10 things you need to know today: February 1, 2023

Nikki Haley reportedly will become Trump's first rival for GOP nomination, George Santos says he will recuse himself from House committees, and more

Nikki Haley in an interview
(Image credit: Theo Wargo/Getty Images)

1. Nikki Haley to become Trump's 1st rival for GOP nomination

Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) will formally announce she is running for president at a Feb. 15 event in Charleston, The Post and Courier reported Tuesday night, citing a member of Haley's inner circle. An email inviting supporters will go out on Wednesday, according to The Associated Press. Haley will be the first formal GOP rival against former President Donald Trump, who has already launched his campaign. Haley, who served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under Trump until she stepped down in 2018, had forecast her intention to seek the Republican nomination for weeks. In 2021, she said she wouldn't run if Trump did, although she started hinting recently that she had changed her mind.

The Post and Courier The Associated Press

2. Santos to recuse himself from congressional committees

Rep. George Santos (R-N.Y.) announced Tuesday in a closed-door meeting with House Republicans that he would temporarily step down from his assigned committees pending the outcome of ethics issues and criminal investigations, Axios reported Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the matter. A Santos spokesperson confirmed to NBC News that Santos had decided to recuse himself from the committees. Santos reportedly told colleagues he would not take his seat on the House Small Business Committee or the Science, Space, and Technology Committee "to prevent from being a distraction," according to Axios. Santos, a freshman member of Congress, has admitted to making up parts of his resume, including his education and professional and personal background.

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Axios NBC News

3. Harris to attend Tyre Nichols' funeral

Vice President Kamala Harris will attend the Wednesday funeral of Tyre Nichols, the Black motorist who died three days after being beaten by Memphis police officers during a traffic stop on Jan. 7, the White House said Tuesday. The Reverend Al Sharpton will deliver a eulogy during the service at a Memphis church. Relatives of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, who were killed in 2020 by police in Louisville, Kentucky, and Minneapolis, Minnesota, also plan to attend. Five officers, all Black, have been fired over Nichols' death, and were charged with second-degree murder last week. Two other officers have been relieved of duty, and three paramedics have been fired. Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said prosecutors might file more charges.

Reuters The Commercial Appeal

4. Exxon Mobil reports record annual profit

Exxon Mobil on Tuesday reported a record $55.7 billion in annual profit in 2022. Among corporations that have reported fourth quarter results so far, only Apple and Microsoft have raked in more, according to The Wall Street Journal. Exxon and other oil companies got a boost from surging oil and gasoline prices last year, after Russia's invasion of Ukraine disrupted the market, and the reopening of businesses in China boosted demand. Exxon posted its first annual loss in four decades in 2020, losing more than $22 billion when the oil market plummeted early in the coronavirus pandemic. The White House said it was "outrageous" for Exxon to post such massive profits in 2022, after Americans had to "pay such high prices at the pump."

BBC News The Wall Street Journal

5. Florida's New College board fires president in shakeup by DeSantis allies

The board of trustees at the New College of Florida, a small liberal-arts college in Sarasota, voted Tuesday to fire President Patricia Okker in the latest push by Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) and his allies to overhaul higher education in the state and purge it of what DeSantis calls "woke ideology." The 13-member board, with six new trustees DeSantis appointed in January, named former Florida education commissioner Richard Corcoran as interim president. The board also installed one of the new DeSantis appointees, New College alumnus Debra Jenks, as its chair. DeSantis, considered a likely candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has made higher-education reform a priority. Before the board meeting, students rallied on campus, some holding signs reading, "Hands off Higher Ed."

Herald-Tribune The Wall Street Journal

6. Australian officials find missing radioactive capsule

Australian authorities have found a radioactive capsule, which measures 6mm in diameter and 8mm in length, that fell off a truck along an 870-mile stretch of highway in the Outback, Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson announced Wednesday. The capsule, part of a gauge used to measure the density of iron ore feed from Rio Tinto's Gudai-Darri mine, came loose and fell onto the road two weeks ago while being transported to a facility in the suburbs of Perth. "The search groups have quite literally found the needle in the haystack," Dawson said. The capsule emits radiation as strong as 10 X-rays per hour, and officials had warned people to stay more than 16 feet away if they spotted it.


7. Ice storm forces cancellation of hundreds of flights

An ice storm hit a large section of the United States on Tuesday, forcing airlines to cancel more than 1,700 flights. The winter weather also halted traffic on an interstate through Arkansas, resulting in numerous crashes. At least two people were killed in Texas as numerous automobile accidents were reported across the state. Two law officers were injured. The National Weather Service extended a winter storm warning for the Austin area through Thursday, warning "significant" ice was expected. Ice and downed trees knocked out power to thousands of utility customers. "The roadways are very hazardous right now. We cannot overemphasize that," Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said.

Austin American-Statesman The Associated Press

8. McDonald's gets sales boost from inflation-burdened diners

McDonald's on Tuesday reported that its sales increased in the fourth quarter of 2022, boosted by high menu prices and demand for what customers call "adult Happy Meals." McDonald's posted net income of $1.9 billion, up 16 percent from the same period a year earlier. Adjusted earnings per share came in at $2.59, beating the $2.45 forecast by analysts polled by FactSet. Along with higher menu prices and the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box (popularly known as the "adult Happy Meal"), the limited-time McRib promotion helped drive up profit, the fast-food chain said. McDonald's executives warned that inflation could hurt the company's bottom line in 2023, although it helped spur a traffic increase in 2022 as many diners passed on full-service restaurants and ate fast food instead.

The Wall Street Journal

9. Prosecutors file involuntary manslaughter charges against Alec Baldwin over 'Rust' shooting

New Mexico prosecutors on Tuesday filed involuntary manslaughter charges against actor Alec Baldwin and set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed over the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on the set of Western movie Rust in 2021. Gutierrez-Reed has said she checked to make sure only dummy rounds were in the prop revolver before giving it to an assistant director. Baldwin, both an actor and a producer of Rust, has said the assistant director handed it to him telling him it was a "cold gun," meaning it didn't have a live round. The gun fired the fatal shot as he brandished it while rehearsing a scene, killing Hutchins.


10. Report: Black taxpayers more likely to face IRS audits

Black taxpayers are three times as likely as other taxpayers to face Internal Revenue Service audits, The New York Times reported on Tuesday, citing a report by a team of economists. The findings didn't point to discrimination by individual IRS employees, who don't know the race of audited taxpayers. The study suggests that computer algorithms used to determine who should be audited appeared to be the cause. There was no evidence of any legitimate reason the returns of Black taxpayers should be reviewed more frequently. "Some of that discrimination appears to be rooted in decisions that IRS officials made over the past decade as they sought to maintain tax enforcement in the face of budget cuts, by relying on automated systems," the Times said.

The New York Times

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