Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 25, 2021

U.S. picks up first series of medals at Olympics after rare day 1 shutout, U.S. women's gymnastics finishes 2nd behind Russia in qualifying, and more


U.S. picks up first series of medals at Olympics after rare day 1 shutout

After failing to medal on the first day of the Olympics for the first time in almost 50 years, the United States got on the board at the 2020 Tokyo Games on Sunday when swimmers Chase Kalisz and Jay Litherland won gold and silver, respectively, in the 400-meter individual medley. Since then, the U.S. has risen to second in the medal table with 10, one behind China for the most overall. The U.S. picked up several more medals in swimming, with Emma Weyant and Hali Flickinger winning silver and bronze in the women's 400-meter individual medley, and Kieran Smith taking bronze in the men's 400-meter freestyle. The U.S. women swimmers then won bronze in the 100-meter freestyle relay. Outside of the pool, U.S. athletes have so far earned three more gold medals in the air rifle competition, fencing, and Taekwondo.


U.S. women's gymnastics finishes 2nd behind Russia in qualifying

The women's artistic gymnastics competition, one of the most highly anticipated events at the 2020 Olympics, got underway Sunday, and the U.S. team finished qualifying in second place behind the Russian team. The U.S. squad is seeking its third straight gold medal, but it looks like they'll face a real challenge from the Russian side in the process. Meanwhile, American Simone Biles, considered by many to be the greatest gymnast of all time, led the all-around. She had a few missteps on her floor exercise and beam routine, but The Associated Press notes that her routines are so difficult she can afford an error every once and a while and still finish first.


Trump praises controversial Arizona election audit at Phoenix rally

Former President Donald Trump spoke in Phoenix on Saturday night at a Turning Point USA gathering where he praised Arizona's Republican state senators for their controversial, ongoing audit of the 2020 presidential election in Maricopa County. Trump described the senators, who have been widely criticized for giving weight to Trump's false claims of widespread voter fraud, as "brave and unyielding conservative warriors" and predicted the results of the audit "will be so outrageous." He also singled out Arizona GOP Chair Kelli Ward, calling her a "fighter" in contrast to Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R), whom Trump said "doesn't do a damn thing." Ducey has defended Arizona's election integrity, which caused Trump to turn on him.


California's Dixie Fire destroys multiple homes

Northern California's Dixie Fire, the largest in the state, destroyed multiple homes in the small community of Indian Falls on Saturday night. The blaze is reportedly 20 percent contained, but firefighters have had difficulty battling the flames because the fire is burning in a remote area with limited access. Meanwhile, the largest active fire in the United States, Oregon's Bootleg Fire, has slowed. But it still threatens thousands of homes, and dry weather is forcing firefighters to "constantly re-evaluate their control lines and look for contingency options," Jim Hanson, a fire behavior analyst, said in a news release from the Oregon Department of Forestry. The Alder Creek Fire in Montana, while smaller than Dixie and Bootleg, is only 7 percent contained and threatening around 240 homes, forcing the state to call in crews from Utah and California to help fight the blaze.


Afghanistan imposes curfew as Taliban gains ground

Afghanistan has imposed a night curfew in 31 provinces across the country in the hopes of curbing violence and limiting Taliban "movements" as the group continues to gain ground amid a U.S military withdrawal, the interior ministry said Saturday. The curfew will be in place between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. local time. "It's been clear for many years that in contested parts of Afghanistan, the government may control things during the day, but the Taliban, very much, own the night," Al Jazeera's James Bays reported from the capital, Kabul, where the curfew is not in effect.


Iraqi PM says country has no need for foreign combat forces

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Khadimi told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview published Sunday that "there is no need for any foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil," including American troops. He said he believes Iraq's security forces are capable of defending the country from threats such as the Islamic State on their own, though he did not announce a deadline for a U.S. withdrawal and said Iraq still wants the U.S. "to support our forces in training and developing their efficiency and capabilities." Khadimi and President Biden are expected to discuss a timeline when they meet in Washington on Monday. Currently, about 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Iraq. 


Typhoon hits China, threatens more heavy rain after historic floods

Typhoon In-Fa hit China's eastern coast on Sunday, making landfall in the city of Zhoushan. It's a major storm that is forcing people to stay indoors, uprooting trees, and prompting the cancellation of flights and train services, but so far there have been no reports of major damage. Last week, China's Henan province, which is inland, experienced historic flooding that killed at least 58 people, and there is concern that the typhoon could bring more heavy rainfall to the region, which would hamper search and rescue efforts.


French protesters take aim at COVID-19 restrictions, vaccine push

Around 160,000 protesters took to the streets across France on Saturday in response to the country's coronavirus restrictions and vaccine mandates for health-care workers. A demonstration in central Paris led to clashes with police who fired teargas at the crowd. French President Emmanuel Macron, who was visiting a hospital in French Polynesia on Saturday night, said the protesters were "free to express themselves in a calm and respectful manner," but indicated their marches won't lead to any change in terms of national COVID-19 policies. Macron, while putting out "a call for unity," also criticized "people who are in the business of irrational, sometimes cynical, manipulative mobilization."


Serial killer Rodney Alcala dies while awaiting execution

Rodney Alcala, a serial killer who was convicted and sentenced to death in 2010 for the kidnapping and murder of a 12-year-old girl and the murders of four other women, died of natural causes Saturday while awaiting execution, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation announced. He was 77. Alcala was first sentenced to death in 1980 for the 1979 kidnapping and murder of 12-year-old Robin Samsoe. The conviction was overturned twice before 2010 when the additional four murder chargers came into play after DNA evidence linked Alcala to the victims. Authorities have speculated Alcala may have been responsible for many other murders, as well. He was known as the "Dating Game Killer" because he appeared on the game show of the same name in 1978.


Comedian Jackie Mason dies at 93

Comedian Jackie Mason died Saturday night at a New York hospital, his long-time friend and collaborator Raoul Felder confirmed Saturday. Mason was 93. Felder said he "died peacefully with several close friends and family at his side." Mason was "known for his sharp wit and piercing commentary, often about being Jewish, men and women, and his own inadequacies," The Associated Press writes, adding that "his typical style was amused outrage." Mason is survived by his wife Jyll Rosenfeld and his daughter, Sheba.


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