National News

5 things for June 12: North Korea, Russia sanctions, voter rolls, deadly standoff

Posted June 5, 2018 6:08 a.m. EDT

— Singapore's Capella Hotel was already on travelers' radars long before the leaders of the US and North Korea met there for their historic summit. Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and Out the Door. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)

1. US-North Korea summit

The pictures are historic, unprecedented and more than a little unbelievable: A sitting American President shaking hands with a North Korean leader. But now that the photo op is over, the question remains: Just what was accomplished during the Singapore summit?

President Trump and North Korea's Kim Jong Un met for nearly five hours this morning, emerged to say nice things about each other and then signed a document that made vague pledges of nuclear disarmament from North Korea and a promise from the US to "provide security guarantees" to the reclusive nation. But there was no mention of "complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization," which was once the stated US goal. And Kim's commitments don't go beyond what he'd already pledged to do in April when he met with South Korea's President.

Trump was clearly pleased, saying that the summit went better than even he had imagined. Later at a news conference, he said he had discussed North Korea's human rights abuses at length with Kim, adding: "We'll be doing something on it." He said North Koreans in prison camps are one of today's "winners." He also announced that the US would stop joint military exercises with the South, a big concession to the North.

Foreign policy observers say that while having the two leaders sit down and talk instead of trading insults is a great thing, getting the North Koreans to actually get rid of their nukes will be a much heavier lift.

2. Russia sanctions

The Treasury Department has slapped fresh sanctions on five Russian entities and three individuals, saying they worked with Moscow's military and intel services to conduct cyberattacks against the US. Those attacks included a "destructive attack masqueraded as ransomware" that last year targeted major global companies, as well as cyberintrusions of the US energy grid. Some sanctions target Russia's ability to track undersea communication cables, which carry most of the world's telecommunications data. This all comes, of course, as Trump has been bucking our allies to insist on stronger ties with Russia.

3. Supreme Court & voting

Democrats worry the Supreme Court's ruling that lets Ohio continue to aggressively purge its voter rolls will mean other states will follow suit. The 5-4 ruling said Ohio isn't violating federal law in how it pulls names off voter rolls, but Democrats and voting rights advocates say its voter suppression and part of a national trend that seeks to limit access to the polls by young, urban and poor voters. Ohio's secretary of state called the ruling "a victory for election integrity." Georgia, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania and West Virginia have similar laws on the books.

4. Florida standoff

A hostage standoff in Orlando ended horribly. A man and four children are dead. The man, Gary Lindsey Jr., had barricaded himself in an apartment with the children -- ages 1, 6, 10 and 11 -- after he shot a police officer on Sunday. Officers had been in contact with Lindsey and, at one point, were trying to give him another phone when they saw that a child was dead. Then, officers entered the apartment last night and found that all the children had been killed. Police said two children were believed to be Lindsey's and two were his girlfriend's.

5. Primaries

It's primary day in Virginia, Maine, Nevada, North Dakota and South Carolina. In Virginia, Republicans will take their first step toward trying to win a statewide race for the first time in almost a decade. In South Carolina, a Democratic candidate for Congress who admitted to beating his ex-wife 45 years ago is staying in the race. But the state to watch today will be Maine, which is conducting a groundbreaking experiment: Maine will be the first state in the nation to use ranked choice voting in statewide primaries.

Ranked choice voting lets voters rank candidates from favorite to least favorite. If a candidate gets a majority of the votes, he or she wins. If no candidate wins a majority, a complex system of elimination kicks in, based on voters' rankings. The experiment could be a game changer and possibly increase the odds of success for third-party candidates.


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