Daily briefing

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

A Zelensky aide says Ukraine had "nothing to do with" Russia car bombing, Pakistan charges former prime minister under anti-terror law, and more

1

Zelensky aide says Ukraine wasn't behind Russia car bombing

An adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that Ukraine had "nothing to do with" the car bombing that killed Darya Dugina, a hawkish Russian commentator and the daughter of prominent Russian ultra-nationalist Alexander Dugin, as she was driving back to Moscow from a festival Saturday night. "We are not a criminal state like the Russian Federation, much less a terrorist one," the adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, said. Denis Pushilin, who heads the Russian-backed separatist Donetsk People's Republic in the Donbas, blamed the attack on the "terrorists of the Ukrainian regime." The Kremlin called the attack a "pre-planned murder for hire" that targeted Dugin, an advocate of escalating Russia's war in Ukraine. He took a different car at the last minute.

2

Former Pakistan prime minister charged under anti-terror laws

Pakistani authorities on Sunday charged former Prime Minister Imran Khan with violating anti-terrorism laws a day after he criticized police and a judge over the arrest of his chief of staff, who was charged with sedition earlier this month for urging soldiers to disobey orders. At a Saturday rally, Khan, who is out of power but still has a significant political base, vowed to "file a case" against police and "take action" against the magistrate over the aide's arrest. Police said in a charge report that Khan's threats "led to fear and terror among the police, judiciary, and the common people." Hundreds of Khan supporters gathered outside his Islamabad home to block any attempt to arrest him.

3

Appeals court suspends order for Graham to testify in Georgia election inquiry

A federal appeals court on Sunday temporarily blocked a lower court order for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to testify before a Georgia special grand jury investigating efforts by then-President Donald Trump and his allies to overturn Trump's 2020 election loss in the state. Graham had been expected to testify Tuesday. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis says she wants to ask him about his request for state officials to reexamine absentee ballots and his statements to state lawmakers about evidence of voter fraud, a claim election officials debunked. The appeals court sent the case back to the lower court to consider Graham's claim that he is shielded from having to testify as a member of Congress.

4

Schiff says unsealing Trump search affidavit would put investigation at risk

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), chair of the House Intelligence Committee, said Sunday that unsealing the affidavit used to justify searching former President Donald Trump's Florida home could put FBI agents and the government's case over any mishandled classified documents at risk. The Justice Department is fighting a demand from media outlets to make the document public. "This is not the time to be giving essentially the Trump lawyers a road map into how to intimidate witnesses or how to derail a legitimate investigation," Schiff said on CNN's State of the Union. A team of FBI agents recovered boxes they said contained top secret and highly classified documents during the Aug. 8 search.

5

Kansas recount confirms landslide rejection of anti-abortion measure

Kansas finished a recount Sunday reaffirming the landslide vote to uphold abortion rights in the state. Voters rejected the ballot measure seeking to strip abortion rights from the state constitution 59 percent to 41 percent, a margin of 165,000 votes. The partial recount, held in nine counties, changed the result by fewer than 60 votes. The effort never had any chance of changing the outcome. Melissa Leavitt, who has testified to the Kansas Legislature about 2020 election conspiracy theories, requested a statewide recount, which would have cost $230,000, but had to settle for the partial recount after coming up with $120,000 with the help of longtime Wichita anti-abortion activist Mark Gietzen.

6

Singapore to decriminalize sex between men

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Sunday that the Southeast Asia city-state would decriminalize sex between men but continue to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. "I believe this is the right thing to do, and something that most Singaporeans will now accept," Lee said in his annual national day rally speech. LGBTQ groups praised the decision on repealing the British colonial–era law that made sex between men a crime, but expressed fear that continuing to bar same-sex marriage would nurture ongoing discrimination. Under Singapore's Section 377A, those convicted of sex between consenting adult males can be imprisoned for up to two years, although the law has not been actively enforced.

7

Education secretary says decision coming soon on student loan debt

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said Sunday that the Biden administration would announce whether it will extend a pause on federal student loan debt within days. The current moratorium expires Aug. 31. "We've been talking daily about this, and I can tell you the American people will hear within the next week or so," Cardona said on NBC's Meet the Press. Democratic lawmakers have pressured the administration to cancel up to $50,000 in debt per borrower, while President Biden has called for forgiving as much as $10,000. The administration has approved $32 billion in relief for more than 1.6 million borrowers. About 45 million Americans have student loan debt totaling an estimated $1.7 trillion.

8

Jill Biden tests negative for COVID, freeing her to leave isolation

First lady Dr. Jill Biden tested negative for the coronavirus on Sunday and will leave isolation. Biden went into isolation at a private residence on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, after testing positive for COVID-19 during a family vacation. She stayed there until her negative test, when she returned to Delaware to join President Biden. Dr. Biden was fully vaccinated and had received two booster shots before her infection. She experienced only mild symptoms and has been treated with the antiviral pill Paxlovid, her office said.

9

Ford to appeal $1.7 billion judgment in pickup crash

A Georgia jury has called for Ford Motor Co. to pay $1.7 billion in a civil wrongful-death case over a pickup truck crash that killed a Georgia couple, James Butler Jr., a lawyer for the children of the couple, said Sunday. Butler said Melvin and Voncile Hill were killed in the April 2014 rollover crash because their 2002 F-250 had a defective roof. "The damn thing is useless in a wreck," Butler said Sunday. "You might as well drive a convertible." Ford said it will appeal the verdict. "While our sympathies go out to the Hill family, we do not believe the verdict is supported by the evidence, and we plan to appeal," the automaker said in a statement to The Associated Press on Sunday.

10

School backtracks after 8th grader gets uniform infraction over hijab

A Massachusetts charter school where a teacher gave an 8th grader a uniform infraction for wearing a hijab says it understands its handling of the case "came across as insensitive," The Associated Press reported Sunday. The Mystic Valley Regional Charter School said in a statement that it permits students to wear religious attire to express "sincerely held beliefs," but requires a letter of confirmation from a clergy member. The student is now wearing a hijab, a Muslim headscarf, to school. Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, executive director of the Massachusetts chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the student should not "have to justify what she is wearing." In 2017, the school faced criticism for a policy of banning hair braid extensions.

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