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Today is the first official day of fall in the Northern Hemisphere, and you know the drill. Cozy sweaters, knit scarves, warm apple cider, pumpkin pie and scenic foliage. What’s not to love? Well, it may be a bit longer until it actually feels like fall for the southern tier of the US as heat waves continue to linger in much of the region.
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The Biden administration has proposed a prisoner swap to secure the release of two Americans held by Russia, Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. President Joe Biden has offered to exchange Viktor Bout, a convicted Russian arms trafficker serving a 25-year US prison sentence. Multiple sources told CNN that the plan to trade Bout for Whelan and Griner received the backing of Biden after being under discussion since earlier this year. The President’s support for the swap overrides opposition from the Department of Justice, which is generally against prisoner trades. Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Wednesday that the US presented the “substantial proposal” to Moscow “weeks ago” for Whelan and Griner. When asked about the possible swap, Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov said “so far, there is no agreement on this issue.”
2. Gas prices
The historic streak of falling US gas prices is over. After 98 consecutive days, prices at the pump edged higher on Wednesday– by a penny – to an average of $3.68 a gallon, according to AAA. A 1-cent increase is not likely to have a significant effect on many drivers, but if gas prices begin to rise again, that could undermine the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve’s efforts to keep inflation in check. The last time the national average price for gas rose was June 14, when it hit a record of $5.02. Up until now, gas prices had been plunging due to a series of factors, including stronger supply and weaker demand as drivers balked at high prices, and the unprecedented release of emergency oil reserves by the White House.
The demand for flights out of Russia sharply increased after President Vladimir Putin announced an immediate partial mobilization of Russian citizens on Wednesday. The term “leaving Russia” also saw a spike in searches among Russians over the past 24 hours, according to Google Trends. Since Putin’s announcement, more than 1,300 people have been detained across Russia in a crackdown on anti-war protests. Prosecutors in Moscow warned people against participating in protests and threatened those who refused the draft with up to 15 years in jail. This comes as foreign ministers and senior officials from Europe, North America and South Korea released a joint statement today expressing their “grave concern” regarding the ongoing shelling around nuclear facilities in Ukraine.
4. Hurricane Fiona
More than a million people in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic once again woke up without power this morning in the wake of Hurricane Fiona. The Category 4 storm is poised to sideswipe Bermuda later this week, forecasts show. At least five people have been killed in the Caribbean, including one in Guadeloupe, two in Puerto Rico and two in the Dominican Republic. Fiona also whipped parts of the Turks and Caicos islands on Tuesday with sustained winds of almost 125 mph, officials said. While the recovery process will likely take a long time, authorities have started visiting several islands to begin repairs.
The FDA has authorized the release of “numerous batches” of Moderna’s updated Covid-19 booster amid reports of supply problems in some areas. Updated boosters from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were made available early this month, but some pharmacy chains have reported trouble keeping Moderna’s shots in stock. Still, Moderna said it’s on track to deliver 70 million doses of its updated vaccine by the end of 2022. To date, less than half of people in the US who received their initial series and are eligible for a booster have gotten one. Data also shows less than a third of the US population overall has gotten their booster shot.
Biden to sign Inflation Reduction Act into law today
President Joe Biden will sign a sweeping $750 billion health care, tax and climate bill into law at the White House today – marking a major victory for his administration and the Democratic Party ahead of the midterm elections. The Inflation Reduction Act accomplishes several key Biden legislative agenda items and represents the largest climate investment in American history.
Two people claim $1.34 billion Mega Millions lottery prize
After 200,000 suggestions, an adorable baby hippo received an equally cute name. Watch the video here!
‘Stranger Things’ cafe opens in Tokyo
Of course, a pop-up cafe inspired by the Netflix horror drama “Stranger Things” has to have an “Upside Down.” Take a peek inside.
WeWork’s former CEO has a new startup, reportedly valued at more than $1 billion
When one door closes, another one opens. After being ousted from his CEO role at WeWork, Adam Neumann’s new company is being positioned as a solution to the nation’s housing crisis.
‘Better Call Saul’ series finale review
The extra-long “Better Call Saul” series finale premiered Monday – and it did not disappoint. Here’s a recap of the show … but first, spoilers ahead!
Taiwan’s new $220 million arts center radically rethinks theater design
More than a decade since it broke ground, this long-awaited venue in Taiwan has opened to the public and rethinks the way theaters should operate.
That’s how many Americans will be impacted by an “extreme heat belt” in the next 30 years, increasing both the intensity and frequency of the hottest days of the year, according to a study published Monday by a climate research group. Specifically, most of the region from Texas to the Great Lakes will experience temperatures above 125 degrees during the hottest stretches of the year.
“No one knows whether this process will lead to a recession or, if so, how significant that recession would be.”
– The Justice Department, stating in a filing Monday that it opposes the release of key details that led to the search of Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate last week. The DOJ said some continued secrecy is needed to protect the investigation and therefore, it will not unseal the affidavit which outlines why the search was necessary. Several media organizations, including CNN, had asked for the affidavit to be unsealed after the search was conducted.
Grizzly bears put household items to the test
Watch this video of a couple who travels the world riding roller coasters together. It’s a marriage that’s seen a lot of ups and downs – in the best way. (Click here to view)