Nearly 50 dead in Northeast from Ida, some still missing – National & International News – FRI 3Sept2021

New York firefighter wades through waist-high water Wednesday night. Hurricane Ida killed at least 49 people in the Mid-Atlantic states.

 

Hurricane Ida has killed at least 61 people in 8 states. Biden, Dems rush to counter Texas abortion ban. North Korea’s Kim calls for climate change action. 

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Nearly 50 dead in Northeast from Ida, some still missing

Authorities are going house to house in New York City after at least 13 people died in flooding due to record rainfall 2 days ago. The NYPD is still compiling a list of people who are unaccounted for after the Wednesday night deluge and have not said how many people they believe are missing.

The story is similar in New Jersey, where, in addition to flooding, tornados struck in several areas, flattening some houses. At least 25 people are dead in New Jersey, and about 6 people are still missing. In the Mid-Atlantic states from Virginia up to Connecticut, a total of 49 people are confirmed dead.

Across the country, Ida has killed at least 61 people in 8 states.

No longer “once-in-a-century”

New York’s newly-sworn in governor Kathy Hochul visited New York City in the aftermath of the storm. She said that the devastation proved that climate change was no longer a future threat. This is a new reality, and the state and city must learn to adapt.

One major concern in New York City is poor drainage in areas largely covered with concrete. Drains designed to direct overflow into the rivers quickly become blocked with debris, exacerbating flooding. The city’s mayor Bill Di Blasio acknowledged that the city is not built to withstand “once-in-a-century” flood events that now happen regularly.

Several people in New York City, including one family with a small child, also died because they were unable to escape when floodwaters inundated their illegal basement apartment. City officials have long been calling for an overhaul of the enforcement of city housing codes.

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Biden vows “whole-of-government” response to Texas abortion law

President Biden has called the 5-4 Supreme Court’s ruling that allowed a controversial Texas abortion law to stand, “an unprecedented assault on a woman’s constitutional rights under Roe v. Wade”. Biden called for a “whole-of-government” response to safeguard women’s abortion access in Texas. He started by instructing the Office of the White House Counsel and his Gender Policy Council to mobilize the Health and Human Services Department and the Justice Department. Biden called on the agencies to evaluate what “legal tools we have to insulate women and providers from the impact of Texas’ bizarre scheme of outsourced enforcement to private parties”.

Texas’ “bizarre scheme” of deputizing private citizens to enforce the law was at the heart of the high court’s refusal to block the law. The majority opinion stated that the challengers, a group of abortion providers in Texas, failed to fully answer the “novel” enforcement strategy. This ruling does not block future challenges, but a final verdict will have to wait until some citizen actually files suit to collect $10,000 for enforcing the law.

Congressional Democrats look for legislative solution

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said yesterday that Democrats would vote to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. The bill would enshrine reproductive rights in federal law, protecting a woman’s right to obtain an abortion and medical providers’ ability to perform them. Such a law at the federal level would overrule restrictions passed in the states.

The Supreme Court’s decision has also revived legislators’ interest in reforming the court. This may include adding more seats to the court, which would allow President Biden to make new appoints and restore some semblance of balance. Another proposal would be to ban lifetime appointments to the court.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un calls for climate change action

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un called on his officials to address several issues at a meeting of the ruling party yesterday. Among the problems Kim mentioned was a severe food shortage that has plagued the country for two years. During that time, a succession of typhoons, droughts and monsoons have devastated the country’s crop yield.

An unknown number of North Koreans have also died in flood events this year and last. Kim called on his officials to address the country’s vulnerability to extreme weather events. Specifically, Kim prioritized “river improvement, afforestation for erosion control, dyke maintenance and tide embankment projects”.

Turns down 3 million COVID vaccines

North Korea has completely shut down its borders since early last year to prevent the spread of COVID. The loss of trade with China, the country’s chief ally, has made North Korea’s humanitarian situation worse. North Korea claims they have not had a single COVID infection, but no one outside the country takes that claim seriously.

Earlier this week, North Korea turned down a shipment of 3 million Sinovac vaccines, asking that Covax send them to other countries instead. A shipment of AstraZeneca vaccines has also been delayed. Some experts believe that North Korea’s leadership is holding out for offers of different vaccines. The speculate this may relate to doubts about Sinovac’s effectiveness and worries about rare blood clots from the AstraZeneca jab.

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