Congress probes Mississippi’s handling of Jackson water crisis – National & International News – TUE 18Oct2022

House members want Reeves to explain state's restrictions on aid to Jackson water system.

 

 

Congress probes Mississippi’s handling of Jackson water crisis. Kroger-Albertsons merger may increase grocery prices. Zelenskyy: 1/3 of Ukraine’s power stations destroyed. Nigeria: Floods kill 600 since summer.

 

 

NATIONAL NEWS

Congress probes Mississippi’s handling of Jackson water crisis

House Oversight and Reform Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and House Homeland Security Chair Bennie Thompson (D-MS) have sent a letter to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves asking him to explain how millions in federal funds are being distributed for water infrastructure projects in the state. Since Jackson’s days-long water outage this summer, questions have swirled about whether Mississippi’s Republican-led government has been overly stingy and restrictive of funds to the Democratic-led predominately black city. Recently, the NAACP filed a civil rights complaint with the EPA. The complaint alleges that the state government has discriminated against Jackson on the basis of race.

Maloney and Thompson’s letter requests details about which municipalities will be receiving federal funds from the American Rescue Plan and the bipartisan infrastructure plan. They also want information on the population sizes and racial demographics of those communities. The chairs also want to know why Jackson is subject to an “additional layer of review” that was applied to no other municipality in the state to receive funds.

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Kroger-Albertsons merger may increase grocery prices

Supermarket giants Kroger and Albertsons have agreed a $25 billion merger deal. If it goes through, it will be one of the biggest retail mergers in US history. The deal would bring more than 5,000 stores across the country under the same corporate umbrella. Kroger operates more than 2,800 stores in 35 states (including subsidiary brands like Ralphs, Smith’s and Harris Teeter) while Alberstons operates 2,220 stores in 34 states (with subsidiary brands Safeway, Jewel Osco and Shaw’s). 

The merger has already drawn antitrust scrutiny from members of Congress. Progressive Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MT) are already calling for regulators to block the deal.  Sarah Miller of the American Economic Liberties Project warns that the merger “would squeeze consumers already struggling to afford food”.

The companies’ executives say that the merger will save them $500 million, which can then be passed on to consumers. The merger will also allow them to expand their store brand offerings and save customers money. This may be true in the short-term, but in areas where there is little competition, supermarket mergers tend to drive consumer prices higher over time. Large mergers also tend to squeeze out smaller competitors, giving remaining stores more power to set prices.

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INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Zelenskyy: Russian attacks destroyed 1/3 of Ukraine’s power stations

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says that recent barrages of Russian missiles have destroyed nearly one-third of Ukraine’s power stations. The downed power stations have led to blackouts in parts of the country. Despite comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin last week indicating missile attacks would be scaled back for now, air attacks against civilian targets and infrastructure in Ukraine have persisted. However, Putin is relying less on conventional missiles in favor of Iranian-made “kamikaze drones”. US intelligence says Putin has been purchasing these drones for months, but this is the first time they’ve been deployed on a mass scale.

Compared to missiles, the drones are slower, noisier, and easier for Ukraine’s air defense to eliminate in flight. But because there are so many of them, Ukraine simply can’t stop them all. Ukraine’s allies have promised more air defense systems and equipment, but they haven’t yet arrived.

Meanwhile, Iran has promised to deliver surface-to-surface missiles to Russia in addition to more drones.

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Nigeria: 600 killed in floods since summer

Nigeria has long been accustomed to seasonal flooding, but this year’s flooding has lasted longer and done more damage than any in the last decade. Like Pakistan and areas of southern and central Asia that saw overwhelming flooding this year, overbuilding and poor water management in Nigeria have also contributed to the impact.

Since early summer, more than 600 people have perished in Nigeria’s floods. The flooding has destroyed over 200,000 homes and displaced about 1.3 million people. Experts expect the flooding to continue into November.

As in Pakistan, floods have also devastated much of Nigeria’s agricultural land. Nigeria is among six countries the UN says is at high risk of hunger. The country’s economy has already been battered over the last year due to high levels of inflation. 

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