Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 1, 2022

Northern California's McKinney fire explodes, basketball legend Bill Russell dies at 88, and more

1

McKinney fire quickly becomes California's biggest wildfire this year

Northern California's McKinney fire, fueled by high temperatures and winds, exploded over the weekend to become the state's biggest wildfire this year. The blaze started Friday afternoon in the Klamath National Forest and quickly spread. It had burned 300 acres as of Friday night, 30,000 acres by Saturday evening, and 51,468 acres by Sunday morning, with 0 percent containment. "Because of the erratic winds, the fire is going all over the place," said Caroline Quintanilla, a public information officer with the U.S. Forest Service. About 2,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes in Siskiyou County, where Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday declared a state of emergency.

2

11-time NBA champion Bill Russell dies at 88

Basketball legend Bill Russell, who led the Boston Celtics to 11 NBA championships over 13 years, died Sunday. He was 88. Before his professional career, Russell led the University of San Francisco Dons to two NCAA championships, and won an Olympic gold medal as a member of the U.S. team at the 1956 Summer Games. Russell was 6-foot-10, fast and agile, with leaping ability and a 7-foot-4 wingspan that made him a dominating shot-blocker and rebounder. In 1966, Russell became the NBA's first Black head coach. He spent three years as a player-coach. Russell also was an outspoken civil rights activist. In 2011, then-President Barack Obama awarded him the Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

3

1st ship containing Ukrainian grain leaves port under deal

The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain left the Odesa port on Monday under a deal seeking to get a backlog of crops out of the country to ease a growing global hunger crisis. The ship was headed to Lebanon with more than 26,000 tons of corn, according to Turkey, which brokered the deal along with the United Nations. Ukraine's minister of infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, tweeted that the ship was the first to leave Odesa since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. More than 20 million tons of grain from last year's harvest have been stuck due to a Russian blockade of Ukraine's Black Sea ports, contributing to a global food shortage. 

4

Pelosi arrives in Singapore to start Asia tour

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Singapore early Monday to start an Asian tour with scheduled visits to Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan to discuss what she called "shared interests," including trade, the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, and security. Pelosi did not address speculation the trip would include a stop in Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory. China has threatened "resolute and forceful measures" if Pelosi visits the self-governing island. Pelosi's two-day stop in Singapore started with a visit to the city-state's president, Halimah Yacob, and prime minister, Lee Hsien Loong. Lee "highlighted the importance of stable U.S.-China relations for regional peace and security," Singapore's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

5

Kansans prepare to vote on proposed constitutional amendment on abortion

Activists on both sides of the abortion issue are making a final push for support before Kansans cast primary ballots on Tuesday and vote on a proposed constitutional amendment that will determine whether to remove abortion rights protections from the State Constitution. Kansas will be the first state to decide on a statewide right to abortion since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade that had made abortion legal nationwide. Tensions have risen in the state as the vote neared, with people posting opposing yard signs in front of their homes, and Republican and Democratic activists tapping into anger over the issue to encourage high turnout. 

6

Kentucky braces for more rain as flood death toll rises to 28

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear warned people in parts of the state to brace for more rain late Sunday and early Monday as the death toll from devastating floods rose to at least 28. Beshear said more bodies were being recovered but those casualties hadn't been confirmed. Dozens of people remained unaccounted for as the latest storms threatened further flooding and some areas remained difficult for search crews to reach. "Next couple days are going to be hard," Beshear said in a statement posted to YouTube. "We've got rain and maybe even a lot of rain that's going to hit the same areas … Make sure you have a place that is higher ground. Go to a shelter."

7

Poll: Republicans on track to win majority of 230 House seats

Republicans are on track to win a clear majority of 230 seats in the House of Representatives this November, according to the CBS News Battleground Tracker model released Sunday. The Battleground Tracker takes "a district-by-district approach to analyzing races and measuring public opinion, since control of Congress is won across hundreds of individual elections, not by national popular vote," according to CBS. Some Democrats have expressed hope that the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade (1973) and ending the constitutional right to an abortion could steal some of the GOP's momentum, but high inflation and the normal rhythm of election cycles continue to lift Republicans in polls.

8

Banana Boat sunscreen spray recalled after benzene traces found in samples

Edgewell Personal Care on Sunday recalled one of its Banana Boat sunscreen sprays after an internal sample review found trace levels of benzene, a carcinogen. The company announced Friday that tests showed that the product, Banana Boat Hair & Scalp Sunscreen Spray SPF 30, had small amounts of the chemical. Edgewater responded by pulling several batches of the sunscreen off the market. The company said benzene isn't an ingredient in any of its products. The review found that the chemical came from the propellant used to spray sunscreen out of the can. Edgewater said it hadn't received any reports of problems blamed on the chemical, which could potentially cause blood disorders, or cancers, including leukemia.

9

Report: Prince Charles charity accepted $1.2 million from bin Laden family

Prince Charles' charitable foundation accepted a $1.2 million donation from relatives of Osama bin Laden, Britain's Sunday Times reported. The money was given to the Prince of Wales' Charitable Fund in 2013 by Bakr bin Laden, patriarch of the wealthy Saudi family, and his brother Shafiq. Both are half-brothers of the late al-Qaida leader, who was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in 2011. The Sunday Times said advisers had urged Prince Charles not to take the money. The prince's Clarence House office confirmed the donation but denied Charles was involved in the matter. The fund's chairman, Ian Cheshire, said the charity's five trustees were "wholly" responsible for the decision, and "any attempt to suggest otherwise is misleading and inaccurate."

10

Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek's Lt. Uhura, dies at 89

Nichelle Nichols, the actress best known for playing Starship Enterprise communications officer Lt. Uhura on Star Trek, has died of heart failure, her family confirmed Sunday. She was 89. Nichols was one of the first Black women with a leading role on a network TV series, and her portrayal of the highly educated, beautiful, and businesslike Uhura helped break down barriers for Black women in Hollywood who were rarely given such powerful roles. In a November 1968 episode in Star Trek's third and final season, Uhura and Captain Kirk embraced in what is believed to be the first interracial kiss in television history. NASA credited her with inspiring thousands of women and minorities to apply to the space program.

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