Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 14, 2023

U.K. to send weaponry to Ukraine as Russian missiles continue to fall, House Judiciary Committee opens probe into Biden documents, and more

1

U.K. to send weaponry to Ukraine as Russian missiles continue to fall

As Russian missiles continue to fall on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged on Saturday to send tanks and artillery units to the war-torn nation. Amid the latest round of attacks on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, officials from Sunak's office at 10 Downing Street said in a press release that Sunak had talked to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and promised to support Ukraine through "the provision of Challenger 2 tanks and additional artillery systems." Sunak's initial pledge will see about a dozen tanks sent to Ukraine, along with an unspecified number of other weaponry systems. Zelensky thanked the U.K. for its support in a separate statement. 

2

House Judiciary Committee opens probe into Biden documents

The House Judiciary Committee on Friday announced that it was opening an investigation into classified documents that were found in the Delaware home of President Biden, as well as his former office in Washington, D.C. The panel, now helmed by Republicans Jim Jordan (Ohio) and Mike Johnson (La.) wrote a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland announcing their probe and demanding all communication related to the discovery of the documents, which reportedly occurred last November and dated back to Biden's time as vice president. The White House acknowledged the discovery of these documents last week, and Garland recently announced the appointment of a special counsel to investigate the incident. 

3

Brazilian Supreme Court opens investigation into Bolsonaro relating to attack on government

The Brazilian Supreme Court on Saturday announced that it was opening an investigation into former President Jair Bolsonaro's alleged role in the Jan. 8 attack on the Brazilian government. The Supreme Court's decision comes following pressure from both Brazilian prosecutors and public protesters demanding to see accountability for the riot, which saw supporters of the former president break into the headquarters of all three of the country's government branches in a scene that echoed the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Prosecutors alleged that Bolsonaro's posting of a video questioning the outcome of his lost election was akin to inciting violence, and the Supreme Court will now investigate the validity of these claims. 

4

Iran executes former top official despite international calls against his death

Iranian officials said Saturday that they had executed a former high-ranking official in the country's defense ministry, despite international calls against the man's death. Ali Reza Akbari, a British-Iranian national, was executed after Iran accused him, without evidence, of spying on behalf of the U.K.'s Secret Intelligence Service, also known as MI6. Iranian judiciary officials claimed that Akbari had received British citizenship in exchange for providing intelligence to MI6. However, Iran has long accused officials who travel abroad of spying, claims that oftentimes have no merit. British officials, along with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, condemned Akbari's death, calling it "a callous and cowardly act, carried out by a barbaric regime."

5

Supreme Court to hear case of religious mailman claiming bias

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to take up eight new cases to fill out the remainder of its calendar. The most notable is perhaps a case that could determine the extent to which employers must accommodate the religious beliefs of employees. The case in question involves Gerald Groff, a former mail carrier in Pennsylvania who sued the U.S. Postal Service after being required to work on Sundays, a day that Groff, a Christian, says he devotes to religious worship. Groff resigned in 2019 and filed suit against the agency for violating his religious rights. Previous courts have ruled that exempting Groff from working on Sundays would've caused unnecessary labor shortages at his Post Office. 

6

California eyes end to devastating floods, but not before more rain

California is slated to finally get some relief from a catastrophic series of winter rainstorms, but not before getting drenched with at least two additional atmospheric rivers that are slated to dump even more precipitation on the northern half of the Golden State. A series of atmospheric rivers have already been seen in the state since this past December, offering no reprieve as California has often been subject to heavy rainstorms for days on end. Flooding, mudslides, and power outages have often followed the rain, and at least 19 people have died. However, the final storm system is expected to make landfall on Monday, offering a glimmer of hope to drenched Californians. 

7

China reports 60,000 deaths from COVID-19 since December

Chinese officials said Saturday that the country had recorded at least 60,000 deaths from COVID-19 since early December, after a massive uptick in cases following China's re-opening of its borders to international travelers for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic. While public health officials have claimed that the "emergency peak" of the cases has now passed, China said that it had officially recorded 5,503 deaths from COVID-related respiratory failure and an additional 54,435 deaths from other COVID-based ailments, all since Dec. 8 of last year. If true, this would more than double China's COVID death total since the pandemic's start. 

8

Celebrities, public figures remember Lisa Marie Presley

Tributes continued to pour in Saturday following the death of singer Lisa Marie Presley. The daughter of rock-n-roll icon Elvis Presley died on Thursday just two days after her last public appearance at the Golden Globe Awards. Austin Butler, who played Presley's father in the 2022 biopic Elvis, wrote he was "eternally grateful for the time I was lucky enough to be near her bright light and will forever cherish the quiet moments we shared," a sentiment echoed by the film's director, Baz Luhrmann. Other celebrities paying tribute to Presley included family friend John Travolta, actress Octavia Spencer, fashion designer Donatella Versace, and many other public figures. 

9

Maine gets its 1st Mega Millions jackpot with a $1.35 billion grand prize winner

One lucky winner in Maine on Friday became the first person from the Pine Tree State to win the Mega Millions lottery, becoming the recipient of the $1.35 billion grand prize jackpot. The lone winner's earnings, which were the second-largest in the history of the game, eerily came on Friday the 13th, but that didn't stop the mystery person from beating the odds and changing their life forever. While only one person won the grand prize, Mega Millions officials said there were at least 14 tickets across the country that snagged $1 million prizes. The next drawing, which will start over at $20 million, is slated for this coming Tuesday. 

10

Buffalo man who rescued 24 people during blizzard gifted with Super Bowl tickets

A Buffalo, New York man who rescued at least 24 people during the city's deadly blizzard this past December was gifted with tickets to Super Bowl LVII. Jay Withey was presented with a pair of tickets to the event by Buffalo Bills legend Thurman Thomas. The Buffalo man became known as "Merry Christmas, Jay," after venturing out into the snowstorm to try and bring others to safety. Withey had previously broken the window of a school to help people seek shelter inside, and had also spent a night sleeping inside his truck with a pair of strangers to help them stay alive. Those Withey saved reportedly included at least seven elderly people who were stranded in their cars. 

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