Daily Briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 15, 2019

Tim O'Donnell
Mike Pompeo.
Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

1.

Iran denies it's behind strikes against Saudi oil facilities

Iran on Sunday denied U.S. accusations that it was behind Saturday's drone strikes on two major oil sites in Saudi Arabia, which forced Saudi Aramco to suspend its production output by half. Yemen's Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran in a civil war against a Saudi-led coalition in Yemen, claimed responsibility for the attacks, but U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Tehran, arguing there was "no evidence the attacks came from Yemen." Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's foreign minister, said Pompeo was "turning to 'max deceit'" after "having failed at 'max pressure.'" It is just the latest example of heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington, which have risen since the U.S. departed the 2015 nuclear pact and placed sanctions on Iran. [The Washington Post, Mike Pompeo]

2.

Tropical storm moves away from Bahamas

The Bahamas, still recovering from severe damage caused by Hurricane Dorian earlier this month, was mostly spared by Tropical Storm Humberto, which is moving away from the Caribbean nation. The Bahamas did receive some rain from the storm, but the heaviest rain and wind remained away from land, and the storm damage this time around was reportedly negligible. Humberto has actually strengthened, as it now sports 60 mph sustained winds and is expected to become a hurricane Sunday, but it's headed northeast and is expected to drift further out into the Atlantic ocean away from the U.S. mainland. The storm does appear to be headed in Bermuda's direction, but it is unclear at this stage if it will threaten the island. [CNN, ABC News]

3.

Former Yale classmate reportedly alerted FBI about Kavanaugh sexual misconduct allegation

Max Stier, a former Yale University classmate of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, reportedly notified senators and the FBI during the justice's confirmation process last year about a previously unreported sexual misconduct allegation involving the justice when he was a student at Yale. Stier reportedly said he saw Kavanaugh, a freshman at the time, at a drunken dorm party with his pants down when his friends then pushed his penis into a female student's hands. It is unclear if Stier knew the female student, or if she has verified the incident as described. The FBI reportedly did not investigate the allegation and Stier has declined to speak about it publicly, but The New York Times reports it corroborated the story with two officials who have communicated with Stier. Kavanaugh faced multiple accusations of sexual misconduct during his confirmation process. [The New York Times, Business Insider]

4.

White House confirms Hamza bin Laden's death

President Trump confirmed Saturday that the U.S. killed Hamza bin Laden, the son of the al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, in a counterterrorism operation in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region. Trump and administration officials provided no further details other than a three-sentence statement confirming the news, though American officials have reportedly said there is some indication that the CIA, rather than the U.S. military, conducted the strike. Hamza bin Laden's death was first reported in July, but the White House did not officially confirm. Washington said Hamza bin Laden's death "not only deprives al Qaeda of important leadership skills and the symbolic connection to his father, but undermines important operational activities of the group." [The Associated Press, The Week]

5.

Hong Kong protests continue in defiance of police ban

Hong Kong's 15th consecutive weekend of anti-government, pro-democracy protests turned violent Sunday, as tens of thousands of demonstrators marched in defiance of a police ban. Some protesters reportedly threw bricks and petrol bombs near government offices in the city, and police retaliated by firing tear gas and deploying water cannons. Throughout the day, the protesters reportedly splintered off in different directions throughout the city; a fight broke out between demonstrators and a group of men in one area. Earlier in the day, hundreds of protesters gathered outside the British consulate in Hong Kong, demanding the United Kingdom pressure China into maintaining Hong Kong's freedoms guaranteed in 1997 when the U.K. handed control of the city to Beijing. [BBC, South China Morning Post]

6.

Trump says Taliban have 'never been hit harder' after canceling negotiations

President Trump tweeted Saturday that the Taliban have "never been hit harder," one week after he canceled a secret meeting at Camp David with the Islamist group's leaders. It is unclear if Trump was referring to any specific actions taken by the U.S. The president ended peace negotiations with the Taliban, which likely would have resulted in the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, after the group launched an attack that killed 12 people, including a U.S. soldier. Trump said the Taliban know "they made a big mistake and they have no idea how to recover." Trump's forceful message also comes a day after Taliban leaders traveled to Moscow to meet with Russian officials. [Fox News, Donald Trump]

7.

Border Patrol agent wounded in shooting

A Border Patrol agent was reportedly wounded in a shooting while conducting a traffic stop in Texas near the U.S.-Mexico border, authorities announced Saturday. Another agent reportedly shot and killed the suspect, who was reportedly a 25-year-old man and a U.S. citizen. The driver of the car, who was not killed, was reportedly a 32-year-old woman, also a U.S. citizen. The driver and the vehicle were taken into custody, but the suspects have not been identified, and few other details about the incident have been released. The wounded agent was transported to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries, Customs and Border Protection said in a statement. [The Washington Examiner, CBS News]

8.

Tunisia holds second, tightly-contested presidential election since 2011 revolution

Tunisians are voting Sunday in the country's second presidential vote since longtime ruler President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali was removed from power during the 2011 revolution, which sparked the Arab Spring. Sunday's election is taking place following the death of 92-year-old President Beji Caid Essebsi, who served in the role since 2014. The voting is reportedly unpredictable, as those taking to the polls have the option of choosing between 24 candidates, including two women. A candidate needs a majority of votes to win the election, and if that does not happen in the first round of voting, the two leading candidates will compete in a run-off on a later date. [Al Jazeera, BBC]

9.

Apple TV+ premieres first show at festival

Apple's new streaming service, Apple TV+, premiered its first show, Dickinson, at the Tribeca TV Festival. Dickinson is a period piece about the life of Emily Dickinson, an iconic and prolific 19th century American poet. Hailee Steinfield portrays the titular character, while rapper Whiz Khalifa plays a personified version of "Death" who reportedly flirts with the poet, and 30 Rock's Jane Krakowski portrays Dickinson's mother. Apple reportedly plans to spend $2 billion on original programming like Dickinson for the streaming service, and the show's cast said the company spared no expense on period costumes and sets. Seven other shows will debut alongside Dickinson when the streaming service launches on Nov. 1. [Reuters]

10.

Antonio Brown expected to make Patriots debut

The second full slate of NFL games this season will kick off Sunday. Week 2's clashes include what should be a highlight-heavy contest between the Baltimore Ravens and the Arizona Cardinals, who are led, respectively, by exciting young quarterbacks, Lamar Jackson and Kyler Murray. The Los Angeles Rams and the New Orleans Saints will also face off in a rematch of last year's NFC Championship game. But the day's biggest news might be the season debut of New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown, who is expected to play against the Miami Dolphins. Brown had a tumultuous offseason during which he was traded by the Pittsburgh Steelers and then later released by the Oakland Raiders without playing a game for them. He now faces sexual assault allegations that could lead to discipline from the NFL. [ESPN, CBS Sports]