Newsom's future, Senate hearing on Nassar probe, SpaceX rocket: 5 things to know Wednesday

·5 min read

California looks ahead after Gov. Newsom easily fends off recall attempt

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom easily fended off a historic attempt to recall him from leading the state of California Tuesday night. Newsom needed to convince more than half of voters that he should remain in office, which he easily managed. Elections experts had cautioned results could take time in a state known for taking weeks to count ballots. But less than an hour after polls closed, The Associated Press, NBC News and CNN declared Newsom the winner. The Republican frontrunner was conservative radio host Larry Elder, who was labeled by President Joe Biden as a "Trump clone." Despite earlier voter fraud claims, Elder conceded Tuesday night and acknowledged Newsom's win. The campaign to recall Newsom largely centered on his COVID-19 policies. Now that he has won, managing the pandemic will remain a top priority going forward. Exit polls showed COVID-19 was voters' top issue, followed by homelessness, the economy, wildfires and crime.

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Biles, Raisman to testify in Senate on FBI's Nassar investigation

Gymnastic superstars Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, McKayla Maroney and Maggie Nichols are set to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday on the FBI's failures to investigate 2015 sexual abuse allegations against former USA Gymnastics team doctor Larry Nassar. All four gymnasts said they were victims of Nassar's abuse with Nichols being the first athlete to bring a sexual abuse complaint about Nassar to top officials at USA Gymnastics. The Department of Justice Inspector General released a report in July that said the FBI's Indianapolis field office failed to respond "with the utmost seriousness and urgency that the allegations deserved and required." The field office also failed to alert the proper authorities, the DOJ said. The Senate hearing titled "Dereliction of Duty: Examining the Inspector General's Report on the FBI's Handling of the Larry Nassar Investigation," will also feature testimony from Inspector General Michael Horowitz and FBI Director Chris Wray.

SpaceX to send billionaire, three other civilians into orbit

Four private citizens are set to launch in a SpaceX rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday for the first all-civilian mission to orbit the Earth. The "Inspiration4" mission – the subject of a Netflix documentary series – will be far more advanced than other recent suborbital "hops": Rather than just climbing to the edge of space and quickly returning as Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin did, Inspiration4 will circle the Earth for three days, at a higher orbit than the International Space Station. Leading and funding the mission is Jared Isaacman, a 38-year-old billionaire and founder of the internet firm Shift4 Payments, who is promoting the flight as a fundraising effort for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. The five-hour launch window opens at 8:02 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Nicholas douses Gulf Coast, heads toward storm-battered Louisiana

Residents of southern Louisiana still recovering from Hurricane Ida just weeks ago were bracing Wednesday for expected heavy rains as Nicholas, a tropical depression as of Tuesday night, kept crawling across parts of the state from Texas. "Heavy rain will persist across southeast Texas, and will continue spreading into Louisiana," AccuWeather senior meteorologist Adam Douty said. In a state still recovering from Category 4 storm Ida weeks ago, Nicholas and its potentially heavy rain bands were unwelcome news. Gov. John Bel Edwards reached out to President Joe Biden, who declared an emergency in Louisiana and ordered federal assistance. Nicholas made landfall as a hurricane early Tuesday in Texas, 70 miles from where historic Hurricane Harvey made landfall in 2017. Galveston, Texas, saw nearly 14 inches of rain from Nicholas, while Houston reported more than 6 inches.

One month after fall of Kabul, Taliban rule hardens in Afghanistan

It's been one month since the Taliban, on August 15, re-took Kabul without firing a single shot. Now the regime is back in power following the United States' exit from the Afghan capital on Aug. 31. After making early promises about a more inclusive government, the Taliban has returned in some ways to the brutal regime that ruled the country before the American invasion in 2001. The Taliban has also reimposed gender divisions in public life, especially in education, where many women fear they will be barred from attending any form of education. As the international community rallies aid for Afghanistan, Afghans find themselves living in a country that has already radically changed and likely will change even further. "What we are seeing is totally different from what they are saying," a woman who remains in Afghanistan told USA TODAY.

Contributing: The Associated Press

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Newsom's future, Larry Nassar, SpaceX launch: 5 things to know Wednesday