10 things you need to know today: July 5, 2018
Immigration activist scales Statue of Liberty pedestal in protest, British couple poisoned by Soviet-era nerve agent, and more
Immigration activist arrested after scaling Statue of Liberty pedestal
New York police officers arrested a woman who climbed onto the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty on Wednesday to protest the Trump administration's separation of undocumented migrant families at the Mexican border. Seven other protesters were arrested earlier on the Fourth of July after they unfurled a banner reading "Abolish ICE" at the base of the statue. The protesters are part of a group named Rise and Resist, an organizer said, but the woman's climb was not planned as part of the demonstration. After the woman, identified as Congolese immigrant Therese Patricia Okoumou, scaled the statue, Liberty Island was evacuated. A law enforcement official said officers climbed up to get her using a rope rescue system because they did not believe she would come down on her own.
British couple poisoned by nerve agent used against former Russian spy
British authorities confirmed Wednesday that a 44-year-old woman and 45-year-old man hospitalized in southern England after being found sick on Saturday had been exposed to the same Soviet-era nerve agent that sickened former Russian double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in March. The Skripals were found in Salisbury, just a few miles from Amesbury, where the latest victims were exposed. The couple, Charlie Rowley and Dawn Sturgess, had made a round-trip from Amesbury to Salisbury on Friday, although they didn't visit any sites connected to the Skripal case. "I don't have any intelligence or evidence that they were targeted in any way," said Neil Basu, Britain's most senior counter-terrorism officer. "There is nothing in their background to suggest that at all."
Trump thanks 'American heroes' on Fourth
President Trump on Wednesday released a video in which he and the first lady wished Americans a happy Fourth of July, thanking members of the military for helping win the nation's independence more than two centuries ago. "Our freedom has been earned through the blood and sweat and sacrifice of American heroes," Trump said in a short video he posted on Twitter. Trump singled out George Washington and "his army of brave patriots" for their "long, tough war with the British to win America's freedom," adding: "Win they did. From Bunker Hill to Saratoga to Yorktown, American soldiers fought and died to secure our independence and to make a sovereign nation."
Top Polish Supreme Court justice defies purge
The head of Poland's Supreme Court, Małgorzata Gersdorf, showed up for work on Wednesday, refusing to quit in defiance of a controversial law effectively purging 27 of the court's 72 judges. "My presence here is not about politics, I am here to protect the rule of law," Gersdorf said, holding a white rose at the court building's entrance. Gersdorf and other judges 65 or older are being forced to retire under the new law. The measure took full effect on Tuesday in an ongoing effort by Poland's ruling right-wing Law and Justice party to exert control over the courts. It has provoked mass protests and escalated tensions between Poland's government and the European Union over the rule of law.
China says U.S. 'opening fire' with tariffs
China on Thursday accused the Trump administration of "opening fire" with its proposed tariffs, warning that China would respond immediately if the U.S. goes through on Friday with new levies on $34 billion of Chinese imports, as planned. Trump has threatened to escalate the conflict with tariffs on up to $450 billion worth of Chinese goods if China imposes retaliatory tariffs. The tensions have roiled stock, currency, and commodity markets. China Commerce Ministry spokesman Gao Feng warned that the proposed U.S. tariffs would hurt everyone. "U.S. measures are essentially attacking global supply and value chains. To put it simply, the U.S. is opening fire on the entire world, including itself," he said. The Trump administration has said the U.S. only wants to be treated fairly.
Pompeo heads to North Korea seeking denuclearization steps
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leaves Thursday for North Korea to get Pyongyang to agree to concrete steps toward denuclearization. Pompeo will meet with North Korean officials on Friday and Saturday. He is under pressure to get North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to follow through on the pledge he made in his June summit with President Trump to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Since then, monitoring groups have reported that North Korea has continued work on its nuclear research and missile programs, and U.S. intelligence agencies have questioned whether Kim would ever give up his nuclear weapons. It is Pompeo's third trip to North Korea in as many months.
ISIS says leader's son killed fighting in Syria
The Islamic State says the son of its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was killed fighting government forces in Syria. An announcement posted to the Islamist extremist group's social media accounts included a picture of a boy carrying a rifle, identifying him as Huthaifa al-Badri. The statement said he was killed fighting Syrian and Russian soldiers at a power station in Homs province. ISIS did not say when he was killed, but the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group, said that the last ISIS operations in the area were in early June. Al-Baghdadi has been reported killed on several occasions only to turn up alive. Little is known about his family.
France calls for calm after riot over fatal police shooting
The French government called for calm in the western city of Nantes on Wednesday after riots over the fatal police shooting of a young motorist. Over several hours, protestors burned cars, vandalized stores, and threw Molotov cocktails at police. "I'm appealing for absolute calm, as the rule of law will be completely respected," Justice Minister Nicole Belloubet told RTL radio on Wednesday. The 22-year-old motorist, identified by the French newspaper Le Monde as Aboubakar F., was stopped in the town of Breil. Police reportedly received orders to bring him to their station because his "identity was not clear," France24 reported. The young man allegedly tried to drive away in reverse and hit an officer in the knee, and another officer shot him. Authorities are investigating.
Gas prices hit four-year high
Gas prices hit a four-year high over the Fourth of July travel window, with the average price of a gallon at $2.86 on Tuesday, according to AAA. For those making long trips over the weekend, prices will fluctuate from state to state. Arizona posted an average price of $3.06 per gallon, while in neighboring California, gas averaged $3.73 per gallon, according to GasBuddy. Gas in Texas was $2.66 on Tuesday, while next door in New Mexico it was $2.91 per gallon. On the other side of the Lone Star state, in Louisiana, it was $2.59. Gas has shot higher as oil prices steadily climb. On Tuesday, U.S. crude oil futures hit more than $75 per barrel, the highest level since November 2014.
Joey Chestnut, Miki Sudo keep Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest titles
Joey "Jaws" Chestnut downed a record 74 hot dogs in 10 minutes during the annual Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest on Coney Island Wednesday, winning his third straight title and 11th in the last 12 years. Chestnut broke the record he set last year, when he ate 72 hot dogs. At first, it was announced Chestnut ate 64 hot dogs, but the counter realized they had missed a plate with 10 hot dogs that he finished. Miki Sudo won her fifth straight title on the women's side, finishing 37 hot dogs in 10 minutes, down from the 41 she ate last year.