Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 16, 2022

Suspect dead and all hostages safe after FBI storms Texas synagogue, Glenn Youngkin sworn in as governor of Virginia, and more


Suspect dead and all hostages safe after FBI storms Texas synagogue

An FBI hostage rescue team stormed a Texas synagogue Saturday night, ending an almost 11-hour standoff with a hostage-taker who claimed to have a bomb and may have ties to al-Qaeda. The suspect was shot and killed. Four people, including the congregation's rabbi, were held hostage Saturday at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas. The suspect released one hostage around 5:00 p.m. The other three were freed following the FBI raid, which started around 10:00 p.m. According to FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Matthew DeSarno, the suspect has been identified, but authorities are not yet ready to reveal his name.


Glenn Youngkin sworn in as governor of Virginia

Glenn Youngkin (R), who defeated former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) last November in a race that attracted national attention, was sworn in as Virginia's 74th governor around noon Saturday. One of his first executive orders banned "the use of divisive concepts, including Critical Race Theory, in public education." Youngkin takes office with a divided state government: Democrats hold a 3-seat majority in the Senate, while Republicans control the Assembly 52 to 48. Winsome Sears (R) was also sworn in as Virginia's lieutenant governor, becoming the first woman of color to hold that office. Jason Miyares, also a Republican, took office as the commonwealth's first Hispanic attorney general.


Over 2,400 Sunday flights canceled as winter storm strikes East Coast

According to tracking site FlightAware, airlines canceled more than 2,400 into, out of, or within the United States as winter storms struck the Southeast. North Carolina's Charlotte/Douglas International Airport, a hub for American Airlines, canceled almost 90 percent of its flights. American Airlines announced it will allow travelers affected by the weather to rebook flights with no fee. In anticipation of the storm, the governors of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and Virginia all declared states of emergency Saturday.


Djokovic forced to leave Australia after court upholds visa cancellation

Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic left Australia Sunday night after a court ruling upheld the immigration minister's decision to cancel Djokovic's visa. Djokovic traveled to Australia on Jan. 5 but was denied entry because he has not been vaccinated against COVID-19. After the Serbian champion won an initial appeal, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke invoked his ministerial discretion to cancel Djokovic's visa, arguing that the unvaccinated athlete's presence in the country would stoke "anti-vaccination sentiment" and lead to "civil unrest." Djokovic, who was scheduled to play his first match of the Australian Open Monday, said he was "extremely disappointed."


Rail trade between China and North Korea resumes

A train from North Korea pulled into a Chinese station Sunday, marking the end of a long period of particularly intense North Korean isolation. Chinese brokers said North Korea was planning to re-open its border to rail trade with China Monday, but the timetable appears to have been moved up. "My business partner in North Korea told me on Friday that the land border will reopen to cargo freight on Jan. 17," one Chinese commodities trader said. North Korea closed its borders in January 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This self-imposed isolation has led to food shortages, while restrictions on internal movement have cut down on defections to South Korea.


Russian involvement suspected in cyberattack against Ukraine

Microsoft has detected dangerous malware infecting dozens of government and private Ukrainian computer networks, the tech giant warned Saturday. The still-unidentified hackers behind the attack also left a message warning Ukrainians to "be afraid and expect the worst." Ukrainian officials say they suspect Russian involvement. Russia previously launched cyberattacks against Ukraine in 2014, 2015, and 2017. Talks between the U.S. and Russia broke down around the time of the attack, after Russian diplomats refused demands to withdraw troops from the Ukrainian border. Intelligence analysts have warned that Russia is preparing a "false flag" operation to justify an invasion of Ukraine very soon.


Extent of tsunami damage in Tonga remains unclear

The extent of tsunami damage in the Polyneasian archipelago nation of Tonga remains unclear as ash obstructs the view from the sky and the submarine cable that connects Tonga to the outside world remains out of commission. New Zealand's government has pledged the equivalent of around $340,000 to aid in recovery with the promise of more to follow. Tonga was struck by a tsunami Saturday after an undersea volcano erupted 40 miles south of the capital city on the main island of Tongatapu. The volcano, called Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai, shot smoke and ash more than 12 miles into the sky and produced a shockwave felt as far away as New Zealand.


Official death toll from Kazakhstan unrest stands at 225

Kazakhstan's prosecutor general's office announced Saturday that the death toll from last week's unrest now stands at 225, including 19 members of state security forces. The protests began to die down when a contingent of mostly Russian troops from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, of which both Russia and Kazakhstan are members, arrived in the country. CSTO troops began withdrawing from the Central Asian former Soviet republic Thursday and are expected to be completely out by Jan. 23.


Trump mocks and criticizes Biden at rally in Arizona

Former President Donald Trump repeated his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election and castigated President Biden for his handling of inflation, supply chain issues, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the southern border at a rally in Florence, Arizona, Saturday. Trump also did an impression of his successor, pounding the podium with his fist in an accurate approximation of Biden's gestures and saying "I'm gonna get rid of COVID. I'm gonna get ri-i-id of COVID!" in a much less accurate approximation of Biden's voice. The former president did not, however, reveal whether he plans to run for a second term in 2024. Trump is expected to announce his decision after the 2022 midterms.


‘Biden’ blames Spider-Man for political setbacks in SNL cold open

In the most recent Saturday Night Live cold open, James Austin Johnson gave a press conference as President Biden in which he offered a solution to the ongoing pandemic. "There is one simple thing you can do to make this whole virus go away," Johnson-as-Biden said. "Stop seeing Spider-Man!" He went on to explain that, because the release of Spider-Man: No Way Home coincided perfectly with the beginning of the Omicron wave, it must have caused it. Seeing other movies, he told "reporters," was fine. Johnson-as-Biden also blamed his other political setbacks on the latest Marvel film: "You think people can focus on voting rights when Spider-Man's Aunt May is a freakin' smokeshow?"


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South Korean man facing prison time after opening airplane door in midair
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