Happy Thursday! It’s been a rough year for U.S.-China relations, but this may be the final straw: Beijing is recalling its loaner pandas that have been the highlights of American zoos for 50 years.
Get your fix of the panda cam now, folks.
Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- The U.S. suspended some of its non-humanitarian aid to Gabon following the military takeover in the central African nation last month. The State Department announced Tuesday the U.S. “is pausing certain foreign assistance programs benefiting the government of Gabon while we evaluate the unconstitutional intervention by members of the country’s military.” Some aid to Niger has also been suspended, but U.S. officials have yet to formally designate the takeovers in both countries as coups.
- Chinese hackers stole 60,000 emails from the State Department when they breached a Microsoft email system in late spring, according to information shared in a classified Senate briefing Wednesday. The emails were lifted from 10 State Department accounts, nine of which belonged to individuals who work on East Asia and the Pacific. The hack also affected the Commerce Department, including Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
- Travis King—the American soldier who has been detained in North Korea since July after he intentionally ran across the North Korean border on a tour of the demilitarized zone—is in U.S. custody in China and will soon be en route back to the United States, U.S. officials said Wednesday. Pyongyang had earlier signaled its intention to “expel” King from the country. Pentagon officials said King would be transferred to a military hospital in Texas.
- New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez and his wife pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to bribery charges. The couple was released on bond, but the court confiscated Sen. Menendez’s personal passport, ordering he could only travel out of the country on official business and with prior notification to the court. The three New Jersey businessmen accused of bribing Menendez also pleaded not guilty in hearings Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Search for a Trump Challenger Continues
With five minutes left in the broadcast of last night’s second Republican presidential debate, Fox Business moderator Dana Perino said the quiet part out loud. “It’s now obvious that if you all stay in the race, former President Donald Trump wins the nomination,” she told the seven assembled candidates on the stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. “None of you have indicated that you’re dropping out.”
But rather than have any of them make the case that they should be the one to take on Trump, or give candidates an opportunity to express—as several had in the previous 115 minutes—their frustration at their party’s standard-bearer for playing hooky from the proceedings, she took a different tack. “So which one of you on stage tonight should be voted off the island?” Perino asked, to uproarious laughter from the candidates and audience alike. That laughter turned awkward—and the candidates’ faces confused, and then indignant—when she asked them all to write another candidate’s name on a provided notepad, à la Survivor.