A Rogue State Visit

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Quick Hits: Today’s Top Stories

  • The death toll from flooding in Libya has exceeded 6,000, Libyan health officials announced on Wednesday morning. Stormwater and two collapsed dams devastated the coastal city of Derna, washing entire buildings into the sea. More than 10,000 people are still missing, and the mayor of Derna said total deaths could reach up to 20,000 based on the districts of the city that were destroyed by the flood.
  • Ukraine carried out a missile strike on dry docks used by Russia’s navy in Sevastopol—a port city in Crimea—setting fire to part of the port and inflicting considerable damage to a Russian submarine and landing ship. The Wednesday strike was one of the largest attacks on Russia’s Black Sea fleet since the beginning of the war, and Ukrainian officials implied that the missiles used in the attack were cruise missiles supplied by the United Kingdom and France.
  • The Biden administration is reportedly planning to withhold $85 million in military aid to Egypt as a result of the country’s failure to comply with U.S. stipulations on aid, including the release of political prisoners. The administration plans to shift $55 million of the withheld funds—which are only a portion of the $1.3 billion in the U.S.’s annual military financing to Egypt—to Taiwan and the remaining $30 million to Lebanon.
  • The Consumer Price Index rose 0.6 percent month-over-month and 3.7 percent annually in August, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Wednesday, up from 0.2 and 3.2 percent in July—and slightly above economists’ expectations. More than half of the monthly increase is the result of a late summer spike in gas prices, and the data may keep the Federal Reserve on track to hold interest rates steady at their meeting next week.
  • House Republicans dropped a planned procedural vote on an appropriations bill to fund the Department of Defense on Wednesday after objections from spending hardliners. Members of the House Freedom Caucus said they wouldn’t move forward on the defense bill until they saw cuts to the rest of the spending bills. “The defense bill in and of itself was okay, but the bottom line is, what’s the overall spending?” said Republican Rep. Ralph Norman of South Carolina. “The American people want us to watch out for their tax dollars.” The House has passed only one of the twelve appropriations bills needed to fund the government as the September 30 deadline draws nearer.
  • Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah announced yesterday he will not seek reelection to the senate seat. “It’s time for a new generation of leaders,” Romney, who would have been 83 at the end of a second term, said in an announcement video.. He also told the Washington Post that he thought a prospective second term would not be as productive as his first. “It’s very difficult for the House to operate, from what I can tell,” he said. “Perhaps more importantly, we’re probably going to have either Trump or Biden as our next president. And Biden is unable to lead on important matters and Trump is unwilling to lead on important matters.”
  • A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s executive order suspending the open and concealed carry of firearms in public in Bernalillo County, which includes the city of Albuquerque. U.S. District Judge David Urias—a Biden appointee—suspended enforcement of the Democrat’s order for two weeks, arguing it was likely unconstitutional. “To be honest with you, I think you have kind of a hard road here to get up,” Urias told an attorney representing the governor’s office. 

A Burgeoning Bromance of Necessity

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hand with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on September 13, 2023. (Photo by Kremlin Press Office / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hand with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on September 13, 2023. (Photo by Kremlin Press Office / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

There’s a point, almost as far east as you can go on the Eurasian landmass, where China, Russia, and North Korea intersect. It was there that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s green and gold, custom-built, armored train chugged excruciatingly slowly into Russia on Tuesday. The trip is Kim’s first out of the Hermit Kingdom since early 2019. 

It was an unhurried journey on the train—Kim departed Pyongyang on Sunday. But, if your country’s flagship airline were routinely rated the worst in the world, you’d probably go for the bulletproof, bespoke locomotive, too—even if it could barely match the top speed of a moped. 

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