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10 things you need to know today: May 21, 2023

Zelenskyy says Bakhmut is still under Ukrainian control, Biden criticizes Republicans while warning of debt ceiling default, and more


Zelenskyy says Bakhmut is still under Ukrainian control

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denied assertions on Sunday that Russia had taken control of the city of Bakhmut. Russian forces had previously claimed to have captured the city, which Zelenskyy said at the end of 2022 was totally destroyed. However, when asked during a G7 meeting if Russia had indeed taken over Bakhmut, Zelenskyy replied, "I think no. But you have to understand, there is nothing." Zelenskyy added, though, that there were hundreds of buildings destroyed in the city, saying, "For today, Bakhmut is only in our hearts, and there is nothing on this place." Zelenskyy's spokesperson Sergii Nykyforov also clarified that the Ukrainian president did not believe Bakhmut was under Russian control. 


Biden criticizes Republicans while warning of debt ceiling default

President Biden sharply criticized Republicans on Sunday, saying they could potentially allow a national default on the debt ceiling in order to damage him politically. Biden, who said he would talk with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) on Air Force One on the way home from the G7 in Japan, lambasted the GOP for their stance on the negotiations, a hard change from his prior sentiments with just days left until the agreement deadline. Biden said Republicans had to move on from their "extreme positions because much of what they've proposed is simply, quite frankly, unacceptable." He added that he "can't guarantee that [Republicans] will not force a default by doing something outrageous." 


DeSantis asks judge to be disqualified in Disney lawsuit

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) filed a motion Friday to disqualify the judge overseeing a federal lawsuit filed against him by the Walt Disney Company, alleging the judge has exhibited biases in the past. The motion sought to remove Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker from the case. The lawsuit, filed by Disney last month, alleges that DeSantis violated the company's right to free speech and unconstitutionally retaliated against the brand by appointing his own board to control Disney's governing district. DeSantis' team alleged that Walker has made previous statements that could "imply he has prejudged the retaliation in question." The judge was appointed to his current seat by former President Barack Obama in 2012. 


Lawyer who quit Trump defense cites in-fighting within legal team

Timothy Parlatore, a former attorney for former President Donald Trump, said Saturday that he left due to infighting and disarray among Trump's legal team. Parlatore announced this past week that he was stepping down as one of Trump's attorneys, and told CNN's "Newsroom" that his decision "had nothing to do with the case itself or the client." The real reason he left, Parlatore said, "is because there are certain individuals that made defending the president much harder than it needed to be," in particular citing Trump advisor and GOP strategist Boris Epshteyn. Trump's team issued a response saying that Parlatore's statements "regarding current members of the legal team are unfounded and categorically false."


National Treasure wins Preakness, ends Mage’s Triple Crown bid

While he may not have stolen the Declaration of Independence, National Treasure did manage to steal a victory Saturday in the 148th Preakness Stakes. Coming into the race with 5-2 odds, the horse held off the stampeding Blazing Sevens down the stretch, beating him by just a head at the finish line. National Treasure's victory ended the Triple Crown bid for Kentucky Derby winner Mage, who came in third in the Preakness. The second leg of the Triple Crown came amidst continuing controversies over horse deaths in the sport. Bob Baffert, National Treasure's trainer, had another one of his horses, Havnameltdown, euthanized the morning of the Preakness following an injury in a separate race. 


Warring factions in Sudan agree to temporary ceasefire

Warring sides in Sudan reached a temporary ceasefire on Saturday following more than a month of deadly fighting, the U.S. State Department announced. In a press release, the State Department said the truce, which had been negotiated by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, will last seven days and could be extended if both Sudanese sides agree to do so. The ceasefire will allow for the "distribution of humanitarian assistance, restore essential services, and withdraw forces from hospitals and essential public facilities." The ceasefire comes two weeks after talks began, following deadly conflict breaking out between opposing sides of Sudan's military. At least 750 people have died since the beginning of the skirmish, officials said. 


At least 12 dead following stampede at El Salvador soccer stadium

At least 12 people died on Saturday following a stampede at a soccer stadium in El Salvador, government officials said. The deadly incident occurred during the second leg of a playoff quarterfinal game between Alianza FC and Club Deportivo FAS in the city of San Salvador. The disaster reportedly began after large throngs of fans tried entering the stadium after the gates had been closed, resulting in a human crush. El Salvador President Nayib Bukele described the event as "unprecedented" and vowed to launch an investigation. The stadium where the crush occurred is one of the largest in Central America, holding more than 44,000 people. 


15-year-old arrested for allegedly bringing AR-15 to high school

Police arrested a 15-year-old student on Friday after he allegedly brought an AR-15 and ammunition to his Phoenix-area high school, according to authorities. The student is reportedly facing "serious felony charges." According to the Phoenix Police Department, the student brought the rifle to Bostrom High School, and was arrested in the main office around 1 p.m. School officials alerted police after other students said they saw the suspect walking around with the gun, and the campus went into lockdown as soon as this was reported. Authorities allegedly found more ammunition in the student's locker and lunchbox. There were no reported injuries, and it did not appear that the student ever fired the weapon. 


Dorm directors fired after using pronouns in emails

A pair of dorm directors at a small Christian university in New York were fired after refusing to remove their pronouns from their email signatures. The former directors, Shua Wilmot and Raegan Zelaya, said in a YouTube video that they used "he/him" and "she/her" pronoun identifiers, respectively, because of their unusual names. Their former employer, Houghton University, asked them to remove the pronouns from their signatures in line with a new email policy at the school. Both Wilmot and Zelaya were fired when they refused to do so, the pair said. The university told The Associated Press that it had "never terminated an employment relationship based solely on the use of pronouns in staff email signatures."


Celebrated author Martin Amis dies at 73

Martin Amis, a renowned British author who penned 14 acclaimed novels during his career, died Saturday at the age of 73. The Booker Prizes, the U.K.'s leading fiction literary awards group, said that Amis passed away at his home in Lake Worth, Florida. His wife, Isabel Fonseca, said in a statement that Amis died from esophageal cancer. Amis was often cited among the greatest British authors of the 20th century, and rose to stardom as one of the most celebrated novelists of his time. Amis' death came on the same day a film adaptation of his 2014 book "The Zone of Interest" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival to significant praise. 


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