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zrodom
Sep 25, 2022
In Global News
Iranian state-organized marchers call for execution of protesters: A police motorcycle burns during a protest over the death of Mahsa Amini, a woman who died after being arrested by the Islamic republic's "morality police", in Tehran, Iran September 19, 2022. WANA via REUTERS On Friday, several Iranian cities held state-organized rallies to counter nationwide anti-government unrest. The crowds condemned the anti-government protesters as "Israel's soldiers" and chanted "Offenders of the Koran must be executed." These marches followed a strong warning from authorities with the army saying it would confront "the enemies" behind the unrest, which may signal a crackdown on the protests. The anti-government unrest was caused by Mahsa Amini, a 22 year old woman, dying in police custody after being arrested for wearing clothing deemed “unsuitable.” State TV said 35 people had been killed in the unrest, but analysts find it unlikely to immediately threaten the clerical rulers of Iran. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in New York on Thursday and raised human rights issues, a United Nations spokesperson said. Italy elections: Who's who and how the vote works: Giorgia Meloni is seeking to form a right-wing government with two other parties | Getty Images As Italy approaches its elections, Giorgia Meloni's far-right Brothers of Italy party is leading the polls and looking to form a right-wing government. In the last general election four years ago, her party attracted roughly 4% of the vote, but now she's in position to win a possible quarter of the vote. Backed by two other parties, the League and Forza Italia, polls suggest Meloni will head a majority coalition in Italy's two houses of parliament. This owes to her being the only major party leader who refused to join popular technocrat Mario Draghi's broad-based coalition, leaving her as a strong opposition candidate after its collapse in July. Her alliance wants to renegotiate Italy's massive EU COVID-19 recovery plan and have Italy's president elected by popular vote, which will require a two-thirds majority vote by parliament. Her losing will require a big showing from the likely runner-up - the center-left Democratic Party (PD) of Enrico Letta. He hoped to form a rival alliance with smaller parties, but this suffered a blow when the centrist pro-European Azione (Action) party pulled out due to being unwilling to cooperate with two of his other partners, the Italian Left and Green Europe. The winning alliance will need to win a majority of Italians’ votes to hold both houses of parliament, the Chamber of Deputies and Senate. Separatists in Ukraine’s Donbas to hold votes on joining Russia: A military vehicle drives along a street with a billboard that reads: "With Russia forever, September 27", prior to a referendum in Luhansk, Luhansk People's Republic controlled by Russia-backed separatists, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2022. (AP Photo/File) On Tuesday, the Russian state-news agency Tass reported that Russian-backed separatists in the so-called Luhansk People’s Republic (LPR) and Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR) will hold referendums from September 23-27 on joining Russia. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba responded by tweeting “Sham referendums will not change anything … Ukraine has every right to liberate its territories and will keep liberating them whatever Russia has to say.” This comes as Ukrainian forces are pushing Russian troops back eastern Ukraine. Officials in the Russian-controlled southern Kherson region on Tuesday also requested a referendum on joining Russia. In a post on Telegram, Volodymyr Saldo, the Russian-appointed head of Kherson, said he hoped the region would become “a part of Russia, a fully fledged subject of a united country,” Reuters reported. Sources: Iranian state-organised marchers call for execution of protesters | Reuters Italy elections: Who's who and how the vote works | BBC News Separatists in Ukraine’s Donbas to hold votes on joining Russia – POLITICO
Global News Summary: (9/19-9/25) content media
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zrodom
Sep 25, 2022
In Domestic News
Biden suggests support for filibuster change to legalize abortion: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at a Democratic National Committee event at the National Education Association headquarters in Washington, U.S., September 23, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein On Friday, President Joe Biden told Democratic voters that electing at least two more senators in November elections would open the possibility of Democrats restoring federally protected abortions. This would be done by removing the filibuster, a roadblock which increases the necessary votes to 60 for issues. By removing it, they can decrease the vote count to 50 and push a vote through with a bare majority. Democrats currently hold the necessary majority in the Senate, but Democratic senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema oppose ending the filibuster. Biden administration launches environmental justice office: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan announces a new federal office of environmental justice at a ceremony in Warrenton, N.C., Sept. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Hannah Schoenbaum) On Saturday, President Joe Biden’s top environment official unveiled a national office that will distribute $3 billion in block grants to underserved communities burdened by pollution. The Office of Environmental Justice and External Civil Rights is merging three existing programs to oversee a portion of Democrats’ $60 billion investment in environmental justice initiatives created by the Inflation Reduction Act. The president will nominate an assistant administrator to lead the new office, pending Senate confirmation. Biden has championed environmental justice as a centerpiece of his climate agenda since taking office, when he signed an executive order pledging 40% of the overall benefits from certain federal clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities overwhelmed by pollution. Now,Michael Regan, administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, said this new office will push pursuing environmental justice to become central to the EPA, equating it to other top offices like air and water, and cementing its principles so they will outlive the administration. 'Out of Control' STD Situation Prompts Call for Changes: This 1966 microscope photo made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows a tissue sample with the presence of numerous, corkscrew-shaped, darkly-stained, Treponema pallidum spirochetes, the bacterium responsible for causing syphilis. (Skip Van Orden/CDC via AP) US officials are calling for new prevention and treatment efforts for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). This comes as infection rates for some STDs, including gonorrhea and syphilis have been rising for years. This is in part due to testing and prevention efforts being hobbled by inadequate funding and delayed diagnosis and treatment of the diseases. The arrival of monkeypox has made the situation even worse. The CDC recently sent a letter to state and local health departments saying that their HIV and STD resources could be used to fight the monkeypox outbreak, but some experts say the government needs to provide more funding for STD work, rather than diverting it. Dr. Leandro Mena, who last year became director of the CDC's Division of STD Prevention, has called for reducing stigma, broadening screening and treatment services, and supporting the development and accessibility of at-home testing. Sources: Biden suggests support for filibuster change to legalize abortion | Reuters Biden administration launches environmental justice office | WTHR 'Out of Control' STD Situation Prompts Call for Changes
Domestic News Summary: (9/19-9/25) content media
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zrodom
Sep 19, 2022
In Global News
Germany takes control of Russian-owned oil refineries: The facilities of the oil refinery on the industrial site of PCK-Raffinerie GmbH, jointly owned by Rosneft, are illuminated in the evening in Schwedt, Germany, on May 4, 2022. (Patrick Pleul/dpa via AP, File) On Friday, Germany’s economy ministry announced that it has seized control of three Russian-owned oil refineries to secure supplies of gasoline, diesel, and aviation fuel. Germany's Federal Network Agency, which regulates its gas and electricity industries, will be in charge of controlling Rosneft's shares in the three refineries: PCK Schwedt, near Berlin, MiRo, near Heidelberg, and Bayernoil in Bavaria. The ministry says they account for roughly 12% of Germany's oil refining capacity and that this was meant to "counter the threat to the security of energy supply.” Europe has been embroiled in a bitter energy standoff with Russia since Moscow invaded Ukraine in late February, leading its imports of Russian oil and natural gas to have fallen sharply. The Schwedt refinery is especially important to Germany's energy needs, processing about 220,000 barrels of crude a day. It alone supplies about 90% of Berlin's fuel, according to Reuters. Magdalena Andersson: Swedish PM resigns as right-wing parties win vote: Magdalena Andersson was Sweden's first female prime minister After losing narrowly in last Sunday’s election to a right-wing bloc, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has resigned. The loss is a major blow to the Social Democrats, Sweden’s largest party, who controlled the former government. This is because bloc politics usually decides who gets into power in Sweden and the right bloc has obtained a razor-thin majority..Moderate Party leader Ulf Kristersson is now expected to form a coalition government made up of the Sweden Democrats, Moderate Party, Christian Democrats, and Liberals. He has already held talks this week with the leaders of the Christian Democrats and Liberal parties as well as the nationalists. The close-fought election campaign was dominated by gangs, immigration, integration issues, and rising electricity prices. This marks a major turning point in Swedish politics as the right-wing parties including the Sweden Democrats, a neo-nazi group, now have control of the government. This owes to Kristersson and the Sweden Democrats opening cooperation in 2019 after years of declining to work together. The Sweden Democrats, once treated as a pariah by political parties, have now won around 20% of the vote with promises to "make Sweden safe again" by increasing prison sentences and restricting immigration. Sunday's vote was one of the closest elections ever in Sweden, with thousands of overseas and postal votes still being counted. Turkey's Erdogan targets joining Shanghai Cooperation Organization: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends an extended-format meeting of heads of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) member states at a summit in Samarkand, Uzbekistan September 16, 2022. REUTERS Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan is aiming to join the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). While speaking with supporters after the SCO summit in Uzbekistan before heading to the United States, he said "Our relations with these countries will be moved to a much different position with this step," with membership being the target. Turkey is currently in talks with the SCO, whose members are China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Amid bilateral discussions at the summit, Erdogan said Turkey and Russia had reached a deal resolving a dispute over a nuclear power plant being built at Akkuyu in southern Turkey. The project was announced last month as a way to become energy independent and to strengthen bonds with SCO countries. Sources: Germany takes control of Russian-owned oil refineries | CNN Business Magdalena Andersson: Swedish PM resigns as right-wing parties win vote - BBC News Turkey's Erdogan targets joining Shanghai Cooperation Organisation -media - SWI swissinfo.ch
Global News Summary: (9/12/9/18) content media
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zrodom
Sep 19, 2022
In Domestic News
US appeals court rejects big tech's right regulate online speech: On Friday, the US 5th Circuit appeals court upheld a Texas law prohibiting large social media companies from banning or censoring users based on their point of view. In addition to this it has a provision allowing either users or the Texas attorney general to sue to enforce the law. Technology industry groups call this a setback, saying all it will do is turn platforms into bastions of dangerous content. The largely 2-1 ruling makes it possible that the US Supreme Court will rule on the law, which conservatives say is necessary to protect their views from "Big Tech" censorship. A Supreme Court ruling is made more likely as this contradicts a ruling by the 11th Circuit in May which found that most of a similar Florida law cannot be enforced as it violates companies' free speech rights. The companies affected by such laws have sought to preserve their ability to regulate user content when they believe it may lead to violence, citing concerns that unregulated platforms will enable extremists and terrorist groups. The association on Friday said it disagreed with forcing private companies to give equal treatment to all viewpoints. "'God Bless America' and 'Death to America' are both viewpoints, and it is unwise and unconstitutional for the state of Texas to compel a private business to treat those the same," it said in a statement. Mortgage rates surpass 6 percent for the first time since 2008: The 30-year fixed-rate average hit 6.02 percent this week, reaching its highest level in 14 years. (Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock) This month, interest rate averages for US homes have risen a full percentage point. This follows them settling down from 5.8% in June to 5.13% as fears of inflation took effect. The sudden spike has decreased sales of homes as they become less affordable. Though prices have begun to moderate, demand for mortgages has fallen as swiftly as rates have risen. According to Bob Broeksmit, MBA’s president and chief executive, “With all eyes on the Federal Reserve’s next steps to tame high inflation, borrowers can expect continued volatility in mortgage rates.” Despite more homes being on the market, higher prices and stagnant wages are keeping potential buyers on the sidelines. August’s inflation reading surprised investors, who are wondering whether the Federal Reserve will consider lifting its benchmark rate by one percentage point, rather than .75 percent as it did in July. When investors are worried about inflation, their appetite for buying bonds diminishes because the return on their investment is less when inflation is high. This decreases the value of houses as mortgage rates tend to follow the same trend as Treasury yields. The yield on the 10-year Treasury popped back up to 3.42 percent on Tuesday before slipping to 3.41 percent on Wednesday, its highest level since mid-June. This allows the Federal Reserve to move forward with their plan raising interest rates, which will indirectly increase the prices of homes even further. Tropical storm now Hurricane Fiona as it begins to blow through Puerto Rico: Tropical Storm Fiona is now Hurricane Fiona due to the storm’s winds increasing to reach Category 1 status, according to the National Hurricane Center. Fiona now brings 80 mph maximum sustained winds with higher gusts, the NHC said, as it moves west northwest at 8 mph. This comes as Fiona hits Puerto Rico and as the territory is still recovering from 2017’s Hurricane Maria. The storm is currently about 50 miles South of Puerto Rico, but tropical storm force winds can extend up to 140 miles from the center. Puerto Rico Governor Pedro Pierluisi declared a state of emergency Saturday, requiring only essential public services workers and first responders to report for work. Then Sunday morning, President Joe Biden declared a federal state of emergency for Puerto Rico, which will free up FEMA funds to be used to address the coming disaster. According to an 11:00 AM advisory by the NHCC, “A northwestward motion is expected to begin later (Sunday) and continue through Monday, followed by a turn toward the north-northwest on Tuesday.” Sources: U.S. appeals court rejects big tech's right regulate online speech | Reuters Mortgage rates surpass 6 percent for the first time since 2008 Tropical storm now Hurricane Fiona as it begins to blow through Puerto Rico | Tyler Morning Telegraph
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zrodom
Sep 12, 2022
In Global News
Queen Elizabeth II has died: On Thursday, Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at her Scottish estate. The UK’s new Prime Minister Liz Truss, who was appointed by the Queen on Tuesday, said the monarch was the rock on which modern Britain was built, who had "provided us with the stability and strength that we needed" going on to offer her devotion to the new king. King Charles III, for his part, said the death of his beloved mother was a "moment of great sadness" for him and his family and that her loss would be "deeply felt" around the world. An official state funeral is expected to be held in the next two weeks. Ukraine retakes territory in Kharkiv region as Russian front crumbles: Ukrainian forces are seizing areas of previously Russian-held territory in the east in a breakthrough that could be a turning point in the war. Vitaly Ganchev, head of the Russian-backed administration in the Kharkiv region, said on state television that "The enemy is being delayed as much as possible, but several settlements have already come under the control of Ukrainian armed formations." Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy later said Kyiv's forces had liberated over 30 settlements in the Kharkiv region so far and that fighting continued in the eastern Donbas region and the south. Such advances have largely been unheard of since Russia abandoned its assault on Kyiv in March, shifting the war mainly into a grind along entrenched front lines. The city is an important target due to connecting several of the main railway lines supplying troops at the front. Western military analysts say the advance could shut the supply lines Moscow has relied on and potentially leave thousands of Russian troops encircled. In the latest reported strike on civilians, Ukrainian officials said Russia had fired across the border, hitting a hospital in the northeastern Sumy region on Friday morning, though Russia denies targeting civilians. The Ukrainians broke through in the east a week after Kyiv announced the start of a long-awaited counter-offensive hundreds of kilometers away at the other end of the front line, in the southern province of Kherson. Ukrainian officials said Russia moved thousands of troops south to respond to the Kherson advance, leaving other parts of the front line exposed. Russia's RIA agency quoted Russian-appointed Kherson authorities as saying some Ukrainian troops were captured and some Polish tanks they were using were destroyed. Ukraine has been using new Western-supplied artillery and rockets to hit Russian rear positions in the south, with the aim of trapping thousands of Russian troops on the west bank of the wide Dnipro River. Australia sets new climate target in landmark bill: Australia's Climate Change Bill aims to slash emissions by at least 43% by 2030 (GETTY IMAGES) Australia, one of the world's biggest emitters per capita, has set a climate target to bring it more in line with other developed countries. The country has long faced demands for a higher goal as well as a ban on new fossil fuel projects in the country, but critics say government plans to reach the target are lacking detail. The former government had angered allies with its short-term emissions reductions target, which was about half what the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says is needed if the world has any chance of limiting warming to 1.5C. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had lauded the Climate Change Bill as an end to a decade of climate policy inaction. The Labor government's climate bill cleared the Senate by 37 votes to 30 after accepting minor amendments by independent David Pocock. The Greens party calls this a "small step" in tackling the climate crisis. Most also want a ban on new coal and gas projects, a necessary step in achieving the climate goal. The current bill could take Australia's carbon emission from 24 tons per person down to 14. Sources: Queen Elizabeth II has died - BBC News Ukraine retakes territory in Kharkiv region as Russian front crumbles | Reuters Australia sets new climate target in landmark bill - BBC News
Global News Summary: (9/5-9/11) content media
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zrodom
Sep 12, 2022
In Domestic News
Yellen says inflation and higher gas prices remain a ‘risk’: WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen delivers remarks during a press conference at the Treasury Department on July 28, 2022 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) On Sunday, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said there is a ‘risk’ that US gas prices could rise again this winter. This could lead Americans to face a spike in prices similar to the one seen in summer. When asked during the State of the Union if Americans should worry about gas prices rising, Yellen said “Well, it’s a risk. And it’s a risk that we’re working on the price cap to try to address.” The price cap is meant as a way to both lower the revenue Russia can use to support its war in Ukraine while maintaining current global oil prices. The recent decline in prices owes to recession fears having knocked down oil prices and some Americans cutting back on driving when gas prices spiked above $5 a gallon. Earlier this month, finance ministers from the G7 group of countries said they would ban the provision of “services which enable maritime transportation of Russian-origin crude oil and petroleum products globally” above the price cap. They intend to have the maximum price set by “a broad coalition” of countries. It would take effect alongside the EU’s next batch of sanctions, which include a ban on seaborne imports of Russian oil starting in early December. Republicans push to restrict mail-in voting ahead of US November midterms: A worker removes mail-in ballots from envelopes at the Sacramento Registrar of Voters in Sacramento, California, U.S., September 14, 2021. REUTERS/Fred Greaves The Republican Party has pushed new curbs on mail-in voting. This owes to former President Donald Trump's claims that voter fraud cost him the 2020 presidential election. This is in spite of multiple studies finding that higher mail-in voting participation generally does not turn out more Democratic voters than Republicans or improve the odds of Democrats winning. According to University of Chicago public policy professor Anthony Fowler, mail-in voting has higher risks of tampering as the ballot travels a longer distance. He concludes that voting on paper in person is safest, though he recognizes the importance of enfranchising voters unable to reach polling places, such as those lacking reliable transportation, the elderly, and residents of rural areas. According to the Brennan Center for Justice and Voting Rights Lab, 18 states, mostly Republican-controlled legislatures, passed laws after the 2020 election restricting mail-in voting access while 22 expanded it, all with the stated aim of election security. Some legislation both expanded and restricted it, such as an Indiana law limiting where voters could drop their absentee ballots while making it easier to return one for another voter and to fix mistakes on them. The most major changes have been in Texas where a 2021 law requires that election workers automatically reject mail-in ballots using a different ID number than what is registered. Their mail ballot rejection rate in March was 12.4%, according to data from the secretary of state’s office, compared to Texas’ 0.8% during the 2020 election. In subsequent, though smaller elections in Texas, the rejection rate fell to under 4%, which the law’s defenders said proved that voters had adjusted to the new requirement, but voter advocates say those elections’ turnout was too small to prove the problem was fixed. Manchin’s big energy deal draws pushback from many Dems: President Joe Biden hands the pen he used to sign the Democrats' landmark climate change and health care bill to Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of N.Y., watches in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, Aug. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File) Joe Manchin, moderate Virginia Senator, has compromised with his Democratic party to pass legislation. To gain his support for a bill curbing climate change, Manchin said he secured a commitment from President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders to move a permitting-streamlining package for energy projects through Congress before Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year. Now the climate bill is law, but key Democratic constituency groups are opposing the proposal due to it being bad for the environment. Should this continue, it will complicate the party’s efforts to emphasize this summer’s legislative victories for the November midterm elections, which will determine which party controls the House and the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says he will attach Manchin’s preferred measure to must-pass legislation so as to push it through, though such legislation has yet to be released. Sources: Yellen says inflation and higher gas prices remain a 'risk' - WISH-TV | Indianapolis News | Indiana Weather Explainer: Republicans push to restrict mail-in voting ahead of U.S. November midterms | Reuters Manchin’s big energy deal draws pushback from many Dems | AP News
Domestic News Summary: (9/5-9/11) content media
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zrodom
Sep 04, 2022
In Global News
G7 countries back plan to cap price of Russian oil: Tanks belonging to Transneft, a Russian state-owned company that operates the country's oil pipelines, in Ust-Luga, Russia, in March 2022. Igor Grussak/picture alliance via Getty Images On Friday, the G7 Finance Ministers agreed to move forward with a plan to put a price cap on purchases of Russian oil and petroleum products in response to its continued invasion of Ukraine. This cap is aimed at preventing Russia from funding its war by keeping the Kremlin from further profiting from its oil exports while limiting the invasion's effect on global energy prices. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen supported the bid in a statement that the agreement is "a critical step forward in achieving our dual goals of putting downward pressure on global energy prices while denying Putin revenue to fund his brutal war in Ukraine." The effect of the price cap can already be seen as Russia attempts to negotiate discounted oil trades. Russia, for its part, is threatening to withhold oil sales from countries taking part in the capping plan. Tens of thousands protest in Prague against Czech government, EU and NATO: On Saturday, an estimated 70,000 people protested in Prague against the Czech government. They called on the ruling coalition to do more to combat rising energy prices and voiced opposition to the European Union and NATO. The group was made up of several fringe and far-right groups including the Communist party. They want the central European nation to be militarily neutral and ensure direct contracts with gas suppliers, including Russia. "The aim of our demonstration is to demand change, mainly in solving the issue of energy prices, especially electricity and gas, which will destroy our economy this autumn," event co-organizer Jiri Havel told iDNES.cz news website. The protest at Wenceslas Square, estimated to be 70,000 large, in the city center was held a day after the government survived a no-confidence vote amid opposition claims of inaction against inflation and energy prices. The vote showed how Europe's energy crisis and inflation are fuelling political instability. According to Prime Minister Petr Fiala, who leads the center-right, five-party coalition, "The protest on Wenceslas Square was called by forces that are pro-Russian, are close to extreme positions and are against the interests of the Czech Republic." Chile votes on proposed constitution with big changes: Demonstrators gather to rally against the new draft of the proposed Constitution, in Santiago, Chile, Saturday, Aug. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Matias Basualdo) Chileans are voting Sunday to see whether they adopt a new constitution which could fundamentally change the South American country. It is intended to replace a constitution imposed by a military dictatorship 41 years ago. Although the population largely agrees to casting aside the dictatorial era constitution, they are divided over what it should be replaced with. The vote is viewed by many to also be a referendum for President Gabriel Boric, one of the main proponents of the new constitution, as his popularity has plunged since taking office in March. Should the new constitution pass, it will characterize Chile as a plurinational state, establish autonomous Indigenous territories, and recognize a parallel justice system in those areas. This is contrasted by the current document which favors the private sector over the state in aspects like education, pensions and, health care. While the new document was favored during its drafting, public mood has since soured with Paulina Lobos, a major advocate against, calling it “an imposition by leftist radicals on society at large.” Its supporters view such sentiments as being fueled by lies and fake news. Sources: G7 countries back plan to cap price of Russian oil over Ukraine invasion Tens of thousands protest in Prague against Czech government, EU and NATO | Reuters Chile votes on proposed constitution with big changes | AP News
Global News Summary: (8/29-9/4) content media
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zrodom
Sep 04, 2022
In Domestic News
Challenges to citizen-led ballot initiatives in Missouri, other states: Members of the Michigan Board of State Canvassers, from left, Richard Houskamp, Anthony Daunt and Mary Ellen Gurewitz listen to attorneys Olivia Flower and Steve Liedel during a hearing, Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022, in Lansing, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File) Hundreds of thousands of people have signed petitions this year in support of ballot initiatives expanding voting access, protect abortion, and legalize marjuana in Arizona, Arkansas and Michigan. In spite of this, these may be blocked by Republican officials due to lack of signatures, poorly worded ballots, or procedural shortcomings. In addition to this, Republican lawmakers in Arkansas and Arizona have amended the ballot process in their states to make approving citizen initiatives more difficult in the future. This is part of a several year trend as Democratic-aligned groups have increasingly used petitions to force public votes on issues that Republican-led legislatures have opposed. While some Democrats assert that this is subverting the will of the people, the Republicans responsible contend that they are protecting the integrity of lawmaking against well-funded interest groups. While about half the states have citizen initiatives, they still are required to be verified by executive and judicial officials to confirm they are clear and properly formatted. This past week in Michigan, two Republican members of the bipartisan Board of State Canvassers blocked initiatives to enshrine abortion in the state constitution and expand opportunities for voting. Both had significantly more than the required 425,000 signatures needed, but GOP board members shot down the voting measure for unclear wording and the abortion measure was flawed because of spacing problems that scrunched some words together. Both decisions have been appealed to the Democrat majority Michigan Supreme Court. Trump moves to general election mode with Pennsylvania rally: Pages from the affidavit by the FBI in support of obtaining a search warrant for former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate are photographed Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick) Former President Donald Trump held a rally to support Dr. Mehmet Oz’s run for Pennsylvania Governor. This is Trump’s first rally since the FBI raided his home in Mar-a-Lago. He used the platform as a chance to protest the search, calling it “one of the most shocking abuses of power by any administration in American history.” This was in part a response to President Biden’s recent assertion that MAGA Republicans are a threat to democracy. Oz is one of several inexperienced polarizing Trump-endorsed candidates across the nation to have made it through their primaries. This may prove costly for Republicans as these candidates may lose races that were previously thought secure due to soaring inflation, high gas prices, and Biden's slumping approval ratings. This has led to a divide between the candidates who are playing to their base, pushing policies such as total bans on abortion, while others are playing down their Trump-endorsement and the political promises they made to win primaries but fear will alienate moderates. Fire-stricken California town has learned to live on edge: Vehicles and and homes destroyed by the Mill Fire line a neighborhood in Weed, Calif., on Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022. (AP Photo/Noah Berger) Recently, a small community in California about 280 miles away from San Francisco had to be evacuated due to fire. The fire spread to Weed’s Lincoln Heights neighborhood from Roseburg Forest Products, a company producing wood products. Weed has seen three major fires since 2014, a period of extreme drought that has prompted the largest and most destructive fires in California history. This persists as the state moves into what is traditionally its worst fire season. Fire crews worked late into the night to protect structures in Weed and in a subdivision to the east known as Carrick Addition, but unfortunately about 100 structures were destroyed despite their best efforts. Sources: Challenges to citizen-led ballot initiatives in Missouri, other states Trump rallies for Oz, Mastriano in Pa. amid midterm worries Fire-stricken California town has learned to live on edge | AP News
Domestic News Summary: (8/29-9/4) content media
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zrodom
Aug 28, 2022
In Global News
Fears of a radiation leak mount near Ukrainian nuclear plant: This composite of satellite images taken by Planet Labs PBC shows smoke rising from fires at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeastern Ukraine on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022. (Planet Labs PBC via AP) As of last Friday, authorities are distributing iodine tablets to residents near Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in case of a radiation leak. This comes amid mounting fears that the fighting around the complex could trigger a catastrophe. The move came a day after the plant was temporarily knocked offline because of what officials said was fire damage to a transmission line.The Zaporizhzhia plant has been occupied by Russian forces and run by Ukrainian workers since early in the 6-month-old war. The two sides have repeatedly accused each other of shelling the site. The UN’s atomic energy agency has been attempting to send in a team to inspect and help secure the plant. Officials said preparations for the trip were underway, though it remains unclear when it might take place. U.S. and China reach landmark audit deal in boon for Chinese tech companies: A Chinese national flag flutters outside the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) building on the Financial Street in Beijing, China July 9, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang On Friday, Beijing and Washington took a major step towards ending a dispute that threatened to remove Chinese companies from the US stock exchange. The two countries signed a pact allowing US regulators to vet accounting firms in China and Hong Kong. Regulators have demanded access to audit papers of US-listed Chinese companies for over a decade, but Beijing has been reluctant to let overseas regulators inspect its firms. The deal marks a partial thaw in relations amid tensions over Taiwan and comes as a relief for hundreds of Chinese companies, investors, and US exchanges. According to US SEC Chair Gary Gensler, if it works in practice then it will prevent some 200 Chinese companies from being banned from US exchanges. Though this is intended as only a first step, the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB), which oversees audits of the US.-listed companies, said it was the most detailed agreement the regulator has ever reached with China. The long-running dispute came to a head in 2020 when the United States passed the Holding Foreign Companies Accountable Act, which forced the SEC to take a tougher hand with US-listed Chinese companies. The PCAOB and SEC expect to make a determination on China's compliance with inspections by the end of the year, officials said. Sudanese journalists form independent union to defend freedoms: A Sudanese journalist casts her vote in the election of a syndicate leader and executive committee in Khartoum on 27 August 2022 (AFP) Sudanese journalists have formed the country's first independent professional union for decades. Campaigners consider this an important step towards reestablishing freedoms after a military coup. This belief is largely due to the role of shadow unions that sprang up in opposition to autocrat Omar al-Bashir in an uprising that toppled him in 2019. A military coup last October ended a power-sharing arrangement with civilians that followed the uprising. The coup also led to the suspension of a radio station, and some TV journalists were subject to attacks, raids, or arrests. These were blamed on security forces and loyalists of the former regime. Journalists aligned with Bashir had attempted to prevent Sunday's vote going ahead by raising an ongoing legal complaint, saying the syndicate could not replace the pre-existing Bashir-era union. However, election committee head Faisal Mohamed Salih, who served as information minister in a civilian-led government between the uprising and the coup, said the vote "was executed in a completely democratic way... smoothly and with a high turnout and excitement among the journalists." Sources: Fears of a radiation leak mount near Ukrainian nuclear plant | AP News U.S. and China reach landmark audit deal in boon for Chinese tech companies Sudanese journalists form independent union to defend freedoms | Reuters
Global News Summary: (8/22-8/28) content media
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zrodom
Aug 28, 2022
In Domestic News
Biden's student loan forgiveness plan criticized by Republicans and a few Democrats: Last week, President Biden unveiled his plan to forgive between $10,000 and $20,000 of student loan debt for debtors making under $125,000 a year. The White House says that by wiping billions of dollars of this debt, it will benefit up to 43 million Americans. This plan faces criticism from Republicans, economists, and even some among his own Democratic party. Senior administrative officials say that the resumption of loan repayments in January will offset any effects the loan forgiveness has on the economy, though this notion is opposed by those, such as Former top Obama economic official Jason Furman, who argue that, "Pouring roughly half trillion dollars of gasoline on the inflationary fire that is already burning is reckless." The plan has also been criticized for benefiting high-earning college attendees rather than members of the working class who tend to earn hundreds of thousands of dollars less than their counterparts. Most of all the plan has been criticized for failing to address the underlying problem of the high cost of attending college. The Center for a Responsible Budget, a non-profit organization, estimates that “the overall amount of outstanding federal student loan debt will return to $1.6 trillion (its current level) within five years." Matters are made worse as the president and Cardona are attempting to use the HEROES Act, a post 9/11 law which allows for debt cancellation when it's "in connection with a war or other military operation or national emergency." This is problematic as the administration is attempting to use the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as the national emergency while simultaneously claiming that the US has undergone a strong economic recovery. Some attorneys doubt that legal justification will hold up in court and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has stated that she believes the president lacks the authority to unilaterally cancel student debt. Takeaways from the unsealed Mar-a-Lago search affidavit: Pages from the affidavit by the FBI in support of obtaining a search warrant for former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate are photographed Friday, Aug. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick) On Friday, the Justice Department unsealed the FBI affidavit behind the unprecedented search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. While the document released is highly redacted, it includes new details about the sheer volume of sensitive and highly classified information believed to be stored at the former president’s Florida beachfront home. The affidavit notes that the residential suite and other areas at the club where documents were suspected to still be kept were not authorized locations for the storage of classified information. Despite this, the affidavit reveals that, of the batch of 15 boxes that the National Archives and Records Administration retrieved from Trump’s home in January, 14 contained documents marked as classified. The affidavit makes clear yet again that Trump had numerous opportunities to return the documents to the government, though Trump insists that he fully cooperated with officials. The document goes on to say investigators had “probable cause to believe that evidence of obstruction” would be found. Trump’s lawyer argues that presidents have “absolute” authority to declassify documents while the man himself continues to insist that he did nothing wrong. Powell warns of ‘some pain’ ahead as the Fed fights to bring down inflation: On Friday, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell stated his commitment to opposing inflation. To this end the central bank will continue to raise interest rates even though it will cause “some pain” to the U.S. economy. A series of four consecutive interest rate increases totals 2.25 percentage points, though Powell said this is “no place to stop or pause” even though benchmark rates are probably around an area considered neither stimulative nor restrictive to growth. These remarks come among signs of inflation potentially peaking, though decline is not evident. Powell has stated his intent to have the Fed continue pushing ahead until inflation moves down closer to its 2% long-range goal. Though the economy is coming off consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth, a commonly held definition of a recession, Powell and other economists continue to insist that the economy is strong if slowing. Sources: Biden's student loan forgiveness plan criticized by Republicans and a few Democrats - CBS News Takeaways from the unsealed Mar-a-Lago search affidavit | AP News Powell warns of 'some pain' ahead as the Fed fights to bring down inflation
Domestic News Summary: (8/22-8/28) content media
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zrodom
Aug 21, 2022
In Global News
US to hold trade talks with Taiwan, island drills military: Taiwanese soldiers operate a Oerlikon 35mm twin cannon anti-aircraft gun at a base in Taiwan’s southeastern Hualien county on Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Johnson Lai) The US will hold trade talks with Taiwan as a sign of support for the small nation which China claims to be its own territory. This announcement comes after China blocked imports of Taiwanese food products and fired missiles into the sea as an act of intimidation against Taiwan when US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi visited the island earlier this month. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s government has criticized the negotiations due to its stance being that Taiwan has no right to interact with foreign nations and that these negotiations are a threat to China’s sovereignty. China warned the US that encouraging the island to make its de facto independence permanent will lead to war. A second group of US Senators led by Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, arrived in Taiwan on Sunday and met with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. While the US’s policy regarding Taiwan is not changing, the trade talks can be expected to deepen diplomatic relations and informal ties. If the talks succeed in increasing exports to the US then they will allow Taiwan to blunt China’s efforts to use its status as Taiwan’s largest trading partner as political leverage. UK port workers join rail staff in strikes as prices soar: London buses are parked at Ealing Broadway as some bus routes are on strike in London, Friday, Aug. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein) Nearly 2,000 workers at the UK's largest container port have agreed to launch an eight-day strike starting Sunday over a pay dispute. the latest industrial action to hit the U.K. economy. This comes as the UK is facing travel disruptions caused by an ongoing summer strike by rail workers seeking better pay and job security to compensate for rising food and energy prices. The Unite union alleges that the port prioritizes profit over paying decent wages to its workers. Port authorities have said that they are disappointed that Unite did not “come to the table for constructive discussions to find a resolution.” As Felixstowe handles almost half of the container freight entering the country, the strike could have freight be directed elsewhere in Europe. In addition to what the UK is already facing, a growing number of workers are planning strikes as the country faces its greatest cost-of-living crisis in decades. Emirates to suspend Nigeria flights over blocked funds: An Emirates Boeing 777 stands at the gate at Dubai International Airport as another prepares to land on the runway in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell, File) On Thursday, the Dubai based Emirates airline announced that it will suspend all flights to Nigeria starting on September 1 due to the West African country owing them millions of dollars of funds. The airline, already being owed $85 million, said it made the “difficult decision” to limit further losses, citing circumstances “beyond our control,” in a statement. According to the International Air Transport Association, between the other international airlines operating in Nigeria there is an estimated total of $450 million trapped in the country. Sindy Foster, a Lagos-based aviation expert, says that the issue of trapped revenues has been “a recurring problem” building up since 2016 when several airlines pulled out of Nigeria over a similar issue. Emirates’ planned suspension of flights worries analysts who predict that this could scare away investors during a time that foreign investment is already low for Nigeria. Africa’s largest economy is facing a sharp lack of foreign exchange despite being one of Africa’s largest exporters of crude oil. Emirates says that it will assist passengers affected by the planned suspension in making alternative travel arrangements and promises to reevaluate the suspension “should there be any positive developments” regarding the trapped funds. If Nigeria fails to act then this could prompt other foreign airlines to take similar measures and could pose a major threat to the Nigerian economy. Sources: US to hold trade talks with Taiwan, island drills military - The Washington Post UK port workers join rail staff in strikes as prices soar Emirates to suspend Nigeria flights over blocked funds | AP News
Global News Summary: (8/15-8/21) content media
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zrodom
Aug 21, 2022
In Domestic News
Judge: Prosecutors cannot enforce Michigan’s abortion ban: On Friday, a Michigan judge blocked county prosecutors from enforcing the state’s 1931 abortion ban. Oakland County Judge Jacob Cunningham came to this decision after two days of testimony from abortion providers and the state’s chief medical officer. During this ruling he says he found these witnesses to be “extremely credible” while stating those provided by the defense were “unhelpful and biased”. The 1931 law, which bans abortion in all cases excepting those where the mother’s life is endangered, was retroactively blocked from going to effect by a preliminary injunction. Prior to the latest court ruling, the State Court of Appeals had ruled that county prosecutors were not covered by this injunction, thus allowing them to enforce the 1931 law as they saw fit. David Kallman, an attorney for two Republican county prosecutors working to appeal the case, has stated his opposition to the recent ruling as being because, “the judge ignored all of the clear legal errors and problems in this case…simply because the issue is abortion.” His side believes that laws should not be changed through injunctions and court decisions while their opposition believe that allowing the ban to be enforced would only cause confusion. The issue of abortion in the state is expected to be decided by a ballot seeking to enshrine its protection in Michigan’s constitution. The status of abortion come November will likely have a deciding impact on this battleground state’s general election. Judge may seek to unseal portions of Mar-a-Lago affidavit, despite DOJ objections: Armed Secret Service agents stand outside an entrance to former President Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, late Monday, Aug. 8, 2022, in Palm Beach, Fla. Terry Renna/AP Last week, a warrant was issued allowing federal agents to search former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. The lack of transparency concerning what was in the affidavit used as the basis for the warrant has led a Florida magistrate judge to say on Thursday that he may push to unseal portions of it despite objections by the US Justice Department. While the Justice Department has recognized the heightened public interest of the case, they have pushed back by saying that keeping it sealed holds greater interest for the public as the investigation is still in its early stages and revealing information now could endanger potential witnesses. Even after hearing the government’s arguments Judge Bruce Reinhart believes that there are at least portions of it that can be left unsealed. In light of this disagreement, he has given the DOJ until next Thursday to file its redactions. There are also a number of media organizations calling for the affidavit’s release in lieu of the historic significance of law enforcement searching a former president’s home. The media differs from Judge Reinhart in that they call for the release of the full affidavit as any redactions would render the text “devoid of meaningful content." While former President Trump has demanded that the affidavit be released and seized documents be returned to him, he has yet to take any legal action in response to the search. Crisis looms without big cuts to over-tapped Colorado River: The Colorado River flows at Horseshoe Bend in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area on June 8, 2022, in Page, Ariz. Las Vegas and Phoenix may be forced to ration water or restrict growth. (AP Photo/Brittany Peterson, File) For years the seven states which depend on water from the Colorado River have taken more water from it than can be replenished by nature. Despite the severity of this, the states missed a deadline this week to propose the major cuts in water usage which the federal government insists are necessary. The federal government has failed to impose restrictions on the states’ water usage as such intervention will likely lead to lengthy court cases and further delay action. The river, stretching from the Rocky Mountains to the deserts in the Southwest, provides water for 40 million people and sustains a $15 billion agriculture industry. Unfortunately agreements on water usage, dating back over a century, have been based on faulty assumptions overestimating the amount of water available. Lake Powell and Lake Mead, the two largest reservoirs that hold Colorado River water, have fallen to dangerously low levels faster than anyone expected. This threatens the supply of water to cities as well as the production of hydro-electric power. Despite failing to take any action when the Bureau of Reclamation said 15% to 30% cuts to their water use were necessary, officials continue to reassure people that the system will not fail and that a solution will soon be reached. Some areas have already implemented strict measures to conserve water such as limiting lawn watering and paying farmers not to plant fields, even banning new water hookups. The climate legislation President Joe Biden signed on Tuesday provides $4 billion to help Colorado River users to cut back on their consumption though it remains unclear how this is meant to work. Sources: Judge: Prosecutors cannot enforce Michigan's abortion ban | AP News Judge may seek to unseal portions of Mar-a-Lago affidavit, despite DOJ objections - ABC News Crisis looms without big cuts to over-tapped Colorado River - AP News
Domestic News Summary: (8/15-8/21) content media
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zrodom
Apr 17, 2022
In Global News
Kremlin crackdown silences war protests, from benign to bold: A worker paints over graffiti saying 'Yes to Peace!' on a wall of an apartment building in St. Petersburg, Russia, March 18, 2022. (AP Photo, File) Hundreds of Russians are facing charges for speaking out against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Much of these charges stem from a law passed last month that outlaws disparaging the country’s military. According to human rights groups, at least 23 people have been brought up on criminal charges because of this law while another 500 are facing misdemeanors. One protestor was arrested for standing next to a Kyiv monument in Russia, built to commemorate the city’s stand against Nazi Germany in WW2, while holding a copy of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. Mexican president poised to win historic, polarizing referendum on his rule: A NATO flag is seen at the Alliance in Brussels, Belgium on Oct 21, 2021. (Photo: Reuters/Pascal Rossignol) Russia is concerned by increased NATO activity in the arctic, citing fears of unintended incidents occurring in the region. Finland and Sweden, which are considering joining NATO, have held joint military drills with the organization since March. Another large military drill was held recently in northern Norway. Russia has derided these operations because holding them, “does not contribute to the security of the region.” An ally of Putin warned NATO that, if Sweden and Finland join the alliance, Russia will launch nuclear and hypersonic missiles at Europe. In France’s election, a meaty issue unites Jews and Muslims: French Presidential candidate Le Pen has announced that under her all animals would need to be stunned before slaughter. Her opposition argues that this is meant to target minority religious populations. It is opposed by many Jews and Muslims in the country, who believe their ritual slaughters to be more humane. According to Le Pen, “What we want is to truly stop this animal suffering, very intense, that is the consequence of slaughter without stunning.” She is, however, not opposed to other practices considered to be animal cruelty such as bullfighting and hunting. France being a major exporter of kosher meat means that a change in policy will have major consequences for Jewish people across Europe. Sources: Kremlin crackdown silences war protests, from benign to bold | AP News Russia calls increased NATO military activity in the Arctic worrying, warns of "unintended incidents," TASS reports | Reuters In France’s election, a meaty issue unites Jews and Muslims - AP News
Global News Summary: (4/11-4/17) content media
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zrodom
Apr 17, 2022
In Domestic News
Thinking small: Biden scrounges for ways to break through: President Joe Biden walks to speak to reporters before boarding Air Force One at Des Moines International Airport, in Des Moines Iowa, Tuesday, April 12, 2022. (Carolyn Kaster | AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) As US President Biden’s domestic agenda stalls, he and his team look for ways to show the American people that they are still making progress. They are attempting to do this through small, discrete announcements. This was seen last week in his attempts to get more truck drivers on the road, him updating the Affordable Care Act with the support of former President Obama, and signing bipartisan legislation to help fund the US Postal Service. While all of the policies Biden is pushing will impact the lives of Americans, they fall short of the administration’s goals. Home prices are insane, but at least there’s a silver lining on the tax front: Housing prices continue to rise, though there is some good news for homebuyers. According to a recent report by data analytics company Attom, property taxes in 2021 only rose 1.6% despite a 16% increase in the prices of housing. The average tax rate on a single-family home in the U.S. last year rose from $3,719 to $3,785, the smallest increase in five years This is a marked reduction from the 5.4% increase from 2019 to 2020. Location was a major determiner in the changes in tax rates as 74% of the markets which saw increases above the national average were in smaller metro areas while many major markets, such as Pittsburgh and New Orleans, saw decreases in their average property taxes ranging from twenty to 30%. U.S. to resume oil, gas drilling on public land despite Biden campaign pledge: A 3D-printed oil pump jack is placed on dollar banknotes in this illustration picture, April 14, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration On Friday, the Biden Administration announced that it had resumed plans for oil and gas development on federal land, which could break one of the President’s pledges from his campaign. The plan, though calling for steeper royalties on the land and fewer acres being leased, was quickly denounced by environmental groups in the US and praised by the oil industry. This is the latest move to reform the leasing program used in the US as the administration faces pressure to address increasing energy prices. During his presidential campaign, Biden promised several times that he would end federal drilling auctions though that was halted by legal challenges from several Republican-led states. According to Randi Spivak, public lands director for the Center for Biological Diversity, “The Biden administration’s claim that it must hold these lease sales is pure fiction and a reckless failure of climate leadership.” Sources: Thinking small: Biden scrounges for ways to break through Home prices are insane, but at least there's a silver lining on the tax front US to resume oil, gas drilling on public land despite Biden campaign pledge | Reuters
Domestic News Summary: (4/11-4/17) content media
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zrodom
Apr 10, 2022
In Global News
Food prices soar to record levels on Ukraine war disruptions: A private Ukrainian farmer Dmytro Hnatkevitch harvests wheat crop on his farm in the village of Grygorovka, 110 km south of Kiev, in August, 1996. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky) Prices for food commodities such as grains and vegetable oils reached their highest levels ever recorded as of last month. This is largely due to the supply disruptions caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Food Price Index by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, which calculates the international price for a basket of commodities, rose by 12.6 % from February to average 159.3 points. The FAO has blamed the war ongoing in Ukraine for the 17.1% rise in the price of grain. Together Russia and Ukraine account for roughly 20% of all corn exports and 30% of all wheat exports worldwide. It is currently unknown how much of these increases in price are due to the war and how much is due to other factors such as poor weather conditions in the US and China. Whatever their reason, massive food shortages threaten countries in the Middle East, Africa, and parts of Asia where people already have too little too eat. The United States, Canada, France, and other large grain producers are working to ramp up production but face increased fuel and fertilizer costs, drought, and supply chain disruptions. Mexican president poised to win historic, polarizing referendum on his rule: People hold posters to promote the April 10 recall referendum on the presidency of Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, in downtown Mexico City, Mexico March 26, 2022. Picture taken March 26, 2022. REUTERS/Luis Cortes Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is expecting a victory in a referendum on his rule which could fortify his authority for the remainder of his term in office. A popular leftist, Lopez Obrador argues this first of its kind vote he called on himself is needed to validate his democratic mandate. The polls show that the people are largely indifferent to this as 52% view the referendum as unnecessary. Between 18% and 27% of the electorate are expected to take part, below the 40% required to make the vote binding, though Lopez Obrador has signaled his intent to respect the vote regardless of turnout. Prominent politicians amongst his opposition have signaled that they consider the referendum a waste of public funds which is best ignored. China’s security deal with Solomons raises alarm in Pacific: The Chinese national flag flies outside the Chinese Embassy in Honiara, Solomon Islands, April 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Charley Piringi, File) China and the Solomon Islands formed a draft of an agreement last week allowing Chinese warships to stop at the Island for replenishment and to deploy troops to, “assist in maintaining social order.” A base on the islands would put China in striking distance of Australia, New Zealand, and US military bases in Guam. China’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson claims the agreement is meant to protect people and property from internal violence in the country and has no military aims. Euan Graham, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Strategic Studies based in Singapore, believes this is part of China developing the logistical capability to support a strong presence in the Pacific as part of their long-game to become the major power in the region. The Solomon Island operation is different from others like the one in Djibouti, which officially exists to fend off piracy, in that China lacks commercial interest in the region meaning that it will likely be smaller in scope. Jonathan Pryke, the director of the Pacific Islands Program at the Lowy Institute, an Australian think tank believes that leaders are overreacting to the agreement as it will be some time before it can actually begin to change things on the ground. Sources: Food prices soar to record levels on Ukraine war disruptions - ABC News Mexican president poised to win historic, polarizing referendum on his rule | Reuters China’s security deal with Solomons raises alarm in Pacific - AP News
Global News Summary: (4/4-4/10) content media
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zrodom
Apr 10, 2022
In Domestic News
Jackson will join more diverse and conservative high court: Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo at the Supreme Court in Washington, April 23, 2021. (Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP, Pool, File) Judge Kentanji Brown Jackson has been confirmed to the US Supreme Court. She became the first ever Black woman confirmed to the body after a vote in the Senate which voted 53-47 in her favor. She will not join the court for several months as Justice Breyer intends to finish his ongoing work on cases set to be settled this summer such as the verdict on whether the Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion will be overturned. This leaves Jackson in the unprecedented situation of being confirmed to the Supreme Court months ahead of taking on case work as a Justice, where others were working within days of their confirmation. She is unlikely to sway many decisions during her time on the court due to its conservative leaning, but she will offer a unique perspective that could ultimately make a difference. Idaho's top court temporarily blocks six-week abortion ban: The Idaho State Capitol building is seen in Boise, Idaho, U.S., October 29, 2021. Picture taken October 29, 2021. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton On Friday, Idaho’s Supreme Court blocked a recently enacted six week abortion ban, modelled after a similar Texas law, from taking effect. The top court of Idaho prevented the law from being implemented until it hears a challenge from Planned Parenthood. Idaho is the first state to model legislation after the abortion law passed in Texas in September which allows citizens to sue anyone who aids a woman in performing an abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. The Idaho law is narrower, allowing only relatives to sue after cardiac activity is detected. Planned Parenthood argues that the law is unconstitutional under the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision by the US Supreme Court. The court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, appeared open during arguments in December to allowing a 15-week abortion ban to stand in Mississippi which would require rolling back or overturning Roe v. Wade. Alabama governor signs law criminalizing some trans youth care: Alabama Governor Kay Ivey speaks during a presentation at the opening of a Mercedes-Benz electric vehicle Battery Factory in Woodstock, Alabama, U.S., March 15, 2022. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage On Friday, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed passed by the legislature the day prior which will criminalize providing gender affirming medical treatments to transgender youth. It makes it a felony in the state to provide hormone treatment, hormone blockers, gender affirming surgery, and other measures that help a child transition. Governor Ivey has said, regarding her decision that, "We should especially protect our children from these radical, life-altering drugs and surgeries when they are at such a vulnerable stage in life." This is in opposition to the American Academy of Pediatrics, which urges Ivey to veto the measure in hopes of lowering the risk of depression and suicide. The Alabama law is one of several in Republican states to be advancing ahead of the November midterm elections. Ivey also signed a bill on Friday requiring students in public schools use bathrooms aligning with their gender at birth and, through a last minute addition by the legislature, prohibiting classroom discussion on sex and gender in certain grades. Sources: Jackson will join more diverse and conservative high court - AP News Idaho's top court temporarily blocks six-week abortion ban | Reuters Alabama governor signs law criminalizing some trans youth care | Reuters
Domestic News Summary: (4/4-4/10) content media
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zrodom
Apr 03, 2022
In Global News
How China’s TikTok, Facebook influencers push propaganda: Alongside its economic might, China is using the global reach offered by social media to expand its already extensive influence. The country has quietly built a network of social media personalities who parrot the government’s perspective in posts which hundreds of thousands of people see every day. These influencers operate in virtual lockstep with the Chinese Communist Party as they promote its virtues, deflect criticism of its human rights abuses, and advance the country’s talking points on issues such as the Russian invasion of Ukraine. One example of this is Vica Li who calls herself a “life blogger” and “food lover” and has 1.4 million followers across TikTok, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook. The lens into China she offers is likely controlled by the Chinese-state run TV network where she has made numerous appearances and is listed as a digital reporter. Another such influencer, Journalist Li Jingjing, has used her channel to broadcast Russian propaganda over the war in Ukraine including claims that Ukraine is committing genocide against the Russian people. Most of China’s influencers use pitches similar to this to attract audiences from across the world. The AP has discovered dozens of these accounts with more than 10 million followers collectively, nearly all of them running ads on Facebook targeting users outside of China. Russia Accused of Committing Warcrimes in Ukraine: Smoke and fire are seen after shelling in Odesa, Ukraine, Sunday, April 3, 2022. Max Pshybyshevsky/AP The Russian military announced that it struck an oil processing plant and fuel depots near the strategic Black Sea port of Odesa. Around this time there were reports of Russian Soldiers executing civilians. An AP crew on Sunday saw the bodies of what appeared to be nine Ukrainian civilians with at least two of having their hands tied behind their backs.The mayor of Ukraine’s capital city of Kyiv, Vitali Klitschko, has accused Russian soldiers of committing "cruel war crimes'' in the town of Bucha northwest of the capital. He has gone on record saying, "what happened in Bucha and other suburbs of Kyiv can only be described as genocide." He and many other Ukrainians are calling on the West to end its gas imports from Russia in response to these crimes. Taliban bans drug cultivation, including lucrative opium: An Afghan man works on a poppy field in Jalalabad province April 17, 2014. REUTERS/ Parwiz Towards the end of the Taliban’s rule in 2000, they banned poppy growing in a bid to gain international legitimacy but abandoned the stance after facing popular backlash. Afghanistan's opium production has increased in recent year to have an estimated worth of $1.4 billion at its height in 2017. The country’s economic situation has prompted residents to grow the illicit crop in hopes it will bring faster returns than legal crops can offer. Taliban sources say that they anticipated tough resistance over their reinstatement of the previous ban and that production of the illicit crop has grown in recent months. One farmer in Helmand who spoke on condition of anonymity said that, but went on to say that he needed to grow poppy to support his family. Sources: How China’s TikTok, Facebook influencers push propaganda - AP News Ukraine: Russian strikes on Odesa, Kyiv mayor says Russia committing genocide : NPR Taliban bans drug cultivation, including lucrative opium | Reuters
Global News Summary: (3/28-4/3) content media
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zrodom
Apr 03, 2022
In Domestic News
Biden oil move aims to cut gas prices ‘fairly significantly’: On Thursday, President Joe Biden ordered that 1 million barrels of oil be released from the country’s strategic petroleum reserve each day for the next six months. This is in an attempt to control energy prices which have risen rapidly since the Russian invasion of Ukraine prompted sanctions from the US on its allies. Biden has also ordered Congress to penalize oil and gas companies that lease public lands without producing. He has announced his intention to invoke the Defense Production Act to encourage the mining of minerals needed for batteries in electric vehicles so as to pull the US further away from its reliance on fossil fuels. These actions show the vulnerability oil poses to the US as higher gas prices continue to hurt Biden’s approval rating. Tapping into the US’s stockpile could create the pressure necessary to reduce prices while oil companies increase their production, though the President has already ordered this twice without creating a significant shift in the market. The oil market has reacted well to this latest release, leading crude oil prices to drop by 6% per barrel though it is still up by more than $60 from last year. California reparations plan advances movement, advocates say: Robin Rue Simmons, alderwoman of Evanston's 5th Ward and a fourth generation Black resident poses for a portrait in her home in Evanston, Ill., Friday, April 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Shafkat Anowar, File) SHAFKAT ANOWAR AP California took a major step this week toward being the first US state to provide reparations for the harm caused by slavery and racism. The state’s reparation task force decided in a divisive vote that compensation will be limited to those who can show that they are descended from free and enslaved Black people who were in the US in the 19th Century. Some reparations advocates strongly disagree with what they see as overly-limited eligibility which excludes those suffering from other injustices such as redlining and mass incarceration. When the 13th amendment ended slavery, the Union army offered compensation in the form of land and mules. However, President Andrew Johnson, a Democrat sympathetic to the Southern cause, revoked this offer after taking office. Now in California, the task force is taking the next step by working with economists to determine how much will be offered to its 2 million Black residents to compensate for this. This step could influence other cities and states to take similar measures and perhaps even pressure the federal government to act. Sen. Bernie Sanders Creates Legislation to Remove MLB’s Antitrust Law Exemption: On Tuesday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders announced legislation challenging Major League Baseball’s antitrust exemption. Sanders explained his creation of the “Save American Baseball Act” as a way to end the lawful monopoly MLB has over the sport. He has accused the owners of prioritizing profits over fans and expressed his belief that both sides of the aisle have a vested interest in looking at this exemption. MLB’s antitrust exemption stems from a Supreme Court decision in 1929 which found that the league playing across the country was not interstate commerce. This protected it from the Sherman Act, which prohibits businesses from suppressing competition. Sanders has described how removing this exemption will foster competition, bringing it more in line with other major sporting leagues such as the NFL which faces competition from the XFL and USFL. Sources: Biden oil move aims to cut gas prices 'fairly significantly' | AP News California reparations plan advances movement, advocates say | Raleigh News & Observer Bernie Sanders introduces legislation to remove MLB's antitrust protections - The Athletic
Domestic News Summary: (3/28-4/3) content media
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zrodom
Mar 27, 2022
In Global News
Putin is demanding gas importers pay Russia in rubles, twisting the West’s sanctions regime against itself: Russian President Vladimir Putin is attempting to force the world to reengage with the Russian economy. On Wednesday, he ordered that gas contracts with "unfriendly" countries, those sanctioning Russia, be settled in rubles rather than in foreign currencies. Russia's central bank and gas suppliers like Gazprom have one week to implement the change. This is a significant change as about 58% of Gazprom's foreign gas sales were in euros and an additional 39% were in U.S. dollars in the third quarter of 2021. This may be intended as a way to put pressure on European countries, which get roughly 40% of their natural gas from Russia. The European Union has not banned Russian oil and gas, though it pledged to reduce Russian gas imports by two-thirds by the end of the year. Vinicius Romano, senior analyst for Rystad Energy, sees this as an attempt by Putin to prop up the ruble by forcing gas buyers to pay into “the previously free-falling currency.” These payments are a lifeline for the increasingly isolated economy, allowing the ruble’s value to increase to 25% below its value before the invasion of Ukraine up from its 40% crash. This may also be an attempt to work around existing sanctions by forcing the West to work with Russian entities if it wants to maintain its imports of Russian energy. It is currently unclear whether or not this ruse will work in Russia’s favor. EU signs US gas deal to curb reliance on Russia: The US and EU have announced a major deal on liquified natural gas. Under this agreement, the US will provide the EU with enough gas this year to equate roughly 10% of what it is currently receiving from Russia. This is part of the bloc’s attempt to cut Russian gas use in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine. The new deal will involve the US and other countries supplying an extra 15 billion cubic meters of gas on top of last year's 22 billion cubic meters so as to offset the 40% of EU gas currently being supplied by Russia. The total of the US deal will represent around 24% of the gas currently imported from Russia. The targeted 50 billion cubic meters per year will be able to replace roughly one-third of Russian gas currently entering Europe. To fully cut reliance on Russia will also require improvements in energy efficiency and transitioning towards renewable sources of power. EU institutions agree on stricter rules for internet giants: In Brussels, negotiators from the EU states and the European Parliament agreed on a law on digital markets which is meant to limit the market power of Internet giants and ensure fair competition. This should offer consumers more freedom of choice between online offers. The Digital Markets Act (DMA) is part of a large digital package presented by the EU Commission in December 2020. The second part, the Digital Services Act (DSA), deals with social aspects such as hate speech and is still being negotiated by Parliament and EU member countries. Currently, the DMA targets certain companies which serve as a gateway to commercial users. This will affect major companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple as it forces them to observe certain rules and regulations going forward. A central aspect of the legislation is that gatekeepers are forbidden from threatening their own products preferentially over those of their competition. This should also allow users to delete preinstalled apps more easily. This will also allow consumers to use a service without having to agree to data bundling across all offers from a gatekeeper. Sources: Putin demands gas payments in rubles in attempt to avoid sanctions | Fortune EU signs US gas deal to curb reliance on Russia - BBC News EU-Institutionen einigen sich auf schärfere Regeln für Internet-Riesen - Politik - SZ.de
Global News Summary: (3/21-3/27) content media
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Mar 27, 2022
In Domestic News
Colorado wildfire forces evacuation orders for 19,000 people: Smoke billowed from a wildfire Saturday, March 26, 2022 in Marshall, Colo. a few miles south of Boulder, Colo. (Associated Press) Authorities issued an evacuation order for 19,400 people on Saturday in response to a fast-moving Colorado wildfire in rolling hills south of the college town of Boulder. The blaze started around 2:00 PM and burned protected wildland near the National Center for Atmospheric Research. While still early in the day the fire grew to 122 acres with no containment. Evacuation orders have been given to 8,000 homes and 7,000 other structures with overnight shelters being opened for their use. Winds and temperatures have died down, though authorities expect to be dealing with the fire for several days due to heavy fuels. U.S. Representative Fortenberry, found guilty of lying, to resign: Jeff Fortenberry, (R-NE) speaks during testimony by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at a hearing on the State Department's budget request for 2020 in Washington, U.S. March 27, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott/File Photo Republican U.S. Representative Jeff Fortenberry, who has represented his district in Nebraska since 2005, said on Saturday that he will be retiring from Congress. This follows his conviction of lying to FBI investigators about illegal contributions to his 2016 re-election campaign. The jury found Fortenberry guilty of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts, along with two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Prosecutors had accused Fortenberry of lying to investigators during two interviews in 2019 about $30,000 in campaign contributions he received in 2016 from Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury. This breaks US Federal law, which prohibits foreign nationals from donating to federal election campaigns. Fortenberry's lawyers said that his memory of the event was faulty due to being caught off guard by the unexpected FBI interview request and that he had no intention of misleading federal agents. The three felony charges each carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 28 before U.S. District Judge Stanley Blumenfeld in Los Angeles. Ketanji Brown Jackson: Key moments as Biden's Supreme Court pick quizzed: Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Getty Images) In a Senate Panel earlier this week Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Biden’s nomination to the Supreme Court, took questions on her career and record. Several Republicans brought Jackson’s judicial philosophy into question by accusing her of being an “activist judge” imposing her preferred view on the bench to which she responded by saying that, "I am trying in every case to stay in my lane.” Some lawmakers raised concern about her providing “free legal service” to help terrorists get out of Guantanamo Bay, though she was assigned the case as a Public Defender rather than choosing to represent them. Her response to this was that ignoring the protections in the Constitution "would let the terrorists win." Jackson was asked about increasing the number of Justices on the Supreme Court but deflected the question as being a policy question for Congress. When accused by some Republicans as being “soft on crime”, she suggested having family members in law enforcement meant, “Crime and the need for law enforcement are not abstract concepts or political slogans to me.” Sources: Colorado wildfire forces evacuation orders for 19,000 people | Star Tribune US Representative Fortenberry, found guilty of lying, to resign | Reuters Ketanji Brown Jackson: Key moments as Biden's Supreme Court pick quizzed - BBC News
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