Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023 |
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How Biden Got From ‘No More Drilling’ to Backing a Huge Project in Alaska
As a candidate, Joe Biden promised voters worried about the warming planet “No more drilling on federal lands, period. Period, period, period.” On Monday, President Biden approved an enormous $8 billion plan to extract 600 million barrels of oil from pristine federal land in Alaska. The distance between Biden’s campaign pledge and his blessing on that plan, known as the Willow project, is explained by a global energy crisis, intense pressure from Alaska lawmakers (including the state’s lone Democratic House member), a looming election year and a complicated legal landscape that government lawyers said left few choices. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, is a chief advocate for Willow, which is projected to generate 2,500 jobs and millions in revenue for her state.
Michael Cohen Testifies in Grand Jury as Trump Indictment Appears Near
Michael Cohen, a crucial witness in the Manhattan district attorney’s criminal investigation into Donald Trump, testified before a grand jury Monday, as prosecutors near a likely indictment of the former president. Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, testified for much of the afternoon and was expected to return Wednesday to continue his testimony. His appearance is one of several recent signals that District Attorney Alvin Bragg is poised to seek an indictment of Trump for his role in paying hush money to a porn star in the days before the 2016 presidential election.
McConnell, Released From Hospital, Will Undergo Inpatient Rehab
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., who suffered a concussion in a serious fall last week, was released from the hospital Monday and will move to a physical rehabilitation center before returning to the Senate, according to his office. A spokesperson said the lawmaker’s “concussion recovery is proceeding well” and that McConnell, 81, had been discharged from George Washington University Hospital, where he was taken after the accident at a Washington hotel on Wednesday. McConnell had also suffered a “minor rib fracture” in the fall that was discovered during hospitalization, the spokesperson said. He is being treated for that injury as well.
Plans to Build AirTrain to La Guardia Are Officially Scrapped
There will be no AirTrain to La Guardia Airport. New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has abandoned plans to build a light-rail link to La Guardia after a review found that the project’s cost had ballooned to $2.4 billion, more than five times initial estimates. When Hochul’s predecessor, Andrew Cuomo, first announced the pet project in 2015, he placed the cost at $450 million. After Cuomo resigned in disgrace in 2021, the plan faced mounting opposition from elected officials and community groups. Hochul halted the project and ordered the review several months after taking office.
Northeast Braces for Wind, Wet Snow and Power Failures
A major late-winter storm that brought rain to the Northeast on Monday was expected to intensify overnight with heavy, wet snow and strong winds that could cause widespread power failures, disrupt travel and flood coastal communities, forecasters said. The storm, which was expected to strengthen into a nor’easter, could unload 6 to 18 inches of snow across more than seven states, from northeast Pennsylvania and far northwest New Jersey through much of New York and New England, the National Weather Service said. Some areas could receive more than 2 feet of snow. New York City was expecting far less — about an inch of snow.
California Braces for Another ‘Significant’ Atmospheric River
Another powerful storm will hit California starting Monday night, compounding the effects from a similar storm that led to turbulent flooding last week and forced thousands of people to evacuate their homes. Forecasters with the National Weather Service in Los Angeles are calling the latest storm, which is expected to last through Wednesday, a “significant atmospheric river event” and are fairly confident that it will bring widespread, heavy rainfall. After enduring a historically long stretch of drought, California is experiencing one of its most ferocious winters on record. Total snowpack and rainfall in many parts of the state have reached levels not seen in decades.
Biden Unveils Landmark Submarine Deal With Australia and Britain
President Joe Biden took his most aggressive step yet Monday to counter China’s military expansion in the Asia-Pacific region, formally unveiling plans with Britain and Australia to develop and deploy nuclear-powered attack submarines. Standing in front of the USS Missouri, a nuclear submarine, at the Point Loma naval base in San Diego, Biden and leaders of the other two countries described the naval partnership as a crucial way to confront China at a time of heightened tension with Beijing. It will create, U.S. officials said, a “nuclear stewardship” among the allies.
Cyclone Freddy Leaves Dozens More Dead in Africa
Cyclone Freddy swept in from the southeastern coast of Africa and traveled to the landlocked nation of Malawi, where by Monday it was responsible for at least 66 deaths, the Red Cross said. Large swaths of Blantyre, the second-largest city in Malawi, were hit by flooding and mudslides, and the government declared a state of disaster. Police and aid workers digging through mud and collapsed buildings said they anticipated the death toll would rise. The storm has also claimed at least 17 lives in Madagascar and 10 in Mozambique, both of which it has hit twice in its record-breaking 35-day run.
Russian Attacks Along a Wide Arc of Eastern Ukraine
Russian forces are attacking along a 160-mile arc in eastern Ukraine in an intensifying struggle for tactical advantage before possible spring offensives. Heavy fighting was reported Monday in and around the town of Avdiivka, which in recent days has again become a focal point of combat. In Bakhmut, brutal combat is taking place, according to Russian military bloggers. In Kupiansk and surrounding villages, Russia has stepped up shelling and probing ground assaults, and Ukraine has ordered civilians to leave. The most hotly contested places have few people or buildings remaining, but the Kremlin sees control of roads and railways as key to its goal of seizing the entire Donbas region.
International Court to Open War Crimes Cases Against Russia, Officials Say
The International Criminal Court intends to open two war crimes cases tied to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and will seek arrest warrants for several people, according to current and former officials with knowledge of the decision who were not authorized to speak publicly. The cases represent the first international charges to be brought forward since the start of the conflict and come after months of work by special investigation teams. They allege that Russia abducted Ukrainian children and teenagers and sent them to Russian re-education camps, and that the Kremlin deliberately targeted civilian infrastructure.
BBC Ends Suspension of Top Sports Host After Staff Mutiny
The BBC made peace with its most famous sports anchor, Gary Lineker, announcing a deal Monday to put him back on television after a suspension that ignited a national debate over free expression and political pressure at Britain’s public broadcaster. Lineker will return to hosting the BBC’s flagship soccer program, “Match of the Day,” on Saturday, having been taken off for a Twitter post in which he likened the British government’s language on immigration policy to that used by 1930s Germany. His suspension caused a staff mutiny that plunged the BBC into chaos and Britons’ televisions into eerie silence as the broadcaster aired his show without commentary.
Britain Revises Security Policy, Citing Threats Posed by China and Russia
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of Britain described China on Monday as an “epoch-defining challenge” to the international order, as his government published an updated security review that toughened its stance toward Beijing while underscoring the threats posed by Russia and Iran. The document was ordered last year to revise policy in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, something that was not foreseen by the previous version, which had relatively little to say on European security challenges. “From Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine to China’s growing economic coercion, the world is becoming more dangerous,” Sunak’s office wrote on Twitter. “The UK is responding.”
By wire sources
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