More than 2.5 million people in Florida have been ordered to evacuate as Hurricane Ian strengthens into a Category 4 storm with winds reaching 155 miles an hour, just shy of a Category 5. The storm is projected to make landfall this afternoon dozens of miles south of Tampa Bay, but parts of the state are already facing heavy wind and flooding. On Tuesday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis urged residents to follow evacuation orders.
Gov. Ron DeSantis: “There will be catastrophic flooding and life-threatening storm surge on the Gulf Coast region, and, of course, the highest risk will be in that southwest Florida region from Naples up to Sarasota. There’s also potential for flash flooding and river flooding with 10 to 20 inches across central and northeast Florida.”
Hurricane Ian has already devastated Cuba. The storm knocked out power to the entire country and killed at least two people. Western Cuba suffered substantial damage. This is Abel Hernandez, a tobacco grower in Cuba.
Abel Hernandez: “It was disastrous. It was never seen this way before. Sometimes hurricanes pass through here, but not of this magnitude. It destroyed our houses, our tobacco drying huts, our farms, the trees, everything.”
This all comes as about a third of Puerto Rico remains without power 10 days after Hurricane Fiona hit the island.
The European Union says damage to two major gas pipelines connecting Russia to Europe was caused by sabotage. Leaks were discovered on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines after the lines sustained what has been described as “unprecedented” damage in three sections. Seismologists in Sweden say they have detected two explosions in the area that might have caused the damage. On Tuesday, Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau suggested Russia may have attacked the pipeline.
Zbigniew Rau: “We are not in a position to reject the notion that this could be an element of Russian hybrid war against NATO.”
Meanwhile, Poland’s former Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski appeared to suggest that the United States could have been involved. He posted a picture on Twitter of a water disturbance near the site of the leaks with a message that read “Thank you, USA.”
Authorities in four Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine claim residents have overwhelmingly voted to support becoming part of Russia, paving the way for Moscow to annex the areas. The United States and its allies denounced the votes as sham referendums. This is Ukrainian President Volodymr Zelensky speaking last night.
President Volodymr Zelensky: “The crime of aggression against our country, the farce on occupied territories, which is called a referendum by occupiers, the preparation of a new attempt at the annexation of Ukrainian territory, these are all steps by which Russia finishes off the U.N. Charter.”
The Associated Press reports nearly 200,000 Russians have fled to Georgia, Kazakhstan and Finland since Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a partial mobilization to draft at least 300,000 to fight in Ukraine. Traffic jams heading into Georgia have been up to 10 miles long. One Russian man spoke to Reuters after crossing into Georgia with his children.
Denis: “People who are against the regime, who are not ready to go to war, I mean, they are ready to fight if there is a war for truth, a fair war. When you are defending your home, it is fair. You go, and you are not afraid. And when you go to fight in a stupid war, to kill your brother, it is a war about nothing. And that’s why people are leaving.”
The king of Saudi Arabia has named Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to be prime minister, making him the official head of the Saudi government. Up until now, the king held the position of prime minister. Sarah Leah Whitson, the head of DAWN, said on Tuesday, “There is one reason, and only one reason, MBS has now added 'prime minister' to his many unearned titles: a desperate gambit for immunity in the lawsuit we’ve brought for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, as well as other lawsuits for his many crimes.”
Jury selection has begun for the trial of Oath Keepers founder Stewart Rhodes and four other members of the far-right group. They are charged with seditious conspiracy for plotting to block Congress from certifying the results of the 2020 election on January 6, 2021.
A supporter of Donald Trump from Iowa named Kyle Young has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for assaulting Washington, D.C., police officer Mike Fanone during the January 6 insurrection.
In related news, the House Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol has postponed a public hearing scheduled for today due to the hurricane in Florida.
In other news from Capitol Hill, Senator Joe Manchin has abandoned — at least for now — his proposal to speed up the federal review of energy projects including the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Manchin wanted to shorten public comment periods on proposed fossil fuel projects, while weakening environmental and public health laws. On Tuesday, Manchin requested the proposal be removed from a stopgap funding bill after it became clear it didn’t have enough votes to pass. Manchin’s proposal had faced fierce opposition from climate justice groups. Food & Water Watch executive director Wenonah Hauter said, “Tonight’s turnaround represents a remarkable, against-all-odds victory by a determined grassroots climate movement against the overwhelming financial and political might of the fossil fuel industry and its Senate enablers.”
In Pennsylvania, Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano’s views on abortion are in the spotlight after NBC unearthed a 2019 interview where he said women who violated abortion bans should be charged with murder. His comment came during an interview with the radio station WITF.
Scott LaMar: “And again, you can give me a yes or no on this: Would that woman who decided to have an abortion, which would be considered an illegal abortion, be charged with murder?”
Sen. Doug Mastriano: “OK, let’s go back to the basic question there. Is that a human being? Is that a little boy or girl? If it is, it deserves equal protection under the law.”
Scott LaMar: “So you’re saying yes?”
Sen. Doug Mastriano: “Yes, I am.”
In Virginia, thousands of students walked out of middle and high schools Tuesday to protest Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin’s plan to roll back the rights of trans students. Walkouts were reported in over 100 schools, with many students chanting “Trans rights are human rights” and ”DOE, let us be.” Under Governor Youngkin’s plan, schools would be required to categorize students based on their assigned sex at birth and bar students from changing their name or pronouns at school without a court order. Walkout participants included 17-year-old Casey Calabia, a nonbinary senior in high school who criticized Governor Youngkin’s policies.
Casey Calabia: “I would tell him he is not protecting anyone. He’s not protecting parents’ rights. He’s not protecting trans students. All his talk of, 'Oh, these big progressives in Fairfax,' are progressives that are standing up for kids like me. I am scared of this man. My friends are scared of this man. How can he stand there and say that he loves this country and this state if he wants to hurt us?”
California Governor Gavin Newsom has signed a bill outlawing what’s known as the pink tax. The new law bars companies from charging different prices for products marketed for women. Newsom also signed 13 abortion protection and reproductive health bills Tuesday, as well as legislation aimed to better identify gender- and race-based pay disparities.
The International Monetary Fund has issued a rare warning to Britain over its plans to cut taxes. The IMF said the move by Liz Truss’s new government could fuel inflation and increase economic inequality. On Monday, the British pound fell to a record low against the U.S. dollar.