5 things to know for August 7: Mass shootings, Russia, China, dengue, Legionnaires

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Another round of damaging wind and large hail is forecast across the Northeast and Midwest today while a dangerous heat wave builds down south.

Posted: Aug 7, 2019 12:40 PM
Updated: Aug 7, 2019 12:40 PM

It's been a rough news week, and we're only halfway through. Just remember: It's OK to feel sad and overwhelmed. It's also OK to unplug for a bit and take care of yourself.

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. Mass shootings

There's shock. There's mourning. And now, as we process the recent rash of mass shootings, there is the inevitable political response. President Trump will travel to Ohio and Texas today to visit the communities affected by the weekend's violence, but some local leaders say it would be best if he avoided their grief-stricken cities. Democratic Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley says she wants to meet with Trump but that his rhetoric regarding race and gun violence has been "painful" for the community. Democratic presidential hopeful and ex-Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke has flat-out said Trump "helped create the hatred" that led to Saturday's shooting in El Paso.

Meanwhile, the battle over gun legislation rages anew. In response to the shootings, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has directed Senate Republicans to come up with options to address gun violence, and party members have expressed interest in a bill to revamp the background check system. However, in Texas, the pendulum is swinging the other way soon: A series of new firearm laws will go into effect there next month -- further loosening gun restrictions in a state that's had four of the 10 deadliest mass shootings in modern US history.

2. Russia

The US Ambassador to Russia is calling it quits. Jon Huntsman turned in his resignation yesterday, fueling speculation that the longtime politician may run for governor in his home state of Utah. However, there may be other factors in play. Last week, Trump and Putin reportedly discussed the need for a new US ambassador in Russia during a phone call. Whoever takes Huntsman's place will have to deal with tense and confusing Russia-US relations at a time of election interference fallout, attempted poisonings and an inscrutable friendship between the countries' two leaders.

3. US & China

Both the US and China are suffering by-blows from their ever-escalating trade war. The tit-for-tat tariffs have tanked crude oil prices because of fears of a severe global economic slowdown or even a recession in the United States. Some economic experts say China could take the opportunity to buy up vast quantities of oil from Iran in defiance of US sanctions on the OPEC nation, which would cause oil prices to plunge even more. Also, the tariffs President Trump has promised could hit lower- and middle-income shoppers where it hurts. The new taxes would affect final goods, such as clothing, shoes, household goods and baby products, and go into effect at the start of September, just as many families shop for the new school year.

4. Dengue epidemic

A deadly scourge of dengue in the Philippines has now been declared a national epidemic. Since the beginning of the year, 622 people there have died of the mosquito-borne disease. More than 146,000 cases have been reported, and millions more people are at risk of contracting it. Dengue causes flu-like symptoms -- piercing headaches, muscle and joint pains, fever and full body rashes -- and about half the people who contract it eventually need to be hospitalized. The country's health ministry said the epidemic was declared to enable government agencies to better identify at-risk areas.

5. Legionnaires' disease 

One person has died after an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease at a prominent Atlanta hotel. Twelve people who stayed at the Sheraton Atlanta contracted the disease, which affects the lungs, and another 61 probable cases have been identified. All the people who were diagnosed had attended a convention at the Atlanta hotel in early July. Legionnaires' disease can be extremely serious and can leave patients with long-lasting neurologic and neuromuscular symptoms. About 1 in 10 people who are diagnosed with the disease die from it, according to a government report. The Sheraton at the center of this recent outbreak has voluntarily shut down while outside experts conduct testing.

TODAY'S QUOTE

"She was our conscience. Our seer. Our truth-teller. She was a magician with language, who understood the Power of words. She used them to roil us, to wake us, to educate us and help us grapple with our deepest wounds and try to comprehend them."

Oprah Winfrey, on literary icon Toni Morrison, who passed away at the age of 88. Morrison, author of the essential American classics "The Bluest Eye" and "Beloved," was also the first African-American woman to win a Nobel Prize.

BREAKFAST BROWSE

Lightning struck a house and made a toilet explode

"The Exploding Toilets" would be a great name for a rock band.

Domino's is stockpiling ingredients in case Brexit goes badly

No ingredients to import means no 2 a.m. crisis pizza to quell your Brexit dread.

How '30-50 feral hogs' became a bizarre meme about gun control

Buckle up, this one is really weird.

Actress Dakota Johnson closed her gap tooth. Social media is atwitter

So many opinions for so few millimeters of orthodontia.

Turkmenistan's leader proves he is alive by doing donuts around a flaming pit

Because who wouldn't feel alive while doing donuts around a flaming pit?

TODAY'S NUMBER

17

The number of countries that the World Resources Institute has deemed "extremely high water-stressed," meaning they use more than 80% of their available water every year. What's more, these 17 countries in crisis are home to one-quarter of the people on Earth.

TODAY'S WEATHER

AND FINALLY

Looks like a race to the bathroom ...

Just try to watch this reversed video of a backwards running race without laughing. (Click here to view.)

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