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5 things to know for August 2: Politics, SEALs, Saudi Arabia, Cyntoia Brown, climate

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Posted: Aug 2, 2019 9:10 AM

Looking for a new spot to hang your hat? NASA's spotted some possibly habitable planets a short 31 light-years away.

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. Politics

What summer doldrums? So much is going on right now in Washington that the only way to properly handle it is with a lightning round:

• The Trump administration is working on a peace deal with the Taliban in Afghanistan that would reduce the number of US troops in the country from about 14,000 to between 8,000 and 9,000 in the coming months. The US is also working to significantly trim personnel at the US embassy in Afghanistan, sources say.

• At a rally in Cincinnati, President Trump again took aim at cities run by Democrats and expressed surprise that Dems running for president took more shots at former President Obama than at him during this week's debates.

• The President yesterday also amped up the trade war with China by saying he'll go ahead with new tariffs on $300 billion worth of Chinese-made products (like iPhones and toys) on September 1. Financial markets were not pleased.

• The Senate passed that massive budget deal that lifts the debt ceiling and prevents automatic spending cuts. Some GOP senators grumbled that the bill does nothing to harness the national debt. Trump has said he'll sign it.

2. US Navy SEALs

"We have a problem." This message, written in boldface type, was part of a blistering letter sent from the top US Navy SEAL to the force after several high-profile incidents of alleged misbehavior. Rear Adm. Collin Green gave commanders until Wednesday to detail the problems and offer solutions, according to the letter, obtained exclusively by CNN. An entire SEAL team in Iraq was sent home amid allegations of sexual assault and drinking alcohol during down time. Another SEAL team was accused of abusing cocaine and illicit substances while stationed in Virginia. The incidents are rising to the highest levels of the Pentagon, with Defense Secretary Mark Esper discussing the issue this week with the head of all special operations forces.

3. Saudi Arabia

Women in Saudi Arabia finally have a right that most people take for granted: They can travel independently. Saudi women will be allowed to hold passports and travel abroad without the consent of a male guardian. This significant loosening of Saudi Arabia's notorious restrictions on women comes via an amendment approved yesterday by the Saudi Cabinet. It's the latest of a handful of reforms in the past few years. Women were granted the right to drive in 2017 and cast municipal ballots for the first time in 2015. But harsh restrictions on women remain, including a ban on the mixing of sexes at public events and a requirement that women get a male guardian's permission to get married or divorced.

4. Cyntoia Brown

Cyntoia Brown is almost free woman. Brown, 31, will be released next week from a Tennessee prison. She has been serving a life sentence for murder in the killing of a Nashville man she said had solicited her for sex. Brown, who was only 16 at the time, said she had been raped and forced into prostitution by a pimp. Then-Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, granted her clemency eight months ago. Pressure to release her started building in 2017 after her case caught fire on social media with the viral hashtag #FreeCyntoiaBrown, which was retweeted by celebs like Rihanna and Kim Kardashian. Brown, who earned a college degree while in prison, is reportedly planning to start a nonprofit to help young people after she's released.

5. Climate crisis

If you felt a little warmer than normal last month, it wasn't your imagination. July might have been the hottest month ever recorded on Earth. The global average temperatures last month could end up exceeding temps from July 2016, when the planet experienced extreme warming, according to the Copernicus Climate Change Programme, which analyzes temperature data from around the planet. Scientists say the possible new record (final data will be released Monday) would be the result of the intense heat waves that have punished Europe this summer. We've also seen wildfires in the Arctic, mass melting of Greenland's ice sheet and the hottest month ever recorded in Anchorage, Alaska. Scientists say climate change will fuel even more heat waves and extreme weather.


What's my name?

A suspect in a bank robbery in Cleveland made it fairly easy for the cops to catch him. The note he handed to the teller had his name on it.

Doesn't cut it

National Mustard Day is tomorrow, and you can celebrate by eating (checks notes) ... mustard ice cream?

Groundhog day

Another day, another rocket launcher? Yep. For the second time this week, TSA agents found one in someone's luggage.

Out of this world

An asteroid bigger than the Empire State Building is passing by Earth next week. You (probably) shouldn't worry about it.


"I am who I am. We will keep doing what we do. The name of my band ain't gonna change."

Danny Shirley, lead singer for country rock band Confederate Railroad, which lost out on two gigs because of its name and logo



The number of teeth found inside the mouth of a 7-year-old boy who had been complaining of jaw pain


Quiz time

Artists installed these items at the US-Mexico border so children could play together.

A. Roller coasters

B. Seesaws

C. Slides

D. Swings

Play "Total Recall," CNN's weekly news quiz, to see if your answer is correct.



Fastest flyer

Indoor skydiving? Yes, it's a real thing, and this 16-year-old girl from Singapore just may be one of the world's best at it. (Click to view.)

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