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5 things to know for August 23: Overstock CEO, G7, Japan-South Korea, romance scams

Article Image CEO Patrick Byrne talks with CNN's Chris Cuomo after he resigned and issued a press release entitled "Comments on Deep State" that claimed he helped the FBI carry out "political espionage."

Posted: Aug 23, 2019 7:50 AM
Updated: Aug 23, 2019 7:50 AM

Hop to it! A new study shows higher levels of physical activity at any intensity lowers the risk of early death in middle-age and older people.

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. Ex-Overstock CEO

Patrick Byrne, the CEO of online discount retailer Overstock, resigned yesterday after publishing a news release this week titled, "Comments on Deep State." In it, Byrne claimed he helped the FBI carry out "political espionage" and referred an undefined entity called the "Men in Black." Unsurprisingly, Overstock shares plummeted after the bizarre missive, but just because Byrne is out doesn't mean he's done talking. After his departure, the ex-CEO appeared on CNN and said the FBI directed him to pursue a "romantic relationship with Maria Butina" in the summer before the 2016 election. Butina is the Russian woman who has been accused of seeking to win influence in powerful Republican circles at the direction of her country's government. None of this has been verified, and former FBI Director James Comey told CNN the claims are "ridiculous."

2. G7 Summit 

The G7 summit convenes this weekend in France, and all eyes, as usual, will be on President Trump. Let's start with the good: Though the US economy is not as strong as it has been, it's still better off than most of the declining economies in Europe, so Trump is expected to do a little boasting about that. But recent divisive comments could cause some discomfort among the world leaders. The whole buying Greenland discussion and Denmark trip cancellation could sow some discord, as could Trump's outspoken support of Brexit. In fact, French President Emmanuel Macron has elected to forego the customary signing of an agreement by all the leaders at the end of the summit. Trump refused to sign the deal at the end of last year's summit in Canada and left the gathering early.

3. Japan and South Korea 

The feud between Japan and South Korea is getting worse, and it looks like China and North Korea could come out as winners. Japan and South Korea are engaged in a bitter trade dispute, and South Korea took the tension up a notch yesterday by scrapping its military intelligence-sharing agreement with Japan. The conflict has threatened global tech manufacturers and important alliances, but China and North Korea have seen incidental benefits. The breakdown of communication between Japan and South Korea means security cooperation and monitoring of North Korea has diminished. It also alienates the US, which holds a strong military alliance with South Korea and Japan. With those links weakened, China may move to increase its influence in the region.

4. Nigerian scams 

Federal prosecutors have charged 80 people, most of them Nigerian, in a web of scams that the US claims has robbed millions of dollars from businesses and elderly people. Seventeen so far have been arrested. Two of the men indicted allegedly ran a romance scam out of California. In this kind of scheme, scammers reach out to women online and start relationships via emails and messages. Those usually escalate to outrageous claims of hardship and requests for money. In one scam said to have been perpetrated by the men, a Japanese woman sent her online love interest -- really a scammer -- several payments to help him smuggle a bag of diamonds out of Syria. US prosecutors estimate the suspects together have bilked $6 million. All will face charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and to launder money, and aggravated identity theft. Some also will face fraud and money laundering charges.

5. Rohingya 

This week marks the two-year anniversary of the campaign of violence started by Myanmar's military against the Rohingya people, an ethnic Muslim minority. In that time, hundreds of thousands of Rohingya people have been left effectively stateless and many have had to seek refuge in camps along the border with Bangladesh. The two countries yesterday were supposed to start repatriating about 3,450 of the Rohingya refugees, but there's a problem: Some of the refugees don't want to be repatriated for fear of further violence and oppression. International human rights organizations have expressed concern about the planned repatriation, saying the Rohingya people would be walking right back into the persecution that drove them out in the first place.


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Ohio would like a word. 

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Oh, the three things credit cards touch the most? Got it.

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"Our house is burning. Literally. The Amazon rainforest -- the lungs of our planet which produces 20% of our oxygen -- is on fire. It is an international crisis."

French President Emmanuel Macron, who also encouraged leaders to take up the topic during this weekend's G7 summit. Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro called Macron's claims "sensationalist" and said calling for G7 talks was "reminiscent of a colonial mindset."



The average number of hours American commuters spent stuck in traffic in 2017, according to a new report. In some of the most congested areas of the country, that figure was more than double.


Quiz time!

After a historic run, Lil Nas X's hit song, "Old Town Road," was knocked off the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week by what song?

A. "Talk" by Khalid

B. "Truth Hurts" by Lizzo

C. "Senorita" by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello

D. "Bad Guy" by Billie Eilish

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



If I fits, I sits 

It's Friday, and I think we all deserve a classic cat video. (Click here to view.)

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