10 things you need to know today: September 1, 2022
Democrat Mary Peltola beats Sarah Palin in Alaska's special House election, Trump lawyers repeat request for special master to review seized files, and more
Democrat Mary Peltola beats Sarah Palin in Alaska special election
Democrat Mary Peltola defeated Republican Sarah Palin on Wednesday in Alaska's special congressional election. The upset made Peltola the first Native Alaskan elected to Congress and the first Democrat to hold Alaska's lone House seat in nearly 50 years. She will serve the rest of the term of Rep. Don Young (R), who died in March at age 88 after holding the seat since 1973. Peltola, Palin, Republican Nick Begich, and libertarian Chris Bye will compete in November's election to serve a full term after the current one ends Jan. 3. Peltola, a tribal fisheries manager and former state representative, won under Alaska's new ranked-choice voting system. She campaigned on her support for abortion rights, unions, and climate action.
Trump lawyers repeat call for special master to review seized documents
Former President Donald Trump's lawyers responded Wednesday to the Justice Department expansive filing explaining its investigation into Trumps handling of classified documents and possible obstruction of justice. Trump's lawyers argued that the FBI overreached by searching Trump's Florida home Aug. 8 and said the DOJ "gratuitously" released a photo of "allegedly classified materials" agents "spread across the floor for dramatic effect." Trump's lawyers repeated their request for U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon to appoint a special master to review materials agents found in a storage room and Trump's office, and flag materials that might be subject to attorney-client or executive privilege. Cannon, a Trump appointee, has said she is inclined to appoint a special master, and has set a Thursday hearing in West Palm Beach, Florida.
FDA authorizes boosters targeting Omicron
The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday authorized the use of new COVID-19 booster shots adapted to be effective against both the original coronavirus strain and the Omicron variant now accounting for most infections. Moderna's updated shots are authorized for people 18 and older. The one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech can be administered to people as young as 12. The approval clears a key regulatory hurdle as the Biden administration gears up for a fall booster campaign. A panel of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outside advisers meets Thursday to consider the new shots ahead of a final recommendation by CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.
Putin praises Gorbachev's leadership through 'dramatic changes'
Global leaders on Wednesday praised former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who died Tuesday at 91, for his vision and reforms that opened his country to the world and helped end the Cold War. Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has sought to undo some of Gorbachev's legacy, called him "a politician and statesman who had a huge impact on the course of world history." He said Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, "led our country during a period of complex, dramatic changes." Despite Putin's condolences, the Kremlin said the plan for Gorbachev's funeral has not been decided, making it unclear whether Gorbachev would receive state honors as his successor, Boris Yeltsin, did when he died in 2007.
U.N. inspectors seek safe path to endangered Ukraine nuclear plant
Renewed shelling around Ukraine's Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant on Thursday forced a team from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency to announce a three-hour delay of their planned inspection of the facility's safety system. Ukraine and Russia have blamed each other's forces for recent artillery fire near the plant, which Ukrainian and international leaders have warned could cause a nuclear disaster. Fighting caused a brief fire at the facility's training complex in March, and in recent days damage briefly knocked out power, intensifying fears of a possible radiation leak or meltdown. Russia took control of the plant shortly after it invaded Ukraine in late February, but it is still operated by Ukrainian workers.
Charlie Crist resigns from House to focus on challenging Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis
Rep. Charlie Crist (D-Fla.) announced Wednesday that he is resigning from Congress to focus on his campaign against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R). Crist last week won the Democratic primary to advance to the general election against DeSantis. Crist said representing Florida in the House had "been an honor and a privilege." His departure narrows the Democrats' already thin majority in the chamber. Crist was first elected in 2016 to represent the district that includes his hometown of St. Petersburg. He won two more terms with strong majorities. He lost a 2010 race for Senate as an independent, and a 2014 run for governor as a Democrat. He previously served as governor as a Republican.
California urges energy conservation as heat wave hits
California issued a statewide flex alert Wednesday, urging voluntary energy conservation during what is expected to be the year's worst heat wave in the state. Coastal highs could reach 80 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit through Saturday, then rise to 100 degrees Sunday and Monday, possibly hitting record highs, according to the National Weather Service. The state government called for people to cut power use especially in peak hours, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., to offset increased demand. "With excessive heat in the forecast across much of the state and Western U.S., the grid operator is expecting high electricity demand, primarily from air conditioning use," the California Independent System Operator said in a press release.
Biden announces plan to hike federal workers' pay
President Biden announced Wednesday that his administration plans to increase civilian federal employees' pay 4.6 percent, on average, in 2023. Biden said the raises would help the government compete with the private sector in recruiting and retaining workers by narrowing "a substantial pay gap" that widened in recent years of low raises. "The American people rely on federal agencies being managed and staffed by skilled, talented, and engaged employees, including those possessing critical skills sets, which requires keeping federal pay competitive," Biden wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). About 2.1 million executive branch employees would be covered under the plan, but 600,000-plus U.S. Postal Service workers would not. Their pay is set through collective bargaining.
New Mexico to build clinic near Texas border to meet post-Roe abortion demand
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) on Wednesday signed an executive order dedicating $10 million in public funds to build a reproductive health-care clinic near the Texas border. The facility will help meet the rising demand for abortions as women travel to New Mexico from neighboring states that have banned the procedure since the Supreme Court in June overturned Roe v. Wade, which had protected abortion rights nationwide for a half-century. The new clinic will be built in southern New Mexico's Doña Ana County, which borders Texas, where abortion is now outlawed. "We must work to protect and expand the availability of these services to address the demands on our system," Lujan Grisham said.
Report: Greenhouse gas levels hit record high in 2021
The annual State of the Climate report published Wednesday shows that in 2021, greenhouse gas levels, global sea levels, and ocean heat reached record highs. The international report was led by scientists from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Centers for Environmental Information. "The data presented in this report are clear — we continue to see more compelling scientific evidence that climate change has global impacts and shows no sign of slowing," NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said in a statement. "With many communities hit with 1,000-year floods, exceptional drought, and historic heat this year, it shows that the climate crisis is not a future threat but something we must address today."