Nation and world briefs for Aug. 21, 2023

Global food security is at crossroads with rice shortages and surging prices

Countries worldwide are scrambling to secure rice after a partial ban on exports by India cut global supplies by roughly a fifth. Global food security is already under threat since Russia halted an agreement allowing Ukraine to export wheat and the El Nino weather phenomenon hampers rice production. Now, rice prices are soaring, and it’s putting the most vulnerable people in some of the poorest nations at risk. Vietnam’s rice export prices, for instance, have reached a 15-year high. Even before India’s restrictions, countries already were frantically buying rice in anticipation of scarcity later when the El Nino hit, creating a supply crunch and spiking prices.


GOP presidential debate puts spotlight on Wisconsin

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — When Republican candidates for president gather for their first debate Wednesday in Milwaukee, the spotlight will not only be on them, but Wisconsin’s role as one of a shrinking handful of genuine battleground states. Republicans who chose Milwaukee not just for the first debate but the national convention in just 11 months are clearly aware of Wisconsin’s well-earned status as a swing state. Four of the past six presidential elections have been decided by less than a percentage point here. Wisconsin stands with Georgia, Arizona, and Nevada as one of four widely accepted true battleground states that could swing either way. And it’s been that way in Wisconsin for more than 20 years.

Guatemala elects progressive Arévalo as president

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — A progressive from outside Guatemala’s power structure was resoundingly elected the country’s next president Sunday in a reprimand to the governing elite over widespread allegations of corruption. Despite preliminary results showing a potential landslide for anti-corruption crusader Bernardo Arévalo, the attention immediately turned to whether he would be allowed to assume power. The current administration’s attempts to suspend his party’s legal status are ongoing. With more than 99% of votes counted, preliminary results gave Arévalo 58% of the vote to 37% for former first lady Sandra Torres in her third bid for the presidency. The official results will still have to be certified.

Sweltering temperatures set heat records, bring misery to central US

HOUSTON (AP) — Sweltering temperatures are lingering in a large swath of the central U.S., causing misery from the Gulf of Mexico to the Great Lakes. The extreme heat prompted Texas’ electric power grid manager to ask residents to voluntary conserve power Sunday night. Record highs have been recorded in Texas and other states. People were told to chug extra water while mowing lawns or exercising outdoors Sunday, and to check on neighbors to ensure air conditioning is available.

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