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Daily Briefing

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

Harold Maass
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
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1.

Ideological showdown set up in Florida governor's race

Voters in Florida's gubernatorial primary picked Republican Rep. Ron DeSantis and liberal Democrat Andrew Gillum on Tuesday, setting up a November showdown between a Trump-endorsed conservative and a Bernie Sanders-backed liberal in the key swing state. DeSantis, a 39-year-old Harvard-educated lawyer and Iraq War veteran, soundly defeated early favorite Adam Putnam, the state's agriculture commissioner. Tallahassee Mayor Gillum, who supports Medicare for all and would be the state's first African-American governor, upset favored former Rep. Gwen Graham in a crowded field after surging late in the campaign with backing from progressive organizations. In Arizona, Rep. Martha McSally won the GOP nomination for Senate, beating controversial candidates Kelli Ward and former sheriff Joe Arpaio to lift the party's chances of holding retiring Sen. Jeff Flake's seat. [Bradenton Herald, Politico]

2.

Trump accuses Google of search-result bias

President Trump on Tuesday accused Google of promoting negative news from the "Fake News Media" and liberal outlets, saying a Google search for "Trump news" yields mostly negative stories from news sources critical of him. Trump called the trend "very dangerous," saying, "they have it RIGGED, for me & others, so that almost all stories & news is BAD. Fake CNN is prominent. Republican/Conservative & Fair Media is shut out. Illegal?" Trump's economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said the White House is "taking a look" at Google, although he did not provide further details. Trump later said Twitter and Facebook also were "not fair" to conservatives, warning them to "be careful." Google denied Trump's allegation, saying its search engine is "not used to set a political agenda and we don't bias our results toward any political ideology." [Reuters, Donald J. Trump]

3.

Ex-Texas officer convicted for killing unarmed black teen

A Dallas County jury on Tuesday found a white former police officer guilty of murder for fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager, Jordan Edwards, after an April 2017 house party. Edwards, 15, was in a car full of teenagers that was pulling away from the scene of the party in suburban Dallas when the officer, Roy Oliver, and his partner arrived in response to a report of underage drinking. Oliver testified during the trial that he opened fire when he determined that the car was moving toward his partner, although his partner said he was not in fear for his life. Defense attorneys asked jurors to consider Oliver's viewpoint based on what he knew at the time, while prosecutors portrayed him as out of control, and looking for a reason to shoot. [The Associated Press]

4.

Puerto Rico study finds Hurricane Maria killed 2,975

Hurricane Maria killed an estimated 2,975 people in Puerto Rico, 46 times more than initial official estimates, according to an independent analysis commissioned by the island's governor and released Tuesday. Soon after the September 2017 storm, the U.S. Caribbean territory's government said it had directly caused just 64 deaths. Outside reports that included deaths caused by resulting power outages and other factors put the number much higher, around 4,500. The latest analysis studied deaths between September 2017 and February 2018 and included a spike of "excess mortality" since the hurricane, not just deaths directly attributed to Maria's immediate physical effects. The report also found that local physicians mischaracterized many deaths as unrelated to the hurricane. [CBS News]

5.

Canadian minister rushes to U.S. to resume NAFTA talks

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland returned early from a Europe trip to fly to Washington for an urgent meeting with President Trump's top trade advisers after they suggested that the U.S. was prepared to leave Canada out of a trade deal with Mexico intended to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement. "The president, as he's indicated, is fully prepared to go ahead with or without Canada," Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, said on Fox Business. A spokesman for Freeland said ahead of her meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer that the Canadian government "will only sign a new NAFTA that is good for Canada and good for the middle class." U.S. stock futures inched further into record territory on the apparent easing of trade tensions. [The New York Times, MarketWatch]

6.

Trump tweets that China hacked Clinton emails

President Trump tweeted early Wednesday that China hacked Hillary Clinton's emails, "many of which are Classified Information." Trump cited no specific evidence, although he said in another Twitter post that a report "just out" said that China's military had hacked Clinton's private email server, which she used for both personal and official communication while serving as then-President Barack Obama's secretary of state. It was unclear whether Trump was referring to intelligence information or a media report. U.S. intelligence have blamed Russia for infiltrating Democrats' email systems during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump went on to say, "Next move better be by the FBI & DOJ or, after all of their other missteps (Comey, McCabe, Strzok, Page, Ohr, FISA, Dirty Dossier etc.), their credibility will be forever gone!" China denied it was behind the hacking. [The Independent, Reuters]

7.

Report: Trump revives talk of firing Sessions

President Trump, long critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation, has revived discussions with aides about firing Sessions in recent weeks, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing three people familiar with the matter. Aides and lawyers reportedly warned Trump against removing Sessions because Special Counsel Robert Mueller might see the move as obstruction of justice. Sessions' recusal last year from the investigation into Russian election meddling led to the appointment of Mueller, and Trump blames Sessions for the "endless investigation." One of Trump's lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, confirmed that he spoke with Trump about firing Sessions, and said "if there is any action taken, the president agrees with us that it shouldn't be taken until after the investigation is concluded." [The Washington Post]

8.

Mattis says U.S. lifting suspension of U.S.-South Korea military drills

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis indicated Tuesday that the U.S. was lifting a suspension of joint military exercises with South Korea that was announced in June. The Trump administration said it had "indefinitely suspended" the military exercises, which President Trump referred to as "war games," in what was seen as a gesture of goodwill after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un committed to denuclearization in his summit with Trump. The president recently told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to call off a looming visit to Pyongyang, citing a lack of concrete steps on North Korea's part toward dismantling its nuclear program. "We have no plans at this time to suspend any more exercises," Mattis told reporters Tuesday. He said the exercises could be halted again, but, "Let's see how the negotiations go." [CBS News]

9.

Haley says America's Myanmar investigation consistent with U.N.'s

The U.S. State Department's investigation into Myanmar's deadly attacks on members of the Muslim Rohingya minority is "consistent" with the findings of United Nations investigators, who released a report this week calling for genocide charges against the commander in chief of the country's military and several of his generals, the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, said Tuesday. Haley told the U.N. Security Council that "the world can no longer avoid the difficult truth of what happened." She did not use the term "genocide," but said that investigators have tracked numerous murders and rapes targeting Rohingya Muslims. A U.S. report "identifies one group as the perpetrator of the overwhelming majority of these crimes: the Burmese military and security forces," Haley said. [Reuters]

10.

CDC says STD rates rose to record high in 2017

Cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis reached a record high in 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday, with 2.3 million diagnosed cases. The rapid rise may be in part due to a decrease in condom use and mutating strains of infections that resist antibiotics. "We have seen steep and sustained increases over the last five years,” said Gail Bolan, director of the CDC's Division of STD Prevention. "Usually there are ebbs and flows, but this sustained increase is very concerning." Gonorrhea diagnoses increased 67 percent between 2013 and 2017, while syphilis diagnoses increased 76 percent. The rate of chlamydia, the STD most often reported to the CDC, has remained fairly steady, but the prevalence of all three diseases broke previous 2016 records. [CDC, NBC News]