Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 25, 2022

Putin ramps up conscription in Russian-held territories, Italy poised to elect far-right Meloni, and more

1

Putin ramps up conscription, cracks down on dissent

Russian President Vladimir Putin is stepping up efforts to enlist troops to fight in Ukraine, bolstering new conscription demands by rounding up men in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories. In Kherson and Zaporizka, two regions overrun by Russia's military, men ages 18 to 35 have been forbidden to leave and ordered to report for military duty, which would require Ukrainians to fight against their own country. In the same regions, citizens were forced to vote in a "sham referendum" that would validate Moscow's annexation of the territory it occupies. People were made to vote "under a gun barrel," after Putin signed amendments that made punishments more severe for crimes such as refusing to follow the orders of a senior officer during wartime.

2

Italy poised to elect far-right Meloni

Italy is expected on Sunday to elect a coalition that would bring in the nation's first-ever female prime minister, Giorgia Meloni, who would represent the "farthest-right government since the fall of Mussolini." The Brothers of Italy party leads in the polls, and is likely to win by a comfortable margin, which has reportedly made neighboring European governments uneasy: Germany's governing Social Democratic party warned that Meloni's leadership would be bad for European cooperation. Meloni has vowed to defend "traditional" values, reduce immigration, and challenge the "obscure bureaucrats" of the EU. Voting closes at 11 p.m. local time, and exit polls are expected soon after.

3

Tropical Storm Ian could become 'major' hurricane

Tropical Storm Ian is expected to rapidly gain strength on Sunday, reaching hurricane status as it rolls across the Caribbean. The storm is projected to first hit Cuba, and then continue strengthening before reaching the west coast of Florida, which is not often struck by hurricanes. Meteorologists predict the storm will peak at Category 4 strength, but it could weaken before making landfall. Cuba is bracing for up to 12 inches of rain in some areas, as well as life-threatening storm surge and hurricane-force winds. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) declared a pre-landfall state of emergency across the entire state late on Saturday. It's unclear where Ian will head after reaching Florida.

4

Hurricane Fiona causes widespread blackouts

The aftermath of Hurricane Fiona continued to devastate countless residents in Canada and Puerto Rico on Sunday, with hundreds of thousands of Canadians and about half of Puerto Rico left without power. Fiona hit Puerto Rico last week, on the anniversary of the disastrous Hurricane Maria, and now Puerto Ricans have been left once again in a lengthy blackout, stretching nearly a week after the Category 1 storm. The Puerto Rican government said Saturday that up to 16 people overall may have died as a direct or indirect result of the storm. Meanwhile, in Canada, 470,000 were without power on Saturday after Fiona downed power lines, and some will be without power for "multiple days" more.

5

NASA spacecraft to collide with asteroid to study planetary defense

NASA is planning to smash a spacecraft into an asteroid 6.5 million miles away from Earth on Monday, in a study of one method of planetary defense. The collision will test "whether deflecting a space rock could one day protect Earth from a potentially catastrophic impact," and the mission is the first of its kind. The DART mission (Double Asteroid Redirection Test) is targeting a space rock called Dimorphos, which measures 525 feet across, and will send a spacecraft barreling toward the asteroid at 15,000 mph. Telescopes will determine whether Dimorphos was nudged out of its regular orbit, which could be a lifesaving feat if a major asteroid ever approached Earth. The crash is planned for 7:14 p.m. ET Monday.

6

Poll: Voters split ahead of contentious midterm elections

The Republican and Democratic parties are neck-in-neck heading into the final weeks of midterm election campaigns, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll found. Pundits expect control of Congress to shift from Democrats toward Republicans, but polling found both sides are highly motivated to turn out in November. Republicans hold advantages when voters consider the economy, inflation, and crime, while Democrats are far more trusted to handle the issues of abortion and climate change. The split was nearly even in the poll, with 47 percent of registered voters saying they plan to vote for a Republican House candidate and 46 percent saying they would vote for a Democrat. 

7

Biden outpacing Trump in judge confirmations

President Biden has won Senate confirmation for more than 80 federal judge nominees, including four new circuit court judges in the last two weeks, putting him over the threshold reached by former President Donald Trump, who selected a historic number of judges during his presidency. With the most recent nominees, Biden totals 83 judges, compared to Trump's 69 judges at this point in his tenure. Even so, NBC News notes, Trump ramped up his pace to eventually select 231 judges, "mostly young conservatives poised to shape American law for generations, including three Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade." The midterm elections in November will determine whether Biden will continue to quickly confirm judicial nominees.

8

Buckingham Palace shares Queen Elizabeth II's final resting place

Buckingham Palace released a photo displaying the final resting place of Queen Elizabeth II, who was interred in Windsor on Monday. The U.K. monarch now has an engraved ledger stone at St. George's Chapel, with her name inscribed next to her parents George VI and his wife, Elizabeth, as well as her husband, Prince Philip. The King George VI Memorial Chapel, an annex to the main chapel, also houses the ashes of the queen's sister, Princess Margaret. The slab is carved from Belgian black marble and features brass letter inlays. The general public will be able to visit the queen's resting place when Windsor Castle reopens on September 29.

9

'Don't Worry Darling' scores successful opening weekend

Early numbers show that Don't Worry Darling, the Olivia Wilde-directed movie at the center of weeks of Hollywood gossip, is poised for a successful opening weekend topping the box office. Projections show a $21 million debut, a "more-than-solid figure" for an original film with a modest budget. Though the film has so far garnered mixed-to-bad reviews, the swirling off-screen drama, the performance of Oscar nominee Florence Pugh, and "the presence of Harry Styles in his first lead role" seems to have sparked enough interest to officially deem the movie a "hit," writes Variety.

10

Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers to face off in Tampa

Legendary quarterbacks Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers will meet on Sunday in the NFL's week 3 slate, with the Green Bay Packers traveling to face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game could be their final matchup, though the pair has competed as starters just four times. The Buccaneers are one of seven teams to start the season undefeated, while the Packers lost to the Minnesota Vikings in week one. The game begins at 4:25 ET.

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