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10 things you need to know today: September 10, 2019

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Harold Maass
Boris Johnson speaks to police
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1.

Report: Ross threatened NOAA firings over contradiction of Trump

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross threatened to fire top National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration employees after the agency's Birmingham office said Alabama would not be hit by Hurricane Dorian, contradicting President Trump, The New York Times reported Monday. NOAA subsequently released a statement backing Trump's tweet, in which he incorrectly said Alabama "would most likely be hit (much) harder than anticipated" by Dorian. At the time, the National Weather Service's forecast showed the storm tracking far to the east, with a 5 percent chance that a sliver of Alabama would get tropical-storm-force winds. NOAA's acting chief scientist, Craig McLean, wrote in an email to agency staff that he had launched an investigation, calling the agency's statement backing Trump "political" and a "danger to public health and safety." [The New York Times, The Washington Post]

2.

Boris Johnson suspends British Parliament weeks before Brexit deadline

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson followed through with his plan to suspend Parliament early Tuesday, shortly after lawmakers handed him a flurry of fresh defeats over his plans for leading Britain out of the European Union. Parliament, which previously passed a law against exiting the trading bloc without an approved deal, ordered Johnson's government to hand over private communications on its Brexit plans. Lawmakers also rejected Johnson's latest request for a snap election, which he has said would let voters decide who would lead the country forward after his government lost its majority due to defections over his push to leave the EU at the end of October, with or without a deal. Opposition lawmakers accused Johnson of trying to silence opponents, shouting, "Shame on you." [The Associated Press]

3.

Trump stumps for Republicans, bashes Democrats in N.C. rally

President Trump on Monday stumped for Republican candidates in North Carolina on the eve of two special congressional elections. Trump urged his supporters to vote for Republican Dan Bishop in a closely watched do-over election against Democrat Dan McCready, who narrowly trailed in a November vote state officials nullified over illegal absentee ballot collection by an operative hired by the previous GOP candidate. "Radical Democrats want to dismantle, demolish, and destroy everything you've gained," Trump said at a rally in Fayetteville, North Carolina. McCready, a former Marine, told a group of veterans in Fayetteville that the election fraud that made the special election necessary showed "politics at its worst." In the other election, voters are choosing someone to succeed the late Rep. Walter Jones. [The News & Observer]

4.

Trump defends blocking some hurricane refugees leaving Bahamas

President Trump on Monday said the U.S. should be "very careful" about letting some people fleeing hurricane-ravaged Bahamian islands into the U.S. "Everybody needs totally proper documentation because the Bahamas had some tremendous problems with people going to the Bahamas that weren't supposed to be there," Trump said. "I don't want to allow people that weren't supposed to be in the Bahamas to come into the United States, including some very bad people and some very bad gang members and some very, very bad drug dealers." The remarks came a day after 100 hurricane refugees were forced off a boat headed from the Bahamas to Florida because they lacked proper documentation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Trump's remarks showed a "callous disregard for human suffering." [NBC News, The Washington Post]

5.

U.K. parliamentary leader to step down

John Bercow, speaker of Britain's House of Commons, announced Monday that he would step down from the leadership post and as a member of Parliament by Oct. 31, the current Brexit deadline, or the next general election, whichever comes first. Bercow said his 10-years serving as speaker was the "greatest honor and privilege." Bercow has faced fierce criticism from pro-Brexit Conservatives, who said he helped opponents of a no-deal Brexit take over the agenda of the lower house of Parliament. Bercow reportedly received a standing ovation from the Labour benches after making the announcement, though most Conservatives remained seated. The decision reportedly took members of Parliament by surprise. [BBC News, Bloomberg]

6.

50 states, territories start Google antitrust investigation

Attorneys general in 50 U.S. states and territories have launched a joint antitrust investigation of Google, they announced Monday. The investigation, which is not a lawsuit, will seek to determine whether Google's dominance of search and advertising online violates antitrust regulations. Google faced a previous probe from the Federal Trade Commission, which evaluated the tech giant's methods but ultimately decided not to impose a major fine or force it to break up. Google has not yet commented on the newly announced investigation. [The Washington Post]

7.

Trump administration says border detentions down

The number of people detained or turned away at the U.S.-Mexico border fell to 64,000 in August, down 22 percent from July and 56 percent from a record high in May, Mark Morgan, the acting commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection, said Monday. The Trump administration credited Mexico and Central American countries with imposing policies that helped discourage undocumented migrants from trying to get to the U.S. The Trump administration has been pressuring governments in the region to do more to discourage illegal immigration, including threatening Mexico with new tariffs. Guatemala has agreed to serve as a so-called safe third country housing people seeking asylum. [Reuters]

8.

NRA sues San Francisco over resolution calling it a 'domestic terrorist' group

The National Rifle Association on Monday filed a lawsuit against San Francisco for labeling the gun-rights lobbying group a "domestic terrorist organization." The San Francisco Board of Supervisors approved the resolution last week in response to the deadly August shooting at the Gilroy Garlic Festival. The resolution calls for limiting San Francisco's "financial and contractual relationships" with vendors who do business with the NRA, which it says "spreads propaganda that misinforms and aims to deceive the public about the dangers of gun violence." NRA attorney William A. Brewer III said San Francisco's elected leaders were trampling the NRA's First Amendment rights. In its lawsuit, the NRA said the court should "instruct elected officials that freedom of speech means you cannot silence or punish those with whom you disagree." [CNN, CBS News]

9.

FDA orders Juul Labs to stop claiming e-cigarettes are safer

The Food and Drug Administration on Monday told Juul Labs to stop marketing its e-cigarettes with claims they are safer than traditional cigarettes. "The law is clear that, before marketing tobacco products for reduced risk, companies must demonstrate with scientific evidence that their specific product does in fact pose less risk or is less harmful," acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless said in a statement. The warning was the FDA's latest effort to discourage vaping, which has become increasingly popular among teens as concerns over health risks rise. The Federal Trade Commission last month launched an investigation into Juul's use of social media influencers to gain customers, including young people. [Reuters]

10.

4 crew members rescued after being trapped in overturned ship off Georgia

Rescuers located four crew members trapped inside an overturned cargo ship off Georgia on Monday, and brought them to safety. First, three South Koreans were rescued who had been trapped deep inside the hull, near the ship's propeller. Before they were freed, the rescue team drilled a hole to get them fresh air, as well as food and water. Then the crews cut a larger hole to get them out. The other crew member was freed later in the day from the engineering compartment. Fires on the unstable ship, which was floating on its side, delayed the rescue effort. [USA Today, CBS News]