10 things you need to know today: April 4, 2023
Trump arrives in New York to face criminal charges over hush money to porn star, Finland joins NATO, and more
Trump arrives in Manhattan to face criminal charges
Former President Donald Trump arrived at his Trump Tower residence in Manhattan on Monday ahead of his expected Tuesday arraignment on criminal charges related to his alleged role in hush money payments to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump briefly waved to supporters gathered outside his building as he went inside. On Tuesday he is due to surrender at the Manhattan Criminal Courts Building, where he will be fingerprinted and formally charged under an indictment handed down by a grand jury that investigated the case. Mayor Eric Adams warned Trump's supporters, including far-right Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), to be on their "best behavior" while in New York for a planned pro-Trump rally.
Finland joins NATO, prompting Russia warning
Finland is scheduled to officially join NATO on Tuesday, after the last two holdouts in the 30-member defense alliance — Hungary and Turkey — approved its application. Finland and Nordic neighbor Sweden dropped their traditional military non-alignment last year and asked to join NATO after Russia invaded Ukraine, fearing Moscow could target them next. Hungary and Turkey are still holding up Sweden's bid. Turkey is waiting for Sweden to show it is committed to taking action against groups it considers terrorists. Russia said it would increase its defenses along its 800-mile border with Finland if NATO deploys troops there.
DeSantis signs law allowing concealed weapons without permit
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday approved a bill allowing Floridians to carry concealed weapons without a permit. He signed the legislation in a private ceremony in his office. The law permits anyone who can legally own a gun to carry one without a permit, giving DeSantis the latest in a series of high-profile victories on conservative initiatives as he prepares a likely run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Republicans pushed the legislation saying law-abiding citizens have a right to carry weapons to protect themselves. Democrats and gun safety advocates said it will make Florida more dangerous following several high-profile mass shootings in the state.
Police: Nashville school shooting suspect planned attack for months
The suspect in last week's mass shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, planned the attack for months and fired a total of 152 rounds before police stormed the Christian school and fatally shot her, police said Monday. Journals and other writings the suspect, 28-year-old Audrey Hale, left behind indicated she acted alone. Six people were killed — 9-year-olds Evelyn Dieckhaus, William Kinney, and Hallie Scruggs, daughter of the Covenant Presbyterian Church's lead pastor; and three adults: substitute teacher Cynthia Peak, 61; head of school Katherine Koonce, 60; and custodian Mike Hill, 61. Thousands of students marched on the state Capitol Monday demanding action to curb gun violence. Gov. Bill Lee (R) said he supported reviewing Tennessee's gun laws.
NASA unveils crew to fly around the moon
NASA on Monday announced the four astronauts who will fly on the Artemis II mission in 2024, marking humanity's first return to the moon since 1972. The four crew members — American astronauts Reid Wiseman, Victor Glover, and Christina Koch, and Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen — will launch atop a Space Launch System rocket from Kennedy Space Center in late 2024 at the earliest. They will fly around the moon and return to Earth, in a mission to prepare for a lunar landing two years later. All are in their 40s, and Hansen is the only one who has not yet traveled to outer space. Wiseman, Glover, and Koch have all lived on the International Space Station.
Center-right party wins Bulgaria's 5th election in 2 years
The center-right GERB party edged out a pro-Western coalition in Bulgaria's fifth election in two years, according to a vote count released Monday. GERB won 26.5 percent of the vote. The pro-Western coalition, led by Continuing the Change (PP) and Democratic Bulgaria, was close behind with 24.9 percent. The tight race indicated that fresh coalition talks will be necessary to form a government. GERB leader Boyko Borissov served as prime minister from 2009 to 2021, but left office after nationwide anti-corruption protests. Continuing the Change, led by Harvard graduates Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev, and Democratic Bulgaria, led by Hristo Ivanov, campaigned promising to make Bulgaria a "European country" with better health care and education, and an independent judiciary, according to Politico.
Report: Chinese spy balloon gathered intelligence from sensitive sites
The Chinese spy balloon that flew over much of the United States in February collected intelligence from several sensitive American military sites, NBC News reported Monday, citing two current senior U.S. officials and one former senior administration official. China controlled the flight of the balloon enough to steer it through several passes over some sites, sometimes flying it in figure-eight patterns. The balloon had the capability to transmit data back to Beijing in real time, the officials told NBC news. The intelligence came from electronic signals from weapons and communications systems, not from images. The Biden administration tried to block the signals, and probably managed to prevent the balloon from capturing more data.
Virginia teacher who was shot by 6-year-old sues administrators
Abigail Zwerner, a Virginia teacher shot by a 6-year-old student in January, filed a lawsuit Monday accusing school administrators of ignoring warnings from staff and students that the child had a gun. Zwerner is asking for $40 million in damages. Police said the first-grader shot Zwerner on purpose. The suit accuses Richneck Elementary School Assistant Principal Ebony Parker of failing to protect Zwerner despite reports there was a gun on campus, probably in the hands of her student. The lawsuit also named the Newport News School Board, former schools superintendent George Parker — who was fired by the board after the shooting — and former Richneck principal Briana Foster Newton, who was transferred, as defendants.
Starbucks fires a leader of attempt to unionize Buffalo store
Starbucks has fired an employee who led the campaign to unionize a Cheektowaga, New York, store, The Buffalo News reported Monday. The longtime shift supervisor, Lexi Rizzo, was dismissed by the company two days after former CEO Howard Schultz faced tough questioning by a Senate committee about alleged labor law abuses by the Seattle-based coffee chain. The company said Rizzo was fired because she was late too often. The union, Starbucks Workers United, called the move "payback." "Firing her two days after Schultz was grilled at the hearing about his illegal activity is pretty unbelievable," said Richard Bensinger, a longtime union leader who has served as an adviser to the Starbucks union.
UConn beats San Diego State to win NCAA men's basketball championship
UConn completed a dominant March Madness run with a 76-59 win over San Diego State in the NCAA men's basketball tournament final. The Huskies won every game they played in the tournament by double digits. The University of Connecticut has now won five men's national championships in the past 24 years, under three different coaches — Jim Calhoun in 1999, 2004 and 2011; Kevin Ollie in 2014; and Dan Hurley this year. UConn took a 16 point lead early in the game but San Diego State made several big runs in the second half, cutting UConn's lead to as low as 5 points. But when the gap hit 60-55, the Huskies went on a 9-0 run to seal the win.