Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 28, 2022

Musk closes his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter, Putin says Russia doesn't plan to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, and more

1

Musk closes $44 billion deal to buy Twitter

Elon Musk, Tesla's CEO and the world's richest person, closed his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter on Thursday, ending months of drama and legal fighting after Musk tried to back out. Musk reportedly fired the social media company's chief executive, chief finance officer, and at least two other top executives as he began following through on his plan to impose sweeping changes on the social media company. Musk, who calls himself a "free speech absolutist," has said he would loosen Twitter's restrictions against toxic and misleading content. He has also said he will probably "reverse the permanent ban" of former President Donald Trump, whose Twitter account was shut down after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack.

2

Putin says Russia has no plan to use nuclear weapon in Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Thursday blamed the West for his war in Ukraine and insisted that Russia has no plans to use nuclear weapons there. "We see no need for that," Putin said at an international foreign policy conference. "There is no point in that, neither political, nor military." Putin previously said Russia would use any means necessary to protect parts of Ukraine it has occupied, including four regions where Russian forces have had to withdraw after Moscow illegally "annexed" the areas. Putin repeated the Kremlin's claim, without evidence to back it up, that Kyiv is preparing to explode a radioactive "dirty bomb" inside Ukraine and blame it on Russia. Ukraine called the allegation "transparently false."

3

Jan. 6 rioter who dragged D.C. cop Fanone into crowd handed 7.5 years in prison

Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Thursday sentenced a Tennessee man, Albuquerque Head, to 7 1/2 years in federal prison for the brutal attack against D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone during the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of then-President Donald Trump's supporters. Head, a recovering drug addict, told Fanone he was trying to help him, then dragged him into the crowd by the neck, shouting, "Hey! I got one!" The mob kicked and beat Fanone, and someone repeatedly shocked him with his own Taser. Fanone suffered a heart attack and traumatic brain injury, and later left the department. Head's sentence was the second-longest yet for a Jan. 6 defendant, and the longest among rioters who pleaded guilty.

4

U.S. economy grows after 2-quarter slump

The U.S. economy grew at an annual pace of 2.6 percent in the third quarter, returning to growth after two quarters of contraction, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Economists said international trade, which varies widely from one quarter to the next, probably contributed heavily to the uptick, so the report did little to ease concerns about a possible recession as consumer spending slows and the recently booming housing market weakens amid Federal Reserve interest rate hikes. "Ignore the headline number — growth rates are slowing," said Michael Gapen, chief U.S. economist for Bank of America. "It wouldn't take much further slowing from here to tip the economy into a recession."

5

Cook Political Report says GOP gains make Arizona Senate race a toss-up

The Cook Political Report on Thursday moved the Arizona Senate race from "lean Democrat" to toss-up after a progressive poll showed incumbent Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly and his Republican challenger, Blake Masters, tied with 47 percent support each. Jessica Taylor, Cook's Senate and governors editor, said tightening polls in Arizona have left Democrats worried about one of their strongest incumbents. Many national Republicans had started writing off Masters' chances because of his "lackluster campaign and candidate baggage," Taylor said, but the "overall environment" has boosted Republicans in several key states. Cook still sees Kelly as having an advantage, in part because Democrats are outspending Republicans in the state by a 2-to-1 margin.

6

GOP chair mocks Fetterman, Biden

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel on Thursday mocked Democratic Pennsylvania Senate nominee John Fetterman, who is recovering from a stroke, after he struggled over some of his words in his debate against his Republican rival, celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz. McDaniel noted to conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt that President Biden, who grew up with a stutter, would campaign with Fetterman, and said, "Well, maybe they can get a full sentence out." Fetterman told MSNBC's Joy Reid that his doctors have said he's fit to serve, and shifted attention to Oz, who has faced allegations that he promoted products with dubious health claims on his former TV program. "By January, I will be much, much better, but Oz will still be a fraud," he said.

7

Iran's leader vows retaliation for deadly attack at shrine

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Thursday said those responsible for an attack that killed 15 Shiite pilgrims at a shrine "will surely be punished." "We all have a duty to deal with the enemy and its traitorous or ignorant agents," he said in a statement read on state television. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the massacre a day earlier in the city of Shiraze. The attack came as nationwide demonstrations continue over the death in police custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish woman arrested by Tehran's morality police on charges that she was wearing her required headscarf improperly. Protesters have called for Khamenei's death, in the biggest challenge to clerical rule since Iran's 1979 revolution.

8

South Korea condemns North Korea's latest missile test as 'serious' provocation

North Korea on Friday continued its series of weapons tests that have fueled regional tensions, firing two short-range ballistic missile into the sea off the Korean Peninsula's east coast, South Korean military officials said. The missiles flew about 143 miles at an altitude of 15 miles, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. South Korea condemned the test as a "serious act of provocation" and a "clear violation" of United Nations Security Council resolutions against North Korean ballistic missile launches. U.S. military officials said the latest test "does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies," but warned North Korea that any use of nuclear weapons "will result in the end of that regime."

9

Police: FBI background check flagged St. Louis school shooter

The 19-year-old gunman police say killed two people at a St. Louis school was blocked from buying an AR-15-style rifle from a licensed dealer due to an FBI background check, but managed to get the weapon used in the shooting from a private seller, police said Thursday. Police did not immediately say why the gunman, Orlando Harris, was flagged by the FBI check. Missouri doesn't have a red-flag law to keep guns away from people deemed a danger to themselves or others. Police said Wednesday that Harris' mother called police on Oct. 15 after finding the gun and asked for it to be removed from the house. Someone known to the family took possession of the rifle.

10

Appeals court clears release of Trump tax returns to House committee

A three-judge federal appeals court panel on Thursday declined former President Donald Trump's request to place a hold on its decision to allow the handover of his IRS tax returns to the House Ways and Means Committee. The decision came after the full D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Trump's request to review the panel's August decision to release the returns. Unless the Supreme Court steps in, the House committee could get Trump's tax documents in one week. The case is one of several lawsuits seeking Trump's financial records. Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.), the Ways and Means Committee's chair, said lawmakers have "waited long enough – we must begin our oversight of the IRS's mandatory presidential audit program as soon as possible."

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