Census shows US is diversifying, white population shrinking
The U.S. became more diverse and more urban over the past decade, and the non-Hispanic white population dropped for the first time on record, the Census Bureau reported Thursday as it released a trove of demographic data that will be used to redraw the nation’s political maps.
The new figures offered the most detailed portrait yet of how the country has changed since 2010, and they are sure to set off an intense partisan battle over representation at a time of deep national division and fights over voting rights. The numbers could help determine control of the House in the 2022 elections and provide an electoral edge for years to come. The data will also shape how $1.5 trillion in annual federal spending is distributed.
Americans continued to migrate to the South and West at the expense of the Midwest and Northeast, the figures showed. The share of the white population fell from 63.7% in 2010 to 57.8% in 2020, the lowest on record, driven by falling birthrates among white women compared with Hispanic and Asian women. The number of non-Hispanic white people shrank from 196 million in 2010 to 191 million.
US sending 3K troops for partial Afghan embassy evacuation
Just weeks before the U.S. is scheduled to end its war in Afghanistan, the Biden administration is rushing 3,000 fresh troops to the Kabul airport to help with a partial evacuation of the U.S. Embassy. The move highlights the stunning speed of a Taliban takeover of much of the country, including their capture on Thursday of Kandahar, the second-largest city and the birthplace of the Taliban movement.
The State Department said the embassy will continue functioning, but Thursday’s dramatic decision to bring in thousands of additional U.S. troops is a sign of waning confidence in the Afghan government’s ability to hold off the Taliban surge. The announcement came just hours after the Taliban captured the western city of Herat as well as Ghazni, a strategic provincial capital south of Kabul. The advance, and the partial U.S. Embassy evacuation, increasingly isolate the nation’s capital, home to millions of Afghans.
“This is not abandonment. This is not an evacuation. This is not a wholesale withdrawal,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said. “What this is is a reduction in the size of our civilian footprint.”
Price rejected the idea that Thursday’s moves sent encouraging signals to an already emboldened Taliban, or demoralizing ones to frightened Afghan civilians. “The message we are sending to the people of Afghanistan is one of enduring partnership,” Price insisted.
Biden eyes tougher vaccine rules without provoking backlash
When the pace of vaccinations in the U.S. first began to slow, President Joe Biden backed incentives like million-dollar cash lotteries if that’s what it took to get shots in arms. But as new coronavirus infections soar, he’s testing a tougher approach.
In just the past two weeks, Biden has forced millions of federal workers to attest to their vaccination status or face onerous new requirements. He’s met with business leaders at the White House to press them to do the same.
Meanwhile, the administration has taken steps toward mandating shots for people traveling into the U.S. from overseas. And the White House is weighing options to be more assertive at the state and local level, including potential support for school districts imposing rules to prevent spread of the virus over the objection of Republican leaders.
Fires charring range set up ranchers for hardship in US West
Wildfires tearing through Montana and elsewhere in the U.S. West are devouring vast rangeland areas that cattle ranchers depend upon, setting the stage for a potential shortage of pasture as the hot, dry summer grinds on.
On the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, firefighters and local authorities scrambled to save hundreds of homes in the path of a fire that started Sunday and exploded across more than 260 square miles (673 square kilometers) in just a few days, triggering evacuation orders for thousands of people.
Some ranchers stayed behind to help fight it. Yet as flames charred mile after mile of rangeland and forest, they could do little to protect cattle pastures that are crucial to economic survival for families on the remote reservation.
Official: Canadian PM Trudeau to call election for Sept 20
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will announce Sunday he is calling a snap election for Sept. 20, an official familiar with the plans told The Associated Press.
The source, who was not authorized to talk publicly about the matter and spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the election date on Thursday.
Trudeau is seeking to win the majority of seats in Parliament. His Liberal party fell just short of that two years ago and must rely on the opposition to pass legislation. Trudeau wants to capitalize on the fact that Canada is now one of the most fully vaccinated countries in the world.
Canada’s prime minister is less personally popular than he once was but his government’s handling of the pandemic has been widely viewed as a success. Canada has enough vaccines for every citizen and the country flattened the epidemic curve while spending hundreds of billions to prop up the economy amid lockdowns.
The Latest: Governor warns officials refusing school masks
Kentucky’s governor says any local education officials choosing to defy masking requirements in schools will be “held accountable” if their students or staff get infected as the fast-spreading delta variant drives up COVID-19 cases.
Gov. Andy Beshear issued an emergency regulation requiring anyone inside a public K-12 school to wear a mask. The state school board backed up his mandate.
Beshear’s executive action came after some Kentucky school districts left it up to parents to decide whether their children should mask up. Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron has called the order an “unlawful exercise of power” and challenged it in the state’s Supreme Court.
Republicans take to mask wars as virus surges in red states
Top Republicans are battling school districts in their own states’ urban, heavily Democratic areas over whether students should be required to mask up as they head back to school — reigniting ideological divides over mandates even as the latest coronavirus surge ravages the reddest, most unvaccinated parts of the nation.
Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida has issued an executive order threatening to cut funding from school districts that defy a statewide ban on classroom mask mandates. He’s now suggesting his office could direct officials to withhold pay from superintendents who impose such rules anyway.
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster is threatening to withhold funding to schools in his state’s capital of Columbia over masking rules, while Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has vowed to enforce a similar order against mask mandates — despite large school districts around the state, including Dallas and Austin, promising to go ahead with classroom face covering requirements.
More than 9,000 anti-Asian incidents since pandemic began
The frequency of anti-Asian incidents — from taunts to outright assaults — reported in the United States so far this year seems poised to surpass last year despite months of political and social activism, according to a new report released Thursday.
Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that became the authority on gathering data on racially motivated attacks related to the pandemic, received 9,081 incident reports between March 19, 2020, and this June. Of those, 4,548 occurred last year, and 4,533 this year. Since the coronavirus was first reported in China, people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent have been treated as scapegoats solely based on their race.
Lawmakers, activists and community groups have pushed back against the wave of attacks. There have been countless social media campaigns, bystander training sessions and public rallies. In May, President Joe Biden signed the bipartisan COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, expediting Justice Department reviews of anti-Asian hate crimes and making available federal grants. Those supporters should not feel discouraged because the data hasn’t shifted much, Stop AAPI Hate leaders said.
Greek wildfires a major ecological catastrophe, PM says
Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis on Thursday described the devastating wildfires that burned across the country for more than a week as the greatest ecological catastrophe Greece had seen in decades.
The fires broke out as the country roasted during the most intense and protracted heat wave experienced since 1987. Hundreds of wildfires erupted across the country, stretching Greece’s firefighting capabilities to the limit and leading the government to appeal for help from abroad. Hundreds of firefighters, along with planes, helicopters and vehicles, arrived from 24 European and Middle Eastern countries to assist.
“We managed to save lives, but we lost forests and property,” Mitsotakis said, describing the wildfires as “the greatest ecological catastrophe of the last few decades.”
203 cases of COVID-19 linked to Chicago’s Lollapalooza
Chicago health officials on Thursday reported 203 cases of COVID-19 connected to Lollapalooza, casting it as a number that was anticipated and not yet linked to any hospitalizations or deaths.
“Nothing unexpected here,” Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady said at a news conference. “No sign of a ‘superspreader event’. But clearly with hundreds of thousands of people attending Lollapalooza we would expect to see some cases.”
The four-day music festival, which started two weeks ago, drew about 385,000 people to a lakefront park. Critics questioned holding the event during the pandemic. Footage showed tightly packed crowds at concerts and on public transportation with few masks in sight. Last year’s festival was canceled because of COVID-19.
Back-to-back price hikes, wholesale costs up 1% in July
Inflation at the wholesale level jumped a higher-than-expected 1% in July, matching the rise from the previous month, and dimming hopes that the upward trajectory of prices would begin to slow.
Prices at the wholesale level over the past 12 months are up a record 7.8%, the largest increase in that span of time in a series going back to 2010.
And the back-to-back monthly increases in the producer price index, which measures price pressures before they reach consumers, were the most sizeable since a 1.2% rise in January, the Labor Department reported Thursday.
The latest data on rising producer prices comes a day after the U.S. reported that there was some evidence of slowing in price hikes at the retail level. Consumer prices in July rose 0.5%, compared with a 0.9% jump in June. Over the past year retail prices are up a notable 5.4%, the same 12-month gain posted in June with both months recording the largest annual gain since 2008.
Al Jazeera News
Belarus Olympic defector Tsimanouskaya auctions medal on eBay
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, the Belarusian Olympian defector who missed her moment at the Tokyo Games, explained why she is auctioning one of her medals to support other Belarusian athletes and recounted her recent ordeal.
“I made the decision to put my medal up for auction to help athletes that are in need of support or any kind of help and the money will go to the [Belarusian] Sports Solidarity Foundation. In turn, the foundation will help athletes organise gatherings and competitions,” the 24-year-old sprinter told Al Jazeera’s podcast show, The Take.
Tsimanouskaya caught the world’s attention on August 1, when she refused to obey her team’s orders to leave Tokyo early and board a Belarus-bound plane, saying she feared for her safety in her homeland.
Deadly flash floods sweep through Turkey’s Black Sea region
At least 17 people have been killed in flash floods in Turkey’s Black Sea region that have sent water and debris cascading through streets, damaged bridges, and ripped up roads in the second natural disaster to strike the country this month.
The floodwaters brought chaos to northern provinces just as authorities were declaring that some of the wildfires that had raged through southern coastal regions for two weeks had been brought under control.
The floods and the fires, which killed eight people and devastated tens of thousands of hectares of forest, struck in the same week that a UN panel said global warming is dangerously close to spiralling out of control.
Sicily records Europe’s ‘highest ever’ temperature as fires rage
Fires stoked by hot winds tore through southern Italy on Thursday, a day after a monitoring station in Floridia, Sicily reported temperatures of 48.8C (119.8F) – levels some scientists believe could be the highest in European history.
Wednesday’s record temperature, which still needs to be verified by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), was reported close to the city of Syracuse, in the southeast of the island of Sicily, as an anticyclone nicknamed “Lucifer” swept in.
“If the data is validated, it could become the highest value ever recorded in Europe, beating the previous record of 48 degrees measured in Athens on July 10, 1977,” meteorologist Manuel Mazzoleni wrote on 3Bmeteo.com, a specialist website.
Sacklers, Purdue Pharma face final test over US opioid settlement
Purdue Pharma LP and its owners, members of the Sackler family, are nearing the end of their decades-long association with opioids, seeking court approval to pay billions of dollars and walk away from the business that helped make their fortune.
U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Drain on Thursday will begin what’s expected to be an 11-day trial – the longest in his career – to review a proposal the company values at more than $10 billion to settle trillions of dollars in liabilities over its addictive painkiller OxyContin.
If Purdue’s plan is approved, the family will pay $4.5 billion over nine or 10 years and essentially hand over the keys to the business, with almost all future proceeds benefiting states, counties and cities hit hard by the opioid epidemic. In exchange, the Sacklers get lifetime immunity from a broad array of opioid-related lawsuits. If the settlement is rejected, family members would likely find themselves ensnared in costly litigation that would drag on for years.
Justice Amy Coney Barrett denies request to block Indiana University's vaccine mandate
Justice Amy Coney Barrett declined a request to block Indiana University's vaccine mandate, signaling that similar policies going into effect amid a Covid-19 surge could pass legal muster.
Barrett, who has jurisdiction over the appeals court involved in the case, acted alone without referring the matter to the full court.
Barrett's action marks the first time the justices have been asked to weigh in on the legality of a mandate that private and public entities increasingly believe will combat the spread of Covid-19.
The Pentagon moved recently to mandate the vaccine for active-duty military members, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced on Wednesday that teachers and other school employees must either be vaccinated against Covid-19 or submit to regular testing.
In urgent cable, US embassy calls on Washington to evacuate Afghan staffers threatened by Taliban
The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan is urging Washington to evacuate Afghans who are under threat because of their work with the U.S. government -- warning they cannot get out on their own and are in desperate need, according to an internal cable obtained by ABC News.
In an urgent and emotional appeal to State Department leadership, Ambassador Ross Wilson called for help for the thousands of Afghans who served the U.S., but will not be evacuated in the coming weeks by the administration.
President Joe Biden has said he is committed to helping Afghans who helped the U.S. But his plans only call for relocating Afghans who have received approval for a special immigrant visa -- a program created by Congress for interpreters, guides and other contractors who worked for the U.S. military and diplomatic missions for two years.
How Florida condo associations wielded political power before the Surfside collapse
Soon after Jason Pizzo was elected to Florida’s state Senate in 2018, he began working on a bill that reflected one of his top priorities: stiffening penalties for secrecy, fraud and kickbacks on condominium boards.
The legislation, he said, was a response to constituents’ complaints about shady financial dealings that led to condo residents getting blindsided by costly renovation projects.
Pizzo, a Democrat who represents a corner of coastal Miami-Dade County packed with condos, introduced his bill over the objections of lobbyists who represented condo associations and the lawyers, property managers and other professionals who worked for them. They pressed him in private meetings, according to two lobbyists and Pizzo, and objected to his bill at public hearings, arguing that the proposal would make it too difficult and expensive for condo associations to operate. He won a couple of committee votes, but his bill went no further.
Nearly 200 million Americans are under heat wave advisories. Here's where it's the hottest.
A dangerous heat wave is affecting nearly 200 million Americans this week as some regions deal with record-breaking heat across the country. There are 35 states under heat advisories and some health officials are warning residents to stay inside to stay safe from the scorching hot temperatures.
Residents in the Pacific Northwest will likely face triple-digit temperatures this week following a deadly heat wave that was blamed for 63 deaths in June, according to the National Weather Service. In Washington state, there were more than hospitalizations 1,300 caused by the heat, officials said.
"Yes, it's summer, but this type of heat can kill. Avoid strenuous activity during the midday, and bring along extra hydration, even if just going about normal business," the weather service tweeted Wednesday.
Good News Network
Dog Missing for Weeks Wanders Into Walmart and Finds Owner Working at the Register
You can find a little bit of everything at Walmart from produce and groceries to lingerie, big-screen TVs, and auto parts. For one very lucky mutt, if you know where to look, you can also find your misplaced human friend.
When Abby the dog disappeared in Dothan, Alabama, all she left behind was her collar and an empty tie-out line.
June Rountree and her husband scoured the neighborhood door-to-door, searching for their missing 4-year-old black-and-white fur baby to no avail.
Three weeks passed and there was no sign of Abby, then something extraordinary happened.