Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 30, 2016

Harold Maass
Turkish flags fly outside Ataturk Airport
REUTERS/Murad Sezer


Istanbul airport attackers came from ISIS-held Raqqa, Turkish officials say

On Thursday, a senior Turkish government official told CNN that investigators believe the three attackers who targeted Istanbul's Ataturk airport Tuesday came from Raqqa, Syria, a city long held by the Islamic State. The three men reportedly came to Turkey through Raqqa from Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan roughly one month ago and rented an apartment in Istanbul. Turkish police detained at least 22 people in raids on suspected Islamic State hideouts in the nation, including 13 in Istanbul. At least 44 were killed in the attack, with another 239 injured. The three attackers reportedly arrived at a security checkpoint in a taxi and opened fire with guns, then blew themselves up. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but CIA Director John Brennan said Wednesday the attack "bears the hallmarks" of ISIS. [The Washington Post, CNN]


U.S. airstrikes reportedly kill 250 ISIS fighters near Fallujah

Airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition killed at least 250 suspected Islamic State fighters near the Iraqi city of Fallujah on Wednesday, U.S. officials said. The strikes reportedly hit an ISIS convoy leaving a neighborhood on the southern outskirts of Fallujah, days after Iraqi forces regained control of the city from ISIS. If the death toll is confirmed, the attack was one of the deadliest ever against the Islamist extremist group, which has suffered a string of battlefield losses recently. [Reuters, Fox News]


Nate Silver puts Clinton odds of beating Trump near 80 percent

Statistics guru Nate Silver said Wednesday on his FiveThirtyEight website that Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favorite in the November presidential election, with up to an 80 percent chance of winning. Donald Trump has just a 19 percent chance to be elected, based on polls, Silver said. Factoring in economic conditions and other variables along with polls gives the presumptive Republican nominee a 26 percent chance. Silver predicted every state correctly in 2012, but he gave Trump just a 2 percent chance of winning the GOP nomination last August. [FiveThirtyEight]


Senate passes Puerto Rico debt-relief bill

The Senate passed the Puerto Rico debt relief bill 68-30 on Wednesday, sending it to President Obama ahead of a July 1 deadline for the island's next big bond payment. Obama is expected to sign it before the Friday deadline. The legislation would create a board to oversee the island's finances and allow for the restructuring of its $70 billion in debt. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said the bill addresses Puerto Rico's crisis while avoiding a taxpayer bailout. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the legislation enabled the U.S. territory's unsustainable spending. [USA Today]


Taliban bombers kill 27 near Kabul

Taliban suicide bombers killed at least 27 people Thursday in an attack on a bus carrying recently graduated police cadets. The first of two apparent suicide bombers targeted three buses as they approached the outskirts of the capital, Kabul. A second bomber rammed a car packed with explosives into the vehicles of rescuers who responded to the first blast. The attacks came just over a week before a Warsaw summit where NATO leaders are to discuss whether to maintain support for the Afghan government. [Reuters, BBC News]


British man indicted over gun incident at Trump rally

A federal grand jury on Wednesday indicted a 20-year-old British man, Michael Steven Sandford, on weapons charges for allegedly trying to take a police officer's gun at a Donald Trump rally in Las Vegas two weeks ago. Sandford also was charged with disrupting the officer's work. Sandford told police he wanted to shoot Trump, but the indictment does not mention any plot to kill the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Sandford faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 on each of the charges. [The Guardian, Reuters]


Black box and other evidence support theory of fire on crashed EgyptAir jet

Black box data and other evidence from a crashed EgyptAir jetliner confirmed reports that a fire broke out before the Airbus A320 crashed in the Mediterranean in May, killing all 66 people on board. The flight data recorder indicated that smoke alarms had sounded on the plane. Soot and other heat damage was found in wreckage from the front of the plane. Investigators earlier said the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System also sent signals saying smoke alarms sounded before the crash. [Agence France Presse]


Two Democrats become first openly transgender candidates to win major primaries

Two Democrats — Senate hopeful Misty Snow in Utah, and House candidate Misty Plowright in Colorado — have become the first openly transgender candidates to win major-party primaries. Bob Witeck, a Washington-based LGBT advocate, said the Tuesday victories were "even more breathtaking considering the political climate today." Transgender advocate Dana Beyer questioned the significance of the news, because both were in conservative areas where Democrats are likely to lose. [The Washington Post]


Michael Phelps qualifies for fifth Olympics

Michael Phelps on Wednesday night became the first male U.S. swimmer to qualify for five Olympics. The 22-time Olympic medal winner earned a spot on the U.S. team that will compete in this year's Summer Games in Rio by finishing first in the 200-meter butterfly at the U.S. swimming trials. Phelps had declared the 2012 London games to be his last, then launched a comeback that was interrupted by a second drunken driving arrest. Qualifying for Rio put Phelps, 31, a step closer to ending his career on a high note. "Getting on this team is what I wanted to do," he said. [The Associated Press]


Academy sends invitations to its most diverse class ever

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday invited 683 movie professionals to join, including Idris Elba, John Boyega, and Alicia Vikander, in what the organization said was its largest and most diverse new class in its nearly 90-year history. Forty-six percent of this year's group of actors, directors, and other movie professionals are women, and 41 percent are people of color. At the start of the year, 92 percent of the Academy's voting members were white, and it has faced mounting calls for greater diversity. [Los Angeles Times]