Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 16, 2019

Harold Maass
Israel will let Rep. Rashida Tlaib visit West Bank after blocking official trip.


Israel lets Tlaib visit West Bank after blocking official visit

Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Friday he had granted a request by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) to visit the Israeli-occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds after she asked for permission to visit her 90-year-old grandmother and vowed to "not promote boycotts" of Israel during the trip. The reversal came after a Thursday decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to deny entry to Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), citing their support for boycotting Israel over its treatment of Palestinians. The rejection of the two U.S. lawmakers, both Muslim, came after President Trump tweeted that allowing them to come would "show great weakness." Democrats condemned the effort to block the lawmakers' weekend trip, as did the pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]


Court upholds order on sanitary conditions for migrant children

A three-judge panel for the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that migrant children detained by the government must be provided with adequate food, water, soap, and toothpaste. Under the 1997 settlement known as the Flores agreement, children in custody have to live in safe and sanitary quarters, and the judges dismissed the Trump administration's argument that facilities do not have to offer certain items, like soap and toothbrushes. The panel found that these minimal accommodations were "without doubt essential to the children's safety." The judges upheld an order issued in 2017 by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee, who ruled that U.S. Customs and Border Protection was not giving kids in custody basic hygiene items or sufficient food. [Los Angeles Times]


Gibraltar releases Iranian oil tanker

Gibraltar's government on Thursday released an Iranian oil tanker suspected of violating international sanctions. The ship could leave the British overseas territory as soon as Friday. The decision came despite a last-minute request by the Trump administration to continue holding the tanker. British marines and Gibraltar port authorities took control of the vessel, the Grace 1, last month on suspicion that it was taking its 2.1 million barrels of oil to Syria in violation of European Union sanctions against oil exports to the war-torn country. The Grace 1's release was considered likely to ease tensions between Tehran and the British government. Gibraltar's chief minister, Fabian Picardo, said Iran had provided written assurances that the ship would not unload its oil in Syria. [The Washington Post, Reuters]


Stock indexes stabilize after huge drop

Stocks stabilized Thursday after Wednesday's huge losses as strong retail sales data helped ease fears that a recession could be looming. Walmart helped lead the Dow Jones Industrial Average up by 0.4 percent. Walmart's stock gained 6 percent after the retail giant reported better-than-expected earnings, and upgraded its outlook for the full year. The Dow, the S&P 500, and the Nasdaq plunged by about 3 percent on Wednesday on concerns triggered when the yields for long-term bonds fell below those of short-term bonds, a rare occurrence that signals falling confidence in the economy and often precedes a recession. Futures for all three of the main three U.S. indexes rose by about 1 percent early Friday as investors remained focused on developments in the bond market and U.S.-China trade tensions. [CNBC]


Hickenlooper drops presidential bid, eyes Senate run

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) on Thursday officially dropped out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination. Hickenlooper said in a video announcement that his campaign "has been more exciting and more rewarding than I ever imagined, although of course I did imagine a very different conclusion." Hickenlooper, a businessman and former Denver mayor, struggled in polls and with fundraising. He suggested he might still return to the campaign trail. "I've heard from so many Coloradans who want me to run for the United States Senate," Hickenlooper said. "I intend to give that some serious thought." [The Associated Press]


House committee subpoenas Lewandowski in obstruction inquiry

The House Judiciary Committee on Thursday subpoenaed Corey Lewandowski, President Trump's first campaign manager, to testify as part of the panel's look at whether Trump obstructed justice in the early days of the investigation into Russia's 2016 election interference. The committee is calling Lewandowski and a former White House aide to answer questions in a public hearing. Democrats who control the committee see Lewandowski, who remained an informal adviser to Trump after leaving his campaign, as a potentially important witness because he allegedly helped Trump in the summer of 2017 as he tried to curb former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Moscow's meddling and his campaign. Lewandowski reportedly drafted Rick Dearborn, the White House aide called to testify, into the same pushback against Mueller. [The New York Times]


EPA reverses approval of cyanide bombs used to kill wildlife

The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday reversed a recent decision to reauthorize use of M-44s, also known as "cyanide bombs," to kill coyotes, foxes, and other wild animals. M-44s are spring-loaded traps filled with sodium cyanide, which Wildlife Services officials use when they kill animals for ranchers and farmers. Last year, the federal agency killed more than 1.5 million animals, with about 6,500 dying because of M-44s. Last week, the EPA said that on an interim basis Wildlife Services would be able to use the traps again, but after public outcry, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced Thursday the "withdrawal of EPA's interim registration decision on sodium cyanide," adding that the issue "warrants further analysis." [The Guardian]


Cathay Pacific CEO resigns after Hong Kong protest controversy

Cathay Pacific CEO Rupert Hogg and another top executive of the Hong Kong-based airline said they "take responsibility" following criticism from China's aviation regulator over company employees' involvement in anti-government protests. Hogg and one of his deputies, chief customer and commercial officer Paul Loo, stepped down following a week in which Cathay Pacific fired two pilots and two airport employees over their involvement in actions related to the protests that have disrupted flights at the Chinese-controlled, semi-autonomous financial hub's airport. "These have been challenging weeks for the airline and it is right that Paul and I take responsibility as leaders of the company," Hogg said. Cathay said it was fully committed to Hong Kong's "One Country, Two Systems" principle. [South China Morning Post, Reuters]


Dale Earnhardt Jr. and family 'safe' after Tennessee plane crash

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his wife and daughter survived the crash of a plane that caught fire after running off the end of the runway at Tennessee's Elizabethton Municipal Airport on Thursday. The Federal Aviation Administration said the former NASCAR driver's Cessna Citation "rolled off the end of Runway 24 and caught fire after landing." Nobody died in the crash, and the FAA said it received no reports of injuries. Barry Carrier, the Elizabethton fire chief, said Earnhardt Jr. and his wife, Amy, escaped without serious injuries. The two pilots and a dog also safely evacuated the wreck. Earnhardt Jr. reportedly was taken to the Johnson City Medical Center with minor injuries such as cuts and abrasions. His sister Kelley tweeted to confirm that "everyone is safe" after the crash. [Yahoo Sports, USA Today]


NOAA: July officially hottest month on record

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Thursday that July was officially the hottest month ever recorded. Global temperatures averaged 62.13 degrees, beating the previous record set in July 2016 by 0.05 degrees. The mark exceeded the 20th century average by 1.71 degrees. The last five Julys have been the warmest since record-keeping began in 1880. Nine of the 10 hottest Julys have come since 2005. The announcement came just weeks after NOAA said last month was the hottest June on record. The unprecedented heat has been blamed for shrinking sea ice in the Arctic and Antarctic to new lows, too. [NBC News]