Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: April 29, 2023

Airstrikes heard throughout Sudan as war enters 3rd week, Army grounds nearly all aviators following helicopter crash, and more


Airstrikes heard throughout Sudan as war enters 3rd week

Airstrikes and artillery attacks were heard throughout Sudan on Saturday, particularly in the capital city of Khartoum, as fighting between warring factions of the Sudanese military entered its third week. The continued skirmishes come despite the extension of a three-day ceasefire on Friday, as tanks and artillery rained fire down on Khartoum and neighboring cities. Hundreds of people have already been killed in the fighting, and millions of refugees remain trapped in Sudan as the war ramps up. Despite international calls for peace in the country, the two sides remain at an impasse, and violence has also reawakened in the Darfur region, home to a decades-old war that has also killed scores of people. 


Army grounds nearly all aviators following helicopter crash

The U.S. Army on Friday grounded all aviators not involved in essential missions, following a pair of recent helicopter crashes that left 12 soldiers dead. The order, from Army Chief of Staff James McConville, grounds all non-critical aviators until they complete a new round of training. McConville said in a statement that "the safety of our aviators is our top priority, and this stand down is an important step to make certain we are doing everything possible to prevent accidents and protect our personnel." This past Thursday, three soldiers died and four were injured after two helicopters collided in Alaska. This was preceded in March when nine soldiers died after a pair of helicopters crashed in Kentucky. 


FDIC reportedly set to takeover First Republic Bank as financial problems continue

Reports emerged Saturday that the FDIC is likely to take over the struggling First Republic Bank, as shares of the California-based financial institution plunged 40 percent. According to sources, the FDIC feels that the bank's position has deteriorated to a point where regulators must step in, despite the fact that First Republic has been looking for private sector investors to try and keep it afloat. The bank's seizure by the government will reportedly come sometime this weekend, sources said. If the FDIC does end up receiving First Republic, it would be the third American bank to fail since March, including the massive collapse of Silicon Valley Bank which lost investors billions of dollars. 


Drone attack causes massive fire at Crimean fuel depot

A suspected drone attack caused a massive fire at a fuel depot in Crimea on Saturday, the latest in a series of attacks on the Russian-annexed region of Ukraine. The Russian-backed governor of Sevastopol, a port city in Crimea, said that while the open blaze had been contained, the fire itself would be very difficult to extinguish. Russian officials said that the depot was attacked by "two enemy drones," blaming the strike on a Ukrainian counteroffensive. The attack comes just one day after Russia shelled Ukraine with more than 20 missiles, killing at least 23 people. Ukrainian officials did not take responsibility for the attack, but said it was "God's punishment" for Russia killing civilians. 


Bill finalized to allow DeSantis to run for president while governor

The Florida Legislature on Friday passed a bill enacting changes to the state's elections laws, which would allow Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) to run for president while still remaining governor. The bill passed along 76-34 party lines in the state House, after previously passing the Senate along those same partisan divisions. While Florida's current election law states that anyone running for office needs to resign their current position, this bill creates an exception for those running for president or vice president. While DeSantis has not formally announced his candidacy, he is expected to make a run for the White House, and this alteration of Florida's election laws makes that all the more clear. 


Russian pilots reportedly tried to ‘dogfight’ U.S. jets in Syria

Russian pilots have been ramping up efforts to try and "dogfight" U.S. fighter jets over Syria, it was reported Friday. A spokesperson for U.S. Central Command said that multiple videos show the pilots appearing to engage with American planes. While it is not suspected that the Russians are trying to shoot down these planes, the spokesperson said, they are likely trying to "provoke" the U.S. and "draw us into an international incident." One of these videos shows a Russian SU-35 fighter jet engaging in what the U.S. called an "unsafe and unprofessional" of an American F-16. It comes as tensions between the United States and Russia continue to rise.


Climate activists plan to protest at Correspondents’ Dinner

Climate change activists are planning to protest the White House Correspondents' Dinner on Saturday night, where President Biden is set to speak. The group Climate Defiance told ABC News they are planning to blockade the area near the Washington Hilton, where the annual dinner for members of the White House Correspondents' Association will be held. Climate Defiance told ABC that they want to hold Biden accountable for his campaign promises to end fossil fuel drilling on public lands. WHCA President Tamara Keith told ABC the organization was "aware of the planned protest. There are security precautions in place." The Metropolitan Police Department also said it was "aware of potential First Amendment activities" and was planning accordingly. 


Brazil recognizes new Indigenous areas to safeguard Amazon rainforest

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Friday created a recognition of nearly 800 square miles of Indigenous lands in the Amazon rainforest. The move is an attempt to help safeguard critically endangered areas within the forest, and it comes after a large swath of protections was removed under Lula's predecessor, former Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. While this new land remains under the auspices of the Brazilian government, the decree allows the Indigenous people of the Amazon to use it how they see fit, and also prohibits mining, farming, and logging without special authorizations. The decree is part of Lula's campaign promise to create more protected zones in Brazil's natural reserves. 


FAA overruled engineers to let dangerous Boeing 737 Max keep flying, report says

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) overruled concerned engineers to let the Boeing 737 Max keep flying even in the wake of deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019, a new report alleges. The report, from a government watchdog in the Transportation Department, claims that FAA officials held off on grounding the planes until they were able to sort through a mound of data related to the crashes. The investigation "revealed that individual engineers...recommended grounding the airplane while the accident was being investigated based on what they perceived as similarities between the accidents." One engineer reportedly assessed that the risk of another 737 Max crash was 13 times greater than what the FAA allowed. 


Apple employee who defrauded company of millions sentenced to prison

A former Apple employee who conned the company out of more than $17 million was sentenced to three years in federal prison, and ordered to pay back nearly $33 million in total restitution, the Justice Department announced. Dhirendra Prasad, 55, pleaded guilty in 2022 to conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to defraud the United States. Prasad worked as a buyer for Apple's global supply chain from 2008 to 2018, and in a scheme going back as far as 2011, admitted to double-billing the tech company for parts it already owned. He also admitted to creating fake invoices that allowed his co-conspirator to take unjustified tax deductions. 


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