Nation & world news at a glance for March 26, 2023

At Least 26 Die as Tornadoes Wreck Rural South

An ominous wedge appeared in the night sky over one of the poorest regions of the American South late Friday. When it touched down, it nearly obliterated the small Mississippi Delta town of Rolling Fork — one of numerous scenes of destruction and heartbreak across swaths of Mississippi and Alabama as tornadoes left at least 26 people dead, dozens more injured, and homes and businesses smashed to pieces. Emergency officials were scrambling Saturday to rescue people and assess the damage. At least four people were also missing, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency said. At least 25 people were killed in Mississippi, and another person died in Alabama.


The Largest Source of Stolen Guns? Parked Vehicles.

In a country awash with guns, with more firearms than people, the parked vehicle has become a flashpoint in the debates over how and whether to regulate gun safety. There is little question about the problem’s scope. A report issued in May by the gun control group Everytown for Gun Safety analyzed FBI crime data in 271 cities, large and small, from 2020 and found that guns stolen from vehicles have become the nation’s largest source of stolen firearms — with an estimated 40,000 guns stolen from vehicles in those cities alone.

Can Cannabis Class Help the Industry Legalize? Growers Are Doubtful.

In January, New York state regulators launched the Cannabis Compliance Training &Mentorship Program. The goal is to give legacy growers — players in the illicit market before legalization arrived in 2021 — the information and skills necessary to stay current with rules. Growers in the legal market will face requirements such as product testing and environmental controls. New York aims to bring underground growers into the sanctioned market. The challenge is persuading a thriving industry to embrace new regulations. But New York’s legalization effort has been bumpy. For legacy growers in the program, it’s unclear if it will improve their chances of getting a license.

As Trump Rallies in Waco, His Followers Shore Up His 2024 Bid

Former President Donald Trump remains a strong front-runner for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination. At least one reason for this political durability was assembled Saturday morning outside the airport in the central Texas city of Waco in various combinations of red caps, antagonistic T-shirts and MAGA-button flair: the Trump die-hards. Starting before 8 a.m., more than nine hours before Trump was to take the stage at the first rally of his 2024 campaign, his supporters streamed across dirt roads and formed an ever-growing line that zigzagged across the grass and bluebonnets, with a forest of Trump flags flying nearby.

Ocasio-Cortez Goes on TikTok to Argue Against Banning TikTok

It was a bruising week for TikTok on Capitol Hill, but as momentum grew among Democrats and Republicans to ban the Chinese-owned video app over national security concerns, it gained an influential ally: Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. Ocasio-Cortez, known for her own large social media following, waded into the debate just before midnight Friday by posting a video on — what else? — TikTok. The video had garnered 1.5 million views by early Saturday. In it, Ocasio-Cortez argues that President Joe Biden and colleagues in both parties were “putting the cart before the horse” and rushing prematurely to cut off over 150 million American users.

Mitch McConnell Released From Inpatient Rehab After Concussion

U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the minority leader who suffered a concussion in a serious fall this month, was released from inpatient rehabilitation Saturday, according to a statement he released Saturday evening. “I want to sincerely thank everyone for all the kind wishes,” McConnell said in the statement. “I’m happy to say I finished inpatient physical therapy earlier today, and I’m glad to be home.” He added that he would be working from home for the next few days and would return in person soon but did not say when he would be back at the Senate, which is in session next week.

An Anxious Asia Arms for a War It Hopes to Prevent

For decades, Asia’s rise made it an economic engine for the world, tying China and other regional manufacturing hubs to Europe and America. The focus was trade. Now fear is setting in, with China and the United States locked in a volatile strategic contest and with diplomatic relations at their worst point in 50 years. Rattled by China’s military buildup and territorial threats — along with Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine and doubts about U.S. resolve — nations across the region are bolstering defense budgets, joint training, weapons manufacturing and combat-ready infrastructure.

The Volunteers in Ukraine Who Lie, Waste and Bicker

They rushed to Ukraine by the thousands, many of them Americans who promised to bring military experience, money or supplies to the battleground of a righteous war. Hometown newspapers hailed their commitment, and donors backed them with millions of dollars. Some of the volunteers who hurried to Ukraine did so selflessly and heroically, but others lacked the skills or discipline to assist effectively. Now many of these homespun groups are fighting with themselves and undermining the war effort. Some have wasted money or stolen valor. Others have cloaked themselves in charity while also trying to profit off the war.

Who Will Take Care of Italy’s Older People? Robots, Maybe.

At a moment when both the promise and perils of artificial intelligence are coming into sharper focus, exhausted caregivers in Italy’s most innovative region for elder care are looking to a welcome, not-too-distant future when humanoid robots might help shrinking families share the burden of keeping the Western world’s oldest population stimulated, active and healthy. Robots are already interacting with the old in Japan and the United States. In Italy, the prototype attempts to re-create an echo of the traditional family structure, and leaps in AI are anticipated to make the robots more responsive, keeping older people self-sufficient longer.

The Lasting Footprint of a Japanese Gardener in Mexico

For nearly 100 years, Mexico City residents have enjoyed jacaranda season. Each spring, millions of people stroll around the country’s capital under an explosion of purple flowers. The blooming jacaranda trees bring a little bit of the Amazon rainforest to urbanites’ doorstep and are a living legacy of Tatsugoro Matsumoto, a Japanese gardener, and his efforts to fulfill former Mexican President Pascual Ortiz Rubio’s desire for a spectacle that echoed the cherry blossoms in Washington. In choosing the jacaranda, however, Matsumoto didn’t just suggest a more appropriate tree for the weather in the Mexican capital; he outfitted its streets with an aesthetic vision — one that resurfaces annually.

Bakhmut Battle ‘Could Be Stabilized,’ Ukrainian General Says, but Fighting Remains Intense

Ukrainian forces could be close to stabilizing the front lines in Bakhmut, said Gen. Valeriy Zaluzhny, the commander of the country’s armed forces, as international aid workers warned that civilians remaining in the war-ravaged eastern city faced a dire humanitarian situation. The battle for Bakhmut, which began in the summer, has become one of Russia’s longest-running and deadliest confrontations of the war. While Bakhmut’s strategic value has been questioned, its importance to the current phase of the conflict has only grown, given the heavy casualties sustained by both sides and its centrality in a broader assault on eastern Ukraine launched by Russian forces in recent weeks.

‘Hotel Rwanda’ Dissident Released From Prison After 2 1/2 Years

More than 2 1/2 years after he was kidnapped on a private jet and later sentenced to prison on terrorism-related charges after what his supporters called a show trial, Paul Rusesabagina — the hotelier turned dissident whose heroism was portrayed in the film “Hotel Rwanda” — was released from prison late Friday. Rusesabagina is expected to head to the United States, via Qatar, to reunite with his family. Rusesabagina’s departure from Rwanda will end an ordeal during which he said he was blindfolded and tortured, held in solitary confinement and threatened with shortages of food, water and his medication.

By wire sources

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