Tensions between Iran and the US may be easing up.
Let's do a quick recap. Last week, President Trump ordered an airstrike in Baghdad, killing top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani. Earlier this week, Iran retaliated, striking two Iraqi bases housing American troops – but not injuring any US soldiers. In response to all this, Trump addressed the nation yesterday.
That Iran "appears to be standing down." And that the US will respond with "punishing" economic sanctions until Iran changes its behavior in the region (think: sponsoring terrorism, enriching uranium). Trump didn't, however, suggest any further military action.
Seems like it. But Trump also made clear that he wants Iran to "never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon." And pushed for other countries to help him negotiate a new version of the Iran nuclear deal the US pulled out of. Key timing, since Iran announced earlier this week it would no longer abide by its commitments under that deal, potentially bringing it within months of developing nuclear weapons.
No. But earlier this week, the supreme leader said that military action – including the strikes it sent this week – is "not enough." And that the country seeks to end the US presence in the Middle East entirely. Still, Iran has made no indication of any future attacks, with the foreign minister saying Iran had "concluded" its response to Soleimani's death.
That's what Trump said. But even if both the US and Iran dial it down, there's the threat that Iranian proxy groups in the region – like Hezbollah in Lebanon or Shiite militias in Iraq – could carry out rogue attacks against the US or its allies, bringing tensions back up.
The US stunned the world when it killed the second most powerful person from Iran – a man who's overseen the rise of its vast proxy and terror network in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and beyond. But with Iran's retaliation leaving no American casualties, Trump seems ready to count this moment as a victory. And to return US-Iran tensions to their previous temperature: slightly below boiling.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Yesterday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they were stepping down as "senior" members of the royal family. And would start splitting their time between the UK and North America, where Markle is from. They said they'll continue to honor their duty to the queen, but will focus on launching their charity and carving a "progressive new role" within the monarchy. They also said they'll work to become "financially independent" from the rest of the royal family. It may not be difficult: together, their personal fortune is reportedly already at $30 million.
Well, this was a surprise: According to reports, no other royal – including the queen and Prince William – got a heads up. Buckingham Palace released a statement that discussions with the couple are still at an "early stage."
Next steps: This isn't the first time a royal family member has taken a step back. Last year, Prince Andrew rolled back royal duties over the Jeffrey Epstein scandal. In 2017, the Duke of Edinburgh decided to retire from public duties. And in 1936, King Edward VIII abdicated in order to marry American-born divorcée Wallis Simpson. Harry is currently sixth in line to the throne. So his step back from royal duties won't necessarily affect who leads the monarchy.
Meanwhile, looming all over this is...: the press. The couple's move comes after they've increasingly spoken out about challenges living under the spotlight. And filed several lawsuits against the British press, which they've accused of racism.
Puerto Rico. Earlier this week, a deadly 6.4-magnitude earthquake hit the US territory, leaving about two-thirds of the population without power. Fearing aftershocks, many are sleeping outside to avoid building collapses. President Trump has approved funding to provide equipment and resources for the island, which is still recovering from Hurricane Maria in 2017.
Cancer deaths. Yesterday, the American Cancer Society said rates have been steadily dropping since the '90s. The latest: they fell 2.2% from 2016 to 2017 – the largest single-year drop ever reported. This is largely due to the decline of lung cancer deaths. Doctors say this success is due to fewer people smoking and advances in treatment.
Justin Bieber. Yesterday, the singer revealed he has been diagnosed with Lyme disease – a tick-borne illness that affects about 300,000 Americans each year. Bieber said he would share more in an upcoming docuseries, and that he'd be back "better than ever."
Sign up for the Daily Skimm email newsletter.
Delivered to your inbox every morning and prepares you for your day in minutes.
Jul 31 | Election Day is still on for November 3rd.
Sept 29 | The stage is set for the first presidential debate tonight.
Jul 30 | Nearly 12,000 US troops are saying 'auf wiedersehen' to Germany.