Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 22, 2022

Putin claims victory in Mariupol but Ukrainian defenders fight on, 13 Larry Nassar victims file claims against the FBI, and more

1

Putin claims victory in Mariupol

Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory in the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol, even though Ukrainian defenders are fighting on from a massive steel plant with a network of tunnels. Russia is choking off food and ammunition supplies to the Ukrainian holdouts, rather than risk a bloody assault on the plant. Mariupol Mayor Vadym Boychenko rejected Putin's insistence the city had fallen. "The city was, is, and remains Ukrainian," he said. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also rejected Putin's claim, saying that Russia captured "most of Mariupol long ago" but Ukrainian troops refuse to surrender. Ukraine said satellite images appearing to show mass graves near Mariupol were evidence of Russian war crimes.

2

13 Larry Nassar victims file claims against the FBI

Thirteen of former USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's sexual assault victims have filed a lawsuit seeking $10 million each from the FBI, which their lawyers said bungled the investigation and allowed further abuse to occur. "These were allegations of a serial rapist who was known to the FBI as the Olympic U.S. doctor with unfettered access to young women," attorney Jamie White said Thursday. The Justice Department's inspector general has concluded that the FBI made key errors in 2015, and the lawsuit seeks to hold the government responsible for what occurred after July of that year. Nassar, who also served as a Michigan State University sports doctor, is serving decades in prison for assaulting medal-winning Olympic gymnasts and other female athletes.

3

Biden announces $800 million military aid package for Ukraine

President Biden on Thursday announced an additional $800 million military aid package to help Ukraine fight back against Russia's new major offensive in eastern Ukraine. The package includes "heavy artillery weapons, dozens of howitzers, and 144,000 rounds of ammunition to go with those howitzers," Biden said. He added that the military equipment was well-suited to Ukraine's needs in intensifying fighting in the flat, open Donbas region. "We're in a critical window," he added, vowing that the United States and its allies would provide Ukraine with the "equipment they need — their forces need — to defend their nation." Biden also said the U.S. would ban all Russian-affiliated ships from U.S. ports.

4

Florida House approves bill ending Disney self-governing status

The Florida House of Representatives on Thursday gave final approval to a bill ending Disney's special self-governing status at its Florida theme parks, sending the measure to Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for his signature. DeSantis and his fellow Republicans, who control both chambers in the state legislature, pushed through the measure after Disney, facing pressure from employees, vowed to push for the repeal of Florida's new parental rights in education law, which critics call the "Don't Say Gay" bill. The law bars public schools from teaching young children about sexual orientation or gender identity. Republicans pushed through the bill to dissolve the Reedy Creek Improvement Act, a unique Florida law that helped establish Walt Disney World in the state by giving the company the power of self-government.

5

Ex-Honduras president extradited on drug, weapons charges

Former Honduran president Juan Orlando Hernández was extradited to the United States on Thursday to face federal drug and weapons charges. He is accused of accepting millions of dollars to protect cocaine shipments. Hernández was president from 2014 until January. After his party lost the November presidential election, he became more vulnerable to U.S. calls to extradite him. His downfall came fast. Less than three years ago, then-President Donald Trump praised the conservative Honduran leader for "working with the United States very closely" to fight a wave of Central American migrants trying to get into the U.S. through Mexico. His brother was later prosecuted and convicted as a drug kingpin, and the case included references to then-president Hernández's alleged crimes.

6

Federal judge temporarily blocks Kentucky abortion restrictions

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked Kentucky's new abortion law, granting one of the state's two abortion providers' request for a temporary restraining order. Opponents of the law said it places so many new restrictions on providers that it essentially made Kentucky the first state to prohibit all abortion services. The lawsuit, which was filed by Planned Parenthood and EMW Women's Surgical Center, said the state's law was "an unconstitutional ban on abortion in Kentucky." Gov. Andy Beshear (D) had vetoed the legislation, but the Republican-controlled General Assembly overrode him. U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings said the law, in its current state, likely violated Supreme Court precedent recognizing a woman's right to an abortion up to the point of fetal viability, around 24 weeks into a pregnancy.

7

Supreme Court rules Puerto Rico residents can be denied some benefits

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 Thursday that Congress can exclude residents of Puerto Rico from some federal disability benefits people get in the 50 states. The case involved Supplemental Security Income available to people older than 65, blind, or disabled. The benefits are available to people in the 50 states but not to residents of Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories. "In devising tax and benefits programs, it is reasonable for Congress to take account of the general balance of benefits to and burdens on the residents of Puerto Rico," Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote for the majority. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, whose parents were born in Puerto Rico, dissented. "Equal treatment of citizens should not be left to the vagaries of the political process," she said.

8

Zelensky, Liz Cheney among JFK Profile in Courage recipients

The John F. Kennedy Library Foundation announced Thursday that it would, for the first time, honor five individuals with the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award this year, including Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. The others honored for defending democracy will be Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), Arizona House Speaker Russell "Rusty" Bowers (R), and Wandrea "Shaye" Moss, who works for the Fulton Country, Georgia, election department. The organization said Zelensky's leadership strengthened Ukrainians' resolve to fight Russia's invasion to defend "the fragile human right of self-determination." It praised Cheney, a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, for refusing "to take the politically expedient course that most of her party embraced."

9

Florida House approves governor's congressional map

The Florida House of Representatives on Thursday voted 68-38 to approve a new congressional map proposed by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) that eliminates two districts represented by Black Democrats, and gives Republicans advantages in as many as 20 of the state's 28 districts. The plan now goes to DeSantis, who is expected to sign it. The map could help Republicans pick up four U.S. House seats in the November mid-term elections. DeSantis has said the districts being eliminated were racially gerrymandered in violation of the Constitution. Several Black state House members staged a protest during the debate, saying the map was designed to reduce Black political power in the state. "I am occupying the Florida House chamber floors to ensure that Black people will not be forgotten about," state Rep. Angie Nixon (D) said during the protest.

10

Bill Murray movie suspends production after complaint

Searchlight Pictures has suspended production of the movie Being Mortal after a complaint accusing Bill Murray of "inappropriate behavior," Deadline reported Thursday. Deadline had reported the production halt a day earlier without specifying the nature of the complaint. Being Mortal is the feature directorial debut for Aziz Ansari, a comedian who was accused of sexual misconduct in 2018, although the new allegation reportedly has nothing to do with him. It was not immediately clear what Murray was accused of doing. "Late last week, we were made aware of a complaint, and we immediately looked into it," Searchlight reportedly told the cast and crew. "After reviewing the circumstances, it has been decided that production cannot continue at this time."

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