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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories
- Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Friday he is appointing Jack Smith to serve as a special counsel overseeing two federal criminal investigations implicating former President Donald Trump, regarding potential interference in the transfer of power and the potential mishandling of classified documents and other presidential records. Garland said he decided such a move was “in the public interest” after Trump’s 2024 campaign launch, given he could theoretically be running against President Joe Biden. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Biden was not aware of Garland’s decision prior to the announcement. Smith—a longtime prosecutor most recently charged with investigating and adjudicating war crimes in Kosovo for the special court in The Hague—said he will exercise independent judgment “and will move the investigations forward expeditiously and thoroughly to whatever outcome the facts and the law dictate.” Trump criticized the move on Friday as “unfair,” “political,” “not even believable,” and “the worst politicization of justice in our country.”
- Five people were killed and 25 more injured in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs on Saturday night. The alleged gunman—a 22-year-old man who was reportedly arrested last year for making a bomb threat—was subdued by club patrons and arrested and is being treated for injuries. Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers said yesterday the shooting has “all the appearances of being a hate crime.”
- In a court filing on Thursday, the Biden administration argued that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as a sitting head of state, has immunity in a civil lawsuit brought by Hatice Cengiz, the former fiancée of Jamal Khashoggi, the Saudi journalist whose 2018 murder was carried out by Saudi government agents and—according to the CIA—ordered by bin Salman himself. The decision was slammed by Cengiz, the Washington Post, and a number of human rights organizations, but the State Department said the move was “purely a legal determination” based on “longstanding and well-established principles” and does not “reflect an assessment on the merits of the case.” GOP Sen. Tom Cotton agreed, telling Fox News on Sunday it would have been a “major breach with customary practice and international law” had the Biden administration not weighed in.
- The Turkish Defense Ministry announced Sunday it had launched a series of airstrikes on Sunday targeting Kurdish militants in northern Syria and Iraq, whom the Turkish government blames for a bombing in Istanbul last week that killed six people and wounded dozens others. The Kurdish groups have denied responsibility for the attack, but the Turkish military said it hit 89 separate targets associated with the militants, including “shelters, bunkers, caves, tunnels and warehouses.”
- Days after a stray missile killed two people in a Polish village near the Ukrainian border, German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said Germany is offering Poland some of its Patriot missile defense systems. Lambrecht also said Germany will extend an existing deployment of Patriot systems in Slovakia through 2023 and “maybe even longer.”
- Although the race is likely headed to an automatic recount, Adam Frisch—the Democratic candidate for Colorado’s 3rd congressional district—conceded to Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert on Friday to avoid furthering “a narrative that the recount could alter the fact that we came up 554 votes short.” Republicans have now won—or are leading in—222 congressional districts, compared to Democrats’ 213.
- With Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer stepping down from their leadership posts, Reps. Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, Pete Aguilar of California, and Jim Clyburn of South Carolina formally launched their bids over the weekend for House Democratic leader, whip, caucus chair, and assistant leader, respectively. Aguilar could be challenged by Rep. Joe Neguse of Colorado, but the other three are expected to face minimal opposition. The party’s leadership elections are set to take place on November 30.
- The National Association of Realtors reported Friday the median existing-home sales price in the U.S. was $379,100 in October—down from a record $416,000 in June, but up 6.6 percent from October 2021—while sales of previously owned homes declined for the ninth straight month, down 28.4 percent year-over-year.
- The Walt Disney Company announced Sunday night its board of directors had reappointed Robert Iger chief executive officer—a role he previously held for 15 years before leaving the company at the end of 2021—because he is “uniquely situated” to lead Disney through an “increasingly complex period of industry transformation.” The moves come just weeks after Disney reported weaker-than-expected fourth quarter earnings. Iger will replace Bob Chapek, who succeeded him as CEO in 2020.
- After being found guilty on four charges of fraud in January, Elizabeth Holmes—founder of the supposed blood-testing startup, Theranos—was sentenced on Friday to more than 11 years in prison.
- President Biden turned 80 years old on Sunday, becoming the first octogenarian to hold the presidency.
RSV Surges Among Infants
By the time the average toddler is spitting all over his second birthday cake in an effort to blow out the candles, he’s likely already had a bout of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Most children recover on their own in a week or two, but because so many catch RSV, even the small fraction of more severe cases adds up to a lot of sick babies. According to the CDC, RSV hospitalizes between 58,000 to 80,000 kids under five in the United States in an average year—and kills 100 to 300.