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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – NIGER
The paramilitary organization Wagner group is “taking advantage” of instability in Niger, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. While Blinken said he did not think Russia or Wagner provoked Niger’s coup, there have been suggestions the coup leaders asked for help from Wagner. “Every single place that this Wagner group has gone, death, destruction and exploitation have followed,” Blinken added. Kathryn Armstrong reports for BBC News.
Niger’s junta rebuffed diplomatic efforts by the United States, the U.N., and regional groups, indicating that a return to civilian rule is increasingly unlikely. ECOWAS, the group of regional nations that threatened military action against the coup leaders, is scheduled to meet for an extraordinary summit tomorrow. Elian Peltier and Eric Schmitt report for the New York Times.
Nigerian President Bola Tinubu ordered further sanctions yesterday aimed at squeezing those involved in the military takeover of Niger. Boureima Balima and Abdel-Kader Mazou reports for Reuters.
GLOBAL DEVELOPMENTS – CHINA
China’s international trade is falling more sharply than expected, with official figures showing exports fell by 14.5 percent in July compared with a year earlier, while imports dropped 12.4 percent. The slowing post-pandemic recovery raises concerns that China’s economic growth could slow further this year. Youth unemployment exceeded 20 percent in May, and a housing crisis has damaged confidence. Faarea Masud and Natalie Sherman report for BBC News.
The Biden administration will release an executive order today banning private equity and venture capital investments in some Chinese technology companies. The move aims to curb China’s ability to develop cutting-edge technologies. Three technology sectors will be covered: semiconductors, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence. Andrew Duehren reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Ten Chinese air force planes entered Taiwan’s air defense zone today along with five Chinese warships engaged in “combat readiness” patrols, Taiwan’s defense ministry said. This marks the second such incursion this week. Reuters reports.
A series of arson attacks on Russian military recruitment centers are being instigated by callers in Ukraine who are tricking elderly Russians into committing such crimes. Ukrainians posing as police or creditors are inciting Russians to attack the centers in exchange for promises to settle debts, the prosecutor general’s office said. Laurence Peter reports for BBC News.
“Sobering” assessments of the highly-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive suggest rebalancing this conflict is “extremely, highly unlikely,” a senior Western diplomat said. Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL) said, “This is the most difficult time of the war.” The main challenge for the Ukrainian forces is breaking through the dense and multilayered Russian defenses. Jim Sciutto reports for CNN.
Russia shot down two Ukrainian drones near Moscow today, one near a major airport, its defense ministry said. Reuters reports.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of targeting rescue workers by launching missiles at residential areas before striking the same spot once the rescuers arrived. “This is a deliberate decision of the terrorists to cause the greatest pain and damage,” he said. Andrew Jeong and Leo Sands report for the Washington Post.
Rumors that the United States would allow entry to a large group of migrants have led to the massing of hundreds of migrants alongside the U.S. border in the northern Mexican city of Ciudad Juarez. Reuters reports.
Ninety-eight people in the United States and Australia have been arrested as part of an investigation into child abuse that led to the shooting of two FBI agents two years ago. U.S. authorities arrested 79 people and convicted 43, while police in Australia said they arrested 19 men. The investigation uncovered a “technologically sophisticated child abuse network,” allegedly using the dark web to create and share images and videos of child abuse, according to the Australian Federal Police. Victoria Bisset reports for the Washington Post.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
District Judge Tanya Chutkan, overseeing former President Trump’s election fraud case, has set Friday for hearing arguments about what evidence can be publicly disclosed. Before Chutkan made her order, Trump told a crowd at a rally in New Hampshire that “I will talk about it. I will. They’re not taking away my First Amendment rights.” Daniel Barnes and Dareh Gregorian report for NBC News.
Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis is expected to seek indictments from a grand jury next week in relation to former President Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia. Almost 20 people are known to have been told that they could face charges. Danny Hakim and Richard Fausset report for the New York Times.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
In a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling yesterday, the restrictions on untraceable “ghost guns” remained in place. In July, a Texas court blocked a 2022 rule requiring self-assembled “ghost gun” kits to have serial numbers. The Supreme Court allowed restrictions to remain in place while the White House appealed against a court ruling which prevented “ghost guns” from being classified as a firearm. Mike Wendling reports for BBC News.
Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX), a member of the Freedom Caucus, sought to build support for withholding money for one of the 12 separate funding bills dealing with the Department of Homeland Security unless Congress takes tougher action to secure the southern border. The House is struggling to pass spending bills due to partisan disagreements. Congress must pass 12 separate funding bills before Oct. 1 to avoid a partial government shutdown. Siobhan Hughes reports for the Wall Street Journal.
Five people associated with the Patriot Front group are suing David Alan Capito for allegedly causing them “harm” by infiltrating the white supremacist group and revealing their identities online. Rebecca Falconer reports Axios.
Military recruiters have failed to comprehensively screen applicants for their connections to political extremist groups and criminal gangs, according to a Pentagon inspector general report. While recruiters do conduct screenings, they are often incomplete. Approximately 40 percent of sampled recruiters did not give applicants the relevant screening questions or forms. Nine percent failed to identify possible signs of affiliation, and another 9 percent failed to conduct fingerprint identification properly. Brad Dress reports for The Hill.
Commandant Karl L. Schultz, then-leader of the U.S. Coast Guard, covered up an inquiry that revealed a history of sexual misconduct at a prestigious academy, substantiating dozens of rapes and assaults from the late 1980s to 2006. Schultz’s predecessor, Admiral Paul Zukunft, intended to brief Congress and the Department of Homeland Security and planned to issue a public apology to the victims the investigation identified. Zukunft retired before the report was completed. Melanie Hicken, Blake Ellis, Curt Devine, Pamela Brown, and Scott Bronstein report for CNN.
Researchers at IBM released a report yesterday detailing the easy workarounds to get artificial intelligence, like ChatGPT, to help conduct scams and cyberattacks. Sam Sabin reports for Axios.