Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 25, 2019

Tim O'Donnell
Donald Trump.
Dylan Martinez - Pool/Getty Images


Trump admits having second thoughts on trade war

President Trump changed course slightly about the United States' trade war with China on Sunday while attending the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France. Trump, just days after hiking tariffs on Chinese imports and ordering (via Twitter) U.S. businesses to begin cutting ties with China, said that he does indeed have second thoughts about how the trade war has played out. "Might as well," he said. "Might as well. I have second thoughts about everything." He also said he has no plans to invoke a 1977 law that would grant him more authority to intervene with U.S. business practices in China. Still, Trump said he believed the other leaders at the summit "respect the trade war," adding that "it has to happen." [The Associated Press, The Washington Post]


Andrew Luck announces stunning retirement

Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck stunned the NFL on Saturday evening when he abruptly announced his retirement from football at the age of 29. The Colts had just played their third preseason game when Luck made the decision public; the regular season begins in two weeks. The oft-injured Luck said the decision was the hardest in his life. "I've been stuck in this process," he said, referring to his fairly constant string of injuries over the last four years. "I haven't been able to live the life I want to live. It's taken the joy out of this game." Luck added that "the only way to move forward" was to leave football. When Luck was healthy he was one of the game's elite passers. The Colts were widely considered title contenders before the announcement. [ESPN, CBS Sports]


Troops deployed to fight over 1,000 new fires identified in Amazon this week

Around 1,200 new fires have been identified burning in the Amazon Rainforest region this week, Brazil's National Institute for Space Research reported Sunday. Six of the country's nine states requested military assistance to combat the blazes, just one day after Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro authorized the armed forces to step in, deploying 44,000 troops in the process. Some parts of the rainforest are burning at their highest rates since records began in 2003, a rise of 84 percent compared to the same time last year. Environmentalists have said farmers clearing the land for pasture are responsible for the fires. They have reportedly been emboldened by Bolsonaro's looser environmental policies. Bolsonaro initially dismissed concerns about the fires, but reversed course this week, perhaps in response to international outrage and sanction threats. [Al Jazeera, Axios]


Hong Kong leaders urge Lam to meet protesters' demands as rallies continue

Police reportedly drew at least two guns as protesters once again took to the streets in Hong Kong on Sunday as part of the city's 12th consecutive weekend of pro-democracy, anti-government demonstrations. The police also continued to use tear gas — a product which Beijing is reportedly ramping up production of — and reportedly have water cannons at the ready. On Saturday, nineteen of Hong Kong's power brokers and politicians gathered at Government House, the official residence of Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam. More than half the guests reportedly urged Lam to meet the protesters' demands to launch a public inquiry into the entire situation, including police conduct, which the government has steadfastly rejected so far. They also encouraged her to completely withdraw the extradition bill that sparked the demonstrations. [South China Morning Post, CNN]


Israel says it thwarted an attack by striking an arm of Iran's Revolutionary Guard

The Israeli military said on Sunday that its aircraft hit an arm of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and Shiite militias in Syria "which were preparing to advance attack plans targeting sites in Israel from within Syria in a number of days." A senior IRGC commander denied Iranian targets had been struck late Saturday evening, and the Syrian army said in a statement that most of the Israeli missiles were destroyed before reaching their targets. But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel's strike showed Iran "has no immunity anywhere." Meanwhile, a spokesman for Hezbollah said two Israeli drones crashed into one of the group's strongholds in Beirut, Lebanon, overnight. Lebanon's Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the drone's presence threatens Lebanese sovereignty. Hezbollah said they were not shot down; Israel offered no comment. [Reuters, Al Jazeera]


Trump, aides differ on meeting with Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron reportedly surprised President Trump at his hotel before the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France on Saturday. The two had lunch, where they reportedly discussed several crises around the world, including in Libya, Iran, and Russia, as well as climate change and trade policy. Trump seemed pleased with the meeting. In brief remarks, he said that he and Macron "actually have a lot in common" and "have been friends a long time." He added that "everybody's getting along" and that he expects to "accomplish a lot this weekend." A senior administration official, on the other hand, said that by trying to bring issues such as climate change and gender equality to the forefront of the meetings, Macron and France are "trying to fracture the G-7." [The Associated Press, Politico]


Rohingya refugees rally on two-year anniversary of exodus from Myanmar

Almost 200,000 Rohingya participated in a peaceful gathering that marked the second anniversary of the Muslim-majority ethnic group's exodus form Myanmar into Bangladesh. The refugees rallied and prayed as they demanded Myanmar grant them citizenship and other rights before they return. In August 2017, nearly 740,000 Rohingya fled to Bangladesh in the wake of a brutal crackdown by Myanmar's armed forces. Last year a United Nations investigation recommended the prosecution of Myanmar's top military commanders on charges of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity; Myanmar dismissed the allegations. "I have come here to seek justice for the murder of my two sons," 50-year-old Tayaba Khatun, a participant in the rally, said. "I will continue to seek justice till my last breath." [Al Jazeera]


Johnson says Brexit deal is 'touch and go'

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has long remained optimistic that his government will get a Brexit deal done ahead of the Oct. 31 deadline, but during an interview while attending the Group of Seven summit in Biarritz, France, Johnson described the chances of negotiating a new agreement as "touch and go." He said it all depends on the European Union, but, in the meantime, he added that the most important thing was to prepare the U.K. to leave the EU without a deal — a scenario for which he once said odds were "a million to one." Johnson maintained his desire to scrap the Irish border backstop, a notion that remains a sticking point for the EU. While Johnson wavered on the prospects of a deal, he sounded confident when discussing a no-deal future, arguing the U.K. can "easily cope" with that scenario. [BBC, Business Insider]


Paris commemorates 75th anniversary of liberation

Paris celebrated the 75th anniversary of its liberation from Nazi occupation on Sunday, honoring French Resistance fighters and American soldiers who played a part in removing the shackles. Firefighters unfurled a huge French flag from the Eiffel Tower, recreating the moment 75 years ago when a French tricolor replaced a swastika flag atop the iconic monument. People also dressed in World War II-era military uniforms and dresses while parading in the southern part of Paris, retracing the entry of French and U.S. tanks into the city. A group of U.S. World War II veterans returned to the city for the events, as well. [The Associated Press, France24]


Curaçao, Louisiana square off in Little League World Series championship

The Little League World Series championship game between Willemstad, Curaçao and River Ridge, Louisiana, will kick off on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on ABC in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. It will also stream live on WatchESPN. Curaçao knocked off the tournament favorites, Chofu City, Japan, who had previously dominated the competition, with a 5-4 victory on Saturday in the international bracket's title game. On the U.S. side, Louisiana knocked off Wailuku, Hawaii, 9-5, securing revenge for a defeat at Hawaii's hands earlier in the tournament. Hawaii and Japan will square off in the tournament's third-place game. Louisiana has never captured a Little League World Series crown. Curaçao won the tournament in 2004 when now-big leaguers Jonathan Schoop and Jurickson Profar were on the roster. [Bleacher Report, Little League]