10 things you need to know today: February 24, 2023

Zelensky promises victory on anniversary of Russia's Ukraine invasion, safety regulators say train crew had little warning before Ohio derailment, and more

Zelensky gives a speech
(Image credit: Adri Salido/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

1. Zelensky vows to 'defeat everyone' on anniversary of Russian invasion

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky marked the anniversary of Russia's invasion of his country by promising "we will defeat everyone." Zelensky called the day Russian troops entered Ukraine, Feb. 24, 2022, "the longest day of our lives ... We woke up early and haven't slept since." Zelensky said 2022 was a year of pain and unity for Ukrainians. He said the country had survived, "and we will do everything to win this year!" Allies renewed expressions of support for Kyiv. The United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling for Russia to withdraw and seek peace. Russian ally China abstained. The Chinese Foreign Ministry renewed its calls for a political settlement, as Beijing comes under pressure for its strengthening ties to Moscow.

Reuters CNN

2. Safety regulators say train crew had little warning before derailment

Federal safety regulators said Thursday that the crew operating the freight train that derailed and spilled toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio, received a "critical audible alarm message" about an overheated axle just before the cars crashed. An engineer tried to stop the train but didn't have time. The train was going 47 miles per hour, just under the 50 mph speed limit, the National Transportation Safety Board said in its preliminary report. The news came out as Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg made his first visit to the crash scene after facing criticism from Republicans for not going sooner. Federal regulators have taken control of cleanup oversight and told the rail company, Norfolk Southern, that it must cover the costs.

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The Associated Press

3. Disbarred S.C. lawyer Alex Murdaugh admits lying but denies killing wife, son

Once prominent, now-disbarred South Carolina lawyer Alex Murdaugh testified in his own defense on Thursday, insisting he didn't murder his wife and one of his sons, but admitting he lied to investigators. Murdaugh had denied being at the family's dog kennels on the night his wife and son were killed there, but changed his story after the emergence of a video with his voice on it that was captured on his son's phone that night. He said he had lied about his whereabouts because his addiction to painkillers made him paranoid. Prosecutors say Murdaugh shot and killed his wife, Maggie Murdaugh, and younger son Paul Murdaugh, 22, to avoid being exposed for stealing millions from his law firm and clients.

The New York Times The State

4. Trump lawyers slam 'clown-like' special grand jury after forewoman's comments

Lawyers for former President Donald Trump called a Georgia special grand jury inquiry into his efforts to reverse his 2020 election loss in the state "clown-like" after the forewoman, Emily Kohrs, made controversial public comments. Kohrs gave several media interviews offering hints about what was in the special grand jury's mostly secret report, saying that the list of people recommended for prosecution was not short. Trump attorney Drew Findling said Kohrs' remarks showed the grand jury was unprofessional. "This type of carnival, clown-like atmosphere that was portrayed over the course of the last 36 hours takes away from the complete sanctity and the integrity and, for that matter, the reliability" of the investigation, Findling told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution The Hill

5. U.S. expands Taiwan training program amid China tensions

The U.S. is increasing its number of troops deployed to Taiwan to 100 to 200 in the coming months, up from about 30 a year ago, to boost a training program for Taiwan's military as tensions rise with China, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday, citing U.S. officials. The deployment will be the biggest for the U.S. in decades on Taiwan, an island China views as part of its territory. In addition to the training in Taiwan, the Michigan National Guard is training a Taiwanese contingent during annual exercises involving multiple countries at Camp Grayling in northern Michigan, the Journal's sources said. The Pentagon has not publicized the programs to avoid provoking China, according to the Journal.

The Wall Street Journal

6. Harvey Weinstein sentenced to 16 years for L.A. rape

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Lisa Lench on Thursday sentenced disgraced former film producer Harvey Weinstein to 16 years in prison for raping a woman in a Beverly Hills hotel in 2013. Weinstein already is serving a 23-year sentence in New York for his 2020 conviction for sexually assaulting other women. Lench ruled he can't serve the sentences concurrently, essentially assuring that Weinstein, who is in poor health, will spend the rest of his life in prison. The L.A. jury found him guilty of forcible rape, forcible oral copulation, and sexual penetration with a foreign object. The woman, identified as Jane Doe 1, had called for the longest sentence possible, saying no sentence would be "long enough to erase the damage."

Los Angeles Times Variety

7. Prosecutors file more fraud charges against FTX's Sam Bankman-Fried

Federal prosecutors on Thursday revealed that they had filed four new charges against FTX founder Sam Bankman-Fried related to the collapse of his cryptocurrency firm. The new charges include securities fraud and conspiracy fraud counts. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said that even after the new indictment in Manhattan federal court, prosecutors were continuing to build their case against Bankman-Fried, whom they accuse of cheating thousands of investors out of billions of dollars' worth of digital assets. The new charges increased the possible prison sentence Bankman-Fried could get if convicted from 115 years to 155 years. "We are hard at work and will remain so until justice is done," Williams said. A Bankman-Fried spokesperson declined to comment.

The Associated Press

8. Biden nominates Ajay Banga to head World Bank

President Biden announced Thursday that he was nominating Ajay Banga, vice chair of private equity firm General Atlantic, to be president of the World Bank. Biden said Banga, a former Mastercard executive, had the extensive experience necessary to lead the institution, which provides loans for global capital projects, in addressing climate change and other issues. "He also has critical experience mobilizing public-private resources to tackle the most urgent challenges of our time, including climate change," Biden said. The bank's current leader, David Malpass, announced his resignation last week after coming under fire for his views on climate change. In September, he was asked at a New York Times event whether he thought carbon emissions spurred rising global temperatures, and he said, "I'm not a scientist."

The Washington Post The New York Times

9. Ozy Media founder Carlos Watson charged with fraud

FBI agents on Thursday arrested Carlos Watson, founder of troubled digital news start-up Ozy Media, on fraud charges. Prosecutors said in a court document that Ozy and Watson, 53, "engaged in a scheme to defraud Ozy's potential investors, potential acquirers, lenders and potential lenders" by misrepresenting the business' finances and audience size. Earlier this week, Ozy's former chief operating officer, Samir Rao, pleaded guilty to fraud charges. Ozy came under scrutiny after The New York Times reported that Rao had impersonated a YouTube executive in a fundraising call with Goldman Sachs, saying Ozy was a big success on the platform. Neither Watson nor Rao responded to requests for comment from The New York Times.

The New York Times

10. R. Kelly gets another year in prison after Chicago sex abuse conviction

A judge sentenced disgraced R&B singer R. Kelly to 20 years in prison after a Chicago jury last year found him guilty of sex crimes, including child pornography and enticement. The judge ruled Kelly can serve nearly all of the new sentence concurrently with his earlier 30-year sentence, so he will only get one additional year in prison. Kelly was acquitted on child pornography charges in 2008, but a Brooklyn jury convicted him of racketeering and sex trafficking in 2021. Prosecutors had sought an additional 25 years in prison for the Chicago conviction, saying, "the only way to ensure Kelly does not reoffend is to impose a sentence that will keep him in prison for the rest of his life."

Chicago Sun-Times

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