Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 8, 2018

Thai cave rescue underway to save boys, North Korea calls Pompeo talks 'regrettable,' and more


Thai cave rescue underway to save boys

An elite team of divers and Thai Navy SEALs began the rescue operation to extract the Thai youth soccer team and their coach trapped in a cave for 15 days at 10 a.m. local time on Sunday. At 7:30 p.m. local time, CNN reported at least three boys were out of the cave. The boys were stuck in the cave when monsoon rains struck unseasonally early, and more rain is predicted to arrive in coming days, giving rescuers a narrow window to act. The rescue plan is a "buddy dive" system in which each boy will be accompanied out by two expert divers who can carry the oxygen supply. A one-way trip takes about six hours, and the full operation will take several days.


North Korea calls Pompeo talks 'regrettable'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's visit to Pyongyang was "regrettable," North Korea's Foreign Ministry said Saturday after Pompeo left. "We had expected that the U.S. side would offer constructive measures that would help build trust based on the spirit of" the recent summit between President Trump and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un, the statement said. "However, the attitude and stance the United States showed in the first high-level meeting" has led to a "dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm."


Judge maintains deadlines to reunite separated migrant families

U.S. District Judge Dana Sabraw of the Southern District of California this weekend declined to extend his court-ordered deadlines for the Trump administration to reunite migrant families separated at the border. Sabraw gave the administration until Tuesday to return children younger than 5 to their parents and until July 26 to reunite older children. The Justice Department argued the Department of Health and Human Services cannot properly locate parents and confirm their identities in time to meet the deadlines, and Sabraw has ordered the administration to provide information on the children to the ACLU so nonprofit organizations can assist the process.


Trump temporarily halts some ObamaCare payments

The Trump administration on Saturday halted $10.4 billion in risk adjustment payments to insurance companies, citing two court rulings from this winter which found the allocations were calculated incorrectly. Implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, the payments were managed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and were intended to offset costs for insurers with unusually ill and costly enrollees. The suspension is temporary, but CMS has not issued a new allocation policy or indicated when payments will resume.


Trump rages against media, 'Rigged Witch Hunt'

President Trump punched at familiar targets on Twitter Saturday, complaining about the media and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian election meddling. In one post, he noted that "Twitter is getting rid of fake accounts at a record pace" and asked whether The New York Times and The Washington Post would be purged, predicting both will be out of business within seven years. In two later tweets, Trump claimed "Public opinion has turned strongly against the Rigged Witch Hunt and the 'Special' Counsel," calling for investigation of his political opponents.


Turkey fires 18,000 civil servants, alleging terror ties

The Turkish government on Sunday fired and canceled the passports of some 18,000 civil servants, about half of them police officers, alleging ties to terrorist organizations. Another 6,000 are members of the military, and many of the remaining 3,000 are teachers and professors. The move comes shortly before President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to lift the two-year national state of emergency imposed following a failed coup in 2016. About 160,000 Turkish civil servants have been similarly purged since the coup attempt, and 50,000 of them have been charged and jailed.


Syrian regime retakes key border crossing

Syrian government troops took control of a key border crossing between Syria and Jordan in Deraa province Saturday as part of a Russian-brokered ceasefire deal with rebel fighters in the area. The crossing point was held by opposition groups for three years, choking trade to the region. Syrian state media reported government forces also captured other nearby border areas, where they "shut down all illegal crossings and smuggling and supply routes" for the rebels. The ceasefire deal will provide amnesty for some opposition fighters and move others to rebel-held areas after they surrender their heavy and medium weaponry.


Haiti suspends fuel price hike amid violent protests

The government of Haiti on Saturday agreed to put on hold a plan to raise fuel prices after protests in the cities of Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien turned violent. At least three people were killed in demonstrations Friday when protesters blockaded major roads using burning tires. "Because you started sending me this message last night, I received it and corrected what had to be corrected," said Haitian President Jovenel Moise Saturday night after the suspension was announced. "To those watching me tonight, I ask you all: Go home."


California's Klamathon Fire crosses into Oregon

The Klamathon Fire "exploded" to cover 22,000 acres Saturday, more than doubling in size and crossing the state line into Oregon. The blaze has already killed one person and destroyed 15 buildings. It is just 20 percent contained as of Sunday, and authorities said the Klamathon is exhibiting "extreme fire behavior with movement in multiple directions." Additional fires are raging in elsewhere in California, particularly in the hot and windy southern region of the state. Thousands of people have been evacuated as temperatures climb well over 100 degrees.


France vs. Belgium, Croatia vs. England in World Cup semifinals

England's 2-0 triumph over Sweden and Croatia's 2-2 penalty win over Russia on Saturday completed the World Cup's semifinal bracket. Before Saturday's loss, the Russian team had a remarkably successful run. The World Cup hosts were ranked 70th at the start of the tournament, and no Russian team has made it to the semifinals in more than half a century since the Soviet Union's fourth place finish in 1966. Both semifinal games — France vs. Belgium and Croatia vs. England — are scheduled for Tuesday.


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