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The Week of 2022 September 26 – October 02

Be well-informed and make the most of your week every week.

September 26

Far-right leader claims victory in Italy
Provisional results and exit polls indicated that a far-right coalition led by Giorgia Meloni’s ultra-conservative Brothers of Italy party won Sunday elections, giving Italy its most right-wing government since the fascist era of World War II leader Benito Mussolini. The Brothers of Italy were expected to get 26 percent of the vote, with partners the League, led by Matteo Salvini, and Silvio Berlusconi’s Forza Italia giving Meloni’s right-wing alliance a 44 percent total. Meloni, on track to become Italy’s first female prime minister, declared victory and promised to “govern for everyone” with a mandate for “a right-wing government led by Brothers of Italy.” The center-left coalition, led by the left-wing Democratic Party and centrist party +Europe, was likely to win up to 29.5 percent. [BBC News, CNN]
Gunman kills 12 at Russia school
A gunman opened fire at a school in Russia’s Siberian region of Udmurtia on Monday, killing at least 12 people, including five children, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee, which handles major crimes in the country. The dead also included two teaches and a school security guard. The gunman, wearing a black balaclava and armed with two weapons, then killed himself. Video aired by local media showed panicked children fleeing the school as police rushed in. Authorities did not immediately say what they thought motivated the killer, who was wearing a black T-shirt with Nazi symbols and remained unidentified. The attack occurred on the same day that a young Russian man shot a local military enlistment officer in another part of Siberia. [The Washington Post, Reuters]
North Korea launches missile ahead of Harris’ Asia visit
North Korea fired a short-range missile into the sea Sunday ahead of joint U.S.-South Korea military drills and a trip by Vice President Kamala Harris to the region. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff condemned the test-launch of the ballistic missile, which flew about 373 miles, saying it was “an act of grave provocation.” South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting to discuss how to respond. The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the launch posed no “immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies,” although it demonstrated how North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs can destabilize the region. Harris will visit South Korea next week after attending Japan’s state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. [NPR, Reuters]
Super Typhoon Noru hammers Philippines
Super Typhoon Noru slammed into the Philippines on Sunday after rapidly intensifying before making landfall off the eastern shore of the capital, Manila. The storm caused floods and power outages, and left five rescuers dead. Noru’s top winds jumped from 60 miles per hour to 160 mph, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, in 24 hours. It was the fastest 24-hour intensification on record for a tropical cyclone, vaulting Noru to a super typhoon and posing what weather officials warned was a potential “extreme threat” to life and property. Scientists say human-caused climate change is increasing the threat of such “explosive” intensification. Forecasters said Noru weakened but remained at typhoon strength as it moved back into the Pacific. [The Washington Post, The Associated Press]

September 27

Hurricane Ian strengthens, hitting Cuba and heading toward Florida
Hurricane Ian intensified overnight before hitting western Cuba early Tuesday with top sustained winds of 125 miles per hour and torrential rains that could cause flooding. The storm is expected to gain more strength as it continues north over the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico on a path toward Florida’s west coast, which it is expected to hit Wednesday. Authorities in parts of the low-lying and flood prone Tampa Bay area ordered partial evacuations ahead of what could be its first major storm in a century. “We’ve been blessed many, many times before,” said former Pinellas County emergency management director Sally Bishop, “but at some point your luck runs out.”  [NBC News, The Washington Post]
Putin grants Edward Snowden Russian citizenship
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday granted citizenship to former U.S. security consultant Edward Snowden, who is wanted in the United States for leaking top-secret information on U.S. surveillance programs. Snowden fled the U.S. and made his way to Russia to request asylum after his disclosures revealed top-secret NSA surveillance as part of a program known as PRISM. Snowden has said he considers himself a whistleblower, not a traitor. Russia granted Snowden, 39, permanent residency in 2020. His wife, Lindsay Mills, joined him in Moscow in 2014. They married in 2017, and now have a son. Snowden was among 72 foreigners granted citizenship under a decree Putin signed. [The Washington Post]
‘Unprecedented’ underwater leaks reported in Nord Stream gas pipeline
Sweden and Denmark said Tuesday they were investigating leaks in the two Nord Stream gas pipelines built to carry natural gas from Russia to Europe. The operator of the pipelines, which have been at the center of Europe’s energy crisis since Russia invaded Ukraine, said three underwater lines in the Baltic Sea had suffered “unprecedented” damage. The reports triggered suspicion of sabotage. Two of the pipes are part of Nord Stream 1, a major source of gas for Europe. The other is part of Nord Stream 2, which Western nations blocked under sanctions to punish Russia for invading Ukraine. Russia has squeezed Nord Stream 1 deliveries in retaliation. The leaks won’t immediately affect gas supply. Russia halted the flow through Nord Stream 1 this month. [Financial Times, The Washington Post]
Cuba gay-marriage referendum passes
Cuban voters have approved a new Family Code legalizing same-sex marriage in the communist-run Caribbean nation, Cuba’s National Electoral Council announced Monday. The council said 74.1 percent of eligible voters turned out in the Sunday vote, and with 94 percent of the votes counted the referendum passed with 3,936,790 in favor and 1,950,090 against. The code extends protections for women, children, and the elderly, while establishing the right for LGBTQ couples to marry and adopt children. LGBTQ people have faced discrimination on the island, with some sent to work camps alongside political dissidents in the 1960s. Cuba’s growing evangelical Christian community openly opposed the family code, but the government pushed for it as the referendum neared. [BBC News, CNN]
Japan holds Abe’s controversial state funeral
Japan held a state funeral for assassinated former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday. Vice President Kamala Harris was among the foreign dignitaries who attended. Abe was Japan’s longest-serving prime minister. He was shot during a campaign speech for an ally. People lined up at designated memorial sites to pay their respects, while others protested the holding of a state funeral for Abe. Some opposed Abe’s hawkish policies. Others were disturbed by revelations about political ties of the controversial Unification Church started by the late Rev. Moon Sun-myung. The man accused of killing Abe, Tetsuya Yamagami, thought the church’s controversial fundraising ruined his family, and allegedly targeted Abe because he spoke at an affiliated group’s events. [CNN, The Wall Street Journal]
‘Sham’ referendums on joining Russia ending as pressure mounts on Moscow
Russia on Tuesday is wrapping up five-day referendums in occupied parts of Ukraine that Moscow is expected to use to justify annexing the areas. Ukraine’s government and the West have called the referendums a “sham.” There have been reports of Russian soldiers going house-to-house pressuring people to vote. A senior Kremlin official warned Russia is prepared to use nuclear weapons to stop Ukraine’s push to reclaim Russia-occupied areas. Russian President Vladimir Putin last week ordered a “partial mobilization” of 300,000 military reservists to active duty in response to Ukraine’s expanding counteroffensive. The unpopular move has prompted 17 attacks on recruiting centers in Russia, as well as protests and a rush of young men fleeing the country to avoid being drafted. [Axios, The Associated Press]
NASA crashes tiny spacecraft into asteroid in Earth-defense test 
NASA crashed the vending-machine-sized Dart spacecraft into an asteroid 7 million miles from Earth to test its ability to alter the path of a massive space rock if one ever threatens the planet. Dart — short for Double Asteroid Redirection Test — hit the asteroid at 14,000 miles per hour, which scientists said should provide enough force to nudge the 525-foot asteroid named Dimorphos slightly off its current orbit of a much larger nearby asteroid, Didymos. Neither poses any danger to Earth, but NASA will use the dry run to prepare in case someday it needs to deflect an incoming asteroid to save the planet. It could take months to determine how much Dart changes the asteroid’s course. [The Associated Press]

Preparing for the storm

September 28

E.U. says damage to Nord ​​​​​​​Stream pipelines looks like sabotage
The European Union’s top diplomat, foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, said Tuesday that leaks in two underwater Nord Stream natural gas pipelines from Russia appeared to have been caused by sabotage. Borrell warned that the E.U. would retaliate against any attack on Europe’s energy supply. “Any deliberate disruption of European energy infrastructure is utterly unacceptable,” Borrell said. Seismologists reported explosions in the Baltic Sea before the unusual leaks appeared. The Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines are filled with natural gas but Russia had already halted deliveries to Europe in a showdown over sanctions imposed over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine. The damage suggests the pipelines are unlikely to deliver any gas to Europe this winter, with or without a political agreement. [Sky News]
McConnell announces support for Electoral Count Act reform
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said he would support a bill designed to prevent a repeat of the Jan. 6, 2021, effort by former President Donald Trump’s supporters to block the certification of a presidential election. McConnell’s endorsement all but guarantees that the bipartisan Electoral Count Reform and Presidential Transition Improvement Act will pass. The legislation, similar to a bill passed by the House last week, would amend the Electoral Count Act of 1887, making it clear that the vice president has only a procedural role at the joint session of Congress to count electoral votes, without the power to reject results certified by the states. Trump pressured his vice president, Mike Pence, to help overturn his 2020 election loss to President Biden. [USA Today, The Washington Post]
Russia claims victory in annexation referendums Zelensky dismisses as ‘farce’
Russia took a step closer to annexing parts of Ukraine on Tuesday when pro-Kremlin officials announced that residents in four occupied regions in eastern and southern Ukraine had voted to join Russia. Moscow-installed election officials said 93 percent of the vote in Zaporihzhia favored annexation, as did 87 percent in the Kherson province, 99 percent in Donetsk, and 98 percent in Luhansk. Ukrainian and Western leaders maintain the results were preordained and an unacceptable “sham.” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the referendums “a farce” and promised good news from the war front. “We are advancing and will liberate our land,” he said. The Kremlin has hinted it would use nuclear weapons to defend annexed territory. [The Associated Press, Reuters]

September 29

Hurricane Ian hits Florida as a powerful Category 4 storm
Hurricane Ian hit southwest Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 storm with 150-mile-per-hour winds, torrential rains, and historic storm surge of up to 18 feet. The Collier County Sheriff’s Office said it had to rescue numerous people with “life-threatening medical emergencies in deep water,” many of them trapped in flooded homes. Ian, tied with 2004’s Hurricane Charley as the strongest storm to hit Florida’s west coast, made landfall near Cayo Costa. It left two million utility customers without power. Ian weakened as it crossed the state toward Orlando, causing more damage. Downgraded to tropical storm status with top winds of 65 mph early Thursday, Ian was expected to emerge over Atlantic waters Thursday and move north toward a second U.S. landfall. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, CNN]
Hurricane Ian devastation to make Florida insurance market ‘even more unstable’
Hurricane Ian’s catastrophic crash through Florida on Wednesday and Thursday is adding tremendous pressure to an already stressed property insurance market. Ian hit Florida’s southwest coast with dangerous storm surge, torrential rains, and 150 mile-per-hour winds that put it tied as the most powerful storm on record on Florida’s Gulf coast. Florida’s private insurance market has lost more than $1 billion in each of the last two years, and insurers have dropped or declined to renew coverage for hundreds of thousands of Floridians. The market “will most likely become even more unstable in the wake of the storm,” said Mark Friedlander, communications director at the Insurance Information Institute. [The Associated Press]
E.U. proposes more Russia sanctions 
The European Union proposed new sanctions against Russia on Wednesday. The measures are meant to punish Moscow for “sham” annexation referendums in four occupied Ukrainian regions, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of 300,000 military reservists, and the Kremlin’s threat to use nuclear arms in Ukraine. Russia’s actions “escalated the invasion of Ukraine to a whole new level,” top E.U. official Ursula von der Leyen said, and the bloc is “determined to make the Kremlin pay.” The latest sanctions include an oil price cap, trade restrictions, and the blacklisting of several people behind the referendums. For the measures to take effect, all E.U. nations must sign on, and Hungary’s approval is not assured. [The New York Times]
U.S. Embassy urges Americans to leave Russia
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow is urging American citizens to get out of Russia immediately. The embassy said in a security alert issued Tuesday and widely reported Wednesday that a mass exodus of Russian men trying to avoid being drafted in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mobilization of 300,000 reservists is crowding flights and borders, reducing the options for people seeking to leave the country. Some analysts fear Russian authorities will soon close border crossings and limit flights. The embassy also warned that Russia might refuse to recognize the U.S. citizenship of dual nationals and bar them from leaving the country, or even draft them into its military to fight in Ukraine. The embassy warned it has limited ability to help Americans in Russia. [Politico]
NYT: Russian soldiers describe chaos, criticize Putin in intercepted calls home
Russian soldiers who made unauthorized phone calls home told wives, girlfriends, parents, and friends that Moscow’s invasion went horribly from the start, The New York Times reports. The Times posted audio clips of some of the calls, which were intercepted by Ukrainian intelligence. In one, a soldier identified as Aleksandr said: “Putin is a fool. He wants to take Kyiv. But there’s no way we can do it.” Another, identified as Aleksey, told his partner: “They said we were going for training. These bastards didn’t tell us anything.” The recordings show that Russia’s airborne units were in disarray and suffering heavy casualties just a few weeks into their invasion. One said a third of his battalion had been killed. Another said one battalion had been completely wiped out. [The New York Times]
Jan. 6 rioter sentenced to 86 months for assaulting police officer
U.S. District Court Judge Amy Berman Jackson has sentenced Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol rioter Kyle Young to 86 months in prison for attacking Washington, D.C., police officer Michael Fanone during the attack by a mob of then-President Donald Trump’s supporters. Several rioters attacked Fanone, but Jackson on Tuesday described Young as a “one-man wrecking ball” who assaulted Fanone “under the whirling banner of a ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flag.” Young pleaded guilty in May to holding Fanone’s wrist and pulling his arm as several fellow Trump supporters dragged him out of a line of officers and into the mob, where he was beaten as he begged for his life. “I hope someday you’ll forgive me,” Young told Fanone during his sentencing hearing. [CNN]
Rapper Coolio dies at 59
Grammy-winning rapper and producer Coolio, best known for 1995’s “Gangsta’s Paradise,” died Wednesday in Los Angeles, his manager Jarel Posey confirmed. He was 59. Born Artis Leon Ivey Jr., Coolio gained prominence in the Los Angeles rap scene as part of the hip hop group WC and the Maad Circle. He broadened his fame with 1994’s “Fantastic Voyage” from his debut solo album, It Takes a Thief. A year later, he recorded “Gangsta’s Paradise” for the film Dangerous Minds, starring Michelle Pfeiffer. The song spent three weeks atop the charts, was the No. 1 U.S. single for 1995, and won Coolio a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance. Coolio later had success as an actor in movies and television shows, including Martin, Futurama, and Gravity Falls. [Variety, TMZ]

September 30

Making it disappear

Judge sides with Trump over special master she appointed
U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon ruled Thursday that former President Donald Trump’s lawyers don’t have to comply with an order by the special master she selected to review documents the FBI seized from Trump’s Florida club. Last week, the special master, Judge Raymond Dearie, ordered Trump’s team to affirm or challenge the FBI’s inventory of items taken during their August search of Mar-a-Lago, effectively making them take an official position on Trump’s public claims the FBI planted some of the evidence. Cannon, a Trump appointee, overruled that requirement and rejected Dearie’s Oct. 21 deadline for Trump’s lawyers to sort through the 200,000 pages of documents and flag those they argue are shielded by attorney-client or executive privilege. They now have until mid-November. [The Washington Post]
Ginni Thomas repeats election fraud claim to Jan. 6 panel
Conservative activist Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, repeated false claims that the 2020 election was stolen from former President Donald Trump by fraud when she was interviewed Thursday by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack. Thomas answered questions for four hours as the committee asked about her contacts with the White House leading up to and during the day a mob of Trump supporters rioted in the Capitol in a bid to prevent Congress from certifying Trump’s loss to President Biden. Thomas exchanged texts with White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and contacted lawmakers in Arizona and Wisconsin after the election, as Trump’s team tried to overturn the result. [The Associated Press]
Europe inflation rises at record pace as energy prices soar
Euro zone inflation jumped to a record high of 10 percent in September, up from an annual rate of 9.1 percent in August, Eurostat data showed Friday. Economists had predicted a rate of 9.7 percent. Energy prices soared by 40.8 percent year-on-year, up from August’s 38.6 percent rate. Food, alcohol, and tobacco prices rose 11.8 percent, compared to 10.6 percent the previous month. Core inflation, removing volatile food and energy prices, increased by 4.8 percent compared to a year earlier, slightly more than August’s 4.3 percent increase. Germany released official data Thursday showing that energy and food costs pushed its consumer prices up at a 10.9 percent annual pace in September, up from 8.8 percent in August. [CNBC, The New York Times]
Hurricane Ian approaches South Carolina after devastating Florida
Hurricane Ian destroyed bridges and buildings in southwest Florida and hit central Florida with what Gov. Ron DeSantis described as “500-year” flooding before pushing east over Atlantic waters on Thursday. Ian was downgraded to a tropical storm as it crossed Florida but quickly regained hurricane strength Thursday evening as it traveled over Atlantic waters, with top winds of 85 miles per hour early Friday. It is expected to hit Charleston, South Carolina, on Friday as a Category 1 storm. About 2.7 million utility customers in Florida lost electricity. Ian was blamed for numerous deaths, although the toll remained uncertain. Crews rescued hundreds of people stranded by flooding in southwest Florida, where Ian made landfall Wednesday with 150-mph winds. [South Florida Sun-Sentinel, The Associated Press]
Russia to start annexing occupied Ukrainian regions
Russia announced that on Friday it will start annexing four occupied Ukrainian territories where its proxies just held referendums purporting to show overwhelming support for joining Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky dismissed the referendums as a “farce,” and few countries are expected to recognize Moscow’s annexation. President Vladimir Putin delivered a speech during a Kremlin-organized rally and concert in support of the referendums. Ukraine says it will continue fighting to reclaim the territory, while Russia has vowed to defend its claims to the annexed areas and hinted it would use nuclear weapons, if necessary. The threat, along with Putin’s order for 300,000 military reservists to enlist for active duty, fueled fears that the fighting in Ukraine could escalate and spread. [The New York Times]
North Korea fires missiles hours before Harris visit to DMZ
Vice President Kamala Harris visited the Demilitarized Zone between South and North Korea on Thursday during a visit to South Korea at the end of a four-day trip to Asia. Harris condemned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over his government’s firing of two ballistic missiles into the sea on the day before her visit. “It is clearly a provocation, and it is meant, we believe, to destabilize the region,” Harris said. She traveled to the region for Japan’s state funeral for slain former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo, but she also met with Japanese, Australian, and South Korean leaders during the trip. Harris is the highest-ranking Biden administration official to visit the DMZ. [CNN]
Death certificate says Queen Elizabeth died of old age
The National Records of Scotland on Thursday released part of the death certificate for Queen Elizabeth II, revealing that her official cause of death was “old age.” The queen died Sept. 8 at age 96 after serving 70 years on the throne, making her Britain’s longest-serving monarch. She died at her Scotland residence, Balmoral Castle, and her daughter, Princess Anne, signed the death certificate. Hours before her death, Buckingham Palace said doctors were “concerned for Her Majesty’s health” and would keep her under medical supervision. After a state funeral in Westminster Abbey in London, the queen was buried at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle alongside Prince Philip, her husband, who died in April 2021. [CNN]

October 01

Hurricane Ian slams into South Carolina, now heads north
Hurricane Ian made landfall in South Carolina on Friday afternoon, carving a path of mayhem across the state just days after the storm devastated Florida and left at least 45 people dead. Although the storm had diminished to a Category 1 hurricane by the time it reached South Carolina, Ian still battered the state with heavy rains across the eastern seaboard, making landfall near the city of Georgetown. Following its path across South Carolina, the hurricane was downgraded to what is called an extratropical low-pressure system, meaning that it is no longer being affected by warm ocean waters. However, meteorologists said that the remnants of the storm will bring continuing rain, and more than 60,000 South Carolinians are reportedly without power.  [CNN, Washington Post]
Russians shell civilian convoy in Ukraine, killing 20
Russian soldiers on Saturday reportedly shelled a civilian convoy in northeast Ukraine, leaving at least 20 people dead. Gov. Oleh Syniehubov, a senior official in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region, said that the Russians struck the convoy without warning, calling the attack “сruelty that can’t be justified.” The Russian government has not commented on the attack, or even confirmed that it happened. However, the shelling comes at a watershed moment for the Russian army as Ukrainian soldiers continue to push back against the invading forces. This counteroffensive has caused a large number of Russian forces around Kharkiv to retreat, though the area continues to face heavy shelling.  [Associated Press]

October 02

Deaths in Florida from Hurricane Ian rise to 67 as recovery effort continues
The number of deaths in Florida from Hurricane Ian has risen to at least 67, according to officials, as people across parts of the state begin the massive recovery effort. The hurricane made landfall this past Wednesday as a Category 4 storm, and carved a path through southwest and central Florida before heading north and leaving more devastation in South Carolina. While Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has said that at least 1,070 people have been rescued from the flooding, the significant cleanup is just beginning to get underway, and thousands of Floridians remain displaced from their homes. Deaths in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Cuba have also been confirmed as a result of the storm.  [CNN]
CDC says Monkeypox virus could spread throughout U.S. ‘indefinitely’
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said that the monkeypox virus is unlikely to be eradicated in the United States, and could spread through the country “indefinitely,” according to a report from the organization. The CDC said that while the outbreak of the virus has begun to slow following increased vaccination rates, low-level transmissions could continue for the foreseeable future. According to the report, transmission is likely to remain especially prevalent in the LGBT+ community, particularly among gay and bisexual men. The outbreak first began this past summer, with the Biden administration declaring a public health emergency in August.  [CNBC]
Brazilians head to polls in presidential election amid violence, uncertainty
Amid a climate of violence and political uncertainty, Brazilians on Sunday cast their votes in the latest presidential election. The election pits incumbent right-wing President Jair Bolsonaro against the more progressive Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula, who previously served as president from 2003 to 2010, has enjoyed a steady lead in the polls for months, and early exit numbers showed that he looked poised to cruise to an easy victory over the incumbent Bolsonaro. However, Bolsonaro has caused many in the country to fear post-election violence or reprisals, given that he has hinted he may not accept the results of the election if Lula wins. If no candidate wins more than half of the votes, though, then the pair will participate in a run-off election on Oct. 30.  [Reuters]
Over 130 people dead following stampede at Indonesian soccer game
A massive crowd crush at an Indonesian soccer game on Sunday ended with at least 131 people dead, according to officials, making it one of the deadliest stadium disasters in history. The incident occurred during a match in the city of East Java between Arema FC and rival Persebaya Surabaya. Following the game, fans of the two teams reportedly began to get confrontational in the stands, and the violence soon escalated throughout the stadium. Police then deployed tear gas directly into the crowd, and reportedly beat fans with riot gear as well. This caused a mad dash for the stadium’s exit, which led to a stampede that resulted in mass casualties and crush injuries.  [Associated Press, CNN]

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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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