10 things you need to know today: September 15, 2021
Newsom survives California recall, North and South Korea missile tests escalate tensions, and more
Newsom survives California recall effort
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) defeated a Republican-led effort to remove him from office on Tuesday in the second gubernatorial recall election in the state's history. Early returns showed that 66 percent of voters opposed the recall while 34 percent supported it. "No is not the only thing we said tonight," said Newsom, who had faced criticism from conservatives over his early coronavirus lockdown and other policies. "We said yes to science. We said yes to vaccines. We said yes to ending this pandemic." Republican talk show host Larry Elder, who led the field of candidates seeking to replace Newsom, conceded defeat after claiming voter fraud in the days ahead of the vote. "We may have lost the battle, but we are going to win the war," Elder said.
North, South Korea conduct missile tests within hours of each other
North and South Korea test-launched ballistic missiles on Wednesday, escalating tensions as a push to renew nuclear talks with Pyongyang remained stalled. South Korea said it fired a domestically-built missile from a submarine in its first underwater-launched ballistic missile test, making it the seventh nation with that capability. Hours earlier, North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles in violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions banning such tests. On Monday, North Korea fired a newly developed cruise missile, its first weapons test in six months. Experts said Pyongyang appeared to be pressuring the United States to resume nuclear negotiations. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called North Korea's missile launch "outrageous," saying it threatened peace.
DOJ asks judge to block Texas abortion law
The Justice Department on Tuesday asked a federal judge to block Texas' new law preventing nearly all abortions, the latest in a series of legal challenges against the ban. "It is settled constitutional law that 'a state may not prohibit any woman from making the ultimate decision to terminate her pregnancy before viability,'" the department said in the lawsuit. "But Texas has done just that." The Texas law prohibits most abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women know they're pregnant. The Supreme Court two weeks ago declined to block the legislation in a 5-4 decision just before it went into effect, although the conservative majority said it still could face "procedurally proper challenges."
Nicholas weakens but threatens flooding in Texas, Louisiana
Nicholas was downgraded to a tropical depression as it swept across Texas and southwestern Louisiana, dumping more than a foot of rain in areas flooded by 2017's Hurricane Harvey. Galveston got 14 inches of rain. Houston reported six inches of rain, far less than the city got during Harvey. The storm, which hit Texas' Gulf Coast early Tuesday as a hurricane with top sustained winds of 75 miles per hour, weakened quickly as it moved over land. Overnight its top winds dropped to 30 mph. Nicholas knocked out power to nearly 500,000 homes, but about half had service back before evening. University of Miami hurricane researcher Brian McNoldy said a weak storm can still cause dangerous flooding, "whether it's a tropical storm, tropical depression, or post-tropical blob."
Haitian prosecutor says prime minister linked to president's assassination
One of Haiti's top prosecutors, Bed-Ford Claude, asked a judge on Tuesday to charge Prime Minister Ariel Henry in connection with the July assassination of President Jovenel Moïse. Claude, the chief prosecutor in the capital city of Port-au-Prince, said in the two-page indictment request that Henry had conducted two phone calls with a central suspect, former Justice ministry official Joseph Badio, on the night of the killing. "There are enough compromised elements against the prime minister to indict him, pure and simple," Claude wrote. Moïse appointed Henry to the post shortly before his death, but he had not taken office yet. He won a power struggle and took over less than two weeks after the assassination.
New book says top general, alarmed by Trump rhetoric, secretly called China
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, twice called his counterparts in China after the Jan. 6 Capitol attack out of concern that then-President Donald Trump might start a nuclear war, according to a new book by Washington Post associate editor Bob Woodward and national political reporter Robert Costa. The Post reported Tuesday that Milley, then Trump's top military adviser, made the calls to avert a potential war by assuring Gen. Li Zuocheng of the People's Liberation Army that U.S. forces would not attack China despite Trump's belligerent rhetoric and push to overturn his election loss to President Biden. "General Li, I want to assure you that the American government is stable and everything is going to be okay," Milley told him, according to the book. Some conservatives said Milley should resign or be fired if the report is true.
Prices rise in August, but less than expected
Inflation eased but remained elevated in August, the Labor Department reported on Tuesday. The consumer-price index rose by a seasonally adjusted 0.3 percent in August from July, down from a 0.5 percent in July compared to June. The increase in June was even higher, at 0.9 percent. Economists had expected a 0.4 percent August rise. The price increases have come as the latest surge in coronavirus cases slowed the economic recovery and extended labor and supply shortages. Prices were up by 5.3 percent in August from a year earlier, down from 5.4 percent adjusted annual increases in June and July. Real wages adjusted for inflation fell by 0.5 percent in August, as rising prices more than offset pay increases, according to data from the Labor Department and the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
Broadway blockbusters return after coronavirus closures
Some of Broadway's biggest shows, including The Lion King, Wicked, and Hamilton, resumed performances on Tuesday after an 18-month shutdown due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some other shows restarted earlier, but the return of the musical-theater powerhouses represented a big step for the industry, even as a coronavirus surge driven by the highly contagious Delta variant slows the economic recovery. "Broadway, and all of the arts and culture of the city, express the life, the energy, the diversity, the spirit of New York City," Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a news conference Tuesday. "It's in our heart and soul. It's also so much of what people do to make a living in this town … So, this is a big night for New York City's comeback."
California ski resort drops controversial name
The Squaw Valley ski resort near Lake Tahoe announced Tuesday that it is changing its controversial name following complaints from Native American tribes. The leaders of the California resort said they made the decision to change the name last summer because the word "squaw," in modern usage, is widely considered "offensive, derogatory, racist, and misogynistic." The resort, formerly called Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, will now be known as Palisades Tahoe. The Washoe Tribe, whose ancestral lands include the resort's valley, praised the decision. Darrel Cruz of the Washoe Tribe Historic Preservation Office said the word was "a constant reminder of the unjust treatment of the Native people, of the Washoe people."
Former SNL star Norm Macdonald dies at 61
Former Saturday Night Live star Norm Macdonald has died after a private, nearly decade-long battle with cancer, his management firm confirmed Tuesday. He was 61. Macdonald joined SNL in 1993, and was best-known for his role as "Weekend Update" anchor for three seasons. After leaving the show in 1998, Macdonald went on to host a popular video podcast, Norm Macdonald Live, and a Netflix talk show, Norm Macdonald Has a Show. He also had memorable roles in films like Dirty Work and the sitcom The Norm Show, and prior to joining SNL, Macdonald wrote for Roseanne. "He was most proud of his comedy," Macdonald's producing partner Lori Jo Hoekstra told Deadline. "He never wanted the diagnosis to affect the way the audience or any of his loved ones saw him. Norm was a pure comic."