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The Week for 2022 August 29 – September 04

August 29

Shelling continues near Ukraine nuclear plant ahead of inspection
More artillery fire hit near the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant in southern Ukraine over the weekend, Ukrainian officials said Sunday. The fighting came as the International Atomic Energy Agency prepares to send a team of scientists this week to assess damage from recent shelling. Ukraine and Russia blame each other for strikes dangerously close to the nuclear plant, Europe’s largest. Russian forces, which have controlled the area where the plant is located since shortly after they invaded Ukraine in late February, fired rocket artillery and howitzers over the weekend at the Ukraine-controlled town of Nikopol, across from the Dnipro River from the plant. The IAEA said the most recent attacks “once again underlined the risk of a potential nuclear accident.” [The New York Times]
Pakistan appeals for more aid as flood death toll rises 
Pakistan appealed for more international aid as the death toll from devastating floods that started in mid-June rose to 1,033. The National Disaster Management Authority said Sunday that 119 people had died within the last 24 hours. The United States, Britain, United Arab Emirates, and other countries have already contributed money, but an aide to Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif told the BBC that the country desperately needs more help. “Pakistan has been grappling with economic issues, but now just when we were about to overcome them the monsoon disaster hit,” the aide said. According to reports in the Dawn newspaper, Sharif has promised $45 million to provide every affected family $112 within a week. [BBC News]
Kinzinger: It’s ‘hypocritical’ for GOP to defend Trump taking classified documents
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) on Sunday accused fellow Republicans of “hypocrisy” for defending former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents found at his Mar-a-Lago estate, after many of the same GOP lawmakers spent “years chanting ‘lock her up’ about Hillary Clinton because of some deleted emails.” Kinzinger, one of two Republicans on the House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, made the comments on NBC’s Meet the Press. The Justice Department on Friday released a redacted version of the affidavit used to obtain a search warrant for the Aug. 8 raid of Trump’s home; it indicated that the feds are investigating several potential crimes, including obstruction of justice. Trump denies any wrongdoing. [Reuters]
Jackson, Mississippi, braces for flooding as Pearl River crests
People living along the Pearl River in Mississippi braced for flooding over the weekend as the water level rose following heavy August rains in the central part of the state. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said as many as 150 homes in the northeastern and southern parts of the state capital were threatened as experts predicted the river would crest at 36 feet early Monday. “If you are able to get out of your home, do it now,” Lumumba urged people in flood-prone neighborhoods. Parts of the area flooded in 2020 when the river crested at 36.67 feet. Gov. Tate Reeves declared a state of emergency. “If your home flooded in 2020, there is a high probability it will happen again,” he said. [Clarion Ledger, The Washington Post]

August 30

Judge sentences Jan. 6 rioter to 55 months
A federal judge on Monday sentenced Washington, D.C., bartender Joshua Pruitt, an aspiring member of the far-right Proud Boys group, to 55 months in prison for his role in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of former President Donald Trump’s supporters. Text messages indicated that Pruitt went to the Capitol ready for violence. He was photographed hurling a sign and throwing a chair during the riot, and he also approached Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) as he was being led to safety. Pruitt, 40, pleaded guilty in June to obstructing an official proceeding. Federal sentencing guidelines indicated he should serve 51 to 63 months, partly due to his long criminal record, which includes assaulting police. [CNN, The Washington Post]
FBI completes review of possibly privileged Trump documents
A special “filter team” has completed their review of potentially privileged documents seized in the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida, the Justice Department said in a court filing Monday. The team, which aimed to sift out documents criminal investigators should not view, “identified a limited set of materials that potentially contain attorney-client privileged information,” the DOJ said in the filing, adding that the flagged papers will be processed according to procedures laid out in court documents. The news could disrupt Trump’s effort to have a court appoint an independent special master to review the documents. Trump’s lawyers have accused the FBI of seizing private records in a politically motivated raid. [The Washington Post]
Exxon tells Russia it plans to sue over blocked exit from oil project
Exxon has notified Russian officials it plans to sue over Moscow’s attempt to block the energy giant from getting out of a big oil-and-gas project, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. The Kremlin has banned some transactions through the end of 2022, and prevented Exxon from selling its 30 percent stake in the Sakhalin-1 venture in Russia’s far east. The moves came after Exxon said it was transferring its operational role in the project to another party in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Exxon says Russia is violating its rights. The company has filed a notice required under commercial contracts to resolve conflicts before a lawsuit. Russia, through its embassy, declined to comment. [The Wall Street Journal]
Fewer Americans living paycheck to paycheck as inflation eases slightly
The percentage of Americans living paycheck to paycheck has fallen slightly as inflation inches back from a 40-year high, according to a LendingClub report released Monday. In July, 59 percent of respondents said they were living paycheck to paycheck, down from 61 percent in June. The number remained higher than a year ago, when it was 54 percent. Among people earning less than $50,000 annually, about three-quarters said they were earning only enough to get by until their next payday, compared to 63 percent of those making between $50,000 and $100,000. Among those making $200,000 or more, about 30 percent said they were living paycheck to paycheck, down from 36 percent in June. [CNBC]
Melting Greenland ice sheet will raise sea levels nearly a foot, study says
Climate change caused by human activity is melting so much of Greenland’s ice sheet that sea levels will rise nearly a foot even if greenhouse gas emissions stop today, according to a study published Monday in Nature Climate Change. The study concluded that 3.3 percent of the Greenland ice sheet, or 110 trillion tons of ice, will inevitably melt. Much of the melting and sea-level rise will occur by the year 2100, the authors said. Some forecasts are more dire. “We need to plan for that ice as if it weren’t on the ice sheet in the near future, within a century or so,” said research climatologist William Colgan, a study co-author. “Every study has bigger numbers than the last.” [The Washington Post]
Deadly clashes erupt in Baghdad’s Green Zone after cleric quits politics
Influential Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced via Twitter on Monday that he is withdrawing from politics, prompting his followers to take to the streets. At least 12 supporters were shot and killed by government security forces in protests around Baghdad’s Green Zone area, which is home to the Iraqi Parliament, government offices, the U.S. Embassy, and other diplomatic missions. Witnesses said Iraqi security forces fired tear gas and live bullets to push demonstrators out of Iraq’s Republican Palace, which houses the prime minister’s office. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said security forces are not allowed to use live fire, and he is launching an investigation. The government imposed a citywide curfew as the chaos deepened a political crisis. [The New York Times, CNN]

August 31

Ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev dies at 91
Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union, died Tuesday. He was 91. Gorbachev had battled a “serious and protracted disease,” Russian media reported, without providing specifics. Gorbachev played a central role in winding down the Cold War, with his trademark glasnost and perestroika policies opening the Soviet economy and leading to increasing engagement with the West in the late 1980s. He also presided over the withdrawal of Soviet troops from Afghanistan and the Soviet Union’s response to the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990. At home, he had fans for his liberalizing of society, and critics who blamed him for the Soviet Union’s collapse. [NPR]
Restaurant operators urge Newsom to veto California fast-food wage law 
Restaurant franchise owners and business advocates on Tuesday launched a concerted effort to pressure California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) to veto a bill that would raise wages for fast-food workers. The legislation calls for creating a government-run council that would set wages for fast-food workers to as high as $22 per hour starting next year. “Every resource at our disposal will be used to ensure our entire membership is asking the governor to veto this bill,” said Jot Condie, president of the California Restaurant Association. Before the legislature gave the bill final approval on Monday, more than 100 union members rallied outside the state capitol chanting, “Sign the bill!” A Newsom spokesperson declined to comment on whether he will sign it. [The Wall Street Journal]
Biden defends FBI, condemns GOP rhetoric
President Biden on Tuesday defended the FBI and criticized Republicans who have failed to condemn the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack by a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters. “You can’t be pro–law enforcement and pro-insurrection,” Biden said, and it is “sickening” to see people calling to “defund” the FBI over its search for improperly retained and highly classified documents at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida on Aug. 8. Biden also said that warning of “blood on the street” took partisan rancor to a dangerous new level, an apparent response to Sen. Lindsey Graham‘s (R-S.C.), recent prediction there would be “riots in the street” if Trump is prosecuted for mishandling classified documents. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]
DOJ says secret documents at Trump home moved, ‘concealed’
The Justice Department said in a Tuesday night court filing that “efforts were likely taken to obstruct the government’s investigation” of former President Donald Trump’s handling of classified documents he kept after leaving the White House. The claim was included in a 36-page document objecting to Trump’s request for an independent special master to review documents FBI agents seized during a court-approved search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in Florida. The Justice Department said Trump representatives had handed over an accordion file of documents on June 3, and attested in writing the government had received all the classified documents covered under a subpoena. But the FBI later found top-secret records both in Mar-a-Lago’s storage room and “concealed” in Trump’s office. [The Wall Street Journal, CNN]

The big crocodile lie

Jackson, Mississippi, drinking water system failing
The drinking water system in Jackson, Mississippi, has started failing as the city struggles with flooding from heavy rains. The system in Jackson — Mississippi’s capital and largest city, with about 160,000 residents — had been in a bad state for years, due largely to aging infrastructure. But the current crisis has left many residents with little or no water pressure, and no access to safe drinking water as the city’s largest water treatment plant breaks down. The city is rushing to fix the problem while tackling the “massively complicated task” of distributing bottled water. Schools switched to virtual learning, and hospitals started bringing in portable restrooms as the city ran short of water for basic needs, like flushing toilets and fighting fires. [Mississippi Today, The New York Times]
France slams Russia as it pauses gas flow again
France on Tuesday accused Russia of using energy supplies as a “weapon of war” after Russian energy giant Gazprom slashed deliveries to a big French customer and temporarily shut down its main natural-gas pipeline to Germany for three days of maintenance. European nations have said Russia appears to be intentionally driving up their fuel prices in response to their support of Ukraine’s resistance against Russia’s invasion. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday called Russia’s actions “economic terrorism.” Russia denies it is using energy supplies as leverage to discourage customers from supporting Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed Tuesday that the Nord Stream 1 pipeline’s latest temporary shutdown was due to technological problems caused by Western sanctions against Russia over the war. [Reuters]
Ukraine claims gains in southern counteroffensive
Ukrainian officials said Tuesday that their forces have recaptured four villages in a counteroffensive aiming to reclaim control over the southern Kherson region that Russia seized early in its invasion. Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, warned Russian soldiers to “run away, go home.” One of his advisers, Oleksiy Arestovych, said the effort would “not be very fast,” but would “end with the installation of the Ukrainian flag over all the settlements of Ukraine.” Arestovych said Ukrainian forces had “broken through the frontline in several sectors.” Russia’s defense ministry acknowledged Kyiv’s counteroffensive but said Ukrainian forces were suffering “heavy losses.” The Kherson region is crucial to controlling access to the Black Sea. [CNN]

September 01

Report: Greenhouse gas levels hit record high in 2021
The annual State of the Climate report published Wednesday shows that in 2021, greenhouse gas levels, global sea levels, and ocean heat reached record highs. The international report was led by scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information. “The data presented in this report are clear — we continue to see more compelling scientific evidence that climate change has global impacts and shows no sign of slowing,” NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement. “With many communities hit with 1,000-year floods, exceptional drought, and historic heat this year, it shows that the climate crisis is not a future threat but something we must address today.” [ABC News]
Putin praises Gorbachev’s leadership through ‘dramatic changes’
Global leaders on Wednesday praised former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who died Tuesday at 91, for his vision and reforms that opened his country to the world and helped end the Cold War. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has sought to undo some of Gorbachev’s legacy, called him “a politician and statesman who had a huge impact on the course of world history.” He said Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, “led our country during a period of complex, dramatic changes.” Despite Putin’s condolences, the Kremlin said the plan for Gorbachev’s funeral has not been decided, making it unclear whether Gorbachev would receive state honors as his successor, Boris Yeltsin, did when he died in 2007. [The New York Times]
Biden announces plan to hike federal workers’ pay
President Biden announced Wednesday in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that his administration plans to raise civilian federal employees’ pay 4.6 percent, on average, in 2023. Biden said the plan would help the government compete with the private sector in recruiting and retaining workers by narrowing “a substantial pay gap” that widened in recent years of low raises. “The American people rely on federal agencies being managed and staffed by skilled, talented, and engaged employees, including those possessing critical skills sets, which requires keeping federal pay competitive,” Biden wrote. About 2.1 million executive branch employees would be covered under the plan, but the 600,000-plus U.S. Postal Service workers would not. Their pay is set through collective bargaining. [The Washington Post]
Trump lawyers repeat call for special master to review seized documents
Former President Donald Trump’s lawyers responded Wednesday to the Justice Department expansive filing explaining its investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents and possible obstruction of justice. Trump’s lawyers argued that the FBI overreached by searching Trump’s Florida home Aug. 8 and said the DOJ “gratuitously” released a photo of “allegedly classified materials” that agents “spread across the floor for dramatic effect.” Trump’s lawyers repeated their request for U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to review materials agents found in a storage room and Trump’s office, and flag materials that might be subject to attorney-client or executive privilege. Cannon, a Trump appointee, has said she is inclined to appoint a special master, and has set a Thursday hearing in West Palm Beach, Florida. [CNBC, CNN]
California urges energy conservation as heat wave hits
California issued a statewide flex alert Wednesday, urging voluntary energy conservation during what is expected to be the year’s worst heat wave in the state. Coastal highs could reach 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit through Saturday, then rise to 100 degrees Sunday and Monday, possibly hitting record highs, according to the National Weather Service. The state government called for people to cut power use especially in peak hours, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., to offset increased demand. “With excessive heat in the forecast across much of the state and Western U.S., the grid operator is expecting high electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use,” the California Independent System Operator said in a press release. [Los Angeles Times]
U.N. inspectors seek safe path to endangered Ukraine nuclear plant
Renewed shelling around Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday forced a team from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency to announce a three-hour delay of their planned inspection of the facility’s safety system. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other’s forces for recent artillery fire near the plant, which Ukrainian and international leaders have warned could cause a nuclear disaster. Fighting caused a brief fire at the facility’s training complex in March, and in recent days damage briefly knocked out power, intensifying fears of a possible radiation leak or meltdown. Russia took control of the plant shortly after it invaded Ukraine in late February, but it is still operated by Ukrainian workers.  [CNBC, The Associated Press]

September 02

Biden says Trump, MAGA ‘extremism’ threaten democracy
President Biden warned Thursday night that former President Donald Trump and the “MAGA Republicans” who are his staunchest supporters “represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.” Biden, speaking in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, said “equality and democracy are under assault,” citing the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters seeking to prevent Congress from certifying Biden’s electoral victory. The speech marked Biden’s latest rhetorical escalation ahead of the Labor Day launch of the midterm election campaign season, with control of Congress up for grabs. The Republican National Committee responded by calling Biden “the divider-in-chief” and accusing him of “hostility toward half the country.” [The Wall Street Journal]
Oath Keepers lawyer indicted on Jan. 6 charges
Authorities arrested Kellye SoRelle, the top lawyer for the far-right Oath Keepers militia, in Junction, Texas, on Thursday after a federal grand jury indicted her over the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack by a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters. SoRelle, who was with the group’s leader outside the Capitol that day, was charged with conspiring to obstruct Congress’ certification of the 2020 election results and tampering with evidence concerning the Justice Department’s Jan. 6 grand jury investigation. Also on Thursday, retired New York Police Department officer Thomas Webster was sentenced to 10 years in prison for assaulting a police officer with a flagpole on Jan. 6, the longest sentence yet over the riot. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]
Argentina’s vice president survives assassination attempt when gun jams
A gunman pointed a loaded pistol close to the face of Argentina’s vice president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, on Thursday, but she narrowly escaped assassination when the gun jammed, authorities in the South American nation said. Police arrested a 35-year-old Brazilian man. Video posted on social media showed the gun appearing out of the crowd in front of Fernández de Kirchner, who ducks and covers her ears as bodyguards grab the suspect. President Alberto Fernández said the gun had five bullets in it, but failed to fire when the gunman pulled the trigger. The crowd was gathered outside Fernández de Kirchner’s Buenos Aires home in a show of support as she fights charges of scheming to divert public funds when she was president. [BBC News]
IAEA inspectors reach Ukraine nuclear plant 
A team of inspectors from the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency arrived to inspect Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant on Thursday after a delay caused by shelling near the facility. IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said his team examined the facility despite gunfire that came “uncomfortably close,” and found that its physical integrity had been compromised several times. Russia and Ukraine have blamed each other for shelling near the nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, stoking fears of a potential radiation disaster. Grossi and his team said they would return Friday to assess physical damage the plant has sustained since Russia seized the area early in its invasion of Ukraine. [Reuters]
Lukoil leader dies after fall from Moscow hospital window
Ravil Maganov, chair of Russian oil giant Lukoil, died Thursday after falling from a sixth-floor window in a Moscow hospital. Russian state news agency TASS reported that a law enforcement source had called the death a suicide. Maganov, 67, was being treated in the hospital after a heart attack, and had been taking anti-depressants. But he is also the latest in a series of Russian business leaders to die under mysterious circumstances. Lukoil is Russia’s second largest oil company. Its board called for a quick end to the war in Ukraine shortly after Russia invaded, and expressed sympathy to the victims of “this tragedy.” Lukoil’s billionaire president, Vagit Alekperov, resigned in April after Britain targeted him with sanctions over the invasion. [Reuters, BBC News]
Poland requests World War II reparations from Germany
Poland on Thursday announced a request for roughly $1.3 trillion in reparations from Germany for damage wrought during World War II and the Nazi invasion, The Associated Press reported. Poland’s top politician Jaroslaw Kaczynski, unveiled the demand following the aptly timed release of a report investigating the toll on Poland from Nazi occupation. Sept. 1, 2022, marked 83 years since World War II began. “We will turn to Germany to open negotiations,” which will surely be difficult but “one day will bring success,” Kaczynski said. Germany, in turn, argued that it has already paid its debts to Eastern Bloc nations, and “the question of reparations is concluded,” the German Foreign Ministry said Thursday. [The Associated Press]

September 03

September 04

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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