Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: July 18, 2022

Ukraine's president fires top prosecutor and intelligence chief, Texas House report slams police response to Uvalde school shooting, and more

1

Zelensky fires Ukraine top prosecutor and spy chief

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed Sunday that he had fired the country's top prosecutor and the head of its domestic intelligence agency, in the biggest shakeup of his government since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Zelensky's government announced the dismissals of the prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, and Ivan Bakanov, the leader of the Security Service of Ukraine, in brief decrees. Zelensky said suspected cooperation with Russia by some of Venediktova's and Bakanov's employees raised "very serious questions" about their leadership. The government has opened 651 cases of high treason against law enforcement personnel, Zelensky said. More than 60 employees of the prosecutor's office and security service are believed to be working against the state in occupied territories.

2

Texas House slams 'systemic failures' in Uvalde response

The Texas House on Sunday released the most exhaustive report yet on the May 24 mass shooting in Uvalde, finding that "systemic failures and egregious poor decision making" contributed to a tragedy that left 19 students and two teachers dead at Robb Elementary School. The report spread the blame for the widely criticized response among every law enforcement agency involved. Nearly 400 local, state, and federal law enforcement officers went to the school during the attack, but nobody took charge, the investigative report said. The school district police chief, Pedro "Pete" Arredondo, assigned himself the role of incident commander but didn't follow the protocol in the active shooter response plan that he had written himself, the report found.

3

Ukraine resists Russian push in Donetsk

Ukrainian forces resisted Russia's renewed push to take control of Donetsk over the weekend. Russia's military attacked settlements on the highway leading from the Luhansk region to the industrial cities of Donetsk, but met stiff resistance, were "firmly repulsed, suffered losses, and withdrew," the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said Sunday. Russian forces have intensified bombardments of towns and cities in Donetsk since capturing Lysychansk, the last city in the neighboring Luhansk region that Ukraine controlled. Moscow, which gave up on capturing the capital city, Kyiv, early in its invasion of Ukraine, has said the goal of its "special military operation" now is to seize Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, where pro-Russia separatists already had a foothold. Ukraine still holds about 45 percent of Donetsk.

4

Bannon's criminal contempt trial set to start 

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday in what is expected to be a brief criminal contempt trial for Stephen Bannon, former President Donald Trump's one-time strategist. Bannon is charged with refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. The committee referred the case to the Justice Department last year when Bannon defied the subpoena for his records and testimony, and the DOJ charged him with two counts of criminal contempt of Congress in November. U.S. District Judge Carl Nichols, the Trump appointee overseeing Bannon's trial in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., last week rejected most of Bannon's proposed defense strategies, and Bannon has notified the committee he is now willing to testify.

5

U.K. braces for record high temperatures

Britain braced for temperatures of about 105 degrees Fahrenheit on Monday and Tuesday as a heat wave that has hit much of Europe pushes into the country. British authorities issued their first-ever red warning for "extreme" heat ahead of what could be record high temperatures in a country accustomed to moderate summers, with typical July highs in the 70s. People in London have been urged to avoid traveling by subway on Monday and Tuesday, and authorities urged people to take precautions against heat-related illness. The heat wave already has fueled wildfires in Portugal, Spain, and France. Temperatures were forecast to reach 111 degrees in Portugal. Sevilla, Spain, recorded nine consecutive days with highs of 105 degrees.

6

Jan. 6 committee expects Secret Service to provide text messages

Two members of the House Jan. 6 committee said Sunday they expect the Secret Service to provide by Tuesday text messages the panel subpoenaed last week. The Secret Service has said texts from Jan. 5 and Jan. 6, 2021, were inadvertently erased during a changeover of devices, but the committee investigating the attack on the Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump has called for recovering the data and handing it over. Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said they believed the committee would get the information promptly. "You can imagine how shocked we were to get the letter from the inspector general saying that he had been trying to get this information and that they had, in fact, been deleted after he'd asked for them," Lofgren told ABC News.

7

AP survey finds drop boxes caused no election problems 

Expanded use of drop boxes for mailed ballots didn't cause any widespread problems during the 2020 election in states controlled by either party, according to an Associated Press survey of state election officials. The survey, released Sunday, found no cases of fraud, vandalism, or theft that could have affected election results. The findings contradicted unfounded allegations of fraud that Republicans have used in some states to eliminate or roll back the use of drop boxes. The conservative majority on Wisconsin's Supreme Court, for example, ruled this month that drop boxes can no longer be widely used because they are not allowed under state law.

8

Pakistan's ruling party suffers setback after raising gas prices

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday demanded early parliamentary elections after his party swept Sunday's by-elections and won control of Punjab, the country's most populous province. "The only way forward from here is to hold fair & free elections," tweeted Khan, whose party was ousted from power in April. "Any other path will only lead to greater political uncertainty & further economic chaos." The party of the current prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, conceded that it lost more of the 20 by-elections for the provincial parliament. The setback came after Sharif raised taxes and lifted a gasoline subsidy, nearly doubling pump prices, to meet the terms of an International Monetary Fund bailout and avert a potential economic collapse.

9

3 people killed in Indiana mall shooting

A man with a "long gun" and several magazines of ammunition opened fire at the food court of Greenwood Park Mall in Greenwood, Indiana, on Sunday evening, killing three people and wounding two others before a bystander with a handgun fatally shot him, said Jim Ison, police chief in the city of 60,000 just south of Indianapolis. The two wounded people, including a 12-year-old girl, were hospitalized and in stable condition. "The real hero of the day is the citizen that was lawfully carrying a firearm in that food court and was able to stop the shooter almost as soon as he began," Ison said. He identified the "Good Samaritan" as a 22-year-old man from nearby Bartholomew County.

10

Cameron Smith wins the British Open

Cameron Smith of Australia made eight birdies on Sunday to beat out Cameron Young of the U.S. and Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland and win the British Open. Smith, 28, is the first Australian to win the major golf tournament since Greg Norman in 1993. McIlroy finished third after losing a shot to win, shooting 70 on Sunday to Smith's 64, which left him a stroke ahead of Young and two ahead of McIlroy. "The putter just went a little cold today compared to the last three days," McIlroy said. Smith's 20-under-par total score set a record for a British Open at St. Andrews, beating the 19-under Tiger Woods shot when he won the Open in 2000.

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