10 things you need to know today: May 2, 2023
The U.N. warns Sudan's conflict is nearing a humanitarian "breaking point," Janet Yellen says the U.S. could run short of money to pay bills by June 1, and more
U.N. warns Sudan conflict nearing humanitarian 'breaking point'
The United Nations warned Monday that Sudan is approaching a humanitarian "breaking point" as foreign governments, including the United States, complete emergency evacuations ahead of the completion of a cease-fire that both of the country's warring factions have repeatedly violated. The army and the rival paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, which have been fighting for control of the northeast African nation since April 15, agreed on Sunday to extend the truce by 72 hours. On Monday, airstrikes and anti-aircraft continued in Khartoum. "We saw dead bodies. An industrial area that was all looted. We saw people carrying TVs on their backs and big sacks looted from factories," said Mohamed Ezzeldin, who returned after fleeing the Sudanese capital. He said the flood of refugees drove up prices for necessities in safer areas.
Janet Yellen warns U.S. could default on debt by June 1
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen wrote in a letter to Congress Monday that the government might not be able to meet all of its obligations "potentially as early as June 1" unless Congress takes action. President Biden on Monday called House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to meet with him in the White House on May 9 to discuss raising the debt ceiling to prevent a potentially catastrophic default on federal debt. House Republicans passed a bill offering to raise the debt limit in exchange for deep spending cuts, but Biden and leaders in the Democratic-controlled Senate said there should be no conditions.
Russia fires missiles ahead of expected Ukrainian counteroffensive
Russia launched missile strikes on several Ukrainian cities on Monday as both sides intensified attacks ahead of a Ukrainian counteroffensive expected to start soon. A strike in Pavlohrad, a logistics hub near Dnipro in central Ukraine, caused a major fire and wounded 34 people. It was hit hardest in this wave. "I ran outside and saw that the garage was destroyed. Everything was on fire, glass shards everywhere," said one resident, Olha Lytvynenko. Hours later the capital, Kyiv, was targeted. Ukraine's army said it shot down 15 of the 18 cruise missiles Russia fired. Ukraine's Dnipropetrovsk military administration said 19 high-rise apartment buildings, 25 houses, six schools, and five stores were damaged, calling it a "tragic night and morning."
DeSantis' board approves countersuit against Disney
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' hand-picked new board overseeing the Walt Disney Co.'s Central Florida theme park property voted on Monday to file a federal lawsuit against the entertainment giant. The suit would counter one Disney filed accusing the governor of using the board to punish the company for criticizing the Parental Rights in Education Act, a law pushed by DeSantis barring public school teachers from teaching students about gender identity or sexual orientation. Opponents call it the "don't say gay" law. The lawsuits are escalating a year-long feud between DeSantis and Disney. "Since Disney sued us … We have no choice now but to respond," said Martin Garcia, chair of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District board.
French demonstrators clash with police in May Day protest of pension reforms
Hundreds of thousands of people on Monday joined May Day protests against French President Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms. Police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse the crowds. Some protesters responded by throwing Molotov cocktails. At least 108 officers were injured, and 291 people were arrested. The Interior Ministry said about 782,000 people participated in the protests nationwide, but unions estimated the crowds at 2.3 million. Macron marked the holiday with a traditional message thanking French workers for their contributions to the nation. "You get up early to feed us. You promote the know-how of our territories. You contribute to our sovereignty. On this May 1st, to all workers, thank you," Macron tweeted. He didn't say anything about the protests.
Environmental groups sue FAA over SpaceX launch
Environmental groups filed a lawsuit Monday against the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), accusing the agency of breaking federal conservation acts when it allowed the launch of SpaceX's Starship rocket last month. The lawsuit, filed in Washington, D.C., district court, said the FAA did not conduct an in-depth environmental study on the potential effects of the rocket — the heaviest ever assembled. The Starship rocket blew up several minutes after the launch, which took place in Boca Chica, Texas, on April 20. The explosion of the spacecraft, which had no crew on board, scattered concrete, metal, and debris thousands of feet into environmentally protected areas. A 3.5-acre fire also broke out in a nearby state park as a result, CNBC reported.
Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin says he won't seek re-election
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) announced Monday that he is not running for re-election in 2024. His decision to bow out is expected to pave the way for a competitive Democratic primary in the blue state. Cardin, who was first elected to the Senate in 2006 after serving nearly 20 years in the House, said "civility" was important on Capitol Hill. "I am an optimist but also a realist. I was taught that it's OK to compromise – don't ever compromise your principles – but find a path to get things done," said Cardin, 79. In the Senate, Cardin was known for his work on the Magnitsky Act, which let the U.S. sanction Russians for human rights abuses, and for helping craft legislation to support small businesses during the pandemic.
Dust storm causes crashes that kill 6 in Illinois
A windstorm sent dust swirling off farm fields in central Illinois on Monday, sharply reducing visibility on Interstate 55 and causing crashes that killed at least six people. Forty to 60 cars and several tractor-trailers were involved in pile-ups, Illinois State Police Maj. Ryan Starrick said. Two of the big trucks caught fire. More than 30 people were rushed to hospitals. "The only thing you could hear after we got hit was crash after crash after crash behind us," said Tom Thomas, 43. Authorities shut down I-55 in both directions and were not expected to reopen the highway until Tuesday. Starrick compared the storm to a "whiteout situation" seen in severe winter snowstorms.
Hollywood writers go on strike for 1st time in 15 years
The Writers Guild of America called on its members to launch Hollywood's first strike in 15 years starting Tuesday, potentially halting film and TV production. The union's board members voted unanimously to call the strike to demand higher pay and a bigger share of streaming revenue from studios such as Disney and Netflix. Thousands of union members are expected to picket in Los Angeles, New York, and other cities after last-minute talks failed to produce a deal with studios on a new three-year contract. The old one expired at midnight. The WGA accused studios of creating "a gig economy inside a union workforce" and "devaluing the profession of writing." The Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers said it offered "generous" pay increases and "improvements in streaming residuals."
Canadian folk legend Gordon Lightfoot dies at 84
Gordon Lightfoot, the folk singer-songwriter who achieved icon status in his native Canada and scored a string of pop hits in the U.S. in the late 1960s and '70s, died Monday night in Toronto, his spokeswoman Victoria Lord said. He was 84. His death was attributed to natural causes. Lightfoot was already a well-regarded singer-songwriter in Canada and folk circles when he switched labels to Reprise Records in 1968. His 1970 debut record on Reprise contained his first U.S. hit, "If You Could Read My Mind." He reached the top of the American adult contemporary charts in the mid-1970s with "Sundown," "Carefree Highway," "Rainy Day People," and "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." "Sundown" also hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1974.