Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 7, 2022

Biden pardons thousands convicted of simple marijuana possession, a Proud Boys leader pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy, and more

1

Biden pardons thousands convicted of simple marijuana possession

President Biden said Thursday he will pardon everyone convicted of "simple" marijuana possession under federal law as a first step toward broader marijuana reforms. The move will affect about 6,500 people convicted on federal marijuana charges from 1992 to 2021, and thousands of others convicted in the District of Columbia. Biden urged governors to follow up by clearing the records of people convicted on state charges, and he instructed the attorney general and U.S. health secretary to review lowering marijuana from a Schedule I drug, on par with heroin, to a less illicit classification. "Too many lives have been upended because of our failed approach to marijuana," Biden said. "It's time that we right these wrongs."

2

1st Proud Boys leader pleads guilty to seditious conspiracy

A former Proud Boys leader, Jeremy Bertino of North Carolina, pleaded guilty Thursday to plotting with other members of the far-right group to prevent the peaceful transfer of power to President Biden after his 2020 election victory over then-President Donald Trump. Bertino, 43, is the first Proud Boys leader to plead guilty to seditious conspiracy in connection with the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump's supporters. Bertino has agreed to cooperate with the investigation into the extremist group's role in the riot. Judge Timothy Kelly released Bertino pending a sentencing hearing. A seditious conspiracy trial started this week for several leaders of the Oath Keepers group, similarly accused of fomenting the Jan. 6 attack.

3

Biden says Russian threats make 'Armageddon' risk highest since Cuban Missile Crisis

President Biden on Thursday warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin could spark "Armageddon" if he follows through with threats to use tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine. "First time since the Cuban Missile Crisis, we have a direct threat of the use (of a) nuclear weapon," Biden said at a Democratic fundraiser in New York, suggesting Putin might do it "because his military is — you might say — significantly underperforming." Russia just illegally annexed territory in four regions of Ukraine its forces and pro-Russia separatists have occupied, and Putin warned that the Kremlin would use everything in its arsenal to protect the newly claimed land. A Ukrainian counteroffensive is driving Russian forces out of some of the territory.

4

Judge blocks New York's new gun law

A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked parts of New York's new gun law, which establishes gun-free zones, including in Times Square, where having a gun is a crime, licensed or not. It also imposes new rules on getting a gun license. The Democratic-controlled state legislature passed the law in July after the Supreme Court sided with the National Rifle Association and found the state's previous gun-licensing system unconstitutional. U.S. District Court Judge Glenn Suddaby said the new law "further reduced a first-class constitutional right to bear arms in public for self-defense" into a mere "request." His order would prevent the state from enforcing the law pending a challenge by the Gun Owners of America.

5

Report: Federal agents think they have evidence to charge Hunter Biden for tax crimes

Federal agents investigating Hunter Biden believe they have enough evidence to charge President Biden's son with tax crimes and making a false statement related to a gun purchase, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing people familiar with the case. U.S. Attorney David Weiss, a Trump appointee, will decide whether to file charges. The investigation began in 2018, initially focusing on Hunter Biden's overseas business ties and finance work, but investigators later looked into other matters, including whether Hunter Biden reported all his income. Hunter Biden's attorney noted that it's a federal felony for investigators to leak information. Former President Donald Trump's first impeachment was tied to his withholding of military aid to pressure Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate the Bidens.

6

DOJ indicates it believes Trump hasn't turned over all documents 

The Justice Department recently told former President Donald Trump's lawyers that investigators suspect Trump hasn't returned all classified documents he took when he left the White House, The New York Times reported Thursday, citing two people briefed on the matter. Jay Bratt, a top lawyer in the DOJ's national security division, and other officials have reached out to Trump's lawyers, signaling concerns that Trump hasn't cooperated fully with investigators examining materials seized at his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida in August. The Justice Department has identified about 300 classified documents it removed during the search or previously recovered from Mar-a-Lago. The federal government has been trying for 18 months to get Trump to return all material that belongs in the National Archives.

7

Judge postpones trial over Musk-Twitter deal after talks resume

A Delaware judge, Chancellor Kathaleen McCormick, on Thursday postponed the upcoming trial over Tesla CEO Elon Musk's deal to buy Twitter. Musk tried to back out of the $44 billion deal, and Twitter took him to court to compel him to go through with the purchase. Musk recently told the company he was willing to close the deal at the original price of $54.20 per share, with certain caveats. The two sides are still haggling over the terms, and McCormick gave Musk until Oct. 28 to wrap up negotiations. Musk had asked McCormick to call off the trial, but Twitter argued the case should continue because Musk might try to back out again.

8

2 killed, 6 injured in stabbing spree on Las Vegas Strip

A knife-wielding attacker killed two people and wounded six others Thursday in front of the Wynn Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, local police said. Three of the stabbing victims were hospitalized in critical condition. Police said the victims included tourists and locals. Officers immediately took a suspect into custody and recovered "a large kitchen knife," Las Vegas police Capt. Dori Koren said. The suspect, identified as Yoni Barrios, 32, was arrested at the Venetian. Witnesses told a local TV news reporter that some of the victims might have been showgirls who sometimes pose for photos with tourists along the Strip. A witness from Canada posted a photo online showing a showgirl being rushed to an ambulance on a stretcher.

9

U.S. to reroute and screen Uganda travelers for Ebola

The United States will start diverting travelers from Uganda to five U.S. airports so they can be screened for the Ebola virus, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing a senior administration official. Uganda has confirmed 44 cases and 10 deaths from the Sudan strain of Ebola since an outbreak started in September. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will conduct temperature checks and assess infection risk of anyone who visited Uganda within 21 days, Ebola's incubation time. State and local public health officials will follow up for 21 days. Ebola is a rare hemorrhagic illness that results in numerous symptoms, including fever, muscle and joint pain, and gastrointestinal symptoms. The airports included are New York's JFK, Washington-Dulles, Newark, Chicago-O'Hare, and Atlanta.

10

Human rights advocates from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus win Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize for 2022 was awarded Friday to human rights campaigners from Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised the winners — the Russian group Memorial and Ukraine's Center for Civil Liberties, along with Belarusian human rights advocate Ales Bialiatski — for "an outstanding effort to document war crimes, human right abuses and the abuse of power" in their countries. "They have for many years promoted the right to criticize power and protect the fundamental rights of citizens," the committee said. The award came seven months after Russia invaded Ukraine, with Belarus' support. The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded Thursday to French author Annie Ernaux for her deeply personal books that speak candidly about incidents from her own life, highlighting class and gender.

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