Ruby Franke accused of child abuse and clues about Lyme disease’s symptoms: Morning Rundown

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Some Republicans call for transparency about Mitch McConnell’s health. The woman behind a family YouTube account is arrested on child abuse charges. And a car with a bull sitting in the passenger seat turns heads. 

Here’s what to know today.

A doctor’s note from McConnell’s office leaves more questions than answers

It’s time for Mitch McConnell to get more candid about his health, some Republicans said, a day after the longest-serving leader in the Senate appeared to freeze for a second time in two months. A 51-word doctor’s note, released yesterday, said McConnell is “clear” to return to work — but it did little to ease concerns.

One House Republican said McConnell’s access to information about national security issues should be enough reason for him to be forthcoming about his health. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene demanded his resignation and said he was not “fit for office.” Other Republican lawmakers also chimed in with calls for more transparency.

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Aides have chalked up McConnell’s incidents to things like lightheadedness and dehydration. Yesterday, his office acknowledged a connection between the freezes and a concussion he suffered after a fall this year. But beyond that, McConnell’s office has not shared any medical diagnosis or whether he had seen his doctor. 

It might be the most politically vulnerable moment of his nearly 40-year Senate career.

Idalia reinforces Florida’s uncertain insurance industry

The damage done this week by Hurricane Idalia is another in a string of powerful storms to hit Florida communities in recent years, forcing many homeowners to turn to their insurance policies in hopes of repairing their homes and replacing their belongings. But it’s getting more expensive for insurance companies to operate in the state and, therefore, policies are skyrocketing in price (the average home premium in Florida is about $6,000 per year), leaving some homeowners to consider forgoing a policy altogether.

More on Idalia’s aftermath

Family YouTuber arrested on abuse charges

Ruby Franke, a Utah mother whose strict parenting styles have led to backlash in the past, was arrested this week on child abuse charges after a malnourished child with open wounds and duct tape on their extremities was found. According to the Santa Clara-Ivins Public Safety Department, four minors were taken into the care of the Department of Child and Family Services on Wednesday following a search of the home where two emaciated children were found. Franke’s business partner, Jodie Hildebrandt, was also arrested on the same charges. Here’s what else we know so far about the investigation.  

Ruby Franke, right, and business partner, Jodi Hildebrandt, speaks during an Instagram video posted to her @moms_of_truth account.

Franke was the face of a defunct family YouTube channel called 8 Passengers, which chronicled the lives of Franke, her husband and their six children. The family became the subject of harsh criticism in recent years, including allegations of child abuse. 

Ukraine touts gains on the war’s front line

Kyiv’s forces have made gains on the front line in the southeast of the country, according to the Ukrainian military, showing a rare success as the slow-moving counteroffensive against Russian troops grinds on.

U.S. defense officials said that while it’s true the Ukrainians had breached Russian defenses, the advances are more of symbolic value than a big operational development. The breakthrough would be a vindication for Ukraine, which has endured criticism from some of its partners about the way it’s handling the war.

Potential clues about Lyme disease’s long-lasting symptoms

A protective outer layer on certain strains of Lyme bacteria could be a possible reason some symptoms of Lyme disease persist for months, or even years, in some people. A new study published this week revealed that certain strains of the bacteria, Borrelia burgdorferi, have a layer that appears to function as armor against the human immune system, thus giving it a better chance to spread throughout the body. However, it might not be the only factor leading to long Lyme in some people.

Today’s Talker: The number of people missing in the Maui wildfires…

… is expected to drop into double digits, Hawaii Gov. Josh Green said during a daily briefing. A list released last week of the missing listed 388 people, but Green said a “big update” is anticipated today. So how could the number have fallen so much? Many people have come forward saying they’ve been reunited with loved ones or were never missing to begin with. But advocates for people experiencing homelessness said they believe the tally leaves out a portion of the population.

Politics in Brief

Impeachment inquiry: The Biden administration is ramping up its war room to fight a likely Republican impeachment inquiry into the president. Multiple people familiar with the plans spoke about the group’s strategy.

Immigration: Hundreds of active-duty U.S. troops will stay at the southern border at least through the end of the month, the Defense Department said, more than a month after the troops’ mission was expected to end. 

Georgia election case: Former President Donald Trump pleaded not guilty to alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia and will not appear in person during next week’s scheduled arraignment.

UFOs: The Defense Department unveiled a website billed as a “one-stop shop” for declassified, publicly available records about unidentified aerial phenomena.

Jan. 6 riot: Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison in connection to his role as an “instigator and leader” during the Capitol insurrection. And the No. 2 official in New Hampshire on Donald Trump’s presidential campaign was identified by online sleuths in a video shot close to the Capitol on Jan. 6, in which he is heard telling police officers to kill themselves.

Nebraska police were in for a surprise after they got a call about a man driving through town with a “cow” in the passenger seat. Thinking it was a calf, they actually found a full sized bull, named Howdy Doody, riding shotgun with his owner who takes him to parades and fairs around the state.

Staff Pick: Holy cow!

When police in a Nebraska city got a call about a car with a “cow” inside of it, they probably weren’t expecting to encounter Howdy Doody — a more than one-ton bull — sitting in the passenger’s seat of a sedan with half the roof missing. Reporter David K. Li spoke with the bull’s owner about his efforts to “beef up” the retired police cruiser and how his granddaughter’s doubt motivated him to see the potentially “bad idea” through. — Claire Cardona, breaking news editor

In Case You Missed It

 The number of overdose deaths from fake prescription pills has more than doubled in recent years, the CDC reported.

Forget Exorswift: The release date of the upcoming “Exorcist” was moved after Taylor Swift fans pointed out it coincided with the release of The Eras Tour film.

A judge ordered an 84-year-old white man to stand trial and face charges that he shot a Black teen who rang his doorbell after coming to the wrong address.

A Texas man was arrested after his 10-year-old daughter stabbed him during an alleged assault on the girl’s mother. 

China’s new national map lays claim to large amounts of internationally disputed territory, outraging its neighbors.

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