The death toll from unprecedented flooding in the northeastern U.S. has risen to 46, after the remnants of Hurricane Ida left a trail of destruction from Pennsylvania to Massachusetts. Much of Philadelphia’s Vine Street Expressway completely flooded, resembling a canal running through the city’s center.
Here in New York, the bodies of at least 11 people were found in flooded basement apartments. A growing number of poor and working-class people — many of them immigrants — have been forced into illegal basement dwellings due to a shortage of affordable housing.
On Thursday, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined Governor Kathy Hochul and Senator Chuck Schumer Thursday in demanding that Congress pass a federal infrastructure bill to help cities prepare for the climate crisis.
Mayor Bill de Blasio: “What we’ve got to recognize is the suddenness, the brutality of storms now, it is different: a record set two weeks ago, another record set now, rainfall like we haven’t seen ever before. This is the biggest wake-up call we could possibly get.”
Hurricane Ida’s death toll along the Gulf Coast has risen to 16. More than 830,000 customers remain without power, and Louisiana officials say critical shortages of fuel are hampering relief efforts.
State and federal officials are investigating reports of oil and chemical spills along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Ida. The investigations come after the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published aerial photos showing miles of oil slicks along the Mississippi River and in the Gulf of Mexico, including spills near a Phillips 66 refinery and an Enterprise Offshore Drilling platform.
In Afghanistan, humanitarian flights by the U.N. have resumed in parts of the country. The World Food Programme warned the current political upheaval has only compounded the food insecurity brought on by years of conflict and a devastating drought. Some 14 million people, or one-third of the population, face “acute food insecurity,” and half of all children under the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition. Western Union announced Thursday it is resuming money transfer services to Afghanistan.
In the western city of Herat, dozens of women took to the streets Thursday to demand the Taliban respect their human rights, and full participation in Afghan society.
Farzana Karami: “We demand the right of education, employment, freedom, security and also presence in public forums, social activities, politics. We have to take place in political, social and public fields. We have fought for these important rights for years.”
Meanwhile, intensifying fighting between rebel Afghan forces and the Taliban in Panjshir province, located north of Kabul, has reportedly resulted in casualties on both sides. This comes as the Taliban is poised to announce the formation of a new government in Kabul, with Reuters reporting recently returned Taliban co-founder Mullah Baradar will be its leader.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Friday he will not seek reelection and will resign on September 30, less than a year after he took office. Suga has faced widespread criticism over his mishandling of Japan’s coronavirus response and for pushing ahead with the Olympic and Paralympic Games despite surging COVID-19 numbers. Japan continues to report about 20,000 daily cases, and its overburdened hospitals are turning away thousands of patients each day.
In the United States, COVID-19 deaths are continuing to rise rapidly, with nearly 3,000 deaths reported on Thursday. In Florida, which recorded a pandemic-high death toll in August, hospitals report more than 90% of all ICU beds are occupied, with significant shortages of oxygen. Meanwhile, NBC News reports at least 15 million COVID-19 vaccine doses across the U.S. have gone to waste, representing about 3% of all doses delivered.
Democrats say they are preparing to fight against Texas’s new law essentially banning abortions, after the Supreme Court refused to halt it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House will hold a vote this month on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which could help protect abortion rights. But the legislation is unlikely to receive a 60-vote, filibuster-proof majority in the evenly divided Senate. President Biden slammed the “unconstitutional chaos” unleashed by the Texas abortion ban, vowing to deploy a “whole of government” effort to respond to the attack on Roe. v Wade. Meanwhile, in Texas, abortion providers say they’re having to turn away distraught patients, many of whom will now have to leave the state — if they can afford it — in order to access abortions.
Pandemic-related unemployment benefits are set to expire this Labor Day weekend for millions of people across the U.S., even as many states endure their worst outbreaks of the pandemic. About 3.3 million people who’ve exhausted state unemployment assistance will lose their pandemic emergency benefits. Also expiring is a program that provides aid to about 4.2 million jobless “gig economy” and self-employed workers. Nearly 3 million unemployed people will lose an extra $300 weekly benefit. The cutoff comes after the Biden administration repeatedly declined to ask the Democratic-controlled Congress to extend unemployment benefits.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin enraged fellow Democrats Thursday after he asked them to “pause” plans for a $3.5 trillion spending bill. Manchin cited the bill’s price tag and the risk of inflation. The measure would create millions of well-paid, union jobs in a Civilian Climate Corps to combat the climate crisis. It would also expand Medicare, extend the child tax credit and would provide funds for universal pre-K and tuition-free community college. The bill is unlikely to pass without Manchin’s support in the Senate, where Democrats have a razor-thin majority. Arizona Democratic Senator Kyrsten Sinema has also said she wants a smaller package.
New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted in response, “Manchin has weekly huddles w/ Exxon & is one of many senators who gives lobbyists their pen to write so-called 'bipartisan' fossil fuel bills. It’s killing people. Our people. At least 12 last night. Sick of this 'bipartisan' corruption that masquerades as clear-eyed moderation.”
The Environmental Protection Agency warns in a new report the climate crisis will impact U.S. communities of color the hardest. The EPA found Black Americans are 40% more likely to live in areas where extreme temperatures will drive up deaths, especially if the world warms by 2 degrees Celsius.
On Thursday, President Biden said Hurricane Ida and western wildfires were yet another reminder that the climate crisis has arrived. But during the same speech, Biden said his Energy Department was authorizing the release of 1.5 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to combat fuel shortages in Louisiana following Hurricane Ida.
President Joe Biden: “That’s why we’re not waiting to assess the full impact that the storm is going to have on oil production and refineries. We’re moving already, quickly, to increase the availability of gas and easing the pressure on gas prices around the country.”
President Biden is traveling to Louisiana today to tour damage from Hurricane Ida.
A federal judge has ruled against the U.S. government’s practice of blocking asylum seekers from applying for refuge at the U.S.-Mexico border. The policy, known as “metering,” was first enforced by the Obama administration. It caps the number of people who can seek asylum at ports of entry and cross into the U.S. while their claims make it through the courts. President Trump later expanded metering across the southern border, forcing thousands of asylum seekers who were placed on long waiting lists to remain in Mexican border cities for months, where they faced the threat of kidnapping, sexual assault and murder.
Lawyer Stephen Medlock, who argued the case on behalf of asylum seekers, said in a statement, “The very government officials that should have been welcoming and assisting victims of persecution and torture were told to turn them away from the United States. The district court found that to be unequivocally illegal.”
In Georgia, a former district attorney has been indicted on misconduct charges for her role in interfering in the murder investigation of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old Black man who was chased down and shot to death while out for a jog last year. A grand jury is accusing former prosecutor Jackie Johnson of covering up for the three white men involved in Arbery’s killing and shielding them from criminal charges. Johnson had previously worked with one of the men, Greg McMichael, who is a former police officer. Johnson asked police officers not to arrest McMichael’s son, Travis. The father and son, as well as their friend William Bryan, are facing numerous charges in Georgia, including felony murder.
In the occupied Gaza Strip, Israeli soldiers killed a Palestinian man during a protest Thursday at the separation barrier. At least 15 others were wounded, including a child. Gazans have been holding nightly demonstrations against the Israeli blockade and the ongoing violation of their human rights.
In El Salvador, hundreds of people took to the streets of the capital San Salvador earlier this week protesting the adoption of bitcoin as an official currency — making El Salvador the first nation in the world to do so. The law, spearheaded by President Nayib Bukele, takes effect next week. Critics warn of drastic fluctuations in cryptocurrency’s value and say bitcoin is often used for money laundering. Opponents also worry about the economic impacts on poorer communities, many of which don’t have access to bank accounts or smartphones. This is a Salvadoran union leader.
Stanley Quintero: “The technology implemented for the use of this coin is still very expensive for Salvadorans, especially our older adults. It’s high-end technology that’s needed to handle this virtual currency.”