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A curated weekday guide to major news and developments over the past 24 hours. Here’s today’s news.
French troops will begin withdrawing from Niger as early as this week after a diplomatic fallout following the coup in Niger. Four hundred soldiers stationed near the border with Mali will be the first to leave, followed by about 1,000 troops near the capital. Mayeni Jones reports for BBC News.
Chinese vessels, including the Coast Guard, blocked Philippine ships from resupplying an outpost in the contested Second Thomas Shoal in the South China Sea, BBC News has witnessed. While the smaller commercial boats got past the blockade, the two Philippine Coast Guard vessels did not, coming within a few meters of the Chinese ships. Virma Simonette and Joel Guinto report for BBC News.
At least 80 people have been killed and 240 wounded following a drone strike on a military graduation ceremony in Homs, Syria, yesterday. The military blamed insurgents “backed by known international forces” for the attack. The military “will respond with full force and decisiveness to these terrorist organizations, wherever they exist.” Syrian government forces shelled villages in the northwest following the drone strike. At least ten civilians were wounded. Kareem Chehayeb and Albert Aji reports for AP News.
The Biden administration could use a State Department grant program to send military aid to Ukraine after Congress stripped Ukraine support from a deal that narrowly averted a government shutdown. However, a U.S. official said that Congress would need to authorize any funding to support Ukraine regardless. Lara Seligman, Paul McLeary, and Connor O’Brien report for POLITICO.
President Vladimir Putin said Russia held a “final successful test” of a nuclear-powered and nuclear-capable cruise missile. Putin described the missile as “a global-range nuclear-powered cruise missile.” Satellite images indicate Russia built new facilities at its Arctic base where Soviet nuclear tests were previously carried out. Robert Plummer reports for BBC News.
Russia’s legislature is considering revoking ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of the Russian Duma, said today. The announcement comes just after President Vladimir Putin said Russia successfully tested a nuclear-powered cruise missile. Guy Faulconbridge reports for Reuters.
Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday said hand grenade fragments were found in the bodies recovered from the plane crash that killed the paramilitary organization Wagner group chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin. Putin suggested an explosion from within caused the crash. Opinion polls suggest that most Russians think Prigozhin’s death was an accident or the result of a Western security service operation. Alan Cullison reports for the Wall Street Journal.
At least 51 people died following a Russian strike on Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, apparently targeting a memorial service for a Ukrainian soldier yesterday, marking one of the deadliest strikes since the invasion began. Isabelle Khurshudyan and Kamila Hrabchuk report for the Washington Post.
U.S. RELATIONS – SOUTHERN BORDER
Both Democrats and Republicans criticized the Biden administration after it announced new border wall construction in Texas. Democrats said the wall is ineffective, while Republicans accused President Biden of hypocrisy. Biden, who previously said the wall is “not a serious policy solution,” claimed he cannot stop the construction because the Trump administration signed off the funding. “We have repeatedly asked Congress to rescind this money, but it has not done so, and we are compelled to follow the law,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said. However, in a notice about the construction on the U.S. Federal Registry, Mayorkas said there is “presently an acute and immediate need to construct physical barriers and roads in the vicinity of the border of the United States in order to prevent unlawful entries into the United States in the project areas.” Bernd Debusmann Jr reports for BBC News.
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador condemned the Biden administration’s plan to extend the border wall as a “step backward.” Dave Graham reports for Reuters.
United States will resume direct deportation flights to Venezuela, officials said yesterday, a move aimed at curbing the surge in migration. Almost 500,000 Venezuelans crossed the southern border since 2020. While the Venezuelans who arrived before July 31 are eligible for temporary legal status, those who came illegally since then will be prioritized for deportation. Nick Miroff and Maria Sacchetti report for the Washington Post.
OTHER U.S. RELATIONS
The United States Air Force shot down a Turkish drone that entered a U.S.-restricted operating zone in northeast Syria. The drone had been conducting airstrikes shortly before nearing U.S. troops and posing a potential threat. The downing of Turkey’s drone, a NATO ally, will likely deteriorate the U.S. relationship with Turkey, which is already strained due to U.S. support for Kurdish militants. Lara Seligman reports for POLITICO.
President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are set to meet in California in November, with preparation underway, one administration official said. The meeting would be the first since last November’s Group of 20 summit in Indonesia. Since then, relations have been strained, particularly after a Chinese spy balloon traveled across the United States in February. Ellen Nakashima reports for the Washington Post.
Iraq will ban U.S. dollars from being withdrawn or used in transactions as of Jan. 1, 2024. The move is part of Iraq’s push to stamp out the misuse of its hard currency reserves in financial crimes and the evasion of U.S. sanctions on Iran. Many banks already limit dollar cash withdrawals, leading some customers to threaten violence. Timour Azhari reports for Reuters.
DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS – TRUMP LEGAL MATTERS
Former President Trump sought a dismissal of the federal election interference case against him, arguing he acted within his duties as president, which should not be subject to criminal prosecution. Mike Wendling reports for BBC News.
Special counsel Jack Smith has investigated whether former President Trump shared classified information about U.S. nuclear submarines with Anthony Pratt, an Australian billionaire at Mar-a-Lago. Pratt shared the sensitive details with several others, people familiar with the matter said. Federal prosecutors interviewed Pratt to investigate Trump’s handling of classified documents. While Trump likely did not show Pratt documents, he has been known to share classified information verbally. Alan Feuer, Ben Protess, Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan report for the New York Times.
Former President Trump has dropped his lawsuit against Michael Cohen. Trump’s lawsuit accused Cohen of “spreading falsehoods” about him. The turnaround comes just before Cohen is expected to testify against Trump in an unrelated New York civil fraud case. A spokesperson cited Trump’s campaign and other cases as the reason for the dismissal and said that Trump would refile the lawsuit later. Ben Protess and Maggie Haberman report for the New York Times.
OTHER DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENTS
Joshua J. Pleasnick, arrested in the State Capitol while looking for Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers carrying a handgun, posted bail, returned with an “AK-47-style” rifle, and was arrested again. Pleasnick was charged with a concealed-carry weapons violation because of a baton in his backpack during his second arrest. It was not illegal for Pleasnick to have the loaded rifle outside the capitol. He was taken into custody and was undergoing a psychiatric evaluation. Michael Levenson reports for the New York Times.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. could draw the support of one in seven U.S. voters, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll. The anti-vaccine activist is expected to launch his independent presidential campaign on Monday. In a three-way matchup between him, President Biden, and former President Trump, Kennedy drew 14 percent, Biden got 31 percent, and Trump got 33 percent. Jason Lange reports for Reuters.