Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 30, 2021

Hurricane Ida slams Louisiana, a U.S. military drone strike targets suspected suicide bomber's vehicle in Kabul, and more

1

Hurricane Ida slams into Louisiana on Katrina anniversary

Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday in Louisiana as a powerful Category 4 storm, slamming into the state with top sustained winds of 150 miles per hour after intensifying over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The storm killed at least one person, and knocked out power to a million customers, including the entire city of New Orleans, with reports of significant damage to buildings and residents trapped on rooftops. Ida weakened and its forward speed slowed to a crawl as it pushed inland, raising flood potential across multiple states. Ida hit on the 16th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, which left historic devastation in New Orleans. Ida tied a record for the most powerful hurricane to hammer Louisiana, equaling the strength of last year's Hurricane Laura and the Last Island Hurricane of 1856.

2

U.S. drone strike hits suspected suicide bombers in Kabul

The U.S. military said Sunday it killed suspected suicide bombers in an explosives-laden vehicle with a drone strike in Kabul. A U.S. official said the vehicle posed an "imminent threat" to the effort to evacuate U.S. citizens and Afghans who are desperate to escape Afghanistan following the Taliban's takeover. The Taliban said the airstrike killed multiple civilians, including some children. "We are investigating the reason of the airstrike and the exact number of casualties," said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman. The U.S. military also said it was investigating. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul had warned of a "specific, credible threat" to people around the airport, the scene of suicide bombings that killed as many as 170 civilians and 13 U.S. service members last week. An Islamic State affiliate claimed responsibility for that attack.

3

Biden meets with families of troops killed in Afghanistan

President Biden on Sunday joined grieving families in Delaware to pay respects as military aircraft returned the bodies of the 13 U.S. service members killed in the suicide-bombing attack at the Kabul airport last week. Biden and first lady Jill Biden met privately with relatives of the troops, whose remains were carried in flag-draped cases by honor guards in battle dress. The dead service members ranged in age from 20 to 31. Five were 20, meaning they were born shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that sparked the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. The service members, 11 of them Marines, were helping to carry out the evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies rushing to escape Taliban rule before the Aug. 31 deadline for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops.

4

U.S., 97 other countries reach deal with Taliban to continue evacuations

The United States and 97 other countries said in a joint statement Sunday that they had reached a deal with the Taliban to continue evacuating their citizens and Afghans who have worked with them beyond the Aug. 31 withdrawal deadline. "We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan," the joint statement said. The Taliban have agreed to let foreigners and Afghans with travel authorization leave the country in a "safe and orderly manner," the statement said. U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Face the Nation that Washington has "considerable leverage" to "hold the Taliban to its commitments." 

5

Hurricane Ida forces temporary shutdown of pipeline

Colonial Pipeline has temporarily shut down two fuel lines in the South as a precaution due to Hurricane Ida, which hit the Louisiana's Gulf Coast on Sunday as a powerful Category 4 storm. The company said fuel would still be available throughout the Southeast, calling the shutdown a "precautionary and routine safety measure." Federal regulators said that more than 95 percent of the Gulf of Mexico's oil production facilities had to temporarily halt operations because of the storm, which was downgraded to a tropical storm early Monday as it moved slowly inland. Colonial Pipeline is expected to restore the pipeline to full service after the storm. The 5,500-mile pipeline transports nearly half of the East Coast's gasoline and diesel.

6

E.U. expected to recommend halt to travel from U.S.

The European Union is preparing to recommend a halt to all non-essential travel from the United States to help curb surging coronavirus infections driven by the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, citing diplomats. European leaders reportedly have been considering the change over the last month as the average U.S. infection rate surpassed that of the E.U. A final decision on the non-binding travel restriction is expected Monday. Some European leaders have been pushing for the change because the U.S. kept its ban on European tourists in place after European nations allowed travel from the U.S. to resume. Some countries are expected to continue letting in American tourists who can prove they have been fully vaccinated.

7

Fauci supports COVID vaccine mandates in schools

Top U.S. infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday he backs making COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for all schoolchildren to help prevent surging coronavirus infections driven by the spread of the highly contagious Delta variant. "I believe that mandating vaccines for children to appear in school is a good idea," Fauci told CNN's State of the Union. "We've done this for decades and decades, requiring polio, measles, mumps, rubella, hepatitis" vaccinations. Children under 12 currently are not eligible to receive coronavirus vaccine shots. Fauci said there should be enough data by October for the Food and Drug Administration to determine whether the vaccines are safe for pre-teens in time to start administering the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines to them by the holiday season.

8

Report: North Korea restarts Yongbyon nuclear reactor 

North Korea appears to have restarted its Yongbyon plutonium-producing nuclear reactor, the United Nations' atomic agency said Sunday. The move, which was disclosed in an annual report on North Korea's nuclear activities, could allow the isolated communist-run nation to expand its nuclear arsenal. The reactor had been shut down from December 2018 to July 2021. "Since early July, there have been indications, including the discharge of cooling water, consistent with the operation of the reactor," the International Atomic Energy Agency report said. North Korea also appeared to be separating plutonium from spent fuel rods at a nearby laboratory. The IAEA, whose inspectors were booted from North Korea in 2009, said the developments violated U.N. Security Council resolutions and were "deeply troubling."

9

Tropical Storm Nora brushes Mexico's Pacific coast

Tropical Storm Nora, which was downgraded from a hurricane on Sunday, left at least one person dead as it moved up the country's Pacific coast after making landfall in Jalisco State, which includes Puerto Vallarta. Nora had top sustained winds of 70 miles per hour. Its heavy rains caused flash floods and mudslides. The storm was blamed for the death of a boy who emigrated from Spain seven years ago. His body was found in a partially collapsed Puerto Vallarta hotel. Rescue crews were looking for a woman whose car was swept away by floodwaters. At least two other people were injured in a landslide along a highway in Jalisco.

10

Actor Ed Asner dies at 91

Actor Ed Asner, best known for his role as Lou Grant in The Mary Tyler Moore Show, died Sunday morning, his family confirmed on his official Twitter account. He was 91. Asner won seven Emmy awards, a record for male performers at the TV award show. Five of his wins were for his portrayal of TV newsman Lou Grant, a role he continued in the spinoff series Lou Grant. Asner also is widely remembered for his role as Santa Claus in the holiday classic movie Elf. He also did voiceover work for the Pixar hit Up. A lifelong Democrat and activist, he served as president of the Screen Actors' Guild from 1981 to 1985 after emerging as a leader during the 1980 SAG strike, and as union leader opposed U.S. policy in Central America.

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