Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 24, 2021

A U.S. drone strike kills an al Qaeda leader in Syria, the Braves advance to face the Astros in the World Series, and more

1

U.S. drone strike kills senior al Qaeda leader

The U.S. military said Saturday that it killed a senior al Qaeda leader, Abdul Hamid al-Matar, with a drone strike Friday in northwest Syria. Army Maj. John Rigsbee, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, said al-Matar's death will disrupt the Islamist terrorist organization's "ability to further plot and carry out global attacks threatening U.S. citizens, our partners, and innocent civilians." Rigsbee added that al Qaeda "uses Syria as a base for threats reaching into Syria, Iraq, and beyond." Two days before the airstrike, a U.S. military outpost in southern Syria was attacked with drones and rockets, although there were no American casualties. Iranian-backed forces commonly target U.S. forces with drones and rocket fire in eastern Syria and Iraq.

2

Braves beat Dodgers to advance to World Series

The Atlanta Braves beat the defending champions the Los Angeles Dodgers to win the National League Championship Series, advancing to face the Houston Astros in the Braves' first World Series since 1999. The Braves took the best-of-seven NLCS four games to two with a big boost from series MVP Eddie Rosario, who only joined the team's roster in July. Rosario hit a three-run home run to break a 1-1 tie and give the Braves the cushion they needed for their 4-2 victory in Game 6. Rosario went 14 for 25 in the NLCS, with three home runs and nine RBIs. The Dodgers put the tying runs on base with no outs in the seventh inning, but reliever Tyler Matzek struck out three straight to end the threat.

3

Report: Facebook platforms spread religious hatred in India

Inflammatory content jumped by 300 percent on Facebook's products in India as religious protests swept the country in the early months of 2020, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday, citing an internal Facebook report. A Hindu man in Delhi told Facebook researchers he got "very dangerous" messages on Facebook and WhatsApp, such as, "Hindus are in danger, Muslims are about to kill us." A Muslim user in Mumbai said there was "so much hatred going on" he feared for his life. In February 2019, two Facebook employees set up a dummy account with the profile of a 21-year-old woman in North India to gauge the user experience. When violence flared in the India-Pakistan territorial dispute in Kashmir, the Facebook account was inundated with nationalist propaganda and anti-Muslim hate speech.

4

Obama joins Democrats' push to back McAuliffe in Va. governor's race

Former President Barack Obama made his first appearance on the 2021 campaign trail on Saturday, urging Virginia voters to support Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in the Nov. 2 election. The former president slammed Republican efforts to pass new voting restrictions, and criticized McAuliffe's Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin, a former leader of the private equity firm the Carlyle Group. Obama accused Youngkin of pretending to be a friendly, regular guy while spouting "lies and conspiracy theories" about bogus allegations of voting fraud in 2020. A Youngkin campaign spokesperson accused Obama of making "false statements." Youngkin appealed to voters by addressing a key education controversy, vowing to ban the teaching of critical race theory in public schools on his first day in office.

5

Colombian forces capture country's most wanted drug lord

Colombian military forces and police captured the South American nation's most wanted drug trafficker, Dairo Antonio Úsuga, in his rural hideout near the Panama border on Saturday. Úsuga, better known as Otoniel, is the leader of Colombia's largest criminal gang. He became the head of the Gulf Clan after his brother, its previous leader, was killed by police during a raid nearly 10 years ago. The government had offered a $800,000 reward for confirmed information on how to find him. The United States had placed a $5 million bounty on him. "This is the biggest blow against drug trafficking in our country this century," President Iván Duque Márquez said in a televised message. "This blow is only comparable to the fall of Pablo Escobar in the 1990s."

6

Saudi Arabia sets net-zero carbon emission target ahead of COP26

Saudi Arabia aims to reduce pollution to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2060, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said Saturday at a Saudi forum ahead of the United Nations' 26th UN Climate Change Conference, COP26, in Glasgow. The prince said the oil-rich nation would pursue the goal with a varied approach that includes curbing emissions, planting 450 million trees, and rehabilitating degraded lands to expand protected areas. Prince Charles warned in a virtual keynote speech at the forum that there is a "dangerously narrow window" to speed up the world's "green recovery" to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change, and said Saudi Arabia's work on "energy transition is critically important."

7

Turkey calls for departure of U.S. ambassadors and 9 other envoys

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday he ordered his government to declare the United States and nine other Western countries "persona non grata at once," after they signed a joint statement demanding the "urgent release" of imprisoned philanthropist Osman Kavala. The ambassadors of the U.S., Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and New Zealand issued the statement on Monday calling for a "just and speedy" resolution to the case against Kavala, who has been in prison since 2017 after being charged with financing 2018 protests in Turkey and participating in a failed 2016 coup. Kavala was acquitted in 2020 on protest charges, but the decision was overturned this year. Kavala has denied all the allegations against him.

8

2 children die in Texas drag-racing accident

A drag racing vehicle veered off a track in Texas on Saturday and hit spectators, killing two children and injuring eight other people. A 6-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the track. An 8-year-old boy died later at a hospital. The 34-year-old driver was hospitalized in stable condition. The accident occurred at "Airport Race Wars 2," an event held on a makeshift track at Kerrville Aviation at the Kerrville-Kerr County Airport, 65 miles northwest of San Antonio. Investigators said the driver lost control of his vehicle and drove off the runway that was being used as a racetrack, and veered into parked vehicles and spectators.

9

'Bomb cyclone' threatens flooding in drought-stricken Northern California

Millions of people in drought-stricken parts of Northern California face the risk of flash floods on Sunday from "excessive rainfall" from an extreme weather system, the National Weather Center said. The ferocious storm system heading to the West Coast, a so-called "bomb cyclone," is driving an "atmospheric river" of moisture toward the northern part of the state, creating the potential for dangerous mudslides in areas burned bare by wildfires. Some areas could get eight to 10 inches of rain. "The water flows off instead of soaking in and it can start picking up pebbles and then rocks, boulders, trees. And it can be severely damaging," University of California at San Diego weather expert Marty Ralph told CBS News. Residents in a small section of coastal Santa Barbara County were told to evacuate at the start of the weekend because of mudslide concerns.

10

Cinematographer's husband says she 'inspired us all'

Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins' husband, Mike Hutchins, praised his late wife in his first statement since her death on the New Mexico set of the movie Rust, saying her "legacy is too meaningful to encapsulate in words." Rust producer and actor Alec Baldwin accidentally shot Halyna Hutchins, 42, on Thursday when a prop gun he was holding misfired (full details on the incident are still being investigated). Hutchins, the film's director of photography, was airlifted to a hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Director Joel Souza was also injured but released from the hospital on Friday. On Friday night, Mike Hutchins tweeted a photo of his wife and their 8-year-old son with the caption, "Halyna inspired us all with her passion and vision... Our loss is enormous."

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