10 things you need to know today: August 24, 2023

Wagner mercenary leader Yevgeny Prigozhin is presumed dead in plane crash, 8 Republican candidates fight for attention as Trump sits out debate, and more

Memorial for Yevgeny Prigozhin
(Image credit: Vladimir Nikolayev / AFP via Getty Images)

1. Wagner group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin believed dead in plane crash

Wagner mercenary group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, who led a June mutiny against Russia's military leadership, was listed as a passenger on a plane that crashed en route to St. Petersburg from Moscow on Wednesday, killing all 10 people aboard, Russia's aviation authority announced. The brief Wagner rebellion posed a threat to President Vladimir Putin's government, although Prigozhin said the mercenaries wanted to force out the country's defense minister, not challenge Putin's rule. The longtime Putin ally had released several profanity-laced videos criticizing top generals for perceived ineptitude in the Ukraine invasion. President Biden said he didn't know for a fact that Putin ordered Prigozhin killed, but was "not surprised" about his apparent death.

The New York Times The Associated Press

2. 8 GOP presidential candidates try to seize spotlight as Trump skips debate

Eight Republican candidates battled for the spotlight Wednesday in the GOP's first 2024 presidential primary debate. Front-runner Donald Trump skipped the forum, giving his lower-polling rivals an opportunity to make their case as the best alternative. Trump supporters in the crowd booed any negative remarks about the former president, and all but one of the candidates indicated they would support Trump if he won the nomination but was convicted in one of four criminal cases against him. Entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, who has gained ground in some polls, clashed with former Vice President Mike Pence, former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, calling them "super PAC puppets." Christie dismissed Ramaswamy as an "amateur."

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The Washington Post

3. Giuliani booked in Georgia jail on election charges

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani turned himself in at Georgia's Fulton County Jail on Wednesday to face charges he participated in a criminal conspiracy to overturn former President Donald Trump's 2020 election loss. Trump and Giuliani, one of Trump's lawyers, are among 19 people charged in a 41-count racketeering indictment released last week. Giuliani called the allegations false and was released on a $150,000 bond after sitting for a mug shot. Former Coffee County election supervisor Misty Hampton and another Trump lawyer, Sidney Powell, also surrendered and were released on bond. Trump is scheduled to surrender Thursday. A federal judge rejected bids by former Trump administration officials Mark Meadows and Jeffrey Clark to block their Georgia prosecution.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Politico

4. Trump tries to upstage GOP debate with Tucker Carlson interview

Former President Donald Trump drew some of the attention away from Wednesday's Republican primary debate, which he sat out, by belittling some of his GOP rivals and attacking President Biden in a pre-taped interview on X, formerly known as Twitter. Trump told ex-Fox News host Tucker Carlson that he was skipping the debate because he didn't want to give candidates with little support a prime-time opportunity to trash him. He called former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who has harshly criticized Trump, a "savage maniac," and slammed debate host Fox News for negative coverage of him and for firing Carlson. "We'll get bigger ratings doing this crazy forum that you're using than probably the debate," Trump predicted.

The New York Times The Hill

5. BRICS leaders invite 6 nations to join developing world economic bloc

Leaders of the BRICS economic bloc, which Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa hope will boost the influence of the "Global South," agreed at a South Africa summit Thursday to invite six nations — Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates — to join. China and Russia are pushing to admit dozens of interested nations to beef up the bloc and make it a legitimate rival to the West's Group of Seven. But India has resisted, worried that new members would do whatever Beijing said and foil Delhi's effort to take a leadership role on the world stage. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that the new candidates would be admitted on Jan. 1, 2024.


6. India spacecraft makes unprecedented landing on moon's south pole

India's Chandrayaan-3 spacecraft landed on the moon Wednesday in a win for the country's space program, days after a similar crewless Russian lunar lander crashed. India's craft was the first to touch down on the moon's rugged south pole. "This moment is unforgettable. It is phenomenal. This is a victory cry of a new India," a flag-waving Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in South Africa, where he is attending the BRICS summit bringing together leaders from Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Reaching the moon's south pole was difficult — India's previous try failed — but potentially critical, because the area's ice could provide fuel, oxygen and water for future missions.


7. South Carolina Supreme Court lets 6-week abortion ban take effect

South Carolina's all-male Supreme Court ruled 4-1 on Wednesday that the state can enforce the six-week abortion ban passed by the Republican-dominated General Assembly. The decision reversed a ruling the court made to block a similar law before the election of its newest justice. Critics of the law noted that most women don't know they are pregnant before six weeks. The ban allows abortions up to 12 weeks in cases of rape, incest, fetal anomaly or threat to the woman's life. Justice John Kittredge, writing for the majority, said the law does infringe on "a woman's right of privacy and bodily autonomy," but the state Legislature reasonably determined "the interest of the unborn child to live" outweighs those rights.

The State The Associated Press

8. Nvidia outlook soars on explosive demand for AI chips

Nvidia said Wednesday it expected rapid growth as already strong demand for advanced chips for artificial intelligence systems explodes. The company's graphics processing units, or GPUs, are used in most AI systems, like ChatGPT. Nvidia reported that robust demand for the chips from customers like cloud computing services helped increase second-quarter revenue to $13.5 billion, up 101% from the same period last year. Profits shot up nine-fold to nearly $6.3 billion, beating projections the company released in May, according to The New York Times. Nvidia's May revenue estimate of $11 billion had pushed its market value above $1 trillion for the first time.

The New York Times

9. BTK serial killer named 'prime suspect' in two more killings

Oklahoma authorities announced Wednesday that the BTK serial killer, Dennis Rader, was the "prime suspect" in two more unsolved killings, one in Oklahoma and one in Missouri. Osage County, Oklahoma, Undersheriff Gary Upton told The Associated Press that suspicions about Rader led investigators last year to take another look at the 1976 disappearance of 16-year-old cheerleader Cynthia Kinney. A bank across the street from the laundromat where Kinney was last seen was having new alarms installed by a company Rader worked for at the time. Authorities looking into Kinney's disappearance conducted digs this week near Rader's former Kansas property. Rader killed from 1974 to 1991 and nicknamed himself BTK — "bind, torture and kill."

The Associated Press

10. 22 states face excessive heat alerts

The heatwave scorching the central United States continued to shatter records as people in 22 states faced excessive heat warnings on Wednesday. The alerts spread 1,100 miles from the Gulf Coast to northern Minnesota, and more than 65 million people are expected to be hit with temperatures above 100 degrees by Friday. The heat has already forced 117 people to evacuate a Kansas City nursing home where the air-conditioning failed as the city's heat index reached 119 degrees. Twenty-two cattle died in extreme heat at a University of Nebraska-Lincoln farm. Forecasters warned that hundreds of heat records could be surpassed in the central and southern U.S. in coming days.


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Harold Maass

Harold Maass is a contributing editor at TheWeek.com. He has been writing for The Week since the 2001 launch of the U.S. print edition. Harold has worked for a variety of news outlets, including The Miami Herald, Fox News, and ABC News. For several years, he wrote a daily round-up of financial news for The Week and Yahoo Finance. He lives in North Carolina with his wife and two sons.