10 things you need to know today: February 16, 2023

A judge sentences white supremacist to life in prison for racist Buffalo mass shooting, Mark Meadows is subpoenaed by Trump special counsel, and more

Buffalo, New York, supermarket where gunman killed 10 people
(Image credit: John Normile/Getty Images)

1. White supremacist gets life in prison for racist Buffalo attack

Erie County, New York, Judge Susan Eagan on Wednesday sentenced Payton Gendron, the gunman who killed 10 Black people at a Buffalo supermarket in May, to life in prison without the possibility of parole. The 19-year-old white shooter posted white supremacist theories and antisemitic rants online before going to the Tops Friendly supermarket in a predominantly Black neighborhood to target people because of their race, prosecutors said. "There is no place for you and your ignorant, hateful ideology," the judge said. Gendron said he "did a terrible thing that day. I shot and killed people because they were Black," and now "can't believe I did it." A man in a sweatshirt tried to lunge at Gendron during the hearing but was restrained by security.

The Washington Post CNN

2. Mark Meadows subpoenaed by special counsel investigating Trump

Special Counsel Jack Smith, who is investigating former President Donald Trump's efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss, has subpoenaed former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing a person familiar with the matter. The subpoena went out in late January as Smith stepped up his inquiry, and before a separate subpoena was issued to former Vice President Mike Pence. Pence is challenging his subpoena, arguing he is immune under protections shielding members of Congress from testifying about anything connected to their legislative duties. Pence's former chief of staff, Marc Short, and counsel Greg Jacob have already appeared to answer questions.

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The Wall Street Journal

3. FBI searches University of Delaware in Biden document investigation

The FBI has searched the University of Delaware twice in recent weeks as part of its investigation into President Biden's handling of classified documents, CNN reported Wednesday, citing a source familiar with the investigation. Biden's legal team consented and cooperated, according to CNN's source. The University of Delaware, Biden's alma mater, has an extensive collection of his papers in its library dating to his service in the Senate. A Justice Department special counsel was assigned to investigate after Biden's lawyers turned over classified documents, from years when he was vice president and senator, that they found in his Delaware home and a former office in Washington, D.C.

CNN The Associated Press

4. China sanctions 2 U.S. defense contractors over Taiwan arms sales

China's Ministry of Commerce on Thursday announced that Beijing is imposing sanctions on U.S. military contractors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, barring them from selling goods or investing in China for supplying weapons to Taiwan, an island democracy China claims as part of its territory. The move came a day after China said it would sanction unspecified entities for their alleged links to the Feb. 4 downing of a suspected Chinese spy balloon off the South Carolina coast. China has said it was a civilian weather balloon, and that Washington overreacted to its flight through U.S. airspace. The Biden administration says the balloon had a camera and equipment capable of intercepting intelligence data. The Biden administration has sanctioned six Chinese entities linked to China's aerospace programs.

The Associated Press

5. Gaetz's lawyers say DOJ has ended sex-trafficking investigation with no charges

Attorneys for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said Wednesday that the Justice Department had notified them it was ending a sex-trafficking investigation involving the controversial Republican firebrand without charging him. "We have just spoken with the DOJ and have been informed that they have concluded their investigation into Congressman Gaetz and allegations related to sex trafficking and obstruction of justice and they have determined not to bring any charges against him," Gaetz attorneys Marc Mukasey and Isabelle Kirshner said in a statement. Prosecutors investigated Gaetz for months after his former associate Joel Greenberg, a former Florida county tax collector, implicated him in a scheme that involved the alleged sex trafficking of a 17-year-old girl.

NBC News

6. Nicola Sturgeon resigns as Scottish first minister

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon resigned Wednesday, but is remaining as leader of her Scottish National Party until it can pick a successor. Sturgeon said she knew "in my head and in my heart" it was the right time to step aside and let someone else lead the fight for an independent Scotland. Sturgeon, 52, had been in office since 2014, but said she had become too divisive and tired to be an asset in the "brutality" of modern politics. "This is really hard for me," she said. "My decision comes from a place of duty and of love — tough love perhaps, but love nevertheless — for my party, and above all for the country." Prime Minister Rishi Sunak thanked Sturgeon for her "long-standing service."

Reuters BBC News

7. Report: Doomsday Glacier could collapse, cause catastrophic sea-level rise

The "Doomsday Glacier" in Antarctica is degrading faster than previously expected, stoking fears it could collapse and dramatically increase sea levels, according to two studies published in the journal Nature on Wednesday. The studies found that melting under the Thwaites Glacier in West Antarctica is progressing more slowly than previously believed, but deep cracks and "staircase" formations in the ice shelf are melting faster than expected. The glacier dumps tons of ice into the ocean annually, causing about 4 percent of annual seal level rise. As it retreats, more ice is exposed to ocean water and melts. If the glacier collapses, it could cause seas to rise more than two feet. Ice it holds back could melt once it's gone, dramatically increasing sea level rise.

CNN

8. Retail sales bounce back after weak holiday shopping season

Retail sales rebounded in January after a disappointing holiday shopping season, according to government data released Wednesday. Retail sales jumped 3 percent last month, the fastest pace in two years, after falling for two straight months. It was the biggest monthly increase since March 2021, when coronavirus-related stimulus checks gave American households more money to spend. An increase in auto sales contributed to January's gains, as supply problems eased and dealers had more vehicles to meet pent-up demand. Brisk consumer demand keeps the economy strong, but it also could increase inflationary pressures. That would make it more likely the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates more than anticipated, which economists say could tip the economy into a recession.

The Associated Press

9. FDA advisers recommend over-the-counter Narcan sales

Independent advisers to the Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday unanimously recommended over-the-counter sales of Narcan, a nasal spray that can reverse opioid overdoses. Narcan, known generically as naloxone, is usually administered by first responders and outreach workers. Many public health experts have argued it needs to be widely available without a prescription so people who use drugs, their friends, and relatives can have easy access. In 2021, there were 107,000 fatal drug overdoses in the United States. The advisers determined that Narcan requires no training to administer and is "abundantly safe," The New York Times reported. After the unanimous vote, the FDA is likely to approve an over-the-counter Narcan version in March, with sales starting by summer.

The New York Times

10. Movie star Raquel Welch dies at 82

Film icon Raquel Welch died Wednesday at age 82, her management company, Media Four, said. "Raquel Welch, the legendary bombshell actress of film, television, and stage, passed away peacefully early this morning after a brief illness," Media Four said in a statement. Welch vaulted to stardom in the 1966 film One Million Years B.C. She had only three lines in the film, but posters showing her in the doeskin bikini she wore in her portrayal of Loana the cave woman put her in the spotlight, making her a '60s sex symbol. Welch's career went on to span more than five decades. The Golden Globe winner starred in more than 30 films and 50 television roles and appearances.

Los Angeles Times

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