La Niña, Ukraine, Liz Truss, student loan forgiveness, Taylor Swift: Daily Briefing – USA TODAY

A warmer-than-average winter is on the way, experts say, contributing to drought that’s already draining the Mississippi River. Also in the news: The U.S. is contemplating how to protect Ukraine from deadly drone attacks. A judge has dropped a case by six conservative states challenging President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan. 

??‍♀️ I’m Nicole Fallert, Daily Briefing author. Happy “Midnights” day. 

Here we go with Friday’s headlines.

Winter weather is coming: It will be warm, dry in South and East because of La Niña, NOAA says

Like it or not, winter is coming. And this winter is expected to be dominated by the La Niña climate pattern yet again, according to federal forecasters who issued their forecast for the U.S. on Thursday. That means generally warmer-than-average temperatures are expected for much of the southern tier of the U.S. as well as the Eastern Seaboard. And drought is forecast across the South. The drought is raising fears of wildfires in the south-central U.S. this winter, forecasters said. It also has caused the Mississippi River to approach record low levels in some areas from Missouri south through Louisiana. Read more

US seeking drone defense for Ukraine

The Pentagon is looking at how to help Ukraine defend itself against the Iranian drones Russia is using to kill civilians and destroy infrastructure, White House spokesman John Kirby said Thursday. “I can’t tell you today what that’s going to look like, when we’re going to be able to move additional air defense capabilities to Ukraine,” he said. Overnight attacks from Russian drones and missiles killed at least three civilians and wounded 14 across Ukraine, the president’s office said, adding that a school in the Zaporizhzhia province was struck early Thursday. Read more

More news to know now

? What’s the weather this weekend? Check your local forecast here.

Who could be the next UK prime minister?

British Prime Minister Liz Truss quit Thursday after a tumultuous and historically brief term in which her economic policies roiled financial markets and a rebellion in her political party obliterated her authority. Truss became the third Conservative prime minister to be toppled in as many years, extending the instability that has shaken Britain since it broke off from the European Union and leaving its leadership in limbo as the country faces a cost-of-living crisis and looming recession. Read more

What happens now? Because Britain elects a party, not a specific leader, Truss will be replaced by another lawmaker from her ruling Conservative Party. The process to replace her will take place within the next week.

  • Five names to know: Rishi Sunak; Penny Mordaunt, Jeremy Hunt; Ben Wallace; Boris Johnson are all potentials for the party’s top seat. To enter the race to be the next party leader and thus prime minister, candidates need to secure the backing of 100 lawmakers by Monday.
  • Liz Truss vs. lettuce: Vegetable outlasts British PM in tabloid’s livestream competition.

Judge dismisses suit from 6 GOP states aiming to block Biden student loan debt forgiveness plan

A federal judge in Missouri dismissed a case brought by six conservative states that broadly charged that President Joe Biden’s administration had acted beyond its authority in its plan to cancel student loan debt for millions of borrowers. The six states – Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and South Carolina – failed to establish they had standing, with the judge saying Thursday that “the Court lacks jurisdiction to hear this case.” The states also had argued they would lose money from future tax revenues and via quasi-state agencies that service student loans. However, the legal bickering between the president and these six states will continue. Read more

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Taylor Swift returns to pop with poetic ‘Midnights’

The Taylor Swift of “Midnights” could not have existed before “Folklore” and “Evermore.” This Swift, who has never shirked from opening a vein of vulnerability, has drilled down another few layers. On her 10th studio album, she’s not only offering us her most personal reflections – a high bar in Swift’s world – but imparting them with poetic grace and an elevated level of storytelling. The rapt reception to the stripped-down musicality and raw emotion on her last two albums boosted her confidence as a songwriter, and even as she returns to a pop backdrop heavy on synths and electronic drums, Swift remains our lyrical savant. Read more

? Photo of the day: Best photos from Week 7 of the 2022 NFL season ?

The Philadelphia Eagles, who remain the NFL’s lone undefeated team, are on a bye this week. The Buffalo Bills, Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants are the only three teams with just one loss. Ten teams have a winning record, and 10 teams are 3-3 entering Week 7, including the Cincinnati Bengals and Los Angeles Rams, last year’s Super Bowl participants. Read more

Click here to see more photos from Week 7 of the NFL season.

One more thing

Nicole Fallert is a newsletter writer at USA TODAY, sign up for the email here. Want to send Nicole a note, shoot her an email at or follow along with her musings on Twitter. Support journalism like this – subscribe to USA TODAY here.

Associated Press contributed reporting.