Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: December 10, 2022

Zelensky says Russia has "destroyed" Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, Kyrsten Sinema leaves Democratic Party, and more

1

Russia has “destroyed” Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, Zelensky says

Invading Russian forces have "destroyed" the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday. "The occupiers actually destroyed Bakhmut, another Donbas city that the Russian army turned into burnt ruins," Zelensky said in a recorded video. The president's statement comes as Russia reportedly continues a barrage of missile and rocket attacks throughout multiple regions in Ukraine. While Ukrainian forces have been able to push back much of the front Russian lines, fighting remains heavy throughout the country's eastern provinces. This includes the areas of Donetsk and Luhansk, part of four provinces that Russian President Vladimir Putin has illegally annexed. 

2

Kyrsten Sinema leaves Democratic Party, registers as independent

Just days after the Democrats secured further control of the Senate with a key victory in Georgia, Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said Friday that she would be leaving the Democratic Party and registering as an independent. "I've registered as an Arizona independent. I know some people might be a little bit surprised by this, but actually, I think it makes a lot of sense," Sinema said during an interview. "I've never fit neatly into any party box. I've never really tried. I don't want to." While technically an independent, Sinema said she would continue to caucus with the Democrats, and control of the upper chamber of Congress is unlikely to shift significantly. 

3

Xi Jinping says China will buy oil and gas in yuan

Chinese President Xi Jinping told Gulf State leaders on Friday that China would ramp up an effort to purchase oil and gas products in Chinese currency in an effort to weaken the U.S. dollar. Speaking in Saudi Arabia, Xi pledged to the Gulf leaders that China would begin making more moves to purchase additional crude, while also confirming that he was seeking to make additional energy deals with producers throughout the region. Saudi Arabia and other oil-producing powerhouses have previously threatened to ditch the dollar and move toward another currency, a decision that would carry significant weight in the American market.  

4

Sports writer Grant Wahl dies during World Cup match

Grant Wahl, an American sports journalist who became known as one of the most prominent soccer writers in the country, passed away Friday while covering the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. He was 48. According to eyewitnesses and World Cup authorities, Wahl was covering the game between Argentina and the Netherlands when he collapsed. The World Cup organizers said that, while he received immediate medical treatment in the stadium for about a half hour, first responders were unable to revive him. A cause of death has not been released, though Wahl had complained on a podcast just days earlier that he had been feeling unwell. His death prompted tributes throughout the sporting world. 

5

Ex-Minneapolis cop sentenced to 3.5 years over George Floyd murder

Former Minneapolis police officer J. Alexander Kueng was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison on Friday for manslaughter in connection with the 2020 murder of George Floyd. Kueng, who is already serving a three-year federal sentence for violating Floyd's civil rights, did not address the court when given the chance, according to reports. He had previously pleaded guilty this past October to aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. In exchange for this guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop a charge of aiding and abetting second-degree murder. His plea avoided what would've been the third trial of a former police officer related to Floyd's death. 

6

Supporters of ex-Peruvian President Castillo continue to protest

Supporters of former Peruvian President Pedro Castillo continued to protest the ex-president's removal on Friday, with rioters chanting their support and taking to the streets in the capital city of Lima. The nation's transportation authority said disruptions to supply chains throughout the city could potentially be disrupted if the protesters were not dispersed. The incidents arose following the recent ousting of Castillo, who was impeached, arrested, and removed from office after attempting to dissolve the Peruvian Congress and rule by decree. Though Castillo's approval rating had fallen to just 25 percent by the time he was removed, the ex-president still had a number of supporters among the nation's poorest groups. 

7

Biden to support African Union joining G20 group

President Biden is set to announce his support for the African Union joining the G20 group, a White House official said Friday. The president will reportedly make the announcement next week during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. The move comes after a number of reported requests to join the G20 from prominent African leaders, including South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Senegalese President Macky Sall, the chair of the African Union. "We need more African voices in international conversations that concern the global economy, democracy and governance, climate change, health, and security," White House adviser Judd Devermont said. "It's past time Africa has permanent seats at the table in international organizations and initiatives."

8

Kari Lake files lawsuit in attempt to overturn lost Arizona election

Kari Lake, the Republican candidate who lost the Arizona gubernatorial race these past midterms, filed a lawsuit on Friday in an attempt to have the results of the race overthrown. Lake lost the election to Democratic Gov.-elect Katie Hobbs, but has refused to concede the race. A prominent election denier and supporter of former President Donald Trump, Lake's lawsuit names Hobbs and Maricopa County Recorder Stephen Richer as defendants. She claims that their alleged misconduct renders the results of the election null, with the lawsuit falsely asserting that Lake won the most votes in the state. The lawsuit comes as Arizona certified its election results last week.

9

Founder of Proud Boys’ Hawaii chapter sentenced over Jan. 6

Nicholas Ochs, the founder of the Hawaii chapter of the far-right, white nationalist group the Proud Boys, was sentenced Friday to four years in prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. According to the U.S. Attorney's Office, Ochs, 36, illegally breached the Capitol while throwing smoke bombs at police, in addition to filming himself smoking a cigarette inside the building. He pleaded guilty this past September to obstruction of an official proceeding. In addition to Ochs, another man, 32-year-old Nicholas DeCarlo, was also sentenced to four years behind bars for similar offenses. 

10

Hong Kong media mogul jailed for five years over fraud

Jimmy Lai, a pro-democracy tycoon and prominent media mogul in Hong Kong, was sentenced on Saturday to five years in jail on a slew of fraud charges, convicted of violating a leasing contract for a newspaper he used to run. Lai, 75, was found guilty of two counts of fraud after it was discovered he hid the operations of a private company at the headquarters of the Apple Daily newspaper. This was considered a breach of the headquarters' leasing terms. The time spent in prison will not be anything new for Lai, though, as Hong Kong's most prominent China critic and has already been jailed for the past 20 months on separate charges. 

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