What are the Olympics without the crowds? Stadiums absent of fans as a result of COVID-19 regulations has already set the 2020 Tokyo Olympics among the most unique in the games’ 125-year history.
But there was still an opening ceremony, athletes keep ringing up medals for their home nations, and competitors continue to shatter world records. Day after day, there are impressive feats of athleticism.
One other thing remains the same as ever: the Olympics is that an odd time when the world seems to set aside geopolitical conflicts to compete in gymnastics, swimming and pingpong. Yes, the games provide inspiring stories of human achievement, but world events still march on. Division continues, both between nations and within them.
After much delay, senators unveiled a nearly $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package, wrapping up days of painstaking work on the inches-thick bill and launching what is certain to be a lengthy debate over President Joe Biden’s big priority.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act clocked in at some 2,700 pages, and senators could begin amending it soon. Despite the hurry-up-and-wait during a rare weekend session, emotions bubbled over once the bill was produced Sunday night. The final product was not intended to stray from the broad outline senators had negotiated for weeks with the White House.
“We haven’t done a large, bipartisan bill of this nature in a long time,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. He said a final vote could be held “in a matter of days.”
Rusted pipes litter the sandy fields of Ashley Williams Watt’s cattle ranch in windswept West Texas. The corroded skeletons are all that remain of hundreds of abandoned oil wells that were drilled long before her family owned the land. The wells, unable to produce any useful amounts of oil or gas, were plugged with cement decades ago and forgotten.
But something eerie is going on beneath the land, where Ms. Watt once played among the mesquite trees, jackrabbits and javelina and first drove the dirt roads at 10 years old. One by one, the wells seem to be unplugging themselves. They are leaking dangerous chemicals that are seeping into groundwater beneath her ranch.
Now 35, Ms. Watt believes the problems on her ranch, which sprawls across the oil-rich fields of the Permian Basin, are getting worse. In April, she found crude oil bubbling from an abandoned well. In June, an oil company worker called to alert her that another well was seeping pools of salty produced water, a byproduct of oil and gas extraction containing toxic chemicals.
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David de Russy steered his bicycle through a sparse crowd of midweek visitors streaming down Los Angeles’ Venice Beach boardwalk between multimillion-dollar homes, T-shirt shops and eateries on one side and vendors peddling paintings, hawking crystals and offering tarot card readings on the other.
For the first time in about a year, he was happy the view toward the ocean was largely unobscured with the misery of homeless camps that mushroomed along the sands during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Thank God it’s getting cleared up,” Mr. de Russy said, though a remaining cluster of tents renewed what he described as “this sickening feeling that comes with seeing human beings in that condition.”
A couple of hundred armed men descended on a town in the mountains of Mexico’s southern Chiapas state, burned vehicles and at least a dozen homes, vandalized the town hall and abducted 21 people, authorities reported Tuesday.
Officials blamed a newly formed vigilante group called “El Machete,” which announced its existence only a week earlier, pledging to fight the incursion of drug cartels in the largely Indigenous mountain communities of Chiapas.
On Monday afternoon, masked men carrying rifles spread out through the town of Pantelho, moving street by street in search of alleged criminals, authorities said. The action caused a panic in the community as the men set fire to some homes.
South and North Korea have restored hotlines that Pyongyang severed a year ago when ties deteriorated sharply, and the two countries’ leaders are renewing efforts to rebuild relations, Seoul’s presidential office said on Tuesday.
The decision on the hotlines was made by South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un who have exchanged multiple letters since April when they marked the third anniversary of their first summit, said Mr. Moon’s press secretary, Park Soo-hyun.
North Korea’s state news agency, KCNA, also said all inter-Korean communication channels resumed operation at 10 a.m. Tuesday in line with an agreement between Mr. Moon and Mr. Kim.
The Taliban say they do not want to monopolize power, but they insist there will not be peace in Afghanistan until there is a new negotiated government in Kabul and President Ashraf Ghani is removed.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Taliban spokesman, Suhail Shaheen, who is also a member of the group’s negotiating team, laid out the insurgents’ stance on what should come next in a country on the precipice.
The Taliban have swiftly captured territory in recent weeks, seized strategic border crossings and are threatening a number of provincial capitals—advances that come as the last U.S. and NATO soldiers leave Afghanistan.
A shortage of jet fuel, coupled with supply chain issues and an urgent demand from firefighting aircraft, continues to cause problems at airports around the West.
In Nevada, state and federal lawmakers said they are investigating a possible shortage of jet fuel that could delay cargo delivery and passenger travel at Reno-Tahoe International Airport in the coming days.
A spike in demand for jet fuel both by commercial airlines and from firefighting aircraft in Montana and the Pacific Northwest led to departure problems and daylong flight delays recently at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.
The UN General Assembly approved its first-ever resolution on vision, calling on its 193 member nations to ensure access to eye care for everyone in their countries which would contribute to a global effort to help at least 1.1 billion people with vision impairment who currently lack eye services by 2030.
The “Vision for Everyone” resolution, sponsored by Bangladesh, Antigua and Ireland, and co-sponsored by over 100 countries, was adopted Friday by consensus by the world body.
It encourages countries to institute a “whole of government approach to eye care.” And it calls on international financial institutions and donors to provide targeted financing, especially for developing countries, to address the increasing impact of vision loss on economic and social development.
Tunisia faced its worst crisis in a decade of democracy on Monday after President Kais Saied ousted the government and froze parliament with help from the army in a move denounced as a coup by the main parties including Islamists.
It follows months of deadlock and disputes pitting Saied, a political independent, against Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and a fragmented parliament as Tunisia has descended deeper into an economic crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Parliament Speaker Rached Ghannouchi, the head of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party which has played a role in successive coalitions, decried it as an assault on democracy and called on Tunisians to take to the streets in opposition.
They panic if a balloon pops. They hold dying family members. They push their wounded bodies to heal and scroll longingly through photos and videos of their lost loved ones. Behind the statistics and the political blame game over rising gun violence are the victims.
The spike plaguing many American cities this year has lawmakers reeling and police scrambling, though homicide rates are not rising as high as the double-digit jumps seen in 2020. Still, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 316 people are shot every day in the U.S. and 106 of them die. It has even prompted President Joe Biden to order federal strike forces in to help catch gun traffickers who are supplying weapons used in the shootings.
And for Americans who have lost someone, a grim reminder of how the cycle of violence never seems to end, only to ebb and flow. In Washington D.C., Kathren Brown’s 11-year-old was killed in 2019, and the new wave weighs her down.
Everyone loves positive news stories. A recent one involved a man who got caught in a dramatic car wreck over a bridge on Assawoman Bay in Maryland. “The accident sent eight people to the hospital and left a pickup truck dangling precariously over the guardrail,” the Good News Network reported.
Leaving his car to check if he could help, the article states that he was “alerted…to a heart-wrenching sight—a toddler, ejected from the passenger side, was floating in the bay, her pink dress billowing in the waves.”
Realizing there was zero time to wait, he jumped into the water about 30 feet below and swam to the drowning toddler, saving her life.
The Biden administration announced new sanctions Thursday against a Cuban official and a government special brigade that it says was involved in human rights abuses during a government crackdown on protests on the island earlier this month.
The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control listed Alvaro Lopez Miera, a Cuban military and political leader, and the Brigada Especial Nacional del Ministerio del Interior, or Interior Ministry Special Brigade, as among those who will face the latest sanctions.
The Treasury said in a statement that Mr. Lopez Miera “has played an integral role in the repression of ongoing protests in Cuba.” Cuba’s Ministry of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, which is led to by Mr. Lopez Miera, and other Cuban government’s security services have attacked protesters and arrested or disappeared over 100 protesters in an attempt to suppress these protests, according to Treasury.
Church bells rang out across Norway on Thursday, marking 10 years since the country’s worst ever peacetime slaughter as commemoration ceremonies took place throughout the day.
On July 22, 2011, extremist Anders Breivik set off a bomb in the capital, Oslo, killing eight people, before heading to tiny Utoya island where he stalked and shot dead 69 mostly teen members of the Labor Party’s youth wing.
Events were held around the country, including a service in Oslo Cathedral that ended with the first peal of bells. Thousands of people gathered in the streets outside to mourn the 77 victims.
A relief official dampened hopes on Wednesday of finding more survivors in the rubble of villages devastated by floods in western Germany, as a poll showed many Germans felt policymakers had not done enough to protect them.
More than 170 people died in last week’s flooding, Germany’s worst natural disaster in more than half a century, and thousands went missing.
“We are still looking for missing persons as we clear roads and pump water out of basements,” Sabine Lackner, deputy chief of the Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW), told Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland.
India’s excess deaths during the coronavirus pandemic could be a staggering 10 times the official COVID-19 toll, likely making it modern India’s worst human tragedy, according to the most comprehensive research yet on the ravages of the virus in the South Asian country.
Most experts believe India’s official toll of more than 414,000 dead is a vast undercount, but the government has dismissed those concerns as exaggerated and misleading.
The report released Tuesday estimated excess deaths—the gap between those recorded and those that would have been expected—to be 3.4 million to 4.7 million since the pandemic began through last month. It said an accurate figure may “prove elusive,” but the true death toll “is likely to be an order of magnitude greater than the official count.”
They are two tiny Caribbean states whose intractable problems have vexed U.S. presidents for decades. Now, Haiti and Cuba are posing a growing challenge for President Joe Biden that could have political ramifications for him in the battleground state of Florida.
Cuban demonstrators have taken to the country’s streets in recent days to lash out at the communist government and protest food shortages and high prices amid the coronavirus pandemic. In Haiti, officials are asking the U.S. to intercede in a roiling political crisis after last week’s assassination of President Jovenel Moise in a nation where military and humanitarian interventions by U.S. presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama have proved to be politically harrowing.
Biden is facing increased pressure from Republican lawmakers for his administration to step up support of Cuban demonstrators. And his aides have demonstrated determined caution in response to requests for more U.S. involvement in Haiti.