10 things you need to know today: May 8, 2023
Biden urges Congress to ban assault rifles after Texas mall shooting, Russia's Wagner group leader says his fighters won't withdraw from Bakhmut, and more
Biden calls for assault-weapon ban after Texas mall shooting
President Biden said Sunday that the mass shooting at an Allen, Texas, outlet mall by a gunman firing an AR-15-style rifle was "too shocking to be so familiar," and he called on Republicans in Congress to support a ban on assault weapons. "Too many families have empty chairs at their dinner tables," Biden said in a statement released by the White House. "Republican members of Congress cannot continue to meet this epidemic with a shrug. Tweeted thoughts and prayers are not enough." Investigators said they found more than 100 fired cartridges and several guns at the scene of the Saturday murders. Police are examining whether alleged attacker Mauricio Garcia, who was killed by police, had expressed sympathy with white supremacist ideology.
Wagner group leader says his forces will fight on in Bakhmut
Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, said Sunday his forces would continue fighting to take the besieged Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, two days after threatening to withdraw because the Russian government allegedly wasn't providing enough support. "We have been promised as much ammunition and armament as we need to keep going," Prigozhin said in an audio statement released on his channel on the Telegram messaging app. There was no immediate comment from Russia's defense ministry. Prigozhin had appeared in a video released Friday standing next to rows of recently killed fighters and accused Moscow's defense ministry of causing "useless and unjustified" losses by failing to supply his forces with enough ammunition.
SUV hits crowd near Texas migrant shelter, killing at least 8 people
An SUV ran a stop light and slammed into a crowd at a bus stop near a migrant shelter in Brownsville, Texas, on Sunday, killing at least eight people and injuring at least six more, police said. Brownsville has a heavily traveled border crossing into Matamoros, Mexico. The driver was arrested and accused of reckless driving, but more charges are expected. Police were conducting drug and alcohol tests. The incident occurred in front of the Ozanam Center, which provides shelter for migrant and homeless individuals and families. Police said Sunday they did not yet know the driver's identity or whether he intentionally ran down the group of Venezuelan migrants and others waiting for a bus downtown.
Arab League ends Syria's 12-year suspension
The Arab League on Sunday agreed to reinstate Syria as a member after a 12-year suspension. Qatar and several other influential member nations opposed the move. Only 13 of the organization's 22 member states sent their foreign ministers to participate in the Cairo meeting. Despite the dissent and low turnout, the vote marked a significant step for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as he tries to return to mainstream international circles after being branded a pariah over his crackdown on democratic opposition that led to Syria's civil war and prompted the Arab League suspension in 2011 .But the symbolic victory won't do anything to ease Western sanctions against Assad and his government. Syria's conflict has left nearly 500,000 people dead.
Yellen: 'No good options' if Congress doesn't raise debt ceiling
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Sunday there are "simply no good options" to resolve the debt-limit crisis other than a vote by Congress to raise the borrowing cap. Yellen said on ABC's This Week that invoking the 14th Amendment, which says the validity of public debt "shall not be questioned," would lead to "a constitutional crisis." Constitutional scholars disagree on whether the provision would allow the Biden administration to keep issuing debt beyond the current cap, which the government will hit in June. "It's Congress's job to do this," Yellen said. "If they fail to do it, we will have an economic and financial catastrophe that will be of our own making."
Japanese PM expresses sorrow for Korean colonial victims
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Sunday expressed sympathy and sorrow for those who suffered under Japan's colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula in the early 20th century, but stopped short of offering the direct apology many South Koreans want. Traveling to Seoul to meet with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, Kishida said that his "heart ached" for the past suffering of Koreans and that Japan stood by previous statements of remorse. The meeting marked the first visit between leaders of the Asian nations in 12 years. Relations between the countries have been fraught, largely due to the colonial legacy. "We must abandon the notion that we cannot take a single step ahead for future cooperation until the past history is resolved," Yoon said.
Slovakian president names interim prime minister
Slovakia's liberal president, Zuzana Caputova, on Sunday appointed Ludovit Odor, deputy governor of the country's central bank, as interim prime minister after conservative caretaker Prime Minister Eduard Heger resigned several months ahead of September early elections. Heger had been prime minister since 2021, but his government was shaken by high inflation, the war in Ukraine, and a series of resignations. Caputova said she would name the other ministers to serve in a technocrat government headed by Odor next week. Slovakia, a European Union and NATO member, has been a strong supporter of Ukraine in its effort to resist Russia's invasion, but the opposition Smer-SD party, led by former prime minister Robert Fico, has opposed military aid to Ukraine and leads in the polls.
27 die in fire inside Peru gold mine
At least 27 people were killed in a fire that broke out in a gold mine in Peru, officials said Sunday. As few as two people were rescued from what authorities described as the South American nation's worst mining accident in decades. Investigators believe an electrical short circuit started the blaze in La Esperanza mine in Peru's Arequipa region. The miners were believed to have been working about 330 feet underground when the fire started. The small mining company in charge of the operation, Yanaquihua, did not immediately comment. Peru produces more than 100 tons of gold per year, about 4 percent of the world's annual supply.
Conservative parties win majority on council to draft new Chile constitution
Right-wing parties in Chile on Sunday won a majority of seats on a Constitutional Council that will rewrite a constitution dating from Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship. Chile's Republican party, which is headed by former ultra-conservative presidential candidate Jose Antonio Kast, took nearly 35 percent of the vote, while a separate coalition of traditional right-wing parties received about 20 percent. President Gabriel Boric's left-wing coalition got 29 percent, with centrist parties receiving the rest of the ballots. The result marked a major shift from the progressive majority on the last council, whose draft was defeated by voters. The final vote count will determine whether conservatives have the three-fifths majority they would need to finalize articles without backing from the left and centrist parties.
Vietnam records its hottest day ever
Vietnam has just recorded its hottest temperature ever, 111 degrees Fahrenheit. The record came in the northern province of Thanh Hoa. Local authorities advised people to stay inside during the hottest parts of the day. Forecasters predicted that the country would soon break the new record due to rising temperatures caused by climate change. "I believe this record will be repeated many times," climate change expert Nguyen Ngoc Huy in Hanoi told AFP. "It confirms that extreme climate models are being proven to be true." Myanmar, which like Vietnam is experiencing a hot period ahead of monsoon season, reported its highest temperature in a decade.