Kherson Battle Looms, Liz Truss, and Test Optional Results Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Thursday, Oct. 20, and we're covering the fight for a key city in Ukraine, the UK prime minister's rough day with parliament, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].


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Kherson Battle Looms

Russian President Vladimir Putin declared martial law in Russia-occupied areas of Ukraine and ordered the evacuation of civilians from the city of Kherson yesterday, moves that come ahead of a potential Ukrainian offensive to retake the regional capital. Kherson, a key Black Sea port city, was captured by Russia in March, but a recent push brought Ukrainian forces to within 20 miles of its perimeter (see map).


Separately, Ukraine formally requested air defense technologies from Israel amid increased use by Russia of Iranian-made kamikaze drones. Israel—Iran's long-running regional rival—has used its Iron Dome system to protect against short-range missile attacks (how it works, w/video).


Recent Russian bombardment has destroyed a reported 30% of Ukraine's energy infrastructure. Officials say more than 1,100 towns and villages are without power ahead of a winter season with average low temperatures near 20 degrees Fahrenheit, which typically arrive in December. 


See updates on the war here.

Truss Under Pressure

Annual inflation in the UK rose 10.1% in September, returning to its fastest pace since 1982 and matching year-over-year inflation in July as the nation grapples with rising costs of living. The figure comes as UK Prime Minister Liz Truss faces opposition from her Conservative Party over a failed $50B tax cuts package.


Truss, who went before parliament yesterday for the first time since new Finance Minister Jeremy Hunt dropped much of her unfunded tax plan, apologized for 

what she said were mistakes made during her short time in office so far (see timeline). Members of parliament called on Truss to resign, to which Truss said, "I am a fighter, not a quitter." Watch the tense Q&A session here


Separately, Home Secretary Suella Braverman resigned yesterday after 43 days in office for breaching rules by sending an official document from her personal email address. Braverman also cited concerns about the government's unfulfilled policy pledges. 

Iranian Climber Returns

Iranian professional climber Elnaz Rekabi returned to Tehran after participating in a competition in South Korea without wearing a legally required headscarf. The performance drew support from activists and condemnation from Iranian authorities; an Instagram post attributed to Rekabi claimed the removal was unintentional. 


Rekabi, 33, wore a black headband in her final event (see video) instead of the traditional head covering. After the event, friends of the athlete say they couldn't reach her, and sources claim Iranian officials in South Korea had taken her passport and phone. She apologized in a state-run TV interview upon arriving in Tehran Tuesday, claiming she had forgotten to wear the hijab while preparing for the event. Observers noted her language resembled similar apologies given under duress in the past.


The incident escalated ongoing tensions in the country amid nationwide protests following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini last month.

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Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

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> Houston Astros top New York Yankees 4-2 to take  Game 1 of the American League Championship Series (More) | San Diego Padres beat Philadelphia Phillies to even NLCS at 1-1 (More)


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Science & Technology

> Food and Drug Administration panel recommends pulling drug meant to prevent preterm births from market, citing lack of efficacy and health risks; agency to make final decision in coming months (More) | About one in 10 babies in the US are born before 37 weeks; see background (More)


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Business & Markets

> US stock markets close lower (S&P 500 -0.7%, Dow -0.3%, Nasdaq -0.9%), snapping two-day winning streak (More)


> Tesla posts $3.3B in quarterly earnings, $21.5B in sales, but falls short of revenue expectations; shares down in after-hours trading (More) | BMW to invest $1.7B in US electric vehicle operations (More


> Uber launches advertising business, to serve ads in ride-hailing and food delivery (Uber Eats) apps; company hopes to grow business to $1B revenue by 2024 (More)

Politics & World Affairs

> Wisconsin group asks Supreme Court to block federal government's student loan forgiveness plan; the Biden administration already faces challenges by at least seven states and two organizations (More) | Judge orders former President Donald Trump's legal adviser, John Eastman, to turn over records to the House Jan. 6. committee (More)


> India's opposition Congress party elects Mallikarjun Kharge, 80, as its new leader; Kharge is the first person from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family to hold the party's presidency in 24 years (More)


> The Internal Revenue Service releases inflation-adjusted federal income tax brackets for the 2023 tax year (More



The Test-Optional Movement

Hechinger Report | Jill Barshay. Colleges that ditched SAT and ACT standardized test scores for admissions find it harder to be fair in choosing students, new research says. (Read)

Sparkly Fish, Murky Methods

AP | Staff. Millions of tropical fish are caught in Indonesia and other countries every year to fill aquariums around the world. But the long journey can be perilous for the fish and the reefs they come from, including when cyanide is involved. (Read)



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Historybook: Baseball great Mickey Mantle born (1931); Congress investigates "Reds" in Hollywood (1947); Tom Petty born (1950); Vice President Kamala Harris born (1964); President Herbert Hoover dies (1964); Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi killed (2011).


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- Tom Petty

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