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Start your day smarter with a dossier on the most important world news, rounded off with a shot of intriguing and offbeat stories. Like the president, you deserve no less.
Aug 11, 2022
Former President Trump kept to himself during a New York deposition into the Trump Organization. Satellite footage of a Russian air base in Crimea has watchers puzzled over the cause of this week’s blast. Inflation in the U.S. has fallen short of predictions, but there’s still a long way to go. And San Francisco has won a court battle against Walgreens in the city’s opioid crisis. All this and more in today’s PDB.
Trump Pleads the Fifth in NYC Questioning
Former President Donald Trump declined to answer questions during a marathon five-hour deposition with the New York attorney general Wednesday. Letitia James and her legal team — whom Trump praised as “very professional” after the meeting, before accusing James of being “racist” — peppered Trump with questions about his business dealings, to which he invoked the Fifth Amendment over 440 times. James is investigating allegations Trump inflated the value of Trump Organization properties to investors, and deflated the value for tax authorities. It’s been a long week of legal woes for Trump following the Monday search on his Florida property by the FBI. (Sources: WaPo, The Hill)
Satellite Images of Crimea Blast Raise Questions of Cause
Explosions at the Russian-controlled Saky air base in western Crimea Tuesday, which killed at least one soldier, were blamed on an ammunition incident. Now, satellite images provided by the U.S.-based Planet Labs, which monitors on-the-ground activity in Ukraine, show extensive damage to the site and the damage or total destruction of at least eight Russian warplanes. The U.K. defense secretary, Ben Wallace, floated that two separate blast sites could point to an attack rather than an accident, arguing the base is a legitimate target for Ukrainian forces. Kyiv has not publicly claimed responsibility for an attack. (Sources: BBC, The Guardian)
Inflation Softened in July — But the Fed Won’t Budge
The Consumer Price Index — a key indicator of inflation — hit 8.5% year on year in July, lower than the anticipated 9.1%. But that’s too high for policymakers eyeing interest rates. Federal Reserve officials remain on track for repeated increases in the interest rate in the coming months, with speculation it could hit 4.4% by the end of 2023. Still, consumers will likely feel better off. Much of the cooling inflation is due to a leveling out in gas prices, airfares and used car prices which have helped offset increases in the cost of food, rent and other necessities. (Sources: Bloomberg, NYT)
Whose Crisis Is It?
San Francisco Wins ‘Bellwether’ Opioid Case Against Walgreens
It’s a “landmark” win against the city’s opioid crisis that could have ramifications for similar cases across the U.S., says the San Francisco attorney’s office. Walgreens worsened the crisis in San Francisco by sending off thousands of “suspicious orders,” the court heard. Federal Judge Charles Breyer noted in his Wednesday opinion that the drugstore chain had breached responsibility by failing to take “reasonable steps to prevent the drugs from being diverted and harming the public.” A coalition of public and private lawyers will pursue damages from the company to cover the costs of resources needed to deal with the crisis. (Sources: SF Standard, LA Times)
Here are some things you should know about today:
Shutdown. Sierra Leone has been thrown into a nationwide curfew as political unease turns violent. At least two police officers and one civilian have been killed in the capital, Freetown. (Source: France24) ‘Parasite' flats. Seoul will move to ban the semi-basement flats typically occupied by the city’s working class and popularized in Parasite following the drowning deaths of two women and a teenage girl in flooding earlier this week. (Source: BBC) Targeted. A member of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps was charged by the Justice Department Wednesday over plans to assassinate Trump-era national security adviser John Bolton, reportedly in retaliation for the killing of a senior Iranian official. (Source: NYT)
Abortion Case Sparks Fear Among Indiana OB-GYNS
“How’s Dr. Bernard doing?” That’s what Indiana’s obstetrics and gynecology trainees want to know. Dr. Caitlin Bernard became nationally infamous after providing a medication-induced abortion to a 10-year-old girl from neighboring Ohio shortly after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. But to cohorts of doctors, she is simply a world-class mentor. Colleagues and mentees fear the political firestorm she landed herself in — Bernard now has round-the-clock security — could see generations of doctors abandon the specialty or even the state. It’s Indianans who will suffer — the state has poor maternal health facilities and one of the highest maternal death rates in the country. (Source: NPR)
Meta Chatbot Slams Own Company for Fuelling Division in US
And what of CEO Mark Zuckerberg? “His company exploits people for money and he doesn’t care. It needs to stop!” The chatbot, an artificial intelligence system billed by Meta as able to converse on any topic, went live on Friday under the name BlenderBot 3. And while it may occasionally embarrass its creators to the world’s media, Meta is not worried. It is helping the tech giant gather data and real-time feedback. “Allowing an AI system to interact with people in the real world leads to longer, more diverse conversations, as well as more varied feedback,” Meta said in a blog post. (Source: BBC)
Under a Bed in Brazil, Police Find an Artistic Masterpiece
Sol Poente, or Setting Sun, by Brazilian great Tarsila do Amaral is worth around $59.1 million. It’s one of 16 pieces worth a combined $139 million allegedly stolen by a woman whose mother was married to the late art dealer, Jean Boghici. The unidentified woman allegedly concocted a scheme against her mother — which included a clairvoyant and payments to an Afro Brazilian purported priestess for “spiritual work” — before stealing artworks from the property. The painting was eventually discovered by police under a bed in an Ipanema apartment this week. Authorities say that other works have already been sold. (Source: ARTnews)
Australian Authorities Warn Coin Thief of Fatal Herpes Danger
An intruder who stole coins from a pond at a monkey enclosure must seek medical attention immediately, authorities in Launceston, Tasmania warned in an unusual statement Wednesday. This followed a break-in at the city’s macaque enclosure — a nod to its sister city, Ikeda, in Japan — Tuesday evening. The offender is still at large, but there are bigger problems than missing coins. “Unfortunately, this action has potentially exposed the intruder to the herpes B virus, which is carried by the City Park monkeys,” Mayor Albert Van Zetten said. The virus can be dangerous — there have been more than 30 recorded deaths worldwide. (Source: ABC)
Trevor Bauer Sued in Sexual Battery Countersuit
The Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher was sued in an LA federal court Tuesday for sexual battery, by a woman he filed a defamation suit against in April. The woman alleges the defamation claim is merely an intimidation tactic after she sought a restraining order from Bauer, adding that he is “leveraging his considerable resources to file a meritless lawsuit.” She alleges that Bauer repeatedly physically and sexually assaulted her. A second woman has made similar accusations against him. Bauer has been suspended from the game for two years following a Major League Baseball investigation — a move he has appealed. (Sources: SI, WaPo)
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