Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 25, 2022

Rishi Sunak becomes Britain's third prime minister in seven weeks, St. Louis school shooter kills a teacher and a 16-year-old student, and more

1

Rishi Sunak to be U.K.'s new prime minister

Former U.K. finance minister Rishi Sunak won the Conservative Party's leadership contest on Monday and will become Britain's next prime minister Tuesday. Sunak, who is of Indian descent, will be the first person of color to lead a British government. He breezed to victory after his last remaining rival, Penny Mordaunt, dropped out. Sunak, 42, will be the United Kingdom's third prime minister in seven weeks. He will have to unite a party reeling from scandals that forced Boris Johnson to resign two months ago and the bungled tax plan that undid Liz Truss' government. The Labour Party, which leads the battered Tories by 30 percentage points in polls, is calling for a new general election as the country struggles through a cost-of-living crisis.

2

St. Louis school shooting leaves 3 dead, including suspect

A gunman opened fire at Central Visual & Performing Arts High School in south St. Louis on Monday, killing at least two people, a woman and a teen girl. Relatives identified the victims as health and physical education teacher Jean Kuczka, 61, and sophomore Alexandria Bell, 16. About seven other people were injured. The suspect, identified as 19-year-old Orlando Harris, died after an exchange of gunfire with police. Harris graduated from the school last year. Math teacher David Williams told reporters that the principal said a code phrase indicating an active shooter just before gunfire erupted. Several parents commended the police response. The attack was reported at 9:11 a.m. and the suspect was shot 14 minutes later.

3

Clarence Thomas grants Lindsey Graham's request to block subpoena

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday temporarily froze a lower court order for Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to testify in an Atlanta-area grand jury's criminal investigation of efforts by then-President Donald Trump and his allies to reverse Trump's 2020 loss in Georgia. Thomas, who handles emergency requests from a region including Georgia, put the case on hold while Graham fights the order. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis wants to question Graham about phone calls he made to a top Georgia election official following the 2020 election. Graham has argued he should be immune from testifying because his calls and meetings with Georgia officials were part of his duties as a lawmaker. The district judge and a federal appellate court disagreed.

4

Ukraine says it is shooting down most of Russia's 'kamikaze' drones

Ukraine said Monday its forces are having increasing success shooting down Iranian-made "kamikaze" drones that Russia has used to attack cities, including Kyiv, far from the front lines. The head of Ukraine's intelligence service, Kyrylo Budanov, told Ukrainian Pravda newspaper that Ukrainian forces had shot down more than two-thirds of the 330 Shahed drones Russian forces had launched since Saturday. "Terror with the use of 'Shaheds' can actually last for a long time," he said. "Air defense is basically coping, 70 percent are shot down." Russia and Iran officially deny that Russian troops have used any of the Iranian-built drones in Ukraine, but parts identified as wreckage from the triangle shaped Shahed-136s have been found in Kyiv and other cities.

5

Teen pleads guilty to deadly Michigan school shooting

Sixteen-year-old Ethan Crumbley admitted Monday that he shot fellow students at Oxford High School in Michigan last November, killing four classmates and wounding seven. Crumbley's lawyers entered the guilty plea for 24 charges, including terrorism and murder. Crumbley, though a juvenile, will be sentenced as an adult, and could get life in prison. Crumbley's attorney, Paulette Michel Loftin, said the defense originally planned to use an insanity defense but that Crumbley decided to plead guilty because he "wanted to accept accountability." Crumbley, who was a sophomore at the school, fired 15 to 20 shots with a semi-automatic handgun. The day before the shooting, a teacher said Crumbley's behavior was "concerning." School officials asked Crumbley's parents to take him home the day of the shooting, but they refused.

6

Ex-officers take different paths to avert trials for George Floyd's death

Two former Minneapolis police officers used different methods Monday to avoid trial over the killing of George Floyd, whose death in 2020 ignited Black Lives Matter protests. Former officer J. Alexander Kueng, who helped hold Floyd down as a white officer, Derek Chauvin, pressed his knee onto Floyd's neck, pleaded guilty Monday to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. The plea deal calls for him to serve 3 1/2 years in prison. Another former officer, Tou Thao, rejected a deal and chose to undergo an uncommon process where both sides agree to the evidence and a judge issues a verdict. A third ex-officer, Thomas Lane, pleaded guilty earlier this year. All three were convicted in February of violating Floyd's civil rights.

7

DOJ charges 13 alleged Chinese spies

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Monday announced charges against two Chinese intelligence officers accused of attempting to interfere with a U.S. investigation into a Chinese global telecommunications company. Garland also unveiled two other criminal cases, one in New Jersey and another in the Eastern District of New York, bringing to 13 the total number of defendants accused of trying to "unlawfully exert influence in the United States," officials said. The Justice Department didn't identify the company involved in the telecommunications case, but the complaint against defendants Guochun He and Zheng Wang includes details matching the New York prosecution of Chinese telecom equipment maker Huawei, which the U.S. has charged with stealing trade secrets.

8

DeSantis and Crist clash in Florida gubernatorial debate

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist, met Monday in their only scheduled debate as early voting started across the state. Crist said DeSantis' 2024 presidential ambitions are causing him to ignore the needs of Floridians. He pressed DeSantis to say whether he would run for president in 2024 or finish his term if elected, and DeSantis would not answer. Crist, who served as a Republican governor of Florida before going to Congress as a Democrat, said he is the moderate voice Florida needs. DeSantis touted his conservative credentials, saying he is "proud" of Florida's 15-week ban on abortion. He also repeatedly linked Crist to President Biden, who is unpopular in Florida according to polls.

9

Arizona sheriff increases security at ballot boxes after intimidation reports

Maricopa County, Arizona, Sheriff Paul Penzone said Monday he is increasing security around outdoor ballot drop boxes in the Phoenix metropolitan area after complaints of alleged intimidation ahead of the November midterms. On Friday, deputies were dispatched to Mesa, a Phoenix suburb, after reports of two masked people carrying guns and wearing bulletproof vests at one drop box. It was one of several cases involving people, allegedly motivated by lies about 2020 voter fraud, watching boxes and taking videos of voters depositing ballots. "Every day I'm dedicating a considerable amount of resources just to give people confidence that they can cast a vote safely, and that is absurd," Penzone said, adding that his office had referred two incidents to prosecutors.

10

Actor and comedian Leslie Jordan dies at 67 after car crash

Actor Leslie Jordan, who appeared in popular TV shows before becoming a viral sensation on Instagram during the pandemic, died Monday when he crashed into a building as he drove to work. He was 67. Jordan's "wry Southern drawl and versatility made him a comedy and drama standout," The Associated Press said. His television shows included American Horror Story, Call Me Kat, and Will & Grace, for which he earned a prime-time Emmy. Jordan became a social media star with short humorous videos in which he did everything from singing impersonations to exercising by twirling a baton. "The world is definitely a much darker place today without the love and light of Leslie Jordan," a Jordan representative said.

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