10 things you need to know today: May 17, 2023
Biden, congressional leaders hint at progress toward raising debt ceiling, N.C.'s GOP-dominated legislature overrides Democratic governor's veto of abortion restrictions, and more
Biden and congressional leaders express optimism on debt ceiling
President Biden met with congressional leaders at the White House Tuesday to resume discussions on raising the debt ceiling to avert a potential catastrophic default as soon as June. Biden called the meeting "good and productive." House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Republicans and Democrats remained "far apart," but were hopeful progress was emerging toward a deal. Biden and other Democrats want to raise the borrowing cap without conditions. Republicans are demanding spending cuts in exchange for raising the debt limit. White House officials said Biden would still go to a Group of Seven meeting in Japan but would shorten what was supposed to be a seven-day trip by canceling several stops to allow more time for talks.
N.C. lawmakers override Democratic governor's veto of abortion restrictions
Republicans in North Carolina's legislature, where they hold a new super-majority, overrode Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper's veto of a bill banning abortions 12 weeks into a pregnancy, tightening the current 20-week threshold. The law, which includes other restrictions, allows exceptions up to 20 weeks in cases of rape or incest. The lower chamber passed the bill 72-48 along party lines. The state Senate earlier approved the bill 30-20. Supporters said the bill followed the abortion views of a majority of North Carolinians, although non-partisan polling shows most people in the state favor abortion rights. Opponents chanted "shame, shame, shame." Cooper said the vote showed "Republicans are unified in their assault on women's reproductive freedom."
South African president says Russia, Ukraine to discuss peace prospects
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said Tuesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy have agreed to meet separately with delegations from six African countries to discuss ways to end the war in Ukraine. Ramaphosa said he talked with Putin and Zelenskyy by phone over the weekend and both agreed to host an African "peace mission" — Zelenskyy in Kyiv, and Putin in Moscow. The other countries that have agreed to participate are Zambia, Senegal, Republic of Congo, Uganda, and Egypt. Four of those nations — South Africa, Republic of Congo, Senegal, and Uganda — abstained last year in a United Nations vote condemning Russia's Ukraine invasion.
2 DeSantis-endorsed candidates lose
Two high-profile candidates backed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a likely candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, lost elections Tuesday. Former United Nations ambassador Kelly Craft, the candidate DeSantis endorsed at the last minute in the GOP primary for Kentucky governor, lost in a landslide to Daniel Cameron, the state attorney general long backed by former President Donald Trump, the front-runner in the Republican primary race. Cameron, an ally of Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell, moves on to challenge Gov. Andy Beshear, a popular Democrat seeking re-election in a heavily Republican state. The Republican DeSantis endorsed in the Jacksonville, Florida, mayor's race also lost, to a Democratic opponent. In Pennsylvania, Democrats retained narrow House control amid a fight over abortion rights.
Russian mercenary leader says U.S. citizen killed fighting in Bakhmut
Yevgeny Prigozhin, leader of Russia's Wagner Group mercenaries, claimed in a video posted on the Telegram messaging app that a U.S. citizen had died fighting in the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut, which has been largely destroyed in months of brutal combat. Prigozhin is shown inspecting the body and what he says are documents identifying the person as American. CNN couldn't verify the authenticity of the report and wasn't releasing the fighter's name cited in the video. A soldier tells Prigozhin the man was killed while returning fire. Prigozhin said in the video his group would "put him in a coffin, cover him with the American flag with respect because he did not die in his bed as a grandpa but he died at war."
OpenAI CEO urges Congress to address AI risks
OpenAI CEO Sam Altman on Tuesday warned lawmakers artificial intelligence could "cause significant harm to the world." Altman, testifying to Congress for the first time, said he was willing to cooperate with lawmakers to reduce risks by his company's ChatGPT and rival AI products. Altman called for regulations to address potential hazards, like the spreading of disinformation, emotional manipulation, or even the use of AI to target drone strikes. "If this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong," Altman said, although he said his company would continue developing and releasing new technology. Members of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee expressed fear that the technology was developing too fast for policy makers to keep up, with AI already killing some jobs and spreading misinformation.
N.M. officials identify mass shooting suspect killed by police
New Mexico authorities on Tuesday identified the suspected gunman who fired randomly while roaming a northwestern New Mexico neighborhood as Beau Wilson, 18, a student at Farmington High School. Police say the attacker was armed with three weapons, including an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle, as he shot several houses and cars before police killed him. At least six other people, including two police officers, were wounded. Farmington Deputy Police Chief Kyle Dowdy said Wilson fired "pretty indiscriminately." He said investigators were still trying to figure out how he got the guns. They were purchased legally, Dowdy said, and investigators believe they belonged to a relative. The town's mayor said residents were "reeling in anguish and disbelief." The attack was the 225th mass shooting of the year.
French police arrest 8 over attack on first lady's relative
French police said Tuesday they had arrested eight people over an attack against the great-nephew of France's first lady, Brigitte Macron, after a televised address by President Emmanuel Macron. Anti-government protesters, angry over Macron's raising of the retirement age from 62 to 64, allegedly beat up the first lady's relative, Jean-Baptiste Trogneux, 30, in the northern city of Amiens. He was hit on the head, arms, and legs in front of the family chocolate shop, a frequent target of protesters. Ms. Macron told the AFP news agency on Tuesday that the attack was an act of "cowardice, stupidity, and violence." The victim's father, Jean-Alexandre Trogneux, told French media the attackers "crossed the line."
Drug shortages rise close to record levels
Drug shortages are approaching record levels due to U.S. supply chain disruptions, and quality and financial problems that are causing manufacturing shutdowns, The New York Times reported Wednesday. Supplies of some antibiotics remain low after flu season. Hospitals are running short of everything from a drug that reverses lead poisoning to sterile fluid that stops the heart for bypass surgery. The shortages are delaying treatment for some cancers. The White House and Congress are investigating disruptions of the generic drug market that accounts for 90 percent of domestic prescriptions. "This is, in my opinion, a public health emergency," Dr. Amanda Fader, a professor at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a president-elect of the Society of Gynecologic Oncology, told the Times.
Missing girl in 'Unsolved Mysteries' case found safe
Kayla Unbehaun, an Illinois girl whose disappearance six years ago was featured on a 2022 episode of "Unsolved Mysteries" on Netflix, has been found safe in Asheville, North Carolina, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children said in a Facebook post Tuesday. Kayla, now 15, was 9 years old when her mother, Heather Unbehaun, allegedly abducted her in South Elgin, Illinois. Photos of the mother and daughter were shown in the episode, and a store owner at an Asheville shopping center saw the girl and recognized her, and notified Asheville police. Heather Unbehaun was arrested and charged with felony child abduction, but has been released on bond, South Elgin police said. Kayla Unbehaun reportedly is healthy and has been reunited with her other relatives.