Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 3, 2018

Harold Maass
Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Burke/U.S. Navy via Getty Images
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McCain buried at U.S. Naval Academy

The late Sen. John McCain, who died Aug. 25 from brain cancer at 81, was buried Sunday in a private service at the U.S. Naval Academy. The Arizona Republican — a 2008 GOP presidential nominee and Vietnam-era Navy pilot who spent five as a prisoner of war — was honored with a military flyover before his burial next to Naval Academy classmate and friend Adm. Chuck Larson. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said before speaking at the service that he would tell mourners "nobody loved a soldier more than John McCain, that I bear witness to his commitment to have their back." Earlier Sunday, Graham defended Meghan McCain, whose eulogy at another memorial service included thinly veiled jabs at President Trump, who clashed with her father. "She is her father's daughter," Graham said. [The Associated Press]


Myanmar court sentences 2 Reuters journalists to 7 years

A Myanmar judge on Monday sentenced two Reuters journalists to seven years in prison over charges related to their coverage of the massacre of members of the country's Rohingya Muslim minority. The journalists, Wa Lone, 32, and Kyaw Soe Oo, 28, were convicted of violating the colonial-era Official Secrets Act. They said they were framed by police who planted classified documents on them. "I have no fear," Wa Lone said after the verdict. "I have not done anything wrong." Reuters editor-in-chief Stephen J. Adler called the sentencing "a major step backward in Myanmar's transition to democracy." Supporters of the journalists have called on Myanmar's de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a democracy activist once jailed in the same prison, to use her influence to get them amnesty. [Quartz]


Air travel hits record high as nation marks Labor Day

A busy Labor Day weekend is capping a record summer travel season. An estimated 16.5 million people are flying over the week running from last Wednesday through Tuesday, Sept. 4. That's a 3.5 percent increase over the same week last year — an extra 79,000 passengers per day — and a record. Travel demands have hit all-time highs this year, with 20 of the 25 busiest days at U.S. airports, measured by passenger volume, and Thanksgiving and Christmas travel rushes still to come. "We had an all-time high passenger volume in 2017," said John Heimlich, chief economist at industry group Airlines for America, and all signs point "to another record year for 2018." President Trump marked the holiday with a tweet saying, "Happy Labor Day! Our country is doing better than ever before with unemployment setting record lows." [The Dallas Morning News, Twitter]


Fire destroys Brazil's 200-year-old National Museum

A massive fire essentially destroyed Brazil's 200-year-old National Museum in Rio de Janeiro late Sunday. The museum housed some of the first fossils found in Brazil, as well as Egyptian and Greco-Roman art. There were no reported injuries, but President Michel Temer said the disaster marked "a sad day" for the nation. "Two hundred years of work, investigation, and knowledge have been lost," Temer said. Firefighters faced an early setback because the two hydrants closest to the museum didn't work, but fire crews and museum workers managed to save some of the museum's relics. Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella said on Instagram that it was "a national obligation" to rebuild "from the ashes." [The Associated Press]


U.S. confirms Afghan ISIS leader killed in airstrike

The U.S. confirmed on Sunday that an airstrike killed the Islamic State's self-proclaimed leader in Afghanistan, Abu Saad Orakzai. Gen. Scott Miller, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, said the Aug. 25 U.S. strike in the eastern part of the Nangarhar province was part of the U.S.-led coalition's efforts to target "terrorists attempting to plot, resource, and direct attacks from here." "This is only part of the coalition's work towards an Afghan security solution," he added, "but it is a vital part." The strike marked the third time U.S. forces had killed an ISIS leader in Afghanistan. The news came as Miller officially replaced Gen. John Nicholson as commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. [The Hill]


Kremlin spokesman says U.S. meddles in Russian affairs

The Kremlin on Monday accused the U.S. of meddling in Russian affairs. "The fact is that the United States in recent years is working crudely using its intelligence services, trying to recruit Russian citizens, exerting moral and other pressure on them," said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov. He was speaking during a conference call to discuss a New York Times report that said the FBI and Justice Department had tried to recruit Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska as in informer between 2014 and 2016. "I think these incidents in the most eloquent manner testify to the attempts to interfere in Russia's internal affairs," Peskov said. Deripaska is considered so close to Russian President Vladimir Putin he has been called "Putin's oligarch." [Reuters, The New York Times]


State Department applauds Saudi coalition admission of airstrike error

The State Department on Sunday praised the Saudi-led coalition fighting rebels in Yemen for acknowledging mistakes in an airstrike against a school bus in which 51 people, including 40 children, were killed. The admission came with a vow to review the coalition's rules of engagement and compensate victims. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said the coalition's announcement that it had found the strikes were unjustified marked "an important first step toward full transparency and accountability." Nauert also said that the U.S. continues "to call on all sides to abide by the Law of Armed Conflict, to mitigate harm to civilians and civilian infrastructure, and thoroughly investigate and ensure accountability for any violations." Human rights groups have accused the U.S.-backed coalition of war crimes. [The Hill]


Hundreds of prisoners escape from Libya jail after riot

Roughly 400 prisoners escaped from a jail in Libya's capital, Tripoli, on Sunday as rival armed groups battled nearby. Local police said prisoners at the Ain Zara men's prison "were able to force open the doors" after rioting, and guards, fearing for their lives, were unable to stop them. Many of the prisoners held at the facility reportedly had been supporters of the late Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi who had been jailed for killings during the 2011 uprising against his government. The fighting between the capital's largest armed groups has prompted the United Nations-backed government to declare a state of emergency, and the U.N. mission in Libya called on all sides to meet on Tuesday for an "urgent dialogue on the security situation." [Reuters, BBC News]


Strengthening storm heads into Gulf of Mexico

The National Hurricane Center on Sunday issued a tropical storm watch for parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida as areas slammed by 2017 hurricanes braced for heavy rains and winds from a strengthening storm system. The storm, currently classified as a potential tropical cyclone, is expected to strengthen over the next two days into a tropical storm. It is forecast to pass over the Florida Keys or the southern tip of the state's mainland on Monday and move into the Gulf of Mexico by the evening. The storm could reach the central Gulf Coast by Tuesday evening. The storm's top sustained winds were near 30 miles per hour. Florida Gov. Rick Scott urged people in the storm's potential path to be alert. "With the peak of hurricane season upon us," Scott wrote on Twitter, "now is the time to get prepared." [CBS News]


Williams and Stephens advance to U.S. Open quarterfinals

Serena Williams beat Kaia Kanepi of Estonia 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 on Sunday to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open. "It wasn't an easy match at all. She obviously knows how to play," said Williams, a six-time U.S. Open champion. Kanepi eliminated No. 1 Simona Halep on the tournament's first day. Williams will be making her 15th Open quarterfinals appearance, second only to Chris Evert's 19. She'll play 2016 runner-up Karolina Pliskova, who beat her in last year's semifinals. Defending champion Sloane Stephens also advanced to the quarterfinals. She beat No. 15 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium 6-3, 6-3. Defending men's champion Rafael Nadal also advanced to the quarterfinals, beating Georgia's Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-0, 6-1, 6-0. [ESPN, CBS Sports]