10 things you need to know today: June 18, 2023

Both Ukraine and Russia likely suffering heavy losses during counteroffensive, Blinken meets with Chinese foreign minister to begin high-stakes talks, and more

Ukrainian soldiers stand by the remains of a Russian artillery attack.
(Image credit: Alex Chan / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

1. Both Ukraine and Russia likely suffering heavy losses during counteroffensive

Both Ukraine and Russia are suffering heavy casualties as a result of the early stages of Ukraine's counteroffensive, British intelligence said Sunday. Massive fighting has been seen in recent days, particularly around the city of Bakhmut. While Ukraine continues to push back against its Russian aggressors, this has caused high death tolls on both sides, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said in a tweet. This is heightened by the fact that Russian forces in southern Ukraine have been able to hold the line against the counteroffensive, the ministry said. Russian death tolls are likely the highest they've been since the peak of the Bakhmut siege this past March, according to the ministry.

The Associated Press

2. Blinken meets with Chinese foreign minister to begin high-stakes talks

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken began a series of high-stakes talks with Chinese officials on Sunday, in an effort to bridge the gap of souring relations between the two countries. Blinken, the first American secretary of state to visit China in five years, met with Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang in Beijing, where they are expected to discuss ways to reestablish channels of communication. While neither Blinken nor Qin spoke to reporters, Assistant Foreign Minister Hua Chunying tweeted his hope that "this meeting can help steer China-U.S. relations back to what the two Presidents agreed upon in Bali," referring to a prior meeting between President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping last November.

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3. Ceasefire begins in Sudan 1 day after deadly airstrike

A truce between warring sides of Sudan's military began on Sunday, bringing a temporary end to the violence that has besieged the country for months. The new three-day ceasefire comes just 24 hours after a deadly airstrike in Sudan's capital city of Khartoum killed at least 17 civilians, including five children. Medics in neighboring Chad also reported hundreds of wounded people in the violence-plagued Sudanese region of Darfur. This marks the latest in multiple truces that have been hatched between the two sides, though all would eventually devolve into violence. More than 3,000 people have been killed and another 6,000 wounded since the war broke out this past April.

AFP/The Guardian Al Jazeera

4. Pennsylvania governor says collapsed I-95 will reopen within 2 weeks

The collapsed portion of the I-95 interstate in Philadelphia will be reopened within two weeks, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) said Saturday. Shapiro has unveiled an aggressive plan of construction to get the I-95 running again after a part of its elevated section collapsed following a tanker truck fire on June 11. The interstate is a major artery for the Northeast, and Shapiro said during a news conference that he was "going to get traffic moving again thanks to the extraordinary work that is going on here by these union trade workers." Shapiro was joined by President Biden, who was in Philadelphia for a rally and similarly pledged the necessary aid to get the interstate rebuilt.

USA Today The Philadelphia Inquirer

5. Netanyahu to continue with controversial Israeli judicial reforms

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged Sunday to move ahead with deeply unpopular reforms in his country that would hand his government sweeping powers over Israel's judiciary. Netanyahu originally proposed reforms to weaken the country's Supreme Court, but agreed to push these efforts back after widespread protests and anger. While Netanyahu had pledged to allow negotiations to take place between his Cabinet and the opposition coalition, he said Sunday that he would "unilaterally" move forward with the judicial overhaul. The move is expected to increase tensions between Israel and the United States, given that the Biden administration has called on Netanyahu to abandon the reform plans.

The Times of Israel Axios

6. South Carolina GOP reportedly moves back 2024 primary

The South Carolina GOP voted on Saturday to push back their state's Republican primary until February of 2024, ABC News reported. Sources told the outlet that the party unanimously voted for the move in order to give Republican candidates more time to focus on campaigning across the state, which is shaping up to be a key battleground state for a crowded GOP field vying for the White House. If the Republican National Committee approves the change, it would place South Carolina's primary after Nevada's for the first time in years, priming it to occur 18 days later. This would be a change from 2016, when officials worried that candidates didn't have time to campaign in South Carolina properly.

ABC News

7. Utah city violated the First Amendment by denying a drag show permit, court rules

A Utah city violated the First Amendment when it denied a permit for a drag show in a public park, a court ruled Friday. The city of St. George was sued in May by Southern Utah Drag Stars, with the group alleging that the city would not grant them permits to perform an all-ages drag show in a public park. The group alleged that St. George officials committed "flagrant and ongoing violations of their free speech, due process, and equal protection rights." U.S. District Judge David Nuffer agreed, writing in his ruling, "Public spaces are public spaces. Public spaces are not private spaces. The First Amendment ensures that all citizens...have access to public spaces for public expression."

The Associated Press UPI

8. Victims of fatal German attack identified as American college graduates

The victims of a deadly attack near a German castle this past week were identified as recent graduates of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. University officials confirmed that Eva Liu, 21, and Kelsey Chang, 22, had both recently received degrees from the school, and were in Germany on vacation. According to law enforcement, the women were hiking near Bavaria's Neuschwanstein Castle when an unidentified American man attacked them. He allegedly pushed Chang down a 165-foot slope and attempted to sexually assault Liu before pushing her down the same slope. Chang suffered only minor injuries, but Liu died in the attack. The 30-year-old suspect was taken into custody by German police officers.

CBS News Chicago Tribune

9. Airline claims to have found ways to reduce jet lag

Australia's flag carrier airline, Qantas, claims to have discovered ways to improve passengers' jet lag on long-haul flights. In a joint study with the University of Sydney, Qantas said that it is "possible to reduce the impacts of jet lag by reshaping the inflight travel experience." Research conducted during test flights from Sydney to New York City and London found that "different lighting and sleep schedules, mealtimes, and specific ingredients like chili and chocolate during long-haul flights have been shown to contribute to improved traveler wellbeing," Qantas said. The research reportedly said that those on the flight experienced less jet lag and better sleep quality during the journey. The full study has not yet been published.

The Washington Post

10. West Virginia basketball coach resigns after DUI arrest

West Virginia University basketball coach Bob Huggins resigned Saturday night following an arrest the prior day for allegedly driving under the influence. In a statement, Huggins said his "recent actions do not represent the values of the University or the leadership expected in this role." The now-former coach added that he was "solely responsible for my conduct and sincerely apologize to the university community." Huggins was arrested Friday in Pittsburgh after he was allegedly observed driving with a "flat and shredded tire" along with an open driver's side door, police said. A blood test reportedly showed Huggins' blood alcohol level to be 0.21%, nearly three times the legal limit of 0.08%.


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