Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 17, 2021

Gang members kidnap U.S. missionaries in Haiti, Biden praises police for protecting democracy during Jan. 6 Capitol attack, and more

1

Gang kidnaps U.S. missionaries in Haiti

Gang members kidnapped as many as 17 Christian missionaries and their family members, most of them Americans, as they were leaving an orphanage in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince on Saturday, according to Haitian security officials and an audio prayer alert from their group, Christian Aid Ministries. Local officials said the missionary group, which included children, was abducted from a bus headed to the airport and another destination. Haiti has been plagued by political tension and security problems for years, but the crisis has deepened since the July assassination of President Jovenel Moise. Kidnappings have spiked sixfold this year. The Caribbean nation now has the highest per-capita kidnapping rate in the world, according to The Washington Post

2

Biden praises officers for protecting democracy during Jan. 6 attack

President Biden on Saturday paid tribute to police who protected the Capitol during the deadly Jan. 6 attack by a mob of former President Donald Trump's supporters. "Because of you, democracy survived," Biden said at the National Peace Officers' annual memorial service. Biden added that the women and men of the Capitol and Washington, D.C., police forces and other agencies "literally put their bodies on the line to protect democracy." The service was held in front of the Capitol to honor 491 law enforcement officers around the country who died on the job in 2019 and 2020. Biden also vowed to support officers and police departments, noting that he has requested hundreds of millions of dollars from Congress for training, mental health professionals, and other resources.

3

U.K. police identify terror suspect held in lawmaker's murder

The suspect arrested in the fatal stabbing of British lawmaker David Amess has been identified as Ali Harbi Ali, a British citizen of Somali descent, U.K. media reported late Saturday. The suspect reportedly was not believed to have been on the radar of security officials, but had been referred to the U.K.'s Prevent counter-terrorist program, which aims to prevent at-risk people from being radicalized. Police said the suspect, originally arrested on suspicion of murder, was being held by London police after being rearrested under the Terrorism Act. Police said early results of the investigation into the killing suggested the motive could be linked to Islamic extremism. Amess, a member of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative Party, was stabbed multiple times Friday during a meeting with constituents. 

4

Bill Clinton expected to be discharged from hospital Sunday

Doctors expect to be able to discharge former President Bill Clinton from a California hospital on Sunday after treatment for a urinary tract infection. Clinton has "continued to make excellent progress," his spokesperson Angel Ureña said in a statement Saturday via Twitter. "He is in great spirits and has been spending time with family, catching up with friends, and watching college football." Clinton received calls from Vice President Kamala Harris, former President George W. Bush, and his own former vice president, Al Gore. President Biden talked to Clinton by phone Friday. Clinton, 75, was in California for a private event for his foundation and was admitted to the hospital after tests conducted because he felt fatigued.

5

Venezuela halts talks with opposition after Maduro ally's extradition

The Venezuelan government said Saturday it was halting talks with the opposition in response to the extradition of an ally of President Nicolas Maduro on money-laundering charges. Lead government negotiator Jorge Rodríguez said his delegation would not go to Mexico City for the next scheduled meeting with members of the U.S.-backed opposition, although he did not say the talks were being scrapped permanently. The Maduro ally, businessman Alex Saab, lost a 16-month battle against extradition and was put on a plane to fly to the U.S. from Cape Verde. Rodriguez called the arrest an illegal act of "aggression" by Washington, which has called Maduro's controversial reelection illegitimate.

6

Taliban promises security for Shiite mosques after bombings

The Taliban on Saturday vowed to increase security at Shiite mosques in Afghanistan following two deadly suicide bombings in a week. The pledge came as mourners gathered to bury victims of the second attack, which killed at least 41 people and wounded 70 at the Fatima mosque in Kandahar. A health official said some of the wounded were in critical condition and the death toll could rise. The Afghanistan affiliate of the Sunni extremist group Islamic State, ISIS-K, has claimed responsibility for the attack. ISIS-K terrorists have been stepping up their attacks to challenge the Taliban's control. The head of Kandahar's police said officers would be sent to protect Shiite mosques previously guarded only by local volunteers with special authorization to carry weapons. 

7

Hollywood union reaches deal with studios just before strike deadline

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees reached a tentative deal with studios and streaming services on Saturday, just in time to avert a strike before a 12:01 a.m. Monday deadline. A strike threatened to shut down film and television industry production. The deal, which still must be ratified by union members, covers about 40,000 film and television workers who belong to 13 local IATSE unions on the West Coast. Under the new contract, union workers would get better pay on streaming-service productions, more frequent breaks, and other benefits. "This is a Hollywood ending," said IATSE International President Matthew Loeb. "We went toe to toe with some of the richest and most powerful entertainment and tech companies in the world."

8

Sudan protesters call for military rule 

Thousands of protestors rallied in front of Sudan's presidential palace in Khartoum on Saturday to demand that the military take power to end the east African country's political crisis. The demonstrators chanted "down with the hunger government" and urged Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, who leads the armed forces and Sudan's joint military-civilian Sovereign Council, to take control. The military and civilians have been sharing power in a tense two-year transition following the 2019 toppling of longtime President Omar al-Bashir. Tensions have intensified since a foiled coup attempt by Bashir loyalists in September. Military leaders are calling for replacing the cabinet and reforming the Forces of Freedom and Change coalition, the civilian alliance that led anti-Bashir protests and plays a key role in the transitional government.

9

Russian actor, director return after 12 days at space station

A Russian actor and a film director returned to Earth in a Soyuz MS-18 capsule on Sunday after spending 12 days at the International Space Station, where they worked on the first movie to be filmed in space. The capsule descended by parachute and landed in remote western Kazakhstan three hours after leaving the space station with actress Yulia Peresild, director Klim Shipenko, and Russian ISS crew member Oleg Novitskiy on board. The return came days after 90-year-old actor William Shatner, who played Capt. James Kirk in the Star Trek TV series, became the oldest person to reach space in a brief flight aboard a spacecraft operated by Blue Origin, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' space-flight company.

10

Robert Durst on ventilator with COVID following sentencing

Real-estate heir Robert Durst, who was sentenced to life without parole on Thursday for murdering a friend, contracted COVID-19 and has been put on a ventilator, his lawyer said Saturday. Durst, 78, was already in bad condition during this week's hearing for his sentencing after he was convicted of killing Susan Berman in her home 21 years ago. "He was having difficulty breathing and he was having difficulty communicating," his lead defense attorney, Dick DeGuerin, told the Los Angeles Times in an email. Durst's health was an issue during his trial. He attended much of the case in a wheelchair, and missed court on the day of his conviction last month. His lawyers repeatedly sought a mistrial on the grounds that he was too sick to take the stand in his own defense. 

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