Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: June 22, 2017

The FBI investigates an officer's Flint airport stabbing as terrorism, the Senate GOP prepares to unveil its health bill, and more

1

Stabbing of officer at Flint airport investigated as terrorism

A man stabbed a police officer in the neck at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan, on Wednesday in what the FBI said it was investigating as "an act of terrorism." At least one witness said the attacker shouted "Allahu akbar," Arabic for "God is great," before stabbing Lt. Jeff Neville from behind. Investigators said that after his arrest the suspect, identified as Amor Ftouhi, said something like "you have killed people in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die." Police said Ftouhi, 50, is from Quebec, and entered the U.S. legally on June 16. He reportedly asked officers who arrested him why they didn't kill him. If the attacker's motives are confirmed, the incident will be the first Islamist extremist terrorist attack on U.S. soil since President Trump took office, although there have been similar incidents recently in Europe. Neville was in critical but stable condition late Wednesday.

2

Republicans prepare to unveil Senate health-care bill

Senate leaders on Wednesday began circulating a discussion draft of their proposal to replace ObamaCare a day before its scheduled formal release. The working document seeks to roll back taxes and penalties in the Affordable Care Act, cut back its Medicaid expansion, change the Obama-era health law's subsidies, and give states more flexibility to opt out of some insurance requirements. The proposal also would cut off Planned Parenthood from federal funding. Congressional aides emphasized that the Senate GOP plan, which Democrats and most Republicans complained was drafted in total secret, would surely be changed to muster the 50 votes Republicans need to pass the legislation. With a slim majority, the GOP needs to get nearly all of its 52 senators on board, because no Democrats or independents are expected to back it.

3

Democrats point fingers after House special election losses

Democratic activists and lawmakers on Wednesday reacted forcefully in the wake of the party's two narrow special House election losses, calling for a stronger economic message ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. Some Democrats said Jon Ossoff's defeat in Georgia to Republican Karen Handel called into question the effectiveness of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and a small group of Pelosi's critics reiterated their demand that she step down. "I think you'd have to be an idiot to think we could win the House with Pelosi at the top," Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Texas) told Politico. Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) called on the party to go "on offense" against President Trump over his promises to working-class voters.

4

Homeland Security official: Russian hackers targeted 21 states' election systems

A Homeland Security official told Congress on Wednesday that hackers linked to the Russian government appear to have targeted the election systems of 21 states last year, although none of the systems was involved in counting votes. The official, Samuel Liles, serves as the acting director of the Cyber Division of the department's Office of Intelligence and Analysis. Liles said the hackers' attempts to scan databases on some of the states were unsuccessful, "as if someone rattled the door knob and was unable to get in," and in a small number "they made it through the door." Liles made the comments in a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing involving DHS and FBI cybersecurity officials.

5

ISIS blamed for destruction of historic Mosul mosque

The Islamic State destroyed the centuries-old al-Nuri mosque in Mosul on Wednesday night, according to the Iraqi and U.S. militaries. Col. Ryan Dillon, an American military spokesman in Baghdad, said drone surveillance confirmed the historic mosque had been destroyed, but added, "We don't know how." Maj. Gen. Joseph Martin said ISIS blew up the mosque as "our Iraqi Security Force partners closed in." The mosque was where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate after his forces took control of Mosul during an offensive in northern Iraq and Syria. ISIS said it was a U.S. airstrike that brought down the mosque and its iconic leaning minaret, known as al-Hadba. The mosque was built by Nur al-Din Mahmoud Zangi, a 12th century ruler who unified Arabs against European crusaders.

6

Scalise's condition upgraded to 'fair'

Doctors have upgraded the condition of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) to "fair" a week after he was admitted in critical condition with a gunshot wound to the hip, MedStar Washington Hospital Center said Wednesday. Scalise was shot last Wednesday morning at a Republican congressional baseball team practice in Alexandria, Virginia. He suffered fractured bones, internal bleeding, and extensive damage to his internal organs after being shot, but he "continues to make good progress," the hospital said. He is now "beginning an extended period of healing and rehabilitation." Scalise's lead surgeon said Friday that the congressman will likely remain in the hospital for a "considerable period of time," perhaps "weeks."

7

Milwaukee jury clears ex-officer in fatal shooting

A Milwaukee jury on Wednesday acquitted a former police officer in the fatal shooting of a black man, 23-year-old Sylville Smith, last year. Jurors found ex-officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is also black, not guilty of first-degree reckless homicide. The shooting, which occurred while Heaggan-Brown was on duty, came after a brief foot chase after an Aug. 13 traffic stop. Smith was carrying a pistol, but the case hinged on whether he was still a threat when Heaggan-Brown fired the fatal shot. He shot Smith in the arm as he scaled a fence and dropped his gun. Body-cam video shows Smith being shot in the chest less than two seconds later as he was lying wounded on the ground, when prosecutors argued he was defenseless. The shooting touched off riots in part of the city. Heaggan-Brown was later fired after being charged with sexual assault in an unrelated case.

8

Trump touts 'amazing progress' at campaign-style Iowa rally

President Trump held a campaign-style rally in Iowa on Wednesday night, returning to the battleground state for the first time since he won it in November and telling 6,000 supporters he has made "amazing progress" delivering on his promise to "Make America Great Again." Trump said he had made strides improving the economy, creating jobs, and curbing illegal immigration, and the crowd responded with chants of "U.S.A.! U.S.A!" Trump shrugged off investigations into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion with his associates, and pointed to the GOP's wins in special House elections in Georgia and South Carolina on Tuesday "They have phony witch hunts going against me," Trump said in Cedar Rapids. "All we do is win, win, win. We won last night."

9

Car bombing kills 20 in Afghanistan's tense Helmand province

A car bomb exploded outside a bank in southern Afghanistan's Helmand province on Thursday, killing at least 20 civilians and members of security forces waiting to collect their pay. More than 50 people were injured. Gunmen reportedly rushed into the bank after the blast and got into a gun battle with security forces. No group immediately claimed responsibility, but both the Taliban and the Islamic State have carried out attacks in the country recently. Taliban insurgents have targeted banks in Helmand before. The Taliban have fought for years against British, U.S., and now Afghan forces in the province, which is a center for opium production.

10

Tropical storm disrupts oil and gas operations in Gulf of Mexico

Tropical Storm Cindy disrupted shipping in the Gulf of Mexico on Wednesday and drove workers off of oil and gas platforms, shutting down one-sixth of the Gulf's oil production. It also forced a halt to the uploading of vessels at a major oil-import terminal. The storm's outer bands dumped heavy rains on the Gulf Coast on Wednesday, with its top sustained winds reaching 50 miles per hour, and the system made landfall in southwestern Louisiana near the Texas border early Thursday. The governors of Louisiana and Alabama have declared emergencies as the storm brought threats of flash flooding and tornadoes. "The biggest impact would be on shipping activity which will remain suspended through Friday," said Andy Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.

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