Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2022

Biden says Trump, MAGA "extremism" threaten foundations of democracy, IAEA inspectors reach Ukraine nuclear plant despite "uncomfortably close" gunfire, and more


Biden says Trump, MAGA 'extremism' threaten democracy

President Biden warned Thursday night that former President Donald Trump and the "MAGA Republicans" who are his staunchest supporters "represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic." Biden, speaking in front of Philadelphia's Independence Hall, said "equality and democracy are under assault," citing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters seeking to prevent Congress from certifying Biden's electoral victory. The speech marked Biden's latest rhetorical escalation ahead of the Labor Day launch of the midterm election campaign season, with control of Congress up for grabs. The Republican National Committee responded by calling Biden "the divider-in-chief" and accusing him of "hostility toward half the country."


IAEA inspectors reach Ukraine nuclear plant 

A team of inspectors from the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency arrived to inspect Ukraine's Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on Thursday after a delay caused by shelling near the facility. IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said his team examined the facility despite gunfire that came "uncomfortably close," and found that its physical integrity had been compromised several times. Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for shelling near the nuclear plant, Europe's largest, stoking fears of a potential radiation disaster. Grossi and his team said they would return Friday to assess physical damage the plant has sustained since Russia seized the area early in its invasion of Ukraine.


Oath Keepers lawyer indicted on Jan. 6 charges

Authorities arrested Kellye SoRelle, the top lawyer for the far-right Oath Keepers militia, in Junction, Texas, on Thursday after a federal grand jury indicted her over the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack by a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters. SoRelle, who was with the group's leader outside the Capitol that day, was charged with conspiring to obstruct Congress' certification of the 2020 election results and tampering with evidence concerning the Justice Department's Jan. 6 grand jury investigation. Also on Thursday, retired New York Police Department officer Thomas Webster was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting a police officer with a flagpole on Jan. 6, the longest sentence yet over the riot.


CDC backs new COVID booster shots

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday recommended using two new COVID-19 vaccine boosters designed to fight both the original coronavirus strain and the Omicron subvariants accounting for most new cases. CDC Director Rochelle Walensky signed off on the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech booster vaccines after an outside panel of CDC advisers backed the shots. The decision clears the way for the Biden administration to roll out the boosters as soon as this weekend for a fall vaccination campaign to curb a possible winter surge. Walensky urged people to get a new booster to restore waning protection. The Pfizer shots are available to those 12 and older. The minimum age for Moderna's is 18.


Argentina's vice president survives assassination attempt when gun jams

A gunman pointed a loaded pistol close to the face of Argentina's vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, on Thursday, but she narrowly escaped assassination when the gun jammed, authorities in the South American nation said. Police arrested a 35-year-old Brazilian man. Video posted on social media showed the gun appearing out of the crowd in front of Fernández de Kirchner, who ducks and covers her ears as bodyguards grab the suspect. President Alberto Fernández said the gun had five bullets in it, but failed to fire when the gunman pulled the trigger. The crowd was gathered outside Fernández de Kirchner's Buenos Aires home in a show of support as she fights charges of scheming to divert public funds when she was president.


Lukoil leader dies after fall from Moscow hospital window

Ravil Maganov, chair of Russian oil giant Lukoil, died Thursday after falling from a sixth-floor window in a Moscow hospital. Russian state news agency TASS reported that a law enforcement source had called the death a suicide. Maganov, 67, was being treated in the hospital after a heart attack, and had been taking anti-depressants. But he is also the latest in a series of Russian business leaders to die under mysterious circumstances. Lukoil is Russia's second largest oil company. Its board called for a quick end to the war in Ukraine shortly after Russia invaded, and expressed sympathy to the victims of "this tragedy." Lukoil's billionaire president, Vagit Alekperov, resigned in April after Britain targeted him with sanctions over the invasion.


Family calls Ohio police shooting 'excessive deadly force'

The family of Donovan Lewis, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man in Ohio who was fatally shot in his bed by a police officer, said Thursday that the killing was an "utterly senseless" use of "excessive deadly force." Police body-camera video released Tuesday showed Columbus Police Officer Ricky Anderson, a 30-year veteran assigned to the department's K9 Unit, opening Lewis' door, flanked by several other officers. The police were there to arrest Lewis on outstanding warrants on charges including domestic violence and assault. Anderson fired a single shot as Lewis sat up. Police noted that the video showed Lewis holding something, though it turned out to be a vape pen. Anderson was placed on paid administrative leave in accordance with department policy.


9-year-olds' math and reading test scores dropped during pandemic

National test scores released Thursday showed that fourth-grade students' math and reading performance fell sharply during the coronavirus pandemic. The tests are administered to 9-year-olds as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the "Nation's Report Card." Performance for this age group is considered a key educational milestone. Students who performed in the 90th percentile dropped by 3 percentage points in math; those in the 10th percentile fell 12 points. Experts said the learning deficits could hurt economic output for years. "I don't think we can expect to see these 9-year-olds catch up by the time they leave high school," said Dr. Aaron Pallas, professor of Sociology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University.


Poland requests World War II reparations from Germany

Poland on Thursday announced a request for roughly $1.3 trillion in reparations from Germany for damage wrought during World War II and the Nazi invasion, The Associated Press reported. Poland's top politician Jaroslaw Kaczynski, unveiled the demand following the aptly timed release of a report investigating the toll on Poland from Nazi occupation. Sept. 1, 2022, marked 83 years since World War II began. "We will turn to Germany to open negotiations," which will surely be difficult but "one day will bring success," Kaczynski said. Germany, in turn, argued that it has already paid its debts to Eastern Bloc nations, and "the question of reparations is concluded," the German Foreign Ministry said Thursday.


Twitter tests long-requested edit feature

Twitter announced Thursday that it is internally testing an edit feature, and plans to expand it to Twitter Blue subscribers "in the coming weeks." The feature will let users edit their tweets "a few times in the 30 minutes following their publication," the social media company said. There will then be a timestamp added to the tweet showing when it was "last edited," and users can press that to see the tweet's entire edit history and what it originally looked like. Twitter users have for years requested an edit button so they can fix typos in tweets without having to delete and repost them, which causes them to lose the original tweet's likes and retweets.


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