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Daily Skimm: Mikhail Gorbachev, Mississippi, and Princess Diana

President of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev giving a speech during his visit to Ottawa, Canada, on 30th May 1990.
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Aug 31, 2022

Mikhail Gorbachev

The Story

Mikhail Gorbachev — the Soviet leader who ended the Cold War — is dead.

Go on.

Yesterday, Russian state news agencies announced that Gorbachev had died at age 91, following a “long” and serious illness. In 1985, the USSR’s last leader rose to power. And over the next six years, he introduced a series of bold reforms designed to open up the Soviet Union to the world, revive the country’s sluggish economy, and make its government more transparent. But ultimately, Gorbachev’s reforms also opened the door to protests…and the dissolution of the USSR. By 1991, the Soviet Union had fractured into 15 separate countries. But the arms race with the US was over. Soviet troops had left Afghanistan. Media restrictions had been eased. And with the end of the Soviet Union, tens of millions of people were lifted from poverty.

What are people saying? 

Russian President Vladimir Putin plans to express his condolences directly to Gorbachev’s family today. And world leaders, from UN Secretary-General António Guterres to President Biden, have praised the Nobel Peace Prize winner as a “one-of-a kind statesman” and “a man of remarkable vision.” Now, Gorbachev will apparently be buried next to his wife at Novodevichy Cemetery in Moscow.

theSkimm

Gorbachev lifted the Iron Curtain between the USSR and the West. But today, Russia is enmeshed in a war with Ukraine that has united the West against it. In fact, it’s a war Gorbachev himself criticized. As he put it: “There is nothing more precious in the world than human lives.”

And Also...This

What’s suffering from a case of troubled waters…

Jackson, Mississippi. Earlier this week, Gov. Tate Reeves (R) declared a state of emergency as more than 150,000 people in the capital city don’t have access to safe drinking water. That’s because the city’s water system — which has reportedly been crippled by aging and inadequate infrastructure for years — fell further into crisis this week. Mostly thanks to excessive rainfall and flooding, which caused pumps to fail at one of the city’s water treatment plants. Now, Reeves says the city can’t produce enough water to “fight fires, to reliably flush toilets, and to meet other critical needs.” Plus, schools have been forced to go remote and restaurants have had to shut down. Crews are working to get the plant back online, but TBD on when that’ll happen. In the meantime, the National Guard’s been called in to help out with the “massively complicated” task of handing out bottled drinking water and water to flush toilets. And the White House has approved Reeves' request for a federal emergency declaration, which authorizes assistance from FEMA. 

What’s sharing more details…

The DOJ. Yesterday, in a court filing, the Dept of Justice said it has evidence that classified documents were “likely concealed and removed” before the FBI raid at Mar-a-Lago earlier this month. It also reveals that the FBI recovered twice the amount of docs than what former President Trump’s lawyers handed over. Thirty-three boxes of documents were retrieved — including three docs found inside desks in Trump’s office. The filing also comes in response to Trump’s request for a special master to review classified government docs found at his private estate. But the DOJ says appointing a special master would “significantly harm” government interests.

What’s got people on high alert…

Monkeypox. Yesterday, Texas reported the first death of a person diagnosed with Monkeypox in the US. Though, it's not clear whether the cause of death was the virus...or something else. (The patient was severely immunocompromised.) It comes as the CDC has confirmed 15 deaths from the virus globally since the beginning of the current outbreak — out of a collective 49,974 cases. One piece of good news: cases seem to have hit a plateau. And the CDC is watching the numbers start to go down with “cautious optimism.”

Where there’ve been tensions…

Iraq. Yesterday, Shiite Muslim cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his supporters to stand down, ending the deadliest violence Baghdad has seen in years. On Monday — after the party leader announced he was leaving political life for good — clashes broke out between his followers and security forces. Close to two dozen people were killed and hundreds of others injured. It comes after a ten-month political standoff, which started when al-Sadr’s party won the largest number of seats in the parliamentary election — but apparently not enough to secure a majority in gov. That was followed by fighting after al-Sadr refused to negotiate with Iran-backed Shiite rivals. Now, al-Sadr’s apologizing for the bloodshed.

Who’s worried, darling...

Olivia Wilde, maybe.

Who we’re remembering…

Princess Diana.

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