National Politics

Japan's Kishida vows to regain trust in church controversy

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida says he will humbly listen to people’s “harsh voices” criticizing his governing party’s cozy ties to the ultra-conservative Unification Church and help victims of its allegedly fraudulent businesses and huge donation collection. Kishida has come under fire in a widening scandal that has exposed decades of close ties between former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was assassinated in July, his ruling Liberal Democratic Party and the Unification Church, which has been accused of raking in huge donations by brainwashing adherents. Kishida has split public opinion by honoring Abe with a state funeral. Abe, on top of his divisive legacy, is now seen as a key figure behind the governing party’s church ties.

US, Philippine forces hold combat drills to brace for crisis

More than 2,500 U.S. and Philippine marines are participating in combat exercises to be able to respond to any sudden crisis in the region. The annual drills are some of the largest so far between the allies under newly elected Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. The drills that started Monday involve 1,900 U.S. Marines and more than 600 mostly Philippine counterparts in mock amphibious assaults and special operations. The venues include the western island province of Palawan, which faces the South China Sea, and the northern Philippines, across the Luzon Strait from Taiwan. The drills in the Philippines are being held simultaneously with combat exercises between U.S. Marines and Japanese self-defense forces in northern Japan.

Europe faces 'unprecedented risk' of gas shortage, IEA says

Europe is facing unprecedented risks to its energy supply this winter. That's the word Monday from the International Energy Agency. The IEA says in its quarterly gas report that people will have to save at least 13% over the winter if Russia cuts off the last trickle of gas that's flowing to Europe. The Paris-based group says only by saving, can Europe avoid a severe shortage if Russian gas halts completely over the war in Ukraine. Europe also could wind up competing with Asian countries for scarce supplies of liquefied natural gas that come by ship. Things will be even tighter if the weather is cold late in the winter.

Black representation in Alabama tested before Supreme Court

Congressional districts that a federal court panel said were unconstitutional because they dilute representation for Black voters in Alabama are nevertheless being used for the November election after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed them. The high court hears arguments in the case on Tuesday. The packing of Black voters into just one of the state’s seven congressional districts leaves many of them without a voice and gives Republicans one more seat than they should have based on the state's demographics and voting patterns. Gerrymandering has reduced the influence of Black voters for decades in a state that is synonymous with the civil rights movement.

Russia smuggling Ukrainian grain to help pay for Putin's war

An investigation by The Associated Press and the PBS series “Frontline” has documented a sophisticated Russian-run smuggling operation that has used falsified manifests and seaborne subterfuge to steal Ukrainian grain worth at least $530 million. The AP and “Frontline” used satellite imagery and marine radio transponder data to track three dozen ships making more than 50 voyages carrying grain from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine to ports in the Middle East. The ongoing theft is being carried out by wealthy businessmen and state-owned companies in Russia and Syria. Some of them already face financial sanctions from the United States and European Union. Legal experts say the theft is a potential war crime.

Black representation in Alabama tested before Supreme Court

Congressional districts that a federal court panel said were unconstitutional because they dilute representation for Black voters in Alabama are nevertheless being used for the November election after the U.S. Supreme Court allowed them. The high court hears arguments in the case on Tuesday. The packing of Black voters into just one of the state’s seven congressional districts leaves many of them without a voice and gives Republicans one more seat than they should have based on demographics and voting patterns. Partisan gerrymandering has reduced the influence of Black voters for decades in a state that is synonymous with the civil rights movement.

Russia smuggling Ukrainian grain to help pay for Putin's war

An investigation by The Associated Press and the PBS series “Frontline” has documented a sophisticated Russian-run smuggling operation that has used falsified manifests and seaborne subterfuge to steal Ukrainian grain worth at least $530 million. The AP and “Frontline” used satellite imagery and marine radio transponder data to track three dozen ships making more than 50 voyages carrying grain from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine to ports in the Middle East. The ongoing theft is being carried out by wealthy businessmen and state-owned companies in Russia and Syria. Some of them already face financial sanctions from the United States and European Union. Legal experts say the theft is a potential war crime.

Supreme Court welcomes the public again, and a new justice

The Supreme Court is beginning its new term after a break for summer. Monday's arguments are the first the justices will hear since issuing a landmark ruling stripping away women’s constitutional protections for abortion. Monday’s session is also the first time new Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, the court’s first Black female justice, will participate in arguments. And it's the first time the public will be able to attend since the court closed in March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. A new stack of high-profile cases awaits the justices. Several cases the court has agreed to hear involve race or elections or both, and the court has also agreed to hear a dispute that returns the issue of free speech and LGBTQ rights to the court.

'We're with you,' Biden tells Puerto Rico ahead of visit

President Joe Biden says the U.S. government will be with Puerto Rico for the long haul as it cleans up and rebuilds after Hurricane Fiona. Biden was flying to the U.S. territory on Monday to survey some of the damage after the Category 1 hurricane hit on Sept. 18. Fiona caused catastrophic flooding, tore apart roads and bridges, and unleashed more than 100 landslides. Biden will visit amid widespread anger and frustration over continued power outages. Tens of thousands of people continue to struggle without power and water two weeks after the storm.

Bolsonaro, Lula headed to runoff after tight Brazil election

Brazil’s top two presidential candidates will face each other in a runoff vote after neither got enough support to win outright in an election to decide if the country returns a leftist to the helm of the world’s fourth-largest democracy or keeps the far-right incumbent in office. With 98.8% of he votes tallied on Sunday’s election, former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva had 48% support and incumbent President Jair Bolsonaro had 43.6% support. Brazil’s election authority said the result made a second round vote between the two candidates a mathematical certainty. . Nine other candidates were also competing.

Reformists gain in Bosnia elections, though change unlikely

Reformists who ran on fighting corruption appeared set to win an important race in Bosnia’s elections that could give them greater sway over the direction of the ethnically divided country. The first preliminary results from Sunday's elections showed cooperation-prone contenders Denis Becirovic and Zeljko Komsic, on course to win respective Bosniak and Croat seats in the tripartite presidency. However, they were likely to be joined by Zeljka Cvijanovic, the candidate of the strongest Bosnian Serb party – the secessionist and staunchly pro-Russian SNSD. Moscow has often been accused of seeking to destabilize the Balkans through its Serb allies in the region.

Republican tepid on Trump in Nevada gubernatorial debate

Nevada gubernatorial candidate Joe Lombardo distanced himself from his backer, former President Donald Trump, on Sunday, over his election lies but said he believes Trump's policies “moved the country forward.” Incumbent Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak, meanwhile, defended President Joe Biden's policies as he sought to make abortion the centerpiece of the race. Lombardo and Sisolak held their first debate on Sunday in Las Vegas, clashing over the same topics as in other midterm races: abortion, the economy, education and crime. Lombardo has flip-flopped on certain measures around abortion but says he supports the state’s law allowing the procedure up to 24 weeks into pregnancy.

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