Top secret information, leaked

Ashley Shaffer writes The Short List newsletter for USA TODAY. To subscribe to this snappy news roundup, click here. 

An intelligence leak. A billion-dollar IOU. And almost 2 million without power. Here’s the news you need to know Wednesday. 

But first, who is the “fattest” bear of all? Her name is Holly, she lives in Alaska and she’s absolutely fabulous.

Caught ‘red-handed’ leaking top secret intel 

We’ve got ourselves another intelligence leak. An intelligence employee was “caught red-handed” leaking top secret information to a reporter, the Justice Department says. A 30-year-old counterterrorism analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency was arrested Wednesday on accusations that he disclosed classified information to two journalists, one of whom he was romantically involved with. The journalist authorities say he was in a relationship with published six articles related to the leaked information. Henry Kyle Frese was charged with two counts of willful transmission of national defense information, each carrying a maximum of 10 years imprisonment. 

Matt Lauer: ‘I have never assaulted anyone’

Matt Lauer broke his silence Wednesday after details of a rape allegation emerged against the former “Today” show anchor. Variety reported late Tuesday that Ronan Farrow’s new book, “Catch and Kill,” reveals an allegation from Brooke Nevils, a previously unidentified former NBC News employee whose initial complaint led to Lauer getting fired from “Today” in 2017. Variety reported that the book includes a claim he raped her at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. In a lengthy letter, Lauer denied the allegations. “I have never assaulted anyone or forced anyone to have sex. Period,” Lauer wrote. He said the two had a “sexual encounter” at the Olympics but maintained their relationship was “extramarital, but consensual.”

  • Jennifer Aniston studied Matt Lauer’s last “Today” appearance for “Morning Show” inspiration.

Matt Lauer denies a rape allegation. (Photo: Getty)

What everyone’s talking about

  • Actress Lori Loughlin could face a “substantially higher” prison sentence than Felicity Huffman. 
  • A 9-year-old child was charged with five counts of first-degree murder.
  • Jenna Dewan was “gutted” after her devastating split from Channing Tatum. 
  • Kristen Bell discussed her mental health: “Shame” prevents people from opening up.
  • There’s a Wegman’s lawsuit over vanilla ice cream. Yes, the most vanilla of flavors. 

Has the US been ignoring $1 billion Venmo requests from the UN?

The United Nations says it may be unable to pay its staff and bills if member nations don’t cough up their annual dues soon. The biggest delinquent payer in the world? The United States. Yikes. Yikes. Yikes. Washington apparently owes the U.N. $381 million in back payments and $674 million this year. As the largest contributor to the organization, the U.S. has long sought to pressure the U.N. to rein in spending. President Donald Trump, who has questioned the value of the U.N., responded to reports of budget deficits Wednesday: “Make all Member Countries pay, not just the United States,” he tweeted.

German police call deadly synagogue attack ‘anti-Semitic’

A gunman killed two people and tried to force his way into an eastern German synagogue Wednesday on Yom Kippur in what German authorities called an anti-Semitic attack. The suspect live-streamed the attacks in the city of Halle with a helmet-mounted camera, according to media reports. Prosecutors said they believe the attack had far-right motives. Yom Kippur, or the Day of Atonement, is Judaism’s holiest day of the year, when Jews fast for more than 24 hours. 

Two people were shot near a synagogue in Halle, Germany, on Oct. 9. (Photo: Filip Singer, EPA-EFE)

Real quick 

  • Turkey launched a military offensive in Syria after Trump pulled back U.S. troops.
  • An angry mob tied a mayor to the back of truck and dragged him through a town in Mexico. He’s OK.
  • Teens tried to lure a man looking for underage sex. Then, one was kidnapped, police say.
  • Bernie Sanders’ daughter-in-law died at 46 after being diagnosed with cancer.
  • A “potentially historic” winter storm could bring up to 2 feet of snow to the central and western USA.

Almost 2 million Californians will be without power through Thursday

Almost 2 million Californians will be left in the dark at least through Thursday as the state’s largest utility implements a preemptive power shutdown in an aggressive effort to curb wildfire risks amid high winds and hot, dry conditions. The power shutdowns deprived more than 1 million people of power in Northern California on Wednesday, and the second phase could affect more than half a million people in cities as large as San Jose and Santa Cruz. Pacific Gas and Electric’s massive power shutdown is an attempt to prevent downed power lines from sparking fires. Some of California’s most destructive blazes in recent years were started by the utility’s power lines.

  • California power outage Q&A: What you need to know.

Garfield Elementary School student Terreece Douresseau attempts to enter the front door of the school only to learn the school has been closed due to a possible power outage by Pacific Gas & Electric on Oct. 9, 2019, in San Leandro, Calif. (Photo: Ben Margot, AP)

A break from the news 

  • When’s the last time you cleaned your phone? It’s dirtier than you think. 
  • Here are 22 positive, practical things you can do to feel better about the world.
  • Did you ask for a federal tax extension in April? Your time to file is almost up. 

This is a compilation of stories from across the USA TODAY Network.

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