10 things you need to know today: October 20, 2023

Biden appeals for more aid for Israel and Ukraine, Jim Jordan pushes for a 3rd vote on his House speaker bid, and more

President Biden gives Oval Office address on Israel and Ukraine
President Biden gives Oval Office address on Israel and Ukraine
(Image credit: Jonathan Ernst - Pool / Getty Images)

1. Biden asks for new Israel, Ukraine aid

President Biden said Thursday in an Oval Office address that Americans must stand by Israel and Ukraine to ensure the United States continues to serve as "a beacon to the world." "History has taught us that when terrorists don't pay a price for their terror, when dictators don't pay a price for their aggression… they keep going," Biden said. He reportedly will ask Congress for $14 billion in emergency aid for Israel and another $60 billion to help Ukraine continue fighting Russia's invasion. The speech came amid a U.S. push to get humanitarian aid into Gaza as Israel continues a siege it started after Hamas militants launched terrorist attacks that killed hundreds of Israelis on Oct. 7. The New York Times 

2. Jim Jordan pushes for 3rd speaker vote

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) pushed Thursday for a third vote on his bid to become House speaker, even as he was bleeding support. The effort came hours after Jordan, the hard-right chair of the House Judiciary Committee, had appeared to abandon his bid after falling short in two votes. He said he would back a proposal to give Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) more power so the House could get some work done while the wrangling continued to elect an official replacement for ousted Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). That plan crumbled after several far-right lawmakers opposed it in a tense meeting. The next ballot on Jordan's candidacy is expected Friday. The Hill, The Washington Post

3. Ex-Trump lawyer Sidney Powell pleads guilty

Sidney Powell, a lawyer who helped former President Trump challenge his 2020 election loss, pleaded guilty Thursday to reduced charges tied to Trump's effort to reverse Georgia's election results. Powell, who once promised to "release the Kraken" to support Trump's unfounded claim the election was stolen by fraud, agreed to testify against her co-defendants, who include Trump and 17 others. She had been accused of violating the state's anti-racketeering law and participating in a breach of election equipment, but pleaded guilty to six misdemeanor counts of election interference conspiracy. Powell, the second defendant to reach a plea deal in the Georgia case, will serve six years of probation and pay a $6,000 fine and $2,700 in restitution. The Associated Press, Bloomberg

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4. US Army charges Travis King with desertion

The Army has charged Pvt. Travis King, the U.S. soldier who fled to North Korea in July, with desertion and other crimes, several news outlets reported Thursday, citing new charging documents. King, 23, is also accused of possession of child pornography, assaulting fellow soldiers and disobeying a superior officer. He dashed over the border from South Korea just before he was to be sent home for disciplinary action. Pyongyang expelled him in September after he admitted to entering the country illegally, according to North Korean state media. King's mother said she was "extremely concerned about his mental health" and asked "that my son be afforded the presumption of innocence." CNN, The Washington Post

5. Study: Hurricane rapid intensification increasingly common

Hurricanes in the Atlantic Ocean have become twice as likely to rapidly intensify into major storms, adding to the evidence that climate change is fueling extreme weather, according a study published Thursday in the journal Scientific Reports. Eight percent of the tropical storms that developed in the Atlantic basin between 2001 and 2020 underwent rapid intensification, defined as a 35-mile-per-hour increase in wind speeds in 24 hours or less. In the 1970s and '80s, only 3% of storms strengthened that quickly. "These findings should serve as an urgent warning," said Andra Garner, an assistant professor of environmental science at Rowan University and the paper's author. ABC News, The Weather Channel

6. Fed's Powell says cooling inflation still too high

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell said Thursday that inflation had cooled significantly this year but remained unacceptably high and won't come down to the central bank's 2% target until the economy and job market slow. "We certainly have a very resilient economy on our hands," Powell said at the Economic Club of New York. Instead of slipping into a recession, as many economists predicted, "growth is now running for this year above its longer-run trend," he added. But Powell said the Fed still might not have to raise interest rates again this year because spiking long-term bond rates are increasing borrowing costs just as a Fed rate hike would, and that could cool growth. The Associated Press

7. US warship downs missiles, drones from Yemen

A U.S. Navy ship shot down three cruise missiles and several drones that were fired Thursday by Iran-linked Houthi fighters in Yemen. The Pentagon said the missiles might have been aimed at Israel. Tehran and aligned groups have been threatening retaliation against Israel unless it halts strikes in Gaza in response to Hamas' brutal surprise attacks in southern Israel nearly two weeks ago. "We cannot say for certain what these missiles and drones were targeting, but they were launched from Yemen heading north along the Red Sea, potentially toward targets in Israel," Pentagon spokesperson Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said. The United States has dispatched two aircraft carriers and numerous support ships to the Middle East as the Israel-Hamas war threatens to broaden. Reuters

8. 2nd American journalist detained in Russia

Russia has detained Russian-American journalist Alsu Kurmasheva, reportedly over her coverage of Russia's military, in the second detention of an American journalist by Moscow this year. Kurmasheva is an editor with the Tatar-Bashkir service of Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty (RFE-RL), which confirmed her arrest Thursday. Kurmasheva works from Prague but went to Russia in May for a family emergency and was denied permission to leave in June. She was charged with failure to register as a foreign agent, but the Committee to Protect Journalists, citing Russian state media, reported she was arrested for collecting military information. Kurmasheva could face up to five years in prison. Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was arrested in March and accused of espionage. The Guardian

9. Canada withdraws diplomats as India rift deepens

Canada has withdrawn 41 diplomats — two-thirds of its mission — from India after New Delhi threatened to revoke their diplomatic immunity by Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said Thursday. Joly called the threat a "violation of international law." The diplomatic clash deepened tensions that emerged last month when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his government was looking into "credible allegations" that Indian operatives were involved in the June murder of Hardeep Singh Nijjar, a Sikh separatist leader in Canada. India has called the allegation "absurd" and told Canada to withdraw some of its diplomats. The Washington Post, BBC News

10. 'Rocky' actor Burt Young dies at 83

Oscar-nominated actor Burt Young, who portrayed Rocky Balboa's brother-in-law Paulie alongside Sylvester Stallone in the "Rocky" movies, has died at age 83, his manager confirmed Thursday to People. "Burt was an actor of tremendous emotional range. He could make you cry and he could scare you to death," Young's manager, Lynda Bensky, said in a statement. Young, who died in Los Angeles on Oct. 8, appeared in more than 160 movies and television shows. The prolific character actor played tough guys and working men in films and TV series that included "Chinatown," "Once Upon a Time in America" and "The Sopranos." People, The Associated Press

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