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10 things you need to know today: April 11, 2023

Gunman kills 5 and wounds 8 at Louisville bank, Justice Department asks appeals court to block Texas ruling suspending approval of abortion pill, and more


5 dead in shooting at Louisville Bank

A man with a rifle shot and killed five co-workers at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday. The victims were identified as bank employees Joshua Barrick, 40; Thomas Elliott, 63; Juliana Farmer, 45; James Tutt, 64; and Deanna Eckert, 57. Eight others were wounded, three of them critically, including police officer Nickolas Wilt, 26, who graduated from the police academy on March 31. Police responded quickly to calls reporting the gunfire. "Officers were on the scene within three minutes," Jacquelyn Gwinn-Villaroel, the interim chief of the Louisville Metro Police Department, said. "The suspect shot at officers. We then returned fire and stopped that threat." The 23-year-old suspect, bank employee Connor Sturgeon, died.


DOJ, drug companies ask appeals court to block ruling against abortion pill

The Justice Department and abortion pill manufacturers on Monday asked a federal appeals court to block a judge's ruling that could make the medication unavailable nationwide. The appeal to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals seeks an administrative stay on the ruling by a federal judge in Texas. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk on Friday ordered the suspension of the Food and Drug Administration's September 2000 approval of the drug, mifepristone. Kacsmaryk gave the Justice Department seven days to appeal before his ruling takes effect. The Justice Department asked the appeals court to respond to its emergency request by Thursday to let the government appeal to "the Supreme Court if necessary," arguing that Kacsmaryk's ruling would "thwart FDA's scientific judgment and severely harm women."


China completes military drills near Taiwan

China on Monday completed three days of military drills simulating the surrounding of Taiwan in response to Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen's meeting in California last week with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.). China, which views Taiwan as a renegade province, said the maneuvers were a success. China said its Shandong aircraft carrier participated in the drills to practice "sealing off" Taiwan. Taiwan said it detected 12 Chinese warships and 91 aircraft around the island on Monday. "Although [China's] Eastern Theatre Command has announced the end of its exercise, the [Taiwanese] military will never relax its efforts to strengthen its combat readiness," Taiwan's defense ministry said in a statement.


State Department designates Journal reporter 'wrongfully detained' by Russia

The State Department on Monday designated Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich "wrongfully detained" in Russia. Authorities in Russia arrested Gershkovich when he was on assignment in the country and accused him of espionage. The Journal and the U.S. government vehemently deny the allegation of spying. "Journalism is not a crime," State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said in a statement calling for Gershkovich's "immediate release." The designation, which the U.S. reached with unprecedented speed, shifts Gershkovich's case to the Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs, a State Department section responsible for negotiating the release of people wrongfully detained in foreign countries. State also is demanding that Russia release another American, Paul Whelan.


Netanyahu reverses firing of defense chief

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday reversed his decision to fire Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over his demand that Netanyahu's right-wing government halt its plan to overhaul the judiciary. The proposal, which would give the government more power to appoint judges and curtail the Supreme Court's ability to overturn legislation, has sparked broad protests. "I decided to put the differences we had behind us," Netanyahu said in a live news conference. Gallant had warned the nation's security was at risk as reservists skipped training to join the protests. Gallant had stayed on the job and hadn't received an official dismissal letter. 


Nashville council reinstates Justin Jones after state House expulsion

The Nashville Metropolitan Council voted unanimously on Monday to reinstate Justin Jones, one of the two Democratic lawmakers expelled from the Tennessee House last week. The Republican-controlled House expelled Jones and another lawmaker, Justin Pearson, after they participated in a gun-control protest on the House floor following the deadly mass shooting at Covenant School in Nashville. The motion to expel a third Democrat, state Rep. Gloria Johnson, failed. Jones and Pearson are both Black; Johnson is white. "Last Thursday, members tried to crucify democracy," he said, "but today we have a resurrection." The Shelby County Commission is expected to vote Wednesday on whether to reappoint Pearson. Special elections will be held to fill the seats permanently. Jones and Pearson have said they will run.


Biden signs legislation ending COVID national emergency

President Biden signed bipartisan legislation Monday ending the COVID-19 national emergency three years after former President Donald Trump approved it in the early days of the pandemic, the White House said in a one-sentence statement. The national emergency declaration had been set to expire in a few weeks, alongside the separate COVID-19 public health emergency. Biden initially opposed ending the national emergency when House Republicans passed the resolution in February, but agreed to sign it after the Senate approved it 68-23 in March. The national emergency had let the federal government take broad action to fight the virus and support the economy, health-care system, and American households. The public health emergency, used to justify tough border restrictions, is scheduled to expire May 11.


Biden visits Northern Ireland to mark Good Friday Agreement anniversary

President Biden visits Belfast on Tuesday to mark the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement that ended three decades of bloodshed in Northern Ireland between Irish republicans and British loyalist paramilitary groups. The visit comes as the peace, which the Clinton administration helped broker, is under threat due to political turmoil. Northern Ireland, part of the United Kingdom, has not had a functioning government for more than a year since the main unionist party withdrew to protest post-Brexit trade rules. The peace has held but occasional dissident attacks prompted authorities to raise the terrorism threat level to "severe" last month. The White House said Biden will call attention to progress made since the agreement was reached.


Dalai Lama apologizes for saying 'suck my tongue' to boy

The Dalai Lama on Monday apologized after facing widespread condemnation over a video showing him kissing a boy during a public event and asking the child to "suck my tongue." The video shows the boy asking if he can hug the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. The 87-year-old leader invites the boy onto the stage at his temple in northern India and asks for a kiss on the cheek, then the lips, before saying, "and suck my tongue." "His Holiness often teases people he meets in an innocent and playful way," his office said. "He regrets the incident." The U.S.-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said the incident was "very disturbing."


Sea levels rise faster than expected in southern U.S.

Sea levels have surged more than expected along the U.S. coast in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere in the southeast since 2010, exposing major cities like New Orleans, Miami, and Houston to greater risk from climate change than previously feared, The Washington Post reported Monday. The impact of rising seas could prove devastating as areas that have been developed recently lose the protection of shrinking wetlands, mangroves, and dune lines. Researchers say the higher waters have already magnified damages from devastating hurricanes, including 2018's Michael and last year's Ian. Federal tide gauge data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show that the sea level at Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans is eight inches above its 2006, pre-Katrina level. 


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