Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 1, 2018

Bonnie Kristian
Then-President George H.W. Bush poses for photographers after his address to the nation, 27 September 1991, in the Oval Office of the White House.
Luke Frazza/Getty Images
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Former President George H.W. Bush dies at 94

George H.W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, died Friday at the age of 94. During his presidency from 1989 to 1993, Bush, a Republican, oversaw a handful of foreign policy decisions that would come to define his legacy. His even-handed diplomacy helped navigate the aftermath of the Cold War, but his route of Iraqi invaders from Kuwait in 1991 is held responsible for igniting "years of American preoccupation with Iraq." In his later years, Bush was diagnosed with Parkinson's, and his wife, former first lady Barbara Bush, died just under eight months ago at the age of 92. [The New York Times, CNBC]


Magnitude 7.0 earthquake causes 'major infrastructure damage' in Alaska

A 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck eight miles north of Anchorage, Alaska's largest city, at about 8:30 local time Friday morning. Videos showed roads split open and buildings in disarray, though no deaths or major injuries have been reported. "There is major infrastructure damage across Anchorage," local police said. "Many homes and buildings are damaged. Many roads and bridges are closed. Stay off the roads if you don't need to drive." The U.S. Geological Survey has reported four aftershocks, including one registering 5.8 magnitude. [NBC News, CNN]


Bush's presidential peers remember his life and legacy

Presidents past and present on Saturday joined the Bush family in remembering former President George H.W. Bush. He "was a man of the highest character," said former President George W. Bush. "The entire Bush family is deeply grateful for 41's life and love, for the compassion of those who have cared and prayed for Dad." President Trump praised the elder Bush's "essential authenticity, disarming wit, and unwavering commitment to faith, family, and country," while former President Barack Obama said he left "a legacy of service that may never be matched, even though he'd want all of us to try." [The Associated Press, Politico]


Trump insists business dealings in Russia were 'very legal & very cool'

President Trump on Twitter Friday disputed criticism regarding claims from his former attorney, Michael Cohen, who on Thursday pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about how long Trump's business deals in Russia continued. After deciding to run for president, Trump wrote in a pair of posts, he continued "to run my business-very legal & very cool, talked about it on the campaign trail. ... Lightly looked at doing a building somewhere in Russia. Put up zero money, zero guarantees and didn't do the project." While campaigning, Trump repeatedly denied having business dealings in Russia. [Donald J. Trump, The Guardian]


Trump navigates geopolitical tensions at G-20

In Buenos Aires for a two-day G-20 summit, President Trump had bilateral meetings with the leaders of Argentina, India, and Japan and "exchanged pleasantries" with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on Friday. Trump scheduled a working dinner with Chinese President Xi Jinping to talk trade Saturday. However, he canceled a planned meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, citing Russian aggression against Ukraine. A White House statement also said Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation "probably does undermine our relationship with Russia." [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]


Trump signs 'new NAFTA' with Mexico, Canada

President Trump, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday signed the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA), a new trade deal Trump has sought to replace NAFTA. Despite the signing ceremony on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Argentina, USMCA will not go into effect unless it gains congressional approval. Trump expressed optimism that the agreement will be made official, but members of both houses have raised concerns. The USMCA signing also did not affect Trump's imposition of steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and Mexico. [CNN, NPR]


Iran launches new warship

Iran on Saturday launched a new warship which state media report is a domestically produced stealth destroyer that can sail up to five months without stopping to resupply. The ship has a deck for helicopters, torpedo launchers, anti-aircraft and anti-ship defenses, and surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles, Iranian media said. It is also equipped with electronic warfare capabilities. This launch comes as U.S.-Iran tensions rise following President Trump's decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Iran nuclear deal earlier this year. [Al Jazeera, Reuters]


North Korean soldier defects

A North Korean soldier on Saturday defected to South Korea, crossing a fortified area of the demilitarized zone (DMZ) before he was found by South Korean troops. The South Korean military plans to question the soldier as to why he chose to defect. This development could hinder recent progress in inter-Korean relations, where negotiators have sought to calm military hostility. Escapes across the DMZ are rare, as most of the estimated 32,000 North Koreans who have defected have done so by crossing the northern border into China. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]


Dallas police officer indicted for murder after shooting unarmed black man

The white police officer who was fired after fatally shooting an unarmed black man in his Dallas apartment was indicted by a grand jury for murder Friday. Amber Guyger was arrested for manslaughter in September after shooting 26-year-old Botham Jean in his home. Guyger claimed she killed Jean after mistaking his apartment for her own and him for an intruder. Reports of Jean's killing sparked widespread outrage and protests. The murder indictment means Guyger could be sentenced to life in prison; under a manslaughter indictment, she would have faced up to 20 years. [Dallas Morning News, The Week]


Michelle Obama's book becomes 2018's top seller

Michelle Obama's political memoir, Becoming, sold 3.4 million copies in just two weeks of publication, surpassing every other hardcover released this year to become 2018's bestseller. The book recounts the former first lady's life from childhood in Chicago to her time in the White House. Sales have been high even compared to other White House memoirs: "Former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton's memoir Living History needed a month to sell 1 million copies," The Associated Press notes, while Obama more than tripled that in half the time. [Axios, The Associated Press]