While Jack has capably been holding things down here, I've been in a news-induced fugue state since last time I checked in with you all. All I can say is that there was very low turnout in the Italian elections and it goes to show what scary, surprising things can happen when sane people don't bother to vote and highly motivated zealots do. Something to think about! – Corey
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THE BIG NEWS
There Are No Atheists in Foxholes and No Small-Government Conservatives in Category 4 Hurricanes
Hurricane Ian hit Florida hard yesterday. The massive storm covered the entire state and with 150-mph winds, neared Category 5 strength, the most severe hurricane classification. Coastal storm surges reached 18 feet high. Some 2.5 million people were ordered to evacuate their homes. The hurricane was so powerful it even spun off several tornadoes. It's no wonder National Weather Service Ken Graham called Hurricane Ian an "historic event" and "a storm we talk about for many years to come." Ian is a "rapid intensification" storm that owes its sudden intensity to -- you guessed it -- climate change.
The state's largest utility, Florida Power & Light Co., warned that some infrastructure would suffer "damage that is beyond repair and will require a complete rebuild" that could take weeks. Nearly 1.3 million people in Florida were without power yesterday. It could've been worse: the entire country of Cuba, all 11 million people, lost power in Ian's wake, and it's going to take a long time to get it back. A boat carrying Cuban migrants capsized off Florida amid the storm; 23 people were missing at sea last night.
Florida's hideous Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who earlier this year falsely accused President Joe Biden of "stiff[ing]" Floridians when it came to disaster relief because he "hates" them, yesterday thanked him, even admitting on Fox News that "the administration wants to help." And the White House wasn't shy about advertising the scope of its response, which include the deployment of at least 1,600 federal personnel and scads of food, water, fuel, and equipment. Thanks, big government!
But of course the federal response, as impressive as it may be in terms of numbers, still leaves many behind. NBC News has the story of a 63-year-old Tampa resident on a fixed income who hesitated to evacuate because his landlord wants to evict him. Orlando Democratic Rep. Val Demings this week called for a vote on a bill she introduced in 2020 to protect people in that horrible situation, saying "Disasters happen. But evictions during a disaster don't need to. We should not allow Americans to go homeless due to financial distress during an emergency." Surely Republicans can embrace DeSantis's newfound spirit of bipartisanship and rally behind such a fundamental humanitarian statement, right? Ha! I kid! It has failed to attract a single GOP cosponsor.
MORE STORIES TO WATCH
U.S. Warned Europe of Pipeline Sabotage Risk
European Union leaders yesterday responded to the apparent sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, with the EU Council yesterday calling the infrastructure breaches a "deliberate act" that will be met with "a robust and united response." The German newspaper Der Spiegel reports that the damage to the pipelines -- which lie about 230 feet deep and are "very robust, made of steel and concrete" -- "is apparently greater than initially assumed," making an accident highly unlikely. Moreover, "the United States warned Germany weeks ago of possible attacks on gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea." The Guardian reports that the apparent sabotage has resulted in hundreds of thousands of tons of methane being pumped into the atmosphere, and that some European officials think it represents "a new phase of hybrid war," and though it remains uncertain who was responsible. Russia is the prime suspect, as Jack said – and CNN reports that Russian Navy ships were spotted near the scene of the crime. Meanwhile, the U.S. Embassy in Moscow urged American citizens to leave Russia immediately, and Russia prepared to formally annex four regions of occupied Ukraine.
Biden Proposes Expansion of Food Stamp Benefits
President Biden yesterday held the first White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health since the administration of Richard Nixon, and pledged to end hunger in the U.S. by the end of the decade. Prior to the event, the White House announced $8 billion in really frankly very underwhelming private sector pledges, such as a $3.85 million commitment from Publix grocery stores to supply local food banks. Ten percent of American households suffered food insecurity last year, and the best the U.S. government can do is ask for corporations to spare some proverbial pocket change? "So many of these commitments show a complete and utter lack of imagination on the part of our society to find strategies that address the root causes of hunger, rather than the ragtag Band-Aid food charity that has failed us over the past 40 years," anti-hunger researcher Andy Fisher told the Guardian. At least Biden's plan includes an expansion of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a.k.a. food stamps), but this seems like a token effort at best.
- California Will Convert Commercial Real Estate Into Housing Gov. Gavin Newsom signed two bills yesterday that address the state's housing shortage. via the Los Angeles Times.
- German Prosecutors Raid Far-Right Party's HQ Alternative fur Deutschland's public statements suggest the raid is linked to a campaign finance investigation. via Deutsche Welle.
- Mass Shooting at Oakland, California School Six adults were injured. via NBC News.
- Georgia GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Is Getting a Divorce Her husband filed the papers; she asks that the media respect her privacy at this time. via the Rome News-Tribune.
- GOP Voter Suppression, Pitched as "Election Integrity," Kicks Into Gear Rightwing activists are filing spurious, copy-paste challenges to tens of thousands of voter registrations and ballots in Georgia, Michigan, and Texas. via the New York Times.
- Experimental Alzheimer's Drug Is the First to Reduce Cognitive Decline Drug developers Eisai and Biogen could apply for regulatory approval in the U.S. and Europe by the end of the year. via the Guardian.
- Doug Mastriano Asks God to Save His Campaign, Enters '40 Days of Fasting and Prayer' The truly crazy Pennsylvania Republican gubernatorial candidate has lost the faith of many in his own party. via the Philadelphia Inquirer.
That's how many Secret Service agents had their phones confiscated by Department of Homeland Security Inspector General Joseph Cuffari's office as part of its go-nowhere "investigation" into Donald Trump's Jan. 6, 2021 coup attempt. In a recent letter, IG office staff recently called on President Biden to replace Cuffari, a Trump appointee who got his PhD from a diploma mill.
ON THE SHOW TODAY
9/29: Emma hosts state Sen. Chloe Maxmin of Maine's 13th District and political activist Canyon Woodward to discuss their recent book Dirt Road Revival: How to Rebuild Rural Politics and Why Our Future Depends on It. Then, Emma is joined by Ruth Ben-Ghiat, professor of history and Italian studies at New York University, to discuss the recent Italian election results and what they mean for Europe and the rest of the world.
DON'T MISS MR CLIPS
Issue No. 1: "Saluting the flag."
This is too depressing to me, I can't think of a clever quip.
"Mom, we haven't seen a single fascist here. ... This war is based on a false pretense. No one needed it. We got here and people were living normal lives. Very well, like in Russia. And now they have to live in basements. The old lady who lived near us had to live in the cellar. Can you imagine?"
-- Sergey, a Russian soldier, making an unauthorized private cell phone call home from his deployment to Ukraine. The Ukrainian government intercepted thousands of such calls and shared them with the New York Times, which published the an edited summary under the headline "Putin Is a Fool" (which was the assessment of another Russian soldier, Aleksandr).
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