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Britney Spears broke her silence in court, saying she’s “enslaved” in an “abusive” conservatorship. An Indiana woman became the first person sentenced in the January riot at the U.S. Capitol. And John McAfee was found dead in his jail cell.

👋 It’s Laura. I’ve got Wednesday’s news, with a side of #FreeBritney.

But first, ever seen “Homeward Bound”? 🐕 This story has a happy ending. Chunk, a 3-year-old golden retriever, was found swimming across a bay after going missing two weeks earlier.

The Short List is a snappy USA TODAY news roundup. Subscribe to the newsletter here or text messages here.

Britney Spears: ‘I’m not here to be anyone’s slave’

Speaking out in court for the first time in more than two years, Britney Spears asked for an end to the conservatorship that has controlled her money and affairs for 13 years. The 39-year-old pop star spoke in open court Wednesday, describing the arrangement as “abusive.” “I’m not here to be anyone’s slave,” Spears said while appearing remotely. “I’ve lied and told the whole world I’m okay and I’m happy. It’s a lie… I’m so angry it’s insane.” Follow along with our entertainment team for more updates from this breaking story.

First sentence comes down in Capitol riot

An Indiana woman became the first person sentenced in the January riot at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday after entering a guilty plea and telling the court she’s since educated herself with movies such as “Schindler’s List.” Anna Morgan-Lloyd pleaded guilty in federal court to one charge of parading, demonstrating or picketing in a Capitol building in exchange for three years of probation, $500 in restitution and 40 hours of community service. She is also prohibited from buying a firearm under the terms of her probation. Morgan-Lloyd said she went to the Capitol intending to show peaceful support for former President Donald Trump. “I’m ashamed that it became a savage display of violence that day,” she said. Federal prosecutors have charged more than 400 people so far in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot. 

Antivirus creator John McAfee dies

John McAfee, the antivirus software entrepreneur who faced extradition from Spain to the U.S. on tax-related criminal charges, was found dead in his jail cell. Earlier in the day, Spain’s National Court approved the extradition of McAfee to the U.S., where he was wanted on tax-related criminal charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 30 years. Authorities believe McAfee died by suicide.

A new strategy on crime

President Biden is getting tough on crime, launching a prevention strategy Wednesday in a push to take on rising gun violence as Republicans blame the increase in crime on calls from left-wing activists to cut police funding. In a speech from the White House, Biden announced a “zero tolerance policy” for rogue gun dealers and a new focus on stopping the illegal sale of firearms. Biden emphasized that cities and states can use their portions of $350 billion in direct aid from Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan on public safety efforts, including hiring more police officers.

  • Biden administration to give migrants forced to wait in Mexico another shot to apply for asylum.
  • $13 wage for federal firefighters ‘ridiculously low,’ President Biden says.

What everyone’s talking about

  • Chicago woman dragged from car dies days after shooting that killed her boyfriend.
  • Chris Brown is accused of more violence against women. Are we ready to cancel him yet?
  • As COVID-19 fades, Americans hit the beach. And wait in line.
  • Baby’s face slashed during emergency C-section leaves family questioning care.

Supreme Court backs cheerleader who slammed school

“F––– school f––– softball f––– cheer f––– everything.” That’s what Brandy Levy, who was 14 at the time, wrote on Snapchat after she didn’t make the varsity cheer team in 2017. She got kicked off the junior varsity squad, and her parents sued the school district in federal court. Wednesday, the Supreme Court sided with Levy, holding that the punishment of her off-campus speech violated the First Amendment. The 8-1 ruling left unresolved the broader question of when schools may regulate off-campus speech and when such punishment is off-limits.

  • Supreme Court wary of letting schools punish off-campus speech. Here’s why.

Real quick

  • Derek Chauvin could face up to 30 years in prison Friday when he is sentenced for the murder of George Floyd.
  • Dreams come true at the U.S. Olympic trials, but many find only heartbreak
  • ‘Dangerously hot’: Record-breaking heat wave to scorch parts of the USA this weekend.
  • Michigan Republican-led investigation rejects Trump’s claim that the 2020 election was stolen.

Harris will hit the border

After months of pressure from Capitol Hill and half the people on my Twitter feed, Vice President Kamala Harris will visit the U.S.-Mexican border, the White House announced Wednesday. Harris, who was tasked with dealing with the root causes of migration from Central America, will visit El Paso, Texas, alongside Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Harris’ visit is “part of the coordinated effort between her office, her work, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Health and Human Services, to continue to address the root causes and work in coordination to get the situation under control.”

Vanessa Bryant settles lawsuit in deaths of husband, daughter

In a confidential settlement, the widow of NBA legend Kobe Bryant agreed to end her lawsuit against those she blamed for the death of her husband and daughter in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles in January 2020. Less than a month after the accident, Vanessa Bryant sued the companies that owned and operated the helicopter, as well as the estate of the late pilot, accusing them of negligence and causing the wrongful death of Kobe and Gianna Bryant, seeking damages in return for the losses she suffered. The National Transportation Safety Board concluded this year that the pilot’s poor decision-making was the likely cause of the crash.

A break from the news

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