Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 5, 2022

Putin approves annexing Ukrainian regions despite battlefield losses, Trump asks Supreme Court to intervene in Mar-a-Lago document review, and more


Putin approves annexations as Ukraine reclaims more occupied areas

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday gave final approval to the annexation of four Ukrainian regions, even as an expanding counteroffensive by Ukraine forced Russian troops out of some of the claimed territory. Both houses of the Russian parliament this week ratified internationally null treaties claiming Ukraine's Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions as part of Russia, following so-called referendums that Ukraine and the West called a sham. After retaking eastern cities like Lyman over the weekend, Ukrainian forces pushed Russian forces out of towns in the southern Kherson region on Tuesday, but said entire communities had been destroyed. "We are liberating land, but without people on it," a Ukrainian private, Vitaly Zagoruyko, told The New York Times.


Trump asks Supreme Court to intervene in Mar-a-Lago document review

Former President Donald Trump's attorneys on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to intervene in the dispute over classified documents the FBI seized in an Aug. 8 search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. Trump's team isn't asking the high court to reverse an appeals court decision to let the Justice Department access 100 documents marked as classified as it investigates Trump's handling of government secrets. They argue, however, that the U.S.11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta was wrong to prevent the special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, from reviewing the presumptively classified material, saying Dearie's independent review is needed to determine whether the material is "in fact classified." The executive branch, not the judiciary, usually controls classification status.


Hurricane Ian death toll rises as Biden visits Florida

The U.S. death toll from Hurricane Ian rose to at least 109 on Tuesday as rescue crews went door to door in hard-hit communities in southwest Florida searching for survivors, according to CNN. At least 105 people died in Florida, including 55 in Lee County, CNN reports. President Biden will travel to Lee County on Wednesday to meet with victims in Fort Myers and tour damaged areas. Biden also plans to meet with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell, and state and local officials. Biden and DeSantis won't discuss their recent clash over DeSantis' aerial transfer of migrants from Texas to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. "Now is not the time," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said.


Republicans rally behind Herschel Walker as he denies paying for abortion 

Former President Donald Trump and other powerful Republicans rallied behind Georgia GOP Senate nominee Herschel Walker on Tuesday in the wake of a report that he paid for a girlfriend's abortion in 2009. Walker, a staunch supporter of an abortion ban with no exceptions, has called the report, published in The Daily Beast, a "flat-out lie." Trump said Walker's word is good enough for him. Walker said he plans to file a defamation lawsuit against The Daily Beast, which corroborated the former girlfriend's account with a contemporaneous witness account and financial records, including a check signed by Walker and sent in a "get well" card. The bombshell report came as Walker appears to be nearly even in polls against Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock.


Michigan judge dismisses charges against 7 people in Flint water scandal

Michigan Judge Elizabeth Kelly on Tuesday threw out felony charges against seven people over the Flint water scandal. Two of the defendants were former state health officials blamed for deaths from Legionnaires' disease. Kelly's decision came three months after the Michigan Supreme Court signaled that the charges probably wouldn't stick because the one-judge grand jury that issued the indictments lacked the authority to do so. The state attorney general's office asked Kelly to refer the cases to Flint District Court to be treated as typical criminal complaints, but she rejected the proposal. "Anything arising out of the invalid indictments are irreconcilably tainted from inception," Kelly said. "Simply put, there are no valid charges."


South Korean missile crashes in drill

A South Korean ballistic missile crashed inside a military airfield and blew up Wednesday during joint live-fire drills with the United States intended as a reprisal for North Korea's firing of a missile over Japan a day earlier. The loud explosion and subsequent fire sparked panic in nearby Gangneung, where some residents feared North Korea was attacking. South Korea's military waited hours to explain what happened, fueling local residents' confusion. Military officials later apologized and said the short-range Hyunmoo-2 missile's warhead did not explode. Kwon Seong-dong, a ruling People Power Party lawmaker representing the area, posted on Facebook that the response was "irresponsible," and called for an investigation into how a "weapons system operated by our (precious) taxpayer money ended up threatening our own people."


U.S. national debt hits $31 trillion

The U.S. national debt has risen above $31 trillion for the first time, the Treasury Department said in a report released Tuesday. The news came as the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates to fight the highest inflation in decades, increasing borrowing costs. The Fed cut rates to near zero during the coronavirus pandemic, but has raised them to more than 3 percent this year and expects them to reach 4.6 percent in 2023. The higher rates make the nation's debts more costly. "Too many people were complacent about our debt path in part because rates were so low," Michael Peterson, chief executive of the pro-debt-reduction Peter G. Peterson Foundation, told The New York Times.


Musk renews offer to buy Twitter in reversal

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk has renewed his $44 billion offer to buy Twitter, just weeks before the social media company is scheduled to try to force him in court not to abandon the deal. Musk sent a letter to Twitter offering to buy it at his original price, $54.20 per share, Bloomberg reported Tuesday. Twitter shares shot up 22 percent to close at $52 a share in New York after the news broke. Twitter confirmed it had received the letter and will go through with the deal. Musk, the CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, told Twitter in July he was backing out of the deal because it had failed to provide adequate data on how many of its accounts are fake. Twitter promptly filed a lawsuit seeking to force him to go through with the purchase.


Aaron Judge sets AL record with season's 62nd home run

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge made baseball history on Tuesday when he slammed in his 62nd home run of the season, an American League record. Judge blasted past the 1961 record of 61 set by fellow Yankee Roger Maris. Judge's 62nd shot came off Texas Rangers pitcher Jesus Tinoco in a road game. Judge had struggled since tying the legendary Babe Ruth's high mark of 60, hitting .200 with one double, one homer, and 13 strikeouts. Three former National League players have hit more home runs: Barry Bonds (73), Mark McGwire (70, 65), and Sammy Sosa (66, 64, 63). But many see their feats as tainted because they came in the so-called steroid era. Maris' son, Roger Maris Jr., called Judge the "clean home run king."


Country music icon Loretta Lynn dies at 90

Legendary country singer Loretta Lynn, the Kentucky coal miner's daughter known for her honest songs about life in Appalachia, died Tuesday at her home in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee. She was 90. Lynn's biggest hits were 1960s and '70s classics including "Coal Miner's Daughter," "You Ain't Woman Enough," "The Pill," and "Don't Come Home a Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)." Fans praised her songwriting for offering rare candor about the domestic life of working-class women. "In a music business that is often concerned with aspiration and fantasy, Loretta insisted on sharing her own brash and brave truth," Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, said in a statement. "I didn't write for the men; I wrote for us women," Lynn told The Associated Press in 2016. "And the men loved it, too."


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