10 things you need to know today: July 22, 2023


Alabama defies Supreme Court order for additional majority-Black district

Alabama lawmakers on Friday approved a redrawn map that carved out just one majority-Black congressional district in the state, despite a ruling from the Supreme Court stating that Alabama had to draw at least two majority-Black districts. The new map, helmed by the Republican supermajority in the Alabama Legislature, increases the percentage of Black voters in one of the state’s six majority-white districts to 40%. However, the new map also dropped the percentage of Black voters in the state’s existing Black-majority district. The legislature’s decision comes in defiance of a June Supreme Court ruling that said Alabama had to redraw its gerrymandered districts because they violated existing civil rights laws. 

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Protests erupt in Iraq after reports of Danish Quran burning

Hundreds of protesters attempted to storm a secure area in Baghdad on Saturday following reports that a copy of the Quran had been burned in front of the Iraqi Embassy in Copenhagen, Denmark. The protesters tried to push into the Green Zone, a heavily fortified area of the Iraqi capital which houses government buildings and numerous foreign embassies. The protesters were reportedly held off by members of Iraq’s security forces, and were unable to reach the Danish Embassy. The protests occurred just two days after the Swedish Embassy in Baghdad was ransacked following burnings of the Quran in Sweden. This led to Iraq expelling its Swedish ambassador. 

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China sends warplanes toward Taiwan ahead of anti-invasion exercises

China sent throngs of warplanes toward Taiwan on Saturday, just days before the latter plans to hold its annual anti-invasion defense exercises. One report said that at least 37 Chinese planes were seen in the area over Taiwan, in addition to a number of Chinese naval vessels circling Taiwanese waters. At least 22 of these planes crossed the midline of the Taiwan Strait, which is considered the cutoff between Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. The show of forces comes as Taiwan is preparing to start its Han Kuang readiness drills next week, though this year’s expanded drills are expected to cover a larger portion of the island due to increasing Chinese threats. 

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Thousands protest judicial overhaul attempts in Israel

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Israel on Saturday in continuing defiance of the government’s attempts to overhaul the country’s judiciary. The protesters marched in Jerusalem towards the Israeli parliament building, the Knesset, after previously beginning their pilgrimage last week in the city of Tel Aviv with just a few people. Satellite images showed thousands of people gathered along Jerusalem’s Route 1 highway, with hundreds of cars abandoned on the street by those who joined the march. The protests mark a watershed moment for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has continually pressed forward with the unpopular reforms which would greatly weaken Israel’s judicial system while also handing his government more power. 

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Hungary’s Orban claims EU is on an ‘LGBTQ offensive’

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban lambasted the European Union on Saturday, claiming that the international body was engaged in an “LGBTQ offensive.” Orban’s comments came during a speech in Romania, in which he hoped that countries around the EU would reject the “federalism” of democracies like Germany and France and also claimed he would protect Hungary’s Christian roots. Orban, a strongman who is often considered to have autocratic tendencies, has been in power since 2010 and has long condemned the EU and the teaching of LGBTQ material in schools. In 2021, he passed a law banning any lessons in schools that would teach about homosexuality, to the EU’s dismay. 



US commissions first Naval ship in a foreign port

The United States commissioned a warship in Sydney on Saturday, marking the first time that a  U.S. Navy ship has entered service in a foreign port. The USS Canberra — named for a Royal Australian Navy cruiser sunk during World War II, which was itself named for Australia’s capital city — was rolled out during a ceremony with American and Australian service members. The Independence-class littoral combat ship is the latest effort of naval cooperation between the United States and Australia in the Pacific region. The ship is only the second US Navy vessel to be named for a foreign city, after a World War II heavy cruiser that was also christened USS Canberra. 

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US women’s team defeats Vietnam in first World Cup match

The U.S. Women’s National Team won their first match of the 2023 FIFA World Cup on Friday, defeating Vietnam 3-0. The USWNT began their quest for a three-peat in Auckland, New Zealand, with a slow start, but proved to be dominant in their victory over Vietnam, which was making its first World Cup appearance. Sophia Smith opened the scoring off a pass from USWNT legend Alex Morgan. Smith would score again in stoppage time, along with U.S. co-captain Lindsay Horan to extend the gap. While expectations are sky-high for the USWNT, commentators noted that the American’s margin of victory was less than many were hoping for. 

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2-year-old boy dies of rare brain-eating amoeba

A two-year-old boy in Las Vegas died this past week after contracting a rare brain-eating amoeba, officials said. In a statement, the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health said the boy, Woodrow Bundy, passed away after being infected with Naegleria fowleri, which his family said he may have contracted at a natural hot spring in Lincoln County, Nevada. Naegleria fowleri, which lives in these types of natural warm waters, can cause “a very serious rare infection of the brain called primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM) that destroys brain tissue and is almost always fatal,” the statement said. However, being infected by the amoeba is exceedingly rare. 

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Legendary singer Tony Bennett dies at 96

Tony Bennett, a legendary jazz singer known for his crooning voice and vintage songs, died on Friday at the age of 96. Bennett had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2016 but had continued performing live up until 2021. With a career spanning seven decades, Bennett was known as one of the most iconic singers in American history. After his breakthrough in the 1950s, Bennett would go on to record more than 70 albums, with his most famous song being the recording of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” He was also known for his recent collaboration with pop singer Lady Gaga. 

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‘Barbenheimer’ renews the summer blockbuster

The summer blockbuster is back — in the most unconventional way. Warner Bros.’ pink-centric family film “Barbie” about the titular doll is competing at the box office this weekend with Universal’s “Oppenheimer,” a dramatic thriller about atomic bomb creator J. Robert Oppenheimer. The unlikely duo of films has become a sensation online, with social media coining the phrase ‘Barbenheimer’ to encourage double showings of both films. It seems that the online campaign is working, as both films have already performed extremely well at the box office, as “Barbie” is likely to bring in at least $140 million during its opening weekend, and “Oppenheimer” estimated around $60 million. 

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