Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 15, 2022

Shelling continues near Ukraine nuclear power plant, the FBI and DHS warn of "increase in threats" to federal agents since Mar-a-Lago search, and more

1

Shelling continues near Ukraine nuclear plant

Shelling near a Ukrainian nuclear power plant killed one of the facility's foremen in his home, the company that oversees the plant said Sunday. The company, Energoatom, said Russia fired at least six shells that hit Enerhodar, a Russian-occupied town where most of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant's workers live. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday accused Russia of trying to use "nuclear blackmail" at the complex as part of its effort to slow a Ukrainian counteroffensive approaching the Russian-occupied city of Kherson. Moscow said Ukrainian forces were the ones responsible for the bombardment of the area around the nuclear plant, which is Europe's largest.

2

FBI, DHS warn of 'increase in threats' to federal law enforcement 

The Department of Homeland Security and FBI have issued a joint intelligence bulletin warning that they have "observed an increase in threats to federal law enforcement and to a lesser extent other law enforcement and government officials following the FBI's recent execution of a search warrant in Palm Beach, Florida," NBC News reported Sunday, citing two senior law enforcement officials. People started making threats and calling for civil war on pro-Trump internet forums immediately after the search of former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate and club. The agencies said they were acting out of an abundance of caution. The bulletin, dated Friday, warned that home addresses and other identifying information about potential targets had been circulated online.

3

U.S. lawmakers meet with Taiwan's president

Five U.S. lawmakers arrived in Taiwan on Sunday to visit with the island's leaders, 12 days after a trip by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that angered China, which sees the self-governed island as part of its territory. China launched unprecedented air and sea military drills near Taiwan in response to Pelosi's visit. The U.S. delegation, led by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), met Monday with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, and is scheduled to meet with other officials and business leaders to discuss tensions in the Taiwan Strait, investments in semiconductors, and other matters. Markey, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations East Asia, Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Subcommittee, met with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in South Korea before arriving in Taiwan.

4

Man commits suicide after ramming car into barricade near Capitol

An unidentified man crashed his car into a barricade near the U.S. Capitol before getting out, firing shots into the air, then fatally shot himself, Capitol Police said Sunday. Nobody else was injured in the early-morning incident. Capitol Police Chief Tom Manger said officers "did not hear the individual say anything," and investigators had no evidence to suggest a motive. The incident came as tensions were high at many federal facilities and the FBI was on alert following threats against the agency over its raid at former President Donald Trump's Florida home last week.

5

Anne Heche taken off life support

Anne Heche was "peacefully taken off life support" and died Sunday, the 53-year-old actor's representative confirmed to People magazine. The stage, TV, and film star, whose films included Donnie Brasco, Psycho, and Six Days Seven Nights, was declared brain dead Friday but her body was kept on life support so her organs could be donated. Heche suffered severe burns and brain damage when she crashed her car into a house in Los Angeles' Mar Vista neighborhood. Police confirmed Thursday that a blood test found narcotics in her system. Heche, who made her TV debut in 1987 on the soap opera Another World, revealed in her 2001 memoir that she struggled with mental illness after being abused by her father.

6

Oil prices fall as China's economy weakens 

Oil prices fell Monday as weak China economic data intensified concerns about weakening demand from the world's second-largest economy and largest crude importer, as Saudi Aramco said it was ready to increase oil output. International benchmark Brent crude fell 1.2 percent to $97.01 per barrel following a 1.5 percent drop on Friday. U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate fell $1.06, or 1.2 percent, to $91.03, after falling 2.4 percent on Friday. Government data in China showed that the country's economy unexpectedly slowed in July and refinery output dropped to its lowest since March 2020, suggesting oil demand was falling after high fuel prices forced consumers to cut back. China's central bank cut a key interest rate Monday to boost growth.

7

Police say suspect's son might be linked to murders of New Mexico Muslim men

Investigators suspect the son of the man accused in two of the four recent murders of Muslim men in New Mexico could have been involved in the crimes, according to documents filed by prosecutors last week. Prosecutors said cellphone tower data indicated that suspect Muhammad Syed and one of his sons, Shaheen Syed (also known as Maiwand), were in the area where Naeem Hussain was killed on Aug. 5, and had "short and frequent communications" before and after that murder. Authorities are still investigating that case and the Nov. 7 slaying of Mohammad Ahmadi, 62. Nobody has been charged in those cases — Muhammad Syed has been charged in the murders of two other men, Muhammad Afzaal Hussain and Aftab Hussein.

8

U.K. investigates threats against J.K. Rowling over Rushdie support

British authorities said Sunday they had launched an investigation into online threats against Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling following her expression of support for novelist Salman Rushdie, who was stabbed and seriously injured last week. Shortly after Rushdie was attacked as he prepared to speak at the Chautauqua Institution in New York, Rowling tweeted: "Horrifying news … Let him be OK." The Twitter user @MeerAsifAziz1 replied: "Don't worry you are next." The tweet was deleted by Sunday afternoon but the account remained active. Rowling slammed Twitter for letting the user remain on the platform despite its rules against encouraging violence. Rushdie spent years in hiding starting in 1989 after Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini urged Muslims to kill him over his novel The Satanic Verses.

9

Dozens killed in fire at Coptic Orthodox church in Egypt

A fire spread quickly through a Coptic Orthodox church in Cairo, Egypt's capital, during Sunday morning services, killing at least 41 worshippers, including at least 15 children. Witnesses said the Martyr Abu Sefein church filled with thick black smoke before many congregants could escape. Some managed to jump from upper floors of the four-story building. "Suffocation, suffocation, all of them dead," said one witness. At least 16 people were injured, including four police officers who were among people trying to rescue survivors. Police could not immediately pinpoint what caused the fire, but investigators suspected an electrical short-circuit could have been a factor.

10

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, 'India's Warren Buffett,' dies at 62

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, a billionaire investor often called "India's Warren Buffett," died Sunday "surrounded by his family and close aides," a relative told Reuters. He was 62. The cause of death was not immediately released. Jhunjhunwala, a chartered accountant, started trading stocks at age 25 and later created the Rare Enterprises asset management firm. He built a reputation with successful stock market bets that led Forbes to call him "an investor with a Midas touch." His latest venture was a low-cost airline, Akasa Air, that launched in India last week.

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