gassama, dubbed the "Spider Man" of Paris by admirers, had demonstrated astonishing selflessness and bravery, and that as a reward he would be given papers to stay in the country legally, if he wants. Macron also said "the Paris firefighters brigade would welcome him with a job." The rescue was caught on a video that went viral. "I ran. I crossed the street to save him," Gassama told Macron. "When I started to climb, it gave me courage to keep climbing." God "helped me. Thank God I saved him."


Trump lays wreath to honor fallen soldiers, takes heat for remarks

President Trump laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier to mark Memorial Day on Monday. Hours earlier, Trump tweeted: "Happy Memorial Day! Those who died for our great country would be very happy and proud at how well our country is doing today. Best economy in decades, lowest unemployment numbers for Blacks and Hispanics EVER (& women in 18 years), rebuilding our Military and so much more. Nice!" The veterans group Vote Vets, among other critics, slammed the tweet as inappropriate. "Self-promotion on a day to remember the fallen, and wishing those remembering their deceased loved ones a 'happy' holiday, is appalling," Vote Vets tweeted.


Maryland man missing after Ellicott City flash flood

A Maryland man remained missing Monday after being swept away by floodwaters in Ellicott City, outside Baltimore, a day earlier. Eddison "Eddie" Hermond, a 39-year-old National Guard sergeant, was having a late lunch in the historic mill town at La Palapa Grill & Cantina on Sunday when he spotted a woman trapped by rising water, and ran to help. "He just stepped over the ledge and he was immediately washed away," the woman, 41-year-old Kate Bowman, said. "It was so fast. He just got washed away real quick." Ellicott City was hit with similar flooding that killed two people two years ago. Many stores and other buildings that had just been restored after the previous flash flood were severely damaged again.


Poland seeks permanent U.S. military presence

Poland's defense minister, Mariusz Blaszczak, said Monday that he had held talks in Washington recently about securing a permanent presence of U.S. troops in his country. He said the U.S. forces were necessary to provide regional security after Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, and due to Moscow's ongoing support for separatists in Ukraine. Poland and neighbors Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have all expressed concern about Russia's efforts to expand its influence in the region. Poland and the Baltic states are particularly worried that Moscow could close the Suwalki Gap, a 60-mile-long strip of the Poland-Lithuania border between Russian ally Belarus and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on the Baltic Sea. Without it, the Baltic states would be cut off from the rest of Europe.


EU proposes ban on plastic cutlery, straws, and more

The European Commission on Monday proposed a ban on plastic straws, cutlery, plates, and other single-use items as part of an ongoing push to reduce carbon emissions and marine litter. "Plastic can be fantastic but we need to use it more responsibly," Commission Vice-President Jyrki Katainen said in a statement. "Today's proposals will help business and consumers to move towards sustainable alternatives." The ban is subject to approval by EU governments and the European Parliament. Member states also would have to cut back on the use of plastic food containers and drink cups by barring them from being given out at no charge. Some plastic products take 1,000 years to decompose, and the EU is trying to encourage companies to reuse more of them with such policies as requiring member states to collect 90 percent of single-use plastic drink bottles by 2025.


Virginia Rep. Garrett announces he is an alcoholic and won't seek re-election

Rep. Thomas Garrett (R-Va.), a member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said on Monday that he is an alcoholic, and will not run for re-election in the fall because he wants to focus on his recovery. Garrett, 46, is a former state senator and Army veteran, and won his 2016 election by 16 percentage points, but he was facing a strong challenge from his Democratic opponent, journalist and author Leslie Cockburn. Last week, Politico interviewed former staffers who said Garrett and his wife, Flanna, ordered them to do personal errands for the couple, like walk their dog and bring in their groceries, which is against House ethics rules.


Verint Systems in talks to buy Israeli surveillance software maker NSO

U.S. software company Verint Systems Inc. is negotiating a possible purchase of Israeli mobile surveillance software maker NSO Group for roughly $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday, citing a person familiar with the talks. NSO sells Pegasus spyware and other military-grade technology, primarily to government security agencies. NSO's primary shareholder, Francisco Partners, bought a majority stake in the company in 2014 for $120 million. NSO faced intense scrutiny last year after allegations surfaced that Mexico's government had used Pegasus mobile software to spy on private citizens.


Warriors beat Rockets, advance to fourth straight NBA Finals against Cavs

The Golden State Warriors beat the Houston Rockets 101-92 in Game 7 of the NBA Western Conference finals Monday night, setting up the fourth straight NBA Finals matchup with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 34 points, and Stephen Curry scored 14 of his 27 points in the third quarter, when the Warriors pulled ahead as Houston's scoring faltered. Game 1 of the finals is on Thursday night. The Cavs and Warriors have swapped championships in the last three NBA Finals, with Golden State winning in 2015 and 2017 and Cleveland in 2016. The Cavaliers made the finals with a Game 7 win over Boston on Sunday, putting LeBron James in the finals for the eighth straight year.


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