Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: August 29, 2021

Ida strengthens into Category 4 storm ahead of landfall, Biden warns of another attack in Kabul, and more

1

Ida strengthens into Category 4 storm ahead of landfall

Hurricane Ida has rapidly strengthened into a Category 4 storm as it heads toward the United States' Gulf Coast, the National Hurricane Center said Sunday. Ida has prompted evacuations across the region and was sporting sustained winds of 150 miles per hour when it was just 60 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi River. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said Saturday that Ida, which is primed to make landfall at around 1 p.m. CT, is expected to be one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the state since at least the 1850s. Indeed, only two hurricanes on record have made landfall in Louisiana with such strong sustained winds. Edwards said 5,000 National Guard troops are on standby in 14 parishes for search and rescue efforts with high-water vehicles, boats, and helicopters, while 10,000 linemen are prepared to respond to power outages.

2

Biden warns of another attack in Kabul

President Biden on Saturday afternoon released a statement warning that another terrorist attack near Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport is "highly likely in the next 24-36 hours," and he directed military commanders in Afghanistan "to take every possible measure to prioritize force protection." Later, the United States Embassy in Afghanistan alerted American citizens in the area to leave immediately "due to a specific, credible threat." Everyone else should avoid traveling to the airport "at this time," the alert said. Despite the threat, the U.S. is still planning to withdraw its ambassador and all diplomatic staffers in Afghanistan by Tuesday's deadline.

3

Pentagon releases names of 13 service members killed in Kabul attack

The Pentagon on Saturday released the names of the 13 United States service members who were killed alongside nearly 200 Afghans in a suicide bomb attack, allegedly carried out by the Islamic State, at Kabul's Hamid Karzai International Airport on Thursday. The Marines killed in the attack were: Staff Sgt. Darin Hoover, Cpl. Hunter Lopez, Cpl. Daegan Page, Cpl. Humberto Sanchez, Lance Cpl. Jared Schmitz, Lance Cpl. David Espinoza, Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum, Lance Cpl. Dylan Merola, Lance Cpl. Kareem Nikoui, Sgt. Nicole Gee, and Sgt. Johanny Rosariopichardo. The other two victims were Navy Hospitalman Maxton Soviak and Army Staff Sgt. Ryan Knauss. The deceased ranged from 20 to 31 in age; the oldest, Hoover, was just 11 years old on Sept. 11, 2001.

4

Hospitals in South reportedly running low on oxygen

Hospitals in the southeastern United States are running low on oxygen amid the latest COVID-19 surge, Premier Inc, a hospital-supply purchasing group says, per Bloomberg. In some cases, there is reportedly only 12 to 24 hours worth of the life-saving gas left. Premier has notified the White House, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Health and Human Services department about the situation, the company's senior vice president of public affairs, Blair Childs, said. "Some of the hospitals are going into their emergency tanks," Childs said. "That means they have no other resource." 

5

Thousands gather in D.C. for voting rights march

An estimated 50,000 people gathered in Washington, D.C., on Saturday to push Congress to pass sweeping voting rights legislation and also protest state bills that critics say would restrict voting rights in the United States, particularly for voters of color. The March on For Voting Rights, organized by Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network and partner programs, took place on the 58th anniversary of the March on Washington, when Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech. Saturday's flagship event was in the nation's capital, where Martin Luther King III was among the various speakers, but many people marched in other major cities across the U.S., as well, including Atlanta, Miami, and Phoenix.

6

Firefighters make progress against Caldor blaze but winds loom

Firefighters slowed the spread of California's Caldor Fire as it moved toward Lake Tahoe on Saturday, but strong winds of 25-30 miles per hour are expected to hit the area on Monday and Tuesday and could reinvigorate the blaze. Containment of the fire grew to 19 percent on Saturday, up from 12 percent the day prior, which Cal Fire Cpt. Keith Wade described as a "pretty significant jump for us." Meteorologist Jim Dudley said Saturday that "we have one more day of fairly light winds across the fire, and then things change." Many locals and tourists have already fled the Tahoe area, even though there aren't evacuation warnings in place. There's hope, though, that manmade fire lines combined with natural barriers like massive granite outcroppings will help save the Lake Tahoe Basin.

7

Israel says it hit Hamas site in Gaza

The Israeli military says it struck a Hamas military compound "used for manufacturing weapons and training as well as an entrance to a terror tunnel" in Gaza early Sunday in response to incendiary balloons launched from the region. There were no reports of any casualties caused by the Israeli strikes.  The army said it was also responding to what it described as "violent riots" that took place at the Gaza-Israel separation barrier during the day Saturday. Palestinians announced they were resuming protests at the border Saturday with the goal of getting Israel to ease a blockade on Gaza. Israeli forces fired tear gas and stun grenades at the crowd. The two sides are locked in a fragile truce at the moment, following an 11-day conflict in May.

8

U.S. military delivers post-earthquake aid to remote areas of Haiti

United States military aircraft on Saturday were able to reach some of the remote mountain communities that were hardest hit by a recent, major earthquake that killed more than 2,200 people and destroyed more than 100,000 homes in Haiti. The goal of the airlift was to distribute supplies, including food and protective tarps, to the communities so they are better equipped to make it through the hurricane season after quake-induced landslides destroyed the homes and small plots of many subsistence farmers. "We're just trying to get as much material out to the most affected areas as fast as we can," Tim Callahan, a disaster response team leader for the U.S. Agency for International Development, told The Associated Press. So far, troops under the direction of the Miami-based U.S. Southern Command have delivered more than 265,000 pounds of relief assistance. 

9

Theranos' Holmes may accuse ex-boyfriend of abuse in upcoming trial

Court documents reveal that Elizabeth Holmes, the founder and former CEO of Theranos whose criminal trial is set to begin within days, may defend herself by claiming she was the victim of a decade-long abusive relationship with her ex-boyfriend Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, who was also a Theranos executive. The newly unsealed documents suggested Holmes is planning to have an expert testify about the psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse she experienced from Balwani, including tactics he allegedly used to "exert control." Both Holmes and Balwani were indicted more than three years ago on multiple federal fraud and conspiracy charges for allegedly launching a multi-million dollar scheme to defraud investors over the course of several years by knowingly misrepresenting the capabilities of Theranos' blood testing technology. They have both pleaded not guilty and could face up to 20 years in prison.

10

Brazil's Bolsonaro says he faces arrest, death, or victory

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Saturday told a group of evangelical leaders in the country that "I have three alternatives for my future: being arrested, killed, or victory," though he appeared to rule out the first option, stating that "no man on Earth will threaten me." The right-wing populist leader is trailing his top opponent, left-wing former President Luis Inácio Lula da Silva in the polls. Bolsonaro has frequently questioned the legitimacy of Brazil's electronic voting system, setting the stage for him to refuse to accept the result of next year's election if he loses. The head of Brazil's electoral court has maintained there are no issues with the voting system.

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