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September 5, 2023 (San Diego’s East County) – East County Magazine’s World Watch helps you be an informed citizen on important issues globally and nationally. As part of our commitment to reflect all voices and views, we include links to a variety of news sources representing a broad spectrum of political, religious, and social views. Top world and U.S. headlines include:

U.S.

WORLD

For excerpts and links to full stories, click “read more” and scroll down.

U.S.

Impeachment threats and shutdown fears: Congress returns for a chaotic September (NBC News)

Deadlines this month include preventing a government shutdown, passing a farm bill and reauthorizing the FAA. House Republicans are also weighing an impeachment inquiry… Even though House Republicans have not produced evidence of wrongdoing by Biden, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., said she won’t support any funding measure until the House votes to formally begin an impeachment inquiry into the president.

Trump heading to trial in 7 civil and criminal cases: A calendar of dates and what to expect (USA Today)

As Donald Trump tries to win the Republican nomination in a crowded field and ultimately retake the White House from President Joe Biden in the 2024 race, his legal calendar promises a campaign season like no other…The Republican frontrunner faces 91 felony counts across two federal cases and two state cases for allegedly conspiring to overturn the 2020 election, falsifying business records and storing hundreds of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate after leaving the White House in 2021.

US 30-year mortgage rate soars to highest since 2000 (Reuters)

The interest rate on the most popular U.S. home loan last week shot to the highest since December 2000, helping drive mortgage applications to a 28-year low, a survey showed on Wednesday.  The Mortgage Bankers Association said the average contract rate on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed 15 basis points to 7.31% in the week ended Aug. 18. That came after yields on the government bonds that influence home-loan rates surged to the highest since the 2007-2009 financial crisis. / In an otherwise resilient economy featuring a strong job market and robust consumer spending, the housing market has stood out as the sector most afflicted by the Fed’s aggressive actions to cool demand and undercut inflation.

Idalia’s Aftermath: Floridians Begin Recovery After Hurricane Leaves Communities Ravaged (Forbes)

Recovery efforts are underway in Florida after Hurricane Idalia flooded and destroyed homes, businesses and roads within the state after making landfall as a Category 3 hurricane early Wednesday—before moving northward and turning into a tropical storm.

Rudy Giuliani defamed former Georgia election workers, a federal judge rules (NBC)

Giuliani conceded he made “false” statements about a mother and daughter who sued him for baselessly claiming they committed fraud in the 2020 election.

Proud Boys leader Joe Biggs sentenced to 17 years in January 6 case (CNN)

A leader of the Proud Boys who led the far-right organization’s infamous march to the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, has been sentenced to 17 years in prison – among the longest sentences handed down yet for a convicted rioter.  Joe Biggs was convicted by a Washington, DC jury of several charges including seditious conspiracy for attempting to forcibly prevent the peaceful transfer of power…

Judge sides with youth in Montana climate change trial, finds two laws unconstitutional

Lewis and Clark County District Court Judge Kathy Seeley sided with the young plaintiffs in her decision in the Held v. Montana trial, striking down as unconstitutional the so-called “limitation” to the Montana Environmental Policy Act, which was amended by the legislature this year, as well as another portion of law surrounding greenhouse gas emissions that was changed this past session….  Seeley wrote…that the MEPA limitation, which prohibits the state from considering greenhouse gas emissions and climate impacts when deciding whether to approve permits for energy and mining projects, violated Montanans’ rights under the 1972 state constitution.

More schools that forced American Indian children to assimilate revealed (Washington Post)

The new list released Wednesday by the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition uses a different criteria, bringing the number of known Indian boarding schools in the country to 523 in 38 states. In addition to the federally supported schools tallied by the Interior Department, the coalition identified 115 more institutions that operated beginning in 1801, most of them run by religious groups and churches.

“War on Mexico”: Republicans ramp up calls for military action as they blast Democrats as warmongers (Salon)

The “isolationist” GOP of 2023 may love to call the Democrats warmongers, but just listen to them on Mexico.. Mexico is a sovereign country and taking any of these actions unilaterally would be an act of war. 

Judge: Trump-era rule change allowing the logging of old-growth forests violates laws  (NPR)

U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Hallman on Thursday found that the U.S. Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the National Forest Management Act and the Endangered Species Act when it amended a protection that had been in place since 1994. The findings came in response to a lawsuit filed by multiple environmental groups over the change.  Hallman recommended that the Forest Service’s environmental assessment and finding of no significant impact should be vacated and that the agency should be required to prepare a full environmental impact statement related to the change.

Where do the 2024 presidential candidates stand on abortion? (San Diego Union-Tribune)

More than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal right to abortion, the issue has at times dominated the discussion among the Republicans seeking their party’s 2024 presidential nomination …Some of the division among the candidates has come over whether there should be a national ban on the practice — and after how many weeks — now that the justices have returned specific debate over abortion legality to the states.

White House ramps up war room to battle expected GOP impeachment inquiry (NBC)

The White House has stood up a war room of two dozen lawyers, legislative aides and communications staffers to lead an aggressive response to a likely Republican impeachment inquiry into President Joe Biden, a White House aide familiar with the strategy said. ..Biden’s aides and allies say they are preparing to vigorously push back against an impeachment inquiry and present it as an evidence-free partisan sham … House Republicans have said they would focus their inquiry on alleged criminal activity by Biden’s son Hunter Biden as part of his foreign business dealings. It would also delve into so-far-unproven claims that Joe Biden engaged in bribery, corruption or otherwise abused his power to help enrich his son while he was vice president. The push comes as even some in the House GOP concede they don’t have proof of wrongdoing by the president.

Pittsburgh jury condemns Tree of Life synagogue killer to death (Reuters)

Aug 2 (Reuters) – A federal jury on Wednesday voted to sentence Robert Bowers to death for killing 11 worshippers at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue in 2018, the deadliest antisemitic attack in U.S. history. In June, the jury found Bowers, 50, guilty of dozens of federal hate crimes

The plot thickens: The battle over books comes at a cost(NPR)

Library staffing has long been on a decline, and while the pandemic exacerbated the problem, the harsh climate librarians are now facing is another big blow. Hard data is hard to come by, but a 2022 national survey by the Public Library Association shows 73% of public libraries now cite staffing as the top reason for limiting services.

WORLD

BRICS invites Saudi, Iran and others to join developing world bloc   (Reuters)

The five BRICS developing nations will admit Saudi Arabia, Iran, Ethiopia, Egypt, Argentina and the United Arab Emirates, they said on Thursday, a move aimed at growing the clout of the bloc as it pushes to rebalance the prevailing world order.  The expansion could also pave the way for dozens more countries to seek admission to the grouping, which has pledged to address their grievances over a world order many feel is rigged against them….  Deepening geopolitical polarisation in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and China’s declining relations with the United States are spurring efforts by Beijing and Moscow to forge BRICS into a viable counterweight to the West.

Russia’s Medvedev: We’d have to use a nuclear weapon if Ukrainian offensive was a success (Reuters)

Former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who has sometimes raised the spectre of a nuclear conflict over Ukraine, said on Sunday that Moscow would have to use a nuclear weapon if Kyiv’s ongoing counter-offensive was a success.  Medvedev, who is deputy chairman of Russia’s Security Council, a body chaired by President Vladimir Putin, said in a message on his official social media accounts that Russia would be forced to fall back on its own nuclear doctrine in such a scenario

Russia’s central bank raises interest rates to 12% after the ruble plunges (CNN)

Russia’s central bank hiked its main interest rate by 3.5 percentage points to 12% Tuesday after the ruble hit a 17-month low the previous day…. / So far this year, the ruble has shed 35% of its value, as Moscow’s war in Ukraine takes a heavy toll…. / Analysts were skeptical Tuesday’s emergency action by the Russian central bank would provide a lasting solution to the currency’s problems.

Warsaw sends troops to border, accusing Belarus of violating its airspace (Guardian)

Polish military says army helicopters crossed eastern flank, adding to tensions caused by proximity of Wagner fighters .

Nearly half of those held in Russia’s detention centers in Kherson were tortured, rights report finds (CNN)

….at least 43% explicitly mentioned practices of torture in the detention centers, citing sexual violence as a common tactic…on both male and female prisoners…military personnel were most likely to experience torture…those with families in the military were also targeted.… Other victims mentioned threats of genital mutilation….”

Explainer: What are China’s ‘sponge cities’ and why aren’t they stopping the floods? (Reuters)

China has been hit by devastating floods in recent weeks, inundating cities and causing deaths and infrastructural damage, as well as raising questions about the effectiveness of its 2015 “sponge city” initiative aimed at reducing urban flood risks.

Ukrainian Counteroffensive Pierces Main Russian Defensive Line in Southeast (Wall St.Journal)

Ukrainian forces have penetrated the main Russian defensive line in their country’s southeast, raising hopes of a breakthrough… / Ukrainian forces are now working to expand the cracks in the line to create a hole large enough for Western-provided armored vehicles to push through with sufficient logistical support.

Poland, Baltics will shut Belarus border if ‘critical incident’ occurs -minister  (Reuters)

Poland and the Baltic states will close their borders with Belarus entirely if a “critical incident” involving Wagner mercenaries takes place, the Polish interior minister said on Monday, amid rising tensions on NATO’s eastern flank.  EU and NATO members Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, which share a border with Belarus, have been increasingly concerned about border security since hundreds of Russian battle-hardened Wagner mercenaries arrived in Belarus at the invitation of President Alexander Lukashenko.

UN warns that hundreds of thousands in Southeast Asia have been roped into online scams  (AP)

The U.N. human rights office says criminal gangs have forced hundreds of thousands of people in Southeast Asia into participating in unlawful online scam operations, including false romantic ploys, bogus investment pitches and illegal gambling schemes / The report sheds new light on cybercrime scams that have become a major issue in Asia, with many of the workers trapped in virtual slavery and forced to participate in scams targeting people over the internet.…. / Criminal gangs have increasingly targeted migrants, and lure some victims by false recruitment — suggesting they are destined for real jobs.

Russia turning to sleeper cells and international agents (Guardian)

Over the past year, police and security services across the globe have accused numerous people living apparently innocuous lives with being Russian intelligence agents or operatives.…since Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine last February, Moscow has had to resort to riskier and less conventional methods of spying, mainly because so many of the spies it had placed under diplomatic cover in Europe have been expelled… The Center for Strategic and International Studies estimated that more than 450 diplomats were expelled from Russian embassies in the first three months of the war, most of them from Europe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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