10 things you need to know today: September 25, 2023

GOP leaders pressure far-right holdouts to help prevent a shutdown, Hollywood writers reach tentative deal to end strike, and more

Writers Guild of America strikers picket Universal Studios
Writers Guild of America strikers picket Universal Studios
(Image credit: Albert L. Ortega / Getty Images)

1. House GOP leaders pressure holdouts to help avert shutdown

Republican leaders in Congress stepped up pressure on far-right lawmakers to stop resisting a stopgap funding bill that would prevent a government shutdown starting Oct. 1. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) plans this week to push for approval of four big bills, including military and homeland security funding legislation, to demonstrate progress to GOP holdouts demanding deep spending cuts. None of those bills themselves would avert a shutdown. Biden administration officials warned of dire consequences if Congress fails to act. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said a shutdown could "impact everything from food safety to cancer research to Head Start programs for children," and it was "time for Republicans to start doing the job America elected them to do." Reuters, The New York Times

2. Hollywood writers reach tentative deal with studios to end strike

The Writers Guild of America declared victory Sunday after reaching a tentative deal with major Hollywood studios that would end a months-long strike. The proposed three-year contract, which still must be ratified by the union’s 11,500 members, would boost pay and residual checks for streaming shows and impose new rules about the use of artificial intelligence. WGA leaders said they were going through the contract details to ensure "the last 'i' is dotted." The studios are expected to focus now on breaking an impasse over a tandem strike by the actors union, SAG-AFTRA. The rare dual strikes have forced studios to delay major film releases like Warner Bros.' "Dune: Part Two," because striking actors can't promote their films. Los Angeles Times

3. NASA asteroid sample touches down in Utah

NASA's first asteroid samples collected from deep space landed in the Utah desert Sunday, reaching Earth after a historic seven-year journey. "Touchdown for science!" said Jim Garvin, chief scientist of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "For the first time in history, we brought goodies back home from this kind of object. This is so huge." The Osiris-Rex spacecraft released the sample capsule from 63,000 miles out during a fly-by of Earth. The sealed sample canister arrived intact, protecting its 4.5-billion-year-old samples from contamination. The capsule will be flown Monday to NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to be opened in a specially designed lab. Space.com, The Associated Press

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4. Kosovo police retake monastery from gunmen near Serbian border

Kosovo police on Sunday regained control of a monastery near the Serbian border that had been occupied by at least 30 heavily armed men. Xhelal Svecla, Kosovo's minister of internal affairs, said officers took back the complex after several gun battles. At least four people were killed. The showdown started when attackers shot and killed a police officer in the village of Banjska. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic said three of the people killed in the clash were Kosovo Serbs. It was unclear whether all the gunmen were captured in the police sweep of the complex. Pilgrims from the northern Serbian city of Novi Sad had been staying at the monastery complex when the shooting broke out. BBC News

5. Democrats split on calling for Menendez to resign

Several Senate Democrats appearing on Sunday talk shows expressed shock about the bribery allegations against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), but stopped short of joining Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) in calling for him to resign. "It is hard for me to believe that Sen. Menendez can be effective in his job given these allegations," Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said on MSNBC's "Sunday Show with Jonathan Capehart." "But I think I want to get back and talk to my colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee before I recommend a path forward." Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), echoing Fetterman and leading New Jersey Democrats, said it was "in the best interest for Sen. Menendez to resign." Menendez denies wrongdoing and said he's "not going anywhere." NBC News, The Guardian

6. Macron says France will pull troops out of Niger

French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday his country would withdraw its 1,500 troops from Niger in response to the recent coup in the West African country. The pullout later this year will be a setback for France's counter-insurgency efforts in the Sahel region. Macron said his government made the decision because it refused to "be held hostage by the putschists." The move followed several weeks of pressure from the ruling junta, backed by demonstrators, after France refused to recognize the new government. Western leaders expressed concerns that France's departure would open the door for Russia to increase its influence in the region, with fighters from Russia's Wagner mercenary group already stationed in neighboring Mali. Reuters

7. 40,000 march in Spain against amnesty for Catalan separatists

More than 40,000 people protested in Madrid on Sunday against a possible amnesty for Catalan separatists who organized an independence referendum six years ago even though courts had ruled it illegal. Acting Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, whose Socialists placed second in July elections, is reportedly considering the move because he needs the support of exiled former Catalonia leader Carles Puigdemont, whose Junts per Catalunya party controls seven seats in parliament. The opposition conservative People's Party, which won the most votes in July but couldn't form a government coalition, called its supporters to participate in the anti-amnesty rally. PP leader Alberto Nunez Feijoo said he would never support amnesty for "coup plotters." CNN, El Pais

8. Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter visit Plains Peanut Festival

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, former first lady Rosalynn Carter, made a surprise appearance at the Plains Peanut Festival in their Georgia hometown over the weekend. "Beautiful day for President & Mrs. Carter to enjoy a ride through the Plains Peanut Festival! And just a week before he turns 99," the Carter Center wrote Sunday, in a repost of a spectator's video of a black SUV carrying the Carters at Saturday's event. Jimmy Carter has been receiving hospice care at home since February, and had not made a public appearance in months. Rosalynn Carter was diagnosed with dementia in May. The Carters, married 77 years, are the longest-married presidential coupleAxios, CNN

9. Danish dictionary to get gender-balanced words

The Danish Language Council, part of Denmark's Culture Ministry, plans to add gender-balanced words to the next edition of the official Danish spelling dictionary, the Retskrivningsordbogen, to foster equality through language, The Washington Post reported Sunday, citing Danish media outlets. Researchers have gone through the dictionary's more than 1,000 pages to rewrite outdated definitions that support stereotypes, and identify masculine words with no feminine equivalents. For example, "Finansmand," meaning financier (literally "finance man"), could get the female equivalent "finanskvinde," or female financier. The Washington Post

10. 'Nun 2' holds on to top box office spot for 3rd weekend

"The Nun 2" edged out "Expendables 4" to lead the domestic box office for the third straight weekend. "The Nun 2" brought in $8.4 million in its third weekend, raising its total to more than $69 million and continuing a respectable start for the Warner Bros. horror film, a spinoff from the "Conjuring" franchise. "Expendables 4," starring Sylvester Stallone and Jason Statham, was seen as a flop for a big budget film, with the worst debut for the franchise. "A Haunting in Venice" — Kenneth Branagh’s third Agatha Christie adaptation — came in third with $6.3 million, followed by "The Equalizer 3" with Denzel Washington, whose $4.7 million weekend haul brought its domestic gross to $81.1 million. Variety, The Associated Press

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