10 things you need to know today: March 8, 2023

Western intelligence officials suspect pro-Ukraine saboteurs in pipeline blasts, 2 Americans found dead and 2 rescued after Mexico kidnapping, and more

Gas leaking at Nord Stream 2 pipeline
(Image credit: Danish Defence/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

1. Intelligence officials suspect pro-Ukraine saboteurs in pipeline blasts

Western intelligence officials believe pro-Ukraine saboteurs were behind the explosions that damaged Russia's Nord Stream natural gas pipelines last year. Suspicions of Ukrainian involvement emerged last year after evidence didn't materialize linking the three Sept. 26 undersea explosions to the Russian government, although Western leaders had publicly pointed to the Kremlin. Some diplomats expressed concern that the possibility of pro-Ukraine involvement could erode support for Kyiv as it fights a Russian invasion now in its second year, even though the Ukrainian government might not have known about the sabotage plan. Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said Kyiv "was absolutely not involved" in the attack on the pipelines, which were built to carry Russian gas to Germany.

The New York Times BBC News

2. 2 Americans found dead, 2 rescued after Mexico kidnapping

Two of the four Americans kidnapped last week in Mexico were found dead Tuesday. The other two were rescued outside Matamoros, the border town where they were attacked and abducted just after crossing the border from Brownsville, Texas, in a minivan. A Mexican military convoy returned the survivors to the United States. Relatives said the four — Latavia "Tay" McGee, Eric James Williams, Shaeed Woodard, and Zindell Brown, all of South Carolina — went to Matamoros because McGee planned to get a tummy tuck from a cosmetic surgeon there. McGee was unharmed. Williams survived with a leg wound. Mexican authorities said the group was hit by gunfire from local drug cartel factions. A Mexican bystander was killed by a stray bullet.

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USA Today The Associated Press

3. Capitol Police, Republicans slam Tucker Carlson over Jan. 6 footage

The Capitol Police on Tuesday criticized Fox News host Tucker Carlson, saying he "cherry-picked" footage from security video of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack to make it look like a peaceful protest. Capitol Police Chief Thomas Manger wrote in a message to officers that Carlson failed "to provide context about the chaos and violence that happened before or during these less tense moments." Republican senators slammed Carlson for portraying the attack as non-violent. Several House Republicans said it was fine for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) to release thousands of hours of security footage to Carlson. "But if your message is then to try and convince people that nothing bad happened," Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said, "then it's just gonna make us look silly."


4. 5 women sue Texas over abortion ban

Five women in Texas are suing the state after they were denied abortions despite severe complications with their pregnancies. None of their fetuses had any chance of surviving. Two doctors are joining in the suit. Texas' bans are supposed to allow abortions when the fetus is expected to die and when the pregnant person's health is in danger. But an overlapping anti-abortion law threatens doctors with big fines, up to 99 years in jail, and the loss of their medical licenses if they provide abortion care. "People are scared and outraged at the thought of being pregnant in this state," Amanda Zurawski, one of the plaintiffs, said in a Tuesday news conference. Zurawski nearly died before doctors were willing to step in.

The Guardian

5. Gigi Sohn withdraws as FCC nominee

Gigi Sohn, picked by President Biden to serve on the Federal Communications Commission, withdrew her nomination on Tuesday after 16 months of opposition from conservatives. Sohn said she was bowing out after "unrelenting, dishonest, and cruel attacks." Sohn's critics, encouraged by cable and media industry lobbyists, attacked her with ads criticizing her as "extreme" and "partisan." Sohn's decision to step aside came after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), a moderate Democrat with added power in a nearly evenly divided Senate, said he would join Republicans in voting against Sohn's confirmation. "It is a sad day for our country and our democracy when dominant industries, with assistance from unlimited dark money, get to choose their regulators," Sohn said in a statement given to The Washington Post.

The Washington Post

6. NTSB launches inquiry into Norfolk Southern safety practices

The National Transportation Safety Board announced Tuesday that it had started investigating Norfolk Southern's safety procedures after several train derailments, including one that released toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio, last month. "The NTSB is concerned that several organizational factors may be involved in the accidents, including safety culture," the regulator said. "At the same time, the company should not wait to improve safety and the NTSB urges it to do so immediately." The NTSB said it had dispatched investigators to the scenes of five "significant accidents" involving Norfolk trains since 2021. An employee died in an accident Tuesday. Norfolk Southern President and CEO Alan Shaw said the company would "of course cooperate fully" with investigators.

The Hill

7. Lawsuit documents: After 2020 election, Tucker Carlson said he hates Trump 'passionately'

Text messages released Tuesday as part of the $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit filed by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox News show that two days before the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, network host Tucker Carlson was excited about the end of Donald Trump's presidency. "We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights," he told staffers. "I truly can't wait." One person responded, "I want nothing more." Carlson replied, "I hate him passionately." Carlson went on to say about Trump's four years in office: "We're all pretending we've got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it's been is too tough to digest. But come on. There really isn't an upside to Trump."

The New York Times

8. Memphis completes investigation into Tyre Nichols' death

A Memphis official said Tuesday as the city wrapped up its investigation that more than a dozen Memphis fire and police department employees have been charged over the fatal beating of Tyre Nichols by police during a traffic stop. Memphis Chief Legal Officer Jennifer Sink said the fire and police departments were investigating to determine whether employees also violated agency policies. Three of the four fire department employees charged were fired. The other was suspended. The city has identified the fired emergency personnel as EMTs Robert Long, JaMichael Sandridge, and Lt. Michelle Whitaker. The city charged 13 police employees. Charges against two of them were dismissed. Seven employees were fired.

NBC News

9. Explosion in Bangladesh market kills 15

An explosion in a crowded market killed at least 15 people in Bangladesh's capital, Dhaka, on Tuesday. Several other people were injured. The blast damaged two floors in a seven-story building, a local fire official said. "There were several shops selling sanitary ware and household goods. A bus standing on the opposite side of the building was also damaged in the blast," fire service official Dinomoni Sharma said. Authorities warned the death toll could rise as rescue operations continue. Kamal Ahmed, who was injured, said he heard a loud bang while shopping on a sidewalk. "Hearing the sound, I fell. Then I saw smoke covering the whole area. No buildings are visible. All the people are running," he said.


10. U.S. to relax COVID testing mandate for China travelers

The Biden administration plans to relax COVID-19 testing requirements for travelers from China as soon as Friday, The Associated Press reported Tuesday, citing two people familiar with the decision. The move comes as COVID hospitalizations and deaths are falling in China and the United States. When the restrictions were imposed on Dec. 28 and enforced starting Jan. 5, China was fighting a surge on infections after Beijing abruptly lifted its "zero-COVID" policy. At the time, U.S. officials said China didn't appear to be giving the world a truthful account of its infections and deaths from the coronavirus, so the restriction was necessary to protect Americans.

The Associated Press

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