Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 18, 2016

Explosion in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood injures at least 29, NYC mayor says 'no evidence at this point' linking blast to terrorism, and more

1

Explosion in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood injures at least 29

An explosion rocked New York City's Chelsea neighborhood on 23rd Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues around 8:30 p.m. Eastern time Saturday evening. Described by witnesses as "deafening," the blast tore through the lower windows of a nearby building and is said to have originated in or near a dumpster, CNN reports. At least 29 people reportedly sustained injuries, only one of which was critical. A suspicious device built using a pressure cooker was discovered nearby, on West 27th Street, and removed by the New York Police Department's bomb squad.

2

NYC mayor says 'no evidence at this point' linking blast to terrorism

The explosion that hit New York City's Chelsea neighborhood is not believed to be an act of terrorism, although "early indications are that this was an intentional act," New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced in a press conference late Saturday night. There is no known link between the blast and credible threats against the city, de Blasio added. New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill ruled out natural gas as a cause and said "it appears the explosion happened on the street."

3

Clinton, Trump respond to NYC explosion

Presidential nominees Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump each responded late Saturday night to the explosion in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood earlier that evening. "Just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York and nobody knows exactly what's going on, but, boy we are really in a time," Trump said at a campaign rally in Colorado. "We better get very tough, folks." When Clinton responded, she took the opportunity to snipe at Trump for jumping to conclude, absent then-available evidence, that the blast was caused by a bomb. It is "wiser to wait until you have information before making conclusions because we are just in the beginning stages of trying to determine what happened," she said.

4

8 injured in mass stabbing at Minnesota mall

At least eight people were injured during a mass stabbing in a St. Cloud, Minnesota, shopping mall on Saturday night. The attacker, who was shot and killed by an off-duty police officer, wore a security uniform and "made references to Allah while attacking," The Associated Press reports. One victim remains hospitalized but none of the injuries are life-threatening, authorities said. St. Cloud Police Chief Blair Anderson said the suspect, who has not been named, was known to police for minor traffic violations.

5

Pipe bomb explodes in trash can at 5K race in New Jersey

A New Jersey 5K race was canceled Saturday morning after an explosion in an outdoor trash can believed to be caused by a pipe bomb. Local police said the explosion in Seaside Park, on the Jersey Shore, happened briefly before the nearby Marine Semper Fi 5K race was scheduled to start. Law enforcement swept the area and reportedly found one or two other homemade explosive devices nearby. No injuries have been reported, but the boardwalk and beach were evacuated. The incident is being investigated as terrorism and is not thought to be connected to the explosion later Saturday in New York City.

6

U.S.-led airstrikes accidentally hit Syrian regime forces instead of ISIS, angering Russia

U.S. Central Command admitted Saturday that airstrikes conducted that morning by American-led forces unintentionally hit Syrian government targets instead of members of the Islamic State. "The coalition airstrike was halted immediately when coalition officials were informed by Russian officials that it was possible the personnel and vehicles targeted were part of the Syrian military," Centcom said. Following the announcement, which threatens the recent U.S.-Russia cease-fire deal, Moscow called an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, criticized Russia for the meeting request, and Moscow in turn bristled at her slam. The mistake has potentially big ramifications because Russia and the United States support opposite sides of the Syrian civil war, though both oppose ISIS.

7

Candidates now neck-and-neck in Electoral College projection

New analysis from Reuters released Saturday finds Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are basically even in terms of Electoral College support. Were the election held today, it "could end in a photo finish," perhaps similar to the contested George W. Bush vs. Al Gore race in 2000. Where Trump was previously believed to trail Clinton's Electoral College count considerably, Reuters now considers Florida — with the fourth most electors of all 50 states — a likely win for Trump. Even with this shakeup, neither candidate comes close to 50 percent support nationwide: Clinton has a slight lead of 42 percent national support to Trump's 38 percent.

8

Obama: 'I will consider it a personal insult' if black voters don't turn out for Clinton

President Obama had strong words of exhortation and critique for black voters and Republican nominee Donald Trump, respectively, while speaking at a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation event Saturday evening. "I will consider it a personal insult and an insult to my legacy if this community lets down its guard and fails to activate itself in this election," he said, adding in a plug for Democrat Hillary Clinton, "My name may not be on the ballot, but our progress is on the ballot." Turning to Trump, Obama wryly joked about the birther controversy Trump helped fuel. He also alluded to the candidate's suggestion "that there's never been a worse time to be a black person," positing that Trump must have "missed that whole civics lesson about slavery or Jim Crow."

9

United Nations General Assembly to meet Monday

The Syrian civil war and refugee crisis will be at the top of the agenda when the United Nations General Assembly convenes on Monday. World leaders and their proxies are gathering at U.N. headquarters in New York City to discuss Syria as well as the Islamic State, Brexit, and who will succeed U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who finishes his term at the end of 2016. Ban and President Obama will each make their final U.N. addresses during this assembly, while new British Prime Minister Theresa May will make her U.N. debut.

10

Militants kill 17 soldiers at Indian army base in disputed territory

Four attackers killed 17 Indian soldiers at an army base in Kashmir early Sunday morning, the deadliest such attack in recent years. The base is located in disputed territory near the Pakistani border, and initial reports suggest the rampage may have been organized by the Pakistan-based Islamist group Jaish-e-Mohammad. Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh blamed Pakistan for the attack on Twitter. "Pakistan is a terrorist state and it should be identified and isolated as such," he wrote, describing the militants as "highly trained, heavily armed and specially equipped" with AK-47 rifles and grenade launchers. All four militants were killed by Indian forces.

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