Most of Puerto Rico remains without power, a day after Hurricane Fiona brought 100-mile-an-hour winds and up to 30 inches of rain to parts of the island. On Sunday, Puerto Rico’s entire electrical grid collapsed as Fiona’s eye roared across the island’s southwestern coast, triggering flash floods and landslides and washing away at least one major bridge. Governor Pedro Pierluisi described the damage as “catastrophic.” Fiona hit just two days before the fifth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which killed thousands of people and devastated Puerto Rico’s electrical grid and other infrastructure.
Alaska’s governor has declared a state of emergency after the remnants of Typhoon Merbok brought a 1,000-mile-wide path of destruction to the state’s Pacific coastline. The massive storm system spawned flooding, prompted evacuations, knocked buildings off their foundations, washed away bridges and roads, and brought power outages to remote villages — many of them home to Native Alaskans. Merbok was Alaska’s worst storm in a half-century, the most intense September storm ever observed in the Bering Sea and one of the strongest storms ever to hit Alaska.
In Japan, 9 million people have been ordered to evacuate their homes, as one of the largest typhoons ever to hit Japan made landfall on the southern island of Kyushu Sunday night with winds topping 110 miles per hour. The storm is forecast to bring flooding and landslides to Japan’s main island of Honshu through Wednesday morning. The Japan Meteorological Agency classified the typhoon as “violent” — its most severe category. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida urged people to seek shelter.
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida: “Do not go near dangerous areas. If you feel that you are in danger, do not hesitate to evacuate. Please take early action to save your lives. Evacuation at night is extremely dangerous. Please evacuate to safe areas like high places and sturdy buildings while it is still light.”
Here in New York, the 77th United Nations General Assembly opens today with the climate emergency and the war in Ukraine taking center stage. Ahead of the gathering, Secretary-General António Guterres called out nations for failing to protect future generations, decrying the “sheer inadequacy of the global response to the climate crisis.” Today is also the start of Climate Week here in New York, with dozens of protests and climate-related activities scheduled around the city.
Bells tolled in London 96 times today as a state funeral for Queen Elizabeth was held at Westminster Abbey. More than 500 foreign dignitaries attended the funeral, including President Biden, leaders from Commonwealth nations and many members of other royal families, including the emperor of Japan. The funeral was conducted by the dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr. David Hoyle.
Rev. David Hoyle: “We come to this house of God to a place of prayer, to a church where remembrance and hope are sacred duties. Here, where Queen Elizabeth was married and crowned, we gather from across the nation, from the Commonwealth and from the nations of the world to mourn our loss, to remember her long life of selfless service.”
The queen’s funeral was the largest police operation in U.K. history. Police reported placing sharpshooters on the roofs of every building within a mile of Westminster Abbey.
In other news about the royal family, King Charles III was confronted directly by a protester over the weekend during a stop in the Welsh city of Cardiff. The man shouted at him, “Not my king!”
Protester: “Charles, while we struggle to heat our homes, we have to pay for your parade. The taxpayer pays £100 million for you, and what for? … Not my king!”
We’ll have more on the queen and her legacy later in the program. We’ll speak to Kehinde Andrews, the U.K.’s first professor of Black studies, author of “The New Age of Empire: How Racism and Colonialism Still Rule the World”.
The White House has denounced Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott for busing and flying asylum seekers to liberal states. This is White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre: “They use them as political pawns, treated them like chattel in a cruel, premeditated political stunt.”
The White House criticism came after Florida Governor Ron DeSantis flew 50 Venezuelan asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the coast of Massachusetts. Authorities in Massachusetts have since moved the asylum seekers to a military base in nearby Cape Cod. On Friday, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey and six members of the state’s congressional delegation called on the Treasury Department to investigate DeSantis for using federal COVID-19 relief funds to fly the asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard. Domingo Garcia, president of LULAC, the League of United Latin American Citizens, denounced the Republican effort to send asylum seekers to Martha’s Vineyard, New York City and Washington, D.C.
Domingo Garcia: “I was in Washington yesterday, in Washington, D.C., and we had one immigrant who went into shock because he was diabetic and his insulin hadn’t been refrigerated. He had to go to the hospital. We heard that there was a baby that also went to the hospital. They’ll have respiratory issues, because they had been on a bus for 16 hours, you know? Again, these were just — it is un-Christian, un-American and un-Texan to use immigrants this way, fellow refugees.”
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has told Russia President Vladimir Putin that “today’s era is not one for war.” Modi’s remarks at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Uzbekistan have been widely interpreted as criticism of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Modi’s comments on Friday came after Chinese leader Xi Jinping also voiced questions and concerns to Putin about the war. Despite Modi’s comment, trade between India and Russia has soared since the invasion of Ukraine despite Western sanctions. India now imports about 750,000 barrels of oil from Russia per day — that’s up from about 20,000 barrels a day a year ago. On Friday, Russian President Vladimir Putin acknowledged Modi’s concerns about the war.
President Vladimir Putin: “I know your stance on the conflict in Ukraine. I know about the concerns that you voice constantly. We will do everything for it to stop as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the leadership of the opposing side, Ukraine, has stated that they refuse to hold talks and that they want to reach their goals militarily, or, as they say, on the battlefield.”
The United Nations has announced plans to investigate reports that mass graves have been discovered in the Kharkiv region in areas occupied by Russia until Ukraine’s recent counteroffensive. Liz Throssell, a spokesperson of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, spoke on Friday.
Liz Throssell: “We have seen the reports about possible mass graves, or what we call collective graves. We’re aware of reports to which more than 400 bodies were found in a collective grave in Izium. Our colleagues in Ukraine, in the human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine, are following up on these allegations, and they are aiming at organizing a monitoring visit to Izium to determine the circumstances of the death of these individuals.”
During Ukraine’s recent counteroffensive, it recaptured about 3,400 square miles of land — that’s more land than Russia had captured over the past five months.
In other news on the war in Ukraine, Ukraine’s state nuclear agency says a Russian military strike has hit the South Ukraine Nuclear Power Plant. No damage was reported to the plant’s reactors. The facility is Ukraine’s second-largest nuclear power plant. Meanwhile, the 35-nation board of the International Atomic Energy Agency has approved a resolution demanding that Russia end its occupation of Zaporizhzhia, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe.
A Russian-brokered truce between Azerbaijan and Armenia is continuing to hold after fighting between the two nations left 200 people dead last week. Over the weekend, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Armenia and accused Azerbaijan of initiating the latest round of violence. Azerbaijan and Armenia have been locked in a decades-long dispute over control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Israel has bombed the Damascus International Airport in Syria again. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the bombing killed five Syrian soldiers and two members of Iran-backed groups. The United Nations recently revealed that an Israeli strike on the Damascus International Airport in June prevented the U.N. from flying humanitarian aid into Syria for two weeks. In recent years Israel has carried out hundreds of attacks inside Syria, including multiple attacks targeting airports.
President Biden has vowed again to defend Taiwan if it was attacked by China. Biden made the comment during an interview on CBS’s “60 Minutes.”
President Joe Biden: “We agree with what we signed onto a long time ago, and that there’s One China policy, and Taiwan makes their own judgments about their independence. We are not moving” — we’re not encouraging their being independent. We’re not — that’s their decision.”
Scott Pelley: “But would U.S. forces defend the island?”
President Joe Biden: “Yes, if in fact there was an unprecedented attack.”
Scott Pelley: “So, unlike Ukraine, to be clear, sir, U.S. forces, U.S. men and women, would defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese invasion?”
President Joe Biden: “Yes”
After the interview aired, the White House issued a statement trying to walk back Biden’s comments, claiming U.S. policy on Taiwan has not changed. China criticized Biden’s remarks, saying it “severely violates” U.S. policy over Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province.
On “60 Minutes,” President Biden said the pandemic was over, when asked by CBS’s Scott Pelley.
Scott Pelley: “Is the pandemic over?
President Joe Biden: “The pandemic is over. We still have a problem with COVID. We’re still doing a lot of work on it. It’s — but the pandemic is over.”
Many public health officials criticized Biden’s comments, which come as the White House is pushing people to receive newly reformulated COVID-19 booster shots. According to data collected by Johns Hopkins, COVID killed 13,000 people across the U.S. over the past month as 2.2 million new infections were reported.
West Virginia Republican Governor Jim Justice has signed a near-total ban on abortion, making his state the second to outlaw abortion care since the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade in June. Under West Virginia’s new law, licensed providers can lose their medical licenses if they perform banned abortions, while unlicensed providers could face felony charges and up to a decade in prison. There are very limited exemptions for “medical emergencies” or if a pregnant person can prove they’re a survivor of rape or incest.
A 34-year-old man has pleaded guilty to threatening to bomb and shoot up the offices of the dictionary maker Merriam-Webster. Jeremy David Hanson of California threatened the company’s offices in New York City and Springfield, Massachusetts, after it updated its definitions of “girl,” “woman,” “trans woman” and other gender terms. Meanwhile, a Massachusetts woman has been arrested for making a false bomb threat against Boston Children’s Hospital. The hospital has come under attack recently by right-wing groups for establishing the first pediatric and adolescent transgender health program in the United States.