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The first week of August 2022 as seen by the Week

August 01

The storm

1st ship containing Ukrainian grain leaves port under deal
The first ship carrying Ukrainian grain left the Odesa port on Monday under a deal seeking to get a backlog of crops out of the country to ease a growing global hunger crisis. The ship was headed to Lebanon with more than 26,000 tons of corn, according to Turkey, which brokered the deal along with the United Nations. Ukraine’s minister of infrastructure, Oleksandr Kubrakov, tweeted that the ship was the first to leave Odesa since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February. More than 20 million tons of grain from last year’s harvest have been stuck due to a Russian blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports, contributing to a global food shortage. [The Washington Post, Reuters]
Stock futures fall slightly after best month since 2020
U.S. stock futures edged lower early Monday, the first day of trading after the market’s best month since 2020. Futures tied to the Dow Jones Industrial Average were down 0.1 percent at 6:30 a.m. ET. S&P 500 and Nasdaq futures were down 0.2 percent. All three of the main U.S. indexes made strong gains on Friday to cap the month with another winning week. The Dow finished July up 6.7 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq rose 9.1 percent and 12.4 percent, respectively, last month. “We are seeing a relief rally in the stock market, as pessimism reached extreme levels, and as longer-term interest rates have been coming back down,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer for Independent Advisor Alliance. [CNBC]
McKinney fire quickly becomes California’s biggest wildfire this year
Northern California’s McKinney fire, fueled by high temperatures and winds, exploded over the weekend to become the state’s biggest wildfire this year. The blaze started Friday afternoon in the Klamath National Forest and quickly spread. It had burned 300 acres as of Friday night, 30,000 acres by Saturday evening, and 51,468 acres by Sunday morning, with 0 percent containment. “Because of the erratic winds, the fire is going all over the place,” said Caroline Quintanilla, a public information officer with the U.S. Forest Service. About 2,000 people have been forced to evacuate their homes in Siskiyou County, where Gov. Gavin Newsom on Saturday declared a state of emergency. [San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times]
Kentucky braces for more rain as flood death toll rises to 28
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear warned people in parts of the state to brace for more rain late Sunday and early Monday as the death toll from devastating floods rose to at least 28. Beshear said more bodies were being recovered but those casualties hadn’t been confirmed. Dozens of people remained unaccounted for as the latest storms threatened further flooding and some areas remained difficult for search crews to reach. “Next couple days are going to be hard,” Beshear said in a statement posted to YouTube. “We’ve got rain and maybe even a lot of rain that‘s going to hit the same areas … Make sure you have a place that is higher ground. Go to a shelter.” [NPR, USA Today]
Nichelle Nichols, Star Trek’s Lt. Uhura, dies at 89
Nichelle Nichols, the actress best known for playing Starship Enterprise communications officer Lt. Uhura on Star Trek, has died of heart failure, her family confirmed Sunday. She was 89. Nichols was one of the first Black women with a leading role on a network TV series, and her portrayal of the highly educated, beautiful, and businesslike Uhura helped break down barriers for Black women in Hollywood who were rarely given such powerful roles. In a November 1968 episode in Star Trek‘s third and final season, Uhura and Captain Kirk embraced in what is believed to be the first interracial kiss in television history. NASA credited her with inspiring thousands of women and minorities to apply to the space program. [Los Angeles Times, The New York Times]
Report: Prince Charles charity accepted $1.2 million from bin Laden family
Prince Charles’ charitable foundation accepted a $1.2 million donation from relatives of Osama bin Laden, Britain’s Sunday Times reported. The money was given to the Prince of Wales’ Charitable Fund in 2013 by Bakr bin Laden, patriarch of the wealthy Saudi family, and his brother Shafiq. Both are half-brothers of the late al-Qaida leader, who was killed by U.S. special forces in Pakistan in 2011. The Sunday Times said advisers had urged Prince Charles not to take the money. The prince’s Clarence House office confirmed the donation but denied Charles was involved in the matter. The fund’s chairman, Ian Cheshire, said the charity’s five trustees were “wholly” responsible for the decision, and “any attempt to suggest otherwise is misleading and inaccurate.” [The Sunday Times, The Associated Press]

August 02

U.S. drone strike kills Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri
The United States has killed Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri with a drone strike in Afghanistan, President Biden announced Monday night. Biden said from the White House that he approved the operation after U.S. intelligence officials tracked al-Zawahiri, who plotted the 9/11 terrorist attacks with his predecessor Osama bin Laden, to a home in downtown Kabul where he was hiding with his family. “Justice has been delivered, and this terrorist leader is no more,” President Biden said. The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan a year ago this month. Biden said he “made a promise to the American people that we would continue to conduct effective counterterrorism operations in Afghanistan and beyond. We’ve done just that.” [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]
1st Capitol rioter to go to trial sentenced to 7 years
A federal judge on Monday sentenced Guy Reffitt, the first Capitol rioter to go on trial, to just over seven years in prison, the longest term yet for a person charged with crimes linked to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress. The Wylie, Texas, man was found guilty in March by a federal jury on five felony charges, including obstruction of justice and entering a restricted building with a firearm. Prosecutors asked the judge to classify Reffitt’s crimes as domestic terrorism and give 15 years in prison. Judge Dabney Friedrich rejected the terrorism classification, saying it would result in a far harsher punishment for Reffitt than other defendants charged over the insurrection. [ABC News]
Kentucky flood death toll rises to 37
Rescue workers struggled Monday to reach parts of Kentucky cut off by floodwater that washed away bridges and made roads impassable. The death toll rose to at least 37, up from 28 a day earlier, as already devastated communities braced for more rainfall. “There are hundreds of unaccounted for people, minimum,” Gov. Andy Beshear said. The list of victims identified so far included four siblings, ages 2 to 8. “The oldest one is in second grade,'” Beshear said, looking at the list of the dead. An aunt said the children, their mother, and her partner climbed onto the roof of the family’s flooded mobile home, but “the water got so strong it just washed them away.” [Courier Journal, CNN]
U.S. to send Ukraine another $550 million in arms
The United States plans to send another $550 million in weapons to help Ukraine resist Russia’s invasion, the White House announced Monday. The latest commitment will bring the total U.S. aid to Ukraine to more than $8 billion since Russian forces attacked the country in late February. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was authorizing diverting arms and equipment from U.S. inventories to help Ukraine defend itself. John Kirby, a spokesperson for the National Security Council, said the latest arms transfer will include ammunition for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems rocket launchers Ukraine has used to destroy Russian command posts and ammunition depots, and for 155-millimeter howitzers. [The New York Times]
BP earnings triples thanks to soaring fuel prices
British energy giant BP reported Tuesday that its second-quarter earnings tripled as oil and gas prices skyrocketed after Russia invaded Ukraine. The company said profit, excluding one-time items and other fluctuating inventory value, rose to $8.45 billion from $2.80 billion in the second quarter of 2021. The earnings allowed BP to return money to shareholders by boosting its dividend by 10 percent, with expected 4 percent annual dividend increases through 2025. BP also said it would buy back $3.5 billion worth of shares. The British government has announced a 25 percent windfall profit tax on energy company earnings from domestic operations as the country struggles with 9.4 percent inflation, a 40-year high. [The Associated Press]

August 03

California, Illinois declare states of emergency over monkeypox outbreaks
Govs. Gavin Newsom of California and J.B. Pritzker of Illinois have declared states of emergency due to monkeypox outbreaks. On Tuesday, the day after the two Democratic governors made their declarations to help access emergency resources, California had more than 800 cases and Illinois had more than 500, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. New York on Friday became the first state to declare a state of emergency over the smallpox-like virus, which causes lesions that look like pimples or blisters, and sometimes fever, headaches, and other flu-like symptoms. California is “working urgently” to “slow the spread of monkeypox” by “leveraging our robust testing, contact tracing, and community partnerships” that were strengthened during the COVID-19 pandemic, Newsom said. [CNN]
Biden administration sues to block Idaho abortion ban
The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Idaho on Tuesday, seeking to block the state from imposing a “near-absolute ban” on abortion on the ground that it would violate federal laws. The challenge in U.S. District Court in Idaho also called for preventing the state from prosecuting or disciplining doctors. “Today, the Justice Department’s message is clear,” U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said. “If a patient comes into the emergency room with a medical emergency jeopardizing the patient’s life or health, the hospital must provide the treatment necessary to stabilize that patient.” The case is the Biden administration’s first court fight over abortion rights since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that established a constitutional right to abortion. [Reuters]
Pelosi says Taiwan visit supports democracy
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in what she called a show of U.S. solidarity with the self-governing island, which China claims as part of its territory. Pelosi, the highest ranking American elected official to visit to Taiwan in 25 years, met with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen early Wednesday. “America’s solidarity with the 23 million people of Taiwan is more important today than ever, as the world faces a choice between autocracy and democracy,” Pelosi said in a statement. China responded by sending warplanes to buzz the dividing line in the Taiwan Strait and planning live-fire air and sea military exercises and missile tests near Taiwan, saying Pelosi’s trip “seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty.” [Reuters, Axios]
Credit card debt surges as households borrow to keep up with inflation
U.S. household debt rose above $16 trillion for the first time during the second quarter, the New York Federal Reserve reported Tuesday. Credit card balances jumped by $46 billion, even as interest rates rose. Credit card debt has increased by $100 billion, or 13 percent, in the last year, the biggest proportional increase in more than two decades. The New York Fed said people are adding to their credit card balances to keep up with the highest inflation in four decades, and borrowing costs are rising as the Federal Reserve aggressively hikes interest rates to cool down the economy and curb inflation. “The impacts of inflation are apparent in high volumes of borrowing,” New York Fed researchers wrote in a blog post. [CNN]
Taliban faces nationalist backlash after U.S. drone strike kills al-Zawahiri
The Taliban faced a nationalist backlash on Tuesday after a spokesman for the Islamist group’s government in Afghanistan released a statement confirming that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri had been killed in Kabul by a U.S. drone strike, The Washington Post reports. “If the martyrdom of Zawahiri is confirmed, then shame on you that we could not protect the true hero of Islam,” an Afghan named Ehsanullah reportedly tweeted. Al-Zawahiri was at the top of America’s list of most-wanted terrorists. But he was a hero to Islamist militants, who could pose a threat to the beleaguered Taliban’s hold on power a year after it pushed aside Afghanistan’s previous government as U.S. forces withdrew. [The Washington Post]
Kansas voters reject anti-abortion amendment
Kansas voters on Tuesday resoundingly rejected a proposal to remove abortion rights from the state Constitution, with 59 percent opposing the amendment and 39 percent supporting it after 95 percent of the votes were counted. The decisive margin, in a red state, marked a major victory for the abortion rights movement in the first test of voter sentiment since the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion in June. “The voters in Kansas have spoken loud and clear: We will not tolerate extreme bans on abortion,” said Rachel Sweet, the campaign manager for Kansans for Constitutional Freedom. Emily Massey, a spokesperson for the pro-amendment campaign, called the vote a “temporary setback.” [The New York Times, The Associated Press]
Trump-backed election deniers win key votes in Michigan, Arizona
Several 2020 election deniers won high-profile Republican primaries on Tuesday in five states. Michigan Rep. Peter Meijer, one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump last year, lost his primary to former Trump administration official John Gibbs, who backed the former president’s baseless claim that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Arizona state lawmaker Mark Finchem, another Trump-backed election denier, was projected to win the Republican nomination for GOP secretary of state, a job with oversight over the state’s elections. Venture capitalist Blake Masters, who has said Trump won in 2020, was projected to win the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in the state. Eric Schmitt won Missouri’s GOP Senate primary, beating scandal-plagued Eric Greitens. [The Washington Post]
U.S. imposes more sanctions on Russia over its Ukraine invasion
The State Department on Tuesday announced more sanctions to punish Russia for invading Ukraine. The targets this time included dozens of Russian companies and individuals, including oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin and technology firms linked to the Russian military. “As Ukrainians continue to valiantly defend their homeland in the face of President Putin’s brutal war, Russia’s elite are running massive revenue-generating companies and funding their own opulent lifestyles outside of Russia,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said. Some of the targets have already been punished by the European Union and Britain, The New York Times reports. The Treasury Department also imposed new sanctions against several wealthy Russians, including Putin’s rumored girlfriend Alina Kabaeva. [The New York Times, The Hill]

August 04

Senate ratifies proposal to admit Sweden, Finland to NATO
The Senate voted overwhelmingly Wednesday in favor of letting Sweden and Finland join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Both countries decided to give up their longtime neutrality and apply to become members of the Western military alliance in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, hoping to protect themselves from any further Russian aggression. The 95-1 Senate vote made the United States the 23rd NATO member to ratify the proposal. All 30 members have to agree before Helsinki and Stockholm can be admitted to NATO. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) called the Senate’s ratification of the proposed additions “a signal to Russia: they cannot intimidate America or Europe.” [The Washington Post]
China starts live-fire military exercises around Taiwan
China on Thursday launched unprecedented live-fire military drills around Taiwan in a show of force following U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, a self-governing island Beijing considers part of its territory. The exercises, scheduled to last until Sunday, included air, ground, and sea strikes. Chinese forces launched two missiles near Taiwan’s Matsu islands off China’s coast. Chinese naval ships and warplanes crossed the median line in the Taiwan Strait, the unofficial maritime boundary. Taiwan called the drills “irresponsible, illegitimate behavior,” saying they violated its territorial space and United Nations rules, amounting to a blockade. Pelosi continued her Asia tour with a stop in South Korea. [Reuters]
Chile investigates sinkhole near copper mine
Chilean authorities are investigating a 105-foot-wide sinkhole that opened last weekend on land where Canada’s Lundin Mining operates a copper mine. The National Service of Geology and Mining dispatched specialists to inspect the site, which is just over 400 miles north of the South American nation’s capital, Santiago. Lundin Mining released a statement saying the sinkhole hadn’t affected any workers or the surrounding community. The company said it alerted authorities as soon as the problem appeared. The sinkhole “has remained stable,” Lundin Mining said, and “no movement has been detected related to the surficial sinkhole” in the mine, where work has been suspended. [Reuters, USA Today]
Man reunites with woman he helped deliver on a San Francisco sidewalk 34 years ago
Patrick Combs always hoped that one day, he’d get to meet the baby girl he helped deliver on a San Francisco sidewalk. This year, that day finally came, when he was reunited with Searcy Hughes, now 34. On June 29, 1988, Combs was walking to work when he came across a woman on a street corner giving birth. He got there at the right time, as the baby landed in his outstretched hands. Combs shared his story with The San Francisco Chronicle, and it made the front page. Hughes, meanwhile, was later adopted, and raised in Virginia. “I vaguely knew that the story of my birth was sort of a big deal,” she told The Chronicle. “So I asked a friend to type the keywords ‘Crystal,’ ‘baby,’ and ‘born on the street’ into the website.” After her friend found The Chronicle‘s article, Hughes contacted Combs on Facebook (much to his surprise). The pair recently met in San Francisco, where Combs took Hughes to the spot where she was born and explained the whole event in detail. Being able to connect with Hughes was “like an answered prayer,” Combs told The Chronicle. Learning about her first day “definitely hit me super hard, but it’s not a sad feeling,” Hughes said. “It’s a feeling that so much awesome humanity happened right here on the sidewalk.” [The San Francisco Chronicle]
These volunteers are keeping the Appalachian Trail clean and accessible
Equipped with a variety of tools and a healthy respect for nature, an army of volunteers from Georgia to Maine work hard to keep the Appalachian Trail clean. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy has volunteers in 14 states that spend hundreds of thousands of hours each year maintaining the trails. Their work involves using rakes to clear debris and digging channels to guide water so it doesn’t pool in one place. The trail allows people to safely see nature up close, and “we want to make sure that it can be enjoyed by those of us living now and also future generations,” Wayne Limberg of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club told The Christian Science Monitor. Increased trail usage during the pandemic led to an increase in litter and graffiti, and volunteers are busier than ever — but it’s worth it. “I’ve gone out in all seasons, all kinds of weather, and every single time I’ve never regretted it because you always see something beautiful,” volunteer Russell Riggs told the Monitor. “I think love is probably not too strong of a word.” [The Christian Science Monitor]
Biden signs executive order supporting interstate abortion travel
President Biden on Wednesday signed a second executive seeking to protect abortion rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. The Hyde Amendment bars the use of federal funds to pay for most abortions, but Biden directed the Department of Health and Human Services to consider using Medicaid to cover travel expenses to defend “the bedrock right to travel across state lines to seek reproductive health care in states where those services remain legal,” according to a White House fact sheet. Biden signed the order during the first meeting of his Task Force on Reproductive Health Care. [Axios, The Hill]
Ukraine grain ship clears inspection in Turkey
The first ship to leave Ukraine carrying grain since Russia invaded in February passed inspection in Turkey on Wednesday and resumed its trip to Lebanon. Ukrainian officials said another 17 vessels were “loaded and waiting permission to leave” under a July 22 deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey to allow Ukraine to ship 20 million tons of grain that has been stuck in the country, causing global food shortages. Ukraine is a major grain exporter, but a Russian blockade in the Black Sea has prevented it from safely continuing shipments. Lingering anger and mistrust between Kyiv and Moscow has threatened to derail the agreement, which lasts four months but can be extended. [The Associated Press]

August 05

Superheroes of Kansas

Food prices

Democratic leaders and Sinema reach deal on tax, climate bill
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) announced Thursday that she will “move forward” with her party’s health care, climate, and deficit-reduction package after Democratic leaders agreed to drop a $14 billion tax increase on some wealthy investors and adjust a new 15 percent minimum tax on corporations. Sinema was the last Democratic holdout after party leaders reached an unexpected deal with another moderate, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.). Provided the Senate’s top rules official signs off on the plan, Democrats will be able to try to approve the legislation as soon as this weekend using a process known as budget reconciliation, which requires a simple majority and allows Democrats to sidestep a Republican filibuster. With the Senate split 50-50, Democrats can’t afford a single defection. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]
U.S. declares public health emergency over monkeypox
The Biden administration on Thursday declared the monkeypox outbreak a public health emergency as cases increase. “We’re prepared to take our response to the next level on this virus,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said. The emergency declaration came nearly two weeks after the World Health Organization declared the virus’ rapid spread a public health emergency of international concern. The outbreak was first detected in Britain in May. Since then, more than 26,000 cases have been reported in more than 80 countries. About 6,600 cases have been confirmed in the United States, and the Biden administration has faced criticism for its handling of the outbreak, including missing opportunities to vaccinate people more quickly. [STAT News]
DeSantis suspends prosecutor who refused to enforce abortion law
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Thursday suspended Hillsborough County State Attorney Andrew Warren for vowing not to prosecute doctors for performing abortions or providing gender-affirming care for transgender people. DeSantis said the Tampa prosecutor has “put himself publicly above the law.” The Republican governor’s removal of the twice-elected Democrat sparked sharp criticism from Democratic state lawmakers and other officials. State Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book said DeSantis was “behaving more like a dictator than ‘America’s governor,'” and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a Democratic candidate for governor, said Warren’s suspension was “a politically motivated attack on a universally respected state attorney democratically elected to exercise prosecutorial discretion.” [Miami Herald, CNN]
Ex-Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez charged over alleged bribery scheme
Former Puerto Rico Gov. Wanda Vázquez was arrested Thursday on bribery charges. Vázquez, 62, is accused of plotting the bribe scheme with a former FBI agent, a Venezuelan Italian bank owner, and a political consultant, according to the Justice Department. Vázquez allegedly ousted a high-ranking government official in exchange for more than $300,000 for her unsuccessful 2020 campaign. Vázquez, the second woman to serve as Puerto Rico’s governor, was elevated to the job in 2019 after protests forced out her predecessor, and she once promised to fight corruption. “No one is above the law and the victim of this crime, the people, deserve better,” Joseph González, special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Juan Field Office, said in a statement. [New York Post]
Russian judge sentences Brittney Griner to 9 years in prison
A Russian judge on Thursday found WNBA star Brittney Griner guilty on drug charges and sentenced her to nine years in prison. Griner, 31, was arrested at a Moscow airport shortly before Russia invaded Ukraine, and accused of possessing vape cartridges containing cannabis oil. The Phoenix Mercury center and two-time Olympic gold medal winner told the court she had packed in a hurry and put in the cartridges by accident, never intending to violate Russian law. The judge rejected defense arguments and convicted Griner of smuggling drugs with criminal intent. President Biden called for Russia to “release her immediately,” saying the sentence was a “reminder of what the world already knew: Russia is wrongfully detaining Brittney.” [ABC News]
China escalates military drills, sanctions Pelosi over Taiwan trip
China continued air and sea military drills in waters near Taiwan on Friday and announced unspecified sanctions against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as tensions continued to escalate over her trip to the self-governing island, which Beijing considers part of its territory. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry called the drills “highly provocative.” Some of the missiles China has launched during what it called “unprecedented” live-fire drills flew over Taiwan. Five landed in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, prompting a formal protest from Japan. Pelosi, wrapping up her Asia tour in Japan, said Friday in Tokyo that China cannot isolate Taiwan by preventing American officials from visiting the country. China, which doesn’t want foreign governments to engage with Taiwan, said Pelosi’s trip undermined its sovereignty. [CNN, The Associated Press]

August 06

Indiana governor signs abortion ban
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) on Friday signed into law a bill that bans nearly all abortions in the state with no gestational limit. The law includes exceptions for rape, incest, lethal fetal abnormality, or serious health risk to the pregnant woman. The rape and incest exceptions, which were hotly debated among Indiana Republicans, would not require a woman seeking an abortion to file a police report. In a statement, Holcomb struck a conciliatory note, praising the bill’s “carefully negotiated exceptions” and promising an “open ear” to pro-choice Hoosiers. He also touted the legislation’s “nearly $100 million in long overdue increased funding to support the health of our Hoosier mothers and babies.” [The Washington Post, Gov. Eric Holcomb]
China escalates military drills, sanctions Pelosi over Taiwan trip
China continued air and sea military drills in waters near Taiwan on Friday and announced unspecified sanctions against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as tensions continued to escalate over her trip to the self-governing island, which Beijing considers part of its territory. Taiwan’s Defense Ministry called the drills “highly provocative.” Pelosi, wrapping up her Asia tour in Japan, said Friday in Tokyo that China cannot isolate Taiwan by preventing American officials from visiting the country. China, which doesn’t want foreign governments to engage with Taiwan, said Pelosi’s trip undermined its sovereignty. [The Associated Press, The Week]
Ukraine blames Russian shelling for damage to Russian-held nuclear plant
Ukraine’s nuclear agency, Energoatom, said that Russian shelling on Friday had damaged a nitrogen-oxygen unit and a high-voltage power line at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. There was no radiation leak, but one of the site’s six reactors had to be disconnected from the power grid, Energoatom said. Russia, which has controlled the Zaporizhzhia plant since early March, blamed the damage on a Ukrainian artillery strike. [BBC, The Guardian]
Israeli airstrikes in Gaza kill 11, including Islamic Jihad leader and 5-year-old girl
Israel launched a series of airstrikes against targets in the Gaza Strip on Friday, killing 11 people. Palestine’s health ministry said that among the dead was a 5-year-old girl, while a spokesperson for the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) confirmed that one of the group’s leaders had been killed. Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the strikes — known as “Operation Breaking Dawn” — were carried out following an “immediate threat” from PIJ after one of its leaders was arrested earlier in the week. PIJ responded by launching at least 100 rockets into Israel, most of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system. [BBC, CNN]

August 07

Senate expected to pass Democrat tax and climate bill
The Senate voted 51-50 late Saturday to move forward with a tax and climate bill that includes several elements of President Biden’s original Build Back Better agenda. The final vote on the legislation could take place Sunday, with Vice President Kamala Harris expected to cast the tie-breaking vote in her party’s favor. The bill, known as the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, aims to increase revenue by over $700 billion. Around $430 billion of that money will go to green energy subsidies and to extending a pandemic-era expansion of the Affordable Care Act. The rest will be used to reduce the deficit. [The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times]
Major Indiana employers slam new abortion law
Two large corporations based in Indiana — pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and engine manufacturer Cummins — criticized the state’s restrictive new abortion law on Saturday. Eli Lilly said in a statement that the company “will be forced to plan for more employment growth outside” Indiana, while a spokesperson for Cummins stated that restrictions on abortion would “impede” the company’s “ability to attract and retain top talent.” Each company employs around 10,000 people in the Hoosier state. Indiana’s new abortion law, which Gov. Eric Holcomb signed Friday, bans all abortions except in cases of rape, incest, lethal fetal abnormality, or serious health risk to the mother. [The New York Times]
Head of Amnesty International’s Ukraine branch resigns over report criticizing defenders
Oksana Pokalchuk, the leader of Amnesty International’s Ukrainian branch, resigned on Friday amid controversy over a report that accused Ukraine’s military of using civilians as human shields by stationing troops in residential areas. Zelensky accused Amnesty International of attempting “to grant amnesty to the terrorist state,” while Pokalchuk said the report had become “a tool of Russian propaganda.” Amnesty International said in a statement Saturday that its “investigations into Russian war crimes, and those into the Ukrainian military’s tactics, were carried out by the same experts from Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Programme” and that the organization believes “it is crucial to respond impartially.” [Axios, Politico]
Trump outlines policy agenda in CPAC speech
Former President Donald Trump delivered a speech Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Dallas, Texas, outlining a policy agenda for Republicans to pursue after reclaiming control of Congress in November and taking back the White House in 2024. Trump reiterated his call for the swift execution of drug dealers and proposed a massive expansion of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He also drew attention to the culture war issues roiling American education. “School prayer is banned but drag shows are allowed … You can’t teach the Bible but you can teach children that America is evil and that men are able to get pregnant,” Trump said. [The Hill, The Post Millennial]
Palestinian militants launch rockets at Jerusalem as Israeli airstrikes continue
The flare-up between Israeli forces and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began on Friday continued Sunday, with PIJ fighters launching rockets at Jerusalem while Israel conducted additional airstrikes and arrest raids in the Gaza Strip. Israel has not reported any casualties, and an Israeli army spokesperson said the Iron Dome missile shield has intercepted 97 percent of the rockets launched at Israel. 32 Palestinians have reportedly been killed, including six children, several PIJ fighters, and two of the group’s leaders. Hamas, Palestine’s largest militant group, has not joined in the fighting. [Reuters, BBC]
Russia launches attacks on Donetsk cities Bakhmut and Avdiivka
Russian forces on Saturday began an assault on the cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka, both located in Donetsk Oblast. “In the Donetsk direction, the enemy is conducting an offensive operation, concentrating its main efforts on the Bakhmut and Avdiivka directions,” the Ukrainian General Staff wrote on Facebook. The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War assessed on Saturday that Russia had “attempted to gain more advantageous tactical positions around” a series of “settlements along the eastern arc of Bakhmut,” all of which were located “within 12km of the outskirts of Bakhmut.” [CBS News, Institute for the Study of War]
One dead, 17 missing, and 121 injured after lightning sets fire to Cuban oil facility
A lightning strike at a Cuban oil storage facility set off a series of explosions and a fire Friday night that injured 121 people and left 17 firefighters missing. Authorities said an unidentified dead body was found Saturday as the fire at the Matanzas Supertanker Base continued to rage. Around 800 people have been evacuated from the neighborhood closest to the fire. Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel said on Twitter that he had received offers of aid from the United States, Mexico, Venezuela, Russia, Nicaragua, Argentina, and Chile. [The Associated Press, ABC News]
Flash flood strands about 1,000 people in Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park was closed on Saturday after flash floods left around 1,000 visitors and staff stranded in the park. The park received 1.46 inches of rain on Friday, the most ever recorded in August and nearly 70 percent of Death Valley’s average annual rainfall. The California Department of Transportation issued a warning on Saturday that would-be visitors “should not attempt to get around any closure to access the park.” National Park Service public affairs officer Abby Wines said Friday that, although roads into and out of the park were closed, “no one is stopping” stranded visitors who find alternative ways out. [The Washington Post, CNN]
Archbishop of Canterbury announces compromise on same-sex marriage in the Anglican Communion
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby proposed a compromise on the divisive issue of same-sex marriage on Saturday as once-in-a-decade Lambeth Conference came to a close. More than 650 bishops from around the world were in attendance. Welby is the head of the global Anglican Communion, the world’s third-largest Christian body, but unlike the Roman Catholic pope, he does not hold direct authority over the entire communion. Under Welby’s proposal, the Anglican Communion would retain its 1998 resolution defining marriage as between one man and one woman but would not take action to punish provinces that deviated from that teaching. His speech outlining the policy reportedly received a standing ovation from liberal and conservative bishops alike. [BBC, Episcopal News Service]

Published by Guestspeaker

A joint effort of several authors who do find that nobody can keep standing at the side and that “Everyone" must care about what is going on in today’s world. We are a bunch of people who do not mind that somebody has a totally different idea but is willing to share the ideas with others and to be Active and willing to let others understand how "today’s decisions will influence the future”. Therefore we would love to see many others to "Act today".

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