WVPA Sharing

10 things to know: Thursday, August 1

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The regional bureau of The Associated Press, shares 10 things you need to know Thursday, August 1, 2019. Look for full stories on these late-breaking news items and much more in West Virginia newspapers.

1. Biden, Harris lead 2nd night of Democrats’ debates

Former Vice President Joe Biden, the leading candidate for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, came under fire from rivals on health care, immigration, and other key issues during Wednesday’s debate. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) renewed the criticism of Biden’s record on racial issues that rattled him in the first round of debates in June. On health care, Biden called for enhancing ObamaCare and accused Harris of “double-talk,” saying her plan combining Medicare-for-all with private insurance had hidden costs. Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) criticized Biden’s history of pushing harsh crime bills. Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said Biden ignored “lessons of the past” by opposing more liberal immigration policies. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said her first act as president would be to “Clorox the Oval Office.” [The Washington Post, The Hill]

2. Fed cuts interest rates for first time in a decade

The Federal Reserve announced its first interest rate cut in a decade on Wednesday at the close of a two-day policy meeting. The quarter-point rate reduction was widely expected, because Fed Chair Jerome Powell and other central bank leaders had signaled that they would do what was necessary to keep the record-long U.S. economic expansion going. Stocks plunged, however, after Powell called the reduction a “midcycle adjustment,” suggesting that more rate cuts were not guaranteed. “Let me be clear — it’s not the beginning of a long series of rate cuts,” Powell said in a news conference after the Fed announcement. Still, he added, “I didn’t say it’s just one rate cut.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 posted their biggest one-day drops since May. [Reuters, CNBC]

3. Trump administration sanctions Iran’s foreign minister

The Trump administration on Wednesday imposed sanctions on Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, in a move expected to escalate tensions between Washington and Tehran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Zarif, Iran’s top diplomat, had been “complicit” in his country’s support of terrorism. The Treasury Department said Zarif was targeted because he “acted or purported to act for or on behalf of” Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who was hit with sanctions a month earlier. State Department officials argued at the time that it would be a mistake to take measures against Zarif because that could limit diplomatic options in dealing with Iran. Zarif sarcastically brushed off the sanctions. “It has no effect on me or my family, as I have no property or interests outside of Iran,” he tweeted. “Thank you for considering me such a huge threat to your agenda.” [The Washington Post]

4. Pilot missing after Navy fighter jet crashes in Death Valley

A Navy fighter jet crashed in Death Valley National Park on Wednesday. Military personnel were searching for the pilot. The FA-18E Super Hornet went down in an area known as Star Wars Canyon, where people like to stand on an overlook to watch as military planes conduct low-level training flights. After the crash, park rangers discovered that seven bystanders at the overlook had been injured, although it is unclear how they were hurt, NBC News reports. Aaron Cassell said he was working 10 miles away at his family’s Panamint Springs Resort when he heard roaring jets, then saw a “black mushroom cloud.” “It was like a bomb,” he said. “To me that speaks of a very violent impact.” [The Associated Press]

5. Bin Laden’s son reportedly killed in U.S.-supported operation

Hamza bin Laden, son of late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, has been killed, The New York Times reported, citing two American officials. Hamza bin Laden was considered likely one day to become a leader of the Islamist terrorist group, which has not carried out a major attack in years. He had made numerous threats to attack the U.S., and had vowed to avenge the death of his father, who was killed in a 2011 SEAL Team 6 raid in Abbottabad, Pakistan. Hamza bin Laden was believed to have been operating near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The U.S. reportedly had a role in the operation, which occurred in the first two years of the Trump administration and before the State Department in February announced a $1 million reward for information on Hamza bin Laden’s whereabouts. [The New York Times]

6. Senate confirms Kelly Craft as U.N. ambassador

The Republican-controlled Senate on Wednesday confirmed U.S. Ambassador to Canada Kelly Craft as ambassador to the United Nations. The 56-to-34 confirmation vote largely fell along party lines and ends seven months of uncertainty about the role after former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley resigned. Craft, a Republican donor, is married to a billionaire coal executive. She generated controversy shortly after starting her post in Ottawa by saying she believed “both sides” of the climate change debate, although she acknowledged in her confirmation hearing that climate change poses a serious global threat. Democrats opposed Craft’s confirmation, citing her limited experience. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said Craft didn’t have the “seriousness and professionalism” to represent the U.S. at the U.N. [Reuters]

7. Rosselló’s chosen successor faces opposition

Protesters and some powerful lawmakers in Puerto Rico are vowing to reject Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s chosen successor, raising tensions ahead of Rosselló’s scheduled resignation on Friday. Rosselló called a special session of the island’s legislature Thursday to vote on his nomination of lawyer Pedro Pierluisi as secretary of state, which would put him next in line to succeed Rosselló. But members of Rosselló’s New Progressive Party said Pierluisi’s role in the law firm advising the federally created financial oversight board directing Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy amounted to a disqualifying conflict of interest. Protesters said Pierluisi, who previously represented Puerto Rico in Congress, served the interests of the island’s political elite, not the people, when he helped establish the controversial board. [Reuters]

8. Trump administration plans to let patients import cheaper drugs

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced on Wednesday morning that the Trump administration will set up a system allowing Americans to legally access prescription drugs from Canada. The decision seeks to allow U.S. patients to access their prescriptions at a lower cost, while doing so with oversight from the Food and Drug Administration. States, drug wholesalers, and pharmacists would reportedly act as intermediaries for consumers. “The landscape and the opportunities for safe linkage between drug supply chains has changed,” Azar said. “That is part of why, for the first time in HHS’s history, we are open to importation.” It’s not clear when consumers will see results, as Azar said the regulatory process could potentially take “weeks and months.” [The Associated Press]

9. Woodstock 50 officially canceled

The organizers of Woodstock 50 announced Wednesday that they had canceled the troubled music festival, which was intended to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original Woodstock. The three-day anniversary festival was supposed to take place Aug. 16-18 at Watkins Glen International racetrack in Watkins Glen, New York, about 115 miles from the original site. A series of snags ruined the plans, from the loss of a sponsor to permit denials to the loss of the venue. Jay-Z, Dead & Company, and John Fogerty pulled out last week after organizers said the festival would be held in Maryland instead of New York. A smaller, unrelated celebration is still planned at the original Woodstock site, with performances by Ringo Starr, Fogerty, and Santana. [The Associated Press]

10. Acclaimed Broadway director, producer Hal Prince dies at 91

Hal Prince, the Broadway director and producer who won a record number of Tony Awards during his legendary career, has died at the age of 91. Prince’s publicist on Wednesday confirmed his death in Reykjavik, Iceland after he suffered from a short illness. Known for producing or directing Broadway classics like West Side Story, The Phantom of the Opera, Fiddler on the Roof, and Sweeney Todd, Prince holds the record for most Tonys won by one individual, with 21. The Washington Post called Prince a “visionary who saw theatrical potential in the most unlikely subject matter and who helped shepherd to the forefront many unknown talents.” Prince is survived by his wife, two children, and three grandchildren. [Variety, The Washington Post]

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