Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 1, 2023

At least 10 dead after storm system rips through South and Midwest, judge orders Dominion lawsuit against Fox to go to trial, and more


At least 10 dead after storm system rips through South and Midwest

At least 10 people died in storms across the South and Midwest United States on Friday, as torrential downpours and tornadoes were seen in multiple states. The massive storm system carved a path of destruction through parts of Arkansas, Illinois, and Indiana. At least three people lost their lives in Indiana, and more deaths occurred in Illinois after a tornado destroyed a theater roof in the town of Belvidere, collapsing on the people inside during a heavy metal concert. The worst damage appeared to occur in Arkansas, where the capital, Little Rock, was hit by a storm system that caused at least one death. The town of Wynne in northeastern Arkansas was almost totally destroyed, and officials reported two more deaths there. 


Judge orders Dominion lawsuit against Fox to go to trial

A Delaware judge delivered a blow to Fox News on Friday, as he ruled that a $1.6 billion lawsuit against the network by Dominion Voting Systems will go to trial. The defamation lawsuit was brought by Dominion after it alleged that Fox made false statements and allegations about the company's hand in disproved voter fraud claims during the 2020 election. Judge Eric Davis concluded that Dominion had presented evidence that Fox had indeed aired false claims about the company. However, he added that the evidence had not proven whether Fox had acted with "actual malice" by airing these statements. The evidence is "CRYSTAL clear that none of the statements relating to Dominion about the 2020 election are true," Davis wrote. 


Pope Francis discharged from hospital after bronchitis treatment

Pope Francis was discharged from a hospital in Rome on Saturday morning after being treated for bronchitis. Francis, 86, left the hospital around 10:30 a.m. local time and returned to the Vatican, officials said. He was previously admitted to the hospital last Wednesday with what was described as a "respiratory infection," later revealed to be bronchitis. The Vatican had said that Francis would need to spend "a few days" under supervision, and asked for prayers for the ailing pontiff. Upon leaving the hospital, he told a reporter from CNN, "[I'm] still alive, you know!" after being asked how he was feeling. 


TikTok attorney claims China cannot access American data

The top attorney for TikTok and its Chinese parent company ByteDance said Friday that the company was doing everything in its power to safeguard American data from China. During an interview with The Associated Press at a California cybersecurity conference, general counsel Erich Andersen said that TikTok's approach was to "make it physically impossible for any government, including the Chinese government, to get access to U.S. user data." Andersen added that ByteDance is currently developing a new social media app, Lemon8, and that the company would "comply with U.S. law and to make sure we do the right thing here." The attorney's words come as TikTok faces continuing scrutiny over national security issues the app could create in the U.S. and internationally. 


American journalist warned he would be followed prior to Russian arrest, report says

The American journalist detained in Russia on allegations of espionage was warned that his assignment would likely cause him to be followed and attract the attention of the Russian government, his colleague told NBC News on Friday. Evan Gershkovich, an American citizen and reporter with The Wall Street Journal, was arrested in Russia after being accused of spying. Dmitry Kolezev, an independent Russian journalist, told NBC said Gershkovich was possibly trying to report on the Wagner mercenary group, and that he was aware that his actions would likely elicit a negative response from Russian officials. Kolezev said Gershkovich was "pretty sure that they wouldn't touch him because he was an American journalist working for a famous newspaper."


NBA reaches deal with player's union for new labor agreement

The NBA reached a deal with the National Basketball Players Association on a new seven-year collective bargaining agreement, guaranteeing labor harmony until at least 2030, it was reported Saturday morning. While the details have not been announced by the NBA, sources said that the agreement will begin with the 2023-24 basketball season, and is expected to be ratified by the league in the coming weeks. The new deal includes a stoppage of massive salary and luxury tax expenditures by some of the league's high-spending clubs, and is also expected to create more trade and salary options for players on middle-market teams. 


Sen. John Fetterman discharged from hospital after treatment for depression

Sen. John Fetterman (D-Penn.) was discharged from the hospital on Friday after being treated for clinical depression, his office said. The senator had been receiving care at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Washington, D.C., after checking himself in last month. He will return to his role in the Senate when the body reconvenes from its recess on April 17. In a post on Twitter sharing the news, Fetterman wrote that he was "so happy to be home. I'm excited to be the father and husband I want to be, and the senator Pennsylvania deserves." A statement from his office added that Fetterman was "extremely grateful to the incredible team at Walter Reed. The care they provided changed my life."


Elon Musk seeking to have $258B cryptocurrency lawsuit thrown out

Twitter CEO Elon Musk is looking to quash a massive lawsuit against him, asking a U.S. judge on Friday to throw out a $258 billion case accusing him of running a pyramid scheme to support the cryptocurrency Dogecoin. In a filing in a Manhattan federal court, Musk and lawyers for his electric car conglomerate, Tesla, said that the lawsuit was a "fanciful work of fiction" over Musk's "innocuous and often silly tweets" about Dogecoin. Lawyers insisted that Musk never intended to defraud or coerce anyone into purchasing Dogecoin, and had simply spread funny messages about the currency on social media. 


Twitter begins phasing out 'legacy' blue verification checks

Twitter will begin phasing out "legacy" blue checkmarks starting Saturday, in a move to ensure that only accounts that are subscribed to Twitter Blue are verified on the social media site. While the Twitter verification marks were originally intended to denote official accounts of government agencies, journalists, and high-profile public figures, anybody can now receive a checkmark by paying $8 to subscribe to Twitter Blue, and accounts that don't do so will no longer receive verification going forward. Numerous news outlets, including The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, as well as the official White House account, have already said they will not pay for verification. 


Assistant director on 'Rust' set sentenced in shooting incident

David Halls, the first assistant director of the film Rust, pleaded no contest on Friday to a misdemeanor charge of negligent use of a deadly weapon related to the on-set death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in 2021. Halls will serve six months of probation in lieu of jail time. This sentencing makes Halls the first person to be held criminally responsible for the death of Hutchins, who was killed after a prop gun held by actor Alec Baldwin discharged and struck her. Prosecutors are also pursuing charges against Baldwin and armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed, and Halls is expected to testify in those proceedings. 


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