Today March 26, 2023 10 things you need to know

1. White House to send federal aid to Mississippi following tornado

President Biden on Sunday declared a disaster in Mississippi following a devastating storm and tornadoes that left a swath of destruction through parts of the state. In a White House readout, Biden confirmed that federal aid was on its way to Mississippi, and that it makes funding available to affected individuals in Carroll, Humphreys, Monroe, and Sharkey Counties. In a separate statement, Biden said he was “praying for those who have lost loved ones in the devastating tornadoes in Mississippi and for those whose loved ones are missing,” and that the images from the destruction were heartbreaking. At least 25 people have died and dozens are missing following the tornadoes, with that number expected to rise.

2. Biden’s pick to lead FAA withdraws nomination

Phillip Washington, President Biden’s pick to lead the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has withdrawn his nomination, the White House said late Saturday. Washington was nominated last year to take over the agency following a series of problems identified within the air travel industry. However, he has faced steep Republican criticism in the Senate for his lack of aviation experience, and alleged legal problems. Abdullah Hasan, a spokesperson for the White House, confirmed that Washington had pulled his nomination, but maintained that he had the proper credentials to run the FAA. “Unfortunately, an onslaught of unfounded Republican attacks … irresponsibly delayed this process, threatened unnecessary procedural hurdles … and ultimately have led [Washington] to withdraw his nomination,” Hasan said.

3. Trump repeats numerous false claims during a rally in Waco

Former President Donald Trump held the first rally of his 2024 presidential campaign in Waco, Texas, on Saturday, where he repeated numerous false claims during his speech. Among these was the incorrect assertion that he had won the 2020 presidential election, that the election had been rigged against him, and that he had completed building a border wall with Mexico, though the wall was never finished. Trump also told reporters following the rally that he believes the Manhattan district attorney had dropped the case over an alleged hush money scandal involving the former president and porn star Stormy Daniels. However, a potential indictment of the former president regarding that case still looms in the distance.

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4. Honduras establishes diplomatic ties with China after breaking with Taiwan

Honduras on Sunday established official diplomatic relations with China after breaking off its relationship with Taiwan. Foreign ministers from both countries signed an agreement to open diplomatic routes, in a move the Chinese Foreign Ministry called “the right choice.” The opening of relations comes as China continues to push its influence in Latin and South America, and has seen a marked increase in its assertiveness toward establishing ties with Western countries. The new relationship was announced after Honduras and Taiwan separately said they were severing diplomatic ties. The move continues to make Taiwan increasingly isolated, and the island is now recognized as a sovereign country by only 13 nations.

5. Search continues for missing workers following a chocolate factory explosion

The search continued Sunday following a massive explosion at a West Reading, Pennsylvania, chocolate factory that left three people dead and four missing. The cause of the explosion, which occurred at the R.M. Palmer chocolate company, remains under investigation. Search-and-rescue teams continue to dig through the rubble for survivors, and the remains of the third deceased victim were only found late Saturday. West Reading Fire Chief Chad Moyer noted that the time to find additional survivors was dwindling as the hours went on, especially as it passed the 24-hour mark since the explosion. However, one person was discovered among the rubble overnight, leaving a glimmer of hope that more could be found.

At least 29 migrants died on Sunday after a pair of boats sank off the coast of Tunisia en route to Italy via the Mediterranean Sea, the Tunisian Coast Guard said. Tunisia has become a main embarkation point for migrants looking to flee poverty and wars in Africa and the Middle East for a new life in Europe, but the journeys are perilous and often deadly. The 29 deaths come as five other migrant boats have sunk off the Tunisian coast in the last five days alone, killing at least nine people and leaving 67 missing, Tunisian authorities said. The coast guard said it had previously stopped another 80 boats heading for Italy in the past week.

7. Idaho governor signs bill allowing firing squad executions

Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) has signed a bill to allow the execution of death row inmates by firing squad, making the state the latest to shift away from lethal injection in favor of more historic methods. The state legislature had previously passed the law on March 20, however, it comes with a number of caveats. Idaho may only execute a prisoner by firing squad if the state is unable to obtain the necessary drugs for lethal injection — a scenario that may become more common as the U.S. continues to grapple with an ongoing drug shortage. Mississippi, Utah, Oklahoma, and South Carolina also allow for firing squad executions if other methods are unavailable.

8. Lebanon is in chaos as daylight saving time leaves the nation with multiple time zones

A dispute between governmental and religious authorities in Lebanon has caused the country to have two rival time zones, as debate continues over when the clocks should be changed to account for daylight saving time. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati had previously announced that daylight saving would begin following Ramadan at the end of April, giving Muslims extra time to break their fast. However, Christian authorities in Lebanon have not followed suit, and instead said the clocks changed on the last Sunday in March, as has occurred in prior years. The split represents an ongoing battle between Christian and Muslim sentiments in the country.

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9. Actor Jonathan Majors arrested for an alleged assault in New York

Actor Jonathan Majors was arrested on Saturday on allegations of domestic violence following a dispute with an unidentified woman. The incident occurred around 11 a.m. in New York, the NYPD said, with the woman taken to the hospital with “minor injuries to her head and neck” after telling police she had been assaulted. The NYPD said it placed Majors into custody without incident and charged him with alleged strangulation, harassment, and assault. A representative for the actor denied the allegations, saying, “He has done nothing wrong. We look forward to clearing his name and clearing this up.” Major is a rising actor who recently co-starred in Creed III and Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania. 

10.UConn and Florida Atlantic enter March Madness Final Four

The University of Connecticut and Florida Atlantic University both made their way into the Final Four of the NCAA March Madness tournament on Saturday. The teams trounced Gonzaga and Kansas State, respectively, in an 82-54 demolition and 79-76 barnstormer, respectively. The two teams will now make their way into the last group of games prior to the NCAA championship. The next games to decide the Final Four will take place Sunday afternoon when Creighton will face off against San Diego State and the University of Miami will battle Texas for the rights to enter the tournament’s next round.

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