Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 11, 2014

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Harold Maass
Obama laid out his strategy to fight ISIS.  Getty Images
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1.

Obama outlines his plan to defeat ISIS

President Obama said in a televised address Wednesday night that he was expanding the U.S. campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) by authorizing airstrikes against the Sunni extremist group in Syria. Obama also said he was sending nearly 500 more military advisers to Iraq, where the U.S. has promised to help a new, more Sunni-friendly government fight the militant group. Obama vowed to "degrade and ultimately destroy" ISIS with systematic airstrikes, but no U.S. combat troops. [The New York Times]

2.

U.N. says the ozone layer has stopped shrinking

The fragile ozone layer, which protects Earth from cancer-causing ultraviolet rays, is beginning to show signs of recovery, according to a United Nations report released on Wednesday. The scientists behind the study attributed the first increase in stratospheric ozone in 35 years to the effort since the 1980s to phase out man-made chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, from use in refrigerants and aerosol cans. World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Michel Jarraud said the success signaled hope for a concerted fight against climate change. [BBC News]

3.

Families and politicians honor the dead on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

Crowds will gather in New York City on Thursday to mark the 13th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks with what has become a ritual — moments of silence, and the reading of the names of the 2,753 people who died when hijackers crashed two planes into the World Trade Center's twin towers. For the first time, visitors will be able to see the museum at the site, which opened in May. Ceremonies also will be held to remember those killed when hijackers crashed planes at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. [Reuters]

4.

Pistorius cleared of premeditated murder

The South African judge delivering the verdict in the Oscar Pistorius trial started the Thursday hearing by ruling out premeditated murder. Judge Thokozile Masipa said prosecutors had not "proved beyond reasonable doubt" that the double-amputee track star intended to kill Steenkamp when he fired a barrage of shots through a closed bathroom door on Valentine's Day last year. Pistorius has said he thought an intruder was inside. He still could be convicted on lesser charges carrying long prison sentences. The story is developing. [NBC News]

5.

Saudi government agrees to host training camps for moderate Syrian opposition fighters

Saudi Arabia is committed to letting the U.S. set up training camps for moderate Syrian rebels on its soil, Obama administration officials said Wednesday. The Saudi government has agreed to host the program and be a "full partner." Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to fly to Jidda, Saudi Arabia, on Thursday for a meeting to discuss a collective strategy to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Officials from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and several Persian Gulf states will participate. [The New York Times]

6.

Thirty-five arrested in clash at a protest against Michael Brown's killing

Police arrested 35 demonstrators on Wednesday as they were protesting at an Interstate 70 interchange to demand a special prosecutor to investigate the Aug. 9 killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. The arrests came after a group of protesters threw rocks and bottles at police, disrupting what had been a peaceful demonstration. The protesters had tried unsuccessfully to block the highway. [Reuters, The Washington Post]

7.

South Carolina House speaker indicted on charges he misused campaign funds

South Carolina House Speaker Bobby Harrell (R) was indicted Wednesday for allegedly using tens of thousands of dollars in campaign funds for personal expenses. The nine-count indictment also included charges that Harrell tried to cover up the illegal spending by filing false campaign disclosure reports — such as reimbursing himself for "nonexistent" trips. Harrell denied benefiting personally from campaign funds. Gov. Nikki Haley (R) said he should resign as speaker. [The Columbia State]

8.

Law enforcement officer says he sent the Ray Rice video to the NFL months ago

The NFL appointed former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III on Wednesday night to investigate its handling of the Ray Rice case. The move came after The Associated Press published an account contradicting the league's claim that no NFL official had previously seen the video that surfaced this week showing the former Baltimore Ravens running back punching his wife. A law enforcement official told AP that he had sent the video to an NFL executive shortly after the April incident. [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]

9.

James Bond actor Richard Kiel, who played "Jaws," dies at 74

Richard Kiel, the 7-foot-2 actor who played the villain "Jaws" in James Bond movies, died Wednesday in a California hospital. He was 74. Kiel broke his leg last week, although it was not immediately clear whether the injury played a role in his death. Kiel once noted that he had been working for 17 years when he landed the role as the steel-toothed Bond villain. "I suddenly became an overnight success," he said. [New York Daily News]

10.

Solar storm threatens to disrupt satellites

A giant solar flare that launched Wednesday is heading toward Earth, and could interfere with satellites in orbit as well as communications and power systems on the ground. Such a blast hasn't occurred in years, but scientists say not to panic. New calculations from satellite data show that the "worst of the energetic particles" will most likely go above the Earth. [USA Today]