Southern California is bracing for torrential rainfall as Tropical Storm Kay moves into the region, packing winds of up to 70 miles an hour. The storm is expected to bring up to a year’s worth of precipitation, but instead of relief from a historic drought, officials are warning of dangerous flash flooding and high winds that could whip up raging wildfires. Over the past week, the western U.S. has broken nearly 1,000 temperature records for September, with excessive heat alerts affecting some 42 million people.
In China, forecasters predict above-average temperatures will continue through the end of the month, after China recorded its hottest August on record.
In Europe, officials say this summer ranked as the hottest on record, surpassing the previous record set just last year.
Meanwhile, researchers in Greenland say the Arctic territory experienced its largest September melt event on record, one typically only seen during peak summer months.
This comes after a new report from Climate Central found rising sea levels could flood more than 4.4 million acres of U.S. coastline by mid-century, with some 650,000 privately held properties set to fall below tidal boundaries.
Hundreds of climate protesters rallied in Washington, D.C., Thursday to demand lawmakers reject changes to how the federal government grants permits for oil and gas projects. The activists say the reforms would weaken environmental laws, limit court challenges to oil and gas projects and clear the way for new pipelines, including the proposed Mountain Valley fracked gas pipeline in West Virginia. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he agreed to the permitting reforms to win the support of West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin for the Inflation Reduction Act, which President Biden has called the “biggest step forward on climate ever.” On Thursday, the White House said it supports the permitting reforms. Meanwhile, Vermont independent Senator Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor to condemn what he called Senator Manchin’s “dirty side deal.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders: “We can listen to the fossil fuel industry and the politicians they pay, who are spending huge amounts of money on lobbying and campaign contributions to pass this dirty side deal, or we can listen to the scientists and the environmental community, who are telling us loudly and clearly to reject this side deal and eliminate the $15 billion in tax breaks and subsidies Congress is already providing to big oil and gas companies each and every year.”
Ukraine’s government says it has made significant progress in a counteroffensive aimed at retaking ground seized by Russia. On Thursday, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukrainian forces had liberated more than a thousand square kilometers of territory since the start of September. Zelensky made the remarks from Kyiv Thursday evening, after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken pledged to support Ukraine for “as long as it takes.” Blinken was in Ukraine’s capital on an unannounced visit, where he touted the latest tranche of U.S. military aid to Ukraine — nearly $2.7 billion.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken: “We also notified our Congress of our intent to provide Ukraine with an additional $1 billion in what we call foreign military financing. This is for longer-term acquisition of systems. We’re also providing $1 billion, additional dollars, in financing for our European allies and partners, who have been doing so much to support Ukraine.”
On Monday, a coalition of peace activists will kick off a nationwide week of action on Ukraine, demanding a ceasefire and diplomatic solutions to the crisis. CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin said in a statement, “The White House and Congress are fueling this war with a steady stream of weapons instead of pushing for talks to end the conflict. That’s why we, the people, have to rise up with a demand of negotiations, not escalation.”
Elizabeth II, the Queen of the United Kingdom and the British Commonwealth, died Thursday at the age of 96. Elizabeth held the British throne for seven decades — second only to Louis XIV of France as the longest-reigning monarch in history. Her son Charles has now become Britain’s new king, taking the name of King Charles III. The queen’s death prompted tributes from British allies across the globe, including President Biden, while former British colonies have used the occasion to call on the U.K. to make amends for its colonial crimes. We’ll have more on the life and legacy of Elizabeth II after headlines.
Britain’s new prime minister, Liz Truss, said Thursday she is lifting a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — that’s been in effect since 2019. Truss said it’s part of a larger plan to increase domestic oil and gas development, aimed at lowering energy costs across the U.K.
Prime Minister Liz Truss: “We will end the moratorium on extracting our huge reserves of shale, which could get gas flowing as soon as six months, where there is local support for it.”
The plan was swiftly condemned by environmentalists, climate campaigners and some opposition members of Parliament. The civil disobedience group Extinction Rebellion promised more confrontational actions like blockades. One activist told The Guardian, “We will pull out all the stops. And this time we won’t settle for a moratorium either. We’re just going to keep on hammering this until we get the proper ban on fracking.”
South Carolina’s Senate has failed to pass a total ban on abortion that would have prohibited the procedure without exceptions for rape or incest. But lawmakers approved more restrictions to its existing state law, which bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. That law is currently blocked by the South Carolina Supreme Court due to ongoing litigation. The South Carolina Senate has proposed to reduce the time rape and incest survivors have to seek an abortion from 20 to 12 weeks.
The Michigan Supreme Court is allowing voters to decide in November whether to enshrine abortion rights to the state Constitution. The ballot initiative gathered over 700,000 signatures in support. This comes after a judge on Wednesday struck down a 1931 Michigan anti-abortion law that prohibited the procedure unless the pregnant person’s life was at risk.
The Justice Department said Thursday it will appeal a federal judge’s decision to appoint a “special master” to review whether the FBI properly seized documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home. The appeal comes after U.S. District Court Judge Aileen Cannon ordered the Justice Department to halt its review of thousands of classified documents recovered by agents executing a search warrant at Trump’s home on August 8. Many of the documents were marked “Top Secret.” Judge Cannon was nominated to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in 2020 by then-President Donald Trump. Her ruling this week led to widespread calls for her impeachment. Slate magazine legal writer Mark Joseph Stern tweeted, “The problem, of course, is that Cannon is not a real judge, but a Trump judge, and one of the most corrupt of the bunch.”
Donald Trump’s former White House political adviser Steve Bannon has surrendered to police in New York, where he faces state charges he defrauded donors to an anti-immigrant nonprofit called We Build the Wall. Bannon was first charged by federal prosecutors in 2020 but received a pardon from Donald Trump ahead of his trial. Two of Bannon’s co-defendants later pleaded guilty to the federal charges. New York Attorney General Letitia James announced the new state charges Thursday, saying Bannon illegally pocketed donations that were given to fund sections of a barrier wall to be built along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Attorney General Letitia James: “He basically stole millions of dollars to line his own pocket and those of other politically connected people. And today he and We Build the Wall are being charged for defrauding these donors out of more than $15 million and for laundering the proceeds to further advance and to conceal the fraud.”
A Democratic National Committee panel has rejected a proposal to ban dark money funding “during any and all Democratic primary elections.” The resolution, authored by Nevada Democratic Party Chair Judith Whitmer, would have also established procedures to investigate dark money groups and discipline DNC members for accepting donations from anonymous donors. The DNC’s rejection of a ban comes after dark money flooded Democratic primary races across the country this year, targeting progressive candidates seeking to challenge Democratic incumbents.
Public health experts are hailing a new malaria vaccine after it showed 80% efficacy at preventing the disease in a clinical trial of children in Burkina Faso. The vaccine was produced by researchers at the University of Oxford, who published their results in the British medical journal The Lancet this week. The vaccine is relatively cheap and easy to produce, and the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, the Serum Institute of India, says it can produce at least 200 million doses annually. Malaria is among the world’s deadliest infectious diseases, and the mosquito that carries it has been described as the “world’s deadliest animal.” In 2020, more than 640,000 people died of malaria — the vast majority of them in Africa.
North Korea’s leader pledged Thursday his nation will never give up nuclear weapons, as it seeks to counter the threat of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Kim Jong-un made the comments at a gathering of North Korea’s parliament, where members on Thursday approved a new law allowing North Korea to carry out a preventive nuclear first strike, while declaring the nation’s nuclear-armed status “irreversible.”
Kim Jong-un: “As long as nuclear weapons remain on Earth, and imperialism remains, and maneuvers of the United States and its followers against our republic are not terminated, our work to strengthen nuclear force will not cease.”
Hundreds of Google and Amazon tech workers are demanding the corporations drop a $1.2 billion program known as Project Nimbus, which will provide advanced artificial intelligence tools to the Israeli government and military. The #NoTechForApartheid campaign led protests Thursday in New York, San Francisco, Seattle and Durham, North Carolina. This is Ariel Koren, a Jewish former Google employee who says she was forced to quit due to her activism and support of Palestinian rights.
Ariel Koren: “Today, for the first time, across these four cities, over 10 Google workers will now be going public, unafraid, with their names, to denounce Project Nimbus and tell our companies, Google and Amazon, that workers say, 'No to tech for apartheid!'”