Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: January 8, 2023

Biden to visit U.S.-Mexico border for 1st time as president, China re-opens international borders in final farewell to harsh COVID protocols, and more


Biden to visit U.S.-Mexico border for 1st time as president

President Biden on Sunday will make his first visit to the U.S.-Mexico border as president, allowing him to get a firsthand look at the issue that Republicans have used as one of the primary criticisms of his administration. Biden is scheduled to spend a few hours in El Paso, Texas, which is currently the largest area of illegal crossings on the southern border. He will meet with border officials and migrant support groups. "The president's very much looking forward to seeing for himself firsthand what the border security situation looks like," John Kirby, White House spokesperson, said. However, any long-term solution to the problems at the border would likely have to be pushed through a now-divided Congress. 


China re-opens international borders in final farewell to harsh COVID protocols

China has officially re-opened its international border to travelers, swinging open the doors of a country that has been more or less isolated from the world since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic three years ago. As Beijing removed the nation's border restrictions, thousands of travelers were seen coming to and from areas across the Chinese mainland. While it will likely take some time for Chinese airlines to adjust, the influx of travelers will be good news for countries that rely heavily on tourism. However, some countries, including many in the APAC region surrounding China, are taking extra precautions with testing for incoming tourists in order to avoid a new outbreak of COVID. 


Russia claims to have killed more than 600 Ukrainians in reversal of holiday ceasefire

Russian defense officials said Sunday that a pair of rocket strikes on two military buildings had killed at least 600 Ukrainian soldiers, in an overwhelming end to Moscow's self-imposed ceasefire for the Orthodox Christmas. According to Russian officials, the strikes were in revenge for a Ukrainian attack earlier this January that killed at least 89 soldiers. The country had already reportedly broken the ceasefire earlier with a barrage of bombings across Ukraine, and shelling seen across the ruined city of Bakhmut. While the 600-plus death toll was not verified by Ukrainian officials, if true, it would be the single largest loss of Ukrainian soldiers since the beginning of the war nearly a year ago.


Iranian man arrested in Germany on suspicion of chemical attack plot

German officials said Sunday that they had detained an Iranian man suspected of plotting a deadly chemical attack motivated by "Islamist extremism." The unidentified man was taken into custody along with another person overnight in the German Ruhr town of Castrop-Rauxel. Officials said the man's home was raided, but that no poison was found. According to prosecutors, the man allegedly tried to obtain the deadly toxins ricin and cyanide to use in a terrorist-type attack. It remains unclear as to what the man's true intentions were, and officials said they had originally been made aware of the alleged plot due to "a serious tip that led police to intervene the same night."


At least 520,000 without power in California as storms continue

At least 520,000 people in California remained without power on Sunday as harsh rainstorms continued to batter the Golden State. In addition to the thousands of homes and businesses with the lights turned off, at least six people have died in the severe weather since the beginning of the year. Even amidst the continuing devastation, the state is not out of the woods yet, as torrential downpours and mountain snow are expected to continue to fall throughout Northern and Central California in the coming days. At least four similarly harsh weather systems have been seen in the state in 2023 already. 


Israel revokes travel permit of Palestinian foreign minister

The Palestinian foreign minister said Sunday that Israeli officials had revoked his travel permit, topping off a list of steps against Palestine that have been enacted by the new Israeli government. Riad Malki said in a statement that he had been coming back from the Brazilian president's inauguration when officials informed him that his permit had been revoked. These specialized travel permits allow Palestinian government officials to travel between the Israeli-occupied West Bank, something that ordinary Palestinians cannot do. The decision to revoke Malki's permit comes after Palestine had recently urged the United Nations to weigh in on the Israeli occupation of the territory. 


At least 40 killed, many more injured in Senegal bus crash

A bus crash Sunday in central Senegal killed at least 40 people and injured dozens more, Senegalese President Macky Sall said in a statement. "I am deeply saddened by today's tragic road accident in Gniby, where 40 people died and many were seriously injured," Sall's statement said. According to local reports, the accident involved two buses colliding with each other. The cause of the crash remains under investigation, and while traffic accidents are common in Senegal, this is shaping up to be one of the deadliest in years. Sall added that the country would undergo three days of official mourning. 


Elon Musk wants trial moved from California to Texas over claims of bias

Attorneys for Tesla CEO Elon Musk have asked a federal judge in San Fransisco to move a coming trial to Texas, claiming that bias against Musk in California would make it impossible for him to have a fair trial. Musk, along with other board members of the electric car company, is being sued in a class action suit that claims that Tesla purposefully manipulated its stock prices when Musk tweeted in 2018 that he was considering taking the company private. The trial will seek to determine if Musk's tweets caused an impact on shareholders, and if he should be subject to damages. Musk is looking to have the trial moved to Texas, where a new Tesla "gigafactory" is currently being constructed. 


Mikaela Shiffrin ties Lindsey Vonn’s World Cup record with 82 wins

Skiing superstar Mikaela Shiffrin has tied the legendary Lindsey Vonn's women's World Cup record with her 82nd victory. Shiffrin's win came Sunday during the giant slalom event in Kranjska Gora, Slovenia. The 27-year-old phenom led the race the entire time, and her dominant performance tied her for both the record for World Cup wins by a woman and by an American. She would end up finishing 0.20 seconds ahead of Switzerland's Lara Gut-Behrami after coming out of the gate with a 0.24-second head start. Shiffrin will have the chance to pass Vonn during a night slalom this coming Tuesday. 


Damar Hamlin thanks supporters in 1st comments since cardiac arrest

Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin took to social media on Saturday to thank his supporters, in his first public comments since suffering a cardiac arrest during a game last week against the Cincinnati Bengals. Hamlin's heart stopped during a routine hit, and he was transferred to a local hospital after being revived through CPR. Though he remains in critical condition, Hamlin wrote on Instagram, "When you put real love out into the world it comes back to you 3x's as much. The love has been overwhelming, but I'm thankful for every single person that prayed for me and reached out." This seems to be evidence that Hamlin's recovery continues to trend in the right direction


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