Burning Man attendees stranded, Biden surveys hurricane damage in Florida: Weekend Rundown

Around 70,000 Burning Man attendees are still stuck in the desert. President Biden surveys the damage in Florida from Hurricane Idalia. And Parrotheads nationwide pay tribute to Jimmy Buffett.

Here’s the biggest news you missed this weekend.

Thousands stuck at Burning Man

Roughly 70,000 people in Nevada for Burning Man are still stuck in the desert after Friday’s advisory to “shelter in place” and conserve food and water because of heavy rain.

All inbound and outbound traffic was halted and will remain so until further notice.

Burning Man attendees trudge through the mud in Black Rock City, Nev., on Sept. 2.Trevor Hughes / USA TODAY Network via Reuters

One death has been reported and is currently under investigation, local authorities said Saturday. It’s not clear what the cause of death was at this time.

Some attendees have already managed to escape. Kevin Schultz, 22, told NBC News that a trip that was supposed to take a few hours on a bus turned into a 20-hour escape from the desert.

After staying on the bus overnight, he and six others decided to tie trash bags around their feet and walk to town.

DJ and producer Diplo said he hitched a ride out of Black Rock City after walking on the side of the road for hours to make it to a concert he was giving Saturday night.

Follow NBC News’ live coverage here.

Biden surveys Florida damage after Hurricane Idalia; no meeting with DeSantis

President Joe Biden greets first responders with Jill Biden and Republican Sen. Rick Scott in Live Oak, Fla., on Sept. 2, 2023.
President Joe Biden greets first responders with Jill Biden and Republican Sen. Rick Scott in Live Oak, Fla., on Saturday.Stefani Reynolds / AFP – Getty Images

President Joe Biden was in Florida Saturday to tour the damage left behind by Hurricane Idalia. The president vowed to approve any requests from the state for federal recovery resources, and urged Congress to ensure funding is available for this and future disasters.”

“Your nation has your back and will be with you until the job is done,” Biden said.

He met with local officials, including Republican Sen. Rick Scott, but there was notably no meeting between the president and Gov. Ron DeSantis. The governors office suggested Friday a meeting could hinder disaster response efforts.

“We don’t have any plans for the Governor to meet with the President tomorrow,” DeSantis press secretary Jeremy Redfern said in a statement to NBC News on Friday. “In these rural communities, and so soon after impact, the security preparations alone that would go into setting up such a meeting would shut down ongoing recovery efforts.”

Chris Christie’s embrace of then-President Barack Obama in 2012 in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy came up during the GOP’s first 2024 presidential debate, but several veterans of Republican presidential campaigns suggested DeSantis would have to be careful not to seem cold or unwelcoming toward Biden.

Has Russia’s strongman become even stronger?

Vladimir Putin Moscow
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Aug. 24, 2023. Mikhail Klimentyev / AFP – Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s two decades of iron rule faced its most serious challenge from Wagner chief Yevgeny Prigozhin’s short-lived mutiny.

So while Prigozhin’s fiery death in a plane crash should have strengthened Putin’s position ahead of a March election, experts have warned he could still face dissent from other ultranationalist, elitist factions angry at military failures in Ukraine.

But one expert cautioned that while there might be discontent, Wagner and Prigozhin posed a specific threat that the Russian leader won’t allow his country to face again.

“Anybody else who is considering challenging Putin is unlikely to be in the same position because nobody else outside the inner power structures has access to the kind of resources that” Prigozhin did, said Keir Giles, a Russia expert at the London think tank Chatham House.

Rewriting Russian history

Meet the Press

To stop former President Donald Trump’s potential return to the White House, some conservative and liberal Trump opponents seek to use a little-known provision of the 14th Amendment that disqualifies people who have “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” from holding public office.

Some are prepared to challenge Trump’s ballot status in several states, including New Hampshire. On Sunday’s “Meet the Press,” Chris Sununu, the state’s Republican governor, dismissed the possibility.

“If Donald Trump follows the rules like everybody else in and, you know, signs up like everybody else — that’s the beauty of the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation primary process,” Sununu said.

“I fully expect the former president to be on our ballot,” he told Chuck Todd.

Sununu, who has previously warned fellow Republicans that the party will lose in 2024 if Trump is the nominee, also said the other candidates need to get “a little tougher” on the former president.

You can watch the full interview here.

Politics in Brief

Biden’s big gamble: President Biden has taken an overall gloves-on strategy to Trump, rarely uttering his name and declining to punch back when given the opportunity. But some Biden allies worry the strategy could have potentially perilous consequences.

Zooey Zephyr: In April, Rep. Zooey Zephyr, the first transgender woman elected to the Montana Legislature, shot to national fame after Republicans blocked her from speaking. But in doing so, they inadvertently made her a national celebrity and the pride of her home city.

Nikki Haley: The former South Carolina governor and U.N. ambassador went head-to-head with several of her rivals at the first GOP debate, and whether she can keep up the momentum will be key.

The far left’s dilemma: The Rhode Island chapter of Democratic Socialists of America issued an anti-endorsement of a candidate backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, reflecting a larger divide among far-left groups within the Democratic Party.

Elections to watch this year: Before the 2024 presidential election truly kicks off, here’s your guide to the most consequential races of 2023.

Culture & Trends

Jimmy Buffett.
Jimmy Buffett.Matthew J. Lee / Boston Globe via Getty Images

Jimmy Buffett, the Mayor of Margaritaville, dies at 76

Jimmy Buffett, the singer-songwriter who drew millions of fans with his folksy tales of living and loving on tropical sandy beaches, frozen concoction in hand, died Friday. He was 76.

Buffett, who dubbed his brand of music “drunken Caribbean rock ‘n’ roll,” is arguably best known for his 1977 song “Margaritaville,” a hit so nationally popular it inspired a brand that made him a billionaire.

Fans were quick to pay tribute to the singer, including stars like Elton John. Many “Parrotheads” paid tribute by raising their glasses at Margaritaville eateries across the country.

Read more about the life and career of the king of beach bum anthems.

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