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The Week of 2022 September 19 – 25

September 19

Hurricane Fiona leaves Puerto Rico without power
Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico’s southwest coast with heavy rains and maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour on Sunday, triggering landslides and knocking out a power grid still recovering from Hurricane Maria five years ago. The storm downed electricity transmission lines, causing a “blackout on all the island,” Luma power company said, adding it could take several days to restore full power. Forecasters warned that the storm could drench the U.S. Caribbean territory with “historic” rains of up to 25 inches in some isolated pockets. “The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic,” said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi. One major landslide was reported in the northern town of Caguas. [The Associated Press]
Alaska assesses flood damage after typhoon remnants batter coast
Alaska floodwaters started receding Sunday after the state’s most violent storm in years. Remnants from a huge Pacific typhoon battered more than 1,000 miles of coastline, including “some of the most remote areas of the United States,” according to Jeremy Zidek, public information officer with Alaska’s Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. No casualties were immediately reported. State troopers were searching for a missing boy from the hard-hit village of Hooper Bay. It could take days for authorities to get a full picture of widespread flood damage to houses and infrastructure. Scientists for years have expressed concerns that climate change was increasing Alaska’s risk of large nontropical cyclones. [Anchorage Daily News, The Washington Post]
Powerful earthquake hits Taiwan
A 6.9-magnitude earthquake shook southeastern Taiwan on Sunday, damaging or destroying numerous buildings. At least one person died and nine suffered minor injuries, Taiwan’s Emergency Operations Center said. Japan’s Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for Miyako island in the East China Sea, but later lifted it. Four people were rescued after a three-story building collapsed, briefly trapping them inside. About 20 people were evacuated from a derailed train, although there were no casualties. About 400 tourists were stranded on a mountainside known for the orange day lilies covering its slopes this time of year. The quake knocked out power to thousands of households. [CNN, CBS News]
Typhoon Nanmadol soaks western Japan with record rains
Typhoon Nanmadol drenched western Japan with record rainfall on Monday. The storm roared in with winds of up to nearly 150 miles per hour but then weakened, and its maximum winds are expected to continue falling as the storm pushes across Japan over the next day. Nanmadol, Japan’s 14th typhoon of the season, made landfall near Kagoshima city late Sunday, then hit the western island of Kyushu, before moving onto the main island of Honshu early Monday morning. State broadcaster NHK reported that one man was found dead inside a submerged car found in a field. At least 82 people have been injured. Nearly 8 million people were ordered to evacuate vulnerable areas in southern and western Japan. [Reuters, The Guardian]
Virginia rolls back protections for transgender students
The administration of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) over the weekend unveiled new guidelines restricting the rights of transgender students in public schools. The rules restrict what bathrooms transgender students can use, and require teachers to use the pronouns associated with the sex students were assigned at birth. Students also will be barred from changing their legal name and sex without an official legal document or court order, “even upon written instruction of a parent or eligible student.” The Virginia Department of Education’s 2022 Model Policies roll back rules put in place by Youngkin’s predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam. Virginia is among a growing number of states that have adopted new restrictions on gay and transgender students this year. [NPR]

The gangster

European Union suspends $7.5 billion in funding for Hungary
The European Commission on Sunday recommended suspending about $7.5 billion in funding to Hungary, citing concerns about possible mismanagement of European Union money. The commission, the executive branch of the E.U., also said the move was justified by democratic backsliding in Hungary. The commission said suspending the money was necessary “to ensure the protection of the E.U. budget and the financial interests of the E.U. against breaches of the principles of the rule of law in Hungary.” The money being blocked is from “cohesion funds,” a major part of the trading bloc’s budget intended to help countries lift their economies and infrastructure to meet E.U. standards. [The Associated Press]
World leaders gather for Queen Elizabeth’s funeral in London
British and world leaders gathered Monday for Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in Westminster Abbey in London, culminating 10 days of national mourning. President Biden paid tribute to the queen on Sunday, saying she was “decent, honorable, and all about service.” “You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years, we all were,” Biden told Britons after signing a book of condolence and appearing on a balcony overlooking the queen’s coffin lying in state in Westminster Hall. “The world’s better for her.” Hundreds of thousands of people from around Britain and overseas crowded into the area in London to pay their respects to the longest-reigning monarch in British history. [Reuters, CNN]
Artillery hits military sites in Russia near Ukraine border
Artillery fire hit military targets inside Russia over the weekend, prompting authorities in the country to order rushed evacuations in cities and towns along the Russia-Ukraine border. Following a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive that forced Russian troops into an embarrassing retreat in northeastern Kharkiv province, Ukraine on Friday reportedly hit the base of Russia’s 3rd Motorized Rifle Division near Valuyki, nine miles north of the border. On Saturday, more strikes hit the Belgorod region in Western Russia. At least two people were reportedly killed in the attacks. Russia blamed the strikes on Ukraine, but Kyiv did not immediately claim responsibility. Ukraine has pledged not to use Western-supplied weapons to strike inside Russia, but Ukraine’s gains in Kharkiv put it in range to reach Russia with its own artillery. [The Washington Post]

September 20

Pro-Russia separatists plead for annexation votes as Ukrainian counteroffensive expands
Pro-Russia leaders in eastern Ukraine’s separatist Luhansk and Donetsk “republics” on Monday called for Russia to rush votes to annex the areas. Lina Vokalova, deputy head of the Luhansk People’s Republic’s “public chamber,” demanded a public referendum to approve annexation and “fulfill our dream of returning home — to the Russian Federation.” The urgent pleas came as Ukrainian forces extended rapid gains in their counteroffensive, which has sent Russian forces into an embarrassing retreat from northeastern Kharkiv province. Ukrainian troops are now reportedly pushing into cities in Luhansk and Donetsk, raising the possibility that Russia could start losing territory it controlled in the eastern Donbas region before its forces invaded Ukraine in February. [The Washington Post]
Russian missile hits near 2nd Ukrainian nuclear power plant
A Russian missile hit near a nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine on Monday, striking just over 300 yards from the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant’s three reactors but not damaging them. The missile did cause some destruction to nearby industrial equipment and caused a hydropower plant to temporarily shut down. Ukrainian authorities called the strike an act of “nuclear terrorism.” The plant is Ukraine’s second-largest nuclear power station after the massive Zaporizhzhia plant, where close-by shelling has sparked warnings of a potential radiation disaster. The latest strike followed warnings from Russian President Vladimir Putin of possible attacks against Ukrainian infrastructure after an unexpectedly strong counteroffensive forced Russian forces to retreat in parts of eastern Ukraine. [The Associated Press]
Hurricane Fiona moves on after devastating Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic
Hurricane Fiona hit the eastern Dominican Republic on Monday, after drenching parts of Puerto Rico with more than two feet of rain and causing what Puerto Rican Gov. Pedro Pierluisi described as “catastrophic” destruction. Ponce, Puerto Rico’s second largest city, got more than 21 inches of rain in 24 hours. The rain caused rivers to overflow and triggered landslides. Homes, roads, and bridges were washed out, and most of the U.S. territory remains without power. Pierluisi said the damage would be in the “billions.” Fiona hit as a Category 1 storm with top winds of 85 mph, but it strengthened to a Category 3 storm early Tuesday as it bore down on the the Turks and Caicos Islands. [Fox Weather, The Washington Post]
Powerful earthquake hits Mexico’s Pacific coast 
A magnitude 7.6 earthquake shook Mexico’s Pacific coast on Monday. Little major damage was reported, but at least one person was killed under a wall that collapsed at a mall in the port city of Manzanillo, Colima, according to President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. Mexico City Mayor Claudia Sheinbaum said via Twitter that there were no reports of damage in the capital city. The powerful quake struck on the anniversary of major earthquakes in 1985 and 2017. Earthquake alarms went off less than an hour after alarms that sounded during a nationwide disaster simulation marking the previous temblors. [USA Today]
Queen Elizabeth II laid to rest at Windsor Castle
Queen Elizabeth II was laid to rest in St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on Monday after her funeral at Westminster Abbey in London. The queen was interred with her husband of 73 years, Prince Philip, who died last year. Royal officials described the closed-door ceremony as a “deeply personal family occasion.” The chapel is also the final resting place of Elizabeth II’s parents, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and numerous other British monarchs, including Henry VIII and the beheaded Charles I. Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby noted during the funeral that when Elizabeth turned 21 she vowed in a radio address to devote her life to serving Britain and the Commonwealth. “Rarely has such a promise been so well-kept,” he said. [USA Today, NBC News]
American Mark Frerichs released in Taliban prisoner exchange 
Mark Frerichs, a Navy veteran held captive in Afghanistan since he was kidnapped in late January 2020, has been released in a prisoner exchange, Biden administration officials said Monday. Under the deal, the United States granted clemency to Haji Bashir Noorzai, a prominent Taliban member who was serving 17 years in a U.S. prison on drug trafficking charges. “Bringing the negotiations that led to Mark’s freedom to a successful resolution required difficult decisions, which I did not take lightly,” President Biden said in a statement released by the White House. Frerichs was a contractor doing construction work in Afghanistan when he was kidnapped, likely by the Haqqani network, a Taliban faction. [CNN, White House]
China says Biden remarks ‘severely violate’ U.S. policy on Taiwan
China on Monday reacted angrily to President Biden’s statement during a TV interview that the United States would defend Taiwan if China invaded. China’s foreign ministry said Biden’s remarks, which he made in a CBS 60 Minutes segment that aired Sunday, “severely violate” Washington’s policy of formally recognizing Beijing as the sole government of China. China considers Taiwan to be a breakaway province. “We are willing to do our best to strive for peaceful reunification,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said. “At the same time, we will not tolerate any activities aimed at secession.” Tensions between China and the U.S. over Taiwan have escalated recently following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to the self-governing democratic island. [AFP, Reuters]

September 21

Hurricane Fiona strengthens into season’s 1st Category 4 storm
Hurricane Fiona gained strength as it headed north into the Atlantic after devastating Puerto Rico and part of the Dominican Republic. Its top sustained winds reached 130 miles per hour Wednesday, making it the Atlantic hurricane season’s first Category 4 storm. Fiona battered the Turks and Caicos islands after leaving behind extensive flooding that knocked out power island-wide in Puerto Rico and left two people dead. One other person died in the Dominican Republic. Forecasters expect Fiona to get even more powerful as it pushes north through the open Atlantic Ocean toward Bermuda. [The Palm Beach Post, National Hurricane Center]
Lithium prices soar as automakers scramble to meet EV demand
Lithium prices have nearly quadrupled in the last year as automakers rush to secure supplies of the battery metal to meet electric-vehicle demand, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday. On Friday, lithium carbonate jumped to a record 500,500 yuan ($71,315) a ton in China, the global benchmark, according to data from Asian Metal Inc. Lithium has jumped as other commodities fell in recent months amid drastic central-bank interest rate hikes designed to fight high inflation but also fueling concerns of economic trouble. “Lithium is really following the Chinese EV market and that‘s just taking off,” said Edward Meir, a metals consultant at brokerage ED&F Capital Markets. “This is a preview of what could await us in the U.S.” [The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg ]
Putin announces ‘partial mobilization’ as Ukraine counteroffensive continues
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced Wednesday that his government is calling up some 300,000 military reservists in a “partial mobilization” to counter what he called the West’s effort to “turn Ukraine’s people into cannon fodder” in order to “divide and destroy Russia.” In the rare televised speech, Putin made an apparent threat to use nuclear weapons, saying with Russia’s “territorial integrity” threatened, it will protect itself with “all the means at our disposal, this is not a bluff.” Putin’s remarks came after a Ukrainian counteroffensive forced Russian troops to retreat from territory in Ukraine’s northeaster Kharkiv province they had occupied since early in the invasion. “This is obviously an escalation,” British Foreign Office Minister Gillian Keegan told Sky News. [The Washington Post, CNBC]

September 22

Appeals panel restores DOJ access to classified files seized from Trump
A three-judge federal appeals court panel ruled Wednesday that the Justice Department can resume its review of classified documents seized during a search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida home in August. The judges, two appointed by Trump and one by former President Barack Obama, said it’s “self-evident” the public has an interest in knowing whether Trump’s storage of classified records damaged national security. The decision reversed a ruling by U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon barring the Justice Department from using the roughly 100 classified documents in its criminal investigation until an independent special master has completed a review of them, plus 11,000 other files taken from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence. Trump can appeal to the Supreme Court. [Politico, Reuters]
New York attorney general sues Trump for alleged business fraud
New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Wednesday against former President Donald Trump and his company, the Trump Organization, for alleged fraud. The civil suit also names three of Trump’s children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump. The suit, which follows a three-year investigation, details how Trump and his company “repeatedly and consistently manipulated the value of assets” to engineer better loans from banks and lower tax bills. Trump responded on his Truth Social media site, calling the lawsuit “another witch hunt” and James “a fraud who campaigned on a ‘get Trump’ platform.” James is seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on the Trumps running a business in the state. [NPR, Politico]
House passes bill designed to prevent another Jan. 6
The House on Wednesday passed a bill seeking to make it harder to overturn the certified results of a presidential election. The legislation, introduced by Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), is designed to modernize the Electoral Count Act to prevent a repeat of the Jan. 6, 2021, effort by Republicans allied with then-President Donald Trump to reverse Trump’s election loss to President Biden. The bill passed 229-203 in the House, mostly along party lines. Nine Republicans, including Jan. 6 committee members Cheney and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), joined all Democrats in support of the bill. “How could anyone vote against free and fair elections — the cornerstone of our constitution?” Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) asked. [Politico, CNN]
Biden, Zelensky urge U.N. to unite against Russia’s Ukraine invasion
President Biden on Wednesday urged the United Nations General Assembly to stand in solidarity with Ukraine as it fights back against Russian forces that invaded nearly seven months ago. Biden accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of “shamelessly violating” the United Nations charter by trying “to erase the sovereign state from the map.” Biden also said Putin’s thinly veiled threats to use nuclear weapons showed “reckless disregard for the responsibilities of a nonproliferation regime.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the U.N. by video, calling for world leaders to punish Russia and support Ukraine’s war effort, vowing not to stop until Russia leaves the country. “We can return the Ukrainian flag to our entire territory,” Zelensky said. [CNBC, The Associated Press]
Russia arrests 1,252 demonstrators at anti-mobilization protests
Protests erupted in Russia on Wednesday against President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of 300,000 military reservists to fight Ukrainian forces that have reclaimed large swaths of Ukrainian territory Russia had occupied for months. Hundreds of protesters gathered in central Moscow shouting, “Send Putin to the trenches!” and “Let our children live!” The New York Times reported. Human rights watchdog OVD-Info said at least 1,252 people from 38 cities were arrested. The protesters defied a warning from the general prosecutor’s office that anyone participating in unsanctioned protests could face up to 15 years in prison for spreading false information about the war or discrediting the military, which Russia made a crime early in the invasion. [The New York Times]

September 23

Hurricane Fiona batters Bermuda and heads toward eastern Canada
Hurricane Fiona lashed Bermuda with strong winds early Friday as the Category 4 storm’s center passed just to the west of the British island territory, heading north-northeast in the Atlantic with top sustained winds of 130 miles per hour. The storm is expected to approach the Canadian province of Nova Scotia later in the day. The Canadian Hurricane Center issued warnings for “what looks to be a historic storm for eastern Canada.” “It’s going to hit us in the face,” said Halifax, Nova Scotia, Mayor Mike Savage. Earlier this week, Fiona devastated Puerto Rico. President Biden on Thursday promised that the federal government would help the U.S. territory recover. “We’re not going to walk away,” he said. [Axios, CNBC]


Special master tells Trump lawyers to back up planted-evidence claim
Judge Raymond Dearie, the special master reviewing documents the FBI seized from former President Donald Trump’s Florida home, told Trump’s lawyers in a Thursday filing to back up any out-of-court claims Trump and his allies have made that agents planted evidence. Dearie said Trump’s lawyers must submit a sworn declaration with a “list of any specific items” on the FBI’s “inventory” of seized documents that weren’t really at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence before the agents got there. Dearie’s order came two days after his first hearing with Trump’s lawyers and federal prosecutors, and a day after an appeals court restored the Justice Department’s access to about 100 presumptively classified documents as it pursues its criminal investigation and a national security risk assessment. [CNN]
Russia-backed separatists begin annexation referendums in 4 Ukrainian regions 
Russia and pro-Kremlin separatists who largely control four Ukrainian provinces starting holding referendums Friday on joining Russia. The voting will continue to Tuesday. The West and Kyiv have condemned the votes as a “sham.” Moscow has indicated the referendums will serve as justification for it to annex the areas, as it did Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014. The United States and other Western allies say annexation of the Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia provinces, which account for about 15 percent of Ukraine’s territory, would be illegal and invalid. Russian-installed leaders announced plans for the balloting earlier this week as Ukraine continued to expand a counteroffensive that has pushed Russian forces out of parts of Ukraine they seized early in the invasion. [Reuters]

September 24

Zelensky urges ‘sabotage’ as Russia stages referendums in eastern Ukraine
Russian proxies on Saturday continued a multi-day referendum for parts of four Ukrainian provinces to join Russia, a pretext for annexation by Moscow. Some residents in Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Luhansk, and Donetsk described masked soldiers standing by polling places, telling people to vote and taking names of those that voted against joining Russia. The voting “looked more like an opinion survey under the gun barrels,” said Luhansk Gov. Serhiy Haidai. Ukrainian President Volodymir Zelensky on Friday urged Russians facing conscription and Ukrainians in occupied territory to resist being drafted into Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war. “Sabotage any activity of the enemy” and “provide us with any important information about the occupiers,” he said. Putin on Saturday signed a bill increasing punishments for Russian troops who disobey orders, desert, or surrender. [The New York Times, The Associated Press]
Arizona judge bans abortion statewide by reinstating 1864 law
An Arizona judge on Friday lifted a 50-year-old injunction on a 19th century abortion ban, all but outlawing the procedure in the state. Pima County Superior Court Judge Kellie Johnson ruled that Arizona’s 1864 abortion law, codified in 1901 then enjoined after the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, supersedes a 15-week ban enacted by the state Legislature that was set to take effect Saturday. The older ban has an exception when the pregnant woman’s life is at stake but not for rape, incest, or health risks. “No archaic law should dictate our reproductive freedom and how we live our lives today,” said Brittany Fonteno, president of Planned Parenthood Arizona. “This is not the end of the fight.” [The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post]
Trump trying to limit aides’ Jan. 6 grand jury testimony
Former President Donald Trump and his lawyers are “fighting a secret court battle to block a federal grand jury from gathering information from an expanding circle of close Trump aides about his efforts to overturn the 2020 election,” CNN reported Friday. The fight to limit testimony, happening under seal in federal court in Washington, D.C. and confirmed by other news organizations, came to light as three of Trump’s lawyers were seen exiting a D.C. courthouse. Some of Trump’s former aides and former lawyers have already limited what they’ve told the grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, citing Trump’s claims of attorney-client and executive privileges, while others have pushed back and asked for court guidance. [CNN, The New York Times]
Iran anti-government protests spread and death toll rises
Protests in Iran sparked by the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini continued for a seventh day Friday and spread to more than five dozen cities, including the religious city of Qum, even as the government and security forces warn of harsher crackdowns. Iranian state media said that at least 35 people have been killed as of Friday, but human rights groups say the number is probably much higher. Security forces opened fire on protesters in Tehran and other cities, according video verified by Western media, and the government has blocked internet and mobile phone access in large parts of the country, especially in the Kurdish west. One Kurdish city, Oshnavieh, was wrested from security forces by locals now bracing for a bloody reprisal. Amini died after Iran’s morality police arrested her and allegedly beat her into a coma. [The Washington Post, The New York Times]
Louise Fletcher, Oscar-winning actress, dies at 88
Louise Fletcher, the actor who won an Oscar for playing Nurse Ratched in the 1975 film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, died Friday at her home in Montdurausse, France. She was 88. Fletcher, who had paused her career to raise two sons, was virtually unknown when, at age 40, director Milos Foreman cast her as Jack Nicholson’s cruel tormentor in Cuckoo’s Nest. “It looks as though you all hated me so much. But you have given me this award for it,” she said in her acceptance speech, during which she also thanked her deaf parents in American Sign Language. “All I can say is, I’ve loved being hated by you.” Fletcher’s other roles included six years on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and an Emmy-nominated appearance on Picket Fences.  [The New York Times, USA Today]

September 25

Putin ramps up conscription, cracks down on dissent
Russian President Vladimir Putin is stepping up efforts to enlist troops to fight in Ukraine, bolstering new conscription demands by rounding up men in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories. In Kherson and Zaporizka, two regions overrun by Russia’s military, men ages 18 to 35 have been forbidden to leave and ordered to report for military duty, which would require Ukrainians to fight against their own country. In the same regions, citizens were forced to vote in a “sham referendum” that would validate Moscow’s annexation of the territory it occupies. People were made to vote “under a gun barrel,” after Putin signed amendments that made punishments more severe for crimes such as refusing to follow the orders of a senior officer during wartime. [The New York Times, The Washington Post]
Hurricane Fiona causes widespread blackouts
The aftermath of Hurricane Fiona continued to devastate countless residents in Canada and Puerto Rico on Sunday, with hundreds of thousands of Canadians and about half of Puerto Rico left without power. Fiona hit Puerto Rico last week, on the anniversary of the disastrous Hurricane Maria, and now Puerto Ricans have been left once again in a lengthy blackout, stretching nearly a week after the Category 1 storm. The Puerto Rican government said Saturday that up to 16 people overall may have died as a direct or indirect result of the storm. Meanwhile, in Canada, 470,000 were without power on Saturday after Fiona downed power lines, and some will be without power for “multiple days” more. [NBC News, The New York Times]
Biden outpacing Trump in judge confirmations
President Biden has won Senate confirmation for more than 80 federal judge nominees, including four new circuit court judges in the last two weeks, putting him over the threshold reached by former President Donald Trump, who selected a historic number of judges during his presidency. With the most recent nominees, Biden totals 83 judges, compared to Trump’s 69 judges at this point in his tenure. Even so, NBC News notes, Trump ramped up his pace to eventually select 231 judges, “mostly young conservatives poised to shape American law for generations, including three Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.” The midterm elections in November will determine whether Biden will continue to quickly confirm judicial nominees. [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".

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