Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 18, 2022

Biden arrives in London, migrants arrive in D.C., and more


Biden arrives in London for queen’s funeral

President Biden arrived in London late Saturday ahead of Queen Elizabeth II's funeral Monday. The president, one of roughly 500 heads of states and foreign dignitaries heading to town for the services, is on Sunday expected to sign the official condolence book and appear at a Buckingham Palace reception hosted by King Charles III. Other funeral invitees include usual suspects like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron, but also controversial figures like Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the latter of which is sending Vice President Wang Qishan in his place. The crown prince is also no longer expected to attend. Following the queen's death earlier this month, Biden directed all American flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on the day of her burial.


2nd busload of migrants arrives at Harris’ home

A second busload of migrants sent from Texas showed up outside Vice President Kamala Harris' Washington, D.C. home on Saturday, as southern Gov. Greg Abbott (R) continued his controversial protest of Biden administration immigration policies. The Texas leader has been busing migrants to D.C. (and other more northern, liberal cities) since the spring, but has this week been targeting Harris specifically after she described the southern border as secure during an appearance on Meet the Press. "Our supposed Border Czar, Vice President Kamala Harris, has yet to even visit the border to see firsthand the impact of the open border policies she has helped implement, even going so far as to claim the border is 'secure,'" the governor said. Other GOP leaders, meanwhile, have taken to following Abbott's lead: On Wednesday, for example, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) flew migrants from Florida to Martha's Vineyard, a stunt that sparked almost-immediate backlash.


Typhoon Nanmadol hits southern Japan

The powerful Typhoon Nanmadol made landfall in Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu on Sunday, prompting heavy rains, high winds, and the risk of mudslides. Thousands of residents sought safety from the storm, which "has the potential to be the most destructive tropical storm to strike Japan in decades," Reuters notes. In some areas, officials are prepared to see 20 inches of rain or more. Regional train and ferry services have been canceled, and hundreds of domestic flights have been grounded. A few injuries have been reported, but no deaths. In the coming days, the storm is projected to pass over all of Japan's main islands before heading back to sea on likely Wednesday or Thursday.


Tropical Storm Fiona prompts hurricane warning in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico is under its first hurricane warning in over three years thanks to Tropical Storm Fiona, which is expected to strengthen into something more sinister by the time it reaches the island nation Sunday afternoon. Forecasters predict the storm will bring high winds and potential floods and mudslides, with rainfall totaling between 12 to 16 inches (though up to 25 inches is possible locally). The National Hurricane Center expects the storm to get stronger as it moves toward and over the southwestern Atlantic early next week, at which point it will likely avoid the U.S. East Coast but possibly track toward Bermuda. As of 8:30 p.m. ET Saturday night, over 19,000 homes and businesses in Puerto Rico were without power.


6.9-magnitude earthquake shakes Taiwan

Southern Japan was hit with tsunami warnings after a strong, 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck the southeastern coast of Taiwan on Sunday. The quake was initially surveyed at a magnitude of 7.2, only to be later downgraded by the U.S. Geological Survey to a 6.9. At least one person — a worker in a cement factory — was killed after equipment fell on him. "There is a possibility of aftershocks in the future," Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen wrote on Facebook. "I would like to appeal to the people of Taiwan to remain vigilant." Sunday's quake followed a 6.4-magnitude tremor on Saturday that left no major damage. As of Sunday evening local time, Japan's Meteorological Agency had lifted the tsunami warnings.


E.U. suggests cutting funding to Hungary over corruption

The European Commission on Sunday suggested cutting roughly $7.5 billion in funding for Hungary due to concerns of corruption, a move that stands to widen the already-existing rift between the governing body of the European Union and that of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. The commission must first, however, ask E.U. member countries to approve the suspension, which amounts to 65 percent of funding from three programs. Still, the commission seems to have left room for the possibility Hungary enacts reforms and is able to secure the money after all. This is the first time the E.U. has employed a new, budget-safeguarding policy that makes "funding conditional on certain standards," writes The Washington Post. Member states will now have at least a month to mull the cash suspension, though an extension on the matter is both possible and likely.


Yeshiva University suspends club activity post-SCOTUS ruling

New York's Yeshiva University has suspended all student club activity in the wake of a U.S. Supreme Court decision ordering it to recognize an LGBTQ student group, at least for the time being. In an email on Friday, university officials told students to "hold off on all undergraduate club activities while it immediately takes steps to follow the roadmap provided by the U.S. Supreme Court to protect YU's religious freedom." On Wednesday, the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to lift a temporary hold on a court order requiring the university to recognize the student group, YU Pride Alliance, as a legal battle meanwhile continues. After the decision, University President Rabbi Ari Berman said Yeshiva just wants the "right to self-determination," but that the school's "commitment and love for our LGBTQ students are unshakeable." That said, a lawyer for the students derided the administration's Friday decision as an attempt to "divide the student body, and pit students against their LGBT peers."


Trump rallies for Vance in Ohio

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday rallied for Ohio Republican Senate nominee J.D. Vance, whose match-up against Democratic incumbent Tim Ryan has quickly become one of the most-watched races of the 2022 midterms. On Saturday, Trump praised Vance as an "incredible patriot who will take the fight to Biden and the radical left media every day." Additionally, the former president addressed the recent FBI raid on his Florida mansion, which he called on Vance to "do something about." "The people behind these savage witch hunts have no shame or morals, no conscience, and absolutely no respect for the citizens of our country," Trump said of the "Washington swamp." Furthermore, and perhaps most notably, Trump used the opportunity before Republican voters to tease his own 2024 presidential bid, repeatedly telling the crowd to "stay tuned."


Gaetz asked for pardon related to sex trafficking probe: Report

Ex-White House aide Johnny McEntee told the Jan. 6 select committee that Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) requested a pardon from former President Donald Trump regarding an investigation in which Gaetz was a target, The Washington Post reported Saturday. McEntee claimed Gaetz revealed he had asked former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows about a preemptive pardon, which McEntee understood to be in connection with the Justice Department's investigation into sex trafficking allegations against Gaetz. McEntee said the Florida Republican told him "he did not do anything wrong but they are trying to make his life hell, and you know, if the president could give him a pardon, that would be great." McEntee's testimony is the first indication that Gaetz sought a pardon in connection with the DOJ's investigation, though some had speculated that was the case. Gaetz has denied the allegations against him.


Alaska governor declares disaster in communities impacted by storm

Entire homes and buildings have been uprooted from the ground in Alaska this weekend, as heavy rains and flooding brought about by remnants of Typhoon Merbok pummel the state's coast. On Saturday, Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) declared a disaster for the impacted communities, where a number of residents have taken shelter in school buildings. Maj. Gen Torrence Saxe of the Alaska National Guard said "there likely will be a military response" to the storm, and that aircraft are prepared to assist with evacuations if need be. As of early Sunday, water was continuing to surge and coastal flood warnings remained in effect. Winds should weaken as the storm moves inland.

Update 12:15 p.m. Sept. 18, 2022: The first item of the above has been updated to reflect President Biden's Saturday night — rather than Sunday morning — arrival in London.


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