Wednesday, June 29, 2022 |
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As Biden signs $40B aid package for Ukraine, calls grow for a cease-fire
President Joe Biden on Saturday signed a new $40 billion aid package for Ukraine as the country braced for a drawn-out war of attrition in its eastern regions, vowing that it would not stop fighting until all Russian forces were expelled. With the conflict coming ever closer to a stalemate and both sides fighting in the Donbas region to gain the upper hand, calls for a cease-fire have grown louder, along with questions about what would constitute victory, or at least a suitable outcome, for Ukraine. But Ukrainian officials say that Russia is hardly ready for serious peace talks.
With public camping a felony, Tennessee homeless seek refuge
Tennessee is about to become the first U.S. state to make it a felony to camp on local public property such as parks. It is already a felony in Tennessee to camp on most state-owned property. The crime is punishable by up to six years in prison and the loss of voting rights. Supporters say the law is needed to get some people to move off the streets. Critics say it is cruel and will make homelessness worse. Many landlords won’t rent to felons and many employers won’t hire them.
Heat across much of the country is not normal for this time of year
Roughly one-third of Americans are seeing midsummer-like temperatures this weekend, as heat and humidity began to roast the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states on Saturday, potentially setting hundreds of daily heat records. Elsewhere in the country, the misery set in weeks ago. In drought-parched New Mexico, the largest wildfire in the state’s recorded history is burning months before peak fire season. Other blazes are driving evacuations and fears in Colorado, Arizona and Utah. And in a sign of just how strange things could get, Denver whiplashed from 90-degree weather this week to a late-spring snowfall overnight Friday into Saturday.
Largest wildfire in New Mexico history among several scorching Southwest
Wildfires driven by heat, dry winds and drought are scorching huge swaths of the Southwest. The early season blazes include the Calf Canyon/Hermits Peak fire, which at 306,472 acres ranks as the biggest current wildfire in the United States and the largest in New Mexico’s recorded history. More than 2,400 firefighters, about half of the firefighters deployed around the Southwest, are battling the fire. At least 10 wildfires have also been spreading in recent days in Texas. In Colorado, cold, wet weather has helped authorities contain the Simms fire, but mandatory evacuations in the region have kept many people on edge.
Labor wins the government in Australia
Anthony Albanese and his opposition Labor Party ended nine years of conservative government in Australia on Saturday as Prime Minister Scott Morrison conceded defeat of the coalition he led. A handful of races were still too close to call, but early results showed Labor winning at least 72 seats of the 76 needed to form a government. Alliances with independent and minor-party victors would give it a majority if it does not reach 76 seats by itself. Albanese has promised to push for a higher minimum wage and for more money for child care centers, health care, nursing homes and disability services.
NKorea reports more fevers as Kim claims virus progress
North Korea says it has found nearly 220,000 more people with feverish symptoms, even as leader Kim Jong Un claims progress in slowing a largely undiagnosed spread of COVID-19 across an unvaccinated population of 26 million. The outbreak has caused concern about serious tragedies in the poor, isolated country with one of the world’s worst health care systems and a high tolerance for civilian suffering. Experts say North Korea is almost certainly downplaying the true scale of the viral spread, including a strangely small death toll, to soften the political blow on Kim, who seemed to hint at relaxing his pandemic response.
By wire sources
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