Daily briefing

10 things you need to know today: September 19, 2022

World leaders gather for Queen Elizabeth's funeral, Hurricane Fiona cuts power across Puerto Rico, and more


World leaders gather for Queen Elizabeth's funeral in London

British and world leaders gathered Monday for Queen Elizabeth II's funeral in Westminster Abbey in London, culminating 10 days of national mourning. President Biden paid tribute to the queen on Sunday, saying she was "decent, honorable, and all about service." "You were fortunate to have had her for 70 years, we all were," Biden told Britons after signing a book of condolence and appearing on a balcony overlooking the queen's coffin lying in state in Westminster Hall. "The world's better for her." Hundreds of thousands of people from around Britain and overseas crowded into the area in London to pay their respects to the longest-reigning monarch in British history.


Hurricane Fiona leaves Puerto Rico without power

Hurricane Fiona hit Puerto Rico's southwest coast with heavy rains and maximum sustained winds of 85 miles per hour on Sunday, triggering landslides and knocking out a power grid still recovering from Hurricane Maria five years ago. The storm downed electricity transmission lines, causing a "blackout on all the island," Luma power company said, adding it could take several days to restore full power. Forecasters warned that the storm could drench the U.S. Caribbean territory with "historic" rains of up to 25 inches in some isolated pockets. "The damages that we are seeing are catastrophic," said Gov. Pedro Pierluisi. One major landslide was reported in the northern town of Caguas.


Biden tells '60 Minutes' COVID still a problem but 'pandemic is over'

President Biden said in a CBS 60 Minutes interview broadcast Sunday night that the coronavirus pandemic is "over," as Americans increasingly consider the threat of COVID-19 to be diminished even though hundreds are still dying in the country every day. "We still have a problem with COVID... but the pandemic is over," Biden said. The unscripted remark came as Biden struggles to get Congress to approve more funding for vaccines and treatments. Republicans reacted to Biden's comments by questioning the need for continuing the public health emergency, if the pandemic is over. Ashish Jha, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said earlier this month the threat of new variants continues ahead of "what might be a difficult fall and winter ahead."


Artillery hits military sites in Russia near Ukraine border

Artillery fire hit military targets inside Russia over the weekend, prompting authorities in the country to order rushed evacuations in cities and towns along the Russia-Ukraine border. Following a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive that forced Russian troops into an embarrassing retreat in the northeastern Kharkiv province, Ukraine on Friday reportedly hit the base of the Russian 3rd Motorized Rifle Division near Valuyki, nine miles north of the border. On Saturday, more strikes hit the Belgorod region in Western Russia. At least two people were reportedly killed in the attacks. Russia blamed the strikes on Ukraine, but Kyiv did not immediately claim responsibility. Ukraine has pledged not to use Western-supplied weapons to strike inside Russia, but Ukraine's gains in Kharkiv put it in range to reach Russia with its own artillery.


Lawmaker, civil rights group call for DeSantis investigation after migrant flight

Massachusetts state Rep. Dylan Fernandes (D) tweeted Sunday that he is requesting a criminal investigation of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for "inhumane acts" connected to his decision to fly 50 Venezuelan immigrants to Martha's Vineyard, an off-season tourist island in Massachusetts. Lawyers for Civil Rights, which represents 30 of the migrants, also demanded an investigation. The migrants, who had been in Texas, said they were lured on to the flight with false promises. "Not only is it morally criminal, there are legal implications around fraud, kidnapping, deprivation of liberty, and human trafficking," Fernandes said. DeSantis, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, all Republicans, have been sending migrants seeking asylum at the U.S.-Mexico border to "sanctuary" cities, to draw attention to the Biden administration's immigration policies.


Virginia rolls back protections for transgender students

The administration of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) over the weekend unveiled new guidelines restricting the rights of transgender students in public schools. The rules restrict what bathrooms transgender students can use, and require teachers to use the pronouns associated with the sex students were assigned at birth. Students also will be barred from changing their legal name and sex without an official legal document or court order, "even upon written instruction of a parent or eligible student." The Virginia Department of Education's 2022 Model Policies roll back rules put in place by Youngkin's predecessor, Democrat Ralph Northam. Virginia is among a growing number of states that have adopted new restrictions on gay and transgender students this year.


Alaska assesses flood damage after typhoon remnants batter coast

Alaska floodwaters started receding Sunday after the state's most violent storm in years. Remnants from a huge Pacific typhoon battered more than 1,000 miles of coastline, including "some of the most remote areas of the United States," according to Jeremy Zidek, public information officer with Alaska's Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. No casualties were immediately reported. State troopers were searching for a missing boy from the hard-hit village of Hooper Bay. It could take days for authorities to get a full picture of widespread flood damage to houses and infrastructure. Scientists for years have expressed concerns that climate change was increasing Alaska's risk of large nontropical cyclones.


Powerful earthquake hits Taiwan

A 6.9-magnitude earthquake shook southeastern Taiwan on Sunday, damaging or destroying numerous buildings. At least one person died and nine suffered minor injuries, Taiwan's Emergency Operations Center said. Japan's Meteorological Agency issued a tsunami warning for Miyako island in the East China Sea, but later lifted it. Four people were rescued after a three-story building collapsed, briefly trapping them inside. About 20 people were evacuated from a derailed train, although there were no casualties. About 400 tourists were stranded on a mountainside known for the orange day lilies covering its slopes this time of year. The quake knocked out power to thousands of households.


Typhoon Nanmadol soaks western Japan with record rains

Typhoon Nanmadol drenched western Japan with record rainfall on Monday. The storm roared in with winds of up to nearly 150 miles per hour but then weakened, and its maximum winds are expected to continue falling as the storm pushes across Japan over the next day. Nanmadol, Japan's 14th typhoon of the season, made landfall near Kagoshima city late Sunday, then hit the western island of Kyushu, before moving onto the main island of Honshu early Monday morning. State broadcaster NHK reported that one man was found dead inside a submerged car found in a field. At least 82 people have been injured. Nearly 8 million people were ordered to evacuate vulnerable areas in southern and western Japan.


Las Vegas Aces win 1st WNBA title

The Las Vegas Aces won their first-ever WNBA title on Sunday, beating the Connecticut Sun 78-71 in Game 4 at Mohegan Sun Arena. Chelsea Gray scored 20 points, and was named Finals MVP. Riquna William had 17 points for the Aces, followed by Kelsey Plum with 16 points, Jackie Young with 13 points, and A'ja Wilson with 11 points. For the Connecticut Sun, Courtney Williams led with 17 points, Jonquel Jones scored 13 points, and DeWanna Bonner notched 12. "They're unbelievable on the court, but they're unbelievable humans, first and foremost," Aces coach Becky Hammon said of her team. "They care about each other. They invest in each other. It's been an absolute honor to be their coach."


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