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10 things you need to know today: March 1, 2023

Conservative justices appear skeptical about Biden's student loan forgiveness, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot loses re-election bid, and more


Conservative justices skeptical of Biden student loan forgiveness

Justices in the Supreme Court's conservative majority appeared skeptical about President Biden's authority to forgive $400 billion in student loan debt. Former President Donald Trump declared the COVID-19 pandemic a national emergency and paused student loan payments under the HEROES Act, which lets the government waive loan requirements in an emergency. Biden extended that program and announced that he would forgive some debt for millions of borrowers. But Chief Justice John Roberts, part of the high court's conservative supermajority, suggested the Biden administration might have violated the separation of powers by acting without explicit enough congressional authorization. Liberal Justice Elena Kagan said the law clearly authorized the administration to do what it has proposed.


Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot loses re-election bid

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot lost her bid for re-election on Tuesday. Lightfoot, who was elected in 2019 and was the first Black woman and first openly gay person to serve as Chicago's mayor, came in third behind former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Neither Vallas nor Johnson received 50 percent of the vote, so they will face each other in an April runoff. Lightfoot was the first incumbent since 1983 to lose a re-election bid after serving a full term in the nation's third largest city. Her loss came "after four tumultuous years marked by a pandemic, spikes in crime citywide, and widespread divisiveness," according to the Chicago Tribune.


Putin tightens Ukraine border controls after drone attacks in Russia

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday ordered his country's officials to increase controls on Russia's Ukraine border following a series of drone attacks inside Russia. One of the drones reportedly crashed 60 miles from Moscow. Ukraine didn't claim responsibility, but officials in Kyiv have said they had the right to strike targets across the border to counter Russia's invasion. Gov. Aleksandr Bogomaz of Russia's Bryansk region said Russian forces there had shot down one of the Ukrainian drones. Moscow Regional Gov. Andrei Vorobyov said the drone that approached the capital appeared to have been targeting a Gazprom gas distribution facility, although it didn't reach it and there were no casualties.


Biden warns GOP's plans to cut spending threaten health care

President Biden warned on Tuesday that Republican lawmakers are pushing to slash government spending and threatening programs people desperately need, including Medicaid and ObamaCare. "For millions of Americans, health care hangs in the balance," Biden said at a recreation center in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His remarks came as he began a push to rally support for his budget priorities as Republicans demand unspecified spending cuts. Biden said the GOP included many "really good" people, but that GOP lawmakers who are hardline supporters of former President Donald Trump's MAGA movement are using the threat of a federal-debt default as leverage to get what they want. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has called for working toward balancing the budget.


Ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu declared winner of Nigeria presidential election

Nigeria's National Electoral Commission on Wednesday declared ruling party candidate Bola Tinubu the winner of the country's presidential election, which was held Saturday. Tinubu, of the All Progressives Congress party, received 37 percent of the vote. He beat Atiku Abubakar, a former vice president representing the opposition People's Democratic Party, who got 29 percent of the vote, and Peter Obi of the little-known Labour Party, with 25 percent. Tinubu, a longtime political force in the country, appealed to the other candidates to "team up together." The rival parties said the vote was rigged, and called for throwing out the results and holding a new election.


Biden picks Julie Su as next labor secretary

President Biden announced Tuesday that he would nominate Julie Su, the deputy labor secretary, to become the next labor secretary when Martin Walsh leaves the post in March. Su, who will be the first Asian American to serve in Biden's Cabinet, would take over at a crucial time, as the administration seeks to stabilize the economy amid recession fears, and bolster labor rights. Su, a fluent Mandarin speaker and former California labor commissioner, has overseen the release of numerous rules to benefit workers and protect them from COVID-19. Walsh will be the first official to leave Biden's Cabinet. He will head the National Hockey League Players Association.


Iran investigates mysterious poisoning of hundreds of schoolgirls

Thirty-seven students at Khayyam Girls' School in Pardis, near Tehran, were poisoned on Tuesday in the latest in a wave of incidents that have left nearly 700 girls sickened by toxic gas in Iran since November. No deaths have been reported, but dozens of girls have suffered respiratory problems, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue, BBC News reported. "It became evident that some people wanted all schools, especially girls' schools, to be closed down," an Iranian deputy health minister said Sunday. The country's prosecutor general said last week he was launching a criminal investigation, citing evidence that the incidents might have stemmed from "premeditated acts." Girls have played a major role in Iran's recent anti-government protests.


Dozens dead after high-speed rail collision in Greece

A passenger train and a freight train collided head-on at high speed in northern Greece early Wednesday, killing at least 32 people. Dozens of others were injured. The crash occurred around midnight near the Tempe Valley, a Hellenic Fire Service official said. The passenger train was traveling between Athens and Thessaloniki, two cities popular with tourists. Several cars derailed in the accident, and at least three caught on fire, sending smoke billowing over the wreckage. "The evacuation process is ongoing and is being carried out under very difficult conditions due to the severity of the collision between the two trains," Fire Service spokesman Vassilis Varthakoyiannis said.


Tesla to build Mexico plant, Mexican president says

Tesla plans to build a $1 billion plant in northern Mexico's Monterrey area, Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said Tuesday. Later phases could boost the investment to $10 billion, other officials told Reuters. The "whole Tesla company" is coming to the country, with a "very big" electric-vehicle plant and potential investment in batteries, too, López Obrador said. Another Mexican official said Tesla would produce a sport utility vehicle at the factory. Tesla's Model Y is its best-selling SUV, although no specifics on what the plant will manufacture were immediately available. "This will represent a considerable investment and many, many jobs," López Obrador told reporters.


Linda Kasabian, lookout who testified against Manson family, dies at 73

Linda Kasabian, who served as a lookout and getaway driver in the Charles Manson cult murders then became the prosecution's star witness with an immunity deal, has died, news outlets reported on Tuesday. She was 73. Kasabian died Jan. 21 at a Tacoma, Washington, hospital, according to a death notice published this month in the Tacoma News Tribune. The publication identified her as Linda Chiochios, one of the two last names she used as she kept a low profile after the trial. Kasabian was 20 and raising a newborn daughter when she met Manson in July 1969 and joined his Los Angeles commune, which called itself the "family." She said she later realized Manson "was definitely the devil."


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