10 things you need to know today: February 23, 2023
Biden tells allies the U.S. will defend 'every inch' of NATO, special counsel investigating Jan. 6 attack subpoenas Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, and more
Biden vows U.S. will defend all of NATO
President Biden met with allies in Poland on Wednesday and promised that the United States would "defend literally every inch of NATO" if Russia attacked any of its members. Biden made the comment as he discussed a united response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine with the Western military alliance's easternmost neighbors, who are closest to the conflict and to Russia. China's top diplomat, Wang Yi, met with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of Friday's anniversary of Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Wang touted his country's strong relationship with Moscow, saying the allies would "not be overpowered" by other nations. China has maintained neutrality in the Ukraine war while providing Russia with diplomatic support.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner subpoenaed by special counsel
Former President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka Trump and her husband, Jared Kushner, have been subpoenaed by Special Counsel Jack Smith as part of his investigation into the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, The New York Times and ABC News reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter. Both were senior White House advisers during Trump's presidency. On Jan. 6, Ivanka Trump was in the Oval Office when her father called former Vice President Mike Pence and urged him to block or delay the congressional certification of the Electoral College results. She also went with him to the "Stop the Steal" rally that occurred shortly before a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol.
Supreme Court justices wary of holding Twitter liable for terrorists' actions
The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard oral arguments for a second day in challenges to Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which shields social media companies from liability over users' posts. Tuesday's case involved Google, but on Wednesday the court turned its attention to Twitter. The justices questioned whether the social media platform could be sued for aiding terrorists involved in a 2017 attack simply because militants had access to Twitter for propaganda and recruitment. A lower court had let the case proceed, finding Twitter hadn't done enough to block the Islamic State. "We all appreciate how horrible the attack was, but there's very little linking the defendants in this complaint to those persons" behind the attack, Justice Neil Gorsuch said.
Mexico's Senate approves controversial electoral reform package
Mexico's Senate on Wednesday approved an overhaul of the body that oversees the country's elections. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador says the reform package will save money and curb the National Electoral Institute's political privileges, but opponents of the initiative, known as "Plan B," said they would challenge it in Mexico's supreme court, arguing the changes undercut democracy. Ahead of the 72-50 vote, some opposition lawmakers held up signs saying López Obrador's ruling Morena party "wants to steal elections." The president has denied the reforms could threaten elections in Mexico, saying the changes were necessary to rein in the institute, which he and his supporters have criticized since he narrowly lost a 2006 election.
Violence escalates after deadly Israeli military raid in West Bank
Israeli forces clashed with armed Palestinians Wednesday during a rare daytime raid to arrest Palestinian gunmen in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus. At least 11 Palestinians were killed, and more than 100 were wounded. Israel's Army said the raid targeted an armed Palestinian group that was partly responsible for a surge in violence last year, and was planning imminent attacks. The military said troops shot back after they came under fire while trying to make arrests. Three armed Palestinian groups said six of their fighters were among the dead. Four civilians also were killed. Early Thursday, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired rockets into southern Israel, and Israeli aircraft struck Palestinian targets.
Airlines cancel flights as winter storm spreads
Airlines canceled more than 1,700 flights on Wednesday as a massive winter storm swept across much of the United States. Several airlines, including Southwest, Delta, American, and United issued winter weather waivers. Schools shut down across the northern Plains, with the extreme winter weather expected to affect millions of people. The National Weather Service warned that much of the western and northcentral U.S. would get high winds and blizzard conditions, with some areas getting up to two feet of snow through Thursday. Officials warned residents where the storm is expected to be intense to stay off the roads due to possible whiteout conditions.
'Anti-woke' author Vivek Ramaswamy becomes 3rd candidate for GOP presidential nomination
Biotech entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, author of Woke, Inc.: Inside Corporate America's Social Justice Scam, has become the third candidate in the race for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Ramaswamy said in an op-ed published in Wednesday's print edition of The Wall Street Journal that the United States is in a "national identity crisis," and the GOP's "top priority" should be to resolving it by diluting "the woke agenda into irrelevance." Ramaswamy said in a video announcing his candidacy that his campaign would be a counteroffensive to the "woke left." He enters the campaign as a longshot against former President Donald Trump and his one-time United Nations ambassador, former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley.
Minutes indicate nearly all Fed officials favored quarter-point rate hike
Nearly all Federal Reserve officials backed a quarter-point interest rate hike at the central bank's last policy meeting, marking a slower pace of their effort to raise borrowing costs as inflation showed signs of slowing, according to minutes released Wednesday. They said prices were still rising too fast, so continuing rate increases would be necessary to bring inflation closer to the Fed's 2 percent target. Many officials said at the Jan. 31-Feb. 1 meeting that the slower pace of rate increases would give the Fed time to better "determine the extent" of its next increases, although "a few" officials leaned toward a bigger, half-percent increase.
L.A. judge sentences Nipsey Hussle's killer to 60 years to life
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge H. Clay Jacke II on Wednesday sentenced Crips gang member Eric Holder Jr., 33, to 60 years to life in prison for the 2019 murder of Grammy-nominated hip-hop artist and local philanthropist Nipsey Hussle. Jacke said he was "very mindful" of Holder's struggles with mental illness and abuse, but that he was "also mindful of the devastation caused to the victims and their families. I believe this sentence balances the two." Jurors convicted Holder in July of first-degree murder, as well as attempted voluntary manslaughter and assault with a firearm for gunshots that hit two other men who survived. Holder got 25 years to life on the murder conviction, with sentences on the other charges to run concurrently.
TV journalist, 9-year-old girl killed in Florida shooting
A man shot and killed a Florida television journalist and a 9-year-old girl near the spot where a woman in her 20s had been fatally shot earlier in the day. Witnesses said the killer opened fire on the Spectrum News 13 vehicle, killing the reporter and injuring a TV crewmember. The killer then walked to a nearby home in the Pine Hills area, just northwest of Orlando, Florida, where he shot the girl and her mother. The crewmember and the girl's mother were taken to a local hospital, where they were in critical condition. "No one in our community — not a mother, not a 9-year-old, and certainly not news professionals — should become the victim of gun violence in our community," said Orange County Sheriff John Mina.