Image c/o NBC / Yousef Murad / AP
Libya has experienced record-breaking floods and catastrophic loss of life caused by Storm Daniel combined with crumbling infrastructure. Storm Daniel ravaged through several countries in the Middle East including Libya, which was the most affected country, as well as Greece, Turkey, and Bulgaria. Storm Daniel brought approximately sixteen inches of rain in a 24-hour period to Libya.
Derna, a rural city of about 100,000 citizens, was the most affected by Storm Daniel. Roads are destroyed and several bridges have collapsed, making it difficult for aid to arrive as the damage to the city infrastructure is severe.
Two dams in the outskirts of Derna collapsed on September 11th and sent a seven-meter-high wave towards the city, destroying about 25% of the city. The dams had a combined capacity of 4.76 billion gallons.
As of September 19th, the death toll is 11,300, but it is expected to continue rising as thousands remain missing.
Aid has slowly been arriving to Derna, but United Nations officials say that at least $71.4 million is needed to provide relief to the 250,000 people impacted by the disastrous floods in five different provinces over the next three months.
The dams were constructed in the 1970s with the intention to provide an added layer of protection from flash flooding to Derna. Concerns about the structural integrity of the dams were questioned in 2007. Work was completed in November of 2017, according to the Arsel Construction Company Ltd, who built an additional dam in between of the two existing dams as an added safety precaution. The integrity of the construction firm has been questioned as the third dam is not present in satellite imagery.
In 2022, Abdelwanees Ashoor, a professor of civil engineering published a warning in the Sabha University Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences stating, “In the event of a big flood, the consequences will be disastrous for the residents of the valley and the city.”
Climate scientists at the World Weather Attribution group found that climate change made the devastating storm up to ten times more likely and made it possible for 40% more rainfall.
“Storm Daniel was a low-pressure weather system, as we usually have in the Mediterranean, it was not very deep- but it was very early in the season and it was stagnant and stayed over the south Ionian Sea for four, five days.” Said Kostas Lagouvardos, at the National Observatory of Athens.
The sea temperatures in Libya were two to three degrees above average, causing Storm Daniel to draw additional energy and give it capacity to hold more moisture. A storm of this intensity is only expected every 300 to 600 years.
Image c/o CNBC
By Jenevieve Monroe
According to Fulton County Jail Records, former president Donald J. Trump was booked late evening of August 24, 2023. The state of Georgia is suing the former president along with 18 co-defendants in their conspiracy to overturn the state’s results in the 2020 presidential election. The former president is facing a total of four indictments, with Georgia’s Superior Court of Fulton County charging thirteen felonies against Trump. In total, the former president and co-defendants face forty one counts by a Grand Jury in Georgia. In their surrender, the following charges include: Conspiracy To Commit False Statements and Writings (2 counts); Conspiracy To Commit Filing False Documents; Conspiracy To Commit Forgery in the First Degree (2 counts); Conspiracy To Commit Impersonating a Public Officer; False Statements and Writings (2 counts); Filing False Documents; Solicitation of Violation of Oath by Public Officer (3 counts); and Violation of the Georgia Rico (Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations) Act.
According to the legal indictment presented, over 161 Acts of racketeering and overt acts in furtherance of the conspiracy are listed as evidence for the charges. Racketeering is the act of dishonest and fraudulent business dealings. This type of organized crime involves coercion, extortionary, or illegal schemes to make money. The majority of the Acts presented surrounding the case were focused on social media and phone call interactions with Trump, co-defendants, and fellow politicians. These allegations come following a leaked phone call between the former president and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. In this phone call, the former president pressures Raffensperger to overturn the state of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election, to which Trump states, “they are removing machinery and they’re moving it as fast as they can, both of which are criminal finds. And you can’t let it happen and you are letting it happen… So look. All I want to do is this. I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have because we won the state,” (New York Times). In the recording, Ryan Germany, the lawyer for Georgia’s Secretary of State’s office, repeatedly denied the removal of machinery and the shredding of ballots, yet the former president dismissed such claims. Raffensperger concluded the conversation by stating, “We have to stand by our numbers. We believe our numbers are right,” (New York Times).
Georgia’s indictment addresses several situations where Trump pressured conspiratorial actions like this in private. One example presented by the lawsuit involved a Fulton County election worker named Ruby Freeman. Freeman volunteered with her daughter, Shaye Moss, to serve Fulton County on election day. In the indictment, both the mother and daughter are victims. While serving their community, these two women were falsely accused to be seen in a surveillance video of workers demanding Republicans leave the ballot room while suitcases of illegal ballots were secretly added. Giuliani publicly targeted these women by name, stating that they were “passing around USB ports as if they are vials of heroin or cocaine”. The indictment also mentioned, “in furtherance of this scheme, members of the enterprise [the defendants] traveled from out of state to harass Freeman, intimidate her, and solicit her to falsely confess to election crimes that she did not commit,” (Fulton County Superior Court of Georgia). Stephen Cliffgard Lee was one of the co-defendants that harassed Freeman; not only did he visit her home on December 15, 2020, but Freeman had to call 911 on three different occasions because of his harassment. Trevian Kutti, former publicist for Ye and a co-defendant in this case, also reached out to Freeman at her home. Kutti threatened Freeman to comply with their election goals, implying that she had 48 hours before Freeman’s “freedom” and the freedom of one or more of her family members would be “disrupted” (Huffpost).
The president’s stay at Fulton County Jail was a little over 20 minutes long; however, Atlanta criminal defense attorney Erin King commented on how most people booked in Fulton County don’t get such a luxury (NPR). Trump’s 20 minute surrender took place in the same county jail where Lashawn Thompson, 35, died in custody last September due to a bedbug infested cell. King noted how most of the inmates in Fulton County Jail were booked, not convicted, and still awaiting trial (NPR). Trump was released on the same day, with a $200,000 bail to evade Fulton County jail. The bail listed six conditions he must comply with. The fourth order of the Consent Bond Order document states, “the Defendant shall perform no act to intimidate any person known to him or her to be a codependent or witness in this case or to otherwise obstruct the administration of justice,” (Fulton County Superior Court of Georgia).
Trump has been called into question for violating previous Bail terms from his three additional cases in Washington, D.C., Florida, and New York. Following his Washington case in which Trump was also charged with election subversion, several prosecutors came forward to express concern regarding a social media post Trump made, stating, “If you go after me, I’m coming after you!” (Reuters). The media post was written in all caps on a site he co-owns, called Truth Social (Politico). Unlike his other indictments, the Georgia agreement is the first to explicitly restrict “posts on social media or reposts”.
Trump’s Georgia indictment sheds light on the personal toll his actions have taken on victims listed like Ruby Freeman, her daughter Shaye Moss, as well as elected state leadership like Brad Raffensperger. The former president’s brief stint in Fulton County Jail also highlights the wealth disparities within Georgia’s justice system and the overall complexity of this case.
Trump has pleaded not guilty of the crimes accused.
Trump's 4 indictments in detail: A quick-look guide to charges, trial dates and key players for each case - CBS News
Trump arrest full recap: Mugshot, surrender, what’s next in Georgia election case (cnbc.com)
INMATE SEARCH – FULTON COUNTY (fcsoga.org)
Trump and co-defendants in Georgia election case will be arraigned Sept. 6 (nbcnews.com)
Donald Trump's mug shot released following his Georgia surrender: live updates | NPR
Trump's bond in Georgia election case: No threats, no jail | Reuters
Highlights of Trump’s Call With the Georgia Secretary of State - The New York Times (nytimes.com)
Read the full text of the Georgia Trump indictment document to learn more about the charges and co-conspirators - CBS News
By Edith Cuevas
A tenured communications professor and former track coach at Diablo Valley College (DVC) is now facing multiple felony charges after being arrested in connection to two cases of human trafficking. The charges include two counts of human trafficking, two counts of pandering, one count of pimping, and four counts of forcible sexual penetration by a foreign object.
Kyle Lee Whitemore, 39, of Crockett is now being held without bond at the Contra Costa County jail in Martinez, after being arrested on September 7th. The arrest was prompted by a report made to DVC campus police, who then alerted the Contra Costa Sheriff’s Office.
A spokesperson for the Contra Costa Community College District said in a statement that the faculty member was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.
“The District is grateful to staff who, through proper training, were able to identify a serious situation and quickly report it to our Police Services, who subsequently communicated with the Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney,” said the district’s statement.
“The District is devastated by the seriousness of the allegations that have been raised thus far. The safety of our students and staff is our main priority. We take seriously any accusations of inappropriate behavior by our employees and honor the expectation that our students, staff, and visitors have to be safe when they visit our campuses.” the statement said.
Whitemore was arraigned in court on September 12th but did not enter a plea.
A look into San Francisco’s recent retail exodus.
image c/o Lea Suzuki/The SF Chronicle
By Anthony Romero
The retail exodus of San Francisco's downtown continues as businesses continue to announce their closings in the coming year. The Westfield Mall, a staple of the city for over 20 years, is among one of the most significant losses to the once-bustling shopping hub following its owner’s announcement to return the property to its lenders this past June. This decision follows the closure of the mall’s flagship Nordstrom store, which shuttered the doors of its Westfield location and its Rack store in late August. This worrisome trend does not seem to be stalling, as the likes of Old Navy, Whole Foods, and Anthropologie have joined the slew of businesses leaving the city.
With the rapid closures of such prolific SF business fixtures, the city’s retail future looks bleak. A study by the University of Toronto saw San Francisco ranked last on a list of 62 cities, being reported to have received about 32% of a return to pre-pandemic levels of business (AP, 2023). The Los Angeles Times cited a Cushman & Wakefield study that saw San Francisco’s retail vacancy rate increasing to about 6% since the beginning of 2023, the highest it has been since 2006; Union Square has also reflected record-breaking vacancies in the first quarter of 2023, rising to a 15.5% rate in comparison to the previous year’s report of 14.2% in its last quarter (LA Times, 2023). On the ground, this translates to downtown San Francisco losing almost half of its businesses, and only 53% of the surrounding stores remain as of May 2023. This mass retail exodus, combined with the city’s increasing criminal element and the shrinking presence of large tech companies has led many to ponder whether the city of San Francisco is poised to remain in a “doom loop” that will hinder its growth.
With the COVID-19 pandemic proving to be a prominent factor in San Francisco’s downtown decline, a common pattern in retail executives’ closure announcements is the implication that the city’s rising property crime and homelessness crisis has severely deterred foot traffic. Nowhere is this more apparent than in Whole Foods Market’s case, which despite opening in the hopes of catering to tech employees, was instead a constant figure on local news outlets chronicling its numerous cases of shoplifting and property damage. After only a year of operation, Whole Foods announced its closure in mid-April over concerns for the safety of its employees; this mirrors Nordstrom’s decision to shut its doors, describing "unsafe conditions for customers, retailers, and employees" in the downtown area. In an NRF survey held in May of this year, 53% of consumers reported feeling that violent cases of looting and shoplifting have increased since the pandemic (Forbes, 2023).
This widespread loss has sparked a greater conversation by city officials about San Francisco’s role in policing and public safety, with Mayor London Breed responding to these concerns by increasing the presence of police and civilian ambassadors at the city’s larger retail centers (Wall Street Journal, 2023). Crime is not the sole factor for this exodus, as it is apparent that mass layoffs at corporate giants like Twitter, Google, and Salesforce and the increase of work-from-home employees have significantly cut down SF’s expected customer base. The lack of office commuters during prime hours of operation has essentially turned downtown into a ghost town, expediting the perception of the city being overrun by the homeless and open-air drug use. Most retailers are now transitioning away from the city to the greater Bay Area, with the Silicon Valley region being a safe haven for companies like Nordstrom to restart. “[ ]... the downtown San Francisco market has changed dramatically over the past several years, impacting customer foot traffic to our stores and our ability to operate successfully,” chief stores officer Jamie Nordstrom commented, “With both leases set to expire… we believe we can better serve our customers there by focusing on our 16 nearby Nordstrom and Nordstrom Rack locations, as well as online.” This is reflected in Nordstrom’s current plan to remain in the region but away from the San Francisco downtown, with a prominent store being located at the Westfield Valley Fair Mall in San Jose.
With these problems remaining central to San Francisco’s struggle to recover its pre-pandemic growth and opportunity, city leaders look towards potential solutions. According to the Associated Press (2023), city supervisors aim to restructure downtown zoning rules to promote mixed-use spaces in the city’s empty storefronts, including office-to-housing projects. Economist Ted Egan outright denies the doom loop narrative, providing sound data that recorded improvements to in-person sales, as well as a progressive 23% rise in the sales tax revenues of San Francisco restaurants and a 7.3% rise in sales at Union Square (ABC News, 2023). As of a report in May, Mayor Breed has also proposed a $6-million investment to restore the strip on Powell Street that has seen the most retail departures.
Although things look dire from the “doom loop” perspective, it remains to be seen whether San Francisco city officials will begin to provide solid results that allow the city and its residents to see the light outside of the tunnel. As of now, San Francisco faces significant pressure to adapt to the growing exodus of retail stores and companies, but only time will tell if the city can restore its economic center.
LA Times https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2023-05-29/san-francisco-business-closures-openings-downtown-union-square
Wall Street Journal https://www.wsj.com/articles/san-francisco-centre-mall-turned-over-to-lender-482bb4bf
The SF Standard
The NY Times https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/30/us/san-francisco-whole-foods-crime-economy.html?searchResultPosition=3
Madison Sciba '24,