10 things you need to know today: September 17, 2023

 Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton seen during his impeachment trial.
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1. Texas AG Ken Paxton acquitted in impeachment trial

Texas' Republican attorney general, Ken Paxton, was acquitted Saturday of his impeachment charges, allowing him to remain in office. The attorney general had been impeached earlier this year by a majority of Texas House Republicans, alleging that used his office to accept bribes and fired those who had reported him to federal agencies. However, Texas' GOP-led Senate, unlike those in the House, stood behind Paxton, with all but two Republicans voting to acquit. A majority tally — 21 votes — would've been needed to remove Paxton from office. "The sham impeachment coordinated by the Biden Administration with liberal House Speaker Dade Phelan and his kangaroo court has cost taxpayers millions of dollars," Paxton said following his acquittal. The Texas Tribune, Axios

2. Kim Jong Un returning to North Korea after rare foreign trip to Russia

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un headed back to the hermit country he rules on Sunday, after a rare six-day foreign trip to meet with top officials in Russia. Videos published by Russian news agencies showed Kim boarding the militarized train that would take him back to North Korea, departing from the Russian city of Artyom. The train trip ends a six-day excursion that triggered concerns over heightened relations between North Korea and Russia, with the latter reportedly looking to secure North Korean shells to use against Ukraine. Kim inspected a number of Russian weapons, including nuclear-capable bombers, and also met with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss providing material support to Russia. The Associated Press, Reuters

3. Lee brings destructive flooding, leaving 42,000 without power in Maine

Thousands of people remained without power in New England and Maritime Canada on Sunday after Atlantic Storm Lee made landfall on the East Coast. At least 42,000 people remained in the dark as of Sunday morning, according to poweroutage.us, as Lee caused flooding across large swaths of the region. Despite the storm continuing to dissipate, Lee's hurricane winds extended more than 140 miles from its center, as a tropical storm warning remained in effect from Maine north to the U.S.-Canadian border. In Canada, large portions of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island also lost power as the storm made landfall. One fatality has been recorded from the storm, a 51-year-old man in Maine. The Associated Press, NBC News

4. Biden to meet with Netanyahu amid tensions over Israeli judicial reforms

President Joe Biden will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week at the United Nations amid tensions over the latter's handling of the Middle East situation. Biden and Netanyahu will meet during the UN General Assembly on Wednesday, where U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the pair will "discuss a range of bilateral and regional issues focused on the shared democratic values between the United States and Israel." One topic that is certain to come up will be Netanyahu's controversial push for judicial reforms in Israel, which have caused widespread protests as the prime minister seeks to limit the judiciary's power. Biden has continually urged Netanyahu to forgo these reforms, arguing they are un-democratic. The Guardian, USA Today

5. California files lawsuit against major oil companies over fossil fuels

The state of California filed a lawsuit Friday against five major oil companies and the American Petroleum Institute, arguing that the coalition misled the public about the dangers of fossil fuels and their impact on climate change. The lawsuit, filed against Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP, ConocoPhillips and Chevron, is demanding that these companies pay for recovery efforts related to extreme weather events in California, arguing that these events were exacerbated by Big Oil-led climate change. "Oil and gas companies have privately known the truth for decades — that the burning of fossil fuels leads to climate change — but have fed us lies and mistruths to further their record-breaking profits," California Attorney General Rob Bonta said in a statement. CNN, NPR

6. House Republicans to probe federal response to Maui wildfire

The Republican-led House Oversight Committee is launching a probe into the federal response to last month's devastating wildfire in Maui, Hawaii. In a letter signed only by House GOP members, committee chair Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) said that the Oversight leadership would be "taking action and seeking information from FEMA on all ongoing recovery efforts in Maui." Republicans have continually criticized the Biden administration's response to the wildfire, which destroyed the town of Lahaina and killed nearly 100 people. The White House, though, has stood by the federal aid given to Hawaii, saying that resources were doled out quickly and effectively. Hawaii Gov. Josh Green (D) has also praised the federal response to the disaster. ABC News, The Hill

7. Iranian police detain Mahsa Amini’s father on 1-year anniversary of her death

Iranian authorities detained the father of Mahsa Amini, whose death in police custody led to protests across Iran, on the one-year anniversary of his daughter's death. Amjad Amini was taken into custody on Saturday as officials prepared for a new wave of protests to sweep the nation. The Kurdistan Human Rights Network reported that Amini was "warned against commemorating his daughter’s death" before being released. The incident occurred exactly a year to the day after the death of Mahsa Amini, who died at the hands of Iran's "morality police" after being arrested for allegedly not wearing a hijab in public. Her death caused anger across Iran and a pushback against the country's hardline religious factions. Politico, The Guardian

8. Thousands rally in Australia for Indigenous recognition

Thousands of Australians took to the streets on Sunday in support of recognizing the country's Indigenous groups in the country's constitution. Around 20,000 people reportedly rallied in Brisbane, as similar events were slated to be held in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Hobart and other major Australian cities. The rallies come ahead of a scheduled referendum in parliament that would cement the rights of Indigenous Australians in the constitution and also provide them with advisory bodies. The country's Indigenous population remains discriminated against and struggles with healthcare and education, and the rallies were sparked by a recent poll that showed the referendum was losing support among the Australian public. Reuters

9. Pope Pius XII likely knew of Holocaust, newly found Vatican letter suggests

A 1942 letter discovered in the Vatican's archives suggested that Pope Pius XII likely knew about the Holocaust early on during World War II. The letter was found among the private collections of Pius' writings and reportedly came from a Vatican source within Germany. According to the letter, Pius was told that up to 6,000 people, "above all Poles and Jews," were being killed by the Nazis every day at a Polish extermination camp. This contradicts prior reporting from the Vatican claiming that Pius and the Catholic Church were unaware of the full scale of the Holocaust. Vatican officials said Saturday that they were "99% sure" Pius had seen the letter. The New York Times

10. Rolling Stone co-founder Jann Wenner removed from Rock & Roll Hall of Fame board following controversial interview

Jann Wenner, the co-founder of Rolling Stone magazine, was removed from the board of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Saturday after making controversial comments in a recent interview. A statement from the Hall said that Wenner had been removed from its board, but didn't provide further details. The move came one day after an interview with Wenner was published in The New York Times in which he made disparaging comments about women and people of color. When asked by the Times why he only included white men on a list of his rock legends, Wenner replied that no woman was "as articulate enough on this intellectual level," and made a nearly identical response about people of color. The Washington Post