Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 26, 2022

Russia targets rail and fuel facilities across Ukraine, Twitter accepts Elon Musk's $44 billion buyout offer, and more

1

Russia hits Ukraine rail and fuel facilities

Russia hit Ukrainian rail and fuel facilities with airstrikes on Monday, damaging key infrastructure across the country while focusing its ground war on eastern Ukraine. On Russia's side of the Ukraine border, two fires erupted at oil facilities, although it wasn't immediately clear what caused the blazes. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Monday after he and Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv that the U.S. hoped "to see Russia weakened" by the war so it couldn't threaten other countries. He later met with European military leaders in Germany, saying Russia "never imagined that the world would rally behind Ukraine so swiftly and surely." 

2

Twitter accepts Elon Musk's $44 billion takeover offer

Twitter announced Monday that it would accept Tesla CEO Elon Musk's $44 billion offer to buy the social media company and take it private. Musk launched his hostile takeover bid after scooping up about 9 percent of Twitter stock to become its biggest shareholder. He will pay Twitter investors $54.20 in cash for every share of their stock, a 38 percent premium over the price on the day he revealed his stake in the company. Twitter initially resisted but reexamined the offer after Musk announced he had lined up more than enough financing. He vowed to "unlock" the company's "tremendous potential" and reduce restrictions on free speech.

3

Judge holds Trump in civil contempt

A New York judge on Monday held former President Donald Trump in contempt of court for refusing to comply with a subpoena issued by state Attorney General Letitia James' office demanding documents for her investigation into Trump's business practices. The judge, Arthur Engoron, imposed a $10,000-per-day fine until Trump hands over the material. James, a Democrat, has said that there is "significant evidence" that the former Republican president and his company, the Trump Organization, got lower taxes and better loans by relying "on misleading asset valuations." Lawyers for Trump and his business said they had already produced documents in response to the subpoena, and accused James of conducting a "political crusade" against Trump.

4

Texas appeals court delays execution of Melissa Lucio

A Texas appeals court on Monday delayed the execution of Melissa Lucio to allow a lower court time to review new evidence she claims will exonerate her. Lucio, 53, had been scheduled for lethal injection on Wednesday. The execution stay was announced just minutes before the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles was scheduled to review her application for clemency.  "I am grateful the Court has given me the chance to live and prove my innocence," Lucio said in a statement. Lucio was convicted on charges that she fatally beat her 2-year-old daughter. Her lawyers say new evidence indicates the child died from a fall down stairs.

5

Greene texted Meadows about using martial law to keep Trump in power

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said in January 2021 text messages to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that lawmakers wanted then-President Donald Trump to impose martial law to avoid transferring power to President Biden. Meadows recently handed over the texts to the select House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters trying to prevent Congress from certifying Biden's victory. Greene has said she didn't recall advocating martial law, but CNN reported she wrote in a Jan. 17, 2021, message to Meadows that several members of Congress "are saying the only way to save our Republic is for Trump to call for Marshall [sic] law."

6

DeSantis signs Florida law creating election police

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday signed voting reform legislation that creates an election police force that will give his administration greater power to investigate alleged election crimes. The law makes the Sunshine State the first in the nation to establish a law enforcement unit focused on voter fraud, a crime that is extremely rare but has become a key issue for Republicans following President Biden's decisive victory over former President Donald Trump in the 2020 election. "I don't think there is any other place in the country where you should have more confidence that your vote counts," said DeSantis, who is up for re-election this year and is considered a possible candidate for the GOP presidential nomination in 2024.

7

Michigan police confirm name of officer who killed Patrick Lyoya

Grand Rapids, Michigan, Police Chief Eric Winstrom on Monday confirmed the name of the officer, Christopher Schurr, who fatally shot Patrick Lyoya, an unarmed Black man, during an April 4 traffic stop. Winstrom said he was confirming the officer's identity, which had already been publicly circulating, "in the interest of transparency, to reduce ongoing speculation, and to avoid any further confusion." Schurr is on administrative leave without police powers pending an investigation by Michigan State Police. Lyoya's family and civil rights groups have been calling for identifying the officer and charging him in connection Lyoya's death. "It took them three weeks to the day of the shooting to release his name," Lyoya family attorney Ven Johnson said.

8

Biden picks career diplomat as new Ukraine ambassador

President Biden will nominate career diplomat Bridget Brink to be his ambassador to Ukraine, the White House announced Monday. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Brink, who currently serves as ambassador to Slovakia, is "deeply experienced in the region" and "will be a very strong representative for the United States in Ukraine." Washington has been without a confirmed ambassador in Kyiv since 2019, when then-President Donald Trump abruptly removed Marie Yovanovitch from the job after she was criticized by Trump allies who believed she was undermining Trump's effort to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Joe Biden, Trump's rival in the 2020 election. Trump's effort to pressure Zelensky to investigate Biden triggered his first impeachment.

9

Judge blocks Biden plan to end Title 42

A federal judge in Louisiana, Trump appointee Robert Summerhays, on Monday temporarily blocked the Biden administration from ending the pandemic-era public health policy Title 42, which turned back migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border without giving them a chance to apply for asylum to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Attorneys general in three states — Missouri, Arizona, Louisiana — sued the Biden administration earlier this month to keep the measure in place, arguing that lifting it would spark a wave of migrants and create "an unprecedented crisis" at the southern border. More than a dozen mostly Republican-led states joined the lawsuit. Biden administration officials have noted Title 42 was a public-health measure, not an immigration policy.

10

World's oldest person dies in Japan at age 119

The world's oldest person, Kane Tanaka of Japan, has died, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare said Monday. She was 119. Tanaka was born on January 2, 1903, and died on April 19, the ministry said. Guinness World Records in 2019 helped confirm Tanaka as the oldest person alive, and it confirmed her death. "She became the oldest living person in January 2019 at the age of 116 years and 28 days," Guinness World Records said in a statement. "She is also the second oldest person ever recorded, behind only Jeanne Calment who lived to the age of 122." Tanaka married a rice shop owner at age 19, and worked in the family business until age 103. She twice survived cancer, and lived through the 1918 Spanish flu and the devastating first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, but had been "in and out" of hospitals recently.

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