Nation & World News – At a Glance – for Wednesday, May 24, 2023

McCarthy Is Negotiating Debt With Job on Line

Debt-limit talks continued Tuesday on Capitol Hill with no sign of imminent resolution. Speaker Kevin McCarthy is attempting a difficult balancing act as he tries to extract spending concessions from President Joe Biden in exchange for raising the debt ceiling. But hard-right Republicans, who are demanding deep spending cuts as the price of averting a default, are all but certain to oppose any compromise. McCarthy can afford to lose conservatives’ votes on the debt ceiling, but if he strikes a deal that angers them too much, he could be out of his job if they call a snap vote to oust him.


White House Tries to Shield Virus Money

The White House is seeking to preserve funding for key components of the federal coronavirus response in debt limit negotiations with House Republicans, according to senior Biden administration officials familiar with the talks. Administration officials are trying to protect roughly $5 billion in funding for a program to develop the next generation of coronavirus vaccines and treatments. They are also looking to preserve more than $1 billion in funding for an initiative to offer free coronavirus shots to uninsured Americans. The funds are in jeopardy because Republicans are seeking to extract spending cuts from the Biden administration as a condition for raising the nation’s borrowing cap.

DeSantis to Announce His 2024 Bid During a Twitter Talk With Musk

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is planning to announce the start of his 2024 presidential campaign on Wednesday in a live audio conversation on Twitter with Elon Musk, the platform’s polarizing owner, according to people with knowledge of his plans. DeSantis’ entry into the Republican primary race against former President Donald Trump has been widely expected, but the decision to do so with Musk adds a surprising element and gives DeSantis access to a large audience online. NBC News first reported the plans. The event on Twitter Spaces is planned for 6 p.m. Eastern.

GOP Donor Refuses Senate Request to See Thomas Gift Receipts

Billionaire Republican donor Harlan Crow refused this week to comply with the Senate Judiciary Committee’s request to hand over information about gifts and travel he provided to Justice Clarence Thomas. “After careful consideration, we do not believe the committee has the authority to investigate Mr. Crow’s personal friendship with Justice Clarence Thomas,” Michael D. Bopp, Crow’s lawyer, wrote to the panel on Monday. The refusal of Crow’s representatives to turn over the information is not surprising, but it is certain to intensify the fight between Democratic lawmakers and the Supreme Court over what ethics standards should apply to the court.

Advisory Says Teens Face Risk on Social Sites

The nation’s top health official, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, issued an extraordinary public warning on Tuesday about the risks of social media to young people, urging a push to fully understand the possible “harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.” The report included practical recommendations to help families guide children’s social media use. It recommended that families keep mealtimes and in-person gatherings free of devices to help build social bonds and promote conversation. It suggested creating a “family media plan” to set expectations for social media use, including boundaries around content and keeping personal information private.

1,997 Minors Abused in Catholic Church, Illinois Says

More than 450 credibly accused child sex abusers have ministered in the Catholic Church in Illinois over almost seven decades, the office of the state’s attorney general, Kwame Raoul, said Tuesday in an investigative report. That is more than four times the number that the church had publicly disclosed before 2018, when the state began its investigation. The 696-page report found that clergy members and lay religious brothers had abused at least 1,997 children since 1950 in the state’s six dioceses. None of the 451 abusers are known to be in active ministry, and at least 330 are believed to have died.

U.S. Navy Steps Up Efforts to Curb Iran’s Ship Seizures in Strait of Hormuz

U.S. Navy warships stationed in the Persian Gulf region have increased their patrols through the Strait of Hormuz, the busy merchant ship passageway, in response to recent moves by Iran to seize two oil tankers, the latest sign of rising tensions between Iran and the United States. Iran has “harassed, attacked or interfered” with 15 internationally flagged merchant ships since 2021, Pentagon and White House officials said this month as they announced the move to increase patrols by U.S. Navy ships, drones and planes, as well as those of U.S. allies in the region.

Anti-Kremlin Fighters Take War to Russian Territory for a Second Day

A rare cross-border assault in southern Russia by anti-Kremlin fighters aligned with Ukraine stretched into a second day Tuesday, with reports of an explosion at a defense factory and skirmishes at a crossing, in one of the most brazen incursions into Russian territory since the war began. Russia’s Ministry of Defense said Tuesday that it had pushed back all of the pro-Ukrainian fighters across the border from the region of Belgorod and that scores of “saboteurs” had been killed. The claim could not be verified, and people representing the anti-Kremlin fighters maintained that attacks were continuing.

U.K. Clamping Down on Visas for Students’ Kin

The British government on Tuesday said it would prevent thousands of international students from bringing family members with them into the country, as Prime Minister Rishi Sunak faced growing political pressure to curb rapidly rising immigration numbers. Under the new measures, only postgraduate research students will be entitled to visas for dependents, ending a system under which others, such as those on master’s courses, were allowed them too. The announcement came just two days before the release of official figures that are expected to show that net migration has risen to a record level. Last year it climbed to 504,000 — its highest number yet — from June 2021 to June 2022.

Russian Court Orders American Journalist Jailed Through August

Meeting behind closed doors, a Moscow court on Tuesday extended the arrest of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal correspondent accused of espionage until Aug. 30. The refusal of bail and the extension of Gershkovich’s detention were widely expected, although Russia has presented no evidence to back the espionage accusation. The U.S. government and The Wall Street Journal have vehemently rejected the charges, saying that “reporting is not a crime.” Gershkovich, 31, has been held at the Lefortovo jail since he was detained March 29 during a reporting trip to the central Russian city of Yekaterinburg. If convicted, Gershkovich would face up to 20 years in a Russian penal colony.

Mexican President Said He Told Ally Not to Worry About Being Spied On

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador admitted Tuesday that he had been informed that his top human rights official was being spied on, but said he told the official not to worry about it. The admission comes a day after The New York Times revealed that Alejandro Encinas, the Mexican government’s undersecretary for human rights, was hacked by the world’s most notorious spyware, known as Pegasus, while he was investigating abuses by the country’s military. López Obrador, who took office in 2018, vowed to stop the “illegal” and “immoral” surveillance of the past and has said his government does not spy on anyone.

Prince Harry Loses Bid to Pay for Police Protection in U.K.

Prince Harry lost a legal challenge Tuesday in his quest to pay for police protection in Britain, days after he and his wife, Meghan, were caught in a much-disputed confrontation with photographers in New York City. In one of two cases involving the prince’s security, the High Court in London rejected Harry’s request for a judicial review of a decision by the Home Office to reject his application to pay privately for protection from the Metropolitan Police when he and his family visit Britain. Lawyers for the Home Office contended that it was improper for police officers, in effect, to be hired out as private security guards.

By wire sources

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