Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 15, 2022

Biden announces tentative deal to prevent freight-rail strike, election-denier Donald Bolduc wins GOP Senate primary in New Hampshire, and more

1

Biden says railways, freight workers reach deal to avert strike

President Biden said Thursday that rail worker unions and freight railways have hammered out a tentative labor deal to avert a strike that had threatened to disrupt commuter and passenger train service and worsen supply-chain delays. Biden said the tentative agreement would "keep our critical rail system working and avoid disruption of our economy," with rail workers getting better pay, working conditions, and health-care-cost "peace of mind," while railways would win by being able "retain and recruit more workers." The agreement came after Amtrak said it was canceling long-distance passenger trains starting Thursday, ahead of a 12:01 a.m. Friday deadline for an agreement. Industry groups have halted some grain shipments.

2

Election denier Donald Bolduc wins New Hampshire GOP Senate primary

Political newcomer Donald Bolduc, a supporter of former President Donald Trump's debunked 2020 election conspiracy theories, narrowly won New Hampshire's Republican U.S. Senate nomination, NBC News projected Wednesday. He beat state Senate President Chuck Morse, the more moderate candidate and the favorite of the GOP establishment. Bolduc advances to the November general election to challenge incumbent Democratic Sen. Maggie Hassan, who easily won renomination on Tuesday. The race is one of a handful of close contests that could tip control of the Senate. With Election Day less than two months away, Hassan has more than $7 million in her campaign chest. Bolduc, a retired Army brigadier general, reported $84,000 at the end of August.

3

Zelensky visits town retaken from Russia in Ukrainian counteroffensive

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a rare trip outside the capital city of Kyiv on Wednesday to visit areas Ukraine's military has retaken from Russia in a counteroffensive that sent Russian forces into an embarrassing retreat. Zelensky watched as Ukraine's flag was raised over the burned-out municipal headquarters in the recaptured city of Izium, south of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine. The rout of Russian forces marked the biggest military defeat for Moscow since its army withdrew from the area around Kyiv months ago. Russian President Vladimir Putin is joining leaders of India, China, and Central Asian nations in Uzbekistan on Thursday for an eight-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting where he is scheduled to discuss Ukraine with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

4

Senators propose designating Russia as state terrorism sponsor

A bipartisan group of senators on Wednesday introduced legislation to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism. "The need for this measure is more pressing now than ever before," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), one of the bill's sponsors. He cited Russia's killing of civilians and other "brutal, cruel oppression" in Ukraine as justification for the designation, which Ukraine has pushed for. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), another sponsor, said passing the legislation would send a powerful message of support for Kyiv. It was not immediately clear what will happen next with the proposal. The Biden administration has said there are more effective ways to punish Russia for invading Ukraine.

5

Crowds wait hours to file past Queen Elizabeth's coffin

Crowds gathered in London on Wednesday to watch a horse-drawn carriage take the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, where Britain's longest-serving monarch will lie in state until her state funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday. King Charles III and his siblings marched behind the coffin, as did his sons. Well into the night, thousands of people, many having waited hours in line, filed solemnly past the late queen's coffin, which was in the middle of the 900-year-old landmark. Some of the mourners were in tears. "I had to be here," said Esther Ravenor, a Kenyan who lives in the U.K. "She is a true role model. She loved us all, all of us." Elizabeth died a week ago at age 96.

6

Northeastern University reopens after exploded package

Northeastern University in Boston reopened Wednesday as the investigation continues into a package sent to one of the school's academic buildings on Tuesday that exploded when opened, injuring a staff member. The 45-year-old employee, who suffered minor hand injuries, said the package depressurized with the force of an explosion when he opened it. Boston police and FBI bomb technicians said they found no traces of explosives. The package came with a note attached criticizing Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and ties between universities and virtual reality developers, CNN reported. Campus police warned students to avoid some areas Tuesday night. Some classes were canceled, but the campus was declared clear on Wednesday. Other colleges in the area, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also alerted students.

7

Sweden's prime minister resigns as right-wing bloc wins Parliament control 

A bloc of right-wing parties has won a narrow majority in Sweden's Parliament, seizing control from the Swedish Social Democratic party's ruling center-left coalition thanks to an unprecedented showing for the far-right nationalist Sweden Democrats party. With 99 percent of the ballots counted, the right-wing bloc had 176 of the Parliament's 349 seats, the Swedish Election Authority reported. Ulf Kristersson, head of the Moderates, is expected to lead the new government as prime minister. He said the vote gave his coalition a "mandate for change." The current prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, conceded on Wednesday and said she will step down Thursday.

8

Florida governor sends migrants to Martha's Vineyard

About 50 migrants from Venezuela and Colombia arrived unexpectedly at Martha's Vineyard Airport in Massachusetts on Wednesday in the latest effort by Republican-led states to send migrants to liberal "sanctuary" destinations to protest rising illegal immigration. The migrants started the day in Texas, which has bused immigrants to Washington, D.C., New York, and Chicago, but it was Florida's Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, who sent this group to the Massachusetts island community. Illinois put in a disaster proclamation Wednesday as it struggled to handle 500 migrants bused from Texas to Chicago. Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) said other states are "treating these vulnerable families as pawns" but Illinois is "treating them as people."

9

FBI seizes MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell's phone

FBI agents this week seized the cellphone of MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, a prominent ally of former President Donald Trump, Axios reported Wednesday. The move came after agents questioned Lindell about a Colorado county clerk who's being investigated for tampering with voting machines made by Dominion Voting Systems, the focus of debunked pro-Trump conspiracy theories about cheating in the 2020 election. The clerk, Tina Peters of Mesa County, has been indicted on state charges concerning an alleged plot to download electronic data from voting machines. Peters pleaded not guilty. The warrant used to take the phone described Lindell as one of several "co-conspirators," linking the case to the prominent mouthpiece for Trump's disinformation about the election.

10

Chicago jury finds R. Kelly guilty of sex abuse 

R. Kelly was convicted Wednesday on child pornography charges related to three videotapes showing the disgraced R&B singer sexually abusing a 37-year-old woman, identified as "Jane," when she was 14. The charges carry a minimum 10-year prison sentence. The federal jury found the 55-year-old Kelly guilty of child pornography and enticement, but not guilty of a fourth pornography count or conspiracy to obstruct justice. That latter charge involved an alleged conspiracy to retrieve incriminating tapes and pressure Jane to lie to investigators and refuse to testify in a 2008 trial that ended in Kelly's acquittal. In September 2021, Kelly was convicted of racketeering and sex trafficking charges in Brooklyn. He is serving a 30-year prison sentence.

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