Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: October 15, 2022

DOJ appeals appointment of Trump’s special master, U.S. to give additional $725 million to Ukraine to aid war efforts, and more

1

DOJ appeals appointment of Trump’s special master

The U.S. Department of Justice on Friday formally filed a motion with a federal appeals court seeking to stop the work of a special master reviewing documents seized by the FBI from former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. The brief was filed with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and sought to end the independent review by the special master, who was appointed by a lower court judge, Aileen Cannon, following the FBI's raid. The DOJ argued in its filing that Cannon did not have any legal authority to interact with a federal investigation, writing, "District courts have no general equitable authority to superintend federal criminal investigations." 

2

U.S. to give additional $725 million to Ukraine to aid war efforts

President Biden on Friday announced that the United States would be sending an additional $725 million in aid to Ukraine as the nation continues to fight back against invading Russian forces. The decision by the U.S. comes following a slew of deadly missile strikes by the Russians across Ukrainian territories that left at least 19 people dead, as calls for a ceasefire come even from Russian allies such as India and China. The funding marks the latest in heavy federal aid sent to Ukraine, as the U.S. has reportedly given the country at least $17.5 billion in finances and weapons. Even amidst the casualties, Ukraine claims to have re-taken 200 square miles from Russia since the beginning of October. 

3

Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock face off in bizarre debate

Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) faced his Republican opponent, Herschel Walker, during their only scheduled debate on Friday, as the closely-watched race for the Georgia Senate seat continues. The debate was Walker's most visible public appearance since becoming embroiled in controversy over allegations that the staunch pro-life candidate had paid for a woman's abortion in 2009. Warnock accused his opponent of being a habitual liar, saying that Walker had "a problem with the truth," while Walker tied Warnock to President Biden's plunging approval ratings and rampant economic problems. In another notable moment, Walker — who has falsely claimed to have worked in law enforcement — appeared to flash a fake police badge on stage. 

4

Omicron BA.5 cases beginning to decline as other COVID variants ramp up, CDC says

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new data Friday showing the Omicron BA.5 variant of the coronavirus is beginning to lose ground as the dominant strain in the country. As the winter months approach (and bring with them rising cases), a number of "splinter" variants of the Omicron virus have been found across the U.S., including BQ.1, BQ.1.1 and BF.7. However, CDC officials said the newly-authorized Omicron boosters should help keep the levels of transmission down. Dr. Ashish Jha, the White House COVID response coordinator, urged all Americans to receive a booster by Thanksgiving. New data shows that Omicron BA.5 cases, in general, are down 12 percent from the beginning of October. 

5

Albert’s and Kroger plan to merge in $25 billion deal

Grocery giant Kroger said Friday it plans to purchase competitor Albertson's for $24.6 billion in a merger that would bring together the two largest supermarket chains in the United States. Kroger is currently the largest grocery conglomerate in the country, owning store brands such as Ralphs, Harris Teeter, Mariano's, and Fred Meyer. The chain has over 2,700 stores nationwide. Albertson's, Kroger's main competitor, brings up the rear with around 2,300 stores, and owns store brands like Safeway, Jewel-Osco, and Acme Markets. If the deal is approved by company officials, it would create a supermarket mega-chain, with the two companies collectively generating a reported $209 billion in revenue per year. 

6

At least 41 dead following coal mine explosion in Turkey

At least 41 people in northern Turkey have died following a coal mine explosion, officials in the country said Saturday. The explosion occurred Friday evening in the mining town of Amasra, off the coast of the Black Sea, when there were a reported 110 miners working in the shaft. While officials said that rescue efforts were nearly complete, Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu told reporters that at least 41 miners were confirmed to have died, with an additional 11 injuries already accounted for. There were an additional 58 people who managed to escape the mine unharmed, Soylu said. An initial investigation said the explosion was likely caused by flammable gases. 

7

Deaths of at least 70 children linked to cough syrup in Gambia

Gambian officials said Friday that at least 70 children in the country had died from complications apparently related to tainted cough syrup. Gambian President Adama Barrow said in a statement the children had died from acute kidney injuries thought to be linked to the cough syrup. Previously, the death toll sat at 69, but Barrow confirmed Friday that an additional child had passed away. The cough syrup was reportedly made by an Indian company called Maiden Pharmaceuticals Ltd, which has had one of its factories shut down since the outbreak of the deaths. Gambian officials are continuing to investigate. 

8

Employees at Apple in Oklahoma become chain’s 2nd store to unionize

Employees at an Apple store in Oklahoma City voted on Friday to unionize, marking the company's second retail location in the country to do so. The unionizing group, which calls itself the Penn Square Labor Alliance, will now join the Communications Workers of America labor force. The group has a reported 94 employees at the Oklahoma City store that are now eligible to join the union. The vote, in which there were 56 in favor and 32 opposed, marks another defeat for the large tech conglomerate, which has made efforts in recent years to oppose unionization. 

9

Harvard endowment shrinks for 1st time since 2016

Harvard University, considered among the world's most prestigious, saw its endowment fall in 2022, marking the first financial loss for the institution since 2016. Financial reports disclosed this past week showed that the university lost an estimated $2.3 billion in investments this year, representing a 1.8 percent drop. The financial loss comes just one year after Harvard posted record highs, bringing in a reported 33.6 percent return on endowment investments. The loss could represent a new wave of issues for the institution, whose research and academic prowess are funded almost entirely by its massive endowment. Even with the drop-off, the university still has an endowment of $50.9 billion, among the highest in the country. 

10

Robbie Coltrane of 'Harry Potter' fame dies at 72

Robbie Coltrane, the towering actor best known for his role as the lovable half-giant Hagrid in the Harry Potter film franchise, has died at the age of 72. Coltrane's agency WME confirmed the Scottish actor had died this past week at a local hospital. While a cause of death was not released, WME reportedly said Coltrane had been in poor health for the past two years. While Coltrane became a household name for his role in Harry Potter, he also made appearances in two James Bond films — The World Is Not Enough and Goldeneye — and was also seen on numerous British television shows. 

Update 9:36 p.m. ET: This first section of the above article has been updated to clarify the appointment of the special master in the Mar-a-Lago document review.

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