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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
U.S. RELATIONS – NORTH KOREA
Travis King, a U.S. soldier, is being held in North Korea after crossing the border from South Korea after joining a Demilitarised Zone border tour. Before crossing the border, he was being escorted back to the United States to face disciplinary action after being held in South Korea on assault charges. King managed to separate himself from his escort at Incheon Airport, exited the terminal, and went to the border crossing about 34 miles away. It appears King’s actions were pre-planned. Jean Mackenzie and Emily McGarvey report for BBC News.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has said that Travis King, the U.S. soldier being held in North Korea, crossed the Demilitarised Zone into North Korea “wilfully” and without authorization. POLITICO reports.
A U.S. submarine capable of launching nuclear missiles arrived in South Korea yesterday as the United States aims to demonstrate its “ironclad commitment” to defending South Korea against North Korea. North Korea responded by firing two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast. Choe Sang-Hun reports for the New York Times.
U.S. RELATIONS – ISRAEL
The Biden administration yesterday added two Europe-based hacking firms, Intellexa and Cytrox, run by an Israeli former general, to a Commerce Department blacklist. Both firms are mired in a political scandal in Greece, where government officials have been accused of using their hacking tools against political opponents and journalists. Once blacklisted, U.S. companies are mostly prohibited from doing business with the firms in a bid to starve them of U.S. technology. Mark Mazzetti reports for the New York Times.
The House voted 412-9 to pass a resolution affirming the United State’s strong support for Israel and condemning antisemitism. The vote sought to put Democrats on the spot after Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) called Israel racist. The vote comes amid an apparent easing of tensions after Israel’s President visited the White House and the Biden administration announced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit for later this year. President Biden said that the U.S. commitment to Israel is “ironclad.” Siobhan Hughes reports for the Wall Street Journal.
U.S. RELATIONS – CHINA
The Biden administration is set to impose a 10-year ban on funding for the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese laboratory which some blame for starting the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Department of Health and Human Services memo.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – SOUTH AFRICA AND RUSSIA
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has asked the International Criminal Court for permission not to arrest Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. Ramaphosa has said the arrest would amount to a declaration of war, a local court submission published yesterday showed. Putin is due to arrive in South Africa next month as it hosts the B.R.I.C.S. summit. Ramaphosa’s remarks are part of a legal response to a court case brought by the opposition Democratic Alliance to force the government to arrest Putin upon arrival in South Africa. Carien du Plessis reports for Reuters.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – CLIMATE CHANGE
Climate change is a “universal threat” that should be addressed separately from other diplomatic issues, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry told Chinese Vice-President Han Zheng today. Kerry’s talks with China’s leadership aim to rebuild trust between the two sides ahead of COP28 climate talks in Dubai at the end of the year. Valerie Volcovici reports for Reuters.
The heat index reached 152 degrees in the Middle East this week, nearing the levels thought to be the most intense the human body can withstand. The heatwaves across much of the Northern Hemisphere are indicative of the extremes that are increasingly possible and probable against the backdrop of climate change. Scott Dance reports for the Washington Post.
Over 104 million Americans were under heat alerts yesterday morning, according to heat.gov. More temperature records are forecast to fall as the heatwave intensifies. Andrew Freedman reports for Axios.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – U.K.
The controversial Illegal Migration Bill is set to become law after the U.K. government won a final series of votes in the House of Lords yesterday. Under the bill, the government has a legal duty to detain and remove anyone entering the U.K. illegally. The U.N. human rights chief Volker Turk and the U.N. refugees head, Filippo Grandi, released an unusually critical joint statement, claiming the bill breaks the U.K.’s obligations under international law. Sam Hancock and Sam Francis report for BBC News.
The U.K. will shrink its military and seek to create a better-equipped force that it says can be more rapidly deployed, the Ministry of Defence’s new strategic plan published yesterday reveals. Max Colchester reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Moscow has increasingly relied upon the former Soviet states of Central Asia to fill a technology supply gap following Western sanctions. Some of these states are historically and financially bound to Russia but trade extensively with Europe and China. The Biden administration is particularly concerned about Kyrgyzstan, home to multiple businesses that have become a waypoint for Western and Asian goods Russia cannot legally obtain elsewhere, including drone technology with military applications. Joby Warrick reports for the Washington Post.
Russian forces launched over 60 airstrikes against Ukraine last night, focusing mainly on the southern Odesa region for a second night, the Ukrainian Air Force said today. Olga Voitovych reports for CNN.
While Ukraine’s counter-offensive against Russia is “far from a failure,” the fight ahead “is going to be long. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to be bloody,” General Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said. Milley said that while war games had predicted certain levels of Ukrainian advances, conflict on paper differed from reality. Idrees Ali and Phil Stewart report for Reuters.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Former President Trump received a letter from special counsel Jack Smith informing Trump that he is a target of the grand jury investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 election. This development could indicate that an indictment is forthcoming. This would be the second set of federal charges Trump faces. Katherine Faulders, John Santucci, Alexander Mallin, and Luke Barr report for ABC News.
District Judge Aileen Cannon is likely to push back the start of a trial concerning former President Trump’s handling of classified documents beyond the December date suggested by federal prosecutors. Cannon did not offer a revised start date but said she plans to “promptly” issue an order. Cannon also seemed deeply skeptical of Trump’s lawyers’ arguments that Trump could not get a fair trial while running for president. Tierney Sneed, Jeremy Herb, Devon M. Sayers, and Devan Cole report for CNN.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – SOUTHERN BORDER
Texas state troopers and the national guard were ordered to deny water to migrants, to push a mother and baby into the Rio Grande, and to prevent a child near razor wire from getting to shore, an email sent by Texas state trooper Nicholas Wingate to his superior, Sgt. Colin Kolupski alleges. The Texas Department of Public Safety’s Office of the Inspector General is investigating the allegations in the email. Elizabeth Findell reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Illegal border crossings plunged in June to their lowest level in two years. Border officials apprehended 99,545 individuals crossing the southern border in June, a 42 percent decline from May when the Biden administration implemented new immigration policies. Myah Ward reports for POLITICO.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Dana Nessel, Michigan’s attorney general, announced charges against 16 people for their role in an alleged false electors scheme after the 2020 election. Nessel accused the 16 of falsely claiming former President Trump had won the state. Each defendant was charged with eight felony counts, including forgery and conspiracy to commit forgery, each carrying a possible penalty of up to 14 years in prison. Holly Honderich reports for BBC News.
Tyler B. Dykes, who recently completed a jail sentence for marching in the deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, has been charged with participating in the Jan. 6 attack. Dykes was charged in February with illegally intimidating the public during the Charlottesville march and served six months behind bars. Dykes appeared on Monday in a District Court and is being held pending a detention hearing today. Paul Duggan reports for the Washington Post.
Aboujaylah Ali Anbees, a Libyan national who says he escaped summary execution by the Russian paramilitary organization Wagner group, filed a lawsuit in Washington yesterday naming Yevgeny Prigozhin as a defendant. The lawsuit also names Khalifa Hifter, the Libyan warlord who brought Wagner to Libya in 2018. It is unclear what impact the lawsuit could have on Prigozhin, who has no known U.S. assets. The governments of Russia and Belarus are unlikely to cooperate. Adam Taylor reports for the Washington Post.