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Mitch McConnell's apparent freeze and a recommendation to reclassify marijuana: Morning Rundown

Sen. Mitch McConnell appeared to freeze for more than 30 seconds during an event in Kentucky, when the 81-year-old was asked if he would run for re-election.

Idalia floods parts of South Carolina after leaving a trail of destruction in Florida. A U.S. health agency recommends changes to marijuana restrictions. And three “canceled” YouTube stars are making comebacks.

Here’s what to know today.

Idalia is headed offshore after battering Florida’s Gulf Coast

Before Idalia moves offshore today, as the National Hurricane Center predicts, it will have destroyed homes and businesses in Florida and inundated parts of Charleston, South Carolina.

A day after the storm made landfall, Florida officials and residents are assessing the damage. Wind blew out store windows, tore siding off buildings and unmoored small boats in communities near the Gulf Coast but didn’t do as much damage as last year’s Hurricane Ian. At least one death yesterday was blamed on the weather, officials said. 

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By Wednesday afternoon, Idalia was downgraded to a tropical storm and produced “very heavy rain” around Charleston, South Carolina. Some flooding was reported in downtown Charleston and thousands were left without power late last night. 

Follow our live blog for the latest updates on Idalia.

More storm coverage:   

Feds consider easing marijuana restrictions

The Drug Enforcement Administration will consider whether to reclassify marijuana after the Department of Health and Human Services formally recommended that the DEA ease government restrictions on the drug. HHS’s recommendation comes nearly a year after President Joe Biden ordered a review of marijuana, which remains illegal at the federal level even though 40 states allow its use in some form. Currently, marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug, the same category as drugs like heroin and LSD, which are considered to have a high potential for abuse.

Advocates for marijuana’s legalization see the recommendation as a historic first step, and the industry could save hundreds of millions of dollars with a new classification.

Friends remember UNC professor killed in shooting

Zijie Yan taught applied physical sciences at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. But beyond that, he was a father who “loved to be with his daughters,” had a positive attitude and loved to cook, according to friends and former colleagues. The associate professor was fatally shot earlier this week by a suspect who headed directly to Yan and immediately left after shooting him, UNC’s police chief said.

While Yan excelled in his work, former colleagues said he was never competitive or political. “There’s no reason why it makes sense for it to be him,” one person said.

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Read more about the UNC shooting aftermath

Texas parents fight whirlwind school changes

Within months of the Texas Education Agency’s takeover of the Houston Independent School District, a state-appointed superintendent instituted a plan that includes more rigorous instruction and converting many school libraries into discipline areas, where students with behavioral issues can attend classes virtually, among other things.

Now, many concerned parents and advocates are speaking out against superintendent Mike Miles’ New Education System. While Miles told NBC Nightly News that opponents’ frustrations are “understandable,” librarians and educators whose jobs were affected, as well as parents nervous about the new school year, aren’t convinced these changes will translate to success.

Today’s Talker: Sen. Mitch McConnell appeared to freeze…

… for more than 30 seconds during an event in Kentucky, a month after a similar incident during which the 81-year-old stopped speaking. Yesterday’s freeze happened when McConnell was asked if he would run for re-election. When it became apparent he had frozen, an aide came up to him and asked, “Did you hear the question, senator?” McConnell still didn’t answer. Afterward, an aide reported McConnell “feels fine” but said he would consult a doctor before his next event.

Politics in Brief

Proud Boys sentencing: Joe Biggs, a Proud Boys leader and former InfoWars correspondent, is expected to be sentenced today for his role as an “instigator and leader” during the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Trump net worth: Donald Trump routinely overstated his personal net worth to financial institutions, by as much as $2.2 billion one year, New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office alleged in a new filing in the civil lawsuit against Trump, some of his children and the Trump Organization.

2020 election: A federal judge ruled Rudy Giuliani defamed two former Georgia election workers and is liable for damages in their lawsuit over his baseless claims that they committed fraud during the last presidential election.

Congress: Rep. James Comer of Kentucky has earned the wrath of Democrats who once praised him as a pragmatic “centrist.” But Comer, who has emerged as the face of the probe into Hunter Biden and President Joe Biden, insists he’s still “bipartisan.”

Staff Pick: YouTube’s ‘canceled’ stars are making comebacks

YouTube stars like James Charles, Tana Mongeau and Jeffree Star found internet fame before they faced multiple cycles of widespread backlash. But their so-called cancellations actually became a launchpad to a fresh start. Reporter Kat Tenbarge explores what the three are up to now and how it seems some popular creators can now shrug off what once seemed like career-ending controversies. — Elizabeth Robinson, newsletter editor

In Case You Missed It

  • A Florida mom is among two people charged in an alleged murder plot after she tried to hire a hitman to kill her 3-year-old son using a parody website called
  • A new study shows that some marijuana users may have elevated levels of lead and cadmium — two heavy metals linked to long-term health issues — in their blood and urine.
  • Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo’s China trip was the fourth by senior U.S. officials in three months, part of a Washington charm offensive to get relations between the countries back on track. 
  • Five sunken World War I-era ships were found in a southeast Texas river this month as ongoing drought conditions push water levels to new lows.
  • “Real Housewives” star Erika Jayne has been sued for over $18 million in a lawsuit alleging she conspired with American Express and the Secret Service to have her former costume designer falsely charged with credit card fraud.

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When you’re planning a relaxing day outside, a good blanket can help protect you from itchy grass, dirt or dampness on the ground. Here are seven top-rated outdoor blankets perfect for picnicking, watching a sporting event or hanging out as your kids play at a park. 

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