10 things you need to know today: September 13, 2023

McCarthy tells House committees to launch Biden impeachment inquiry, Libya flood death toll surpasses 5,000, and more

Kevin McCarthy
Kevin McCarthy
(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

1. McCarthy directs 3 House committees to open Biden impeachment inquiry

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Tuesday he was directing three House committees to open an impeachment inquiry targeting President Biden. The move, demanded by far-right lawmakers threatening to shut down the government, will give the panels authority to seek bank records and other documents related to Biden and his son, Hunter Biden. McCarthy claimed that is the "logical next step" after House Republicans "uncovered serious and credible allegations into President Biden's conduct," including possible "abuse of power, obstruction and corruption." McCarthy previously said he wouldn't open an impeachment inquiry without a vote by the full House, but he's under pressure from ultraconservatives threatening to oust him as speaker. White House spokesperson Ian Sams called McCarthy's reversal  "extreme politics at its worst." NBC News, The New York Times

2. Libya flood death toll rises above 5,000

The death toll from catastrophic flooding in Libya more than doubled on Tuesday, surpassing 5,000. Two dams burst near the coastal city of Derna, washing entire neighborhoods into the sea, local authorities said. The war-torn North African nation was unprepared to deal with the torrential rains from Storm Daniel, which hammered the country's Mediterranean coast. At least 5,200 died in Derna alone, according to a spokesperson for the interior ministry of the government in eastern Libya. Another 10,000 are missing. Floods also ravaged other towns, driving at least 20,000 people from their homes. "We still cannot comprehend the magnitude of what has happened," Derna native Jawhar Ali, who lives in Turkey, told The New York Times. The New York Times, Reuters

3. Kim Jong Un and Vladimir Putin meet at Russian spaceport

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met Wednesday with Russian President Vladimir Putin at a spaceport in eastern Russia during a rare international trip for the reclusive Kim. Putin said his North Korean counterpart was "showing great interest in rocket technology," and hinted Russia could help North Korea develop satellites. The two leaders are expected to discuss Putin's request for North Korea to sell Russia arms for its invasion in Ukraine. Kim offered Putin "full and unconditional support" for Russia's "sacred fight" to defend its security interests — an apparent reference to the war. Kim said his unusual trip abroad showed the "strategic importance" of his country's relationship with Moscow, North Korea's KCNA state media reported Wednesday, according to Reuters. NBC News, Reuters

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4. Russian shipyard in Crimea burning after Ukraine missile strike

Russia's defense ministry said Wednesday that Ukraine fired 10 cruise missiles at a shipyard at Moscow's Black Sea headquarters in Sevastopol, Crimea, injuring 24 people and damaging two vessels. Russian and local officials said air defenses shot down seven of the 10 cruise missiles and destroyed three uncrewed naval drones aimed at Russian warships. Ukrainian officials, "who almost never acknowledge Kyiv's responsibility for attacks on Crimea or Russian regions that have become regular in recent months," did not offer any immediate comment, The Associated Press noted. But photos and video posted to social media showed huge explosions and raging fires at the Sevastopol Shipyard, and significant damage to a Kilo-class submarine and a landing ship. The New York Times, The Associated Press

5. Ex-Memphis officers charged with civil rights violations in Tyre Nichols' death

A federal grand jury has indicted five former Memphis police officers for allegedly violating the constitutional rights of Tyre Nichols, who died after being brutally beaten during a traffic stop. The ex-officers — Emmitt Martin, Tadarrius Bean, Desmond Mills, Justin Smith and Demetrius Haley — face four federal charges, including excessive force, failure to intervene under the color of law, and two charges related to an alleged witness-tampering conspiracy. Body camera footage showed officers yelling conflicting commands to Nichols and yanking him out of his car and onto the ground, then beating, kicking and tasing him. The same officers also face state charges, including second-degree murder. Seven officers have been fired over the incident. Memphis Commercial Appeal

6. CDC recommends everyone older than 6 months get new Covid vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended Tuesday that all Americans 6 months and older get a booster dose of the newly updated coronavirus vaccine. The shots, endorsed by the FDA on Monday, are expected to be available by Thursday, in time to potentially mitigate a respiratory illness season with the triple threat of Covid-19, influenza, and RSV. "We have more tools than ever to prevent the worst outcomes from Covid-19," CDC Director Mandy Cohen said. People who were vaccinated against the coronavirus had lower illness and hospitalization rates than those who didn't get a 2022-2023 vaccine, according to the CDC. Cohen recommended the latest vaccine hours after CDC advisers voted in support of the universal vaccine policy. The Washington Post

7. Pennsylvania escaped murderer believed to have a stolen rifle

Pennsylvania police warned Tuesday that convicted murderer Danelo Cavalcante, who escaped from a Chester County jail, is likely now armed with a rifle he stole from a garage. State Police said a resident spotted a man fitting Cavalcante's description entering the garage and taking the weapon. The resident told police he fired several shots with a pistol and the man fled. State Police said they didn't believe any of the shots hit the intruder. Two hours before the garage incident, a motorist reported seeing a man matching Cavalcante's description crouching in the dark by a line of roadside trees, where police subsequently found Cavalcante's prison shoes. A pair of work boots were stolen from the porch of a nearby home. The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Associated Press

8. Astronaut Frank Rubio sets US space endurance record

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio has set a space endurance record, beating the old U.S. record of 355 days as he continues to orbit Earth in the International Space Station. Rubio and two Russians were supposed to spend a routine six months in space, but their stay was doubled when their Soyuz capsule started leaking coolant while docked at the space station. By the time the crew returns to Earth on Sept. 27 in a replacement capsule that was sent up empty, Rubio will have spent 371 days in space. That's two weeks longer than the previous record set by Mark Vande Hei. Russia still holds the world record, 437 days, which was set in the mid-1990s. The Associated Press, Space.com

9. FDA advisory panel says popular decongestant doesn't work

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted unanimously on Tuesday to declare a common ingredient in over-the-counter decongestants to be ineffective. The FDA is now expected to decide whether to order the removal from stores shelves of cold medicines that contain the ingredient, phenylephrine. A trade group said a move like that could make popular over-the-counter products, including Tylenol, Mucinex and Benadryl cold and flu remedies, unavailable until their manufacturers can come up with new formulas, The New York Times reported. FDA officials typically follow their advisers' recommendations, although a decision may still be months away. The New York Times, NPR

10. Taylor Swift leads MTV Video Music Awards winners

Taylor Swift tied the record for most wins at the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards on Tuesday, taking home nine trophies, including Artist of the Year and Video of the Year and Song of the Year for "Anti-Hero." "This is unbelievable. The fact that this is a fan-voted award means so much to me," Swift said in her acceptance speech. Other winners included Ice Spice (Best New Artist) and Nicki Minaj (Best Hip-Hop). Colombian icon Shakira received the Video Vanguard Award and got a 10-minute ovation after performing a bilingual medley of her biggest hits. Sean "Diddy" Combs received the Global Icon Award after performing some of his songs. The Associated Press, NBC News

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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.