Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 24, 2019

Tim O'Donnell
Donald Trump.


Trump announces China tariff increase after stock markets tumble

President Trump announced Friday that current tariffs on China would be increased after China announced retaliatory tariffs earlier in the day. Tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese goods currently taxed at 10 percent would jump to 15 percent starting Sept. 1, and tariffs on a separate $250 billion would be upped from 25 percent to 30 percent on Oct. 1, Trump tweeted. China's $75 billion in tariffs announced earlier Friday prompted Trump to tweet that "we don't need China," and then he went on to question "who is our bigger enemy" between Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell or China's President Xi Jinping. The attacks sent the Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbling down 623 points for the day, marking the Dow's and the other two major indexes' fourth straight week of decline. [President Trump, The Washington Post]


Bolsonaro reverses course, plans to send armed forces to fight Amazon fires

Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro announced plans on Friday to send armed forces to fight fires in the Amazon, reversing course after dismissing concerns about the ecological disaster. "Whatever is within our power we will do," Bolsonaro told reporters. "The problem is resources." He added that the government will take a "zero tolerance" approach to environmental crimes. This comes after Bolsonaro, who has made pledges to ease restrictions on protected areas and under whom deforestation has increased sharply across the country, said the fires were the result of warmer weather and criticized international concern as "sensationalist." However, Bolsonaro changed his stance as European leaders threatened a trade agreement, protesters took to the streets outside Brazilian embassies, and calls for a boycott of Brazilian products gained momentum. [The New York Times, CNN]


Psychologist approved Epstein's removal from suicide watch after evaluation

The Justice Department said on Friday that a psychologist at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan had approved millionaire financier and alleged sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein's removal from suicide watch before he killed himself in his cell at the detention center in August. Epstein was found unresponsive in his cell in July which may have prompted the initial suicide watch measures, but after being evaluated by a doctoral-level psychologist, it was determined those measures were no longer necessary. No reason was given for Epstein's removal, but Reuters reports that suicide watch is typically imposed as a short-term restriction. Attorney General William Barr has said there were "serious irregularities" at the MCC, which falls under his authority. He has reassigned the facility's warden and placed two guards who were responsible for watching Epstein on leave. [NPR, Reuters]


Hong Kong protests continue, consulate staffer released

Another round of pro-democracy, anti-government protests began in Hong Kong on Saturday, marking the 12th straight weekend of demonstrations. Saturday's rallies turned hectic, as demonstrators clashed with police and threw two petrol bombs in Telford Plaza, a mixed-use complex in Kowloon Bay. Police reportedly fired tear gas after protesters threw projectiles at them. As the marches continued, protesters blocked roads. In related news, officials in the city of Shenzhen said on Saturday that Simon Cheng, a Chinese national working at Britain's Hong Kong consulate, has been released from detention in mainland China where he's been held since Aug. 8. He has reportedly returned to Hong Kong. The authorities' statement said Cheng confessed to "illegal acts," but gave no further details. [South China Morning Post, Al Jazeera]


Ruth Bader Ginsburg undergoes cancer treatment

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has completed three weeks of cancer treatment, the Supreme Court announced on Friday. After a tumor was discovered on Ginsburg's pancreas in July, Ginsburg underwent a radiation therapy course at New York's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. "The tumor was treated definitively and there is no evidence of disease elsewhere in the body," the court said. "No further treatment is needed at this time." Ginsburg was previously treated for lung cancer last year, as well as for pancreatic cancer in 2009 and colon cancer in 1999. She maintained an active schedule during her treatment. [The Washington Post, NPR]


Billionaire David Koch dies at 79

Billionaire conservative activist and philanthropist David Koch has died at 79. The death of Koch was confirmed on Friday by his brother, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch. "It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of my brother David," Charles Koch said. "Anyone who worked with David surely experienced his giant personality and passion for life." Along with his brother, Koch had been an extraordinarily influential conservative political donor for decades, with the Koch brothers' network having spent more than $1 billion in recent elections. He also donated more than $1 billion to charity and served as the Libertarian Party's nominee for vice president in 1980. Koch retired as vice president of Koch Industries in 2018 due to his declining health. [NBC News, The Wall Street Journal]


Man found guilty of manslaughter in Florida 'stand your ground' case

Michael Drejka, a white man who shot and killed Markeis McGlockton, an unarmed black man, in Clearwater, Florida, last year following a dispute over a handicapped parking space was found guilty of manslaughter. Drejka, who has a concealed weapons license, told police that he fired at McGlockton after being pushed to the ground, arguing self-defense under Florida's "stand your ground law." But prosecutors argued Drejka initiated the confrontation when he confronted McGlockton's girlfriend, Brittany Jacobs, for waiting in a handicapped space while McGlockton was inside a convenience store. They also argued that McGlockton was retreating when Drejka fired his weapon. McGlockton's mother, Monica Robinson, said the decision made her "hopeful" that the "culture of racism" is changing in Florida. Drejka's defense suggested there may be "some appeal issues" that would be addressed later. [NBC News, Fox News]


North Korea launches two more suspected ballistic missiles after drills end

North Korea fired two more suspected short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Saturday, the country's seventh weapons launch in a month, following what had been a 17-month hiatus on testing. North Korea has expressed anger at joint U.S.-South Korea military training exercises, describing them as a "rehearsal for war." The earlier weapons tests were considered retaliation for the training exercises, but the launches were expected to stop following the conclusion of the drills, which occurred earlier this week. South Korea said the tests cause "grave concern," while Japan said they were a clear violation of United Nations resolutions. The missiles did not land in Japanese territorial waters. President Trump said on Friday evening that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been "pretty straight me" and that "we never restricted short-range missiles." [The Associated Press, BBC]


Ewan McGregor confirms he's returning as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Disney+ series

Major Star Wars news broke at Disney's D23 Expo on Friday, with Ewan McGregor appearing on stage alongside Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy to confirm he will reprise his role as jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi in a long-rumored television series set to appear on the studio's upcoming streaming service, Disney+. Production is set to begin next year. McGregor portrayed a younger version of the character in George Lucas' three prequel films in the early 2000s. The first trailer for Disney's first live action series set in the Star Wars universe, The Mandalorian, also dropped on Friday. Pedro Pascal will play the titular character, a bounty hunter. [CNN, The Verge]


U.S., international teams vie for spots in 2019 Little League World Series championship game

The Little League World Series is set to conclude this weekend in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, as the four regional finalists go head-to-head on Saturday to compete for a spot in Sunday's championship game. The favorite in the international field is Chofu City, Japan, who have outscored their opponents 32-2 in three games so far; Chofu City will play Willemstad, Curaçao. In the U.S. championship game on the other side of the bracket, River Ridge, Louisiana, will go up against Wailuku, Hawaii, in a rematch of their first game in the tournament eight days ago, when Wailuku won 5-2. Little League World Series teams consist mainly of boys between 10 and 12, although 12-year-old Minnesota pitcher Maddy Freking became the first girl in the tournament this year since Mo'ne Davis in 2014. ABC will air Japan vs. Curaçao at 12:30 p.m. ET and Hawaii vs. Louisiana at 3:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. [Bleacher Report , CBS Sports]