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The Week of 2022 September 05 – 11

September 05

Zelensky says Ukraine has retaken 2 towns in counteroffensive
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Sunday that Ukraine’s military had recaptured two villages in its counteroffensive against Russia that began last week in the south and east. “Ukrainian flags are returning where they belong by right,” Zelensky said during a meeting of security leaders. He didn’t name the liberated towns. The fighting created new humanitarian emergencies in several places. Ukraine’s military high command said Monday that Russian forces had banned movement by local residents in the occupied Kherson region. “People are prohibited from crossing the Dnipro River both by bridges and by watercraft,” the military said. “In case of violation of the ban, the occupiers threaten to open fire.” [The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times]
10 killed in Canada stabbing spree
At least 10 people were killed and 15 injured Sunday in a stabbing spree in and near an Indigenous community in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the victims were stabbed, apparently at random, in several places in the James Smith Cree Nation and the nearby village of Weldon. Police urged residents to shelter in place as they searched for two “armed and dangerous” suspects, identified as Damien Sanderson and Myles Sanderson. Rhonda Blackmore, a commander with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said officers were investigating at least 13 crime scenes. The James Smith Cree Nation declared a state of emergency until Sept. 30. [The New York Times, CBC]
Voters reject proposed new constitution in Chile
Chilean voters on Sunday overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to adopt a new, left-leaning constitution to replace the one imposed by the dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet 41 years ago. The old constitution is one of the most market-friendly in the world. The referendum proposed a new one intended to be more egalitarian, establishing universal health care, abortion rights, and dozens of other constitutional and Indigenous rights. Critics said the changes were too drastic. With 92 percent of the ballots tallied on Sunday night, 62 percent had voted against the new constitution, according to Chile’s electoral authority. The referendum was held to fulfill a promise to working- and middle-class Chileans who protested high prices and low wages in 2019. [The Washington Post, The Associated Press
Heat wave hits Southern California with record temperatures
A severe heat wave hit parts of Southern California with record temperatures over the weekend, increasing the risk of power outages and fires on the Labor Day holiday. Highs were expected to reach 105 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit across parts of the San Fernando, San Gabriel, and Santa Clarita valleys, said Joe Sirard, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s Oxnard, California, office. Forecasters also warned of thunderstorms and flash flooding in some mountain and desert areas through Tuesday. On Sunday, Burbank in Los Angeles County tied a record high, 110 degrees, set in 1984. Long Beach recorded a high of 109 degrees, smashing a record of 107 degrees set in 1988. [Los Angeles Times]
Wildfire kills 2 in Northern California
A wildfire has killed two people in Northern California, the Siskayou County Sheriff’s Department said Sunday. The Mill Fire broke out about 280 miles north of San Francisco in the town of Weed on Friday, and burned more than 4,000 acres in two days. Cal Fire said in a preliminary damage report that at least 123 structures had been affected, and 50 destroyed. Fire crews had the fire 25 percent contained by late Sunday, and were preparing to let some residents who evacuated go home. Another blaze, the Mountain Fire, that started 15 miles to the west near the city of Gazelle burned more than 8,000 acres and was 10 percent contained as of late Sunday. [The Mercury News,]
Heavy rains bring floods to northwest Georgia
Thunderstorms and heavy rain caused flash floods in parts of northwest Georgia on Sunday, prompting Gov. Brian Kemp to declare a state of emergency in Chattooga and Floyd counties. Kemp called for dedicating all available state resources to “preparation, response, and recovery activities.” The National Weather Service said some areas got up to an inch of rain per hour, swelling creeks and streams and flooding many roads. Some parts of the region got up to a total of 12 inches of rain. “This is an extremely dangerous and life-threatening situation. Do not attempt to travel unless you are fleeing an area subject to flooding or under an evacuation order,” the weather service said. [The Associated Press]
Trump lashes out at Biden, FBI, in 1st rally since Mar-a-Lago search
Former President Donald Trump criticized President Biden and the Federal Bureau of Investigation over the weekend in his first rally since federal agents searched his Mar-a-Lago home in Florida on Aug. 8. Trump has repeatedly expressed anger against the Biden administration and the FBI, which has faced mounting threats since agents searched Trump’s home and seized classified and top secret documents allegedly improperly removed from the White House when Trump left office. At the Saturday rally, Trump said Biden was “an enemy of the state” and called the Justice Department and the FBI “vicious monsters.” The speech came two days after Biden said Trump and his most fervent MAGA supporters posed a threat to democratic values. [The New York Times]

September 06

The special master

Judge grants Trump ‘special master’ to review seized documents
A federal judge on Monday granted former President Donald Trump’s request to appoint a “special master” to review documents the FBI seized in a search of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Florida. U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, said the Justice Department can’t use the materials in its investigation of Trump’s handling of classified and top-secret documents until the independent review is completed, a win for Trump. The Justice Department has said Trump should be treated like any other person, but Cannon said appointing a special master was necessary “to ensure at least the appearance of fairness” under “extraordinary circumstances.” Legal scholars called the ruling “laughably bad” and an “unprecedented intervention” by a judge in a national security investigation. [CNN, The New York Times]
Biden criticizes MAGA Republicans, praises unions on Labor Day
President Biden spent Labor Day touring Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, both battleground states, and continuing his attack on “MAGA Republicans” ahead of the November midterm elections. Biden said “MAGA Republicans, the extreme right, and Trumpies” were full of “anger” and “hate.” He praised union members he hopes will back Democratic candidates in November. “The middle class built America … but unions built the middle class,” Biden said in Milwaukee. Biden criticized Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who faces a strong challenge from Democratic Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes, for voting against a measure to reduce prescription drug prices. Former President Donald Trump responded to Biden’s recent criticism at a Saturday rally where he called the president “an enemy of the state.” [NBC News, CNBC]
Newsom signs California law on improving fast-food worker conditions
California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on Monday signed a bill creating a 10-member Fast Food Council with the power to set minimum wages and standards for working conditions in the state. The new law will provide more rights and protections for more than a half-million fast food workers. Newsom said he was proud to sign the measure, which other states are expected to follow, on Labor Day. “California is committed to ensuring that the men and women who have helped build our world-class economy are able to share in the state’s prosperity,” he said. Restaurant owners and franchisers opposed the bill, citing an analysis they commissioned saying it would increase prices for consumers. [The Associated Press]
Key figure in U.S. Navy scandal escapes house arrest before sentencing
Leonard Francis, a Malaysian port services contractor at the center of the biggest bribery scandal in U.S. Navy history, cut off his GPS monitoring ankle bracelet and escaped house arrest in San Diego, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported Monday. Francis, also known as “Fat Leonard,” was arrested in 2013 and pleaded guilty in 2015 to plying Navy officials with prostitutes, luxury goods, vacations, and other perks to send Navy ships to the ports he controlled in Southeast Asia, eventually fleecing the Navy of $35 million. He cooperated with prosecutors but was never called to testify against five former naval officers charged in the case. Four were convicted. Francis was due to be sentenced in three weeks. [San Diego Union-Tribune]
Europe hit by gas-price surge as Russia shuts off Nord Stream 1 pipeline
European leaders scrambled to prevent an energy disaster on Monday as natural gas prices shot up by 35 percent following Russia’s decision to indefinitely shut down its main gas pipeline to German, Nord Stream 1. Stocks fell and the euro dropped to its lowest level in two decades as leaders across the continent looked for ways to reduce demand ahead of winter. Germany appears unlikely to meet its goal of filling 95 percent of its natural gas storage capacity by the beginning of November, Bloomberg reported. Russia’s state energy provider Gazprom said Friday it was shutting down the pipeline to repair an oil leak. European leaders have accused Moscow of squeezing gas supplies in retaliation for sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. [Bloomberg, Reuters]
OPEC+ agrees to slight oil production cut
OPEC+, an alliance of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil producers led by Russia, announced Monday that it has agreed to trim output by 100,000 barrels per day in September in response to a drop in crude-oil prices. The minor cut is the first since early in the coronavirus crisis. It comes amid expectations that increasing economic trouble will reduce global demand and drive down prices. International benchmark Brent crude futures gained 3.6 percent on Monday, but fell slightly early Tuesday. Global oil prices have dropped more than 20 percent since early June. U.S. oil prices fell 7 percent last week. U.S. gasoline prices have dropped from just over $5 per gallon in mid-June to $3.79 per gallon on Monday. [CNN, Investor’s Business Daily]
Liz Truss replaces Boris Johnson as U.K. prime minister
Britain’s newly elected Conservative Party leader, Liz Truss, officially replaced Boris Johnson as prime minister on Tuesday. Truss, previously foreign secretary, beat out former Treasury chief Rishi Sunak in a leadership contest triggered by Johnson’s July announcement he was stepping down amid several scandals that had rattled confidence in his government. Truss, 47, has promised to immediately address a severe cost-of-living crisis that has shaken the United Kingdom, where year-over-year inflation rose just above 10 percent this summer. Johnson compared himself to a “booster rocket” that has “fulfilled its function” in farewell remarks before heading to Scotland to tender his resignation to Queen Elizabeth II at her Balmoral estate. [The Associated Press, The Washington Post]
Ukraine says fire cut off nuclear plant from power grid
Ukraine’s energy operator, Energoatom, said Monday that Russian shelling had ignited a fire that cut off Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant from Ukraine’s electricity grid. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned that the plant was “one step away from a radiation disaster.” Ukraine has accused Russia of deliberately attacking areas dangerously close to the nuclear plant, Europe’s largest. Russia, which seized the area early in its invasion of Ukraine, has blamed Ukrainian forces for the shelling. Leaders of the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency on Tuesday plan to issue a report on their recent inspection of the plant’s safety and security system. [The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times]
Russia turns to North Korea to replenish ammunition stocks in Ukraine
The Russian Ministry of Defense is buying rockets and artillery shells from North Korea to replenish its arsenal as it continues its war in Ukraine, The New York Times reported Monday, citing newly declassified U.S. intelligence. A U.S. official told The Associated Press that Russia’s reliance on munitions from North Korea shows thatthe Russian military continues to suffer from severe supply shortages in Ukraine” as sanctions hurt the Russian military’s supply chains. “The Kremlin should be alarmed that it has to buy anything at all from North Korea,” said Mason Clark, who leads the Russia team at the Institute for the Study of War. Russia also recently received glitch-prone Iranian-made drones for use in Ukraine. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]
IDF: ‘High possibility’ journalist killed by ‘unintentional fire’ from Israeli soldier
The Israel Defense Forces said Monday that there is a “high possibility” that Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed by “unintentional fire” from an Israeli soldier, Axios and Haaretz reported. “It needs to be said that there were both IDF soldiers and Palestinians at the scene,” a high-ranking Israeli army official told Haaretz. “The most likely scenario is that a soldier mistakenly fired the shots, while he himself was being fired at.” The IDF said they have identified the solider who likely killed the 51-year-old correspondent, who was wearing a bulletproof vest that said “PRESS” at the time of her death, and that “it was a mistake and he is sorry for it.” The Israeli Military Advocate General’s office said it will not open an investigation into the incident because “there is no suspicion that a criminal offense was committed.” [Axios, Haaretz]

September 07

Tipping the scales

Report: Document seized at Mar-a-Lago described foreign country’s nuclear capabilities
FBI agents found a document describing a foreign government’s nuclear capabilities and other military defenses among the material seized last month at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and private club in Florida, The Washington Post reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. Some of the documents Trump had at the property concerned top-secret matters so sensitive that only the president and a few Cabinet or near-Cabinet-level officials could authorize other officials to know details about them, the Post reports. Records dealing with such special-access programs are kept locked up, almost always in a secure information facility, with precise records of where they are and who has seen them. Trump reportedly kept them at his club for 18 months. [The Washington Post]
Judge bars New Mexico county commissioner from office over insurrection
A New Mexico judge on Tuesday ordered Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin removed from office over his participation in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters. Judge Francis Mathew in 1st Judicial District Court in Santa Fe said Griffin, a Republican and founder of Cowboys for Trump, violated a clause of the 14th Amendment barring people who have participated in an insurrection from holding public office. Griffin, the first person removed under the clause in more than 100 years, vowed to appeal, saying he was “shocked” that “an elected representative can be removed from office in a civil trial by one liberal, Democrat judge.” [Albuquerque Journal]
Liz Truss promises ‘hands on’ approach to U.K. energy crisis
Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, vowed Tuesday to “deal hands-on with the energy crisis forged” by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and said “together we can ride out of the storm” of the economic problems hitting the United Kingdom. Immediately after replacing former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Truss appointed a team of senior Cabinet members diverse in gender and ethnicity but united in commitment to Truss’ free-market policies. In a speech outside her new official home on Downing Street, Truss promised to cut taxes to encourage economic growth as the country contends with high inflation. She is expected to unveil her plans to deal with the country’s energy crisis on Thursday. [The Associated Press, CNN]
Liz Truss promises ‘hands on’ approach to U.K. energy crisis
Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, vowed Tuesday to “deal hands-on with the energy crisis forged” by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, and said “together we can ride out of the storm” of the economic problems hitting the United Kingdom. Immediately after replacing former Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Truss appointed a team of senior Cabinet members diverse in gender and ethnicity but united in commitment to Truss’ free-market policies. In a speech outside her new official residence on Downing Street, Truss promised to cut taxes to encourage economic growth as the country contends with high inflation. She is expected to unveil her plans to deal with the country’s energy crisis on Thursday. [CNN, The Associated Press]
U.N. watchdog calls for safety zone around Ukraine nuclear plant
The United Nations atomic watchdog agency on Tuesday released a detailed report on its inspection of Ukraine’s Russia-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant and called for establishing a “nuclear safety and security protection zone” around the facility, Europe’s largest. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other for shelling dangerously close to the plant, prompting warnings of a potential radiation disaster. “We are playing with fire, and something very, very catastrophic could take place,” Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, warned the U.N. Security Council. The IAEA said shelling around Zaporizhzhia must stop immediately. U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres demanded that Ukraine and Russia establish a “demilitarized perimeter” around the plant. [The New York Times, CNN]
Death toll rises in massive Pakistan floods
Pakistan on Wednesday reported another 18 people confirmed dead in flooding that has covered as much as a third of the country, bringing the death toll from days of torrential rain to 1,343. “You wouldn’t believe the scale of destruction there,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said Wednesday after inspecting the southern province of Sindh. “It is water everywhere as far as you could see. It is just like a sea.” Sharif said the government would buy 200,000 tents for displaced families. As many as 33 million of the South Asian nation’s 220 million inhabitants have been affected by the disaster, which scientists blame on climate change. Officials say the flooding has caused losses of at least $10 billion. [Reuters]

September 08

Rare fossil discovered during beach walk on Prince Edward Island
A Canadian teacher came across a fossil so rare that experts believe it could be of a previously unknown species. Last month, Lisa Cormier was walking in Cape Egmont on Prince Edward Island when she “saw something that I thought was a root,” she told CBC News. “And when I looked closer at it, I realized that there were ribs. And then I saw the spine, and the skull.” She snapped several photos of the partially buried object, which made their way to John Calder, a geologist and paleontologist who said it’s a fossil that appears to be from the end of the Carboniferous period and into the Permian period, making it about 300 million years old. It’s either a reptile or close relative, Calder told CBC News, and “could be a one-of-a-kind fossil in the tree of life … of evolution of amphibians, to reptiles, to mammals, to us.” It’s “extremely rare” to find a specimen from this era, he said, and this could even be a previously unknown species. Cormier told CBC News she’s stunned by what she found, and will keep an eye out for other fossils during future strolls. “To think that I found something that might be 300 million years old, it’s incredible,” she said. [CBC News]
E.U. proposes Russia gas price cap, Putin threatens cutoff
The European Union on Wednesday proposed capping Russian gas prices, escalating a fight with Moscow over energy supplies. Russian President Vladimir Putin has threatened to cut off all Russian energy supplies to Europe in response to any price cap. The clash threatened to drive up already high European gas prices, and increased the potential for rationing in European countries this winter. Europe has accused Russia of using energy shipments to punish Western nations for imposing sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia claims the sanctions created the energy crisis by preventing adequate maintenance of the Nord Stream 1 natural gas pipeline, a key conduit to Europe. E.U. energy ministers have scheduled an emergency meeting for Friday. [Reuters, The Wall Street Journal]
Putin to meet with China’s Xi in continuing Asia outreach
Russian President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping next week, part of an ongoing effort to strengthen economic ties with Asian partners to offset the impact of Western sanctions. Putin was defiant, saying the U.S. and its allies in Europe and elsewhere have failed in their “economic, financial, and technological aggression” against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. “We have not lost anything and will not lose anything,” Putin said at an economic conference in Vladivostock, in far-eastern Russia. The United States estimates that 80,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded. Ukraine on Wednesday confirmed that it has expanded its southern counteroffensive to northern Kharkiv. [The New York Times, BBC News]
White House unveils Obamas’ official portraits
Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama returned to the White House on Wednesday for the unveiling of their official White House portraits. It was the first time the Obamas had returned together since 2017. The paintings were the first added to the White House Collection since Obama, during his presidency, welcomed former President George W. Bush and Laura Bush for the unveiling of their portraits in an emotional, bipartisan ceremony in 2012. President Obama’s portrait was painted by Robert McCurdy. Michelle Obama’s was painted by Sharon Sprung. White House portraits are usually unveiled under a president’s immediate successor, but former President Donald Trump didn’t hold a ceremony during his term in office. [CNN]
Leaked Oath Keepers membership list included hundreds of public officials
Hundreds of law enforcement officers, elected officials, and military members are named in leaked membership rolls of the Oath Keepers, a far-right extremist group accused of heavy involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack, according to a report released Wednesday by the Anti-Defamation League Center on Extremism. The researchers examined membership lists with more than 38,000 names and found more than 370 names of people believed to currently work in police and sheriff’s offices. More than 100 others appear to be active-duty military personnel, and more than 80 are believed to be aspiring public officials or already serving in public office. The transparency collective Distributed Denial of Secrets compiled and published the database. [The Associated Press]
Texas judge rules government can’t mandate HIV drug coverage
U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Texas ruled Wednesday that a group of Christian conservatives could not be forced to cover HIV prevention drugs under the Affordable Care Act because doing so would violate their religious freedom. A group of self-described Christian business owners and employees in Texas argued in the lawsuit that the health care law’s mandate to provide the coverage violates their constitutional rights because it forces them to pay for medications they claim “encourage homosexual behavior,” in violation of their religious faith. O’Connor has heard challenges against ObamaCare before. In 2018 the judge ruled the entire ACA was unconstitutional, but the Supreme Court overturned that decision. [The Texas Tribune]

September 09

Queen Elizabeth II dies at 96
Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest reigning monarch, died Thursday at Balmoral Castle in Scotland after 70 years on the throne. She was 96. Her eldest son, Prince Charles, 73, inherited the crown, taking the name King Charles III. His wife Camilla is now Queen Consort. Charles said his mother’s death was “a moment of the greatest sadness” for the royal family, and for people worldwide who regarded her as a symbol of grace and stability. Thousands gathered at Buckingham Palace, where news of the queen’s death was posted on the gate. “It’s an extraordinary achievement to have presided with such dignity and grace for 70 years,” said Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss. “Her life of service stretched beyond most of our living memories.” [The Guardian, Reuters]
King Charles III to address nation as Britain starts national mourning
King Charles III, who automatically acceded to the British throne when Queen Elizabeth II died Thursday, will return to London from Balmoral Castle in Scotland to deliver an inaugural address on Friday. The televised speech is expected to stress the continuity of Britain’s constitutional monarchy. Charles will also hold an audience with Prime Minister Liz Truss, who took office earlier this week. Parliament will gather to pay respects, with Truss leading tributes to the late queen in the House of Commons. It is all part of a meticulously planned transition, code-named Operation London Bridge, after the death of Britain’s longest-serving monarch. The country is launching a national period of mourning with cannon salutes and bells tolling at Westminster Abbey, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Windsor Castle. [The Times, The New York Times]
ECB announces biggest rate hike since 1999
The European Central Bank on Thursday raised interest rates by 0.75 percent, its biggest hike since 1999, early in the history of Europe’s currency union. The move is intended to help bring down record inflation. That effort, however, is being complicated by an energy crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that has already nearly pushed Europe into recession. Rising borrowing costs are likely to increase the chances of a recession. ECB President Christine Lagarde said inflation, which is forecast to average 8.1 percent this year, is threatening to spread beyond energy to many other goods. “We want all economic actors to understand that the ECB is serious” about fighting inflation, she said. [The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times]
Mortgage rates jump to highest in nearly 14 years
Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates rose to their highest level since November 2008, just after the housing market collapse that triggered the Great Recession, mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday. The popular 30-year fixed mortgage jumped to 5.89 percent from 5.66 percent last week. The average rate for 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose to 5.16 percent from 4.98 percent a week earlier. Interest rates have been climbing as the Federal Reserve aggressively hikes its benchmark short-term rates to fight high inflation. Sales of existing homes have fallen for six straight months as many potential buyers get discouraged by higher rates and high real estate prices that combine to put homes out of reach. [The Associated Press]
Report: 4.4 million U.S. acres to fall below tidal boundary by 2050
Nearly 650,000 private coastal properties will fall below changing tide boundaries by 2050 as sea levels rise, according to an analysis released Thursday by the research nonprofit Climate Central. The researchers reviewed scientific data on projected sea-level rise and looked at records for more than 50 million individual properties to identify parcels at risk. They found 4.4 million acres of privately owned land projected to be under the tide line by 2050, and 9.1 million acres threatened by 2100, with a collective assessed value of $108 billion. The calculations are based on current levels of greenhouse gas emissions. The authors noted that complete property values were not available for all counties, so the actual economic cost could be higher. [The Washington Post]
DOJ asks judge to return access to classified documents seized from Trump
The Justice Department said Thursday it is appealing a Florida federal judge’s decision to grant former President Donald Trump’s request for a special master to review materials the FBI seized during a search of his Mar-a-Lago home. The Justice Department is asking U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to partially stay her Monday order, saying it has caused the intelligence community to pause its assessment of the potential national security risks from Trump’s retention of government secrets at his private club. Cannon told the FBI it couldn’t use the documents in its investigation of Trump’s handling of classified material until the special master’s review is completed. The Justice Department asked Cannon to restore access to the 100-plus classified files, citing national security and other concerns. [CNN]
Bannon pleads not guilty to New York money laundering, fraud charges
Stephen Bannon, one-time key adviser to former President Donald Trump, pleaded not guilty Thursday to New York criminal fraud and money laundering charges linked to a private effort to raise money for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Bannon and the “We Build the Wall” fundraising campaign were charged with conspiracy to skim some of the $25 million in donations the effort raised. “I’m going to stay and fight this,” Bannon told reporters as he left the courthouse after his arraignment. His next hearing is Oct. 4. The state charges are similar to federal charges that Bannon diverted hundreds of thousands of dollars raised in the campaign for his own use. Trump pardoned him in that case before it went to trial. [ABC News]
Ukraine, other nations threatened by Russia get more U.S. aid
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday announced another $2.8 billion in aid to Ukraine and other nations threatened by Russia. Blinken, speaking during a surprise visit to Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, said the long-term military financing would help Ukraine and 18 nearby nations “potentially at risk of future Russian aggression.” The money is on top of $675 million worth of heavy weaponry, ammunition, and armored vehicles for Ukraine announced by U.S. military leaders earlier in the day. The news came as Ukraine pushes to retake territory Russia has seized in southern and eastern parts of the country. Blinken reportedly met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and told him the U.S. realized this “is a pivotal moment” as the counteroffensive intensifies. [The Associated Press]
North Korea declares its nuclear status ‘irreversible’
North Korea on Friday officially claimed the right to use nuclear weapons in a new law, state media reported. The country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, said the law makes North Korea’s nuclear status “irreversible” and rules out talks on denuclearization, state media reported on Friday. North Korea’s rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People’s Assembly, approved the legislation on Thursday, replacing a 2013 law that declared the country’s nuclear status. The original law said Pyongyang could use nuclear weapons to repel invasion or attack from a hostile nuclear state. The new one allows for preemptive strikes if North Korea believes it faces imminent attack with weapons of mass destruction. [Reuters]

September 10

Ukraine retakes railway hub as Kharkiv counteroffensive gains ground
Ukrainian officials on Saturday shared photos appearing to indicate that Ukraine had retaken the northeastern railway hub of Kupiansk, potentially trapping thousands of Russian troops. “Kupiansk is Ukraine. Glory to the armed forces of Ukraine,” Ukrainian regional official Natalia Popova wrote on Facebook. This announcement comes as a Ukrainian counteroffensive continues to make gains near Kharkiv, the country’s second-largest city located about 75 miles from Kupiansk. “As of now, the armed forces liberated and took control of more than 30 settlements in the Kharkiv region,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday night. The U.S.-based Institute for the Study of War estimated Saturday that Ukrainian forces had recaptured around 1,000 square miles of Russian-held territory. [Reuters, NBC News]
Trump and DOJ nominate candidates for special master in Mar-a-Lago case
Lawyers for former President Donald Trump and the Department of Justice each put forward a pair of candidates to serve as the special master who will be entrusted with reviewing documents seized last month during the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago. Trump and DOJ lawyers nominated the four retired judges but failed to agree on who the special master should be, the proper scope of his or her work, or which side should bear the added expense in a joint filing Friday. The two sides told Judge Aileen Cannon, who granted Trump’s request for a special master earlier this week, that they would continue to negotiate and update her after the weekend. [The Guardian, CNN]
Sotomayor blocks lower court order that would force Yeshiva University to recognize LGBT club
Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor ruled Friday that Yeshiva University in Manhattan does not have to provide official recognition to an LGBT student club. Sotomayor’s ruling comes after a state court ruled in June that the Jewish university was “an educational corporation” and therefore could not claim a religious exemption. Yeshiva called the decision “obviously wrong.” Sotomayor stayed the state court ruling “pending further order of the undersigned or of the court,” suggesting that the majority-conservative U.S. Supreme Court could take up the school’s case. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities have all filed briefs supporting Yeshiva. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]
New York finds poliovirus samples in 5 counties, prompting state of emergency
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has declared a state of emergency in response to rising concerns over poliovirus. Hochul made the declaration on Friday after state health officials found virus samples in 5 counties — Rockland County, Orange County, Sullivan County, New York City, and most recently, Nassau County. Officials traced the sample from Nassau County back to a case pinpointed in Rockland County on Long Island. This sample has provided evidence to support the risk of potential community spread. All of the samples have been deemed “samples of concern” as they are types of poliovirus that put people at risk of paralysis. [The Week, CNN]
King Charles III pledges ‘lifelong service’ in 1st address since queen’s death
King Charles III on Friday delivered his first address since officially becoming the United Kingdom’s new monarch. In a pre-recorded, televised address, Charles expressed “profound sorrow” over the death of his mother, Queen Elizabeth II, remembering her as an “inspiration,” to whom his family owes “the most heartfelt debt.” The king reflected that his mother’s life was defined by her “profound personal commitment” to the people, also remembering her for her “warmth, humor, and an unerring ability always to see the best in people.” He went on to “solemnly pledge myself throughout the remaining time God grants me to uphold the constitutional principles at the heart of our nation.” [The Week, The Royal Family]
Kim Jong Un says North Korea will launch nukes ‘automatically’ if he’s killed in an attack
North Korean state media reported Friday that Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un had declared a new, more aggressive nuclear weapons policy. The authoritarian nation previously declared that it would only use its nuclear arsenal in response to an attack by foreign nations. The new protocol, passed into law by the country’s tame parliament, allows North Korea to launch nuclear weapons preemptively if an attack against the country, its leadership, its nuclear arsenal, or other “important strategic objectives” is “judged to be on the horizon.” The legislation also provides for nuclear weapons to be launched “automatically and immediately” if Kim is killed or incapacitated in an attack. [Politico]

September 11

Biden calls for ‘true sense of national unity’ in 9/11 speech at Pentagon
President Joe Biden marked the 21st anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on Sunday with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon. In the remarks that followed, Biden said that the “greatest lesson of Sept. 11 is that we “regain the light by reaching out to one another, and finding something all too rare: a true sense of national unity.” He also addressed those whose loved ones died in the attacks. “I know for all those of you who lost someone, 21 years is both a lifetime and no time at all,” Biden said. Also on Sunday, Vice President Kamala Harris visited National September 11 Memorial in New York City. [CNN, CBS News]
Canada’s Conservatives pick populist Pierre Poilievre to take on Trudeau
Canada’s Conservatives on Saturday elected populist Pierre Poilievre as the party’s new leader. Poilievre received 68 percent of the vote on the first ballot in an apparent rebuke to the party’s more moderate wing, which favored former Quebec Premier Jean Charest. “Tonight begins the journey to replace an old government that costs you more and delivers you less with a new government that puts you first — your paycheck, your retirement, your home, your country,” Poilievre said in a victory speech. Charest claimed that Poilievre was “unfit” to be prime minister due to his support for the Freedom Convoy protests against Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s COVID-19 policies. [The Washington Post, Politico]
Russia withdraws troops from Kharkiv region as Ukrainian forces retake Izium
Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday that Russian forces would withdraw from two areas in Ukraine’s northeastern Kharkiv Oblast as a Ukrainian counteroffensive continues to gain ground. This withdrawal would constitute the most significant Russian retreat since invading forces pulled back from the capital city of Kyiv at the end of March. A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said the withdrawn troops would be redeployed to the Donetsk region. Also on Saturday, Ukrainian forces entered the strategic city of Izium, which Russia has held since April. Serhiy Haidai, the Ukrainian regional governor of Russian-held Luhansk Oblast, suggested that the city of Lysychansk, which fell to Russian forces in July, could be Ukraine’s next target. [The Associated Press, CNN]
Ukraine begins shutting down final nuclear reactor at Zaporizhzhia
The Ukrainian engineers that operate the country’s Russian-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant began powering down the facility’s last operating reactor on Sunday. Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear company, said in a statement that the sixth and final reactor would be “transfer[red] … to the safest state — cold shutdown” for safety reasons as Russian and Ukrainian forces continue to clash in the vicinity of the nuclear plant. This move decreases the possibility of a disaster but also means that the plant will have to rely on diesel generators to operate its safety equipment if further shelling cuts off external power. The plant reportedly has enough fuel to operate these generators for just 10 days. [The New York Times, NPR]
Queen Elizabeth II’s coffin begins journey to London
The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, who died Thursday after reigning for 70 years, left Balmoral Castle in Scotland on Sunday to begin the journey to London. Her coffin will lie in the throne room at the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the monarch’s official residence in Scotland, on Sunday before traveling to Edinburgh’s St. Giles Cathedral the following day. After a flight to London and a procession from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, the queen’s body will then lie in state at Westminster for four days before her state funeral — Britain’s first since Winston Churchill died in 1965 — on Monday, Sept. 19. [BBC, The New York Times]
Swedes head to polls with right-wing and center-left coalitions running neck-and-neck
Swedish voters headed to the polls Sunday to cast ballots in what is projected to be a close-run race between the governing center-left coalition, led by the country’s Social Democrats, and a right-wing bloc in which the nationalist, populist Sweden Democrats have gained considerable influence. Ulf Kristersson, who leads the opposition alliance and the Swedish Moderate Party, said he plans to “prioritize law and order” and “build new climate-smart nuclear power.” Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, the country’s first female prime minister, touted her support for “Swedish companies and households” during the pandemic and promised to “act in the exact same way” if voters return her to power. [Reuters]
Tropical Storm Kay leads to flood warnings but bolsters firefighting efforts in California
Tropical Storm Kay swept across Southern California Saturday, triggering flash flood warnings and leaving tens of thousands of people without power. Kay, which made landfall in Mexico on Thursday as a hurricane before weakening to a tropical storm, has also brought relief to California, with the lower temperatures and increased humidity and precipitation helping firefighters contain the raging Fairview Fire. Rob Roseen, a spokesman for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection’s Riverside County Fire Department, said that, as of Friday morning, only five percent of the fire was contained, a number that quickly jumped to 40 percent. [Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal]
Australian PM won’t hold a republic referendum during his 1st term
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Sunday that he would not push for a referendum to cut ties with the British monarchy during his first term. This pledge would almost certainly delay such a referendum until at least 2025. “Now is not a time to talk about our system of government,” Albanese told Australia’s public broadcaster on Sunday. “Now is the time for us to pay tribute to the life of Queen Elizabeth.” In 2020, Albanese said Australia was “entitled to have one of our own as our head of state.” A 1999 referendum that would have turned Australia into a republic failed largely due to disagreements over how the republic should be organized. [ABC News, The Sydney Morning Herald]
Earthquakes strike Indonesia and Papua New Guinea
Around 200 people in Indonesia’s Mentawai Islands evacuated to higher ground on Sunday after two earthquakes — of magnitudes 6.1 and 5.3, respectively — struck the area. One person was reportedly injured and some buildings were damaged, but no fatalities have been reported, and authorities say there is no danger of a tsunami. Also on Sunday, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck Papua New Guinea. The extent of the damage remains unclear. [Reuters, NBC News]

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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".

5 thoughts on “The Week of 2022 September 05 – 11

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