Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 9, 2022

Sen. John Thune will seek a 4th term, non-citizens can now vote in NYC elections, and more

1

Sen. John Thune will seek a 4th term

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the Senate minority whip widely seen as a possible successor to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), announced Saturday that he plans to run for re-election in 2022. Former President Donald Trump called for Thune to be unseated after Thune refused to join in Trump's effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Thune had expressed concerns about Trump's continuing hold on the Republican Party and was considering retirement, but aggressive lobbying from his colleagues ultimately convinced him to run again. Three other Republicans — all aligning themselves with Trump — have announced that they will challenge Thune in the primary. Five other Republican senators are retiring in 2022.

2

Non-citizens can now vote in NYC elections

A New York City bill allowing non-citizens to vote in local elections became law Sunday after Mayor Eric Adams declined to veto it. The new "Our City, Our Vote" measure will reportedly enfranchise around 800,000 legal, non-citizen New York City residents, including green card holders and "Dreamers" brought to the U.S. illegally as children and benefiting from deferred action. The city's Board of Elections must submit an implementation plan by July. They will also have to print separate ballots for municipal races, since non-citizens will still be barred from voting in statewide and presidential elections.

3

Obama, Biden, others recall Reid's tenacity, telephone etiquette

President Biden, former President Barack Obama, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) all spoke at the memorial service for former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in Las Vegas Saturday. Common themes in the speeches were Reid's rise from inauspicious circumstances, his humility, his persistence, and his penchant for ending phone conversations without saying goodbye. Reid's body will lie in state in the Capitol Rotunda Wednesday before being interred in his hometown of Searchlight, Nevada.

4

Ethiopian airstrike reportedly hits displaced persons camp

Aid workers reported Saturday that an Ethiopian airstrike killed 56 people and injured 30 in a Tigrayan displaced persons camp late Friday night or early Saturday morning. Despite continued reports of atrocities, the Ethiopian government has made attempts at rapprochement. A statement the government released Friday announced that several opposition leaders had been released from prison in an attempt to open dialogue and achieve reconciliation following more than a year of war. The newly freed prisoners include several leaders of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF) as well as members of other ethnic and regional anti-government militias.

5

At least 22 dead after snowstorm in Pakistan traps thousands in their cars

Snowstorms in Pakistan stranded thousands of tourists in their cars overnight as they attempted to reach Muree, a mountain vacation destination northeast of Islamabad. As of Saturday, 22 people have been confirmed dead from hypothermia or carbon monoxide poisoning, including at least 10 children. Of the 22 dead, 8 were from a single family — Islamabad police officer Naveed Iqbal, his wife, and their six children. Military personnel and first responders provided food and blankets, helped clear roads, and evacuated over 300 people.

6

Government says situation in Kazakhstan has 'stabilized'

Officials from Kazakhstan's Interior Ministry announced Sunday that the situation in the Central Asian country has 'stabilized' and that all government buildings have been re-taken. Authorities also announced that several "strategic facilities have been transferred under the protection of the united peacekeeping contingent of the CSTO member states," a contingent made up mostly of Russian troops. During a week of unrest kicked off by an increase in the price of liquified petroleum gas, protestors burned the country's presidential residence and stormed its largest airport, which remains closed. More than 5,000 people have reportedly been detained.

7

Transgender Ivy League swimmers face off

Lia Thomas, a transgender swimmer who has shattered records on the University of Pennsylvania women's team after three years of competing as a man, lost two events Saturday to Yale's Iszac Henig, who is in the process of transitioning from female to male. Henig explained in a June New York Times article that he was allowed to continue competing on the women's team after he agreed to delay testosterone treatment. After one event, Henig pulled down his bathing suit top, revealing the scars from his double mastectomy. "Everything is messed up," one UPenn parent said. "The NCAA needs to do something about this."

8

'Deltacron' hybrid COVID variant discovered in Cyprus

A biology professor in Cyprus claims to have discovered a new COVID-19 strain that is a genetic hybrid of the Omicron and Delta variants, Bloomberg reported Saturday. "We will see in the future if this strain is more pathological or more contagious or if it will prevail," University of Cyprus Professor Leondios Kostrikis said in a Friday interview on Cyprus' Sigma TV network. In contrast to the deadly Delta variant, the Omicron variant is highly contagious but has not produced a corresponding uptick in deaths. Around 25 cases of Deltacron have been identified.

9

Australian court to hear Djokovic deportation appeal Monday

Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic, who is facing deportation from Australia, will get his (virtual) day in court Monday morning. Djokovic was denied entry into Australia on Wednesday after his visa was canceled due to his refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. He was originally scheduled to be flown out of the country Thursday but was allowed to remain in an Australian quarantine hotel pending the results of his appeal. His lawyers plan to argue that, because Djokovic had COVID-19 last month and recovered, he qualifies for a medical exemption to Australia's vaccine mandate. A request from the Australian Department of Home Affairs that the hearing be postponed until Wednesday was denied.

10

Baby handed to U.S. soldier during Afghanistan withdrawal reunited with family

Baby Sohail Ahmadi, whose parents handed him to a U.S. soldier during the chaos of last summer's evacuation from Afghanistan, was reunited with relatives in Kabul Saturday. Mirza Ali Ahmadi and his wife Suraya had passed their then-two-month-old son over the wall at Hamid Karzai International Airport, fearing that the baby would be crushed by the surging crowd. Although the couple later gained access to the airport and were evacuated to the U.S., they were unable to locate their son. The baby was found with 29-year-old taxi driver Hamid Safi, who had taken him home from the airport. Sohail was placed with his grandfather, who plans to send the child to his parents soon.

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