Today is Friday, March 17, 2023. Let's get caught up.
Here are today's top stories, celebrity birthdays and a look back at this date in history.
This morning's top headlines: Wednesday, March 15
Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning to visit Russia next week in a diplomatic boost for Russian President Vladimir Putin. The show of support came the same day the International Criminal Court at The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Putin for alleged war crimes. Xi's visit comes amid sharpening East-West tensions over the war in Ukraine. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is expected to dominate the discussions. China has refused to condemn Moscow’s aggression and has sought to project itself as neutral in the conflict. It has condemned Western sanctions and accused NATO and the U.S. of provoking Russia into military action. Xi's trip to Moscow is the latest sign of Beijing's emboldened diplomatic ambitions.
President Joe Biden donned a green tie and sported shamrocks in a chest pocket as he welcomed Ireland’s prime minister to the White House — two years after the COVID-19 pandemic scuttled the last St. Patrick’s Day meeting. Biden said Friday that he plans to visit both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland this year. Biden and Prime Minister Leo Varadkar visited the Capitol, as well, on Friday, and the president and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy both spoke warmly of their Irish heritage. Earlier, Varadker and his partner had breakfast with Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband, where the Irish leader praised U.S. support for LGBTQ rights.
Wall Street’s week of turmoil closed with drops for stocks. The S&P 500 fell 1.1% Friday, led by declines in First Republic and other banks. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Nasdaq composite also pulled back. This week has been a whipsaw for global markets as concerns worsen about banks following the second- and third-largest U.S. bank failures in history. The fear is that the trouble for banks caused by fast-rising interest rates could drag the economy into a recession. Treasury yields sank again Friday in part on such fears, along with easing inflation expectations and falling confidence among U.S. households.
It's a time of protest in Paris and much of France, where opponents hope to bring down the government of President Emmanuel Macron. They're blocking the streets over his decision to force a pension system change through parliament without a vote. Raising the retirement age from 62 to 64 is wildly unpopular. Macron's opponents filed motions Friday that will trigger no-confidence votes next week. Meanwhile traffic is snarled, campuses are blocked and sanitation workers are keeping foul-smelling rubbish from reaching Europe's largest incineration site. Unions want people to leave schools, factories, refineries and other workplaces until Macron withdraws the bill.
Besieged Republican Rep. George Santos is carrying on in Congress despite calls for him to resign after he admitted to fabricating many aspects of his life story. He faces a crush of investigations, but he is rewriting his story in real time — delivering speeches, dashing through the halls of the U.S. Capitol, business as usual. It’s an unusual up-is-down approach that would have been almost unthinkable in an earlier generation. But it's one that signals the new norms taking hold amid the deepening of a post-truth era in Congress. Pressed about it, Santos declared, "Truth still matters very much.”
North Korea says it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile to “strike fear into the enemies” as the United States and its allies staged military exercises. The launch occurred hours before South Korea and Japan agreed to work closely on regional security with the United States. With four missile displays in about a week, North Korea has ratcheted up its response to the biggest U.S.-South Korean military drills in years. State media said Kim Jong Un supervised the Hwasong-17 launch and described his rivals' exercises as “open hostility” toward the North. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said at his summit with Japanese Prime Minster Fumio Kishida that their countries needed to work together to counter the North Korean threat.
A Massachusetts man accused of attacking a flight attendant and attempting to open the plane's emergency door on a cross-country flight has directed attention to passengers with mental health illnesses. One passenger who sat near Francisco Torres on the flight from Los Angeles to Boston says he didn’t exhibit any unusual behavior until he launched his attack. Most experts say there isn't a whole lot that airlines can or should be doing. They note that most people with mental illnesses are not violent, and barring them can pose a host of logistical and constitutional challenges.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom plans to transform San Quentin State Prison, a facility in the San Francisco Bay Area known for maintaining the highest number of prisoners on death row in the country. Newsom said Friday his goal is to turn the prison into a place where inmates can be rehabilitated and receive job training before returning to society. It follows his 2019 moratorium on executions. But nearly 700 prisoners remain on death row today. The announcement marks a massive shift in how the state could shape the fate of prisoners in the criminal justice system.
Australia said it’s planning to buy up to 220 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the United States after the U.S. State Department approved the sale Friday. The deal comes days after Australia announced it would buy nuclear-powered attack submarines from the U.S. to modernize its fleet amid growing concern about China’s influence in the Indo-Pacific. Australian officials said the nuclear-powered submarines would be able to fire the Tomahawk missiles. Japan also plans to buy Tomahawks as part of a plan to upgrade its military to deter China. Some have questioned the expense of Australia's purchases, but Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the ability to upgrade the nation's defense made the submarine deal valuable.
The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was remembered during ceremonies at the Supreme Court. The justice was a champion for women's rights and died just ahead of the 2020 election. Chief Justice John Roberts called her a “woman of conviction, courage and quiet compassion.” Ginsburg served as a justice for 27 years and was the Supreme Court’s second female member. Her death allowed then-President Donald Trump to replace the liberal icon with a conservative justice, moving the high court to the right. The ceremonies at the Supreme Court are a tradition following the death of a justice. The tradition dates to 1822.
IMAGE OF THE DAY
TODAY IN HISTORY
In 2010, Michael Jordan became the first ex-player to become a majority owner in the NBA as the league’s Board of Governors unanimously approv…
In 1897, Bob Fitzsimmons knocks out Jim Corbett to win the world heavyweight title. It's the first boxing match photographed by a motion pictu…