👋 Away Message: Hi there! Matt is currently out on parental leave. He'll return August 30th-ish. More details can be found here. In the meantime, Joe (the voice of the newscast/podcast) will be publishing an abridged version of WTF Just Happened Today? every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. You can expect 5-7 news items covering a slightly wider range of political news in about two sentences each. We'll return to our regularly scheduled WTFJHT programming when Matt returns in late August.
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1/ North Korea successfully fired an intercontinental ballistic missile. The test-launch came early Tuesday morning with the ICBM taking a steep trajectory to avoid flying over neighboring countries. The North’s state-run news agency said the missile was capable of hitting the “heart of the United States” with “large heavy nuclear warheads.” Experts don’t believe the North can make a nuclear warhead small enough to be mounted on ICBMs, yet. If fired at a conventional trajectory, the missile was capable of flying for about 4,160 miles – not enough to reach the lower 48 states or the large islands of Hawaii, but within range of Alaska. American lawmakers have long seen the development of an ICBM as a critical threshold that North Korea shouldn’t be allowed to cross. (Wall Street Journal / New York Times)
- What can Trump do about North Korea? His options are few and risky. (New York Times)
2/ Trump tweets his reaction to North Korea’s missile test: “Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” He added that it’s “hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!” (CNN)
3/ The US tells North Korea it’s prepared to go to war if provoked. Rex Tillerson described the missile test as an escalation of the threat to the US and that the US “will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea.” The US and South Korea then conducted a live-fire drill, launching tactical surface-to-surface missiles off the east coast of Korea. “Global action is required to stop a global threat,” Tillerson said, adding that any country helping North Korea “is aiding and abetting a dangerous regime.” (CNN / Wall Street Journal)
4/ At least 44 states and DC have refused to comply with Trump’s election integrity commission. In response, Trump tweeted that states are “trying to hide” things from his commission, which is seeking voter’s full names, addresses, dates of birth, political parties, the last four digits of their social security numbers, voting history since 2006, military status, whether they lived overseas, and more. Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who leads Trump’s Commission on Election Integrity, sent a letter to all 50 states last week requesting the voter data, which will eventually be made available to the public. (CNN / Washington Post)
- Trump’s voting commission asked states to hand over election data. Some are pushing back. (Washington Post)
5/ A federal court blocked the EPA’s effort to suspend an Obama restriction on methane emissions from new oil and gas wells. The court concluded that the EPA could reconsider a 2016 rule limiting methane and smog-forming pollutants emitted by oil and gas wells, but couldn’t delay the effective date while it rewrites the regulation. The EPA had proposed extending the initial delay to two years. (New York Times / Washington Post)
- Scott Pruitt has moved to undo, delay or otherwise block more than 30 environmental rules, a regulatory rollback larger in scope than any other over so short a time in the agency’s 47-year history. (New York Times)
6/ Investigators are exploring if Russia colluded with far-right, pro-Trump sites during the election in order to spread bogus stories aimed at discrediting Hillary Clinton. The top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee said that at least 1,000 “paid internet trolls working out of a facility in Russia” were pumping anti-Clinton fake news into social media sites during the campaign. The head of Trump’s digital team, Brad Parscale, has been asked to appear before the House intelligence committee. (The Guardian)
7/ Trump flew to Europe today, stopping in Poland where the government bused-in thousands to ensure a friendly, cheering crowd for his speech. In contrast, the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany is expecting up to 100,000 protesters. In London, mass demonstrations are expected when Trump makes his long-awaited state visit to the UK. (BBC / Associated Press)
8/ Trump’s top aides are worried he’ll get “boxed in” when he meets with Putin this week. After months of controversy involving Russia, foreign policy experts are starting to think Trump’s actions have made it impossible to improve relations with Russia. Trump will meet with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hamburg on Friday. (New York Times / Washington Post)
9/ The US denied visas for Afghanistan’s all-girl robotics team. The six teenage Afghan inventors made a 500 mile trek to the American embassy in Kabul to interview for one-week travel visas so they could escort their robot to the inaugural FIRST Global Challenge. Teams from Iraq, Iran, and Sudan were all able to secure travel visas. Only team Afghanistan and team Gambia have been denied visas so far. (Forbes)
10/ Trump tweets a WrestleMania video of himself body-slamming CNN; calls it “MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL.” The modified video from 2007 shows Trump attacking and subduing a figure whose face is obscured by a CNN logo. (The Hill)
- Twitter says Trump’s tweets don’t violate its rules. Twitter said it considers three factors: the political context of the conversation surrounding the tweet, the various ways it could be interpreted and the lack of details in the tweet itself. (CNN)
11/ Trump used his Saturday night speech to continue his attack on the news media. “The fake media is trying to silence us,” Trump said. “But we will not let them. Because the people know the truth. The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I’m president and they’re not.” (New York Times)
12/ NPR tweeted the Declaration of Independence. Trump supporters called it “propaganda.” In 113 consecutive posts, NPR tweeted out the Declaration of Independence. Twitter users reacted angrily to the thread, accusing NPR of spamming them and trying to push an agenda. (BuzzFeed News / Washington Post)
poll/ 89% of Republicans view Trump as more trustworthy than CNN while 91% of Democrats think the opposite. Among all adults, trust for CNN is 7 points ahead of Trump. (Axios)
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