Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 18, 2022

Russian missile strikes knock out power in parts of Ukraine, Trump hotels reportedly charged the Secret Service high rates, and more

1

Russian airstrikes knock out power in parts of Ukraine

Russian missiles hit civilian infrastructure across Ukraine on Tuesday, damaging power and water facilities as the country tries to prepare for a difficult winter. The strikes cut power and water in Zhytomyr, a city of 263,000 people, according to the local mayor. Two explosions seriously damaged an energy facility in Dnipro, a city of nearly 1 million, a Ukrainian presidential aide said. Damage also was reported at power facilities in Kharkiv, a city near the Russian border that had 1.4 million people before Russia invaded in February. Blasts were reported in the capital, Kyiv, as well, a day after it was hit by "kamikaze" drones. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of trying to "terrorize and kill civilians."

2

Report: Trump hotels charge Secret Service high rates

Former President Donald Trump's resorts have charged the Secret Service up to five times the government rate for rooms used by agents protecting his family, The Washington Post reported Monday, citing documents released by the Secret Service after a public-records lawsuit. In one case, the Secret Service was charged $1,185 a night for rooms at the Trump International Hotel in D.C. In another, it was charged $21,800 for the rental of a cottage and rooms at Trump's Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club when it was closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The tally for agents' stays at Trump properties has reached at least $1.4 million. Critics called the rates "exorbitant." Eric Trump has said the family's hotels often provided agents lodging "at cost."

3

Russian bomber crashes, killing 13 in Russian residential area

A Russian military jet crashed into a residential area in the Russian port city of Yeysk on Monday, igniting a fire that consumed several floors of a nine-story apartment building and killed at least 13 people, including three children. Nineteen others were injured. The Su-34 bomber's engines caught fire during takeoff on a training flight. The two crew members safely bailed out before the plane slammed into the ground in the city, which is on the Sea of Azov across from the Ukrainian port of Mariupol. The Russian Defense Ministry said tons of fuel exploded on impact. Russia has used Su-34s, which are supersonic twin-engine bombers, extensively in Ukraine since Russia invaded in February.

4

Prosecutors ask for 6-month prison sentence for Stephen Bannon

Federal prosecutors on Monday called for a six-month prison sentence and $200,000 fine for Stephen Bannon, an ally of former President Donald Trump convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Bannon would be the first person sent to prison for contempt of Congress in a half-century. Prosecutors said Bannon's refusal to cooperate "exacerbated" the Jan. 6 attack on the rule of law, and he showed ongoing contempt by failing to comply with a pre-sentencing investigation. Bannon's lawyers said he should serve no jail time. Bannon appears to have had advance knowledge that Trump would try to stay in power despite his election loss. A judge will sentence Bannon on Friday.

5

Herschel Walker admits writing check but says it wasn't for abortion

Georgia Republican Senate nominee Herschel Walker confirmed in an NBC News interview aired Monday that he sent a $700 check to a former girlfriend who says the money was for an abortion. The woman says she had the abortion at Walker's urging, and years later got pregnant again and had Walker's child. Walker denied he provided the money for an abortion. "This is still a lie, because she's the mother of my child," Walker said. "I have no idea what that could be for." Walker has called for a hard abortion ban as he challenges Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock. Walker on Sunday failed to show up for the final debate in a race critical in deciding which party will control the Senate.

6

Embattled L.A. City Council members removed from committees

Acting Los Angeles City Council President Mitch O'Farrell on Monday removed council members Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo from their committee assignments as they face ongoing pressure to resign. Cedillo and de León have been under fire since the leak of an audio recording of a closed door meeting they attended in which then-Council President Nury Martinez made racist comments that led her resignation, first from her leadership role and later as a council member. Labor leader Ron Herrera, who hosted the meeting on redistricting issues, resigned last week as president of the L.A. County Federation of Labor. O'Farrell has vowed to return stability to City Hall but said Cedillo and de León had so far resisted pressure to step down.

7

House investigation: Trump officials pressured CDC on coronavirus policies

Appointees of then-President Donald Trump pressured officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to present a more optimistic outlook early in the coronavirus crisis, believing dire assessments reflected poorly on Trump, according to a report by a congressional committee investigating the pandemic response. Former CDC director Robert Redfield, former top deputy Anne Schuchat, and other health officials said Trump allies "bullied" staff, threatened their jobs, and lobbied to rewrite CDC publications to bring them more in line with Trump's views. The report described clashes over issues like a CDC-backed summer 2020 plan to require masks on public and commercial transportation. CDC officials said the policy could have helped curb infections ahead of a winter surge, but Trump officials blocked it.

8

Biden opens student loan forgiveness applications

President Biden on Monday announced that the application process is open for his federal student loan forgiveness plan, which could benefit as many as 43 million borrowers. "This is a game-changer for millions of Americans ... and it took an incredible amount of effort to get this website done in such a short time," Biden said at the White House. He was joined by Education Secretary Miguel Cardona. Biden unveiled the program in August, saying that individuals making less than $125,000 per year would be eligible to have up to $10,000 in debt canceled, and those receiving Pell Grants could get an additional $10,000 in loan forgiveness. Borrowers have until the end of the year to submit their applications at StudentAid.gov.

9

U.S., Mexico propose Haiti mission to U.N. Security Council

The U.S. and Mexico on Monday presented a resolution to the United Nations Security Council proposing deploying a multinational force in Haiti to help police confront gangs controlling much of the nation's capital. Armed groups have blocked roads and cut off access to the Caribbean nation's main fuel terminal, blocking the distribution of fuel, potable water, and food, and deepening a humanitarian crisis. U.S. envoy Linda Thomas-Greenfield called for "a limited, carefully scoped, non-U.N. mission led by a partner country." The U.S. and Mexico also proposed sanctions targeting gang leaders, including Jimmy Chérizier, a former police officer known as "Barbecue" who leads a gang alliance. China and Russia said Haitians might reject a foreign force due to the failures of past interventions.

10

Kanye West reaches deal to buy Parler social network

Parler said Monday that rapper Kanye West has agreed to buy the social network, which became popular with conservatives due to its promise to serve as a "free speech Twitter alternative." Parler's parent company Parlement Technologies declined to disclose the financial terms of the tentative deal with West, who now goes by Ye. "In a world where conservative opinions are considered to be controversial we have to make sure we have the right to freely express ourselves," West said in a Parlement press release. He did not immediately respond to requests for further comment. The agreement marked the latest in a series of celebrity moves into the social media market, including Tesla CEO Elon Musk's controversial agreement to buy Twitter.

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