10 things you need to know today: August 11, 2022
Donald Trump takes the 5th at New York deposition, inflation eased from a 40-year high as gas prices fell, and more
Trump deposed by New York AG, declines to answer questions
Former President Donald Trump repeatedly invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on Wednesday during a deposition by New York Attorney General Letitia James' office. James is investigating whether Trump and his company misled lenders, insurers, and tax authorities about the value of his properties. Trump said in a statement that he "declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution," on the advice of his lawyers. Before the deposition, Trump said on social media that the questioning would be "a continuation of the greatest Witch Hunt in U.S. history! My great company, and myself, are being attacked from all sides. Banana Republic!"
Inflation eased from 40-year high in July
The Consumer Price Index rose 8.5 percent in July compared to a year earlier, cooling slightly from June's 9.1 percent inflation rate, a 40-year high. The slowdown was slightly larger than economists had expected, thanks to a significant drop in gasoline prices. With volatile food and fuel prices excluded, core prices rose 5.9 percent in July compared to the same month a year earlier, matching June's rate. Compared to the previous month, core inflation climbed 0.3 percent, down from the 0.7 percent monthly figure in June. Inflation remains unusually high, and analysts said the slowdown was not sharp enough to indicate that the Fed's aggressive interest rate hikes have been sufficient to contain rising prices.
Ukraine says explosions destroyed 9 Russian war planes at Crimea base
Ukrainian military officials said Wednesday that explosions at a Russian air base in Crimea destroyed nine Russian war planes. Moscow claims the blasts were not the result of an attack and said no aircraft had been damaged. Ukraine has officially denied responsibility for the explosions, although at least one Ukrainian official said loyalist special forces in Crimea had conducted a strike against the base. Ukrainian officials mocked Russia for suggesting a careless smoker might have caused ammunition to catch fire and detonate. Ukraine aims to retake Crimea, which Russia seized and annexed in 2014, while Moscow has demanded recognition that the strategically important peninsula is part of Russia as one of its conditions for peace.
DOJ charges Iranian in alleged plot to kill John Bolton
The Justice Department on Wednesday announced charges against a member of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Shahram Poursafi, over an alleged plot to assassinate John Bolton, who served as former President Donald Trump's national security adviser. Poursafi, who remains at large abroad, allegedly tried to pay people $300,000 to kill Bolton in Washington, D.C., or Maryland. If arrested and convicted, Poursafi, 45, could face up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Federal investigators believe Iran wanted to kill Bolton in retaliation for a 2020 U.S. airstrike that killed Qasem Soleimani, a top Revolutionary Guard Corps commander, in Iraq.
Biden signs bill expanding care for veterans exposed to burn pits
President Biden on Wednesday signed a bill to expand federal health care services to veterans exposed to toxic "burn pits" on military bases. "We owe you," said Biden, whose elder son, Beau, served in Iraq and died of cancer. "You're the very fiber that makes this country what it is." The law came after a years-long fight to guarantee that the estimated three million exposed veterans receive treatment for chronic illnesses some have blamed on burn pits used to dispose of chemicals, medical equipment, human waste, and other materials. Biden said the law was long overdue. Danielle Robinson, whose husband, Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, died of cancer two years ago, said it would help veterans "still battling burn pit illnesses today."
Gas prices fall below $4 a gallon for 1st time in months
The average U.S. price of a gallon of gas has dipped below $4 a gallon for the first time in five months, AAA reported Thursday. Gas prices rose to a nominal high of $5.01 a gallon in mid-June, but have steadily dropped since then to $3.99 a gallon. "It's sort of like a very simple roller coaster ride because we went up, and now we're coming down," AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross told USA Today. "When things kind of go up really fast, they also tend to kind of fall really fast." Gross credited falling oil prices, lower demand, and President Biden's withdrawals from the strategic petroleum reserve, which served as "a pretty good little Band-Aid."
North Korea declares victory over COVID, blame South Korea for outbreak
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared victory over COVID-19 and directed his government to ease preventive measures, just three months after the isolated nation first acknowledged a coronavirus outbreak, the official Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday. During the national meeting where Kim made the announcement, his powerful sister delivered her first televised speech, praising her brother's "epoch-making" leadership and blaming the outbreak on leaflets flown across the border from South Korea. The South Korean unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, expressed "strong regrets over North Korea repeatedly making groundless claims over the route of the COVID and making very disrespectful and threatening remarks."
Political ad spending for 2022 on track to double 2018 total
Political ad spending in 2022 races is set to exceed the amount spent in 2020 and more than double the total from 2018, according to a report from AdImpact. In July 2021, AdImpact projected that candidates, PACs, and issue groups would spend $8.9 billion on ads for the 2022 cycle, just below the record-breaking $9 billion spent in 2020. A year later, AdImpact revised that number upward to $9.7 billion, projecting that 2022 would be the most expensive election cycle in U.S. history. Candidates typically spend less ahead of midterms than in presidential election years, but this year's 36 gubernatorial races are contributing to the higher spending, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Wildfire forces 10,000 to evacuate homes in southwestern France
Wildfires spread quickly in southwestern France on Wednesday, forcing 10,000 people to evacuate homes in the Gironde region. "Prepare your papers, the animals you can take with you, some belongings," local officials said on Facebook before getting residents out of the town of Belin-Beliet. Fires in the region have destroyed homes and burned more than 15,000 acres. France is enduring its worst drought on record, and is one of several countries in Europe that have endured devastating heatwaves this summer. At least eight major wildfires are currently burning across the country.
Joe Arpaio loses 3rd attempt at political comeback
Former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, who was convicted of criminal contempt and became the first person pardoned by then-President Donald Trump in 2017, appears to have lost his third attempt at a political comeback. With all votes counted on Wednesday, Arpaio, 90, was about 400 votes behind two-term incumbent Ginny Dickey in an election for mayor in the affluent Maricopa County town of Fountain Hills. Arpaio declined to concede, saying, "It's not over until it's over." Arpaio was once influential in Republican politics after gaining fame for his hardline immigration policies. He lost his bid for a seventh term as sheriff in 2016, then, after his pardon, lost a 2018 Arizona GOP primary for U.S. Senate and a 2020 bid for sheriff.