Sunday, March 03, 2024 |
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In rare alliance, Democrats and Republicans seek legal power to clear homeless camps
In a surge of legal briefs this week, frustrated leaders from across the political spectrum, including the liberal governor of California and right-wing state legislators in Arizona, charged that homeless encampments were turning their public spaces into pits of squalor, and asked the Supreme Court to revisit lower court decisions that they say have hobbled their ability to bring these camps under control. They begged the justices to let them remove people from their streets without running afoul of court rulings that have protected the civil rights of homeless individuals.
As COVID infections rise, nursing homes are still waiting for vaccines
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention approved the latest COVID-19 vaccine two weeks ago, and the new shots became available to the general public within the last week or so. But many nursing homes will not begin inoculations until well into October or even November, although infections among this vulnerable population are rising, to nearly 1%, or 9.7 per 1,000 residents in mid-September from a low of 2.2 per 1,000 residents in mid-June. Even once the shots are available, nursing homes face continuing resistance to the vaccines among nurses and aides.
Montana’s ban on transition care for minors is blocked
A state judge in Montana on Wednesday temporarily blocked a law that would have banned transition care for children under 18 starting Sunday, while a lawsuit filed by patients and medical professionals proceeds. Montana was a high-profile battleground for a fight that took place in many state legislatures this year over medical procedures for transgender minors. In April, it became one of 22 states to ban or sharply restrict procedures that include puberty blockers, hormone therapy and surgeries. In a 47-page ruling, Judge Jason Marks wrote that the “plaintiffs demonstrated that they are likely to suffer irreparable harm” if the law goes into effect.
Biden Administration warns that government shutdown could disrupt air travel
The Biden administration offered new warnings Wednesday that a government shutdown could disrupt the nation’s air travel system, part of an effort to lay blame at the feet of House Republicans before a possible funding lapse this weekend. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said that a shutdown would jeopardize the work the administration has done to address a shortage in air traffic controllers, modernize aviation technology and reduce flight delays and cancellations that have plagued travelers. Government funding will expire at midnight on Saturday if Congress does not agree on a stopgap spending measure by then.
Oil prices march toward $100 a barrel
Many energy analysts think oil prices will soon rise above $100 a barrel for the first time in more than a year, since the turmoil that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The price of Brent crude, the international benchmark, has gained about 30% since the start of July, trading at about $96.50 a barrel Wednesday. Driving the rise, analysts say, is the deep reduction in oil output orchestrated by Saudi Arabia over the past year. Climbing oil prices increase energy costs for consumers and businesses; in the U.S., crude prices account for about half the price of gasoline.
UAW says it could expand auto strikes Friday
The United Automobile Workers union said Wednesday that it planned to expand its strike against the big three Michigan automakers Friday if negotiators failed to make substantial progress on new contracts. The union ordered workers to walk off the job nearly two weeks ago at three vehicle assembly plants — each owned by one of the companies, General Motors, Ford Motor and Stellantis, the parent of Chrysler and Jeep. Last Friday the union broadened the strike to include spare parts-distribution centers owned by GM and Stellantis, saying it had made progress in its talks with Ford. UAW President Shawn Fain is scheduled to update members Friday morning in a Facebook livestream.
Russia releases new videos of admiral Ukraine claimed to have killed
Russia released new videos Wednesday of a Russian admiral Ukraine claimed to have killed, with the footage showing him apparently alive and well, hoisting a trophy into the air to celebrate a soccer victory and stoically telling a local interviewer that “life goes on.” It was the second day in a row that Russia offered imagery of the admiral, Viktor Sokolov, in what seemed to be a calculated rebuttal of Ukraine’s claim. On Monday, Ukrainian officials said Sokolov, the commander of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, had been killed along with 33 other officers in a missile strike on Sevastopol, Crimea.
Officials’ visits highlight warming Saudi-Israeli ties
Parallel visits this week by an Israeli minister to Saudi Arabia and a Saudi envoy to the Israeli-occupied West Bank highlighted the warming ties between the Jewish state and the most powerful Arab country. In the first-ever public visit by an Israeli minister to the Arab kingdom, Haim Katz, the Israeli tourism minister, attended a conference in Riyadh, the Saudi capital, Tuesday and Wednesday that was organized by the United Nations. Simultaneously, the Saudi ambassador to the Palestinians, Naif al-Sudairi, traveled through an Israeli border checkpoint to the West Bank, where he met with the leaders of the Palestinian Authority, which administers just under 40% of the Israeli-controlled territory.
Storm delivers a trans-Atlantic gift: North American birds
More than a dozen species of North American birds rarely seen in Britain and Ireland have been spotted after being blown off their usual migration routes by remnants of Hurricane Lee and surviving the journey across the Atlantic, experts said. The arrival of warblers, vireos and other colorful birds last week has excited Britain’s twitching community — bird-watchers who will travel long distances to view new or unusual species. A sighting of a Canada warbler was the first recorded in Britain, and a Blackburnian warbler was spotted in Ireland for the first time. Experts said twitchers should act fast; the phenomenon will last just a few days longer.
A stunningly sudden end to a long, bloody conflict
Tens of thousands died fighting for and against it. It outlasted six U.S. presidents. But the self-declared state in the mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh — recognized by no other country — vanished so quickly last week that its ethnic Armenian population had only minutes to pack before abandoning their homes and joining an exodus driven by fears of ethnic cleansing by a triumphant Azerbaijan. After surviving more than three decades of on-off war and pressure from big outside powers to give up, or at least narrow, its ambitions as a separate country, the Republic of Artsakh inside the internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan collapsed almost overnight.
By wire sources
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