10 things you need to know today: August 20, 2023

Hilary weakens to Category 1 hurricane as it nears landfall, Russian lunar spacecraft crashes into the moon, and more

Storm clouds approach a Marilyn Monroe statue in Palm Springs, California.
Palm Springs, California, is one of many cities that are likely to be heavily affected by Hurricane Hilary
(Image credit: David Swanson / AFP via Getty Images)

1. Hilary weakens to Category 1 hurricane as it nears landfall

Hurricane Hilary was downgraded to a Category 1 storm on Sunday, but is still expected to bring significant damage to the Baja California peninsula as it nears landfall. The storm, the first of its kind in southern California in 84 years, will bring heavy rains and the potential for flash flooding to numerous cities in the region, as residents of Los Angeles, Anaheim, San Diego and other major metropolitan areas have been urged to prepare for the torrential downpour. The National Weather Service (NWS) has said residents of southern California and parts of Nevada should expect "dangerous and locally catastrophic impacts," as some regions are likely to see up to 10 inches of rain in just a few days.

KCAL-TV San Diego Union-Tribune

2. Russian lunar spacecraft crashes into the moon

Russia's Luna-25 spacecraft crashed into the surface of the moon on Sunday, officials said, as the country's first lunar mission in nearly 50 years ended in failure in a major blow to its space aspirations. The spacecraft, which consisted of an unmanned lunar lander, entered the moon's orbit last Wednesday and was supposed to land this coming week. However, an undescribed "emergency situation" occurred on Saturday, according to Roscosmos, Russia's national space agency, and Luna-25 was not placed on its proper orbital adjustment for landing. The agency was unable to re-establish contact with the spacecraft, and determined that it had "ceased its existence as a result of a collision with the lunar surface."

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The New York Times Axios

3. Mark Meadows reportedly testified that Trump did not declassify Mar-a-Lago documents

Former White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told special counsel Jack Smith that he couldn't recall Donald Trump declassifying any documents found at Mar-a-Lago, ABC News reported Sunday. This appears to be a contradiction of the former president's claims that he declassified these materials prior to leaving the White House, something that Trump has consistently claimed in public. The former president is facing a federal indictment related to his handling of these documents, and has received more than 40 separate charges in connection with the alleged crimes. Sources told ABC that Meadows had also offered to retrieve any classified documents from Mar-a-Lago after they were requested by the National Archives, but that Trump declined his offer.

ABC News

4. Spain beats England 1-0 to win its first Women’s World Cup

Spain reached the soccer mountaintop on Sunday, as the Spanish national team beat England 1-0 to win its first FIFA Women's World Cup title. A 29th-minute goal from Olga Carmona was part of a dominant first half by Spain, who was able to hold off the pressuring English team. England was never able to gain enough momentum to present a significant threat, and Spain survived 15 minutes of stoppage time to claim their first title. For La Roja, the World Cup victory is a remarkable run to the top. The team only won its first Women's World Cup game four short years ago, but now looks primed to lead the next generation of women's soccer.

Yahoo! Sports Fox Sports

5. Ecuador heads to the polls weeks after presidential candidate’s assassination

Ecuadorians headed to the polls Sunday to vote in a presidential election marred by the shadow of violence. The country has been increasingly besieged by cartel and drug-related violence, and the election comes 11 days after anti-corruption presidential candidate Fernando Villavicencio was assassinated in broad daylight. Slain while leaving a campaign event, Villavicencio was an outspoken advocate against gangs, and his death shined an international spotlight on the issue of violence in Ecuador. The outgoing president, Guillermo Lasso, is widely unpopular as a result of crime, increased levels of corruption and overall instability in a country that was considered relatively safe just a few years ago.

The Washington Post CNN

6. Guatemala holds presidential election in an effort to undo democratic backsliding

Guatemala will hold presidential elections on Sunday, in a contest that could help pivot the country back towards democracy after a recent shift towards authoritarianism. Most polling has shown the leftist candidate Bernardo Arévalo holding a large lead over his opponent, former first lady Sandra Torres. The former first lady had previously divorced her husband in an effort to circumvent a ban on close relatives running for political office. However, all accounts indicate that Arévalo is likely to emerge victorious, after a victory in the election's initial round propelled his candidacy. His high polling numbers are likely indicative of a preemptive shift away from the democratic backsliding that has been seen in Guatemala over the last few years.

The Guardian The New Yorker

7. US, Australia and Japan reportedly planning naval drills in South China Sea

The United States, Australia and Japan are planning to hold joint naval drills in the South China Sea this week, Filipino officials said Sunday. The trio of powers will perform the drills off the western coast of the Philippines, in an effort to reaffirm their alliance with each other amidst growing threats of Chinese aggression. Filipino officials told The Associated Press that the drills will include aircraft and helicopter carriers sailing together in a show of force. China had used coast guard ships to antagonize Filipino vessels earlier this month, as tensions have been rising over disputed territorial claims in the South China Sea. The U.S., Japan and Australia have all expressed support for the Philippines in the dispute.

The Associated Press

8. Rare case of locally acquired malaria diagnosed in Maryland

A rare case of "locally acquired" malaria has been diagnosed in Maryland, officials said Friday. The patient had not recently traveled outside of the United States and is currently recovering in the hospital, the Maryland Department of Health said in a statement. While the disease was once common in the United States, it is increasingly rare throughout the country. The diagnosis marks the first case of malaria unrelated to travel in Maryland in more than 40 years, officials said. While more than 2,000 cases are still diagnosed in the U.S. each year, almost all of them involve people who acquired the disease while traveling overseas.

NBC News USA Today

9. Jimmy Carter’s grandson says former president and first lady are ‘in the final chapter’

The grandson of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter said Saturday that the former president and first lady are "in the final chapter" of their lives amidst health problems that have stricken them both. Josh Carter told People magazine that his grandfather "fully understands [how many well wishes he's received] and has felt the love." The 39th president, now 98, entered hospice care at his home in Plains, Georgia, this past February, and Rosalynn, now 96, was diagnosed with dementia three months later. Josh Carter said that despite this diagnosis, his grandmother "still knows who we are, for the most part — that we are family," and is still able to form new memories.


10. Emmy-winning ‘This Is Us’ actor Ron Cephas Jones dies at 66

Ron Cephas Jones, an actor known for his Emmy-winning turn on the NBC drama "This Is Us," has died at the age of 66. Jones passed away following a "longstanding pulmonary issue," his representatives said Saturday, adding that his "inner beauty and soul was evident." Jones began his career as a play performer and was on and off the stage for his entire life. However, it was his performance as William Hill, the biological father of Sterling K. Brown's Randall Pearson on "This Is Us," that endeared him to fans across the country. He garnered two Emmy nominations for the role, winning twice in 2018 and 2020 for outstanding guest actor in a drama series.


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Justin Klawans

Justin Klawans is a staff writer at The Week. Based in Chicago, he was previously a breaking news reporter for Newsweek, writing breaking news and features for verticals including politics, U.S. and global affairs, business, crime, sports, and more. His reporting has been cited on many online platforms, in addition to CBS' The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

He is also passionate about entertainment and sports news, and has covered film, television, and casting news as a freelancer for outlets like Collider and United Press International, as well as Chicago sports news for Fansided.