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Our selection of The Week’s 2nd week of August 2022

August 08

Senate passes sweeping climate, health bill
The Senate on Sunday passed a spending bill that includes an unprecedented $400 billion to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and several major health provisions, including reduced prescription drug costs for the elderly. It offsets the spending with a new tax on some corporations currently paying nothing to the federal government, and other tax changes. Democrats scaled down the bill from President Biden’s $2.2 trillion Build Back Better package after long negotiations with moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.), and renamed it the Inflation Reduction Act. Democrats pushed it through the Senate with no Republican votes using a process known as reconciliation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the House will “move swiftly” to pass the bill, likely on Friday. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]
Ukraine accuses Russia of strikes at nuclear power plant
Ukraine on Sunday accused Russian forces of firing rockets at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, intensifying fears of what the United Nations’ watchdog warned could become a “nuclear disaster.” It was the second straight day of attacks reported at the plant. Rockets launched on Saturday hit a dry storage facility housing 174 casks of spent nuclear fuel, Ukrainian state-run nuclear power company Energoatom said. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, called the shelling an act of “Russian nuclear terror.” Russia blamed Ukrainian forces. The head of the pro-Russian regional administration, Yevgeny Balitsky, said via Telegram that Ukrainian forces had damaged administration buildings in an attack on the storage area. [CNN, Reuters]
China extends military drills near Taiwan
China expanded its military drills near Taiwan on Sunday in an ongoing response to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to the island, which Beijing considers part of its territory. China announced five exclusion zones in the Yellow Sea during exercises scheduled for Aug. 5 to Aug. 15, and four zones in the Bohai Sea for a month of maneuvers starting Monday. Taiwan has never been controlled by China’s ruling Communist Party, but Beijing officially seeks “peaceful reunification” and threatens to seize the island by force if it formally declares independence. The White House last week summoned Chinese Ambassador Qin Gang to discuss China’s “irresponsible” military actions, which included launching missiles that flew over Taiwan. [The Washington Post]
Mexican, Venezuelan teams help Cuban firefighters battle tank-farm blaze
Special teams from Mexico and Venezuela on Sunday joined Cuban firefighters trying to control a fire that erupted at a big oil tank farm in Matanzas province. The blaze started Friday after lightning struck a storage tank. The flames ignited a second tank on Saturday, triggering explosions. At least one firefighter was killed, and 17 have been reported missing. More than 120 people have been treated for injuries, and five were in critical condition. About 5,000 people have been evacuated, most of them from a neighborhood next to the Matanzas Supertanker Base, which has eight huge storage tanks for oil used to fuel electricity generation. Dense black smoke containing sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and other toxic substances spread west more than 62 miles to Havana, the capital. [The Associated Press]

August 09

Search the toilets!

Trump says FBI searched Mar-a-Lago
Former President Donald Trump said Monday that FBI agents raided his Mar-a-Lago estate and club in Palm Beach, Florida, and “even broke into my safe!” The search appeared to be part of a federal investigation into material Trump improperly brought with him from the White House, including classified documents. Trump said the raid was unnecessary because he was cooperating with federal agencies, claiming it was meant to discourage him from running for president in 2024. “Such an assault could only take place in broken, Third-World Countries,” he said. Trump allies issued calls to “defund” the FBI. The search came as the Justice Department intensifies its parallel investigation into Trump’s effort to stay in office despite his election loss. [The New York Times]
Jan. 6 committee gets Alex Jones’ text messages
Two years’ worth of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’ text messages have been handed over to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack by a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters, CNN reported Monday, citing a person familiar with the situation. Jones’ lawyer accidentally gave the contents of Jones’ cellphone to an attorney who represented the parents of a child killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre. The parents sued Jones for defamation for his claims that the massacre, which left 20 children and six educators dead, was a hoax. A jury last week said Jones should pay nearly $50 million in compensatory and punitive damages. [CNN]
Michigan AG alleges conspiracy to break into voting equipment
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel (D) has filed a petition seeking a special prosecutor to continue an investigation into whether her Republican challenger in November’s election, Matt DePerno, was involved in a conspiracy to break into voting equipment, seeking evidence to support former President Donald Trump’s voter-fraud allegations. Nessel said that since DePerno is her election opponent, she can’t pursue the investigation due to a conflict of interest. Reuters reported Sunday that DePerno, a Trump ally, submitted a document in a failed voter-fraud lawsuit with a photo of a voting machine that had a serial number matching one of five machines Nessel had said was accessed without authorization. DePerno tweeted that Nessel’s investigation was politically motivated. [Reuters]
Biden visits flood-damaged Kentucky, pledges aid for ‘as long as it takes’
President Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Monday visited Kentucky, where they surveyed unprecedented flood damage from recent storms and met with families and first responders. At least 37 people died as floodwaters swept through areas swamped with up to 10 1/2 inches of rain in 48 hours last month. Forecasters have warned that thunderstorms through Thursday could cause more flooding. Gov. Andy Beshear said the flooding was “unlike anything we’re ever seen,” and he credited Biden with providing federal aid quickly. Biden pledged to continue helping the state recover. “We’re not leaving, as long as it takes, we’re going to be here,” he said. [The Associated Press]
Poll: 1 in 5 with serious illness had trouble accessing care in pandemic
One in five Americans in households where someone had a serious illness had trouble accessing health care during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a poll released Monday by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. “From a health and a good care standpoint, that‘s just too high,” said Mary Findling, the assistant director of the Harvard Opinion Research Program. Other studies have found that patients delayed everything from cancer screenings to routine diabetes, pediatric, and mental health care. The disruptions hit minority patients hardest. Thirty-five percent of American Indian and Alaska Native households and 24 percent of Black households reported having trouble accessing care for serious illness, compared to 18 percent of white households. [NPR]
Historian David McCullough dies at 89
Bestselling author and television host David McCullough has died at his home in Hingham, Massachusetts. He was 89. McCullough won Pulitzer Prizes for his presidential biographies Truman (!992), which topped The New York Times‘ best-seller list for 41 weeks, and John Adams (2001). The historian earned National Book Awards for The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal (1977) and Mornings on Horseback (1981), which was about a young Theodore Roosevelt. Fans and critics hailed him for his readable prose and exhaustive research. The Adams biography took McCullough seven years, and hit No. 1 on the Times best-seller list in its first week. Truman took him 10 years. [The New York Times]

August 10

The FBI's finds

The Trump library

FBI search of Trump’s home focused on suspicion of withheld documents
The FBI’s search at former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, during which agents opened Trump’s safe, appeared to be focused on classified White House materials Trump should have returned, The Washington Post reported Tuesday. Investigators reportedly suspect that Trump or his aides kept key records when they handed over 15 boxes of items to the National Archives seven months ago. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that President Biden was not briefed in advance about plans for the unprecedented search of a former president’s home. “We learned about this, the president learned about this, just like you all did, through the public reports,” Jean-Pierre said. [The Washington Post, CBS News]
Appeals court rules IRS must give Congress Trump tax returns
A federal appellate court panel ruled Tuesday that the Internal Revenue Service must give former President Donald Trump’s federal income tax returns, and those of his businesses, to the House Ways and Means Committee. The 3-0 decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit marked the latest in a series of court losses for Trump as he tries to shield his financial documents from investigators. Trump says the inquiries are politically motivated. The powerful House committee says it needs Trump’s returns for an investigation into IRS audits of presidential income tax returns, and the appellate panel said the lawmakers have the authority and a “legitimate legislative purpose” to demand the records, which date from 2015 through 2020. [CNBC]
GOP Rep. Scott Perry says FBI seized his cellphone
Rep. Scott Perry (R-Pa.), an ally of former President Donald Trump and chair of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, said Tuesday that three FBI agents seized his cellphone. Perry did not say what the FBI was seeking with its search warrant, which agents would have had to provide to take the phone. Perry is one of at least 11 congressional Republicans involved in discussions with Trump’s White House about overturning the election, according to former Justice Department officials, the House Jan. 6 committee, and an October 2021 Senate Judiciary Committee report. Perry said the FBI “made no attempt to contact my lawyer, who would have made arrangements for them to have my phone if that was their wish.” [Politico]
Biden signs off on proposal to admit Finland, Sweden to NATO
President Biden on Tuesday gave final U.S. approval to the proposal to admit Finland and Sweden to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Both Nordic countries have long remained neutral, but they quickly asked to become part of NATO after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine made them wonder if they would be next to face Moscow’s aggression. Biden said if all NATO nations sign on, as required, adding Finland and Sweden will strengthen the Western defense alliance. “It was and is a watershed moment, I believe, in the alliance. And for the greater security stability not only of Europe and the United States, but of the world,” Biden said at the signing event, attended by the ambassadors of Sweden and Finland. [The Hill]
Explosions reported at Russian air base in Crimea
Authorities in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Russia, reported a series of large explosions Tuesday near a Russian military air base. At least one person was killed, numerous others were injured, and about 30 residents near the airfield were evacuated. The Russian defense ministry said detonated aviation ammunition caused the blasts. Ukraine publicly denied responsibility, but an unidentified senior Ukrainian military official told The New York Times that Ukrainian loyalists carried out the strike. The rare explosions deep inside Russian-controlled territory came as Ukraine pushes a counteroffensive to liberate parts of southern Ukraine that Russia has seized. The damage in Crimea, which Ukraine wants to win back after eight years in Russian hands, boosted morale in Kyiv. [The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times]
Serena Williams announces looming retirement from tennis
Tennis legend Serena Williams said in a Vogue article published Tuesday that she plans to retire from the sport some time after the U.S. Open, which starts later this month. “I hate that I have to be at this crossroads,” Williams, almost 41, told Vogue‘s Rob Haskell. “I’m torn: I don’t want it to be over, but at the same time I’m ready for what’s next.” Williams, who is also hugely successful with her fashion and entertainment businesses, said she doesn’t like the word “retirement,” and prefers to consider herself to be “evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me,” like giving her daughter Olympia a sister. Williams has won 23 Grand Slam titles and more than $100 million in prize money. [Vogue, The New York Times]

August 11

Inflation eases from 40-year high
The Consumer Price Index rose 8.5 percent in July compared to a year earlier, cooling slightly from June’s 9.1 percent inflation rate, a 40-year high. The slowdown was slightly bigger than economists had expected, thanks to a significant drop in gasoline prices. With volatile food and fuel prices excluded, core prices rose 5.9 percent in July compared to the same month a year earlier, matching June’s rate. Compared to the previous month, core inflation climbed 0.3 percent, down from the 0.7 percent monthly figure in June. Inflation remains unusually high, and analysts said the slowdown was not sharp enough to indicate that the Federal Reserve’s aggressive interest rate hikes have contained rising prices. [The New York Times]
Judge rules Walgreens contributed to San Francisco opioid crisis
A federal judge ruled Wednesday that Walgreens “substantially contributed” to San Francisco’s opioid epidemic by failing to prevent misuse of the highly addictive painkillers. Walgreens handled nearly 1 in 5 oxycodone and hydrocodone pills distributed nationwide at the height of the opioid crisis. It was the only drug company sued by San Francisco that didn’t settle. The case went to trial in April. “Walgreens has regulatory obligations to take reasonable steps to prevent the drugs from being diverted and harming the public,” U.S. District Judge Charles Breyer wrote in the ruling. “The evidence at trial established that Walgreens breached these obligations.” A later trial will determine how much Walgreens will have to pay the city. A Walgreens spokesperson said the company would appeal. [The Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle]
Biden signs bill expanding care for veterans exposed to burn pits
President Biden on Wednesday signed a bill to expand federal health care services to veterans exposed to toxic “burn pits” on military bases. “We owe you,” said Biden, whose elder son, Beau, served in Iraq and died of cancer. “You’re the very fiber that makes this country what it is.” The law came after a years-long fight to guarantee that the estimated three million exposed veterans receive treatment for chronic illnesses some have blamed on burn pits used to dispose of chemicals, medical equipment, human waste, and other materials. Biden said the law was long overdue. Danielle Robinson, whose husband, Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, died of cancer two years ago, said it would help veterans “still battling burn pit illnesses today.” [The Associated Press]
North Korea declares victory over COVID, blame South Korea for outbreak
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un declared victory over COVID-19 and directed his government to ease preventive measures just three months after the isolated nation first acknowledged a coronavirus outbreak, the official Korean Central News Agency reported Thursday. During the national meeting where Kim made the announcement, his powerful sister delivered her first televised speech, praising her brother’s “epoch-making” leadership and blaming the outbreak on leaflets flown across the border from South Korea. The South Korean unification ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, expressed “strong regrets over North Korea repeatedly making groundless claims over the route of the COVID and making very disrespectful and threatening remarks.” [The Associated Press, Reuters]
Wildfire forces 10,000 to evacuate homes in southwestern France
Wildfires spread quickly in southwestern France on Wednesday, forcing 10,000 people to evacuate homes in the Gironde region. “Prepare your papers, the animals you can take with you, some belongings,” local officials said on Facebook before getting residents out of the town of Belin-Beliet. Fires in the region have destroyed homes and burned more than 15,000 acres. France is enduring its worst drought on record, and is one of several countries in Europe that have endured devastating heatwaves this summer. At least eight major wildfires are currently burning across the country. [Reuters]

August 12

Garland requests release of Trump search warrant
Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday that the Justice Department had asked a judge to unseal the warrant FBI agents used to search former President Donald Trump’s home at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida. Garland said the public has a “clear and powerful interest” in understanding what the FBI was looking for, and why. The Washington Post reported that people familiar with the investigation said the agents were looking for documents about nuclear weapons. Trump received a subpoena this spring requesting he hand over classified documents he allegedly took when he left the White House, suggesting the Justice Department tried to get the material without resorting to an unprecedented raid on a former president’s home, The New York Times reported. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]

Safe documents

South Korean president pardons Samsung leader
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol pardoned de facto Samsung head Lee Jae-yong, who was released on parole last August after serving prison time for bribing one of Yoon’s predecessors. The justice ministry said Lee, also known as Jay Y. Lee, was needed to confront a “national economic crisis.” The decision ends a five-year ban on Lee’s participation in management of the South Korean conglomerate, and clears him to run the company. Samsung is a leader among a small group of family-owned conglomerates that have helped South Korea become an export powerhouse. One unit, Samsung Electronics, accounts for one-sixth of South Korea’s exports. Lee, also known as Jay Y. Lee, was one of nearly 1,700 people pardoned ahead of South Korea’s National Liberation Day holiday on Monday. [The New York Times, Reuters]
Argentina’s inflation rate rises to 7.4 percent … in one month
Argentina on Thursday reported that its monthly inflation rate rose to 7.4 percent in July, the highest level in two decades. Over the past year, consumer prices have risen 71 percent in the South American nation, the INDEC national statistics agency said. Argentina has a poverty rate of 40 percent, and the crisis has increased the reliance of some of the country’s 47 million residents on bartering to make ends meet, according to The Associated Press. Some analysts have warned inflation could rise over 90 percent this year, with triple-digit inflation possible if President Alberto Fernández’s government fails to contain price increases. [The Associated Press]
U.S. backs call for demilitarized zone around Ukraine nuclear plant
The United States on Thursday backed Ukraine’s call to establish a demilitarized zone around Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, where fighting between Russian and Ukrainian forces has raised concerns of a possible nuclear disaster. “Fighting near a nuclear plant is dangerous and irresponsible — and we continue to call on Russia to cease all military operations at or near Ukrainian nuclear facilities and return full control to Ukraine,” a State Department spokesperson said. Earlier Thursday, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged an immediate halt to military operations around the facility, Europe’s largest nuclear power plant. Russia seized the facility in March. Moscow and Kyiv blamed each other for fresh shelling. [Reuters]
Prominent cleric killed in Afghanistan bombing 
A prominent Afghan cleric, Sheikh Rahimullah Haqqani, was killed in Kabul by a suicide bomber who detonated explosives hidden in an artificial leg, Taliban sources said Thursday. The religious leader supported the Taliban and was a prominent critic of the Islamic State’s regional affiliate in Afghanistan. “It’s a very huge loss for the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” a senior Taliban official in the interior ministry said. Sheikh Haqqani is one of the highest profile leaders to be killed in Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power as the United States military withdrew last year. The Islamic State Kohrasan Province (IS-K) claimed responsibility for the bombing, which occurred in the cleric’s office. IS-K had targeted Haqqani before. [BBC News, Reuters]
Report: Arctic heating nearly 4 times faster than rest of Earth
The Arctic is heating 3.8 times faster than the planet as a whole, according to a new study published in the journal Communications Earth & Environment. Scientists previously calculated that the Arctic was warming about twice as fast as the rest of Earth, but the new research found that previous studies underestimated the impact of warming since 1979, when reliable satellite measurements first became available. “The Arctic is more sensitive to global warming than previously thought,” said Mika Rantanen of the Finnish Meteorological Institute, one of the study’s authors. In recent years, heat waves in the far north, which have fueled wildfires and increased ice melt, suggest Arctic warming could be even more intense than the computer models show. [NPR]

August 13

Author Salman Rushdie suffers ‘apparent stab wound to the neck’ in onstage attack
Author Salman Rushdie was attacked Friday just before a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution in western New York, multiple outlets have reported. An eye-witness account from a reporter with The Associated Press details a man storming the stage before “punching or stabbing” the author — whose controversial writing has notably led to death threats in the past — as he was being introduced. Per a press release from New York State Police, Rushdie “suffered an apparent stab wound to the neck, and was transported by helicopter to an area hospital,” where he was placed on a ventilator. His agent says Rushdie is likely to lose an eye. The suspect, Hadi Matar, was taken into custody. [BBC, The Week]
Montenegro gunman kills 10, including 2 children
A gunman opened fire in Cetinje, Montenegro, on Friday, killing 10 people and wounding six others. The 34-year-old shooter, identified only as V.B., reportedly began by using a hunting rifle to kill two children — ages 8 and 11 — and their mother, who lived as tenants in his house. He then stepped into the street and shot 13 more people at random before being shot and killed by a passerby. Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic called the attack “an unprecedented tragedy.” [CBS News]
Republicans attempt to undermine Inflation Reduction Act fails
House Republicans on Friday abandoned a last-ditch attempt to undermine President Biden’s landmark Inflation Reduction Act, which passed 220-207. The GOP’s House Freedom Caucus proposed having large numbers of Republicans vote by proxy in order to deny Democrats a physical quorum, paving the way for legal challenges to the bill and to the practice of proxy voting. It was always a long shot, as a federal court has already ruled that the House has the right to allow proxy voting. Republican leadership declined to actively whip support for the plan, which fell about 20 proxy votes short of succeeding. [Axios]
Justice Department investigating Southern Baptist Convention over handling of sex abuse
The Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, announced Friday that the Justice Department is conducting an investigation into the convention’s handling of sex abuse cases. “The SBC Executive Committee recently became aware that the Department of Justice has initiated an investigation into the Southern Baptist Convention, and that the investigation will include multiple SBC entities,” a statement from 14 SBC leaders read. “Individually and collectively each SBC entity is resolved to fully and completely cooperate with the investigation.” This announcement comes after an internal report released in May revealed the widespread suppression of reports of sexual abuse within the SBC. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]

August 14

Russia can no longer resupply forces defending Kherson, Ukraine claims
A Ukrainian strike has damaged the last usable bridge spanning the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast, a local Ukrainian official said Saturday. Serhiy Khlan, a deputy to the Kherson Regional Council, wrote on Facebook that without the bridges, Russian forces occupying Kherson “no longer have any capability to fully turn over their equipment.” The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War assessed that the loss of those bridges would likely leave the Russians unable “to defend themselves against even limited Ukrainian counterattacks.” The strikes on the bridges were conducted as part of a Ukrainian counteroffensive aimed at retaking Kherson. [CBS News, Institute for the Study of War]

Zelensky: Russian troops shooting at or from nuclear plant are a ‘special target’ for Ukrainian forces
Russian troops firing at or from the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant will become a “special target” for Ukraine forces, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Saturday. “Every Russian soldier who either shoots at the plant, or shoots using the plant as cover, must understand that he becomes a special target for our intelligence agents, for our special services, for our army,” he warned in his nightly address. Russia captured the Zaporizhzhia plant, Europe’s largest, early in the war and has blamed Ukrainian forces for shelling the plant.   [The Washington Post, Reuters]

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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