Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 9, 2018

Image
Harold Maass
Trump speaks with the media
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Our '10 things you need to
know' newsletter
Your free email newsletter subscription is confirmed. Thank you for subscribing!

1.

Trump 'close' to picking SCOTUS nominee ahead of Monday announcement

President Trump said Sunday that he was "close" to picking his nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. "It's still — let's say it's the four people," he said after spending the weekend at his New Jersey golf club evaluating the top four conservative judges on his short list — Brett M. Kavanaugh, Raymond Kethledge, Amy Coney Barrett, and Thomas Hardiman. Kavanaugh, Barrett, and Kethledge have been listed as the leading candidates for days. Although he was a runner-up when Trump picked Justice Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia, Hardiman had not received much attention until over the weekend. Hardiman was recommended by former appeals court colleague Maryanne Trump Barry, the president's sister. Trump is expected to announce his decision Monday night. [The Washington Post]

2.

5th boy rescued from Thai cave as extraction mission continues

Thai Navy SEALs and other elite divers on Monday rescued a fifth boy from a flooded cave where 12 members of a youth soccer team and their coach got trapped more than two weeks ago. Divers led the first four boys out of the cave on Sunday. They were taken to a hospital, where they were in stable condition. The rescuers started the second extraction mission on Monday after placing more air tanks along the route and tightening guide ropes. The teams are using a buddy system, with two highly trained divers leading the boys on the six-hour trip. Rain threatens to raise water levels in coming days, giving rescuers a narrow window to act. The boys were trapped in the cave when monsoon rains struck early. [CNN, The New York Times]

3.

Deadly Klamathon Fire grows to 35,000 acres

The deadly Klamathon Fire continued to grow on Sunday after crossing the state line from Northern California into Oregon. Fire officials said Sunday night that the massive blaze had burned 35,000 acres, threatening hundreds of homes after destroying 15 buildings and killing one person, California's first fire fatality of the year. The fire's explosive growth was fueled by erratic winds and dry vegetation, although fire crews managed to make a little progress overnight thanks to high humidity. It was still just 25 percent contained. "We've had some huge challenges because of the winds," said Cheryl Buliavac, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. [San Francisco Chronicle, The Sacramento Bee]

4.

Myanmar court moves forward with charges against Reuters journalists

A Myanmar court on Monday charged two jailed Reuters journalists with breaking the colonial-era Official Secrets Act as their press freedom case entered its trial stage after six months of preliminary hearings. The reporters, 32-year-old Wa Lone and 28-year-old Kyaw Soe Oo, are accused of obtaining secret state documents during their investigation into the killing of 10 Rohingya Muslim men and boys in a village in western Myanmar's Rakhine State during a military crackdown that sent more than 700,000 Rohingya fleeing to neighboring Bangladesh. Both journalists pleaded not guilty, saying they had committed no crime and had "followed journalistic ethics." The case is seen as a key test of Myanmar's transition to full democracy even though the military remains powerful. [Reuters]

5.

U.K. woman dies after poisoning by nerve agent

Dawn Sturgess, the 44-year-old English woman exposed to the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok, died on Sunday, British authorities said. Charlie Rowley, who also was exposed, remained critically ill. Tests have confirmed that Sturgess and Rowley came into contact with the nerve agent by holding a contaminated item in their hands near the town of Salisbury, where former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were poisoned with the same nerve agent. They recovered. Britain blamed Russia for the Skripal case. British Prime Minister Theresa May said she was "appalled and shocked" by Sturgess' death. [BBC News]

6.

Brexit minister resigns, fueling turmoil in British government

The U.K.'s Brexit secretary, David Davis, resigned on Sunday, tipping Prime Minister Theresa May's government. Davis said he was not willing to be "a reluctant conscript" in May's plan for pulling Britain out of the European Union. The news came just two days after May held a crisis meeting with her ministers in an attempt to settle deep divisions among her ministers. Davis' departure reportedly triggered at least one more resignation by a junior minister in the same department. Davis said May's plan to maintain a "common rule book" with the EU that essentially mirrors the trading bloc's regulations would give "control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws." [Reuters]

7.

Diplomatic relations restored between Ethiopia and Eritrea

The leaders of Ethiopia and Eritrea agreed on Sunday to a peace deal that opens the border between the countries and restores diplomatic relations after a 20-year border war. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed visited Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki in the Eritrean capital of Asmara, and the pair hugged in front of a crowd of thousands. Following a meeting, Abiy announced they "agreed to open up embassies in our respective countries, allow our people to visit each other's cities, and allow our airlines and ports to operate freely." Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993, but after just five years, the country began fighting with Ethiopia for control over several remote border areas, killing tens of thousands. [NPR]

8.

Japan says at least 100 killed in floods, mudslides

Japanese authorities on Monday moved to start potentially risky search and cleanup efforts after unprecedented rainfall caused widespread flooding and landslides that killed at least 100 people. Dozens more were missing in Hiroshima prefecture, where people were caught off guard because the region seldom gets such heavy rains. In one area, 10.4 inches fell in three hours, the highest such total since record-keeping started in 1976. "Hiroshima prefecture is normally blessed with mild weather and has few natural disasters so people here have never experienced a situation like this," said Eiko Yamane, who escaped her car when water levels rose. "I guess they're in a panic." [The Associated Press, BBC News]

9.

Report: U.S. threatened Ecuador over breastfeeding resolution

The delegates to this spring's World Health Assembly, the annual gathering of the United Nations' World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva, had expected a resolution to promote breastfeeding to pass easily. But then, the U.S. delegation tried to water down the resolution, siding with the $70 billion infant formula industry despite decades of research showing breast milk is the healthiest food for infants, The New York Times reported Sunday. When the cajoling failed, the State Department allegedly threatened Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the resolution, with trade measures and the withholding of military aid. Ecuador backed down. Russia then stepped in to introduce the resolution, and the U.S. did not pressure Moscow. [The New York Times]

10.

Ant-Man and the Wasp becomes 20th straight Marvel film to debut at No. 1

Ant-Man and the Wasp brought in an estimated $76 million to lead the box office on its opening weekend. It was Marvel Studios' 20th straight No. 1 opening, and a big improvement on the 2015 debut of Ant Man, which made $57.2 million on its debut weekend. Ant-Man and the Wasp was the Disney superhero studio's third and final film of 2018, following the blockbusters Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War, which opened in February and April, respectively. Both of those films brought in nearly $700 million domestically. "Ant-Man and the Wasp proves that at this point Marvel can seemingly do no wrong," said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at comScore. [CNN]