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HeadlinesSeptember 30, 2022

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Hurricane Ian Bears Down on South Carolina After Carving Path of Destruction Across Florida

Sep 30, 2022

The National Weather Service has issued hurricane advisories to more than 2.5 million coastal residents of Georgia and the Carolinas as Hurricane Ian gathers strength after carving a historic trail of devastation across Florida. Ian is expected to make landfall near Charleston, South Carolina, today as a Category 1 storm. This comes as rescue teams in helicopters and boats are struggling to reach communities trapped by floodwaters. So far at least 17 U.S. deaths have been attributed to Ian, but President Biden warned Thursday that number is likely to rise dramatically.

President Joe Biden: “This could be the deadliest hurricane in Florida’s history. The numbers are still unclear, but we’re hearing early reports of what may be substantial loss of life.”

More than 2 million homes and businesses across Florida remain without power. Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said the storm caused “biblical” damage to Sanibel Island and tore homes to their concrete foundations in Fort Myers Beach. DeSantis called it a one-in-500-year storm. NASA reports ocean temperatures off Florida’s coast were up to 3 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than usual for this time of year, helping to fuel Ian’s rapid intensification to near-Category 5 strength ahead of its landfall.

Putin Announces Plans to Annex Ukrainian Territory Seized by Russia

Sep 30, 2022

Ukraine’s government says a Russian missile strike on a humanitarian convoy has left 23 people dead and more than 30 others wounded. Today’s deadly attack in the city of Zaporizhzhia came as Russian President Vladimir Putin prepared to deliver a major address in Moscow, where he’s expected to announce that four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine will join the Russian Federation. President Biden condemned voter referendums used by Russia to justify its annexation of the territories as “an absolute sham,” while U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres called annexation a “dangerous escalation” that would jeopardize prospects for peace.

Secretary-General António Guterres: “The U.N. Charter is clear: Any annexation of a state’s territory by another state resulting from the threat or use of force is a violation of the principles of the U.N. Charter and international law.”

Sweden Discovers Fourth Leak in Nord Stream Pipeline as NATO Cites Sabotage 

Sep 30, 2022

Sweden’s Coast Guard said Thursday it has discovered a fourth leak in the Nord Stream pipelines built to carry Russian gas under the Baltic Sea, as NATO formally blamed sabotage for underwater explosions that led to Monday’s rupture. NATO did not blame Russia for the attack, though leaders of several NATO member nations have blamed the Kremlin, without citing evidence. Meanwhile, Russian officials suggested the U.S. or one of its allies is to blame. The disaster is now thought to be the largest fossil gas leak in history. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates it added a tenth of a percent of estimated annual global methane emissions to the atmosphere.

Senate Approves $12.3 Billion in New Aid to Ukraine in Stopgap Spending Bill

Sep 30, 2022

The U.S. Senate has approved legislation to supply Ukraine with $12.3 billion in additional aid — most of it to support Ukraine’s military. It’s part of a stopgap spending package needed to fund the U.S. government past midnight tonight. The House is expected to quickly approve the spending package, sending it to President Biden for his signature and averting a government shutdown. Congress previously approved about $54 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. This comes as the Pentagon says it’s preparing to open a new command based in Germany that will oversee a long-term training and assistance program for Ukraine’s military.

White House Pledges Renewed Push for Passage of Sen. Manchin’s Permitting Reform Bill

Sep 30, 2022

Senators approved the stopgap spending bill after West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin abandoned his own energy permitting proposal that would have fast-tracked federal review of permits for new energy projects, including the Mountain Valley fracked gas pipeline. This week the White House said it would continue to work with Senator Manchin to find a new vehicle to get his permitting reform legislation through Congress. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement, “The President supports Senator Manchin’s plan because it is necessary for our energy security, and to make more clean energy available to the American people.”

Polls Show Brazil’s Lula with Wide Lead Over Bolsonaro Ahead of Presidential Election

Sep 30, 2022

In Brazil, voters head to the polls Sunday for an election that could see far-right President Jair Bolsonaro replaced by former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Polls show Lula has a strong lead over Bolsonaro, but it remains unclear if he has enough support to win the 11-way race outright. If not, Brazil will hold a runoff on October 30. Lula has been running on a platform to reduce inequality, preserve the Amazon rainforest and protect Brazil’s Indigenous communities. There is widespread fear in Brazil that Bolsonaro could attempt to stage a coup if he loses the election. Earlier in the campaign, Bolsonaro said, “Only God will remove me [from power]. … The army is on our side. It’s an army that doesn’t accept corruption, doesn’t accept fraud.” We’ll go to Brazil after headlines.

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Suicide Bomb Attack on Kabul School Kills 19, Mostly Young Women 

Sep 30, 2022

In Afghanistan, at least 19 people were killed and more than two dozen others injured today as a suicide bomber targeted an education center in the capital Kabul. The blast struck a predominantly Shia Muslim neighborhood home to Kabul’s minority Hazara community. Most of the dead and wounded are female high school graduates who were studying for a university entrance exam. This follows twin bombings at schools in the same neighborhood earlier this year, and a 2021 blast that killed 85 people — most of them female students — while wounding 300 others.

India Expands Abortion Access to Single Women and Survivors of Marital Rape

Sep 30, 2022

India’s Supreme Court has ruled that all women can access abortion care up to 24 weeks of pregnancy, regardless of marital status. Thursday’s ruling ends a disparity in the availability of abortions to single versus married women. The court also ruled for the first time in its history that marital rape should be included in the definition of rape if a woman wants to abort her fetus. However, India remains one of 36 countries where marital rape is not a crime. Meanwhile, LGBTQ groups say the court’s ruling leaves out transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse persons who deserve reproductive care and protection from sexual assault.

Alito Pushes Back After Justice Kagan Warns Supreme Court’s Legitimacy Has Suffered

Sep 30, 2022

A new poll finds public trust in the U.S. Supreme Court at a historic low. Less than half of U.S. adults polled by Gallup report they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust in the Supreme Court. That’s a 20-percentage-point drop from two years ago. This comes amid fractures between the Supreme Court’s conservative majority and liberal justices over whether the court’s legitimacy has been damaged by recent rulings overturning decades of precedent. Justice Elena Kagan has repeatedly spoken out over the issue during the court’s summer recess. Here she is speaking at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law on September 14.

Justice Elena Kagan: “When we’re talking about legitimacy of the court, it prevents people from thinking that it’s all about politics. I mean, if a new judge comes in, if there’s new members of a court, and all of a sudden everything is up for grabs, all of a sudden very fundamental principles of law are being overthrown, are being, you know, replaced, then people have a right to say, like, you know, ’What’s going on there? That doesn’t seem very law-like.’”

Justice Samuel Alito, who authored the Dobbs decision in June allowing states to once again ban abortions, told The Wall Street Journal this week, “[S]aying or implying that the court is becoming an illegitimate institution or questioning our integrity crosses an important line.” Chief Justice John Roberts has also criticized Justice Kagan’s remarks.

Ginni Thomas Tells Jan. 6 Committee She Still Believes 2020 Election Was Stolen

Sep 30, 2022

The House January 6 committee has interviewed far-right activist Ginni Thomas about her efforts to help Donald Trump overturn his 2020 election defeat to Joe Biden. On Thursday, Ginni Thomas spent more than four hours testifying to lawmakers behind closed doors on Capitol Hill. Committee Chair Bennie Thompson said afterward that Thomas had repeated her false claims about a stolen election, while denying she’d discussed her efforts to overturn Biden’s win with her husband, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Justice Thomas is the only member of the court who dissented in the Supreme Court’s 8-1 decision that led to the release of White House documents around January 6. Justice Thomas refused to recuse himself in the case, leading many Democrats to call for his impeachment.

Biden Administration Halts Student Loan Relief After GOP Attorneys General Sue

Sep 30, 2022

The Biden administration has put student debt relief on hold for millions of borrowers, after Republican attorneys general in six states filed suit in federal court seeking to block President Biden’s debt cancellation program. In a court filing in a federal district court in Missouri, the states of Nebraska, Missouri, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas and South Carolina argue Biden’s debt relief plan is unconstitutional and illegal. Last month the White House said it would cancel as much as $20,000 per person in student debt to help as many as 40 million borrowers. The Education Department said Thursday that people who’ve already begun to seek loan forgiveness will still receive it, while others will have to wait while legal challenges play out.

ICC Opens Trial of Félicien Kabuga, Accused of Financing 1994 Rwandan Genocide

Sep 30, 2022

At The Hague, a man accused of helping to finance and organize the 1994 Rwandan genocide has gone on trial at the International Criminal Court. Félicien Kabuga has pleaded not guilty to war crimes charges including genocide and crimes against humanity. On Thursday, U.N. prosecutor Rashid Rashid said Kabuga purchased machetes, grenades and other weapons for a notorious Hutu paramilitary group known as the Interahamwe, whose members were the main perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide, which the U.N. says killed more than a million people in 100 days.

Rashid Rashid: “The charges against Kabuga reflects his status as a wealthy and well-connected political insider. In support of the genocide, Kabuga did not need to wield a rifle or a machete at a road block; rather, he supplied weapons in bulk and facilitated the training that prepared the Interahamwe to use them.”

Mexico, Colombia and Brazil Top List of Most Dangerous Nations for Environmentalists 

Sep 30, 2022

New research has found that three people are killed every week while trying to protect their land from extractive industries. The report by Global Witness documents the murders of more than 1,700 environmental activists over the last decade by mercenaries, hitmen, criminal gangs or their own governments. Topping the list of the world’s deadliest countries for environmental defenders last year was Mexico, with 54 murders. That’s followed by Colombia, Brazil, the Philippines, Nicaragua and India.

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