10 things you need to know today: August 10, 2019
Jeffrey Epstein found dead by suicide in Manhattan jail cell
Jeffrey Epstein, the millionaire financier who was charged with sex trafficking minors, was found dead by suicide on Saturday morning at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York, three law enforcement officials told ABC News. He reportedly hanged himself. Epstein was being held in the Manhattan jail while awaiting trial after being denied bail following his indictment. Epstein, who has been accused of trafficking minors as young as 14 between 2002 and 2005 in New York and Florida, was previously found in his cell in July semi-conscious with marks around his neck from what two sources said may have been an attempt to hang himself, while other sources suggested he may have faked, or actually been the victim of, an attack. The 66-year-old Epstein faced up to 45 years in prison. [ABC News, The Week]
Trump claims McConnell is 'on board' for 'intelligent background checks'
President Trump on Friday said that "we need intelligent background checks" in the wake of two mass shootings and claimed that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is "totally on board" for this. "We don't want guns in the hands of the wrong people," Trump said. "I think that the Republicans are going to be great and lead the charge along with the Democrats." Trump's comments came after McConnell expressed willingness to consider a bill that would expand background check requirements for purchasing firearms, saying it will be "front and center" when the Senate comes back into session. Despite Trump's Friday comments, a spokesperson for McConnell told The Washington Post he has not yet endorsed any legislation. [The Washington Post, Politico]
El Paso shooting suspect reportedly admits to targeting Mexicans in attack
The suspect in the El Paso mass shooting confessed and told authorities he targeted Mexicans in the attack, police say. In an arrest warrant affidavit reported by The Associated Press on Friday, El Paso Detective Adrian Garcia said that 21-year-old Patrick Crusius told police officers "I'm the shooter" after being stopped following the attack, which left 22 people dead and another 24 injured. Garcia also said in the affidavit that Crusius told detectives that he targeted Mexicans. Authorities had previously believed Crusius to have written a racist manifesto prior to the shooting, in which he wrote about a "Hispanic invasion of Texas." The shooting is currently being treated as a domestic terrorism case. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]
Unsealed Jeffrey Epstein documents accuse other high-profile men of abuse
New documents unsealed on Friday accuse several powerful men of participating in a sex trafficking ring allegedly run by billionaire Jeffrey Epstein. Virginia Roberts Giuffre says she was forced to become a sex slave for Epstein and was also abused by several of Epstein's friends. She says Epstein and his associate, Ghislaine Maxwell, trafficked hundreds of young girls, and she filed a lawsuit against Maxwell in 2017 that was unsealed Friday. The documents show Giuffre accused Maxwell of directing her to have sex with former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, Britain's Prince Andrew, financier Glenn Dubin, former Senator George Mitchell (D-Maine), as well as "another prince," a "foreign president," and a "well-known prime minister," among others. Prince Andrew has denied the allegations, as did Dubin, Richardson, and Mitchell. [Miami Herald, The Daily Beast]
5 killed in blast at test site, Russia's nuclear agency says
Russia's state nuclear agency Rosatom said in a statement on Saturday that five of its staff members were killed on Thursday in northern Russia during the engineering and technical support of isotope power sources on a liquid propulsion system. Three other staff members reportedly suffered injuries. Severodvinsk, a nearby city, reported a spike in radiation levels on Thursday, but by Friday the city's statement had disappeared from the internet without an explanation. U.S.-based nuclear experts are reportedly skeptical about the official explanation of the accident and instead suspect the explosion and radiation release resulted from the testing of a nuclear-powered cruise missile. [NBC News, Reuters]
Fuel tanker explosion kills at least 60 in Tanzania
A fuel tanker explosion on Saturday on the outskirts of the town of Morogoro, Tanzania, has resulted in at least 60 deaths, and at least 70 more people suffered injuries. The tanker burst into flames while people gathered around the vehicle — which had overturned while attempting to avoid a motorbike — to siphon gas from it witnesses said. "The fire was huge and it was challenging to rescue victims," Daniel Ngogo, a witness, told Reuters. "I have seen about 65 to 70 people being rescued because the fire was fast spreading across the accident area." Ngogo added that not all those who died were trying to siphon gas, and that the site was a busy place. Tanzania's President John Magufuli offered his condolences to the victims and their families. [Al Jazeera, Reuters]
Trump defends ICE raids as 'very good deterrent'
President Trump on Friday defended the Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids that took place earlier in the week, which led to the arrests of 680 people in Mississippi. "I want people to know that if they come into the United States illegally ... they're going to be brought out," Trump said. "And this serves as a very good deterrent." More than 300 of those arrested in the immigration raids were released with notices to appear before immigration judges. ICE conducted seven raids in six cities, targeting agricultural plants. With their parents detained, children had to spend the night in the care of others in the community, who rallied to assist them. Rev. Mike O'Brien of Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church in Canton said "the people are all afraid." [The Associated Press, CNN]
North Korea reportedly test launches two more missiles
North Korea reportedly fired two projectiles off its east coast on Saturday, its fifth such launch in recent weeks, including the second this week. South Korea's military believes the projectiles are short-range ballistic missiles, which, if confirmed, would be a breach of 11 United Nations Security Council resolutions. The launches occurred just hours after President Trump said he received a "very beautiful letter" from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, which prompted Trump to say he thinks "we'll have another meeting." But the multiple meetings between the two leaders, so far, have not deterred Kim and North Korea from testing weapons. Analysts believe the recent tests are meant to serve as retaliation for a U.S.-South Korea joint military drill set to begin on Sunday, as well as leverage in bilateral talks with Washington. [The New York Times, BBC]
Protesters fill up airport, march past China's military garrison in Hong Kong
Demonstrators gathered for yet another weekend of pro-democracy, anti-government protests in Hong Kong, as Hong Kong police fired tear gas with reportedly little warning to disperse the crowd in two areas where protests were officially banned. Meanwhile, thousands of protesters reportedly gathered in the city's airport arrivals hall for the second consecutive day, while others marched past the headquarters of China's military garrison in what has been described by organizers as a "family-friendly" event. Thousands of people, including parents and children, attended that section of the demonstrations, largely avoiding any incendiary slogans in an attempt to prove that the movement in Hong Kong, despite some violent clashes with police, is peaceful. [The Associated Press, The New York Times]
'Ring of Fire' weather pattern to bring heat and thunderstorms to southern U.S.
Much of the southern U.S. is set to be hit with a "Ring of Fire" weather pattern that will bring sweltering heat and a chain of thunderstorms through early next week. The "Ring of Fire" is a heat dome that contributes to rain and excess humidity in the summertime. "Heat advisories have been issued by the National Weather Service to warn about the dangerously hot conditions from the southern Plains eastward into parts of Florida and Georgia," writes The Weather Channel. Much of eastern Texas and most of Louisiana will be under heat advisories, and some heat records will be broken, according to forecasts. The U.S. has had its wettest 12 months on record, and upcoming rains will likely set August along the same path. [The Weather Channel, The Washington Post]