Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 23, 2023

Biden plans to name Jeff Zients as next chief of staff, California dance-studio shooting suspect kills himself, and more


Biden to name Zients as chief of staff

President Biden plans to name Jeff Zients to replace his outgoing chief of staff, Ron Klain, who is expected to leave within weeks, The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing four people familiar with the pick. Zients steered Biden's pandemic response until April, then returned to the White House in the fall to help prepare for the November midterm elections. His duties have expanded in recent weeks in preparation for his promotion, the Post reported. Klain is expected to step down soon after Biden's State of the Union address, scheduled for Feb. 7. Klain will be the first leading member of Biden's inner circle to leave, but more departures could be coming as the White House prepares for Biden's likely 2024 re-election bid.


California dance-studio shooting suspect kills himself 

A SWAT team on Sunday surrounded and breached a white van in Torrance, California, believed linked to a gunman who killed 10 people and injured 10 others Saturday night at a ballroom dance studio. Police said officers found the suspect, identified as 72-year-old Huu Can Tran, in the van, dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He apparently killed himself when officers approached the vehicle. "The suspect responsible for this tragedy is no longer a threat," said L.A. County Sheriff Robert Luna. The shooting occurred on Lunar New Year's Eve. A second incident at another dance hall ended with no injuries. Authorities said it was not immediately clear whether the shooting spree was related to the festival.


Thousands attend abortion-rights marches on 50th anniversary of 'Roe v. Wade'

Thousands of people participated in women's marches demanding abortion rights around the United States on Sunday, the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court abortion-rights decision that the Supreme Court's conservative majority overturned last year. Organizers concentrated their efforts on the more than one dozen states that have increased abortion restrictions or banned it outright since the ruling. "We are going to where the fight is, and that is at the state level," the Women's March website says. The main march was held in Wisconsin, where looming state Supreme Court elections could determine the balance of power on the court, and the future of abortion rights in the state.


Republicans renew call for spending cuts before raising debt limit

Leading Republican lawmakers on Sunday renewed their vow to hold out on raising the federal debt limit until Democrats agree to negotiate deep spending cuts, despite the looming threat of a catastrophic debt default. "You can't just increase the debt limit and let President Biden keep spending like he's done," House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Sunday on Fox News.  The White House has said Biden won't negotiate over raising the debt ceiling, saying it's a necessary step to pay for spending Congress has approved. The Treasury Department said the government bumped up against the $31 trillion ceiling last week, but with "extraordinary" measures the government can avoid running short of money until June. 


China says more than 12,000 died of COVID last week

China said over the weekend that 12,658 people died of causes related to COVID-19 between Jan. 13 and Jan. 19 ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays. Beijing confirmed 59,938 COVID-linked deaths in hospitals in the country between Dec. 8 and Jan. 12, and one health official said about 80 percent of China's 1.4 billion people had been infected during the current outbreak. Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Lunar New Year travel, made possible by the lifting of "zero COVID" restrictions, could spark an increase in cases in some areas, but there was "very little chance" of widespread new infections after so many people were affected earlier. 


Poland to ask Germany's permission to send tanks to Ukraine

Poland's prime minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, said Monday that his country would ask Germany for permission to send German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Morawiecki said Poland was building a coalition to provide Ukraine with tanks it has requested to fight Russian forces that invaded last February. The comments came a day after Germany's foreign minister, Annalena Baerbock, said her country would not try to block Poland from sending some of the advanced tanks to Ukraine. Germany has been resisting Ukraine's appeal to Western allies for tanks. But Baerbock told France's LCI TV that nobody has formally requested German approval to provide the tanks, "but if we were asked we would not stand in the way." Germany knows "how important these tanks are," Baerbock told LCI.


Atlanta police charge 6 over violent protests against 'Cop City' training facility

Atlanta police said Sunday they had filed domestic terrorism and other charges against six people arrested at a violent Saturday protest against a planned police training facility. One of the suspects was from Georgia. The others were from Tennessee, Washington, Maine, and Michigan. "It was peaceful, but there were some individuals within that crowd that meant violence," Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said on CBS's Face the Nation. "Most of them traveled into our city to wreak havoc." Dickens was among the members of the city council who approved the $90 million, 85-acre training center, known as "Cop City," in 2021. An activist was fatally shot in a confrontation with police trying to clear the site last week.


Family, fans gather for Lisa Marie Presley's funeral

More than 1,000 people gathered Sunday at Graceland in Memphis for the funeral of Lisa Marie Presley, singer-songwriter and the daughter of Elvis Presley. She died in California earlier this month. The mourners at the home where Lisa Marie Presley, 54, lived as a child with her father included her mother, Priscilla Presley, as well as singer Alanis Morissette, Axl Rose of the band Guns N' Roses, and Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, who performed during the ceremony. The New York Times said the event had "an overt echo" of the funeral of Elvis Presley, who died in 1977 at age 42, and whose body was carried down Presley Boulevard in a white Cadillac hearse as thousands of fans lined the streets.


Bengals, 49ers advance to conference championships in NFL playoffs

The Cincinnati Bengals and the San Francisco 49ers won their Sunday games to advance to the NFL conference championships. The Bengals, the defending AFC champions, extended their winning streak to 10 games by beating the Buffalo Bills 27-10, and will play on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs for the conference championship and a spot in the Super Bowl for the second straight year. Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 242 yards and two touchdowns. The 49ers advanced to the NFC championship game with a 19-12 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Rookie Brock Purdy throwing for 214 yards for the 49ers, who advance to play the Philadelphia Eagles on the road in the NFC championship game.


'Avatar: The Way of Water' surpasses $2 billion in global ticket sales

Avatar: The Way of Water, leading the domestic box office for the 6th straight week, crossed the $2 billion mark at the worldwide box office on Sunday, becoming the sixth film in history to reach the milestone. The figure, which isn't adjusted for inflation, marks a significant sign of success for director James Cameron, the only filmmaker to reach the $2 billion mark with three movies. The first Avatar is still the top-grossing film ever, with $2.9 billion in ticket sales since its release 13 years ago. Cameron's Titanic has brought in nearly $2.2 billion. Avengers: Endgame is the No. 2 top-grossing film of all time, at nearly $2.8 billion. 


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