10 things you need to know today: September 4, 2023

Erdogan and Putin meet in effort to rejuvenate Ukraine grain deal, Biden heads to Philadelphia for pro-union Labor Day celebration, and more

Turkish President Erdogan and Russian President Putin meet in Sochi.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said he is opening to re-joining the Ukrainian grain deal
(Image credit: Contributor via Getty Images)

1. Erdogan and Putin meet in effort to rejuvenate Ukraine grain deal

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin met Monday to discuss Russia's potential re-entry into the Black Sea grain deal. The agreement, which allows grain from Ukraine to be shipped to food-scarce countries around the world, was upended this past July after Russia exited the pact, a year after Turkey brokered the deal in conjunction with the United Nations. However, during the pair's meeting in the Russian resort town of Sochi, Putin told Erdogan that he was "open to negotiations" in regards to Russia re-joining the Black Sea deal. Erdogan replied that this message "will be an important step for the whole world, especially for African countries."

The Associated Press Reuters

2. Biden heads to Philadelphia for pro-union Labor Day celebration

President Biden will visit Philadelphia on Monday to celebrate Labor Day while also giving a speech centered around his pro-union causes, according to White House officials. The president is scheduled to speak at the city's annual Tri-State Labor Day Parade, where topics are likely to include the touting of his "Bidenomics" agenda and its role in supporting union workers. Biden has previously described himself as the "most pro-union president" in American history. In an op-ed published Sunday in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Biden promoted his economic record of rising job numbers and low unemployment, in what is likely a preview of some of his talking points in Philadelphia.

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up

The Philadelphia Inquirer The Hill

3. Xi Jinping to skip G20 meeting in India as relations remain dicey

Chinese President Xi Jinping will likely be skipping the upcoming G20 summit in India, as the country indicated Monday that it would send its premiere, Li Qiang, instead. This will mark the first time since 2008 that the leader of China has not attended the G20 meeting. The fact that Xi is snubbing the group is likely a blow to India, though perhaps not all that surprising given the continued souring of relations between China and India. China continues to be embroiled in a number of border disputes with India that have cast a shadow over the neighbors' diplomatic ties. There were also suggestions that Xi's snub could be coming at the behest of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Guardian The New York Times

4. More than 70,000 people still stranded at Burning Man

At least 70,000 people are still trapped at the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert, as heavy rains turned the area into a massive mud pit that made traversal by vehicle nearly impossible. At least one person has already died, and organizers said they were planning to begin exit proceedings on Monday, the last day of the festival. Officials from the counterculture extravaganza told festivalgoers to shelter in place and conserve food and water until further instructions were given. Despite these circumstances, Burning Man CEO Marian Goodell told NBC News there was "no cause for panic," and that the event organizers "do not see this as an evacuation situation."

NBC News The Washington Post

5. Astronauts return to Earth following 6-month space mission

Four astronauts returned to Earth early Monday morning after spending the past six months on the International Space Station. The crew of NASA's SpaceX Crew-6, carrying three NASA astronauts and one Russian cosmonaut, splashed down off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, just after midnight. This marked the fourth successful trip into orbit for SpaceX's Dragon Endeavour capsule, having previously supported three other manned missions into space. The four astronauts had been in orbit on the International Space Station since this past March, conducting support experiments onboard. The next launch date from Florida's Cape Canaveral has not yet been identified.

USA Today Bloomberg

6. UK education minister says hundreds of school buildings could be unsafe

British Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said Monday that hundreds more school buildings throughout the United Kingdom could be at risk of crumbling, and were potentially unsafe. Keegan's comments came days after education authorities ordered the shutdown of 104 schools that were deemed "at-risk" due to old and weakened concrete. Keegan told the BBC that it "could be hundreds" when asked how many more schools could face similar hazards. The schools in question were built using a lightweight form of concrete commonly used in the U.K. during the 1960s through 1980s, but now widely considered inadequate. However, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak downplayed Keegan's comments, saying that 95% of schools in the U.K. would be unaffected.


7. Texas AG Ken Paxton to begin impeachment trial

The impeachment trial of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is set to begin Tuesday, in what could be a contentious look into the proceedings of the state's top attorney. The 60-year-old Paxton, long considered a Republican mainstay in the mostly red Texas, was impeached by the state's GOP-controlled legislature this past May over allegations of corruption and illegal conduct. The impeachment inquiry began after the Texas House started investigating a whistleblower's claims that Paxton had taken multi-million dollar bribes, with a number of these claims reportedly coming from Paxton's own staff members. Paxton has asserted his innocence and dogged the upcoming trial as politically motivated.

The Texas Tribune NBC News

8. Greece limits Acropolis tourists in effort to stop overcrowding

Greece has started limiting the number of visitors to the country's famous Acropolis in an effort to stop over-tourism at the archeological landmark. As of Monday, Greek officials will begin capping visitors to the Acropolis at 20,000 per day, and a booking website has been set up to track the number of people moving in and out. An hourly slotting system has also been implemented on the site. The plan is part of a push to eliminate overcrowding that is creating "unpleasant conditions for the site, the visitors and the staff," Greek culture minister Lina Mendoni said. The plan is currently in a trial phase and is expected to be implented fully in 2024.


9. Remains of 142-year-old shipwreck found in Lake Michigan

The remains of a 142-year-old schooner were discovered at the bottom of Lake Michigan, officials said this past weekend. The Trinidad was located by shipwreck hunters Brendon Baillod and Bob Jaeck off the coast of Algoma, Wisconsin, earlier this summer, according to the Wisconsin Historical Society. The ship, which was built in 1867 and sank in 1881, was found in 270 feet of water. In a post on industry website Shipwreck World, Baillod wrote that the Trinidad was "remarkably intact." He added that the ship's deck house was "still in place, containing the crew's possessions, dishes, anchors, bell and many other artifacts from the day of her loss in May of 1881."

NPR The Guardian

10. Original Smash Mouth singer Steve Harwell dies at 56

Steve Harwell, the original lead singer of the band Smash Mouth, died Monday at the age of 56, a representative for the band said. Harwell "passed peacefully and comfortably," according to the Smash Mouth representative, after he previously entered hospice care for liver failure. The frontman for the iconic 1990s rock band, best known for their hits "All Star" and "I'm a Believer," Harwell retired from singing in 2021 due to his medical issues, including a number of cardiac problems. "Steve's iconic voice is one of the most recognizable voices from his generation. He loved the fans and loved to perform," the representative added.

Rolling Stone

Continue reading for free

We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.

Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.