In Ukraine, engineers at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant have ordered an emergency shutdown of a nuclear reactor amid reports of intense artillery fire near the site. Just one of the plant’s six nuclear reactors is now operating. Ukraine’s state-owned energy company says shelling also damaged a power supply, forcing one of the plant’s reactors to rely on a diesel backup to prevent a catastrophic release of radiation. Both Russia and Ukraine blamed each other for the latest fighting around the plant, which Russia has occupied since March. The violence delayed the arrival of a team of U.N. inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency, who have just arrived at the Zaporizhzhia power plant. IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi spoke to reporters in Kyiv just before joining the convoy of inspectors.
Rafael Grossi: “My mission is a technical mission. It’s a mission that seeks to prevent a nuclear accident and to preserve this important, the largest, the biggest nuclear power plant in Europe, in the whole of Europe, not only in Ukraine.”
The World Health Organization warns catastrophic flooding in Pakistan has left more than 3 million children in need of humanitarian assistance and at increased risk of disease, drowning and malnutrition. The WHO has declared the flooding a “grade 3 emergency” — its highest level. New satellite images showed how unprecedented monsoon rains have created a 60-mile-wide inland lake around the overflowing Indus River, leaving a huge swath of Pakistan underwater. United Nations officials warn the flooding of hospitals and clinics could compound the spread of water-borne diseases like dengue and malaria.
Stéphane Dujarric: “According to government figures, close to 900 health facilities have been damaged or destroyed in Pakistan, leaving millions of people without access to healthcare and medical treatment.”
Here in the United States, residents of Jackson, Mississippi, are spending a fourth day without running water, after torrential rains caused the Pearl River to overflow its banks, flooding a water treatment plant.
In Southern California, the city of Anaheim has broken its all-time temperature record at 106 degrees, while Burbank hit a record 112 degrees on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a brush fire expanded to over 4,000 acres overnight, forcing closure of the I-5 freeway north of Los Angeles. Governors of western states are warning of the threat of more catastrophic fires over Labor Day weekend, as a heat dome is expected to bring above-normal and even record temperatures to much of the U.S.
In Alaska, Democrat Mary Peltola has beaten former governor and 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin in a special election to fill the state’s open U.S. congressional seat. She’ll replace Republican Congressmember Don Young, who died in March after nearly a half-century as Alaska’s lone representative in the House. Sarah Palin blamed Alaska’s newly adopted ranked-choice voting system for her defeat. It’s a rare statewide victory for a Democrat in Alaska and a possible sign of midterm election voter backlash against the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down abortion rights under Roe v. Wade. Peltola campaigned on reproductive rights — many have called this an early “Roevember” — and will make history as the first Alaska Native in Congress. She has voiced qualified support for controversial oil and gas development projects, including drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This comes after the state of Alaska sued the Biden administration, alleging it failed to act on its obligations to clean up knowingly polluted sites affecting Alaskan Native populations.
Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott said Wednesday he had sent a charter bus full of immigrants from the U.S.-Mexico border to Chicago, Illinois. Sixty of the migrants arrived at Chicago’s Union Station Wednesday evening, in the latest move by Abbott to forcibly relocate asylum seekers to so-called liberal cities. In recent weeks, thousands of others have been forced to board buses to Washington, D.C., and New York City. A spokesperson for Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told The Texas Tribune, “Texas Governor Greg Abbott is without any shame or humanity. But ever since he put these racist practices of expulsion in place, we have been working with our community partners to ready the city to receive these individuals.” New government figures show Texas has spent more than $12 million busing asylum seekers out of state; meanwhile, CNN reports that Arizona Republican Governor Doug Ducey has spent about $3.5 million on a similar program.
In the occupied West Bank, a 40-year-old Palestinian prisoner has ended a hunger strike that saw him subsist on only water for over 170 days. Khalil Awawdeh said Wednesday he would break his fast, after Israeli officials agreed to release him in October. He has been held without charge by Israel under its so-called administrative detention program since his arrest late last year. Awawdeh lost over 100 pounds; his family says the hunger strike nearly killed him. Awawdeh looked emaciated and frail as he spoke from a hospital bed Wednesday.
Khalil Awawdeh: “I will remain in the hospital until I recover and be able to stand up and walk again. This victory is a continuation of the victories that our Palestinian people have achieved.”
An Israeli court has sentenced the Gaza director of a major international charity, Mohammed el-Halabi, to 12 years in prison on charges of terrorism. Israel maintains that el-Halabi diverted tens of millions of dollars to the Islamic militant group Hamas, although independent investigations have found no proof of wrongdoing.
The United Nations has released a long-delayed report accusing China of serious human rights abuses against Uyghur Muslims and other minorities that may amount to crimes against humanity. In a 45-page report released Wednesday, the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said its investigation found credible evidence of torture; forced medical treatment; violations of reproductive rights; poor prison conditions; and individual incidents of sexual and gender-based violence against Uyghurs held in Chinese mass detention camps. A Chinese Foreign Ministry official condemned the U.N. report, writing in a statement, “It is completely a politicized document that disregards facts, and reveals explicitly the attempt of some Western countries and anti-China forces to use human rights as a political tool.” The U.N. released the report after months of unexplained delays — and just minutes before Michelle Bachelet ended her four-year term as U.N. human rights commissioner. Last week, Bachelet acknowledged she came under “tremendous pressure to publish or not publish” the report.
Here in New York, a federal judge has ruled that a new state law restricting people from carrying concealed firearms in public can remain in effect. District Judge Glenn Suddaby ruled Wednesday that the gun owners’ groups who sued to block the law did not have standing to challenge the law in court. This comes after the Supreme Court in June struck down a century-old New York law that limited the carrying of concealed handguns. New York Governor Kathy Hochul said Wednesday that the state’s new laws — enacted after that Supreme Court ruling — will still ban guns in so-called sensitive locations.
Gov. Kathy Hochul: “They said that those who have concealed carry permits can pretty much take them anywhere they want. In response, we had to come up with a list of sensitive locations where guns are prohibited. These sensitive locations will include schools, colleges, daycares, libraries, restaurants that serve alcohol, other places, parks, … and also we added Times Square.”
Newly installed signs in Times Square read “Gun Free Zone,” adding that a violation of the prohibition is a felony.